Insider tips: Planning a trip to Florence
Paul & Mark are full time travel bloggers who discover hidden gems and local specialities on their blog Anywhere We Roam. They've travelled to Florence many times and never tire of this Renaissance gem.
What should I do on my first trip to Florence?
Florence is best known for being the birthplace of Renaissance art, so visiting one of the world-class galleries is a must for first time visitors to the city. The Uffizi Gallery has one of the most prestigious art collections in the world including 2 Leonardo da Vinci paintings and several works by Botticelli. Michelangelo’s famous statue of David in the Galleria dell'Accademia is another unmissable Florence experience.
What are some hidden gems to see in Florence?
A great hidden gem in Florence is the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica. Established in the 13th century, it's one of the oldest pharmacies in the world. Today you can buy perfumes and wellness products from the beautiful gothic vaulted sales room. To slow the pace in Florence, Torrigiani Garden is a private green oasis in the centre of the city which has been carefully transformed into a romantic English garden. As private tours need to be organised with the owner, it's the perfect hidden gem in the city.
How much time should I spend in Florence?
Florence is packed with wonderful things to do, so allow at least 3 to 4 days to see all the main sights. This will be enough time to visit 2 - 3 of the main art galleries, several of the more notable churches, and some of the other main attractions that give you a taste for Florence’s vibrant culture. If you are particularly interested in art and sculpture, you would need at least 5 days to see all the galleries.
What food is Florence known for?
A great dish to try in Florence is Tagliatelle with Porcini mushroom and truffle. The simple pasta with earthy local ingredients gives it an amazing depth of flavour that has made it one of the most popular dishes in the city. Follow it up with Cantuccini e vin santo; the small almond biscuits known as biscotti elsewhere in the world, served with sweet dessert wine for dunking.
What is the best way to get around Florence?
Florence is a very compact city with all the main tourist attractions within easy walking distance of each other. With tight medieval laneways and all but local cars banned from the centre, taxis can generally take longer than walking. Another great way to get around is to hire a bike or go on an organise bike tour with a guide.
What are the best months to visit Florence?
The best time to visit Florence is May and June when the weather is warm and the city comes alive with festivals and outdoor dining experiences. The main attractions are all operational at this time, and the significant tourist numbers and very hot weather of July and August has not yet arrived.
What are the best neighborhoods to visit in Florence?
One of the best neighbourhoods in Florence is Sant’Ambrogio. Just east of the imposing duomo, tiny laneways overflow with fresh food markets, local restaurants, and traditional cafes. It's the perfect slice of old-school Florence. For something different, the San Lorenzo area is developing a reputation for artisanal food, organic restaurants, and some of the best gelato in Florence.
What are the best neighborhoods for food?
One of the best areas for food in Florence is Santo Spirito. Just across the river from the centre, Santo Spirito is a local neighbourhood with a bohemian feel. Pizza restaurants line leafy squares that are perfect for casual outdoor dining. Via Santo Spirito is the main street which is usually lined with patrons leaning up against the old walls, sipping a wine as they wait for a table to come available.
What are the best neighborhoods for shopping?
San Niccolò is a great area for independent luxury shops especially perfumeries and jewellery stores that look more like museums than retail spaces. But for more traditional Florentine shopping, the open-air market, Piazza del Mercato Nuovo, is one of the best places in the city to shop for leather goods with a staggering number of options to choose from.
What neighborhood should I stay in when I visit Florence?
The historical centre of Florence is the best place to stay with easy access to the main attractions. The area around Santa Croce is on the edge of the main tourist centre but it has a slightly less-crowded feel and great options for dining. The area around Santa Maria Novella is slightly further away (about a 7-minute walk) but it has a lovely local residential feel.
What is the best family-friendly thing to do in Florence?
The Uffizi Gallery has organised family tours specially designed for young kids and teenagers including treasure hunts, trivia and interactive games. The whole family will enjoy the climb up to the top of the dome of the duomo for stunning views over Florence and the Leonardo da Vinci museum is great for older teenagers with an interest in the sciences.
What is the best thing to do in Florence for solo travelers?
Florence has a large expat community and it's full of travellers throughout the year, so you'll not feel out of place travelling solo in Florence. It's common to see people enjoying the restaurant scene by themselves and the bar of a traditional cafe is the perfect place to while away some time by yourself. One of the main benefits of solo travel in Florence is the ability to spend exactly as long as you wish exploring the world-class art galleries.
What is the best thing to do in Florence for couples?
One of the best things for couples to do in Florence is to simply pick a fantastic spot to watch the sunset over this beautiful city. Piazzale Michelangelo is a park about 25 minutes’ walk from the centre of the city with sweeping views over Florence. After the sun goes down, take in a classical concert at one of the churches for a truly memorable evening.
What are the best annual events in Florence?
One of the best annual events in the city is the Florence Carnival which celebrates the diverse world of culture with live music and parades through the city featuring a massive puppet dragon. In the summer months (June and July), the Florence Dance Festival overtakes the city with a programme of music, poetry and cinema.
What are the best things to do around Florence?
While in Florence, it’s a great idea to take advantage of the beautiful Tuscan countryside surrounding the city. One of the best places to explore is San Miniato which can be visited on a day trip from Florence. The charming hillside village is set in a stunning location and it’s the home of truffle hunting in Italy.