The capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, Florence encapsulates everything that tourists and residents love about Italy. From its Renaissance architecture to its breathtaking sunsets and cities that are oozing Italian culture, this beautiful city should be top on your list when interrailing around Italy. But it’s a big city; so where do you start?
Well, we’ve put together an interrailing guide for anyone planning on going to this enchanting city. From the top attractions to visit, to places to eat and accommodation options, we’ve got you covered.
Top 3 attractions to visit in Florence
The Cathedral of Florence
This might not come as a surprise to many, but the first place we’d recommend visiting when you’re in Florence is the Cathedral of Florence. Peaking out above the Florentine skyline, this iconic landmark within the city is renowned for its Gothic appearance and vibrant red-tiled dome.
The largest structure in the world to be constructed of brick, it’s free to explore for any tourist looking to get their history fix. Of course, if you want to venture up into the dome or the bell tower there’s an admission cost of €18; but the beautiful views that await you are well worth the price. Dating back to 1296, it was designed by prominent architect Arnolfo di Cambio.
Whether you love history or gazing at art, Palazzo Vecchio is a must-see. With grand galleries, this palace that echoes the grandeur of a fort is situated in the heart of Florence. Offering free tours around it, you’ll be able to explore the secret passages that the Medici used (a prominent Italian dynasty) and even be able to take in sunset views of the city from its rooftop in the evening.
When thinking of Florence, maybe the first thing that comes to mind is Ponte Vecchio. A widely recognizable attraction, this bridge is home to a variety of different goldsmiths. With enchanting arches and colourful buildings, it offers the perfect opportunity to take pictures that are sure to get you plenty of likes.
Linking the two sides of the Arno, what’s so wonderful about this bridge is that no one knows who constructed it. Although many attributed it to Taddeo Gaddi, others believe that due to the design of its structure Dominican friars were responsible. Another fascinating aspect of the bridge is that lining its walls are self-portraits of Michelangelo, Velasquez, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, and Rembrandt!
Other must-dos when you’re in Florence
A sunset boat ride
Now, there are plenty of different operators that offer this excursion. But one, in particular, that’s popular with those visiting the city is I Renaioli. An hour-long excursion will take you along the river starting at the Piazza Mentana. Available for small groups and couples alike, it gives you an opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy it from a different point of view for the evening. Throughout the journey, you’ll learn about the city’s fascinating history whilst sitting in a beautifully-restored riverboat that’s lovingly cared for.
Wander around the Boboli Gardens
Covering an incredible 45,000 square metres and connected to the Palazzo Pitti, the Boboli Gardens offer a unique sight within the city – natural beauty. A delight to walk through regardless of the time of year, they date back to the 16th Century. Separated into different sections including the obelisk, the fountain, several ponds, and the main lawn it’s home to a variety of plants and flowers.
A wonderful way to spend an afternoon during your interrail trip, it only costs €6 to visit both the Boboli gardens and the Garden of Villa Bardini, which offers incomparable panoramic views of Florence.
Indulge in a Craft Cocktail and Aperitivo Tour
Offered by Curious Appetite, this unique tour gives you the chance to savour Italy’s delicious drink and scrumptious finger food (what’s not to love!). From craft cocktails to Prosecco, this tour takes you across the city into a variety of different bars that you might not have discovered on your own. Giving you the chance to experience the Italian craft cocktail culture first hand, whilst wandering through the colourful backstreets of the city, it’s a fun and entertaining way to spend an evening.
Places to eat in Florence
Gusta Pizza – a popular restaurant with the locals, this delicious pizzeria is located near Piazza Santo Spirito. Perfect if you’re looking for a wallet-friendly yet delicious pizza, it will set you back €5-€8 euros per pizza. Make sure that you go early, however, as it quickly becomes crowded due to its scrumptious food and location.
Osteria il Buongustai – close to Piazza Signoria, is the enchanting and quaint trattoria Osteria il Buongustai. Owned by three women, they create mouth-watering dishes from salad to risotto and pasta, with a menu that will set you back only €5-€8 euros for a primo piatto. All made in house, the traditional delights it has to offer will make you want to visit again and again.
Chicco di Caffe – Yet another popular choice for locals, this reasonably-priced cafe has beautiful Tuscan dishes and is hidden away from all of the noise on a side street near Piazza Santo Spirito.
If you’re pushing the boat out:
La Buchetta Food and Wine Restaurant – although this still won’t break the bank, this restaurant is one for those looking for a meal that includes an extensive wine list, a traditional menu and a cosy atmosphere. Rated in the top 20 places to eat in the city on TripAdvisor, it’s located within the centre of Florence.
Restaurant Il Vezzo – another tourist favourite is Restaurant II Vezzo. A traditional restaurant, you’ll find flavourful Florentine steak (a must-try for anyone visiting the city) and pasta in this intimate space which also offers a covered courtyard.
Ristorante Boccadama – And finally, Ristorante Boccadama. A rustic dining room awaits at this Italian restaurant, whether you’re craving pizza, pasta or regional dishes.
Places to stay in Florence
PLUS Florence: a modern and lively hostel in the centre, PLUS Florence has a fantastic Cuban bar and indoor and outdoor pools.
WoW Florence Hostel – a clean and friendly hostel with delicious food and within easy reach of the city centre.
B&B Hotel Firenze Nuovo Palazzo di Giustizia – cheap and cheerful, this B&B is a relaxed budget hotel just outside of the city.
Hotel Romagna – situated in the city centre, this budget hotel has simple, bright rooms with city views across Florence.
Hotel Savonarola Florence – a traditional hotel, this laid-back accommodation option offers free wifi and a central location.
For those looking for something a little more luxurious:
Grand Hotel Cavour – this luxurious hotel is set within a 1920 building, 5 minutes from the Cathedral of Florence.
NH Firenze – a 4* hotel with a rooftop pool, this elegant hotel may be a little more expensive, but the views it offers are well worth the price tag.
Hotel Savoy – want to really push the boat out? Then the Hotel Savoy is the number one choice. Offering a refined restaurant, bar and gym, this beautiful hotel offers Florentine style with a contemporary twist.
So, there you have it! There’s a brief guide to Florence for anyone looking to stop off on their interrailing adventure. An Italian city that is not to be missed, there are so many wonderful things you can do during your time there; as well as so many delicious places to eat and fabulous places to stay.