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Florence, Italy Travel Guide

By: Natalie

Italy is such a beautiful country with a deep historical presence. Florence was the ideal place to start the Italian portion of my journey!

The cobblestone streets of Florence are lined with charming little apartments that capture your heart, while the world-class museums and architecture pulls you in, leading you to want to explore every alley and corner of this breathtaking city.

Your Quick & Easy Guide to Florence, Italy

How to Get to Florence

When I traveled to Florence, I came from the London City Airport to the Airport of Florence. The airport was easy to navigate and the customs process went very smoothly.

The best way to travel there on a long haul flight from the US is likely to travel via Rome, taking a train or much shorter flight to either Pisa or Florence.

Public transportation in Florence is limited and Uber only runs in Milan and Rome, so I recommend using the cab system to get around the city. However, most of the restaurants, museums, and shops are within walking distance, as Florence is a relatively small city compared to its neighbors, so travel should not be too much of a worry.

When to Go to Florence

Italy has beautiful, temperate weather for the majority of the year, so there really is not a bad time to travel to Florence. To beat the crowds at popular sites and attractions, I recommend traveling to Florence during the fall or winter season to avoid tourists and the heat. I went during January and the weather was perfect for traveling and exploring outdoors.

However, the time period of May to September is said to be the perfect time to experience the Italian sunshine that inspired so many of the Renaissance painters.

Exploring the lovely streets of Florence

Where to Eat in Florence

Il Mercato Centrale di Firenze: This indoor market is the perfect place to start when trying Italian cuisine. Inside, there are plenty of restaurants, bars, and quick-service food stations to find exactly what you want. Or, order a bunch of small items and share with a group of people. There are tables and chairs everywhere throughout the market, so everyone can order what they individually want and then sit together.

Giglio Cooking School: This is both an activity and a fantastic meal! During my cooking class, we made pasta, chicken, and a beautiful chocolate cake with orange sauce. The school has been open for 10 years and just won an award from Trip Advisor, and I can see why – our class was a blast! A list of courses can be found on their website (linked above), which is perfect for planning an individual or group trip From abroad. The whole experience was very fun and I look forward to using my new cooking skills at home!

Where to Shop in Florence

Libreria Libraccio: I am an avid reader, but I didn’t want my suitcases to be full of heavy books to travel. Bringing just a few novels with me in my bags, I had already finished all of them by the time I arrived in Florence from London. To get some new material, I stopped in Libreria Libraccio to find something new. While the vast majority of their novels are in Italian, there is a small international book section by the cash register. After wandering the store, I left with a few books, including two Italian picture books for some of the kids in my life. The perfect souvenir to be enjoyed by all.

Marie Antoinette Firenze: Vintage stores are like a gold mine in Italy! I found some of the most amazing pieces of luxury fashion while on my trip and I already love wearing them back at home. Vintage stores are also one of my favorite places to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. I recommend stopping in at least one vintage store in Florence to gape at the gorgeous goods they have inside.

The Ponte Vecchio from further along the river

Where to Adventure in Florence

Galleria degli Uffizi: The Uffizi Gallery is home to some of the most well-known pieces of art, including  “The Birth of Venus,” “The Annunciation,” and “Madonna of the Goldfinch.” Purchase tickets online ahead of time to save your spot and check out any of the available special exhibits. This whole gallery is beyond breathtaking.

Galleria dell’Accademia: While the gallery has many beautiful and historical works of art, the most famous is absolutely Michaenaglo’s “David.”  I went on a tour of the museum and we ended in the large room where the statue is held. I had seen countless photos online, but seeing the intricate details and sheer size of the marble was just incredible. The Galleria dell’Accademia is absolutely not to be missed on your trip!

The view from the top of the Duomo is absolutely worth it!

Il Grande Museo del Duomo: One of the most iconic historical buildings in Florence is the large cathedral in the center of the city. The large dome is such a mesmerizing view that can be seen from almost every vantage point, no matter where you stay. Purchase tickets online in advance to see all of the monuments, including the dome, cathedral, bell tower, and crypt. I climbed over 800 stairs, but the view was something I will remember for the rest of my life (and I will definitely remember how sore my muscles were the next day…)

Piazzale Michelangelo: Built on the hills high above Florence, the Piazzale Michelangelo is a wonderful place to catch your breath and enjoy the wonderful view of the city around you. During my trip, I took a walk to the lookout many times, but my favorite was during the sunrise. I promise you, waking up early is so worth it! You’ll see weddings, and engagements here, views that make you stop in your tracks, and there’s a small coffee shop up top where you can rest your feet after you’ve climbed up the hill.

Ponte Vecchio: The Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge in Florence, built in its current for in the mid-14th century after the previous structure was swept away by a flood in 1333. While it was originally built as a defense mechanism, this covered bridge is now home to several local shops and markets that offer all sorts of Italian goods – jewelry, foodstuffs, and antique dealers can all be found here. I recommend taking a stroll along the side of the river bank to get a picture of the Ponte Vecchio in its full form, then walking along the bridge, exploring the shops and seeing the beautiful Arno River flow underneath you and past the city.

View of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo at sunrise

Where to Rest in London

Grand Hotel Mediterraneo: I stayed in the Grand Hotel Mediterraneo during my stay in Florence and would highly recommend it to others. The rooms were very well-kept and the staff members were all very friendly. I enjoyed starting my mornings off with a true Italian breakfast in the lobby of the building before setting off on foot to explore stunning Florence, Italy.

No matter where you go in Florence, you’re going to see incredible sites. And if you’re in the travel planning mood, check out my travel guide for London as well, help you plan your next adventure!

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