Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. If you love art, the amount of galleries here will keep you busy for weeks on end, though the big draws are the David and the Uffizi. More than art, there are beautiful Renaissance churches, buildings, and streets. Florence was the capital of art and culture and it shows. It’s a great jumping off point for Tuscany wineries, food tours, and boosts a great night life (It’s a popular study abroad place!).
- Hostel Prices: Hostel prices range from as low as $14 USD to as high as $35 USD per night. Private rooms begin at $68 USD.
- Budget Hotel Prices: Budget hotel rooms begin at $80 USD per night.
- Average Cost of Food: The good thing about Italy is that pizza and pasta, which will both be excellent can be found for reasonable prices. You can get 2 slices of pizza and a bottled water for under $14 USD. For dinner with wine, expect to spend around $27 USD, more if it is a touristy place. you can find cheap sandwich shops all over the city for around $7 USD and fast food costs around the same. Gelato will be around $4 USD.
- Public transportation costs: A bus ride costs $1.50 USD. For a 10 minute taxi ride, expect to pay between $15-20 USD.
Top Things to Do
- The David – The David is one of the most impressive sculptures in the world. It is a lot bigger and more detailed than you think it would be. There aren’t many must sees in the world but this is one. I saw it twice.
- Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio – This is Florence’s most famous square in the heart of the historic center with an open air sculpture exhibit. It’s right near the Uffizi.
- Il Duomo – One of Florence’s most popular site’s is the Duomo (cathedral). This huge Gothic duomo was begun in 1296. It;s one of the most popular churches in Italy. The inside is massive and very ornate. However, the real highlight is walking up to the roof (463 steps to the top). From the top, you get the most panoramic view of Florence and the iconic red roofs that cover the buildings.
- The Baptistery – The Baptistery of John the Baptist is one of Florence’s oldest buildings. It’s a real treat for architecture lovers and those who like religious history.
- Ponte Vecchio – The Ponte Vecchio (old bridge), built in 1345, is Florence’s first bridge across the Arno River and is the only surviving bridge from Florence’s medieval days. The Ponte Vecchio is still lined with shops selling gold and silver jewelry.
- Santa Croce – Santa Croce is the largest Franciscan church in Italy and holds the tombs of Michelangelo and Dante. It’s an interesting thing to see if you have seen everything else.
- Galleria de Uffizi – The Uffizi holds the world’s most important collection of Renaissance art. The most famous painting here is the Birth of Venus and it draws the biggest crowd. Most of the art here is early Renaissance religious art but towards the end of the gallery there are some portraits and Dutch work. Buy tickets ahead of time to avoid long lines.
- Visit the Piazzale Michelangelo – Head to the Piazzale Michelangelo for a great view of the city. It’s a good hike up a hill but the view of the city is absolutely stunning and you don’t need to pay for it like you do by going up the Duomo.
- Giardino di Boboli – Known commonly as the Boboli Gardens, thousands of tourists flock here every year. The landscaping and architecture is clearly influenced by the Tuscan Renaissance style. Sitting near the pond in the summer is like living in a dream. There are ancient marble statues everywhere and the scent from the citrus trees completely floods your senses.
- Central Park – Don’t let the name throw you—this place is actually a major club. One of the most popular in the city, it is complete with two outdoor dance floors, a massive indoor dance floor, VIP area, and a beautiful, artificial waterfall. Each floor has different music and there are usually different DJs every week.
- Liberia Café la Cité – This is a combination bookstore, café, and cultural center. There is free wi-fi here and rotating weekly events. Founded by intellectuals, this is a great spot for some in-depth conversation with locals and a prime atmosphere for getting some work.
- Palazzo Pitti – Until the Medici name blew up, the Pitti family was all the rage in Florence. Also major patrons of the arts, this palace serves as a beautiful ode to the family’s contribution to the cultural advancement of Florence at the time. There are several works by Filippo Lippi and Boticelli to see, in addition to many other artists’ works.
- The National Museu of Bargello – There are several great works housed here, by the various masters from the time of the Renaissance. For a cool $6 USD, you can see original pieces by Bandinelli, Donatello, Antonio Rossellino, and more. It’s just a short walk from the Piazza della Signoria.
- Eat cheap - Eating at a bar near or on Piazza della Signoria and in the square can be very expensive. Remember the further you are off of the beaten path the cheaper it will be.
- Watch for free - Florence is also home to fun people watching and beautiful parks for picnics. Avoid the costly museums.
- Travel on foot – Public transportation in Florence isn’t quite the same as other European cities as most things are within walking distance. It’s much better and cheaper to walk.