Florence

Florence: an incredibly charming city, tucked in the Tuscan hills, that is full of spectacular history, art, and culture.  The birthplace of the Renaissance delivers all the best of Italy – incredible wines, legendary art, delectable cuisine, and Tuscan charm.

The Basics
Top Things to do in Florence
How to get Around in Florence
Insider Tips
Clear Travel Summary

The Basics

  • Recommended Time: 3-4 Days
  • Language: Italian, but English can get you by
  • Currency: Euro
  • Airports: Airporto di Firenze (FLR)
  • Train Stations: Firenze Santa Maria Novella and Firenze Campo di Marti

Top Things to do in Florence

Florence Cathedral (Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, “Duomo”, Giotto’s Bell Tower)

  • Stunning cathedral with the largest brick dome ever constructed, a lofty bell tower, and baptistery. Location on Google Maps.
  • How to get there:
    • Florence is a walking city.
  • Ticket Information: 18 EUR for an adult entry ticket.  Ticket is valid for 72 hours from first use, meaning you can climb the Duomo (463 steps) and Giotto’s Campanile bell tower (414 steps) on different days.
  • Insider Tips:
    • Pre-book your tickets.  If you want to climb the Dome, the tickets usually sell out about a week or two in advance.
    • The Dome is the iconic sight in the Florence skyline.  You can take great shots of the Duomo and the city below by climbing the bell tower, which is nearly as high, and not as crowded.
Gallery dell’Accademia (Michelangelo’s Statue of David)

  • Michelangelo’s David is an absolute masterpiece; larger than anticipated and one of the most exquisite pieces of art you will ever see.  The rest of the small museum is interesting, but you likely spend most of your time admiring the David statue, which is well worth the price of admission.  Location on Google Maps.
  • How to get there:
    • Florence is a walking city.
  • Ticket Information: 8 EUR, plus a 4 EUR booking fee to get a pre-booked time.  The extra 4 EUR is well worth it to skip the line.
  • Insider Tip: The line can be hours long if you do not pre-book your tickets.  Pre-book your ticket at the official link above, print your voucher, then go to the ticket office right across the street from the main entrance.  Exchange your voucher for tickets, then head to the separate entrance line for pre-booked tickets.

 

Uffizi Gallery
  • THE museum for Renaissance art, featuring: The Birth of Venus, Primavera, The Baptism of Christ (di Vinci), Annunciation (di Vinci)  Location on Google Maps.
  • How to get there:
    • Florence is a walking city.
  • Ticket Information: 12 EUR, plus a 4 EUR reservation fee
Piazzale Michelangelo

  • Panoramic view of Florence; especially beautiful at sunrise or sunset.  Location on Google Maps
  • How to get there:
    • Bus: City Bus number 12 or 13 from the city center. Here is a Florence Bus Map
    • Florence is a walking city, and the walk from the city center to the Piazzale is definitely doable.
  • Ticket Information: None needed
  • Insider Tip: Bring a bottle (or two) of wine to enjoy at the lookout.  There are a few vendors at the top of the hill, so don’t feel like your absolutely need to carry the extra weight up.

 

Ponte Vecchio

  • Famous bridge across the Arno river.  Full of gold and jewelry shops, near the rest of sights in central Florence. Location on Google Maps.
  • How to get there:
    • Florence is a walking city.
  • Ticket Information: None needed
Santa Croce

  • Basilica and square.  One of the four famous basilicas of Florence.  The square is the venue for the annual Calcio Storico, or Florence’s unique neighborhood rivalry football/rugby/boxing match on the 24th of June.  Location on Google Maps.
  • How to get there:
    • Florence is a walking city.
  • Ticket Information: None needed
Santo Spirito

  • One of the famous four basilicas in Florence.  Home of a lesser-known Micelangelo piece.  Location on Google Maps.
  • How to get there:
    • Florence is walking city.
  • Ticket Information: None needed
  • Insider Tip: The Santo Spirito side of the river is quieter, and not as bustling with tourists.
  • Insider Tip: There is a Michelangelo crucifix in the Santo Spirito church.  There is no charge to enter Santo Spirito, and the church is generally very quiet (again, on the less ‘touristy’ side of the river.)  Viewing a Michelangelo piece at no charge and no wait makes this a special stop.
Palazzo Vecchio

  • Famous square with eateries, shopping, and a 13th century palace.  Right in the heart of Florence’s shopping areas.  Location on Google Maps.
  • How to get there:
    • Florence is a walking city.
Tuscany Wine Tours

  • A visit to the capital of the Tuscany region would not be complete without a vineyard and wine tasting tour in the countryside.  This is a perfect way to take in the culture, and sip wine – feet from the vines – as you learn about the unique history of each vineyard. A wine tour is a “must do” while you are in Tuscany!
  • How to get there:
    • There are many companies that offer half-day and full-day wine tasting tours that pick up from central Florence (usually by the train station)
    • You can rent a car from central Florence, but be responsible or designate a driver.
  • Insider Tip: Wine always tastes better with a view!  The view of the Tuscan hills is truly picturesque, particularly at sunset.  Book the afternoon wine tours, and you should catch an amazing sunset with a your new favorite glass of Vino.
  • Insider Tip: Plan for the return trip to take a little extra time, traffic in the evening coming back in to Florence can be busy.
Day Trips to Siena, San Gimignano, Monteriggioni
  • Siena and San Gimignano are beautiful Tuscan towns that are a short day trip from Florence.  Both are iconic, medieval towns tucked in the Tuscan countryside.  Visit either town, and you will feel like you have stepped back in time.
  • How to get there:
    • By Car:
      • If you are already planning on renting a car, both cities are easy to get to from Florence by car.
    • By Bus:
      • There are multiple bus companies that have lines to Siena and back, and some tour companies will even take you to both towns, with a wine tasting, on a full day trip.
      • Tiemme Bus line 131 goes from Florence (Santa Maria Novella) to Siena with minimal stops.  Tiemme Bus
    • By Train:
      • Both towns are also accessible via regional trains, although Siena is more direct.  San Gimignano requires changing trains at Poggibonsi. Trenitalia
  • Monteriggioni is a picturesque, walled medieval town in the Tuscan countryside between Florence and Siena.  Featured in a famous level in Assassin’s Creed (half of the tourists you will see there are for this reason.)
    • How to get there:
      • By Car
        • By far the easiest way to get to the city.
      • By Bus
        • There are bus lines that run between Monteriggioni and Siena or Florence if you time it right (Tiemme Bus 131) There is a long gap in between buses.  
      • By Train
        • Closest train station is Castellina Scalo.  However, this will require a long walk (30-40 min one way)

How to Get Around in Florence

To/From the Airport to Central Florence:
  • By Bus: BusItalia “Vola in Bus”
    • Bus shuttle operating every 30 min.
    • Journey time: 30 min, depending on traffic
    • Cost: 8 EUR
    • Link: BusItalia
    • Insider Tip: Like any city bus, there is not much room for luggage, and it tends to get busy during peak travel times.  If you are traveling with a group, a cab or arranged car can be a better option.
  • By Car: Taxi and car services are available.
    • Journey time: 15-20 min, depending on traffic.
    • Cost: 22 EUR Fixed Fare for Taxis.

 

In the City Center:
  • By Bus:
    • There are some bus lines around Florence, but you will likely find yourself walking between the main sights.  The exception perhaps being Piazzale Michelangelo (bus 12 or 13).
    • Here is a Florence Bus Map

Insider Tips for Florence

  • Pre-book your Duomo and David tickets.  The Duomo can sell out a week or two in advance, and the line at the Galleria can be hours long.  Pre-booking your tickets and entry time will save you valuable vacation hours.
  • If you forget to pre-book, you still have options.  You could climb Giotto’s Bell Tower, which is nearly as high and has views of the Dome.  You can see a replica of David in the Palazzo Vecchio.
  • Limit time with luggage. Consistent with other Italian cities, staying in relative close proximity of the train station is convenient with plenty of hotel options.  We like to limit time wheeling around heavy luggage on busy stone streets. 
  • There is an excellent hotel with a secret rooftop balcony, right near Piazza di Santa Maria Novella with 360 views of central Florence.  If you are staying there, all you have to do is ask the front desk for the key.  Email us if you are interested in knowing the hotel name.  Our local friend said we are the first people he has known to go up there…insider@clear-travel.com

Clear Travel Summary

The top sights in Florence can be seen in 2-3 days, but we recommend some additional days for wine tours or day trips from Florence.  Staying at a hotel/Airbnb within a short walking distance from the train station can provide a convenient ‘home base’ for your trip to Florence whether arriving by plane, train, or bus.  The tickets you need to pre-book in advance are the Florence Cathedrial Dome (if you want to climb it) and Galleria dell Accademia to see David.  A wine tour or day trip to Siena/ San Gimignano/ Monteriggioni is highly recommended.  Florence is incredible, with plenty of culture, history, shopping, art, wine, and all the Italian charm you are looking for.

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *