Florence, Italy is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. When I first visited Florence, I felt as though I had stepped into a “movie”.
With its vast offerings of art, architecture, shopping, cuisine and nearby beaches it’s no wonder that so many people want to visit this enchanting city each year.
Although Florence is a small city, there are areas that offer different things. If you know the best areas to stay in Florence, it will make your trip so much more spectacular.
Read on to find my recommendations on where to stay in Florence and why.
Where is the main area in Florence?
The main area of Florence is located in the historic city center, between the Arno River and the Duomo.
This is where you’ll find most of the city’s famous sights such as the Duomo di Firenze (Florence Cathedral), formally the Cathedral di Santa Maria del Fiore, the Baptistery of San Giovanni, Giotto’s Campanile (bell tower), the Palazzo Vecchio (palace), and the Uffizi Gallery, which holds the largest collection of Renaissance art in the world.
Located close by is the Ponte Vecchio bridge (old bridge). It is built above the Arno river separating the city.
The bridge is a popular tourist destination that is possibly one of the city’s most iconic and prettiest sites, noted for the shops which are built along it.
The Santa Croce church which is also another famous landmark in Florence is also found within this area.
Just north of the Duomo is Santa Maria Novella (SMN), Florence’s main train station.
This area is also home to many of Florence’s best hotels, restaurants, and shops.
What is the best part of Florence to stay?
I should mention that Florence is a really small city and easily walkable. So wherever you decide to stay, you will be in close proximity to everything.
However, I have found the best areas in Florence (depending on what you want) in are:
1.Duomo (Best for Sightseeing)
If you’re looking to be in the heart of the action and within walking distance of all of Florence’s best sights, then near the Duomo in the historic city center is the best place to stay.
You’ll be surrounded by medieval buildings, renaissance art, and delicious food.
Due to the location, it is popular amongst tourists and can be quite busy.
Main attractions near the Duomo:
- Florence Cathedral
- Giotto’s Campanile
- Palazzo Vecchio
- Uffizi Gallery
- Ponte Vecchio
- Santa Croce Church
Where to stay near the Duomo:
Rocco Forte Hotel Savoy (Luxury)
The Hotel Savoy is located in the heart of Florence, beside the Duomo, providing an ideal opportunity to soak up the Florentine atmosphere. The Piazza Della Signoria is only 400 meters from the hotel.
The hotels presents a modern but luxurious feel.
The Residenza dei Pucci (Mid range)
The Residenza Dei Pucci is a B&B located in the heart of Florence, just a 2-minute walk from the Duomo. It is also a 10-minute walk from the Santa Maria Novella station.
2.Santa Croce (Best for Italian Shopping)
If you love to shop, then Santa Croce is the best area for you.
This neighborhood is home to many of Florence’s best shops, including high-end designer stores, vintage clothes shops, and local boutiques.
This is also a good option if you’re looking for somewhere with a bit more of a local feel.
Main attractions in Santa Croce:
- The Basilica of Santa Croce
- Sant’Ambrogio Market
- Piazza della Signoria
- Ponte Vecchio
Where to stay in Santa Croce:
Relais Santa Croce, By Baglioni Hotels (Luxury)
The Relais Santa Croce is located in the heart of Florence, just a few steps away from the Basilica of Santa Croce. It offers guests beautiful views of the city and the surrounding Tuscan hills.
Guests can experience culinary cuisine at the hotel’s 3-star Michelin restaurant among many other experiences that the hotel offers.
Hotel Orto de’ Medici (Mid range)
The Hotel Orto de’ Medici is located in the Santa Croce area of Florence, a short walk from the Basilica of the same name.
It offers guests simple but comfortable rooms. The hotel also has a garden where guests can relax.
3.Santa Maria Novella (Best For Exploring the rest of Italy)
This area is best known for the Santa Maria Novella train station which is the city’s main station, with trains running to the rest of Italy.
This area can be quite noisy and the station area can be unsafe at night but it is an ideal spot if you want to connect to other Italian cities.
This Piazza Santa Maria Novella also found here is one of the main squares in Florence and this busy spot is home to many cafes and restaurants.
Main attractions in Santa Maria Novella:
- The Santa Maria Novella train station
- Piazza Santa Maria Novella
Where to stay in Santa Maria Novella:
The St. Regis Florence (Luxury)
The hotel features spacious and antique décor which pays homage to the city’s artistic heritage.
Complete with the signature St Regis services, it offers a bespoke butler service with beverage service, packing, unpacking, and complimentary garment pressing during your stay.
The Hotel Londra Firenze (Mid range)
The Hotel Londra Firenze is a three-star hotel is positioned in the heart of Florence, close to the city’s most important monuments and shopping areas: Via Della Vigna Nuova, Via Tornabuoni, Piazza Della Repubblica, Via Roma, and Via Calzaiuoli.
It is also only 300 meters away from the trade center, Fortezza da Basso meeting center, and 200 meters away from the SMV train station.
4.Santo Spirito and San Frediano (Best for Escaping Crowds)
This area is across the Arno river. This less-known area will give you a truly authentic Italian feel and atmosphere.
This neighborhood is home to many of the city’s best restaurants, cafes, and markets as well as the Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens.
Main attractions in Santo Spirito and San Frediano:
- The Basilica di Santo Spirito
- Piazza Santo Spirito
- Ponte Vecchio
- Palazzo Pitti
- Boboli Gardens
Where to stay in Santo Spirito and San Frediano:
Hotel Lungarno (Luxury)
The Lungarno is a five-star hotel located on the banks of the Arno, in the Oltrarno neighborhood of Florence. It offers guests stunning views of the river and Ponte Vecchio.
Guests can enjoy Michelin-starred cuisine at the hotel’s restaurant and marvel at the hotel’s art collection which features more than 450 artworks.
Hotel La Scaletta (Mid range)
Hotel La Scaletta is located within walking distance from the Basilica of Santa Croce and the Ponte Vecchio bridge.
It offers simple but clean and comfortable rooms at an affordable price. The terraces which are usually open throughout the year offer stunning views of Florence where you can enjoy breakfast or a mid-day coffee.
The hotel aims to provide a memorable stay and personalized stay for each guest.
5.San Niccolo (Best for views)
San Niccolo is also located accross the river. If you’re looking for breathtaking views of Florence then San Niccolo is the best area for you to stay in Florence.
This neighborhood is located on the hill just south of the historic city center.
This residential area is known for its relaxed atmosphere.
The best part about this area is that it’s away from the hustle and bustle of the city center but still within walking distance of all the main attractions.
Main attractions in San Niccolo:
- Piazzale Michelangelo
- San Miniato al Monte
- Forte Belvedere
Where to stay in San Niccolo:
Belmond Villa San Michele (Luxury)
Set upon a hill in Florence, Hotel Villa San Michele overlooks the entire city and features amazing views of the surrounding gardens. The hotel has been recognized as one of the best small boutique hotels in Florence, Italy.
The hotel has a Michelin-starred restaurant, an outdoor swimming pool, and a spa.
The city of Florence is accessible within 15 minutes (by car) or through the hotel’s complimentary shuttle service.
Hotel Silla (Mid Range)
Hotel Silla is a budget-friendly hotel located in the San Niccolo neighborhood of Florence.
It provides simple but clean and comfortable accommodation solutions for a pleasant and relaxing vacation.
The Hotel Silla has a rooftop terrace that has breathtaking views of the Arno and is situated a short walk away from the Ponte Vecchio bridge.
What are the best luxury hotels in Florence, Italy?
If you’re looking for the best luxury hotels in Florence, we recommend the following:
The Four Seasons Hotel Firenze
This five-star hotel is located within a 15-minute walk from the Duomo di Firence (Florence Cathedral).
The hotel features luxurious rooms and suites, as well as a rooftop terrace with stunning views of the city. It also features an Italian Michelin star restaurant and the city’s largest private garden as well as a swimming pool and spa.
There are many bespoke experiences you can book with the hotel, such as a hot air balloon ride over the city.
The Grand Hotel Minerva
The Grand Hotel Minerva is an 8-minute walk from both Santa Maria Novella train station and Duomo (Florence Cathedral).
The hotel features recently refurbished rooms, as well as a rooftop swimming pool with panoramic views of Florence.
Westin Excelsior, Florence
The Westin Excelsior is a five-star hotel located in the heart of the city, steps away from major attractions. It is a 7-minute walk from the Santa Maria Novella Church and 11-minute walk from the Ponte Vecchio bridge.
The hotel features luxurious rooms and suites, as well as a fitness center and a glass rooftop bar.
Where to stay in Florence (Budget hotels)?
If you’re looking for something a bit more affordable, we recommend the following budget accommodations:
Hilton Garden Inn Florence Novoli
The Hilton Garden Inn Florence Novoli is a three-star hotel located just outside of the city center, a short drive away from major attractions like the Duomo and Ponte Vecchio.
It is situated opposite a park in Novoli, a 4-minute walk from a tram stop.
The hotel features a family policy that states that “Children up to 18 years old stay free (with existing bedding) when sharing a room with a paying adult on a room only rate.”
Where to stay in Florence (Hostels)?
If you’re looking for a hostel, we recommend the following:
They feature various hostel-type accommodations which are centrally located to the main attractions. The accommodations are unique, spacious, and affordable.
Price: From $20 per night
What are the best places to stay in Tuscany?
If you’re looking to stay outside of Florence, we recommend the following:
The Borgo Santo Pietro
Found in the heart of the Tuscan countryside, Borgo Santo Pietro is a 5-star boutique hotel and estate, encompassing Michelin-starred restaurants, and a holistic spa.
The hotel is located about 1 and 30 min (by car) from the city of Florence. It is more suited for travelers who want to experience a bespoke serene escape from the bustling city.
Is Florence a walkable city?
Yes, Florence is an easily walkable city. You can walk from one end of the city to the other within 30 minutes.
Many of the attractions are located within proximity to each other, making it easy to explore the city without having to use public transport or a car and thus the city is best explored on foot.
Is 2 days in Florence enough?
As the city is small, 2 days would be sufficient to explore most of the iconic sites.
You should consider adding an extra day to explore some of the best Italian beaches near Florence, many of which are easily accessible from the SMN train station.
After visiting Florence I found the best places to stay in Florence. Whether you are looking for a luxurious hotel or an affordable bed and breakfast, I’ve got you covered.
My list includes some of the most popular tourist destinations in Florence as well as some hidden gems that only locals know about.
I hope this has been helpful to you.