Where To Stay in Florence, Italy - Guide of Best Areas and Hotels

Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany, and is located in the northern part of the Italian peninsula. It was the heart of medieval European trade and finance and one of the richest cities of the Middle Ages. The Renaissance is considered to have originated in Florence, and thus this Italian city has been named “the Athens of the Middle Ages” due to its contribution to the world’s advancements in the arts and sciences.

Florence ([ˈflɔrəns]; Italian: Firenze [fiˈrɛntse]) is a unique city as it offers a world class culinary, art and cultural experience at virtually every square foot. And as you can walk from one end of Florence to the other in about 30 minutes, it becomes so much easier to indulge in all this wonderful city has to offer during a several-day stay here.

The Historic Centre of Florence was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982 and has since been visited by millions of tourists each year, making it one of the most popular travel destinations in Italy. Perhaps this is why the large chain hotels don’t have a strong presence in Florence. Your best choice of a place to stay would be a family owned, independently run home or palazzo converted into a hotel.

Note: Many of the rental options available are situated on the top floor of old or historic buildings that do not have an elevator. If you are carrying a lot of luggage, or stairs can somewhat be an issue for you, make sure the rental you choose does have an elevator and you won’t be annoyed by stairs.

Table of Content


Part 1. A quick glance at Florence’s recommended neighbourhoods

Duomo – as central as it gets, this is the best option if you’re only staying for a day or two as it is closest to all major attractions

San Lorenzo – traditional and bustling, it provides the best of Tuscan food as well as international cuisine and plenty of affordable rentals

Santa Maria Novella – pleasant and residential, is mostly quiet and safe, good choice for budget travelers and family stays

San Marco - vibrant, hippie-ish and cultural yet a relaxed and pleasant residential area

Santa Croce – a fun and genuine neighborhood, located around the art-filled church with the same name, stay here if you want to feel like a local

Uffizi – a more expensive, high-class area with elegant shopping streets, fashionable cafes and hotels

Oltrarno – offbeat and lively neighborhood across the Arno river, come here for the nightlife, also best place to shop for vintage and antique gems


Part 2. Recommended neighbourhoods and hotels to stay in Florence

Duomo

Pronounced: [du’ɔ,mɔ]

- Overview

The heart of Florence, Duomo, is surrounded by all the major points of interest in the city. This is one of its oldest parts, and Piazza Della Repubblica is the site of the ancient Roman city’s forum. This is the place to be for a truly immersive experience. This is indeed the best neighborhood for sightseeing and breathing in the art and history of Florence. You'll find plenty of options for accommodation and eating out. Despite being busy with tourists, Duomo is quite laid back, suitable for families and those unable or unwilling to walk a lot. Staying in this area is a bit pricier, but be mindful of cheaper options in Duomo – as these will most likely be of less quality than you might expect.

- Main Attractions

* Florence Cathedral (must see)
* Battistero di San Giovanni (must see)
* Campanile di Giotto (must see)
* Casa di Dante (must see)
* Palazzo Strozzi (must see)
* Santi Michele e Gaetano
* Santa Maria Maggiore (must see)
* Orsanmichele
* Palazzo Rucellai
* Sasso di Dante
* Badia Fiorentina

- Recommended Walks

Here’s the list of guides that can help you get the most out of your travel around Duomo:

* Duomo Walking Tour
* Dante’s Florence Walking Tour
* Duomo Souvenir Shopping

- Pros of Staying Here

- Great location
- Wealth of accommodation and sightseeing
- Easy access to any other area

- Cons of Staying Here

- Expensive in terms of accommodation, food, entertainment and shopping

- Recommended Hotels within $510 - $1450

Palazzo Vecchietti - Residenza D’Epoca - a luxury hotel hosted in a 16th-century building, boasting gorgeous rooms and exceptional personalized service

Other hotels worth mentioning: Rocco Forte Hotel Savoy (5*)

- Recommended Hotels within $199 - $353

B&B Il Salotto di Firenze - a boutique style hotel in the closest proximity to the Duomo with an on-site bar and private parking
Residenza d’Epoca Visacci - a neat hotel with well-furnished rooms, some of them also offering gorgeous views of the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral; great value for money

Other hotels worth mentioning: B&B Soggiorno Battistero, Hotel Pendini (3*), Hotel Perseo (3*)

- Recommended Hotels within $44 - $198

B&B La Terrazza Sul Duomo - a wonderful bed & breakfast right next to Duomo with nicely decorated rooms and a top floor terrace offering high value for the price
Antico Canto Del Centro - a centrally located bed & breakfast boasting stylish rooms and good sound isolation, assuring quiet nights
Relais Del Duomo - a neat and homey bed & breakfast with modernly decorated rooms offering great value for the prices charged

Other hotels worth mentioning: Adelaide House B&B, Al Vico n.3, Lady Luna B&B


San Lorenzo

Pronounced: [,sʌn ,lɔ’rɛntsɔ]

- Overview

The heart of this neighborhood is the Mercato Centrale – a bustling and busy market area with vendors selling anything from food items to souvenirs and authentic Italian products. However, as this is a central and very touristy area, be wary of pushy vendors and possible counterfeit goods at the market. There are plenty of accommodation options, most averagely priced. If you are travelling on a budget, it might be easier for you to find a rental here. Choose this neighbourhood if you want to have access to fresh fruits and veggies every day and have time to shop around for best products to take home. It’s a hub for foodies, as some of the best restaurants, wine bars, and gelaterias are located here. Renting here, you will have the best of Tuscan cuisine at your doorstep.

- Main Attractions

* Palazzo Medici Riccardi (must see)
* Basilica di San Lorenzo (must see)
* Cappella dei Principi
* Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana

- Recommended Walks

This tour will help you to find the main attraction of San Lorenzo way easier:

* Indipendenza Walking Tour

- Pros of Staying Here

- Central location
- Easy access to all the city’s attractions
- Plenty of great restaurants and cafes
- The place for souvenir shopping

- Cons of Staying Here

- Busy and crowded

- Recommended Hotels within $199 - $353

Palazzo della Stufa Residenza D’Epoca - a wonderful B&B offering spacious and clean rooms and perfect beds for a good night’s sleep after exploring the city
Hotel Glance in Florence (4*) - a modern and tastefully designed hotel with professional stuff and an enjoyable rooftop swimming pool and bar

Other hotels worth mentioning: Room Mate Luca (4*), Hotel Burchianti (3*)

- Recommended Hotels within $44 - $198

Guelfa Number Five - a stylish B&B good to rent in for both solo travelers and families
La Stella D’Oro B&B - a homey bed & breakfast with friendly and helpful hosts and comfortable rooms, providing great value for the prices charged

Other hotels worth mentioning: Zip B&B in Florence, B&B La Residenza Dell’Orafo, B&B My Way, Hotel Collodi Firenze


Santa Maria Novella

Pronounced: [‘sʌntʌ mʌ’rɪa ,nɔ’vɛlla]

- Overview

If you arrive by train, then this is the first area you see, as the Santa Maria Novella train station would be your destination stop. The area is lovely, its heart being the tranquil Piazza di Santa Maria Novella – with the most charming churches in Florence. The vast and lush Parco Delle Cascine park can be your refuge from the bustling streets. East of the train station you can find a quiet residential area, well removed from the zones frequented by tourists yet still a manageable walk away from all the major landmarks. This would be the best option for anyone looking to (at least in part) avoid the crowds. Due to its safety and lack of noise, it is a good option for families. A tip would be to avoid the area right around the train station as it is perhaps the least likable, but still quite safe. Overall, this area is very pleasant, multi-cultured and budget-friendly.

- Main Attractions

* Santa Maria Novella
* Mercato dell'Antiquariato ai Giardini della Fortezza da Basso
* Chiesa di Ognissanti
* Farmacia di Santa Maria Novella

- Recommended Walks

These tours below will provide you the main information on the location and significance of the historic attractions and main streets in this neighbourhood:

* Santa Maria Novella Walking Tour
* Novella and Indipendenza Walking Tour

- Pros of Staying Here

- Budget-friendly lodging and dining
- Wide choice of accommodation
- Multi-cultured
- Not as crowded
- Tranquil piazzas and a gorgeous park to relax and unwind

- Cons of Staying Here

- Limited options for sit down dining
- Somewhat gritty area around the train station

- Recommended Hotels within $510 - $1450

Grand Hotel Minerva (4*) - a well located hotel boasting a beautiful rooftop swimming pool and sightseeing terrace
The St. Regis Florence (5*) - a luxury hotel hosted in a historical building featuring a Michelin-starred restaurant and useful on-site facilities

Other hotels worth mentioning: The Westin Excelsior (5*)

- Recommended Hotels within $149 - $257

c-hotels Ambasciatori (4*) - a modern hotel located in close proximity to the train station, good for family stay

Other hotels worth mentioning: Sina Villa Medici, Autograph Collection (5*)

- Recommended Hotels within $199 - $353

Hotel L’Orologio (4*) - a well-decorated modern hotel with stylish rooms and on-site facilities, good for family stay or if you are visiting with a pet
Florence Luxury Suites and Wellness - a boutique-style bed & breakfast with amazing hosts, providing high value for the money

Other hotels worth mentioning: c-hotels Joy (4*), NH Firenze (4*)

- Recommended Hotels within $44 - $198

BandBFirenze 8 Cittadella 8 - a comfy B&B boasting great location and a fantastic host, offering great value for the prices charged
B&B Terrazza Belfiore - a wonderful B&B with spacious and clean rooms, great for a family stay
Nancy House - simple and very affordable B&B, ideal for budget travelers, offering a good location

Other hotels worth mentioning: I Sleep B&B, La Porta del Paradiso, B&B Il Marzocco


San Marco

Pronounced: [,sʌn ‘mʌrkɔ]

- Overview

Although located very close to the Duomo of Florence, this residential area is surprisingly relaxed, pleasant and refined. There are several universities located here, so you will encounter lots of students, as well as elderly residents reading their daily paper with a cup of espresso. Here you can find some of the most affordable hotels, so close to the center. Renting here is best for families with children and those choosing to save on hotel prices. Staying in this neighborhood will give you an opportunity to take a break from the chaotic touristy parts of the city and enjoy a little bit of a more authentic Tuscan rhythm of life. The only downside is that there is limited offer for dining and nightlife in this area. However great restaurants remain just a few minutes of walking from your hotel.

- Main Attractions

* San Marco (must see)
* Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze (must see)
* National Archaeological Museum

- Recommended Walks

This self-guided walking tour will be of great help getting around:

* Florence Museums

- Pros of Staying Here

- Botanical Gardens to relax, unwind or have a picnic
- Close to the center
- Decent shopping
- Hotel gems
- Relaxed neighborhood, great for families

- Cons of Staying Here

- Few restaurants and nightclubs

- Recommended Hotels within $510 - $1450

Four Seasons Hotel Firenze (5*) - a luxury hotel with Renaissance decoration yet plenty modern facilities, featuring a great spa and Michelin-starred restaurant

- Recommended Hotels within $199 - $353

San Giuliano Inn - a modern yet very homey inn, with polite and helpful staff and pleasant treats
Hotel Orto de’ Medici (4*) - a modernly decorated hotel boasting a fascinating 16th-century internal garden, offering family rooms and great value for the prices charged

Other hotels worth mentioning: Boutique Hotel Hugo (1*), Antica Dimora Johlea

- Recommended Hotels within $44 - $198

Hotel Firenze Capitale (3*) - an authentic and small hotel with large rooms and great hosts
Residenza D’Epoca Home In Palace - a conveniently located lovely hotel hosted in the historical building top floor of the Palazzo Capponi all'Annunziata, offering great views and professional service
Wow Florence Hostel - a contemporary hostel with clean rooms and good storage spaces

Other hotels worth mentioning: Relais Modern, Le Stanze Dei Medici, Hotel Miceli - Civico 50 (2*)


Santa Croce

Pronounced: [‘sʌntʌ ‘krɔtʃe]

- Overview

This neighborhood has stayed mostly unchanged and unmarked by the floods of tourists over the years, remaining the most genuine central spot. It is a happening area, filled with young people, and walking its lively streets you will feel like a local. Shopping wise, it hosts many authentic Tuscan leather shops, which this area is famous for. East of Piazza Santa Croce, you will find the popular flea market - Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio, held on the last Sunday of each month. Its surroundings are a family-oriented area. There is a good selection of affordable hotels. Choose Santa Croce if you want to be close to the nightlife, cool dining and shopping. If you prefer a non-touristy place and more relaxed atmosphere during the day, rent in Sant’Ambrogio.

- Main Attractions

* Basilica di Santa Croce (must see)
* Pazzi Chapel
* Casa Buonarroti
* Bruno and Jacopo Lastrucci workshop

- Recommended Walks

Get the most out of this neighbourhood’s nightlife and exploring the attractions during the day with these guides:

* Santa Croce Walking Tour
* Historic Centre Nightlife

- Pros of Staying Here

- Most genuine neighbourhood in Florence – you will feel like a local
- Amazing nightlife
- Important landmarks
- Close to Il Duomo
- Possible to rent in tranquil areas

- Cons of Staying Here

- Some areas get very loud at night

- Recommended Hotels within $199 - $353

Plaza Hotel Lucchesi (4*) - a well-located hotel with on-site parking and a small rooftop pool and terrace offering some amazing views; perfect for romantic and family stay
Hotel Home Florence (4*) - a very friendly hotel featuring rooms with minimalist yet elegant decor and a small but practical gym: good value for the money

Other hotels worth mentioning: Hotel Privilege (3*), LHP Hotel River (5*)

- Recommended Hotels within $44 - $198

Hotel La Casa di Morfeo (3*) - a nice hotel with comfortable rooms, good for family stay

Other hotels worth mentioning: Carpe Diem B&B, Hotel Il Poeta Dante (3*)


Uffizi

Pronounced: [uf’fɪt,tsɪ]

- Overview

Uffizi is one of the most identifiable landmarks of Florence. Located steps away from the city center, it is encrusted with gems of the Renaissance architecture. Today, this area is the more high-class part of the city. Renting here may come at a heftier price, however affordable options are available. If you will choose a hotel in Uffizi, you will have some of the most fashionable bars and restaurants at your doorstep. The famous shopping streets, where you will find world famous luxury Italian brands will be right next to you. Stay here to spot the latest trends and get inspired by the Florentinian street fashion. Making Uffizi your home base during your stay in Florence will mean you can bathe in the luxurious and noble lifestyle Northern Italy is known for.

- Main Attractions

* Uffizi (must see)
* Piazza della Signoria (must see)
* Chiesa di San Pier Scheraggio
* Palazzo Vecchio (must see)
* Palazzo Davanzati
* Museo Galileo
* Santa Trinita (must see)
* Palazzo Corsini al Parione
* Bargello (must see)
* Palazzo Spini Feroni
* Complesso di San Firenze
* Piazzetta del Limbo

- Recommended Walks

With this self-guided walking tour you will learn more about some of the Uffizi’s attractions:

* Novella Walking Tour

- Pros of Staying Here

- Close to the city center
- Great shopping and dining options
- High end hotels
- Important landmarks

- Cons of Staying Here

- A more expensive area of town

- Recommended Hotels within $354 - $509

Hotel Degli Orafi (4*) - a friendly hotel hosted in a historical building, offering well-appointed large air-conditioned rooms, and nice views from the roof bar and garden

Other hotels worth mentioning: Hotel Bernini Palace (5*)

- Recommended Hotels within $199 - $353

Hotel Renaissance (3*) - lovely hotel combining Renaissance decor with modern facilities, providing great value for the prices charged
Porcellino Gallery - The Tuscan Collection - an interestingly designed hotel hosted in a 16th-century building, combining a boutique style B&B with an art gallery

Other hotels worth mentioning: Hotel Della Signoria (3*), Hotel Balestri (4*), Hotel Hermitage (3*)

- Recommended Hotels within $44 - $198

Uffizi Harmony - a very affordable and wonderful B&B with spacious rooms boasting an exceptional host and good location: great value for the money
Residenza La Musa Amarcord - a well-located boutique hotel hosted in an 18th-century building yet equipped with contemporary facilities, good for family stay
Residenza Delle Arti - an awesome and quiet B&B, although located in a busy area, offering great value for the prices charged

Other hotels worth mentioning: Affittacamere Nel Cuore Di Firenze, B&B San Remigio, B&B La Signoria Di Firenze


Oltrarno

Pronounced: [,ɔl’tra:rnɔ]

- Overview

Oltrarno – across the Arno, is the neighborhood of the artisans. Since the middle ages, it became an area sought after by the aristocrats which have built palaces in this beautiful place. The neighborhood becomes very lively during aperitivo hour and after – there are amazing bars to choose from, and drinks come at a cheaper price than in the center of the city. Hotel prices are average in Oltrarno. This area is best for those looking to have some fun in Florence and enjoy a drink in breathtaking surroundings. Renting here is also convenient if you plan to do some shopping. Every second Sunday of each month you can visit the Santo Spirito flea market – here you can find some real vintage and antique treasures.

- Main Attractions

* Palazzo Pitti (must see)
* Ponte Vecchio Bridge
* Giardino di Boboli (must see)
* Santo Spirito
* Chiesa di San Felice
* Santa Maria del Carmine
* Forte di Belvedere
* San Frediano in Cestello
* Chiesa di Santa Felicita
* La Specola
* Casa Guidi

- Recommended Walks

There is a lot to discover in Oltrarno. Use these guides to get around this big and beautiful neighbourhood:

* Arno South Bank Walking Tour
* City Orientation Walking Tour
* Maggio and Fossi Antiques Hunting

- Pros of Staying Here

- Panoramic views
- Beautiful green oasis of Boboli Gardens
- Lively, diverse and affordable nightlife and bars

- Cons of Staying Here

- Fewer hotels
- May be too loud at night for families with children

- Recommended Hotels within $354 - $509

Villa la Vedetta (5*) - a bit remote, but wonderful luxurious hotel with free parking and plenty of on-site facilities, perfect for a romantic and family stay

- Recommended Hotels within $199 - $353

Piazza Pitti Palace - Residenza D’Epoca - a very authentic hotel hosted in a historical building, conveying a truly luxurious feel to your stay
Horto Convento (4*) - a delightful hotel, centrally-located on a quiet street providing great value for the money

Other hotels worth mentioning: Palazzo Guicciardini, Hotel La Scaletta (3*), Hotel Palazzo Guadagni (3*)

- Recommended Hotels within $44 - $198

Palazzo Ridolfi - Residenza D’epoca - a very elegant hotel conveying a luxurious feel to your stay, providing great value for the money, ideal for a family stay
B&Beatrice - a very friendly B&B boasting a quiet location, helpful staff and nice rooms

Other hotels worth mentioning: La Torre Del Castello - Residenza D’Epoca, Hotel Relais Il Cestello (3*)

Besides all the above recommended neighbourhoods to stay in in Florence, you should also consider the Hills, surroundings of Florence. Particularly if visiting in summer, when the city heat becomes overwhelming, rentals available here might be the best option to choose, especially when visiting with a family. Both hotels and villas usually feature pools and spas that can be quite a treat if you explore the city during the day and then get to relax on your return.


Part 3. Getting from the airport to your hotel

Florence is a small city, and due to its compactness all the attractions are within walking distances from one another. Even the distance to the “Amerigo Vespucci” airport is quite short: it is about 2.5 miles away from the city centre, so if you are not carrying heavy luggage you can start your adventure right away and just walk to downtown.

Bus

Apart of walking, taking the bus is the cheapest way to get from the Florence Airport towards downtown. To get on the bus, you should take to the right upon your exit from the airport, and walk all along the airport building passing all the taxi stands ‘till you get to the bus station.The Volainbus will take you up to the Bus Italia bus station, which is close to the Santa Maria Novella railway station, on the western part of the city’s historic centre. The first bus departs from the airport at 6.00 am, and the last one - at 12.30 am. The frequencies vary throughout daytime and night. The whole journey to downtown lasts about 20 minutes. One-way ticket will cost you €6.00 (~ US $7.20), and the price of the return ticket is €10.00 (~ US $12.00). Note that on board of the bus you can only buy a one-way ticket.

Shuttles

By the airport you can also apply to the shuttle services traveling between the airport and various hotels. Note, that shuttles are shared and the fare varies on the number of persons taking the shuttle van at a time. Besides, these shuttles do not collaborate with all Florence hotels, so make sure the shuttle is going to your hotel, or at least to a nearby hotel.

Taxi

Taxis are relatively inexpensive in Florence, and rides from the airport have a fixed fare of €20.00 (~ US $24.00), to which various supplements can be added if you are traveling at night or on a holiday, or if you have a lot of baggage (total up to US $ 30). Note, that in Florence taxis are white. Other cars that you can see by the airport’s entrance having a “NCC” sign, are private drivers.

Car

In front of the airport’s exit you can find car renting services. However, if the goal of your visit is concentrated around downtown, you do not need a car. Only cars (and drivers) with special permits can drive into the historical centre of the city, so if downtown is your main destination renting a car might be useless for you. However, if you are also planning to explore other sites of Tuscany, you should definitely consider renting a car.


Part 4. A Few Tips to Choose the Right Neighbourhood for You

Florence is like an open air museum, with almost each square containing important artwork. Despite being a rather small city, Florence has a number of neighborhoods, each with quite a distinct feel. Here are a couple fast tips on how to choose the neighborhood most appropriate to your needs.

If you’re traveling with family, choose Duomo or San Marco. You will be centrally located with not too much walking to do. San Marco is a more residential area. You'll find plenty to do as well as good restaurants.

If you’re coming to Florence for a short time and want to have an express session of sightseeing – choose the central neighborhoods of Duomo, San Marco, San Lorenzo or Uffizi.

If you are looking forward to some rich nightlife alongside the cultural experience, choose Uffizi, Oltrarno, San Lorenzo or Santa Croce. Here you will find most fashionable and popular nightclubs and best cocktails.

Tourists looking for a relaxed experience should go for Oltrarno, San Marco or San Lorenzo. There are plenty of chill bars, unpretentious nightlife and amazing views.

Uffizi, San Lorenzo, Santa Croce and Oltrarno are a good choice for souvenir, vintage, antique and luxury shopping. Here you can find flea markets, upscale shopping and authentic Italian craftsmanship and food items.

If you’re looking for an upscale stay, choose a room with a view in a hotel in Duomo or Uffizi. If you’re travelling on a budget, consider Santa Maria Novella, San Lorenzo and Santa Croce.