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Areas to stay in Florence

Areas to stay in Florence

Florence may be one of the more popular destinations to visit in Italy, but there’s still so much that’s underrated about the city. With delicious speciality food, hilltop towns and ancient remnants all vying for your attention, choosing the best area to stay in Florence allows you to embrace the very best sights and experiences during your stay.

  1. Centro Storico (Centre)
  2. Santa Croce (East)
  3. San Lorenzo (North)
  4. San Marco (North)
  5. Santa Maria Novella (West)
  6. Oltrarno
  7. Fiesole

Thankfully, Florence is generally a year-round destination, but bookings tend to swell in the summer months (May to September), so make sure you reserve your room in advance. Whether you want to avoid the crowds, find the best vantage points or get down to business in the markets, here’s our round-up of the top areas to stay in Florence!

In collaboration with
Rough Guides

1. Centro Storico (Centre)

Some of Florence’s top sights await you in the Centro Storico, the historic heart of the city. Situated on the northern bank of the River Arno, this area is set around three large squares, and around the edge are three of Florence’s most important churches: San Lorenzo, San Marco and Santa Maria Novella. Your accommodation options make the most of this historic setting, with many palazzos to choose from; there’s even a hotel built on Roman foundations.

Best for: Historic landmarks.

While you’re here: After wandering around the Piazza del Duomo, venture inside the Duomo itself.

2. Santa Croce (East)

This largely residential area still has a fair few decent hotels, from budget-friendlies to elegant chains. Despite its quieter disposition today, it has a fascinating history – the poet Dante was born here – and as such the Neo-Gothic Santa Croce church still stands, with an ornate stencil-like facade and artistic treasures inside. On the piazza, you can buy intarisio, a speciality Florentine craft dating back to the Renaissance, where wood or semi-precious stones inlay are created to various patterns.

Best for: Quieter spots.

While you’re here: Swing by Casa Buonarroti and the Horne Museum.

3. San Lorenzo (North)

San Lorenzo, just north of the Duomo, is home to one of the busiest, liveliest street markets in Florence, the Mercato Centrale. Here, locals and tourists alike jostle for space as they try to buy leather, football banners and clothes at reasonable prices; if you’re looking to get your haggle on during your cheap holidays to Florence, this might be the ideal area for you! Chaos aside, San Lorenzo’s other claim to fame is its incredible Medici Chapels, which is the final resting place for many of the prominent Medici family.

Best for: Markets.

While you’re here: Palazzo Riccardi, which houses the city’s Prefecture.

4. San Marco (North)

San Marco is home to a wealth of attractions and is well worth basing yourself here for a night or two to make sure you take everything in. Start off at the San Marco church, which the Museum of San Marco is attached to, before moving onto the Galleria dell’Accademia; here, you can take in numerous sculptures by Michelangelo, with the highlight being the world-renowned David statue. If time permits, stroll around the pretty Piazza Della Santissima Annunziata, and round it off at the Archaeological Museum.

Best for: Iconic sculptures.

While you’re here: The Jewish Synagogue and Museum is also here.

5. Santa Maria Novella (West)

Arriving into Florence by train? If so, you’ll pass by the Santa Maria Novella, a marble church with numerous chapels, museums and cloisters worth checking out. Once you’ve dropped your bags off at your fresco-lined guesthouse, roof terrace hotel or five-star treat, head back out to take in the museums and piazza of this picturesque area, from the riverside Piazza Goldoni to the Museo Marino Marini, which displays the eponymous 20th-century artist’s sculptures.

Best for: Being by the riverside.

While you’re here: This area is home to an apothecary dating back to the 14th century, the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella.

6. Oltrarno

This is one of the best areas to stay in Florence thanks to its whole host of impressive sights and landmarks: start off by crossing the Ponte Vecchio (the shop-lined bridge that dates back to medieval ages), take in the high stone walls of Palazzo Pitti and enjoy sweeping views of the city’s low skyline from Piazzale Michelangelo, before returning to your palazzo or hotel overlooking the Ponte Vecchio for a good night’s kip.

Best for: Romance.

While you’re here: Stop off for food or a drink at an enoteca (wine bar), trattoria or osteria (drinks with small plates).

7. Fiesole

Up in the hills sits Fiesole, one of the most remote areas to stay in Florence. Needless to say hotels here – many of which cater to well-heeled clients with big budgets – offer incredible views over Florence and the Arno Valley. It’s about 8km out of Florence to reach this hilltop town, with regular buses serving the winding road. So what to do when you get here? You can while the day away at a little cafe in Piazza Mino, with a Saturday market, and get a good dose of history at the Roman Theatre and Archaeological Area. Otherwise, simply kick back, relax and soak up those sublime views; your Instagram feed will thank you for it.

Best for: Excursions.

While you’re here: Take the steep walk up Via di San Francesco to reach the San Francesco church; the views from the terrace are incredible.

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