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You don’t have to be a world-famous painter to experience the beauty and excitement of Florence, Italy—but it would help. Once the stomping grounds of Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and a slew of other artistic geniuses, Florence is home to rich history and stunning views, both inside and outside its numerous museums and galleries.
Despite its lean toward high culture, Florence keeps its cool with a vibrant nightlife, peaceful gardens and more delicious panzanella than you could possibly eat on one holiday. Challenge accepted? Pack your bags. No, wait. First, book places to stay in Florence on Wotif.
Let us not forget that Florence is in Tuscany, so you can expect to be followed by amazing food and wine wherever you go. If you have accommodation near Duomo, be sure to admire the famous dome at Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi—he’s kind of a big deal.
From there, you’re a short walk from Campanile di Giotto and Duomo Museum, where you can climb a lot of stairs and learn more about the historic architecture and culture you’re about to explore. Need a breather? Escape the crowds in the sculpture garden at Palazzo Vecchio before you shop your way across Ponte Vecchio. Yes, you can shop on a bridge in Florence.
Head to the Oltarno neighbourhood for the best panorama of the city from the Piazzale Michelangelo, then go on an afternoon shopping spree on Via de Bardi. You won’t see any designer flagships here, but you can snatch up some one-of-a-kind finds from independent artisans keeping the traditions alive.
Amid all the sightseeing, don’t forget to eat! The Teatro District is a foodie’s dream come true, with open-air dining and a relaxed but busy nightlife. If you eat a little too much tortellini, that’s OK—sleep off the food coma in cosy Florence accommodation and wake up to a perfect cappuccino.
Getting To & Around Florence
Book flights to Florence Airport-Peretola (FLR), just 10km northwest of the city centre. From the airport, you can catch a bus or taxi to hotels in Florence, but after that, this is a walker’s city. Buses are very reliable and available throughout all neighbourhoods if you’re looking for accessible transit. Otherwise, pack your walking shoes.
If you’re planning a Florence holiday in the upcoming autumn months, you’re a smart one. Not only will you enjoy warm days and cool nights and fewer tourist crowds, but autumn and winter are the time of feasts! And in Italy, you know they know how to eat. During the Feast of Tuscany on 30 November, the streets become a veritable scavenger hunt for the best food in Florence.
The lighting of the town’s massive tree marks the beginning of the Christmas season, and much like eating, the Italians sure know how to throw a party. At the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, hit the food fair in Santissima Annunziata to fuel up, then shop till you drop at the Christmas markets. You know that crazy aunt who gives you fruitcake every year? Now’s your chance to show her how it’s done. Pick up some panforte, a spiced Italian version, and pretend you made it yourself. With Florence hotels near Piazza Santa Croce, you won’t get too much of a workout carrying it back to your room.
On 6 January, the Feast of the Epiphany involves less eating, but way more awesome costumes and folklore. The Cavalcade of the Magi will have you humming “We three kings of orient are…” as a huge parade takes to the streets to deliver their herbal gifts to Bethlehem—or just to Piazza Duomo. And of course, you’re welcome to eat afterwards!
Everyone will think you’ve lost your “marbles” if you don’t check out Michelangelo’s David statue at Galleria dell'Accademia. The artist’s 5m marble masterpiece garnered rave reviews like "Whoever has seen this work need not trouble to see any other work executed in sculpture", which is pretty serious stuff!
You should probably ignore that tip, though, and check out the sculptures and artworks at the Uffizi Gallery. Learn how to pronounce “sfumato” as you admire da Vinci’s Annunciation painting, the first example of this technique.
If you only have one day in Florence, we hope you have one night, too, to really get a feel for the city’s famous piazzas. Piazza del Duomo, the geographic and cultural heart of the city, is the obvious place to start. Nosh on some aperitivos as you take in the scenery: Campanile di Giotto, Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and plenty of people-watching.
Save an appetite for dinner in Piazza della Repubblica, though. This is the “rich man’s square” and upscale restaurants abound. End your evening among the strange statues and fountains of Piazza della Signoria; the Fountain of Neptune is just begging for a selfie.
After all those museums, you just might want some fresh air. The Boboli Gardens have been the city’s “green lung” since the 16th century. With seemingly endless emerald expanses, it could be easy to forget you’re in Florence. However, the park’s impressive fountains, sculptures and architecture will remind you—this is still one of the world’s most famous art cities.
If you want to really get away from it all, we know just the place: The UNESCO-listed Cinque Terre region is an easy day trip away. Meaning "Five Lands", this collection of five villages has been built on cliffs overlooking the Ligurian Sea. It’s so quaint, you can’t even get there by road! Boats and trains connect these centuries-old towns. Best leave the transport to the experts with a Cinque Terre Full-Day Tour, so you can focus on getting that perfect photo op instead.
It’s also best to leave your travel plans to Wotif. All you have to do is search, point and click, and you’ll score the best deals on airfares and accommodation in Florence. It’s easier than sipping wine and eating pasta—as you’ll soon find out for yourself.
Hotels in Florence start at AU$72 per night. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.