Where to stay in Florence for families, couples and singles
If you are wondering about where to stay in Florence, then you are not the only one.
This is the typical question I receive: is it better to book in the historical centre or outside the city?
The best area to stay in Florence will primarily depend on what you want to see, if you are driving a car, or you take public transportation(I will talk more about it) and ultimately the experience you want to have
In this guide, I will go through the best neighborhoods to book your holiday, highlighting the advantages and drawbacks of every single choice. What works best for a family stay, a romantic getaway, a budget holiday, etc.
You will also find a few suggested hotels and restaurants to have the best time in the city
I love Florence and sooner or later I will move back to live in it 🙂
But without further ado, let’s get into it
Table of Contents
- 1 Where to stay in Florence – In a nutshell
- 2 Best neighbourhood to stay in Florence for sightseeing – San Giovanni
- 3 Best place to stay in Florence with family – Santa Maria Novella
- 4 Unique places to stay in Florence – Santa Croce
- 5 Where to stay in Florence on a budget – Campo di Marte
- 6 Florence neighborhood with best AirBnb – Oltrarno
- 7 Where to stay in Florence with a car – Campo di Marte
- 8 Where to stay near Florence
- 9 Best areas to stay in Florence
- 10 Places to avoid in Florence
Where to stay in Florence – In a nutshell
- Best areas to stay in Florence: I personally suggest staying in the neighbourhoods close to the Arno river. This is where you will have more of a real Florence experience with postcard buildings and the typical Renaissance architecture spread all around in the secret lanes and hidden squares. You will find in San Giovanni the most iconic attractions of Florence. You can read more about the best neighborhoods below.
- Best neighbourhood to stay in Florence close to everything: San Giovanni is probably the best place to stay in Florence for a romantic sojourn and easy walking distance to all the major attractio0ns, like the cathedral, Ponte Vecchio and all the famous museums. Read more here on San Giovanni
- Where to stay in Florence on a budget: Florence is famous for a lot of things but not for its cheap prices. The low budget hotels tend to be in Campo di Marte, on the east side of the station, close to the stadium. Read more below if you are on a budget
- Best place to stay for families: Santa Maria Novella is an ultra-practical neighbourhood to book your accommodation. There are plenty of options for family with kids and you will be meters from the main station, avoiding transporting the bags around the city. Read more on Santa Maria Novella
- Where to stay in Florence with a car: I would avoid the historical centre, most of it is ZTL and with narrow streets too. Campo di Marte, on the west side of the station, is a possible solution. Accommodations tend to include free parking. Alternatively, think to leave the car in a parking spot outside the city. Read below for more info, including easily reachable parking spots and accommodations including parking.
- Where to stay near Florence: one of my favourite towns, very well connected to the city is Pontassieve. Another option is also Scandicci. Read below for more info
- Unique places to stay in Florence: my favourite area for a unique experience is Santa Croce. You will have more of a local experience, with local restaurants and bars. A few of the accommodations are also so unique. Read below more on Santa Croce.
- Where to stay in Florence near the train station: I suggest again Santa Maria Novella, very functional. Read more below on Santa Maria Novella for a few tips on accommodations.
- Where to stay in Florence for 1 night: let me say first that it is absolutely a pity that you can stay only 1 night. In saying that, I would definitely suggest the area of San Giovanni, at least you are within walking distance of all the attractions. Read more here on San Giovanni
- Where to stay in Florence for nightlife: both San Giovanni and Santa Croce have restaurants, aperitivo places and clubs to spend a night out. However, in true honesty, do not expect the best. If you plan for a late-night dancing check out instead the Otel, not too far from the centre
- Florence neighbourhoods with best Airbnb: there are apartments everywhere however I feel like the area of Oltrarno offers more choice and a better value. Moreover, you will be very likely to stay in a very typical building, as old as 600 years, if not more.
- Where to stay in Florence first time: for a romantic stay close to everything then San Giovanni is the place to be, alternately check out Oltrarno if you are thinking to book an AirBnb
- Do you want to go straight to your hotel? Pre-order an airport transfer that will wait for you directly at the airport. So easy.
There are many famous attractions to visit in the city. Just keep in mind that few of them have very long queues.
The organised tours below offer, besides a knowledgeable guide, a skip-the-queue entrance that will save you precious hours of waiting
- Ultimate Uffizi – Priority Entrance: the most beautiful of all the attractions in Florence. This tour, in a small group, is a great time-saver besides having a fantastic guide that will explain all you need to know…and more.
- Florence Dome Climb – Priority Entrance: again skip the main queue, a real time saver. The guide is a big plus to understand why it took 2 centuries to build the dome
- Michelangelo’s David Accademia – Priority Entrance: a must if you love Michelangelo’s work. The experienced guide will drive you through the Renaissance time, again a real plus
All these tours are very popular and are among the best things to experience in Florence.
My suggestion here is to book them well in advance to avoid disappointments. You can anyway cancel them, free of charge, up to 24 hours prior to the activity.
Best neighbourhood to stay in Florence for sightseeing – San Giovanni
|San Giovanni is great for
All of the central areas (except Campo di Marte) are part of the Historic Center (Centro Storico), named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982
It does not matter where you book your accommodation, you will be very likely to stay in a beautiful building (as old as 600 years) with amazing churches and historical sites all around.
In saying that, San Giovanni is definitely the best neighbourhood to stay in Florence for sightseeing.
San Giovanni is my favourite area to stay when I want to be close to everything, right in the heart of Florence.
You will be within walking distance of the main sights, from the Piazza della Signoria, Palazzo Vecchio, the Uffizi Gallery, Ponte Vecchio, the Florence Cathedral (Santa Maria del Fiore) and so on. You get the point.
It’s more expensive, true, but unless you visit this beautiful city every year, it’s absolutely worth the extra price.
From here you can reach all the attractions with a short walk and many streets and squares are closed to the traffic, which makes it ideal for an easy stroll.
Being all walking distance means you will save a lot of time moving around. And you can always go back to your hotel after lunch for a little snooze during those hot summer days.
You will enjoy both the day (so close to everything) and the night, with the picturesque street lights.
San Giovanni is the perfect location for a 2-3 days break-away with a romantic touch.
You will be next door to the most beautiful examples of Renaissance architecture.
For a few photos, wake up at sunrise to explore San Giovanni almost on your own, such a unique experience.
The area can be quite noisy, so you need to be selective in the hotel choice if you are looking for a quiet night sleeping (the hotels suggested below are safe).
Budget a 10-20 minutes walk from the train station (Santa Maria Novella, S.M.N.)
Florence can be quite busy in the summer months. For this reason, I suggest booking well in advance.
The Canto degli Scali provides lovely accommodations from double rooms to 2BR apartments that host up to 6 people, which works great for a big family or a friends trip.
The whole place is decorated in a very stylish way with plenty of space to move around (check the photos here, although they do not give enough justice)
The interior design is so lovely you may think you are in a luxury hotel, however this is not reflected in the cost of the accommodations.
The location is once again perfect, right in the historic centre, 5-10 minutes from the Duomo area and next to the Arno River
The location is one of the best in Florence, just around the corner from the Piazza del Duomo, a minute walk to so many attractions.
It’s also one of the best deal around. I suggest getting also the breakfast. It’s just perfect for a nice and easy start of the day.
The hotel is set in a historic building, a convent built in the 13th century and totally transformed and refurbished with exposed wooden beams.
A great place to remember for many years to come
For a nice dinner head to the Buca Poldo Restaurant for an authentic Italian night and one of the best steak Florentine in the city.
Mangia Pizza is a great affordable option offering pizzas on an unusual rectangular shape.
Do you need more information about Tuscany?
Best place to stay in Florence with family – Santa Maria Novella
|Santa Maria Novella is great for
There is one neighbourhood that stands out as the most functional place to stay for families.
This is Santa Maria Novella, all around the main Train Station.
It is a very practical area of Florence, especially if you are on an itinerary of Tuscany or even Italy.
Having a hotel close to the Santa Maria Novella train station means that you have easy access to public transportation.
A very convenient base.
Santa Maria Novella is the place to stay especially when travelling with lots of bags. And unfortunately, we are all guilty of that when travelling with kids.
You can find many hotels around the central station, from budget to more exclusive and boutique options, including a few Airbnb.
Most of the main attractions are 10 to 20 minutes walking distance from the main station. Not too bad.
Santa Maria Novella has not that nice character and architecture as San Giovanni, surely it is not a romantic place to stay, however, it is probably the most convenient place to stay in Florence.
The Olive Loft is one of the best kept-secret Airbnb/holiday apartments in Florence.
It is very spacious, with a great interior design and a terrace too (see photos here).
You have 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms and it can host up to 6 people.
The Front Station Apartment is the perfect place to stay if you are after value for money, literally metres from the station.
It may have dated furniture, but it definitely makes up with the budget price
For lunch, go to Mario Trattoria, one of the most authentic Florentine experiences, a rare finding in these days. Great food at an old-style price. Unfortunately, they do not open for dinner.
For the best pastry and cakes, have a look at the Cantuccio di San Lorenzo. To die for.
Unique places to stay in Florence – Santa Croce
|Santa Croce is great for
As you may know, this is a popular city with plenty of tourism around.
In saying that there are still unique places to stay in Florence, where you get to live the local life.
Santa Croce, in this respect, is the best neighbourhood to stay in Florence
This is where you will have more of an authentic experience, sharing the street with locals and not mostly tourists.
True, it’s not well connected to the main station (the bus #23 from behind the station, Fortezza stop, takes over 20 minutes, almost as walking) but once there you get to experience the Florentine way of living.
I would suggest Santa Croce if you stay in Florence for at least 3-4 nights or more and you are not planning to take regular trains to other places in Tuscany.
It’s basically a great area to live Florence, experience it, be part of it.
The rooms are superbly decorated with a fusion of Florentine and modern style. They offer doubles rooms as well as apartments (up to 5 people).
This is an aristocrat’s palazzo with lovely decor and amazingly spacious and confortable rooms, a few with a balcony and a view over the city roof, really unique.
In Santa Croce you can find some great restaurants, small cafes, and bars where you can hear mostly the Italian language and unique accommodations to stay
There are also a few nightclubs, however, in true honesty, not the best. If you are after a good one to spend the night check out the Otel, not too far from the city center.
To start the day go to Finisterrae for the best cappuccino and cornetto. The Baldovino Bistrot is a great restaurant for a local food experience.
And the Murate Caffè Letterario is the place to be for aperitivo 😉
It may be not anymore an hidden gem, but the Cinque Terre is still a must-experience, here are the best towns to visit and stay
Where to stay in Florence on a budget – Campo di Marte
|Campo di Marte is great for
If you are on a tight budget you have a couple of options:
- book a bed in one of the hostels
- book outside Florence, where you will have more value for money
In saying that, you can find some good prices also in the city, and mostly in the Campo di Marte district.
This is an area that is not too far, however also not too close, to the historical centre.
Campo di Marte is the second biggest station in Florence and it’s connected with direct trains to S. Maria Novella station.
Campo di Marte is the best bet for a place to stay in Florence on a budget, however, you would have a small daily commute to reach the main attractions.
Based on where you will stay you may need a 30 to 40 minutes direct walk to the Cathedral, or a 20 to 30 minutes bus/train ride (with some walk involved).
Stay on the east side of the station for cheaper prices. This is where you will find the city stadium, a few meters from the station (expect hotels to be busier during the football game weekends).
The price is one of the best in Florence, however, it’s hard to find availability (book well in advance)
It’s a very clean hostel that provides also towels and soap. You can’t go cheaper than this hostel in Florence.
In this area, I suggest for lunch or dinner Rugbier, a bar with a beer garden serving pub-style food and pizza with a great selection of beers.
There are also plenty of Pizzeria around with really cheap prices
Florence neighborhood with best AirBnb – Oltrarno
|Oltrarno is great for
You can find an Airbnb in every area we talked in this post. However, my preference goes to Oltrarno, the area south of the Arno River.
There are a few interesting apartments with a great value for money ratio, something hard to find in San Giovanni, for example.
You can find some fascinating loft, apartments with the river view, or units offering terraces and rooftops to have breakfast with a magnificent view of the city.
Most of these places are also walking distance to the Ponte Vecchio and San Giovanni, which is great.
Once in the area, spare a couple of hours to visit the Boboli Gardens, a public garden designed over 500 years ago, and the Palazzo Pitti, an amazing art museum set in a Renaissance palace. Stop in leafy Piazza Santo Spirito for a coffee on the way (the Pittam’Ingoli bar is awesome, mostly with locals around).
And for the best panoramic views of the historic centre of Florence, have a walk to Piazzale Michelangelo, stunning.
The location is perfect, close to the San Giovanni, just on the other side of the river.
Emy Guest House is instead a perfect apartment for a big family or group (it can host up to 7 people)
It’s nicely decorated in Tuscan style (see photos here) and it’s located close to most of the city attractions.
For dinner, book a table at the Trattoria Cammillo, one of the best service and food in Florence.
Another little secret for dinner and lunch is Burro & Acciughe, great for seafood.
Where to stay in Florence with a car – Campo di Marte
Driving into the historical centre is not recommendable, mainly for 3 reasons:
- most of the city centre is ZTL (Limited Traffic Zone) and only if you are a resident, or you have a permit, you can drive inside it. There are cameras everywhere, so you will be likely to be fined if you try (check official ZTL map here);
- streets are sometimes quite narrow and, unless you are used to driving in tiny spaces, it can be a nightmare;
- parking is rare, if not impossible to find. Private parking is available, however, at a hefty price.
The best place to stay in Florence with a car, still quite close to the historical centre, is Campo di Marte.
This is more of a residential area. Stay on the west side of the station (towards the Historical Center), for a quicker commute to all the amazing attractions.
Based on where your hotel will be, you may need between 20 and 30 minutes to walk to San Giovanni.
Alternatively, walk 10 minutes to Leopardi Gramsci Square and grab the bus #23 that will take you directly to the historical centre.
La Farina Apartments offers nicely furnished studio and apartments (up to 4 people) with free parking included.
The accommodation is very cosy (see photos here) and steps away from a supermarket too.
If you are travelling with kids or with friends then you should check out this Villino di Firenze that hosts up to 5 people.
This accommodation has beautiful interior design, a fusion of old Tuscan style in a modern layout (see photos here).
The location is also great, on the west side of Campo di Marte, very close to the historical centre.
Where to stay near Florence
Is it better to stay in the centre of Florence or near the city?
This can be a big dilemma, especially if you have a rented car with you.
The city center is obviously the perfect location to stay if you are after easy access to all the historical sites. Florence is, after all, a small city and most of the attractions are almost walking distance.
I can see only two reasons to stay outside Florence:
- you have a car and you don’t want to leave it in parking outside the city for a few days (the historical centre is open to permit holders only)
- you are on a budget. Accommodations in the city are more expensive, stay outside and you will save a bit of money
The main drawback of booking your place far from the centre is the commuting time.
And in this respect, I would not suggest this solution if you plan to spend just a weekend in the city. You would end up wasting more time on buses and trains than actually experiencing the city.
What is the difference in accommodation cost between the two options?
Hard to say, however, in the order of 20-30%. Also, rooms tend to be smaller in the historical centre.
Where to stay outside Florence if you want to save some euros or you have a car?
I suggest making your life easier and get a place in a town with a train or a tram station (in this case you will be within the city outskirts).
Pontassieve (old traditional town, connected by train)
Pontassieve is a quintessential small Tuscan town you should visit anyhow.
The town was established in the 14th century by the Medici Family with a still existing castle and a romantic bridge over the Arno River.
This is a fantastic location to be based if you want to experience a renaissance town, with easy access to Florence.
The best is that it’s connected with a direct train to Florence (it will take you to the Santa Maria Novella Station in just 20 minutes).
Moreover, from Pontassieve you can also catch a direct train to Arezzo (1 hour).
The price of the accommodations in this town is really a bargain when compared to the Florence ones.
I suggest going for the optional breakfast in the morning, really the perfect way to start the day
If you are travelling with kids or in a group then the Fiorentina Apartment may be all you need, located right in the heart of the old town.
The view from the balcony is outstanding (see photos here) and the apartment is spacious and perfect up to 5 people.
Scandicci (practical, just a tram ride away)
Scandicci is in the outskirts of Florence, just inside the highway ring that goes around the city.
It’s a good location if you want to experience the local life but still be a tram away (20 minutes) from the historical centre.
And if you are driving, Dario’s includes also free parking.
If you book your accommodation near Florence, but you don’t have any train or bus station, then you can drive to Firenze but leave the car outside the city. These are a couple of places:
- Villa Costanza Parking, an unbeatable location right next to the “Autostrada” (highway). From there catch the tram #1 straight to the historical centre. And you know the best? it’s a real bargain, at less than 10 euro/day. Leave the car there and forget about it during your stay in Florence.
- Piazza Don Pietro Puliti in the Galluzzo town, just outside the city. It’s free, however unsupervised, parking. Walk to Piazza Acciaiuoli and catch the tram 36 or 37 to the historical centre.
TIP: Don’t leave any bag in the car that people can see, even if there is nothing inside.
The tram tickets can be bought in a convenience store (“Tabaccheria”) or at the newsstand. Remember to validate it once on board.
Here are a map and a list of the best neighborhoods to stay in Florence with a short description for each one.
Keep in mind that the city expands beyond these districts of course (more on this later)
All of these below areas, except Campo di Marte, are part of the Historical Center.
- San Giovanni: this is the heart of the historical centre bordering the Arno River with the Ponte Vecchio in the south. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is the natural boundary in the north. It’s a small area with an amazing concentration of historical monuments. It can be quite busy during the day, however, have a walk in the early morning, or late at night, to experience the tiny streets and the Renaissance buildings on your own. Perfect area to stay for a short weekend or a romantic break away.
- Santa Maria Novella: next to the train station and just a short 10-15 minutes walk from all the major attractions in San Giovanni. I suggest this area if you plan to be based in Florence and take the train for short daily trips to other destinations in Tuscany. So handy. Santa Maria Novella may be more chaotic than other areas, however, it is so practical!
- Santa Croce: this is the best area to experience the local life with plenty of restaurants, bars, cafes where you will be very likely to share your meal, drink and coffee only with locals, living next door. You can also find here a few nightclubs, however not the best in the city. For the top cocktails in Florence have a walk to the Bitter Bar.
- Oltrarno (“Beyond Arno”) is the district south of the Arno river. It is probably the area to stay on a budget, still walking distance to San Giovanni and all the popular attractions. The San Frediano neighborood is getting more and more trendy with the young generation; new bars and small restaurants are everywhere.
- Campo di Marte: if you have rented a car and you are driving into the city then Campo di Marte can be a great option to book your accommodation with a parking spot (almost impossible in the other areas). This district is about 2-3km from the centre but public transportation is widely available. And if you are visiting Florence during the football season, book your ticket for a match, always great fun and the stadium is literally next door.
If you are visiting Tuscany, you may also have the option to book your stay outside Florence and organise day trips into the city. Read more on this later in the post.
Where to leave your bag if you have an early arrival or a late departure from Florence?
I suggest checking out LuggageHero. This is a tremendous website listing places where you can leave your luggage meanwhile you visit the city. So handy!
Places to avoid in Florence
Criminality in Florence is not a major issue. There is not an area that stands out, a place to absolutely avoid.
Of course, you always need to pay attention to petty crime, like in any other city in the world.
In the night, it is better to walk in the main streets avoiding the dark lanes.
Around Piazza Santa Maria Novella you may experience some dodgy and shady characters at night, but that’s like any station in Europe, really.