FLORENCE - GETTING AROUND
Florence is a wonderful city for walking. Within the historical center, no two sights are more than a 20-30 minute walk from each other. You can leisurely stroll between the two main sights, the Duomo and the Uffizi, in approximately 5-7 minutes. In fact, the best way to experience Florence is on foot, as it allows you to fully experience and enjoy the culture and daily life of Florentines.
The streets and sidewalks in Florence are mainly cobbled or flagstone and can be hard on feet and joints after a while. A sensible pair of walking shoes or sneakers is highly recommended.
Although efficient, you'll rarely need to use Florence's ATAF bus system because the city is so compact. Bus tickets cost about €1.50 which is good for 90 minutes. A 24 hour pass costs €5, a 3 day pass €12, and a 10 day pass €14. Tickets are sold at tabacchi (tobacconists), some bars, and most newsstands. It can also be bought inside the bus, but it is advised to buy it in advance so that you don`t block the people getting into the bus at the door.
Please Note: Once on board, validate your ticket in the box near the rear door to avoid a steep fine.
Since traffic is restricted in most of the historic center, buses make runs on main streets only, except for four little electric buses (bussini services C1, C2, C3, and D) that cruise about the centro storico. The most useful lines to outlying areas are no. 7 (for Fiesole) and nos. 12 and 13 (for Piazzale Michelangiolo). Buses run from 7am until 8:30 or 9pm daily, with limited night service on a few key routes.
The regularly scheduled city bus no. 62 connects the Amerigo Vespucci Airport, also called Peretola, with Piazza della Stazione downtown. The journey takes about 30 minutes and costs approximately 1€. A bit more expensive at 4€, but without all the local stops, is the SITA bus, departing every half hour, to and from downtown's bus station at Via Santa Caterina 15r, behind the train station.
There is one tram line operating in the city of Florence. It connects Santa Maria Novella train station in central Florence with the southwestern suburb of Scandicci on a 4.5 mile route with a total of 14 stops. The tickets used on ATAF buses can also be used on the tram. Hours of operation: daily 5:00 am - 12:30 am. Frequency: 3-11 minutes depending on day and time of travel. Duration: about 23 minutes between Santa Maria Novella and Scandicci. This tram began service on 14 February 2010 and is the first streetcar line in the city of Florence since 1958.
How to find the tram stop at Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station: As you have your back to the trains, take the door on the right. There should be a pharmacy right beside it - which also sells the combined ATAF 90 minute ticket, currently €1.20. Otherwise, there is also a machine at the stop outside, but it is easier to buy in the station.
Unlike many other Italian cities, not many newsagents nor tobacconists sell the ATAF tickets. As such, you may wish to keep a few handy. Note that the shops may also sell the 4pc 90 minute tickets at a slightly cheaper €4.70
Taxis aren`t cheap, and since the one-way road system forces drivers to take lengthy, out-of-the-way routes, they aren`t an economical way to get around town. Taxis are most useful to get you and your bags between the train station and your hotel in the centro storico. Taxis are available, but it may be best if you have your hotel or the restaurant you are eating at call ahead because it can be difficult to hail a cab from the street curb. Calling or getting one at one of the very few taxi stands is recommended. One popular taxi stand is at the central Santa Maria Novella Train Station and in a few major squares. Be aware that taxis do not take credit card for payment. Tipping is not expected, unless the driver helps you carry luggage, etc.
There is a bike rental service organized by the city. Bikes can be hired at several points in the city (and returned to the same place). One of the most convenient for tourists is located at SMN station. There are other locations at many railway stations, but often with restricted opening hours.
While there are hills north and south of the center of town, almost all of the historic center of Florence is easy for bikers, because it is as flat. But there is a problem: Traffic is terrible with buses, trucks, cars, motorcycles, motorbikes, bicycles, and pedestrians are fighting for almost no space. So pay attention.
Beyond the city bikes, some of the hotels in town provide their guest with free bicycles. Bike shops also often rent bikes and some of them organize guided bike tours in the countryside.
Italy Cruiser Bike Tours offers daily guided bike tours through Florence. In 3 hours you will see all the highlights of this beautiful city.
BikeCityGuide is a handy bike navigation app for those who want to discover Florence on their own. The city of Florence can be downloaded for free and contains descriptions to all important sightseeing places and gives the opportunity to make special touristic tours. Type in any address or famous point of interest to be guided to it.
Florence is a maze of one-way streets and pedestrian zones so we don't recommend driving a car in the city. Traffic can be hectic during the morning and afternoon rush hours. Moreover, trying to drive in the centro storico is an exercise in futility as special permits are usually required and unauthorized traffic is not allowed past signs marked 'ZTL'.
If you must have a car while in the city then your hotel may offer a car park (for a fee), but your best bet is one of the public garages, which are also less expensive. The parking lot under Santa Maria Novella (2€ per hour) is closer to the city center, however the best deal is at the Parterre parking lot under Piazza Libertà, north of Fortezza del Basso. If you're staying at least one night at a hotel in Florence, you can park here, are welcome to a free bike, and on presentation of your hotel receipt as you leave or the hotel's stamp on your parking receipt, pay only 10€ per night. If you are renting a car we suggest you pick it up as you depart the city to avoid excessive rental/parking expenses.
Warning: Don't park your car overnight on the streets in Florence. If it's towed it will cost you a small fortune and the headache to retrieve it will undoubtedly ruin your vacation.
The Firenze Card is a 72 hour pass for Florence allowing access to about 30 museums and free use of the public transport system. In some museums you can jump the line with the pass but it is best to check with individual museums. The cost is €7 per person.
Florence City Pass
The Florence City Pass features free admission to the top sights and museums as well as guided tours. Furthermore, there are fast track entries to selected attractions such as the famous Uffizi and Accademia Gallery as well as further discounts. The Florence City Pass is available for 1 to 3 days (from around €59 to €79) and an optional travelcard can be added.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.