Florence is a town of great charm and boasts an artistic and architectural heritage that attracts visitors from Italy and abroad. The historic city centre is not very large and can be easily walked around as this is the only way to fully discover all its beauty. If you are planning a trip to Tuscany, a stop in Florence is a must, where you can organise a stay of a couple of days to visit the main sights and experience its lively nightlife.
But where is the best place to sleep in Florence? The city boasts various types of accommodation and lodgings that are able to meet all needs.
To choose the area where to stay in Florence, you need to be clear on what your travel needs are. The historic centre is definitely the best area if you are coming to Florence for a few days and want to have not only the main monuments on your doorstep, but also numerous shops and restaurants.
Alternatively, you can stay in the Santa Maria Novella area, which is close to the railway station, or in the Oltrarno, a very quiet district that lies south of the Arno river. Lovers of nightlife and entertainment can choose accommodation in the Piazza Santo Spirito area, which is considered the movida district, or in Via dei Benci in the Santa Croce district.
Those opting for a quiet stay, on the other hand, can book accommodation outside the centre of Florence in an accommodation immersed in the quiet of the Tuscan countryside. Finally, remember that if you choose to stay in the historical centre and reach the city by car, it is better to find accommodation that also offers parking, as the centre is totally pedestrianised. To help you choose the most suitable accommodation, here we have written a mini-guide with some useful advice on the different areas where it is best to sleep in Florence.
Choosing accommodation in the historical centre of Florence is certainly one of the best solutions, especially if you plan to stay in the city for a limited time. The city centre is convenient for visiting the main attractions such as the Duomo, Piazza della Signoria, the Uffizi Gallery and Ponte Vecchio. The area of the historical centre, also known as the San Giovanni district, boasts numerous accommodations in different price ranges: from luxury hotels to cosy Bed&Breakfasts, from flats to hostels. Besides hosting the main sites of interest, the centre is also full of shops, big brand boutiques, restaurants and clubs.
Due to its central location, this is one of the most expensive areas to stay, but if you book well in advance, you can find accommodation at great prices. Some of the most strategic streets in the centre are: Via dei Leoni, Via del Proconsolo and Via della Condotta.
Those who want to find accommodation in a less expensive but still central area can look for accommodation in the district of Santa Maria Novella, which is located in the north-west part of the historical centre. This area, which includes the famous Church of Santa Maria Novella and the railway station, hosts not only hotels but also guesthouses and hostels.
Santa Maria Novella is a very convenient area because from here you can easily reach both Piazza Duomo and Piazza della Signoria, which are only a 10-15 minute walk away! Finding accommodation in this area is recommended for those arriving in the city by train or for those who use Florence as a base to get around by train and visit other places nearby.
Also close to the station is the Fortezza da Basso, the city’s trade fair centre, so Santa Maria Novella is an ideal area to stay if you need to attend trade fairs.
If you want to stay in a less chaotic area characterised by small shops, artisan workshops and art galleries, Oltrarno is the district for you. This area lies south-west of the Arno river and is connected to the centre by the Ponte Vecchio. Nearby are the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens, as well as numerous restaurants, wine bars and cafés. Staying here means always being in the centre of Florence and being able to reach the main points of interest with a pleasant walk.
Part of this area are the Santo Spirito and San Frediano areas, which are full of restaurants and clubs that come alive from aperitif time onwards. Some of the liveliest streets are Via Santo Spirito, Via Romana, Via Sant’Agostino and Piazza della Passera. The area is very popular with young people and nightlife lovers, so you will find not only hotels and flats at good prices but also numerous hostels in this area.
If you want to get to know the most authentic Florence, the advice is to stay in Santa Croce, the district that houses the Basilica of Santa Croce, which is one of the largest Franciscan churches in Italy. Inside the Basilica are the tombs of illustrious personalities such as Machiavelli, Alfieri, Michelangelo and the tomb of Galileo Galilei.
Being further away from the most interesting sites, this area is less frequented during the day while it is particularly lively in the evenings thanks to the presence of bars and restaurants serving local cuisine. In this district one can find restaurants in luxury hotels, gourmet restaurants, pubs and small taverns.
Also in this area there are numerous accommodations in different price ranges: from hotels in historical buildings to small B&Bs.
Florence has an airport, named after Amerigo Vespucci, located in the Peretola area about 10 km from the city. The airport is served by the A11 Firenze-Maree motorway and the Ponte all’Indiano Viaduct. From the airport one can reach the city centre by car or with the Volainbus airport shuttle. Those arriving in Florence by plane, perhaps in the evening, or those who have to catch an early morning flight can stay in the airport area where there are several hotels. Sleeping here is a matter of choice as there are neither sites of interest nor many accommodations in the vicinity.
Many people decide to stay outside Florence in places more on a human scale or in accommodation in the quiet Tuscan countryside, such as Fiesole or Sesto Fiorentino. Sleeping in one of these locations makes it possible to reach Florence quickly by bus or train, but also to explore other Tuscan locations with ease. Outside the centre, you will often find cosy B&Bs and agriturismi that offer more space than a hotel room in the centre.
In addition, these accommodations also boast the presence of extra services such as a swimming pool, SPA and spacious outdoor areas. Some of the most recommended locations are: Montespertoli, Barberino Val d’Elsa and Dicomano. Staying in these areas can also be a good solution for those who are touring Tuscany by car and Florence is only a daily stop on the itinerary.