Florence | Travel Guide
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Update October 4:
Now the traffic light list is gone, if you're fully-vaccinated you won't need a pre-departure test to come back to the UK, just a day 2 PCR test and the UK government's Passenger Locator Form. If you're not fully-vaccinated the old amber list rules apply - pre-departure test then 10 days' self-isolation with tests on days 2 and 8.
Children under 18 won't need to self-isolate but will still need to take the precautionary tests. Those aged 5-10 only need to take the day 2 test and those under 4 are exempt from any testing or self-isolation.
Italy asks for a negative antigen or molecular swab test no more than 48 hours before arrival.
When you're there:
Most of Italy's Covid restrictions have now eased. There is no longer a curfew and there are no "orange" or "red" regions, though some regional restrictions remain. You'll need to make sure you follow the rules of the region you're visiting. Check the government's travel advice for more details.
Florence Travel Guide
Hello and welcome to our Florence Travel Guide. We're here to help you travel better in this beautiful city.
Florence is the capital of the Tuscany region of Italy and lovingly nicknamed the City of Lilies. It was once the heart of the Renaissance and regular stomping ground of illustrious names like Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo. To this day Florence is one of the world's foremost culture capitals, with nearly a third of the world's art treasures residing within the city. It's 123 miles from Venice, which we've also been to - check out our Venice travel guide.
If your time in Florence is brief it's easy to miss out and we think it helps to get the lowdown on some of the city's hidden secrets like how women travelling alone can get discounted taxi fares, where to get the best views and how hand gestures can make all the difference in a conversation.
So grab your camera and phrasebook, and come with us on a whistle-stop tour of art, culture, delicious food and Florentine charm!
What to expect from our Florence travel guide:
How to get to Florence
Travelling to Florence is easy whether it's by plane, train or automobile! Take a look at some of the most popular choices:
Flying to Florence from the UK is normally the quickest way to get to there, taking just over 2 hours to touch down. If you book yourself an airport lounge before you fly you can squeeze in a last-minute flick through your Italian phrasebook while indulging in the peace and quiet with some drinks and snacks.
Florence's nearest airport
The city of Florence does have its own small airport, but most budget airlines fly into Pisa instead as it's only an hour's bus ride away. Here are some of your options to get to Florence from both Florence Airport and Pisa Airport:How to get to Florence from Florence Airport
Florence is easy to reach from its namesake airport, just 3 miles outside of the city centre. The best choices of how to make this journey are by taxi or by 'Volainbus'. A taxi cost us €22 for a single journey and took around 15 minutes. The dedicated Volainbus costs €6 for a single and €10 for a return, taking 30 minutes to reach Florence. It runs every half an hour from 5.30am and then hourly from 8.30am until half midnight.How to get to Florence from Pisa Airport
If you're coming from Pisa Airport, the best thing to do is to take the Terravision direct bus transfer to Florence. The journey takes about an hour, and costs €4.99 for one adult each way, €4 each way for under 13s and under 5s go free.
Alternatively, you could take away all of the stress of buses and book an airport transfer from either airport. You'll have peace of mind, knowing your transport is sorted and booked for you before you've even stepped on the plane.
The main rail station into Florence, Firenze Santa Maria Novella, is in the city centre and conveniently near the main tourists spots. Although taking the train is one of the most affordable ways to travel to Florence, it can take almost an entire day from London, with connections to catch in Paris. This is something to bear in mind if your time in the city is short and you want to get in as many sights in Florence as possible.
If you're hitting the road to Florence hiring car is the best option for travelling through Europe. However hire cars aren't allowed in the historic city centre. The ZTL is a zone inside the main ring road where unlicensed vehicles will be fined. Our best advice for road trippers is to stay outside the ring road and either catch a bus or walk into the city centre.
If you've not rented a car abroad before take a look at our guide on how to book car hire abroad.
The Green Green Green list
Keep up to date with everywhere you can travel this summer.
The best ways to get around the city
Once you've arrived in Florence and dropped your bags off it's time to start exploring this beautiful, historic city.
Florence is ideal for pedestrians as the city centre is so small - it should only take about 25 minutes to cross on foot. What's more, almost all points of interest and the best things to do in Florence's city centre are pedestrian friendly.
We recommend taking the time to really enjoy Florence and walking as much as possible will give you a more intimate insight into the city than any other mode of transport.
Remember to take some good walking shoes, a day of walking in Florence can take its toll!
If you're staying in the suburbs of Florence, then catching a bus might be your best solution to save your legs.
The city has a good, reliable bus service, with the following fares:
- 90 minutes (paid in advance) - €1.20 (£1)
- 90 minutes (paid on board) - €2 (£1.70)
- 24 hours - €5 (£4.40)
- 3 days - €12 (£10.60)
- 7 days - €18 (£16)
Daily and weekly tickets can only be purchased in advance. For bus routes, timetables and maps head to ataf.net.
If you'd rather take a taxi around Florencex they can't be flagged down in the street so you'll have to find one of the many taxi ranks around the city. They should display common fares inside, so check how much you should be paying before agreeing to ride.
Women travelling alone between 9pm and 2am can get a 10% discount when taking a taxi. Just make sure to ask, as some drivers will not automatically offer it.
Where to eat in Florence
Trying some of the delicious local cuisine was one of our favourite things to do in Florence. You can't do much better than sampling what's on offer in the city's multi-storied central market (Mercato Centrale), in the recently renovated old centre of Florence.
What to find on the ground floor of Florence's Central Market
On the ground floor you'll find loads of stalls, offering a wide range of local foods. If you're feeling adventurous, you can try some authentic Tuscan delicacies, such as pig's feet, giant sheets of tripe and whole chickens with every appendage still attached - including the head.
For the less adventurous palate, there's also a range of cheeses, cured meats and olives, as well as cluster of seafood stalls in the northern corner, where you can find fresh, local fish and shellfish. Our favourite stall was Da Nerbone. Founded in 1872, it's a cafeteria style eatery offering a choice of traditional sandwiches and salads perfect for a light lunch. Da Nerbone can get swamped at lunchtime so expect to queue for their culinary delights.
What to find on the first floor of Florence's Central Market
A trip to Florence's central market isn't complete without checking out the magnificent food hall upstairs from the ground floor market. Recently reopened in 2014, there's no shortage of restaurants and bars offering an authentic Florentine experience. You can also rest assured that most dietary requirements will be catered for, with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options.
Art and culture in Florence
If there's one aspect of Florence that epitomises the city, it's art and culture. Housing a third of the world's art treasures (according to UNESCO), Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance and is a must for art aficionados or those curious about culture. With so many things to see and do in Florence, it can be tricky to know where to look first.
To help you get started, here are some of our favourite places to enjoy art and culture in this unique city:
The Uffizi Gallery museum houses the Medici family's art collection, and is packed to the rafters with Renaissance masterpieces. Visitors can see Botticelli's incomparable 'Birth of Venus' among other great works.
There are few works of art more famous than Michelangelo's statue of David, which is housed in Florence's Galleria dell'Accademia. The 14 foot, marble statue stands inside the gallery, but you can also find a smaller replica on display in its original location at the Palazzo Vecchio.
Il Duomo di Firenze
Florence Cathedral, known locally as il Duomo di Firenze, is the city's most famous basilica. Inside you can find Vasari's fresco of the Last Judgement, or climb the 463 steps to the top for panoramic views of the skyline. We loved all the art in Florence, but we can't think of anything more stunning than seeing arguably its best work of art - the city itself.
The famous Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) is a medieval construction that stretches across the Arno River near the Uffizi gallery. Interestingly, it was the only bridge in Florence to survive the German retreat during World War II, as even Adolf Hitler declared that it was too beautiful to bomb.
Ponte Vecchio is also noteworthy for the fact it's one of the last bridges in Florence to still house shops and merchant stands. It's a great place to pick up a souvenir.
Should I book a tour?
For an expert, insider view on all of Florence's hidden treasures we recommend booking a tour with touringflorence.com. Local knowledge is invaluable when visiting somewhere new, so dive in, book a tour and experience Florence with a pro.
Do you need to be able to speak Italian to enjoy Florence?
English is spoken and understood throughout Florence, particularly in the tourist hot spots. To survive here you don't need to be fluent in Italian, but it certainly helps to learn a few key phrases and words. The effort will be appreciated by locals, and it's a good chance to show off your skills to friends and family!
Some useful phrases
- Hello - Ciao (informal) or Buongiorno (formal - meaning 'Good Morning')
- Goodbye - Ciao (informal) or Arrivederci (formal)
- Yes - Sì
- No - No
- Please - Per favore (formal)
- Thank you - Grazie
- Do you speak English? - Parla inglese?
- don't understand - Non ho capito
Hand gestures when speaking Italian
It's a common stereotype that the Italian language is very animated and emotive. Much of this stems from the use of hand gestures in the language, which is believed to have derived from competition for attention in busy cities. When used correctly, they are a fun way of emphasising what you want to say.
How to make the most of your money
So far we've established how to get to Florence, as well as the wealth of culture, places to eat and things to do during your Italian holiday, but to enjoy all of these things it helps to know how many euros to bring.
How much money should I take to Florence?
Like the rest of Italy Florence's currency is euros. Prices in the city's tourist hotspots can be pretty high so we think it's a good idea to purchase tickets to attractions before your holiday to spread the cost and avoid carrying a lot money.
If you're unsure about carrying cash on you through the busy Florentine streets, we recommend picking up a currency card like the Caxton FX card before you leave. You can load the card up with your travel money before you set off for Florence, meaning all your funds are ready when you are.
The exchange rate is set there and then at the best rate so you can travel with peace of mind, knowing you're protected from the volatility of the currency market.
Where to get the best prices in Florence
As with most popular destinations, you can expect to pay a lot more sitting out on the main squares of Florence. For the best prices, walk just a few streets away from the main tourist spots and you'll be amazed at how quickly the price drops!
If you're looking to visit Florence's bars and clubs, be prepared to pay €3-4 for a beer and €8-10 for a cocktail in some of the trendier haunts. We think Piazza Santa Croce is definitely worth a visit on a night out. Saluti!
You'll also find many restaurants in Florence offer a service called Aperitivo, from 6/7-9pm, where you buy a glass of wine (or equivalent drink) for €7 and get an all-you-can-eat buffet included in the price. A reasonably priced, authentic Italian experience!
How much did we spend?
Here's a breakdown of some of the costs* of our Florence trip:
- Lunch - €8 (£7)
- Coffee - €2.50 (£2.20)
- 4 Bed apartment - €109 per night
- Toilets - €1 (90p)
- Uffizi Gallery - Adults €25 (£22), 18-25s €20 (£7.70), Under 18s Free
- Galleria dell'Academia - Adults €20 (£17.70), 18-25s €15 (£13.30), Under 18s Free
- Il Duomo di Firenze - Free
Rate of exchange correct on 09/02/18
That's it from our trip to Florence. We hope we've given you a taste of just some of the amazing things to see and do in this spectacular city.
Looking for more inspiration, information or a handy travel guide? You'll find more on our travel hub.
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