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Trying to decide where to stay in Florence? While the city is small, it offers many accommodation options and it can be confusing trying to decide the best location to stay. You’ll want to enjoy all the atmosphere and spirit of the Renaissance city while ensuring that you’re situated in an area close to transport and attractions.
In this article, we share our favorite Florence neighborhoods and their advantages and disadvantages depending on your style of travel, budget and intended length of stay. And, to make things even easier, we’ve shared our pick of the best hotels, apartments and AirBnBs in each area.
Summary of the best places to stay in Florence
Here’s a quick summary of Florence’s neighborhoods. For a detailed description of which travelers they suit best read the detailed descriptions including hotel and AirBnB selections below.
- Centro Storico – Duomo / Uffizi / Ponte Vecchio – best for first time visitors. Easily walk to major sights of the city and enjoy the atmosphere of the Renaissance city. Can be very expensive and crowded especially during peak season
- Oltrano and Santo Spirito – central neighborhood close to the Arno river with lovely piazza surrounded by cafes and wine bars
- Santa Croce – neighborhood next to the historic center with a lively local market and large piazza in front of the iconic church
- San Niccolò / Piazzale Michelangelo – charming neighborhood close to the historic center known for artisan workshops, a thriving restaurant scene and magnificent views of the city
- Santa Maria Novella (Station area) – well known area for budget accommodation that is convenient but lacks charm unless you choose your accommodation wisely
- Fiesole – pretty hillside town just 10-15 minutes out of the city with views over Florence
Duomo / Uffizi / Ponte Vecchio Area
For first time visitors and those who have only a short time in Florence we suggest staying in the centro storico or historic district. This area is the heart of Florence and here’s you’ll find the magnificent cathedral or duomo – Santa Maria del Fiore – the Uffizi Gallery, and the Palazzo Vecchio. Not to mention the city’s iconic piazzas, shopping streets and many museums and restaurants.
Almost everything you will want to see and do in Florence is within or a short walk from this small area. You can easily reach the Ponte Vecchio, Accademia Gallery (to see Michelangelo’s statue of David) and Pitti Palace in around 20 minutes from central Florence.
The centro storico is so convenient that unsurprisingly it is also the most expensive. Here you will find the most five star hotels in Florence as well as boutique properties with coveted Arno views. However, if you book well in advance you can find reasonably priced AirBnBs and budget hotel rooms too.
Also worth noting that this area does become very crowded especially during peak season between May and October. There is also not much respite from the summer heat. You’ll need to venture further afield if you prefer a more relaxed atmosphere or a hotel with a pool.
Hotels near the Florence Duomo and Uffizi Gallery
- LUXURY – Portrait Firenze – chic 5 star hotel with panoramic views of the Arno river and steps from the Ponte Vecchio
- MIDRANGE – Continentale – charming 4 star design hotel with magnificent views of the Ponte Vecchio and Arno River
- BUDGET – Hotel Perseo – just steps from the Duomo, this modern 3 star hotel even has a rooftop terrace with city views
apartment and AirBnBs near the Duomo Florence
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Oltrarno / Santo Spirito area
A stroll across the Ponte Vecchio takes you to the Oltrarno district, home of the Pitti Palace and its famous Boboli Gardens. This central Florence neighborhood is quieter and less expensive than the center. Here you find local restaurants and wine bars alongside artisan boutiques selling paper and leather goods and residential buildings.
Stroll away from the Pitti Palace and you’ll discover small cobbled streets and the lovely Santo Spirito area. This neighborhood church has a charming piazza lined with cafes and bars where locals gather at all hours of the day to converse, drink coffee or even better, aperitivo in the early evening. The piazza is a shady open space that is quite rare in the heart of the city making it one of the best places for families to stay in Florence.
When you want to go see the sights it’s just 15 minutes across the bridge to the Uffizi Gallery and little further onward to the Duomo. You’ll find great value AirBnBs, some lovely boutique hotels and luxurious properties with views closer to the river in Oltrarno.
- LUXURY – Hotel Lungarno – owned by the Ferragamo family, this 5 star hotel sits on the banks of the Arno river
- MIDRANGE – Ponte Vecchio Suites – modern 4 star hotel with beautifully appointed rooms with onsite spa and sauna
- BUDGET – Hotel La Scaletta – 3 star hotel with modern interiors on the opposite side of the river to the Uffizi Gallery
APARTMENTS AND AirBnBs in Oltrarno / Santo Spirito
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Santa Maria Novella / Train station
Staying close to the station in the Santa Maria Novella district of Florence is a good choice for budget travelers and if you plan to do many day trips by bus or train from the city. As in most European cities, the area around the station is not the most characterful or charming, especially in the evenings. So if that’s important to you then perhaps consider one of the other neighborhoods in the center.
The best area for hotels and atmosphere in this district are found close to the Piazza di Santa Maria Novella. From here it is just a short walk to the station and the wonderful Mercato Centrale – an upscale food court above the San Lorenzo street market. Of course the attractions of Florence are within easy walking distance too. It’s just a 10 minute walk to the Ponte Vecchio and the Duomo is even closer.
Hotels in Santa Maria Novella
- LUXURY – Grand Hotel Minerva – wonderful hotel with a rooftop terrace and swimming pool with Duomo views
- MIDRANGE – Hotel Garibaldi Blu – design hotel with mix of modern and historic features facing the piazza
- BUDGET – Hotel Alba Palace – traditional hotel with comfortable rooms close to the train station
Apartments and AirBnBs in Santa Maria Novella
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The Santa Croce district is a charming central neighborhood in Florence. Local life centers around the basilica of the same name that has stood on this site for centuries. This is the final resting place of famous Florentines – Michelangelo, Galileo and Macchiavelli – and a must visit site in Florence.
Piazza di Santa Croce is lined with bars and cafes and you can walk a few moments to the covered Sant’Ambrogio market where the freshest fruit, vegetables and local produce are sold every day except Sunday. If you want to discover the city’s artisan heritage, you’ll also find the Scuola del Cuoio (School of Leather) behind the basilica.
You’ll find romantic boutique hotels and great value apartments in this district. They are perfectly situated to access the historic wonders of Florence on foot. It’s a 10 minute stroll to both the Uffizi Gallery and the Duomo from the main piazza.
Hotels in the Santa Croce District
- LUXURY – Baglioni Relais Santa Croce – intimate 5 star hotel with frescoed ceilings in a former palazzo
- MIDRANGE – Plaza Hotel Lucchesi – modern 4 star hotel on the banks of the Arno with seasonal rooftop pool and bar
- BUDGET – Hotel Bodoni – traditional hotel with friendly staff in the heart of Santa Croce
APARTMENTS AND AirBnBs in Santa Croce
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San Niccolò / Piazzale Michelangelo
Across the Arno River from Santa Croce, the San Niccolò district is a labyrinth of cobbled streets hugging the hillside below Piazzale Michelangelo – a renowned viewing point in Florence. This neighborhood has a lively bar and restaurant scene that spills out onto pavements well into the evening. It’s a fun area to stay if you want to get away from the vast crowds in the center. But, you’ll also find some interesting boutiques and ateliers including the incredible workshop of jeweller Alessandro Dari.
Despite its distinctly local feel, San Niccolò is just a short walk over the Ponte delle Grazie to central Florence. This bridge offers that hero shot down the river Arno towards the Ponte Vecchio. So it’s an enchanting way to start and end your days in the Renaissance city. There are fewer hotels in this area but you will find apartments with terraces overlooking the Arno.
Hotels in San Niccolò
- MIDRANGE – Hotel Silla – some rooms have river views at this popular hotel with pretty outdoor terrace
- MIDRANGE – Hotel David – very popular traditional hotel on the far side of the district, 5 minutes by bus to the center
Escape to the hill town of Fiesole if you crave quiet accommodation close to Florence. Just 30 minutes by bus into the center, Fiesole gives you the peace and charm of a small Tuscan town with easy access to all the attractions of the Renaissance city. Plus this town offers some of the best panoramic views of Florence and the surrounding countryside. Not to mention its own attractions including a Roman amphitheater.
For centuries, Fiesole has been the country retreat of wealthy Florentines – including the Medici. Here the accommodation options include large villas, apartments and farm stays as well as the magnificent five star Belmond hotel. Many have pools where you can cool off after exploring under the hot Tuscan sun.
If you’re interested in exploring the towns of Tuscany by car, Fiesole would make a great base as you will find parking much easier than in Florence.
Hotels in Fiesole
- LUXURY – Belmond Villa San Michele – opulent 5 star country hotel with sweeping views of Tuscany and Florence
- MIDRANGE – FH55 Hotel Villa Fiesole – relaxing garden and terrace views plus a pool in this former private villa
- BUDGET – Camping Village Panoramico Fiesole – great value chalets plus pool and free shuttle to bus stop for Florence
- FARMSTAY – Agriturismo Fattoria Di Maiano – modern accommodation in classic farm stay setting with pool and onsite restaurant
Where will you stay in Florence?
Florence is one of Italy’s most lovely and classic cities. No matter which neighborhood you choose to stay in you can easily discover the highlights and secrets of the Renaissance city. Just make sure you know where to get the best gelato near where you are staying and everything will be simply perfetto!Read: our complete Italy accommodation guide