Often described as a living museum, Florence is without a doubt one of the most beautiful cities in all of Italy. The city is an unparalleled hub of striking Renaissance architecture and world-class museums and galleries. From climbing the dome of the impressive Duomo to visiting Michelangelo’s Statue of David, there are countless fantastic things to do in Florence.
But while most people have an idea of the city’s main attractions, deciding where to stay in Florence – especially as a first time visitor – can be a little more difficult.
Florence is a small city, with most of the major landmarks condensed into the compact historic city center. This is why 3 days in Florence is easily enough time to explore all of the city’s main sites. However, when it comes to deciding on the best areas to stay in Florence, there’s a lot more choice than you might initially think.
Do you stay in the Centro Storico close to the attractions but surrounded by crowds of tourists? Should you base yourself near the train station? Or perhaps you should cross over the river to the more local neighborhoods of Florence?
In this guide, we’ll run you through the best places to stay in Florence, starting with an outline of the different areas to stay in Florence – pros and cons, neighborhood highlights – then narrowing it down to some of our favorite hotels and vacation rentals.
Planning a trip to Florence? We’ve got some detailed travel guides to help you plan an unforgettable trip.
Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post, like hotel links, are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, we make a little bit of money if you click through and book. That being said, we would never recommend something to you that we don’t stand behind 100%.
Important Things to Know When Booking Your Accommodation in Florence
These don’t really fit into any particular section below, but we think they’re important so we decided to include them at the top.
- Tourist Tax. It’s important to note that the online prices of the accommodation options below do not include tourist tax. This is an additional fee you have to pay separately at your hotel when you arrive. The tax is €4.50 per person per night for 3 star hotels, €4.90 per person per night for 4 star hotels and €5 per person per night in 5 star hotels. Vacation rentals are subject to a €4 per person per night tax. These fees are up to a maximum of 7 nights. Children under 12 are exempt. Be sure to factor this additional fee into your budget.
- Accessibility. Many hotels and rental properties in Florence are located in centuries old palaces and historic buildings. While undoubtedly beautiful, this restricts the renovations that can be done to them. Not all properties have lifts or accessible rooms available. If you have limited mobility, double check the facilities of the individual property before you book.
Planning a trip to Italy? You won’t want to miss our guide to planning an incredible Italy itinerary, with ideas for 7, 10, and 14 days in Italy, how to organize your trip, and the best things to do and see along the way.
A Quick Introduction to Florence’s Geography
Before deciding where to stay in Florence, it’s helpful to understand the general layout of the city.
The city can be split into north and south of the Arno River.
- North of the Arno you have Florence’s Centro Storico. The historic center is the most easily recognizable image of Florence, with its striking Renaissance architecture and abundance of world-famous landmarks.
- To the east of the city center are the lively neighborhoods of Santa Croce and Sant’Ambrogio. Santa Maria Novella and Florence’s main train station are to the west, while the areas of San Marco and San Lorenzo sit to the north.
- South of the Arno River is Oltrarno, which literally translates to ‘across the Arno’. Here you’ll find the local neighborhoods of Santo Spirito and San Frediano, as well as the Medieval area of San Niccolò to the southeast.
Although the majority of the city’s most famous landmarks can be found in the Centro Storico, all of the neighborhoods above are still within walking distance (or a short bus ride if you’d prefer) to the city center.
Where We Stayed in Florence
On our latest trip to Florence, we stayed in the area between Santa Croce and Sant’Ambrogio, which we’d highly recommend for its amazing location.
We generally opt for apartments over hotels when we’re traveling because I have Celiac Disease and need access to a kitchen. In Florence, we stayed at Pietrapiana Boutique Apartments, which have options ranging from hotel-style rooms without kitchens to studios, one bedroom apartments, and two bedroom apartments that sleep up to five people. Truly a choice for every travel style and budget.
The design of each apartment is great – kind of a Scandinavian-chic with lots of white space – and the bed was super comfortable. The kitchen is small, but plenty for what we needed with a fridge, sink, and two-burner stovetop with all the dishes and cookware you might need.
Plus, you can even leave your luggage before or after checking in or out, which is an amenity that most apartments don’t have.
We highly recommend it if you’re looking for a nice apartment in a central location.
Where to Stay in Florence: Complete Guide to the 4 Best Areas to Stay in Florence
Now that we’ve discussed where not to stay, let’s move on to why you’re really here; the best places to stay in Florence.
Santa Croce & Sant’Ambrogio
Santa Croce and Sant’Ambrogio are two neighboring areas on the eastern edge of Florence’s historic center and our personal favorite place to stay in Florence. We spent five days in the area, and found it to be a perfect home base for exploring the city.
It’s a cool local district (or, at least as local as it gets in Florence) with plenty of places to eat and drink, and you can still easily walk to the Centro Storico from here in 5-10 minutes.
Santa Croce is known for its large piazza, filled with many shops selling quality leather goods, restaurants, bars, and cafés, as well as its impressive basilica. Sant’Ambrogio is the lively local neighborhood surrounding the bustling 19th-century market of the same name. The area has many independent boutiques, artisan workshops, and a vibrant nightlife.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Florence with a local atmosphere, while still only being a few minutes walk away from the main attractions of the historic city center, Santa Croce and Sant’Ambrogio are for you.
This part of the city is also one of the best areas to stay in Florence if you’re looking to embrace the city’s exciting nightlife after a day out sightseeing.
Pros and Cons of Staying in Santa Croce
- Less Crowded. Being just outside of the city center, you can expect to find fewer tourists around.
- Central Location. Despite being less busy, Santa Croce is still only a 5-10 minute walk to many of the main landmarks of the city center.
- Buzzing Nightlife. Santa Croce and Sant’Ambrogio are well-known for their vibrant nightlife and are particularly popular with the city’s student population. Heading out for some drinks here is a must!
- Foodie Heaven. Sant’Ambrogio is the place to go for some of the best affordable local restaurants and cafes in Florence.
- Budget-Friendly. There are a whole variety of different accommodation options for both luxury and budget travelers.
- Noisy at Night. With its many restaurants, late-night bars, and live music venues, the area can remain noisy late into the evening and night.
Santa Croce & Sant’Ambrogio Highlights
- Sant’Ambrogio Market is a historic indoor market selling meats, cheeses, fresh produce, and more. The lively market is popular with locals and is a unique glimpse into authentic Florentine life. Don’t forget to try some tasty Tuscan specialties at the market’s Trattoria Da Rocco. We picked up some cheese and cured meats for a picnic at our apartment, and really, really liked the pecorino picante (with spicy peppers) that we got at this market!
- The Basilica of Santa Croce dates all the way back to the 1200s and is the largest Franciscan church in the world. The important basilica is filled with amazing frescoes by Giotto and Gaddi. It is also the final resting place of many notable Italians, including artist Michelangelo, scientist Galileo Galilei, and political philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli.
- Gelateria Vivoli can be found close to the Basilica of Santa Croce and serves some of the best gelato in all of Florence.
- Ditta Artigianale and Coffee Mantra are a couple of our favorite places to stop for a coffee in the area. Read our guide to the best coffee in Florence for more great spots to find good coffee.
- Enoteca Alla Sosta Dei Papi is a great spot to grab a glass of wine (heavy pours!), with wines by the glass of all different varietals focusing mainly on wines from Tuscany. Truly one of the best values in Florence.
Places to Stay in Santa Croce & Sant’Ambrogio
We stayed on the border between Santa Croce and Sant’Ambrogio (at Pietrapiana Boutique Apartments, specifically), and really enjoyed the location.
La Maison du Sage
This charming bed and breakfast is our top pick in Santa Croce. It’s perfectly located on the corner of the main piazza and boasts stunning views over the Basilica of Santa Croce. The spacious rooms are decorated with sophisticated Art Déco furnishings and enticing king sized beds to sink into after a long day out exploring Florence.
La Maison du Sage has several different rooms to choose from depending on your budget, ranging from the elegant Superior Queen all the way up to the Deluxe King with its own luxurious private terrace.
Eurostars Florence Boutique
Eurostars Florence Boutique is an affordable, unique design hotel with white minimalist rooms and trendy modern furnishings. Some rooms also have their own balcony with views across the city.
The biggest draw of the hotel is its gorgeous rooftop terrace on which you can enjoy breakfast or evening drinks with a fantastic view of Florence’s skyline and the towering Duomo in the distance.
While it’s a little outside of the heart of the Santa Croce district, the hotel is close to the Arno River and just a 12 minute walk to the Uffizi Gallery.
Locanda De’ Ciompi
Located in a 17th-century Florentine building, Locanda De’ Ciompi is a charming family-run guest house with cozy rooms and traditional rustic furnishings. It’s the perfect romantic escape for a couple wanting to experience a taste of the Tuscan countryside in the heart of Florence.
You can choose between a superior double room with an ensuite, or save some money by opting for a double room with a private external bathroom instead.
A Teatro B&B
Another warm and welcoming bed and breakfast in the Santa Croce district, A Teatro B&B’s spacious and brightly colored rooms are guaranteed to brighten up your day. Each room also has its own small private balcony so that you can enjoy your morning coffee with a view over Florence.
The bed and breakfast sits on the western edge of the neighborhood, surrounded by plenty of restaurants and bars, and is just a few minutes walk away from the sites of the Centro Storico.
Pietrapiana Boutique Apartments
First of all, we stayed here, and highly recommend it for both the location and the apartments themselves.
Pietrapiana was once an old family home in the Sant’Ambrogio district that has since been converted into 12 boutique apartments by a group of friends from Florence. All of the apartments exude a chic Scandinavian style, with a minimalist design and simple wooden furnishings.
Pietrapiana is perfect for couples, families and groups of friends, with a mix of double rooms, suites, and family apartments that can sleep up to five people. The larger apartments come with a fully equipped kitchen, while all guests can enjoy the building’s spacious private courtyard – a hidden oasis of calm in the busy city.
Vacation Rentals in Santa Croce & Sant’Ambrogio
Prefer staying in a vacation rental? There are plenty of beautiful apartments in Santa Croce and Sant’Ambrogio for you to choose from.
Florence Home in Santa Croce
Make yourself at home right in the heart of one of Florence’s coolest neighborhoods in this lovely one bedroom apartment in Santa Croce.
On the first floor of a historic 15th century building, right beside Michelangelo’s house, this light and spacious apartment is ideal for a couple who like to spread out and have their own space while traveling.
The impressive 1,023 square foot home has a living room, dining area, fully stocked kitchen, laundry area, bedroom, two bathrooms and a small courtyard terrace all for your private use. Definitely one of the best value for money apartments in Florence.
On arrival, you’ll even find a little welcome gift from the owners (hello local wine) along with lots of information and suggestions to help you enjoy your trip.
Traditional Florentine Apartment in the Heart of Florence
Families and small groups will love this charming apartment in the lively neighborhood of Sant Ambrogio. Designed in traditional Florentine style, the apartment is absolutely bursting with character, with exposed beam ceilings, parquet floors, two old brick fireplaces, and a colorful stained glass window.
The cozy two-bedroom space sleeps up to four guests, with a living room and kitchen, as well as some more unusual amenities including a small library, games table, and even a grand piano. You’ll certainly never get bored staying here.
Beautiful Apartment In The Heart of Santa Croce
Bigger groups of up to six can make the most of this large apartment on the first floor of a 13th century building tucked away in a small square in Santa Croce.
The split-level apartment is made up of a master bedroom, a smaller room with two single beds, and a double bed on the mezzanine level.
Having been recently renovated, the apartment combines the comfort of modern facilities – including a jacuzzi bath, smart TV, and well-equipped kitchen – with the warmth of its authentic decor and antique furnishings.
Florence’s Centro Storico (The Historic Center)
The historic city center of Florence is fairly compact and is where you’ll find the majority of the city’s main attractions and hotels.
Piazza della Signoria sits in the heart of the Centro Storico, with the Duomo, Uffizi Gallery, and other major sites all nearby. No matter where you stay in the Centro Storico, you’ll be no more than 10 minutes walk to most places you’ll want to visit.
The Centro Storico is the best area to stay in Florence if you’re a first-time visitor or limited on time to explore, with all of the city’s most famous landmarks right on your doorstep.
Pros and Cons of Staying in the Centro Storico
- Close to All Attractions. No matter where you stay in the Centro Storico, you’re guaranteed to be just a few minutes walk to all of the city’s main sites.
- Plenty of Food Options. There are so many fantastic restaurants, cafes, and bars in the historic center that you’ll have tons of choices.
- Lots of Tourists. Staying in the heart of Florence’s Centro Storico does mean you’ll likely be surrounded by other tourists most of the time. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you don’t mind the crowds and are not looking for a more ‘local’ experience.
- Higher Prices. Due to the high demand in this area, it can be one of the more expensive places to stay in Florence.
- No Parking. If you’re visiting Florence as part of an Italian road trip, it’s important to remember that the city’s historic center is a limited traffic zone (ZTL) so you won’t be able to drive or park here.
Centro Storico Highlights
- Piazza del Duomo is where you’ll find many of Florence’s most iconic landmarks, including the grand Gothic-Renaissance Duomo and Brunelleschi’s Dome, the Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile.
- Piazza della Signoria is the city’s main square and a free open-air gallery, filled with numerous important statues and sculptures.
- The Uffizi Gallery is a world-famous art gallery and one of the city’s most famous attractions. Home to an unparalleled collection of Renaissance and European art, the gallery is a must-visit in the city known as the ‘Birthplace of the Renaissance’. We did this guided tour, and absolutely loved it.
- Ponte Vecchio, which crosses over the Arno River, is the oldest bridge in Florence and was the only one to survive the bombings of World War 2. The unusual bridge has been lined with shops since the 13th century.
- Ciro and Sons Pizza is Florence’s first gluten free pizzeria that serves delicious Neapolitan style pizzas that are both gluten free and lactose free. One of the best places to eat in Florence for Celiacs (though you should read our guide to the best gluten free restaurants in Florence for a couple of other options).
Places to Stay in the Centro Storico
This ultra modern hotel can be found right in the heart of Florence’s historic center, just minutes from the Uffizi Gallery and Ponte Vecchio, and on the same road as many high-end designer shops.
The 4 star hotel has chic contemporary rooms decorated in bright block colors. Each room comes with its own espresso coffee machine, while a buffet breakfast can be enjoyed every morning on the spacious rooftop terrace.
numa | Rodo Rooms & Apartments
Just meters from Florence Cathedral, numa | Rodo Rooms & Apartments is the ideal spot to base yourself for arriving at the Duomo complex bright and early in the morning before the crowds start to appear.
Set in a beautiful historic building, each room is individually decorated in a simple rustic style. Rooms have coffee making facilities and a small fridge, while suites have their own kitchenette. You can also enjoy the hotel’s varied buffet breakfast which includes gluten-free options.
The hotel’s rooms are managed contactlessly with PIN codes, meaning you can check in and out whenever is most convenient for you. This is perfect if you’re arriving in the city late at night.
Palazzo Gamba Apartments al Duomo
Palazzo Gamba is an impressive aparthotel with elegant and spacious rooms, some of which have high frescoed ceilings or a private balcony. All of the rooms also have their own kitchen.
But the best part? The aparthotel is just a few steps away from the city’s iconic cathedral, with most apartments offering spectacular views over the Duomo. Sometimes it’s worth paying a little extra for a view like that.
Relais Piazza Signoria
As the name suggests, Relais Piazza Signoria is located in a renovated historic building right on Piazza Signoria, Florence’s main square. From here, you can reach the Uffizi Gallery and Duomo in mere minutes. You really can’t get any more centrally located than this.
Rooms range from studio apartments with unbeatable views across the piazza to a stunning and spacious penthouse with its own private terrace. Each room also comes with its own fully equipped kitchenette.
V-Rooms All’Angolo Del Duomo
One of the more budget-friendly accommodation options in the Centro Storico, V-Rooms All’Angolo is a lovely bed and breakfast only a couple of minutes away from the Duomo.
There are double, triple and quadruple rooms available, providing a great value place to stay in the city center for families and small groups. The triple and quadruple rooms have a mezzanine level for the second bed so that everyone gets their own private space.
Vacation Rentals in Florence’s Centro Storico
Ever wanted to stay in a converted palace just moments away from some of Italy’s most beautiful Renaissance buildings and world-famous landmarks? Fortunately you can by booking a vacation rental in Florence’s Centro Storico.
Historic Architectural Loft Apartment
Just around the corner from via Tornabuoni, where many of Florence’s high-fashion boutiques can be found, this elegant split-level apartment is located in a renovated ancient noble palace.
You’ll be mesmerized by the one-bedroom apartment’s beautiful classic features, including frescoed walls, painted wooden ceilings depicting coats of arms and cherubs, and luxury antique furnishings. Best suited for a couple, there is also a futon that can be pulled out for a family stay.
San Miniato Luxury Apartment
San Miniato is a cozy yet spacious (904 square foot) two-bedroom apartment located just a few steps away from Florence cathedral. You’ll even be treated to an impressive view of Brunelleschi’s Dome from the apartment’s several large windows.
Set inside a converted Renaissance palace, this stunning apartment has preserved the historical characteristics of ancient Florentine houses of the time, including its high ceilings and original wooden beams. There are also plenty of contemporary amenities, including a large well-equipped kitchen and two modern bathrooms.
Palazzo Uguccioni Apartment
Step back in time with a stay at this charming apartment inside Palazzo Uguccioni. The historic palace sits next to Palazzo Vecchio on Piazza della Signoria. With its wooden beamed ceilings, antique furnishings and historic artwork on every wall, you’ll feel like you’re staying right inside one of Florence’s world-class museums.
The apartment can sleep up to five people, with one master bedroom, two single beds, and an additional pull-out bed suitable for a child. It has every amenity you can ask for, including a fully-equipped kitchen, multi-head steam shower and more.
Charming Apartment Overlooking Duomo
A slightly cheaper option for families or groups close to the Duomo is this bright, clean and modern apartment set inside a 19th century palace.
Offering two bedrooms and an extra futon, the apartment also has a fully-equipped kitchen for whipping up a meal for the whole family, a cozy living area, a washing machine and dryer, and a small balcony with close-up views of the cathedral.
Oltrarno: Tranquility on the Other Side of the River
Oltrarno is the area to the south of the Arno River – Oltrarno translates to ‘across the Arno’ – and is made up of two main neighborhoods; Santo Spirito and San Frediano. While technically still a part of the historic city center, Oltrarno is usually a little quieter than the areas north of the river.
This is Florence’s artisans quarter, with plenty of small workshops and independent boutiques. There are also several piazzas filled with restaurants and bars which really come alive with locals enjoying dinner and drinks with friends each evening.
If you’re looking to experience the more authentic local side of Florence, Oltrarno is a great area to base yourself in.
Pros and Cons of Staying in Oltrano
- Less Crowded. The big tourist crowds of the city center tend not to make it down to Oltrano, making it better for quiet stays.
- Great Nightlife. The piazzas of Santo Spirito and San Frediano are packed with cool bars which are popular with the city’s young local crowd.
- Parking. Some parts of Oltrarno are outside of the ZTL so it’s a convenient place to stay in Florence if you’re traveling by car.
- Distance from Main Attractions. Parts of Oltrano are a little further away from the city’s main attractions north of the river so you’ll either need to walk further or make the most of Florence’s fleet of small electric ATAF buses.
- Piazza Santo Spirito is the main square in Oltrarno and is filled with plenty of shops, restaurants, and bars. Being the primary hub of activity in the area, you’ll often find markets and special events taking place in the piazza too.
- Pitti Palace is a series of museums and galleries housed inside a grand 15th-century Renaissance palace. Exploring the numerous fascinating galleries is a great way to spend a rainy day in Florence.
- Boboli Gardens are vast and elegant gardens filled with fountains, pergolas, grottos, and hundreds of ornate Renaissance statues. The perfect place to escape the busy streets of Florence for a while.
- Basilica di Santo Spirito may not be as striking from the outside as other churches in Florence, but inside, Santo Spirito – which was designed by Brunelleschi – is home to a vast collection of important religious artwork.
- Palazzo of Bianca Cappello is a Renaissance-style palace with a beautiful façade, known as the setting for one of Florence’s most famous love stories between Francesco I de’ Medici and his mistress turned wife Bianca Cappello.
- Ditta Artigianale is our favorite place to stop for coffee in Oltrarno, and right next door is Gelateria Della Passera, Alysha’s favorite gelato shop in Florence.
- La Casalinga is one of the best restaurants in the area for traditional Florentine cuisine.
Places to Stay in Oltrarno
Piccolo Borgo Antico
Close to the Arno River, just a one minute walk to Ponte Vecchio, Piccolo Borgo Antico apartments are located in the perfect spot for exploring the attractions north of the river while also enjoying the more local atmosphere of Oltrarno.
A variety of different rooms are available to suit all needs and budgets, from deluxe double rooms with an ensuite and coffee machine, to the superior apartments which have their own private entrance and fully-equipped kitchen.
Santo Spirito Venti
For families and groups, you won’t find much better value in Oltrarno than this modern bed and breakfast in the heart of Santo Spirito. Their spacious triple and quadruple rooms provide great value for money and have more than enough space for you to spread out.
Each room has its own bathroom with complimentary toiletries, a flat-screen TV with Netflix access, mini fridge, and tea and coffee making facilities.
Hotel Pitti Palace al Ponte Vecchio
For a more luxurious stay in Oltrarno, Hotel Pitti Palace is an elegant 4-star hotel sitting right next to Ponte Vecchio, with spectacular views over the bridge and the Arno River.
The comfort rooms have modern furnishings, wood floors, and marble bathrooms, while suites also come with a separate living room and private balcony.
But the highlight of this hotel has to be its large top floor restaurant and terrace with panoramic views across the city. Don’t be surprised if breakfast here each morning ends up being your favorite part of your stay.
Residenza D’Epoca Al Numero 8
If it’s style you’re after, there’s nowhere quite like Residenza D’Epoca Al Numero 8. A beautiful family-run bed and breakfast that just screams interior design goals.
Each room has been individually designed with the help of young local artists to tell the story of a character from Vasco Pratolini’s novel “Girls of San Frediano”. The decor perfectly blends together quirks of the 600 year old building, such as its high frescoed ceilings, with simple and modern design elements.
Tucked away in the backstreets of San Frediano, you’ll find plenty of fantastic local restaurants and shops nearby. Don’t forget to ask the friendly owners for some recommendations when you first arrive.
Friends of Florence
Friends of Florence is a great affordable option in Oltrarno if you’re traveling on a budget but still want to stay near some of the main sites. The modern hotel is set in a restored 15th-century building, opposite the Boboli Gardens and just a five minute walk to the Pitti Palace.
The hotel offers clean and bright double rooms with private external bathrooms, or for slightly more, double rooms with ensuites. All rooms have their own small balcony for sitting with a glass of wine in the evening.
Owned by two Florentines with a passion for their city, you can expect a warm, friendly welcome and plenty of great recommendations for the local area.
Vacation Rentals in Oltrarno
Looking for more space to spread out during your trip to Florence? A vacation rental might be the right choice for you.
Florence Historical Center Apartment
Embrace authentic Florentine life in the local neighborhood of San Frediano by staying at this charming little apartment in an ancient family building with all of the original furnishings.
The apartment has a double room located on the mezzanine level, as well as a cozy living area with plenty of books, a vinyl record player, and sofa bed that can be pulled out to accommodate another two guests.
There’s also a kitchen, TV, washing machine, and a very accommodating host who will make you feel right at home and answer any questions you might have during your stay.
Stylish and Quiet Flat in Oltrarno
This unusual apartment close to Piazza Santo Spirito in Oltrarno brings traditional Florentine elements to an industrial New York loft style space.
The large open-plan kitchen, dining, and living area features a communal table and breakfast counter converted from an old wine press. This makes the space ideal for families or groups who want to spend quality time together.
The apartment sleeps up to five people, with two private bedrooms, one of which has a small private terrace, and an additional sofa bed if needed.
Heading to Italy?
We’ve been to Italy multiple times – obviously we love it – including more than a month on our last trip! If you enjoyed this guide and found it helpful, you definitely won’t want to miss our detailed guide to planning an amazing Italy itinerary.
Here are some of our other Italy guides to help you plan an incredible Italian adventure.
- 4 Days in Rome: A Perfect Rome Itinerary for First Timers
- Where to Stay in Rome: A Complete Guide to Rome’s Best Areas to Stay
- The Best Things to Do in Rome (Not Just a List of Attractions!)
- 3 Days in Florence: How to Explore the Fascinating Tuscan City in 3 Days
- Where to Stay in Florence: A Complete Neighborhood Guide
- What to Do in Florence: A Detailed Guide to the Best Things to Do
- 2 Days in Venice: How to Plan a Perfect 48 Hours Exploring Venice
- One Day in Milan: How to See the Best of Milan in a Day (Duomo + Last Supper)
- One Day in Verona: A Perfect Day in Verona, Italy’s Most Charming City
- How to Plan an Amazing Sicily Road Trip
Need to Eat Gluten Free in Italy?
If you’re traveling and need to eat gluten free like me, Matt (I have Celiac Disease, which is why I started this site in the first place), then you’ll want to check out our gluten free guide to Italy, along with our city guides for Rome, Florence, and Milan to help you find the best gluten free pastries, pizzas, and more.
San Niccolò: Living Like a Local in Florence
San Niccolò can also be found south of the Arno River, sitting to the east of Oltrarno. Technically San Niccolò is part of Oltrano, however, it is fairly distinct from the rest of the area. The neighborhood spans from the banks of the river to the hill slopes that lead up to Piazzale Michelangelo, the most impressive viewpoint in all of Florence.
We spent an afternoon over here, mostly because we were going out of our way to make it to the best gluten free bakery in the city, and found it to be a pleasant oasis away from the craziness that is the rest of central Florence. It also has a portion of the medieval city walls intact, so it feels very romantic and charming.
Andrea, our tour guide on the walking tour we did in Florence (which we highly recommend – check it out here) mentioned that we should come here because it’s “the local’s Florence.”
San Niccolò is truly a hidden gem amongst the tourist-packed streets of Florence. The area’s down-to-earth and friendly atmosphere is one of the most authentic glimpses you’ll get into real life in the city.
Small medieval streets run past rustic buildings, quaint little art studios, and local eateries. Residents come together to enjoy evening drinks in charming wine bars and chat with neighbors on the street. San Niccolò has even been referred to as a Tuscan village in the heart of Florence.
Although San Niccolò may not be the best place to stay in Florence if you want to be right on top of the main tourist attractions, it is a fantastic place to stay to experience the real local side of Florence.
Pros and Cons of Staying in San Niccolò
- Amazing Views. San Niccolò is home to the best viewpoints in Florence. Staying nearby means you can experience romantic sunsets over the city every night (if you wanted to).
- Community Atmosphere. San Niccolò has one of the greatest senses of community of any neighborhood in central Florence. You’re guaranteed to feel like a local, even after just a few nights here.
- Fewer Accommodation Options. There are fewer hotels in the San Niccolò district, so it can be a little more difficult to find somewhere to stay.
- Further from Main Attractions. Located on the south-eastern bank of the Arno River, San Niccolò is a long walk to some of the major attractions of the city center.
San Niccolò Highlights
- Piazzale Michelangelo is a large hilltop terrace with some of the most spectacular views over Florence. Join the crowds of tourists and locals who make their way there each evening to watch the sunset over the city.
- Porta San Niccolò is the best preserved of the city’s medieval gates. During the summer, you can climb to the top of the gate’s tower for great views along the Arno River and over the city.
- Museo Bardini is home to a collection of sculptures, paintings, antiques, and artefacts belonging to famous 18th century art dealer Stefano Bardini.
- Museo Casa Rodolfo Siviero is the former home of Italian secret agent turned art collector Rodolfo Siviero. You can visit the house and admire his collection of artworks, many of which he recovered after they were stolen from Italy during World War 2.
- Terzo Giardino is an area of regained land on the bank of the Arno River that is now home to a lovely park with local artworks and a small stretch of beach.
- Easy Living is Florence’s only urban beach club and one of the most popular places to eat and drink in the city during the hot summer months.
Places to Stay in San Niccolò
Hotel Silla is a charming 3 star hotel set inside 15th century Palazzo Demidoff, moments from the Arno River and just a five minute walk to Ponte Vecchio.
Choose from a double, triple, or quadruple room to suit your group size. The stylish premium rooms offer more space and privacy for families and groups, but if you’re on a budget, the comfort rooms provide a more budget-friendly alternative.
Breakfast is served in the hotel’s elegant dining room and large roof terrace each morning. You can also return to the terrace in the evening to enjoy the bar’s famous international cocktail list with stunning views across the Arno.
The hotel is located just outside of the limited traffic area and has its own parking garage so is perfect if you’re arriving in Florence by car.
FuordArno Bed & Breakfast
Just up the road from Hotel Silla, FuordArno is a slightly more budget-friendly option in San Niccolò.
This lovely bed and breakfast is located in an old family home and has just five rooms to choose from, sleeping between two and four people. Each room is named after a different city and is beautifully decorated to match the city’s vibe, such as the colorful Bali room with a curtained four poster bed, or the chic Copenhagen room with a simple Nordic aesthetic.
There’s also a cozy lounge for guests to use, with a TV, games, magazines, and books, as well as a communal kitchen where a delicious complimentary breakfast is prepared each morning.
Charming and Bright Apartment with Splendid Views
Set on the fourth floor of a medieval building, the stunning views over Piazzale Michelangelo and the San Niccolò neighborhood is just one of the things that makes this apartment one of our top picks for staying in Florence.
The beautiful apartment has a large living area, fully-equipped kitchen, two bathrooms, double bedroom, single mezzanine room in the loft, and a sofa bed for two. Extremely spacious at 753 square feet and sleeping up to five people, this is one of the best value for money properties you’ll find in all of Florence.
Where NOT to Stay in Florence
You can’t go too wrong no matter where you decide to stay in Florence. Most neighborhoods have their own benefits and drawbacks. But the area’s we’d least recommend would have to be Santa Maria Novella and San Marco.
Santa Maria Novella is the neighborhood surrounding the city’s main train station. Not only are there not many significant attractions or things to do in the area, other than the Church of Santa Maria Novella, but it can also be a little chaotic and noisy throughout the day and night.
We’d only recommend staying close to the station if you’re either traveling on a tight budget or have an early train to catch. And if you are going to base yourself in Santa Maria Novella, head a little further into the residential area rather than staying on the streets right next door to the station.
To the north of Santa Maria Novella, San Marco is another affordable area if you’re traveling on a tight budget. However, the residential area doesn’t have quite as much going on as other parts of the city so we’d recommend picking a budget option in another neighborhood if you can.
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