Historic Florence has long been an all-time favorite for travelers to Italy. Besides the picturesque setting on the Arno River, this Renaissance city is home to some of Italy’s most prestigious art masterpieces.
Some of Florence’s main attractions include the photographer’s favorite Ponte Vecchio bridge, the 1500s-era Uffizi Gallery art museum, and, of course, the magnificent Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiore. But really, these three barely scratch the surface of all the beautiful and historical sites of this city.
Most people visiting Florence will probably arrive via the centrally-located Santa Maria Novella Station, offering connections of less than 90 minutes to Rome and less than two hours from Milan. However, there is a small airport.
If you’re renting a car and driving here, be warned – Italy’s infamous “ZTL” local traffic-only zones basically encompass all of central Florence. Don’t go home with a bunch of traffic fines as souvenirs like me!
Luckily, most of the major tourist attractions are within walking distance of each other here, leaving you just to decide which of the great hotels in this city is for you. Take a look below at some of the various neighborhoods in Florence, what you need to know about each, and our tips for some of the best Florence hotels.
TL;DR Our Favorite Accommodation in Florence, Italy
- Best Luxury Hotel in Florence – The St. Regis Florence
- Best Mid-Range Hotel in Florence – iQ Hotel Firenze
- Best Budget Hotel in Florence – B&B Hotel Firenze Novoli
- Best Vacation Rental in Florence – Romantic Terrace Overlooking the Cathedral Dome
- Best Resort in Florence – Ponte Vecchio Suites & Spa
- Best Family-Friendly Hotel in Florence – Globus Urban Hotel
- Best Pet-Friendly Hotel in Florence – Grand Hotel Minerva
Best Areas to Stay in Florence, Italy
- Best area for first-timers/tourists – Duomo (Santa Maria del Fiore)
- Best area for access to other destinations – Santa Maria Novella
- Best area for budget travelers – Novoli
- Best area for luxury travelers – Along the Arno River
- Best area for safety – San Marco
- Best area for families – San Lorenzo
- Best area for nightlife – Santa Croce
- Best area for food – Santo Spirito
- Best area for seasoned travelers – San Niccolò
- Best area for long stays – San Frediano
Where to Stay in Florence, Italy
1. Duomo (Santa Maria del Fiore): Best Area for First-Timers/Tourists
For any type of traveler, but especially first-time visitors, one of the best places to stay in Florence, Italy, is definitely the historic city center around the Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiore. If you’ve looked at photos of Florence, this massive, majestic cathedral is the one that dominates the skyline.
Dating back to the 1200s, this important Italian Renaissance church is a major symbol of the city. Many visitors like to simply admire it from the piazza outside, as it is an architectural beauty. Entry to this Florence cathedral is free, and you can buy tickets to walk the 400+ steps to the top, visit the crypt, or browse the Opera Museum behind it.
If you choose to stay in this part of Florence’s historical center, you’ll be within walking distance of many of the main attractions. The Palazzo Vecchio, the Piazza della Signoria, and the Via dei Calzaiuoli shopping street are within easy access of each other. The promenade along the River Arno, crossed by the picturesque Ponte Vecchio, is just minutes further.
As you can see, this neighborhood is the heart of Florence, and whether you’re staying here or not, you will definitely be roaming the streets around the Duomo and city center. Here are a few of the top attractions you won’t want to miss here:
- Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiore: the massive cathedral that towers above the other buildings, offering free entry and the possibility to purchase extra tickets for things like the crypt and stairs to the top
- Palazzo Vecchio: a 1300s-era palace that serves as Florence’s town hall today, filled with ornate rooms, painted ceilings, and works by Michelangelo
- Piazza della Repubblica: one of the main pedestrian city squares of Florence, surrounded by restaurants and cafes and with a merry-go-round in the middle
- House of Dante Museum: the 13th-century house and birthplace of poet Dante Alighieri, where besides learning about Dante’s life, you can see what life was like in Florence in this era
- Strozzi Palace Art Museum: a palace that dates back to the Renaissance era and has been wonderfully preserved, hosting art and history exhibits
The area around the Duomo is certainly the best neighborhood for many types of travelers, though hotels can be a bit expensive here. However, there are hidden gems for great prices, as well as vacation rentals that can be even cheaper:
- Best Budget Hotel in the Duomo area: Hotel Pendini – A step higher than basic, this hotel has elegant rooms and a popular bar.
- Best Mid-Range Hotel in the Duomo area: Hotel Duomo Firenze – If you want a view of the Duomo and to have it at your doorstep, this is the place, with its comfortable rooms and private parking.
- Best Luxury Hotel in the Duomo area: Golden Tower Hotel & Spa – Stay here for full-on luxury in the heart of the city center, with decor that will make you think you’re staying in one of the fancy palazzos yourself.
- Best Vacation Rental in the Duomo area: Romantic Terrace Overlooking the Cathedral Dome – You won’t believe the value when you see the price compared to the space offered by this duplex in the heart of the Duomo neighborhood.
See Related: Incredible Reasons to Visit Italy This Year
2. Santa Maria Novella: Best Area for Access to Nearby Destinations
As mentioned, the city’s main train station is called Firenze Santa Maria Novella and can be found in the neighborhood of the same name. This area is next to the historic center of Florence, to its northwest, and the main attractions we’ve already mentioned are within walking distance.
Of course, being within easy reach of the train station makes exploring Italy beyond Florence much easier. The beautiful cities of Rome, Pisa, Bologna, Venice, and many others are within a short and inexpensive fast-train ride from Florence.
But, being just a short walk from the train station and the sites of central Florence isn’t all that Santa Maria Novella has to offer. The neighborhood is somewhat centered around the Santa Maria Novella Church, dating from the 15th century, with its magnificent architecture and art masterpieces inside. What appears to be a relatively small cathedral is actually a massive complex of chapels, gardens, and frescos, and it’s amazing to explore.
Out front, be sure to take a stroll through the Piazza Santa Maria Novella. The pathways among simple gardens and an obelisk statue make for a great photo with the basilica in the background. There’s plenty more to see around Santa Maria Novella, too:
- Santa Maria Novella Basilica: the above-mentioned massive complex full of beautiful architecture and art, plus a museum
- Museo Novecento: an art museum containing modern art (which is unique for Florence) from the 20th century and later, featuring Italian artists
- Orti Orticellari: a small, 600-plus-year-old walled park with art, a fountain, and historic buildings that can be visited by appointment
- Corsini Gardens: manicured walkways of plant life on the property of a 1600s palazzo that often hosts special events
- Porta al Prato: one of the city’s original gates that were connected to its defensive walls, now towering beside busy streets
Anyone arriving to or departing from Florence by train will pass through Santa Maria Novella, and there is certainly enough to see here to warrant the short stroll from the historic center. If you choose to make this area your base for exploring Florence and beyond, we recommend these places to stay:
- Best Budget Hotel in the Santa Maria Novella area: Hotel Universo – Just minutes from the train station, this basic hotel offers comfortable rooms in a central location and even has single rooms for solo travelers.
- Best Mid-Range Hotel in the Santa Maria Novella area: Hotel Roma – This modern hotel offers more than the basics with amenities like a gym and minibars in the rooms.
- Best Luxury Hotel in the Santa Maria Novella area: Grand Hotel Minerva – One of the most luxurious hotels in Florence, this pet-friendly palazzo-style property offers a swimming pool, spacious rooms, and a rooftop terrace with amazing views.
- Best Vacation Rental in the Santa Maria Novella area: Ubishome – Papa’s House – If you need extra space, this apartment has two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and the cost is a fraction of what you’d pay at most hotels.
3. Novoli: Best Area for Budget Travelers
If you’re wondering where to stay in Florence, Italy, on a budget, you may be a bit disappointed by what looks like a lack of affordable accommodations in the city. Florence’s ancient charm and upscale feel allow hotels to charge somewhat high rates to the thousands of visitors there on any day.
Fortunately, while it may not appear so at first glance, there are definitely budget accommodations available in Florence. The first option is to search specifically for vacation rentals in the popular parts of the city, which can yield spacious apartments at a great value compared to hotels. But to save even more money, you could instead look for a neighborhood set a bit back from the typical tourist sites – like Novoli.
Novoli is a neighborhood to the northwest of the city center and is close to the Florence Airport. This is a residential part of town.
There are plenty of places to drink and dine (and they will probably be cheaper here, too), but fewer specific sites to see. Luckily, it only takes one inexpensive tram ride to reach Florence’s main attractions in less than 20 minutes.
In between counting all the cash you’ll be saving by staying in Novoli, be sure to check out some of the spots that locals like to escape to. There are several parks, including one particularly popular one on the Arno River, and an entertainment venue in Novoli:
- Parco San Donato: an open green space in central Novoli with a lake and picturesque bridge that’s perfect for relaxing or a jog
- Parco delle Cascine: a massive park along the Arno River with a number of trails, statues, and small pedestrian bridges running across that has long been a local favorite
- Visarno Arena: one of the premiere concert venues that hosts big-name performances for the city – check if there’s anything going on during your stay
Unless you plan on seeing a show or would like to enjoy a peaceful park, you won’t be missing out on much if you don’t visit Novoli during your time in Florence. However, if your budget is more important than a central location, you can save a ton of money by taking the tram and staying at a place like these:
- Best Budget Hotel in the Novoli area: B&B Hotel Firenze Novoli – European travelers may be familiar with the budget B&B Hotels brand and appreciate the modern, air-conditioned rooms conveniently located near a tram stop.
- Best Mid-Range Hotel in the Novoli area: Best Western Plus CHC Florence – Another familiar brand, this Best Western Plus is three minutes from the airport and offers family rooms.
- Best Luxury Hotel in the Novoli area: Hilton Garden Inn Florence Novoli – At this Hilton brand that might be considered a budget hotel elsewhere, you’ll have fully-equipped rooms with modern amenities, as well as a full-service restaurant in the lobby.
- Best Vacation Rental in the Novoli area: Three-bedroom Apartment in Florence – Instead of paying for three hotel rooms, this place will give you three bedrooms plus a kitchen and living room for a fraction of the cost.
See Related: The Ultimate Backpacking Through Europe Itinerary
4. Along the Arno River: Best Area for Luxury Travelers
Some of the best hotels in Florence, Italy, can be found along the river that so beautifully divides the city. The numerous boutique art galleries, the picturesque Ponte Vecchio, and the authentic Florentine restaurants along its promenades have made the riverfront home to some of the top luxury properties in town.
Staying along the Arno could mean staying in one of a number of neighborhoods like the historic center, Porta al Prato, Santa Croce, or others on the south bank. If you’re going all in, though, focus your search on the centrally-located area between the Ponte alla Carraia and the Ponte alle Grazie bridges. You’ll be within walking distance of almost everything Florence has to offer.
There’s a ton to do along the river. To start, don’t forget to simply stroll along the promenade of Lungarno Amerigo Vespucci (which becomes Lungarno Corsini before changing some more), the riverside road. It’s very scenic and will allow plenty of photo ops of all the city’s bridges at different spots.
Cross Ponte Vecchio, a surviving medieval bridge lined with shopping opportunities, especially for jewelry. The Uffizi Gallery is on the riverfront nearby, too, and is one of the most famous art museums in Florence. There’s plenty more to do during your time near the river, like these top picks:
- Ponte Vecchio and Ponte Santa Trinita: two of the central Florence bridges that are incredibly photogenic, one of which is covered and home to jewelers (Ponte Vecchio) and one that is almost as old but without the extras on top (Ponte Santa Trinita)
- Museo Salvatore Ferragamo: a museum dedicated to the life and work of the famous Italian fashion designer, appropriately located in the area we recommend staying in for luxury
- Uffizi Gallery: one of the most important museums in Florence and all of Italy, housed in a palazzo from the 1500s, containing works of art titans such as Michelangelo and Botticelli
- Basilica of Santa Trinita: a nearly-800-year-old church just beyond the bridge of the same name famous for its frescoes depicting life in Renaissance-era Florence
- Museo Galileo: a museum next to the Uffizi Gallery with collections of Italian scientific instruments and knowledge from the time of Pisa-born Galileo Galilei
You should undoubtedly be enjoying the beautiful views and interesting attractions that can be found near the Arno, even if a luxury Florentine getaway isn’t in your budget. In case it is, these are some of the best luxury hotels in the area:
- Best Budget Hotel along the Arno River: Hotel Bretagna Heritage – This Renaissance-style accommodation is in a great, central location, offers extras like a gym and hot tub, and won’t completely break the bank if you want to stay along the Arno for less.
- Best Mid-Range Hotel along the Arno River: The Westin Excelsior, Florence – Truth be told, rates at the Westin often reach out of the mid-range zone. But if you can find the right dates, this hotel’s rooftop terrace and bar and its swimming pool are as luxurious as it gets.
- Best Luxury Hotel along the Arno River: The St. Regis Florence – The St. Regis brand is known for its luxurious rooms, impeccable service, and fine dining restaurants; the five-star Florence property, with its incredible views and high-end amenities, will not disappoint.
- Best Vacation Rental along the Arno River: Gorgeous Suite in Front of the Ponte Vecchio – Here, you can stay on an upper floor of a 17th-century building with direct views of the famous Ponte Vecchio without paying for luxury hotel amenities.
5. San Marco: Best Area for Safety
The small neighborhood of San Marco is centered around the University of Florence and is found just north of the Duomo and historic center. It’s mostly residential and has a lively vibe, packed with interesting museums and various restaurants.
Due to this, along with its short separation from high-traffic places like the train station and city center, we’d consider this to be one of the safer places to stay in Florence. Truthfully, Florence is a very safe city in general. But, as always, places where tourists frequent always have their fair share of pickpockets and scams; San Marco is full of great things for tourists but lacks a high level of crime.
There are quite a few well-known attractions in San Marco. One is the Galleria dell’Accademia, yet another Florence art museum that houses world-famous Renaissance work, including Michelangelo’s David – the real thing – among many others. There’s also the Museo di San Marco with a whole other set of paintings from the era, as well as more of the frescoes that Florence is so full of.
On the Piazza San Marco, there are many of the trattorias and other eateries that the area is popular for, and more can be found on Via Ricasoli – including many ice cream shops. Exploring the streets of San Marco will reveal even more interesting attractions, such as:
- Galleria dell’Accademia: as mentioned, this is another very famous Florence art museum containing original works by Michelangelo and other Florentine artists, mostly between the 14th to 17th centuries
- San Marco Museum: housed in the former convent of San Marco, behind the beautiful Basilica of San Marco, this extensive collection of Renaissance paintings and frescoes includes many by Fra Angelico, an important artist from Florence of the time
- National Archaeological Museum of Florence: a unique museum containing ancient treasures from Egypt, Greece, Rome, and other places, including bronze statues, sarcophagi, vases, scripts, and more
- Giardino dei Semplici Botanical Gardens: simple yet beautiful botanical gardens on university property that will make you feel thousands of miles from any city, including some trees that are 200-300 years old
- Museo Leonardo da Vinci: the world-known artist-scientist was from Vinci, not far from Florence, and this museum showcases interactive models of machines that he once sketched
The attractions of San Marco are just a short walk from those of the city center, and many are certainly worth a visit wherever you stay. If you decide to find your accommodation in this neighborhood, though, we recommend these places to stay:
- Best Budget Hotel in the San Marco area: Hotel De La Pace, Sure Collection by Best Western – This is a Best Western-affiliated hotel offering comfortable, air-conditioned rooms at a great price for San Marco.
- Best Mid-Range Hotel in the San Marco area: iQ Hotel Firenze – In contrast to all of the old in Florence, this boutique hotel is super-modern and comes with great amenities like a pool and sauna.
- Best Luxury Hotel in the San Marco area: Four Seasons Hotel Firenze – Four Seasons is known for operating some of the best hotels in the world; their Florence property offers elegant rooms and high-end everything just a five-minute walk away from San Marco.
- Best Vacation Rental in the San Marco area: 5-bedroom Apartment on Via La Marmora – An apartment of this size is a rarity in most of Europe and can be the perfect solution for a large family or group of friends visiting Florence.
See Related: Italy vs France: Which is Better to Visit?
6. San Lorenzo: Best Area for Families
Nestled between Santa Maria Novella and the Duomo area, the compact neighborhood of San Lorenzo is a lovely part of Florence to stay in for many types of travelers. Being within a very short walking distance of both Florence’s main train station and all the main sights of the historic center, plus hosting plenty of dining and accommodation options, we’d call San Lorenzo a great place to stay for families.
Two big attractions are at the heart of San Lorenzo. The first is the Central Market (or the Mercato Centrale), an indoor-outdoor marketplace dating from the time that Florence was Italy’s capital, and today offers visitors and locals some of the tastiest treats in Florence. The second is the Basilica di San Lorenzo, just a block south, which has several important components of historical significance.
The basilica was the parish church and is the burial place of most members of the Medici family. This is one of the most powerful families in Italian and European history, having consolidated power in Florence during the Renaissance, creating one of the continent’s largest banks, and producing several popes, among many other feats.
Therefore, the basilica is an important site for Florence and all of Italy, and other nearby attractions are dedicated to the Medici history as well. Consider having a meal at Eataly, the world-famous Italian food hall – it’s a great place to go if everyone wants something different (but can all agree that Italian food is great!) To summarize, the best things to do in San Lorenzo are:
- Basilica di San Lorenzo: one of the largest churches in Florence, largely designed by Michelangelo, and the resting place of most of the Medici family of Florence
- Laurentian Medici Library: also designed by Michelangelo, this library dates from the 1500s and contains more than 11,000 of the Medici family’s books and manuscripts
- Riccardi Medici Palace: an ornate palace built in the mid-1400s for the Medici family with extensive artwork and gardens, today used as a museum and government building for the city
- Mercato Centrale: a place where fresh produce, meats, fish, and other kitchen ingredients are sold alongside cooked snacks and meals, plus souvenir booths
- Palazzo Martelli: the 1600s palace of another important family in Florence, the Martellis, that may look unassuming from the outside but is full of artifacts and artwork from their life and time
San Lorenzo is home to some of Florence’s most significant history and is definitely worth the easy walk from the other sights of the Duomo and river areas. If you decide to make this spot your base to explore the city, there are a few great accommodations here:
- Best Budget Hotel in the San Lorenzo area: Hotel San Lorenzo – If saving on rates is a priority for you, this basic hotel offers up to five beds in a room in a hostel-hotel configuration in the heart of San Lorenzo.
- Best Mid-Range Hotel in the San Lorenzo area: Globus Urban Hotel – Great for families, this upscale and modern hotel offers not only standard rooms but family-style triple and quadruple options, too.
- Best Luxury Hotel in the San Lorenzo area: Hotel Firenze Number Nine – Elegant and artsy, this high-end property offers a spa and jacuzzi along with spacious rooms.
- Best Vacation Rental in the San Lorenzo area: Apartment 10 Meters from the Medici Chapels – A highly-rated, spacious apartment just steps from the treasures of the Medici family.
7. Santa Croce: Best Area for Nightlife
Most people you ask will probably agree that the best place to stay in Florence, Italy, for nightlife is the lively and vibrant neighborhood of Santa Croce. You’ll find plenty of bars and nightclubs on the streets around the Piazza Santa Croce, along with late-night eateries and shops.
But even if you don’t intend to party your nights away in Florence, Santa Croce is a lovely place to stay and explore. You’ll be within walking distance of attractions like the Palazzo Vecchio and the Duomo, as the neighborhood is just to the east of the city center. There are a number of historical things to see and local favorites within Santa Croce, too.
On the main square sits the Basilica de Santa Croce di Firenze, yet another Florence cathedral that has an important place in history. This is the final resting place of Michelangelo and Galileo, both of whom we’ve already seen are very important to the city’s story. It is also full of unique frescoes to admire (as you might expect!)
There’s also the other main marketplace of the city, Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio, in the northern part of the neighborhood. This covered market offers the freshest Italian ingredients and snacks.
Many vendors offer homemade pasta and ready-to-boil gnocchi – take some of that back to your vacation rental, and you’ll never buy boxed spaghetti again. To summarize, don’t miss these attractions in Santa Croce:
- Basilica de Santa Croce di Firenze: a Franciscan basilica on the main square that hosts the tombs of some very important Italians, including Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli
- Piazza Santa Croce & Surrounding Area Restaurants and Nightlife: while the main square is always a place full of people looking to have fun, you’ll find countless bars and clubs on the surrounding streets, including Green Street Bar and Virgin Rock Pub
- Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio: a covered market where locals come to get quality ingredients like cheese and pasta and where anyone can enjoy an authentic taste of Florence
- Casa Buonarroti Museum: a property once owned by Michelangelo which was passed down to his nephew, now containing some of his earliest sculptures, sketches, and other artifacts from his life
- Pescaia di San Niccolò: a spot on the Arno where the river changes levels, creating a sidewalk into the middle, where locals like to relax and get their feet wet on a hot day
Santa Croce is another neighborhood that belongs on a Florence itinerary, no matter where you stay. In case you like the sound of this young and lively place, here are some of the best places to stay:
- Best Budget Hotel in the Santa Croce area: Hotel Bodoni – If you don’t need fancy amenities or elegant decorations, this basic hotel will keep your comfortable and satisfied at breakfast for a low price.
- Best Mid-Range Hotel in the Santa Croce area: Eurostars Florence Boutique – This small boutique hotel has a chic, minimalist vibe set in a quieter spot near the river.
- Best Luxury Hotel in the Santa Croce area: Plaza Hotel Lucchesi – The Plaza Hotel Lucchesi is another of the top-rated luxury properties in Florence, with its outdoor swimming pool and lounge on the rooftop perfect for continuing the party in the summer months.
- Best Vacation Rental in the Santa Croce area: Diva Lodging Luxury Lordship – Bring all your friends to this large apartment that sleeps up to six with its fully-equipped kitchen ready for all the pasta you buy at the market.
See Related: Best Day Trips from Paris, France
8. Santo Spirito: Best Area for Food
Now, we’re moving to the southern bank of the Arno. Crossing one of the bridges in the city center will bring you to the area known as Santo Spirito, which we’d say is the best area to stay in Florence, Italy, for anyone who wants easy access to excellent food.
While you can find amazing food all over the city, Santo Spirito is particularly known for its trattorias, wine bars, and fine dining eateries. First-time visitors to Italy, be warned: it is very difficult to go back after sampling the real thing. Besides full restaurants, Santo Spirito has plenty of cafes and gelaterias for relaxing in between sightseeing as well.
Santo Spirito is a convenient location for accessing the major sights across the river, too – you just have to cross one of the bridges! Even so, there are a number of interesting things to see on this side of town. One of the most popular is the Pitti Palace, a massive complex with an incredible history. It once belonged to the Medici family and stored all their treasures, came under the control of Napoleon, and finally became Florence’s largest museum complex about 100 years ago.
Behind the Pitti Palace are the Boboli Gardens, dating just as far back and belonging to the Medici family. They were an important example of early Italian-style gardens on which many others around Europe are modeled. Be sure to take some time to appreciate this massive palace and its massive gardens, along with the other things to do in San Lorenzo:
- Pitti Palace: a gigantic Renaissance palace packed with more than 250,000 artwork masterpieces with a long, storied past
- Boboli Gardens: the gardens behind the palace on a majestic hill above Florence, containing an amphitheater, the Museum of Porcelain, and several fountains
- La Specola Natural History Museum: at nearly 250 years old, this is one of the oldest science museums in Europe and contains specimens of animals and humans from throughout the ages
- Basilica of Santo Spirito: often just referred to as Santo Spirito, this is the neighborhood’s main church and sits on the Piazza Santo Spirito, featuring beautiful Renaissance architecture and art
- Dining on Borgo San Jacopo: many of this area’s great restaurants are on the narrow street of Borgo San Jacopo, including a Michelin-starred restaurant called Ristorante Borgo San Jacopo
As usual, this is another great neighborhood to visit, no matter where you’re staying, so don’t hesitate to cross one of the bridges! There are some great hotels and rentals in Santo Spirito as well, such as:
- Best Mid-Range Hotel in the Santo Spirito area: Ponte Vecchio Suites & Spa – This boutique hotel has resort amenities like a high-end gym, sauna, Turkish bath, and hot tub, as well as Nespresso machines in each room.
- Best Luxury Hotel in the Santo Spirito area: Hotel Lungarno – A super-luxurious, riverfront boutique hotel with views of Ponte Vecchio and a Michelin-starred restaurant on site.
- Best Vacation Rental in the Santo Spirito area: Apartment Near Ponte Vecchio – A vacation rental like this one is the best way to stay on a budget in Santo Spirito, and you’ll get a ton of extra space.
9. San Niccolò: Best Area for Seasoned Travelers
To the east of Santo Spirito is the smaller and quieter neighborhood of San Niccolò. It’s a narrow area along the river running from Ponte Vecchio to the bridge of San Niccolò and is rather residential.
That’s why we’d call San Niccolò a great location for seasoned travelers who don’t need to be in the center of all the action and who like to appreciate a local neighborhood. There isn’t a huge range of hotels here, but there are a number of vacation rentals, which should also match the preferences of a seasoned traveler.
Still, there are a number of things to do and see in San Niccolò. The most popular is probably the Bardini Villa, Museum, & Gardens, which once belonged to a famous art dealer who collected all kinds of items from Florence’s history.
There’s also the very popular Piazzale Michelangelo, a viewpoint on a hill that’s known for its panorama of the city that’s especially beautiful at sunset. In summary:
- Bardini Villa, Museum & Gardens: an interesting museum of objects that belonged to 18th-century art dealer Stefano Bardini, including paintings and sculptures, old pieces of churches, and pieces of ancient Florence’s center
- Piazzale Michelangelo: the iconic hilltop viewpoint of nearly the entire city that you’ve definitely seen on Instagram
- Terzo Giardino Riverfront: park space on the bank of the Arno that appears to be messy and unkempt but is meant to be in a natural state for exploring what’s beneath the city
- Ponte alle Grazie: another picturesque bridge that crosses the river that’s one of the newest to serve the city
While you probably don’t need to plan a day for exploring San Niccolò, the Bardini attractions and the Piazzale Michelangelo are both definitely worth visiting. If you’d like to take our advice and base yourself here as a seasoned traveler, here are two recommendations:
- Best Mid-Range Hotel in the San Niccolò area: Hotel Silla – A lovely and quiet boutique hotel with elegant, air-conditioned rooms.
- Best Vacation Rental in the San Niccolò area: Across the River Apartment – This is an example of the many local-style apartments you can find at a great deal in this neighborhood, largely set apart from the tourist zone.
See Related: Best European Palaces to Visit
10. San Frediano: Best Area for Long Stays
We’ll finish our guide with one of the last remaining neighborhoods that surround the historic center of Florenc: San Frediano. Another residential area, it’s just west of Santo Spirito and across the river from Santa Maria Novella.
If you intend to spend an extended stay in Florence, this is one area that could provide some interesting options. While you probably don’t want to spend your long stay in a more distant budget area, you also won’t want to pay city center prices. San Frediano offers a great compromise, being in close proximity to everything and offering a plethora of fairly-priced vacation rentals.
There are a few nice sights in San Frediano itself, like two more of Florence’s wonderful bridges, some large portions of the remains of Florence’s city walls, and the Capella Brancacci and its lovely frescoes. The street of Borgo San Frediano is known for its lively food and drink scene, making for a great place to mingle with locals. To summarize:
- Ponte alla Carraia & Ponte Amerigo Vespucci: the two photogenic bridges that denote the borders of the San Frediano neighborhood
- Capella Brancacci: a chapel known for its beautiful frescoes depicting the life of Saint Peter painted in the 1400s
- City Walls & Porta San Frediano: large portions of Florence’s defensive walls are still standing in this neighborhood, along with one of the gates to the city
- Eat, drink, and party on Borgo San Frediano: another street known for its eateries and nightlife on the south side of the river
Like San Niccolò, you won’t be missing out on a ton if you don’t pass through San Frediano on your trip. But if you like the idea of staying in this well-placed area, here are a few ideas:
- Best Budget Hotel in the San Frediano area: Sun Frediano Suites Florence – Have a more authentic and local experience at this bed and breakfast with comfortable, pet-friendly rooms.
- Best Mid-Range Hotel in the San Frediano area: Horto Convento – This is one of the few full-service hotels in San Frediano, and it consistently receives rave reviews from guests who love the great service and quiet area.
- Best Vacation Rental in the San Frediano area: Donatello Apartment in Florence – Most long-stay visitors to Florence should book a rental like this one, with its large living room and full kitchen.
What are the best areas to stay in Florence, Italy?
Anywhere in or around central Florence is bound to please most types of travelers. The Duomo area is a great location, as is the part of the city center along the Arno River. The south bank of the river is packed with great restaurants and bars while venturing a bit out of the center can yield lower nightly rates. If you’re wondering where to stay in Florence, Italy, with kids, you might appreciate San Lorenzo for its central location that minimizes walking and its plenty of dining options.
How do you get to Florence from Rome?
I strongly recommend taking the high-speed railway, as prices are very fair and the ride is less than 90 minutes. No airport security, no liquid restrictions, and a view of the countryside along the way!
What are some day trips from Florence?
Pisa is a great city to visit from Florence, as it’s a quick train ride that doesn’t even need to be purchased in advance. You can see it relatively quickly, including its famous leaning tower, and be back in Florence for dinner along the River Arno. Besides that, Bologna is another wonderful city just about 40 minutes away by high-speed train.
What is the best time of year to visit Florence?
Since this isn’t a seaside destination that requires the summer heat, there are few bad times of year to visit Florence. Note that July and August will be incredibly busy and hot.
Spring is an excellent time to visit, as the air warms up and flowers bloom. December is lovely if you want to see the city decorated for Christmas.
Is Florence an expensive place to visit?
If you want to stay at the Four Seasons or St. Regis, it can certainly be very expensive! However, there are a ton of great hotels and vacation rentals in Florence that are much friendlier on the budget traveler’s wallet. There’s usually little to no need to take public transportation, and while food prices may be high in the city center, you can find great value by going a bit further.
- Best Restaurants in Italy
- Best Tours in Italy: Food, Walking & Bike Tours
- Best Wine Regions in Italy – Indulge in Vineyards and More
Lock In Your Travel Now
Find Cheap Flights
Use Skyscanner to find flight deals. As my personal favorite flight search engine, Skyscanner scours websites and airlines across the globe, leaving no stone unturned to help you find the best deal possible. And if you really want to take your savings to new heights, pair Skyscanner with Going (Formerly Scott's Cheap Flights). With access to exclusive mistake fares delivered straight to your inbox, you'll be packing your bags and jetting off on your next adventure before you know it.
Travel insurance is a low cost way to ensure your travel plans go smooth no matter what's thrown at it. Cover yourself against illness, injury and theft, and protect the arrangements you've made with our flexible travel cancellation insurance. My favorite options for travel insurance are:
Book Your Accommodation
In order to capture the widest selection of properties and the best price, use Booking.com as they have the cheapest rates for guesthouses, hotels, luxury condos, B&Bs and so much more.
Want More Destination Ideas Direct to Your Inbox?
Be sure to join the ViaTravelers Newsletter for expert tips, tricks and inspiration for your next travel journey!
Discover the Best Travel Tools
Be sure to visit our page on our favorite travel resources to learn how you too can visit over 10 countries in year.