When it comes to depth of history, art and architecture, no other city in the world can compete with Florence.
Nestled in the beautiful Tuscan landscape, this city is a true feast for the senses. From the Duomo to the Ponte Vecchio, there is so much to see and do in Florence. So, it’s no surprise that it’s one of the must-see travel destinations when travelling around Italy.
If you’re planning a trip to Florence, there are a few things you should know before you go. Whether visiting for a couple of days or a week, we’ve put together a handy guide on what to expect when visiting the city, including advice on where to stay, what to eat, buying tickets, and how to avoid the worst of the queues.
Let’s dive in…
Here’s everything you need to know when planning a trip to Florence
It’s smaller than you think
When it comes to big cities in Italy, Florence is definitely on the smaller side. In fact, it’s only the eighth largest city in Italy and it has a population of under 500,000. But the best part of this is that you can easily walk from one end of the city centre to the other in an afternoon, making Florence an ideal city to explore on foot.
Not only will you not find yourself feeling overwhelmed by its size, but you also won’t need to use public transport very much (if at all) during your stay.
Be prepared to queue
If there’s one thing you need to know about Florence, it’s that you will probably have to queue for everything. From popular tourist attractions like the Duomo and the Uffizi Gallery to grabbing a morning coffee, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself standing in line at some point.
For example, entrance to the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore is free, but there is no skip-the-line option available like you’ll find in other attractions in Italy (i.e. St. Mark’s Basicilla in Venice). You could end up queuing anywhere from 45 minutes to 2+ hours.
We recommend getting up early to beat the crowds and queues in Florence or…
Book your tickets in advance
For popular attractions like the Uffizi Gallery, Accademia Gallery, and Boboli Gardens you can purchase entry tickets in advance. Many of these can be booked online and will save you a lot of time (and frustration!).
But simply booking tickets on the day doesn’t guarantee that you won’t miss out.
Tickets to climb the Duomo often sell out days before so it’s best to pre-book your tickets a good week or so before you plan on visiting. To get the most for your money, you can buy a single access ticket for €18 which gives you access to all 5 monuments within 72 hours of your first visit. You can also book with tour vendors outside the cathedral which often include access to the Duomo as part of the price.
You can’t call taxis on the street
One difference between the likes of New York and London versus Florence is that you can’t hail a taxi on the street. Instead, you need to go to a taxi stand or call for one.
Luckily for you, Ostello Bello Firenze is centrally located so you might not need to take a taxi at all as most of the major sights are within walking distance of each other. But if you do need to take a taxi, make sure you go to an official stand.
You need to cover up in churches
When visiting any church in Europe, it’s important to remember to dress modestly. This means no bare shoulders or knees. And in Florence, this also means no hats inside the churches as well.
Make sure you bring a sarong or dress appropriately on the day you intend to go inside a church or cathedral. If you do happen to forget and find yourself unprepared to enter a church, don’t worry – there are often baskets near the entrance where you can borrow a scarf or shawl to cover up with. Street vendors are also around to sell scarves and shawls to those in line.
Make time for a day trip
If you’re staying in Florence for more than 2-3 days, we recommend making the most of your time in the area outside the city. There are a number of beautiful day trips you can take from Florence, such as Sienna, Pisa, and Lucca. You can easily visit these places by taking a train from Florence’s main station, Santa Maria Novella.
Or why not hire a car and drive into the Tuscan countryside to see local Chianti vineyards or charming hilltop towns? All are only a short drive away and will make your trip much more enjoyable.
Don’t miss the sunset
You don’t really experience the magic of Florence until you’ve seen the sky turn pink and violet over the city’s iconic skyline. Make sure to catch the sunset at least once during your visit.
Two of the best spots for this are:
- From the Ponte Vecchio, Florence’s most famous bridge
- And Piazzale Michelangelo, a hilltop square with sweeping views of the city
Stay at Ostello Bello Firenze
If you’re looking for an affordable, yet fun and social place to stay during your visit to Florence, look no further than Ostello Bello Firenze. Our hostel is centrally located, just a short walk from all the major sights in Florence. Book your stay with us here.