Your travel guide to the Tuscan capital
Following on from our Rome travel guide, let Monastery Stays take you through the Tuscan capital with our Florence travel guide. We have plenty of tips on navigating your way around this stunning city!
We will be updating this post every so often, so be sure to bookmark this page and check back for new information!
The Tuscan capital and birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is a masterpiece of a city. Filled to the brim with art, architecture, history and cuisine, it’s not hard to see why 3.5 million international visitors flock here each year.
Florence is a compact city, with the main attractions all easily accessible on foot. The city is divided into two by the Arno River. Major attractions such as the duomo, Uffizi and Galleria dell’Accademia (where you will find Michelangelo’s David) are all on the north side.
Palazzo Pitti, the Santo Spririto Basilica and Piazzale Michelangelo (which offers stunning views of Florence) are on the south side. Of course, one of the cities most iconic sights, Ponte Vecchio is a popular way to cross the river!
So, depending on what you want to see and do, you can choose between north or south of the river. Our best advice is that north of the Arno is great for a short Stay (up to three or four nights), because you are close to all the major attractions. For a longer Stay, we recommend south of the river – here you’ll find yourself away from the tourist crowds but still within easy reach of everywhere you’d want to go. See our list of previous blog posts below to learn more!
Florence (and Tuscany) is home to arguably some of the best food and wine on the planet. From casual ‘street food’ style fare to fine dining, vast markets and authentic cafes and trattorias, Florence has something for everyone.
Nowhere shows off Florence’s love affair with food quite like the Mercato Centrale, a two-story building in the heart of town. Downstairs is adorned with fresh produce, meat, seafood and quick eats. Venture upstairs to a grand dining area – pizza, pasta, antipasto, wine, pastries and more are on offer here. Upstairs is a bustling place for lunch and dinner, but well worth it. Great atmosphere and even better food!
While Florence is so well known for its major attractions – the duomo, Uffizi, Ponte Vecchio to name a few – there are plenty of lesser known sights that capture the history of the city and are highly recommended.
The Galileo Museum (Museo Galileo) is a short walk from the Uffizi near the Arno River. This relatively quiet museum is full of incredible historic globes, science equipment and even two telescopes which belonged to Galileo himself. The collection was started by the Medici family during the height of the Renaissance and has been housed in this building since the 18th century.
Another excellent (and centrally located) sight to visit is the San Marco Museum (Museo Nazionale di San Marco). A short walk from the Galleria dell’Accademia, this stunning building is full of Renaissance era art, picturesque cloisters and the original friar’s quarters. Steeped in history but not as popular as other attractions in Florence, the San Marco Museum is definitely worth a look – take a break from the crowds and immerse yourself in history.
We have covered Florence a number of times in the past. To view our previous posts on the city, see our list below!
- Learn about the wine windows of Florence!
- Florence from home – The Duomo
- Florence Fast Tracked
- Linger Longer in Florence