Hotels in Florence

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Florence hotels

So much about Florence comes down to the art of looking good. A center of the world’s artistic innovations for centuries, Florence was at the epicenter of the renaissance thanks to its artists, and its wealthy families’ patronage of them, and the masterpieces are still on show today in this much-altered city. From the always heaving Piazza della Signoria to the boutiques and brand names which outfit this generation of the Florentine elite, the city is a bustling and beautiful place where unsurpassable artistic genius rubs shoulders with gothic and renaissance architecture, not to mention the city’s jewel – the Uffizi.

Things to see

There’s an embarrassment of riches when it comes to architecture and majesty in Florence, but one of the city’s most astonishing sights is the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Construction begun way back in the 13th Century, and this gothic masterpiece with its iconic dome – once the largest in the world – is probably the most recognisable feature of the Florentine skyline. You can also scale the heights of the tower for an unforgettable view of the city. The Ponte Vecchio is a medieval bridge made of stone which straddles the Arno River, and is the oldest of the city’s six bridges. Within its covered segments stand shops where jewelers and art dealers compete with souvenir sellers for your business. In the shadow of the Duomo, the Piazza del Duomo offers a place to unwind and take in the views of the cathedral from ground level, as well as being a perfect spot to unwind with a traditional gelato.

Hotels in Florence

In the city once run by the Medicis and still packed with renaissance art, you won’t be surprised to learn that luxury is always an option. There are plenty of five-star hotels in Florence, from villas to guesthouses with pillars, courtyards, and fountains. High-end hotels have a wide variety to offer, from outdoor pools and on-site spas to business centers. Mid-range hotels should offer as standard WiFi and flat-screen televisions, and most will also have in-room tea and coffee making facilities, too.

Where to stay

The area around Santa Maria Novella is hugely popular with tourists, thanks in part to the fact there are more reasonably priced options here than in many other quarters, but be sure to aim for the area between Santa Maria Novella and the river where you’ll find great nightlife, rather than the region near the train station which tends to be noisy, busy, and a little less glamorous than you’d hope for. As well as being central, the medieval alleys around the Duomo are close to the city’s famed architectural highpoints – not to mention the statue of David – with a stunning mix of baroque buildings and leafy squares.

How to get to

The city is served by the small Peretola Airport which sees arrivals from many destinations across the continent. A regular Vola in Bus service runs around every 30 minutes from the airport to the city center, taking around 15 minutes depending on traffic. As well as Peretola Airport, there are alternative flight options if you’re willing to travel a little further to Pisa Airport or Bologna, which both cater to budget airlines and are easily accessible from Florence. The city’s other main hub is Santa Maria Novella Station which connects Florence to cities across Tuscany, and Italy.

When are the best times to travel to Florence?

A city of legendary beauty, Florence is worth visiting at any time of year – although you may prefer to avoid the soaring temperatures and larger crowds of the summer. Perhaps the ideal times to visit are spring and autumn, when it’s still lovely and warm, and you can sit back and dine in the many al fresco restaurants and cafés. The other advantage of autumn is that it coincides with the harvest season and there will be delicious seasonal treats to be enjoyed.

What are the top must-see attractions in Florence?

You can call it the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flowers, but most people know this iconic Italian landmark as the Duomo. The grandest religious building in Florence is simply jaw-dropping, mainly because of the famous red-tiled dome which was engineered by the irreverent genius Filippo Brunelleschi. Elsewhere in the city, you can wander amid the sculptures and flowerbeds of the Boboli Gardens, which sprawl beside the Pitti Palace, once home to the Medici dynasty. Then, check out Ponte Vecchio, the 14th-century bridge which actually has boutiques running along its length.

What are the best types of food and restaurants in Florence?

Meat lovers will be in their element in Florence. This, after all, is home to the bistecca alla fiorentina – think a huge, prehistoric-seeming T-bone slab, chargrilled to caramelised perfection on chestnut embers. Panzanella, a bread and tomato salad, and hearty ribollita soup, are among the other traditional dishes to look out for across the city. Restaurants are everywhere, although the San Lorenzo district is particularly good for seeking out casual trattorias. Don’t forget to grab a voluptuously thick and creamy gelato afterwards.

What are the top things to do in Florence?

Your hotel in Florence places you within the birthplace of the Renaissance, so exploring the artistic treasures is a must. The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most celebrated museums on Earth, featuring works by the likes of Botticelli, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. If you want to see Michelangelo’s immortal David sculpture up close, head over to the Galleria dell'Accademia di Firenze. Very different sorts of exhibits await at the Museo Galileo – this 11th-century building displays Galileo’s own scientific instruments, and even his preserved finger.

What are some fun facts about Florence?

If you do happen to see Michelangelo’s David, just think: the great man was only in his 20s when he made it, using a block of marble which lay neglected in a yard in Florence for decades. It’s not just Renaissance artists who came from this city – did you know the pioneering British nurse Florence Nightingale was actually born here? As well as being a place of artistic innovation, Florence also set the pace for urban growth – in 1339 it became the first city in the whole of Europe to have paved streets.

What kinds of public transport are there in Florence?

Travel in Florence will involve a lot of ambling on foot. The historic centre, with its many opulent and centuries-old treasures, is fairly compact, so you don’t have to worry about public transport if you’re staying in the heart of town. Getting out to the suburbs is easy enough, though, thanks to the buses and modern tram system.

Florence travel guides

Florence travel guides