14 tips for traveling to Florence
Florence is a beautiful city in Tuscany, Italy. I am happy I got to go there for my birthday. My boyfriend paid for me, and I paid for him as a late graduation gift. I know that this means we just paid for ourselves, but it’s the thought that counts, right?
Anyway, here in the Netherlands it was cold and wet and on a Thursday afternoon we were flying to a warmer place in Europe. And warm it was! On Friday, which was also my birthday, we decided to go to a park and chill out there. Tanning in the grass and later cooling off with delicious gelato. I turned 24 in a very nice way.
Although… that morning at breakfast, when I tried to boil water in a kettle for tea and coffee, the power went out! Our apartment was dark. Like the middle of the night dark. Luckily, it was quickly fixed and we almost forgot by the time we went home (though now my bf keeps teasing me I should not turn the kettle on, because ‘you never know’)
On Saturday, the weather was a little less nice, so we went to a museum and on Sunday the sun was out again and gave us both a sunburn.
After spending three full days in Florence, I would like to share some tips for those traveling to Florence:
1. From the airport, there is a shuttle bus that takes you directly to the central train station in the city. It’s just 6 euros and a real adventure with the Italian driving style.
2. Everything can easily be done by foot. Most of the sights are in walking distance from each other and by walking you see a whole lot more of the city.
3. Buy a combined ticket for the Barbini and Boboli Gardens. We visited these gardens on my birthday and it was beautiful. It is a bit of a walk from the center of the city, but the peaceful environment and the breathtaking views over the city are very much worth it!
4. Eat gelato. Because Italy is known for its gelato and it is so yummy on a hot day (or any other day really). I recommend strawberry and mango. Not only very tasty, also very colorful and amazing-looking.
5. Ponte Vecchio is not very special to walk over. It is crowded and loud. The shops that hang over the river are almost all jewelry shops and I bet they expensive. So if you’re not into that, just take one of the bridges on either side. That way you get across the river as well as a pretty view from Ponte Vecchio.
6. Download an offline map. Google has those. If you’re doing everything by foot, you can easily get lost. Which is not a problem of course, unless you don’t want that. With an offline map from Google, you can see where you are and it doesn’t cost you any data. Win-win!
7. If you’re a little stuck on what to do at night, go to an Irish pub! Okay, it’s not really Italian, but Irish pubs are very busy and lively. They have awesome cocktails and beers and there are a lot of Americans. We went to an Irish pub two nights (out of four). Great way to spend the evening.
8. Visit Palazzo Vecchio, because it is a beautiful museum and it has a stunning view from the top. You can see all of Florence and it’s surroundings (see first picture). But the museum itself is very interesting too, with many chambers that all have amazing ceilings. If I had more time (and maybe a little more money) I would take the secret passages tour. I think that would be an awesome tour.
9. Drink cappuccino. Also very Italian and usually a good boost to get through a whole day of walking.
10. If you’re a #fitgirl or if you just want (another!) pretty view over the city, you should go up to Piazzale Michelangelo. The piazzale itself wasn’t really something worth mentioning, but the climb was a good workout and halfway up the hill there is a pretty rose garden.
11. Take your camera with you everywhere. I realized while walking through Florence that everything is beautiful, really. Buildings, squares, funny Italians. My pictures are all taken with my phone, so I had my camera always with me (my bf too, for the behind the scenes pics 😉 )
12. The Basilica di Santa Croce is another beautiful church in Florence. Of course the Duomo is more known, but this church has the same kind of embellishment on the front as the Duomo. The square in front of the church is also bigger, which makes this church easier to photograph. Next to a gorgeous church, the district Santa Croce is worth visiting.
13. Realize that some restaurants charge copertura. Which means that they charge for the table setting. We did not know this, and were shocked when we had to pay 8 euros for 2 x copertura. We couldn’t figure it out and the moment we had Wi-Fi we looked it up. It feels stupid to pay for a paper table cloth and paper napkins, but apparently it cost 4 euros.
14. Take your time. You’re not going very fast if you do everything by foot anyway, but just relax and take your time walking. Sit on a terrace for a few hours, chill in a park; really the Italians are not rushing, so you shouldn’t either. That way you can take all of the beautiful details Florence has to offer. And you might even find some interesting road signs!
Next week I’ll be in Portugal enjoying warmer weather (no sun, because the forecast is not great…), so there won’t be a new post. But follow me on instagram and you’ll see some pretty picture of the Algarve!
What was your favorite thing to do in Florence? What other places should I visit?