Are you planning a trip to Florence, Italy for the first time and don’t know what to expect? Keep scrolling to check out my top Florence travel tips for tourists!
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Are you traveling to Florence for the first time and starting to plan your trip?
This city (called Firenze in Italian) is the birthplace of the Renaissance and a must-visit for all art lovers and culture vultures.
Its historic center with its many bridges, galleries, and churches is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and most agree that gelato was invented here over 500 years ago.
Yes, there are many reasons why you should visit this city!
So many that knowing all the top Florence travel tips for first-timers is essential to making the most of your time in the Tuscan capital.
Thankfully, this guide includes all the definitive tips for visiting Florence that you need to know before exiting the airport.
Read on to discover how to have an unforgettable and hiccup-free trip to Florence!
Don’t have time to read a bunch of Florence blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Florence with kids.
Popular Florence Tours/Activities
- Florence Golf Cart Tour (easy way to see the highlights while resting your legs)
- Uffizi Gallery Kid-Friendly Treasure Hunt Tour (includes skip-the-line tickets)
- Family-Friendly Private Tour (there are games and treats)
- Flytographer photo shoot (they are easy to book are really affordable)
Kid-Friendly Florence Hotels
- Hotel La Scaletta Al Ponte Vecchio (great location with family rooms, free WiFi, and A/C)
- The FRAME Hotel (great location with family rooms, free WiFi, and A/C)
- Hotel Accademia (lots of family rooms, free breakfast, free WiFi, and A/C)
- Il Perseo (it has family rooms, free WiFi, and A/C)
- Golden Tower Hotel & Spa (it’s near the Uffizi Gallery and offers free breakfast, WiFi, and A/C)
Want an epic Italy guide book? This is my favorite Italy itinerary and guide!
Top Florence Travel Tips for First-Timers
Planning Your Florence Visit
Let’s start planning your trip to Florence by listing the can’t-misses. These are Florence’s iconic landmarks and attractions that you’ve seen hundreds of times in movies and on Instagram.
You absolutely must visit Florence’s Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio medieval stone bridge.
Add in time to eat gallons of gelato and take spontaneous strolls through random piazzas and churches.
Save Money with Points
Here are the best credit card offers for families who travel and want to use points to pay for airfare and hotels.
How Many Days in Florence Is Enough?
Some try to rush around Florence in 1-2 days, but this is a mistake. One of the best Florence tips anyone could give you is to allow three full days to see all the top sites and a few hidden gems too.
Or, you could rent a car and head into the Tuscan countryside where you’ll drive alongside cypress trees and vineyards.
Public Transportation in Florence
Provided that you don’t have any accessibility issues and aren’t traveling with a big double stroller, the best way to get around Florence is to walk.
Florence is smaller than many tourists expect so walking from A to B is often quicker than driving through the chaotic Italian traffic. There are buses and trams but no metro for getting around Florence.
Trams are the easiest public transport system in Florence to navigate and they run from 5:30 am to midnight every day. Single tickets cost around €1.50 and last for 90 minutes.
Buy a ticket before you hop on any type of public transport in Florence! You can’t buy them on board.
Taxis and Ubers
Taxis are expensive in Florence so you don’t want to rely on them, but they are the best option for airport transfers.
You probably won’t feel like squeezing onto a hot bus and then attempting to navigate Florence’s cobbled lanes carrying heavy suitcases after a long flight!
Taxis from the airport to Florence’s historic center have a fixed fee of €22 and €1 extra per piece of luggage which is standard in this city. Prices might be slightly higher at night and on national holidays.
You can use Uber in Florence but only Uber Black and Uber Van services are available in Italy and there aren’t very many vehicles available. It’s still a fairly new addition to the city (as of December 2021).
Always call taxis in Florence and never hail them off the street. As soon as you arrive at your accommodation, ask the concierge to recommend a service and take a card.
Money in Florence
Like the rest of Italy, Florence uses the euro currency. It’s good advice to carry some euros in cash (around €40-50 in small bills and coins if possible) as well as a credit card.
Many European countries, particularly Italy, often don’t accept American Express cards so have other options you can use.
You will be able to use card payment in most stores, hotels, and restaurants but street food vendors and taxis might only take cash. It’s tough to split bills in Italian restaurants without cash too.
Florence’s Tourist Tax
Everywhere in Italy, tourists need to pay an extra tax for their accommodation when they arrive and Florence is no different. The only thing that is different from city to city is the price.
Visitors in Florence can expect to pay anywhere from €1 to €5 in taxes for up to 10 consecutive nights. If you’re staying in a low-budget hotel then you will pay a lower tax.
Food in Florence Tips
Every region in Italy offers its own specialties and traditions but Florence is the perfect blend of northern and southern Italian traditions and dishes.
It’s just north enough to partake in aperitivo (a pre-meal drink with nibbles) but south enough to have plenty of hearty dishes on the menu.
Traditional Florentine dishes include Florentine steak, Tuscan baked beans, lots of soups, salami, pici pasta, and Cacciucco which is a seafood stew.
Street food is also popular in Florence but unless you’re willing to eat delicacies like tripe then you might want to steer clear!
You’ll want to sample as much gelato as possible but not all gelato is made equal. Avoid fluffy, artificially-colored gelato and seek out natural colors in silver trays.
This type of gelato is more likely to be homemade with zero preservatives.
Book Florence Attractions in Advance
You are not ready for the lines outside of some of Florence’s busiest attractions during the peak summer months. They regularly have wait times of 1-2 hours.
Pair that with Florence’s August heat and you have the recipe for cranky, dehydrated kids!
Book your tickets to some of the top things to do in Florence like the Uffizi Gallery in advance. Unfortunately, you can’t buy tickets to the Duomo but you can book a guided tour. Even though the Duomo is usually free, it’s worth paying for a tour to avoid waiting!
Book a Family Photo Shoot
Whenever we travel, we almost always book a family photo shoot with Flytographer. They are super easy, affordable, AND it guarantees that I’ll be in some photos. You can get $25 off if you book through this link or use the code HAWAIITRAVEL.
Some Shops Take an Afternoon Siesta
This is something that isn’t as common in northern Italy and the capital city of Rome so it’s one of the most essential Florence travel tips. Many stores will close from noon at the earliest and reopen at 5 pm at the latest.
Closing from 1 pm – 4 pm is more common. Some restaurants also close after lunch and will reopen later for dinner.
This is so hospitality workers can be indoors and relax during the hottest part of the day. It’s more popular in southern Spain (siesta is Spanish) but don’t let it catch you out in Florence.
Museums Close on Mondays
Traditionally in Europe, museums needed to close for one day a week to allow for cleaning and upkeep of the exhibits. It’s a tradition still going strong today!
Most of the major museums in Florence, including the Uffizi Gallery and Accademia Museum, close on this day every week.
Take Notice of Sunrises and Sunsets in Florence
Florence is an absolutely magical city at any time of day but it’s truly breathtaking at sunrise and sunset.
Take note of the daily sunrise and sunset times and plan to be in a beautiful place at these times of the day. Even if you only do it once!
Piazzale Michelangelo, Forte Belvedere, and one of the bridges across the River Arno are all top choices.
Get a Travel Adapter
Like most European countries, Italy uses the type C electrical plug with two rounded prongs. Most of their outlets also fit type F and L plugs too.
Italy’s electric sockets have 220 volts whereas the US only has 110 volts. Buy a travel adapter with a built-in voltage converter to protect your electrical gear.
Safety and Awareness in Florence
Compared with the rest of Italy, Florence’s overall crime rate is low. The risk of violent crime is very low and most visitors feel very safe walking around Florence during the day.
Tourists in Florence should mainly be aware of pickpockets and scams. Never carry all your cash and credit cards in the same place and store them deep inside your backpack.
One of the most common scams in Florence is that tourists will be too busy admiring the architecture to realize that they walked over a painting placed on the ground. Scammers put these paintings there to demand money when people step on them which is illegal!
Always be aware of your surroundings, especially in busy areas like the Duomo and Ponte Vecchio.
Tips for Travel in Florence FAQs
Florence has a humid, subtropical climate with hot summers and cool, damp winters. Carrying an umbrella will pay off in any season! In the summer, pack clothes made from comfortable and light materials.
Visiting the Duomo is one of the top things to do in Florence but it has, like most churches in Italy, a dress code. You must cover your knees and shoulders and you can’t wear sandals.
This might be a blessing in disguise because you should wear durable sneakers while exploring the city. Public transport isn’t great in Florence (more on that soon!) so you’ll be walking a lot.
Florence manages to pack in so many attractions for such a small city. It doesn’t matter too much where you stay as most of the landmarks are no more than a 15-20 minute walk from each other.
Staying in the historic center is one of the best Florence travel tips for first-timers. With any luck, you’ll get ‘a room with a view’! Santa Croce to the east of the historic center on the north bank is slightly quieter and also great for families.
Tipping is generally not part of the dining culture in Italy. It’s not mandatory and servers will not stare daggers at you if you exit the restaurant without leaving a tip.
Italians might leave a 10-15% tip for exceptional service or they might add €1 per person or round up the bill. Your server will appreciate the gesture.
There’s no need to tip your taxi driver or housekeeper unless they went above and beyond.
Choosing when to visit Florence means choosing between cheap accommodation prices, busy crowds, and great weather. You’re not going to be able to get all three at once!
Florence is a ghost town during the wet winter months (except around Christmas) and many restaurants shut up shop for the low season. While it might be cheaper to visit, you probably won’t get the quintessential Florentine experience.
July and August are the peak summer months with scorching temperatures, high accommodation prices, and lots of other tourists.
If you have to travel during this season because you have kids, don’t stress! Spring and fall might be the best times to visit Florence but you’ll have fun in summer too. Just remember to keep hydrated and pack sunscreen.
Florence Travel Tips for First-Timers Wrap Up
Florence is an unspeakably beautiful city but it can be overwhelming to navigate if you’re traveling to Florence for the first time. Having these Florence travel tips for first-timers will help you make the most out of your trip.
Whether you’re staying for a couple of days or longer, this Florence travel guide will ensure you have a fun, stress-free trip. You’re all but guaranteed to treasure the memories for years to come!