So the thing about Florence is that you are enchanted from the word GO. The moment you enter the old city, you feel you entered a bygone era where art and architectural masterpieces beckon you from every corner. No surprises then you would want to stay somewhere close to the city centre (old city) itself to soak in the atmosphere. Book well in advance to get that perfect place to stay in the old city.
If you are not able to get a place in the old city that suits your budget, there is another option that might sometime work better! Consider the newer part of the city that is across river Arno and connected to the old city by Ponte Vecchio, the old bridge. In this part of the city, you will find budget accommodation like a bed and breakfast or even hotels, some of them overlooking river Arno. These have spectacular views of the city from the higher floors. You can see the Duomo, Santa Croce and others dotting the city skyline from your window itself!
A pleasant walk across Ponte Vecchio with its ancient jewellery shops built on stilts, and you are right in the centre of everything that Florence has to offer. Spend some time at the Ponte Vecchio taking in the magnificent view. You can also use buses or cabs to reach the old city. They use the bridge parallel to the Ponte Vecchio.
Your stay in Florence would in all probability be a part of the larger plan of visiting Italy or other European destinations. As Florence has uncountable art and architecture treasures, you will need to pick and choose. At least 3-4 full days are required unless of course you are an arts enthusiast, in which case you should plan a much longer stay.
A must visit is the Uffizi Gallery that houses masterpieces by many great artists. You will find information about Uffizi on many websites. Just make sure you book your visit in advance, otherwise you will be standing in queues for hours. After the visit, you will exit the Uffizi on Piazza Del Signoria, the political centre of Florence that has sculptures by many artists. Here you might find musicians playing live music. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the music for a while. When you are ready, pick up a gelato from the many gelato shops around that area and walk towards the Duomo, the top most site in Florence.
Spend some time at the Duomo – the cathedral (free) and the baptistery (entry fee), take the mandatory pictures and walk around for some time if you want. Florence is a walkable city. You will find monuments, churches, sculptures everywhere. It would be best to take your time and enjoy them, and not rush to the next destination.
And don’t forget to enjoy the food! Italy is a foodie paradise and you can enjoy all Italian delights in Florence. You might be spending most of the days in the old city and eating there, but also consider the eating joints in the residential areas of the new city. The locals actually eat there so you will find authentic Italian food, right from pasta to Tiramisu made from scratch. Yum!
And while you are enjoying the food in the new city, don’t forget to visit the Pitti Palace and Baboli Gardens. The Pitti Palace has five museums. You will not be able to visit all so pick what you want to see. Or just spend some time in the gardens. After your visit, head back towards Ponte Vecchio but instead of crossing, head to the San Nicolo area and climb to Piazza Michelangelo but a stunning view of Florence!
The next place to visit would be the David at the Academia gallery. You will be awed by it. After the visit, walk down to Piazza San Lorenzo to visit the chapels there, or explore the San Lorenzo outdoor market for your shopping fix. Florence is famous for leather and you will find amazing leather jackets and bags. Do indulge in a few.
While in Florence, you can plan a day trip to Pisa to see the leaning tower. Local trains run to and from Pisa every day.
Have a good stay!