Officially recognized as the cradle of the Renaissance, Florence – or Firenze to locals – will enchant you with its beauty, astound you with the volume of cultural, artistic and architectural treasures on its streets, in its museums, palaces and churches, and leave you with unforgettable memories
Experience the romantic, nostalgic and sophisticated Florence, capital of Tuscany. Its vibrant cultural atmosphere is resplendent with architectural, artistic and cultural treasures. Surrounded by gently rolling hills covered in villas, farms, vineyards and orchards, with the Arno River meandering through it, Florence’s ever-present magnificence lies mainly in its turbulent past. Defined by periods of rule by the Medici family and numerous religious and republican revolutions, unsurprisingly, the entire center of the city is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. The Florentine dialect became the language of Italian culture due to the preeminence of masterpieces by Dante, Petrach, Boccaccio and Machiavelli. One of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations, Forbes calls Florence one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Here you’ll encounter masterpieces without trying – the city is overflowing with internationally renowned museums and art galleries such as the Uffizi, Palzzo Pitti and Accademia. Stroll down to the imposing Palazzo Vecchio (town hall) and bump into Cellini’s “Perseus with the Head of Medusa”.
Make your own memories of this magnificent and historical city and book your flight to Florence now.
How do you get to Florence from the airport?
Florence Airport (FLR) is located 4 km (2.5 miles) from the city center. The special “Vola in Bus” shuttle service by BusItalia Sita Nord runs between the airport and the downtown Santa Maria Novella train station. The journey takes approximately 20 minutes and runs every day including Sundays and holidays. Taxis outside the airport terminals are also plentiful and the journey to downtown Florence takes approximately 15 minutes by cab.
What about getting around the city?
Florence is a compact city and highly amenable to wandering its cobbled lanes to discover artistic and architectural masterpieces at every turn. Driving in Florence is not recommended as parking is scarce and many streets are pedestrianized and one-way. There are electric buses servicing the main areas of the city and a tram line that runs from Scandicci to the central station and on to Careggi in the northwest of the city.
What else is good to know?
Bus departures from the airport run every 30 minutes between 5:30 AM and 8:30 PM, after which they run every hour until 11:45 PM. The last shuttle leaves the airport at 1 AM. Departures from Santa Maria Novella train station to the airport run every 30 minutes between 5 AM and 8 PM, then every hour until 11 PM. The last shuttle to the airport departs at 12:30 AM. Note, bus tickets must be purchased and validated before boarding to avoid fines – tickets are checked by inspectors boarding the buses, not the drivers.
A Florentine romance
Stand on any bridge crossing the Arno at different times of day and be enchanted by changes in the light and mood of the city as the sun rises and sets in a dazzling blaze of color. Despite its small size, Florence is consistently near the top of both tourist must-see lists and bucket lists. Spend a few hours at a café on the piazza in a captivating atmosphere surrounded by centuries-old art and buildings.
The most popular attractions of Florence are:
- Accademia Gallery
- Uffizi Gallery
- The Florentine Gothic Campanile
- Medieval Florence Evening Walking Tour
There are few cities that can rival Florence when it comes to Renaissance art and architecture. Two must-see galleries are the Accademia Gallery and the Uffizi Gallery. Aside from its main attractions of Michelangelo’s larger-than-life sculpture David and Botticelli’s revered Madonna of the Sea and Madonna and Child, the Accademia Gallery is a must for lovers of opera, theater and classical music, and will also satisfy any curiosity for botany, painting techniques, and art symbols.
Approximately 15 minutes away from the Accademia Gallery is the Uffizi Gallery – originally intended by Cosimo de’ Medici to host magistrates, judiciary offices and similar. With its enchanting frescoed ceilings and collections organized in a long labyrinth of rooms in a U-shaped Renaissance building, the Uffizi is home to Michelangelo’s only completed panel painting The Annunciation, Botticelli’s Primavera and Birth of Venus. However, many other works can also be viewed here including the early masters Cimabue and Giotto and Early Renaissance pioneers Caravaggio, Fra Angelico, Rembrandt and Da Vinci.
Take time to climb to the top of Giotto’s beautiful Florentine Gothic Campanile (Bell Tower) dating back to the 1300s. Catch your breath at the top while capturing vistas of the spectacular Florentine landscape before you.
There is no better way to explore Florence than by walking its opulently decorated streets. The compactness of the city makes it highly amenable to a stroll. Why not join a Medieval Florence Evening Walking Tour, taking in Ponte Vecchio and the Uffizi. On to Palazzo Strozzi (Strozzi Palace) with its mullion paired windows, which is an example of civil architecture in rusticated stone, built by Filippo Strozzi the Elder, a rival of the Medici family. Then to Palazzo di Bianca Cappello, close to the famous Palazzo Pitti on Piazza del Signoria on the banks of the Arno River and a short distance back to Ponte Vecchio.
More Attractions in Florence
Architectural highlights abound such as the medieval shop-lined Ponte Vecchio – the only bridge in Florence not destroyed during WWII. The narrow cobbled streets host an open-air museum with delights around every corner. Medieval candle-lit chapels, frescoed churches, marble basilicas, 15th and 16th century palaces and world-class art museums plump with jaw-dropping works of Italian Renaissance masters such as Botticelli, Michelangelo and Da Vinci.
The Florentine skyline is punctuated by the recognizable shape rising from the Piazza del Duomo – Brunelleschi’s vast Gothic dome of the Florence Cathedral. Making the climb up the 460-odd steps to the top of the dome is rewarded with an up-close and personal encounter with Vasari’s interpretation of The Last Judgment in the ceiling frescoes and spectacular vistas across Florence from out on the lantern.
Find more attractions to discover in Florence in our guide.
A uniquely Florentine cuisine
Central to the experience of Florence is enjoying the great food and wine of Tuscan cuisine, surrounded by captivating art and bewitching Italian Renaissance architecture. The rolling hills between Florence and Siena are home to Chianti, one of the most famous Italian wine-producing regions. Of course, no trip to Florence would be complete without stopping at one of the city’s many gelato shops.
Food markets are a great way to experience the culinary culture of a city and mingle with locals. As one of the most famous gastronomic destinations in Italy, there is a diverse range of cooking classes and courses on offer including several that visit the Central Market, where you’ll choose fresh ingredients to prepare your four-course Tuscan meal under the guidance of an assigned chef. Buon appetito.
If you prefer to have someone else do the work in preparing a Tuscan gourmet dining experience, get yourself a table at one of the seven Michelin-starred restaurants in Florence including Enoteca Pinchiorri, La Leggenda dei Frati and Il Palagio.
If you can’t get to Chianti or any of the other wine-producing regions in Tuscany, join the wine connoisseurs for a wine tasting experience at Piazza del Vino on Via della Torretta, not far from the madding crowd just outside the historic center of Florence. Piazza del Vino is also a restaurant where you can pair Tuscan wine with Tuscan foodie delights.
Feast your eyes on more about Florentine cuisine in our guide about eat and drink in Florence.
Tips for shopping in Florence
If you need a little retail therapy while in Florence, you’re in the right place. Home to international haute couture labels including Ferragamo and Gucci, shopping in Florence will not disappoint. The city offers a unique mix of both high fashion and one-of-a-kind handcrafted souvenirs and quality leather goods. Italy has a global reputation for both quality and design, and you’re sure to find something to fit your budget, whether it’s in high-end luxury boutiques on Via de' Tornabuoni, the high street brands on Via dei Calzaiuoli, the handcrafts along Via del Parione or fresh foods, gourmet delights and leather goods at the Mercato di San Lorenzo (Central Market aka San Lorenzo Market).