I’m in love with Florence, Italy. Florence is where I studied abroad, where I fell in love with photography, and where I mended my broken heart. As such, it occupies a certain positive nostalgia in my life. My husband wasn’t a traveler before we got married so he left the honeymoon planning to me. I couldn’t wait to take him to Florence.
If you don’t know Florence, it’s easy to write it off for a more popular honeymoon destination. Once you’ve been to Florence, you’ll spend all your free time trying to figure out how to get back. It’s the perfect blend of the la dolce vita – and it truly can be perfect for anyone. Fortunately, my husband is hooked on Florence now, too. I might have earned myself an (unwritten, unspoken) agreement that we return to Florence at least once a year.
In this guide I’m excited to share all my best tips for planning your Florence honeymoon!
GETTING TO FLORENCE
If arriving by air, you will likely connect through a larger European hub. Florence offers a small airport (FLR), but Pisa (PSA) and Bologna (BLQ) are less than an hour away by train. Most low-cost carriers fly into either one of those airports. From there, it’s an easy train or bus ride into Florence’s Santa Maria Novella station.
If you’re coming from Rome or Venice, the best way to get to Florence is by train. Rome is approximately an hour and a half away and Venice is two hours away. Florence makes an excellent stop in the middle of the traditional three-city itinerary. Make sure you get off at Firenze SMN, which is the main train station.
Once you arrive at Santa Maria Novella, you can grab a cab to your hotel or you can walk. Florence is a very compact city and it’s easy to walk just about anywhere.
I don’t recommend driving in Florence because of the ZTL, the tiny one-way streets, and the traffic (it’s a great way to test your partner on your honeymoon!). If you are coming into Florence via car, I recommend the numerous rental agencies on Borgo Ognissanti. It’s right inside the ZTL and a 10-15 minute walk to the city center.
CREATING YOUR HONEYMOON ITINERARY
When I am sketching out our itineraries, I ask my husband what are the most important things to him and I make my own list. From there, I start fitting together the things I would be disappointed to miss, whether that’s restaurants, tours, or landmark sites. This is important because operational hours in Italy vary quite a bit more than they do in the United States. It’s not uncommon for restaurants to close for extended holidays. If you don’t want to miss a specific stop, do your research in advance.
Once I have our lists, I try to schedule one of those things each day, which ensures that we hit the things that we want to see but also ensures that we have flexibility in our schedule if we stumble upon something that we didn’t know about in advance. In one instance that was a French Belle Epoque market in a random piazza. Another time it was an unexpected restaurant opening with bruschetta that I still dream about but haven’t been able to find ever again.
HOW TO ENJOY YOUR HONEYMOON IN FLORENCE
Florence, particularly in the summer months, is crowded. We learned to combat crowds and fatigue by getting out early, resting during the midday, and going out again in the evening. I can’t recommend this strategy enough when you’re visiting cities with significant tourism.
UFFIZI GALLERY AND ACCADEMIA MUSEUM
The most popular attractions, including the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia Museum, are going to have long lines. Book a skip-the-line ticket. You can book directly with the museums or you can book a ticket with a tour, but plan your museum visits in advance, otherwise, you could spend hours in line. If you aren’t able to get tickets in advance, always check with your hotel concierge before waiting in line.
If you want to visit the Duomo (Santa Maria del Fiore), I recommend going at the end of the day. I’ve never waited in line at the end of the day. If you visit in the morning, you’ll end up in line. The Duomo closes for midday, and there’s always a line before it re-opens. The end of the day is the easiest way to skip the line.
The reverse is true for Santa Croce. You want to go when they open. The light is absolutely dreamy in the morning, too. By the time you finish your visit, the street vendors will be setting up their wares in the piazza (I love to check out the artists!)
Walking a little bit further will allow you to better enjoy the most popular views of Florence. If you want to watch the sunset over the Ponte Vecchio, skip the porticos right off the bridge and head to the Ponte alle Grazie or the Ponte all Santa Trinita. If you want to watch the sunset from the Piazza Michelangelo, keep climbing to San Miniato al Monte.
These tips will allow you to keep the romance alive without being surrounded by a thousand of your closest friends.
WHERE TO STAY ON YOUR HONEYMOON IN FLORENCE
The first rule of thumb is that you want to stay in Florence and you want to stay in the city center. The time it takes to transit into the city takes away from the romantic atmosphere. You will want to be out in the evenings. It doesn’t matter which side of the Arno you stay on, but you want to be in the city center. My two favorite hotels in Florence are the St. Regis (5-star) and the Gallery Hotel Art (4-star).
ST. REGIS FLORENCE
The St. Regis Florence is the pinnacle of luxury and is in a quieter area of Florence. The rooms are especially romantic with luxurious Florentine furnishings and beautiful views of the Arno. I’ve never had a room that I didn’t love.
The staff at the St. Regis is what makes this hotel one of my favorites. Every single person at the St. Regis made our honeymoon especially memorable through personalized touches and mementos left in our room. And, each time we return, they offer recommendations of things we might enjoy based on our preferences. From the spa staff to the front office manager, the entire hotel is committed to superb guest experience.
GALLERY HOTEL ART
The Gallery Hotel Art is part of the Lungarno Collection and is in the middle of the action, right off the Ponte Vecchio. Despite its prime location, it’s located in a quiet square away from all the foot traffic.
Designed by Salvatore Ferragamo, the rooms offer more modern décor with large bathrooms and are expertly designed for efficiency. Their staff is extremely attentive to guests, even going as far to call in a same-day masseuse for us when the spa was fully booked. Guests receive reciprocal privileges for the spa and the rooftop bar at the sister property, Continentale.
GET TO KNOW FLORENCE ON FOOT
Before our honeymoon, I was not a tour person. I loved to wander cities aimlessly and read about the sites in books. My husband, by contrast, loves tours. His favorite thing is to book a walking tour when we first arrive in a city. It allows him to get an overview of the history and understand what locals feel is important to know.
Here are a few of our favorite tours based on genre:
- For Art Lovers: Uffizi Small Group Tour, Early Morning Accademia Tour
- For History Buffs: Medieval Florence Night Walking Tour, Palazzo Vecchio Tour
- For Wine Tasting: Florence Sunset Wine Tour
- For the Main Sights: La Bussola Free Walking Tours
If you’re not a tour person, you should still explore Florence on foot, especially in the evening. My husband’s favorite place is the Loggia dei Lanzi in the Piazza della Signoria. I love to walk from the Piazza del Duomo through all the main squares and end up at the Piazza Santo Spirito. I find an evening walk along the Arno to be the most romantic.
DISCOVER THE SCIENTIFIC SIDE OF THE RENAISSANCE
Most people only think of art when they think of Florence, but the Renaissance encompassed both art and science. Don’t miss the small but mighty Da Vinci Museum to see Da Vinci’s contributions to technology and innovation. Behind the Uffizi, you’ll find the Galileo Museum with scientific instruments galore and beautiful views of the Arno.
ENJOY THE GARDENS
If you love being outside, head to the Boboli Gardens (the early bird misses the crowds) or the less popular but equally lovely Bardini Gardens. Both are on the Oltrano side of the river and offer a fabulous view of the Florentine skyline. The Botanical Garden of Florence is on the opposite side of the city and is a must for any serious gardener.
VISIT THE LESSER-KNOWN CHURCHES
If you’re not tired of religious art, there are a few churches that are easily overlooked but worth visiting. Nestled between the crowds of tourists between the Piazza della Repubblica and the Piazza della Signoria is Orsanmichele.
The altarpiece painting is in situ, meaning that it sits in the exact place that it was created for in the 1300s. Right across the Ponte Vecchio is Santa Felicita, which houses the only “open air” part of the Vasari Corridor, as well as the delightfully colorful Cappella Barbadori.
LEARN TO COOK TOGETHER
What better way to kick off your new life together than taking a cooking class? In Tavola offers several cooking classes, but I can personally recommend the fresh pasta class, as well as the pizza and gelato class. Class sizes are small, lessons are fully hands-on, and at the end, you not only get to enjoy what you made with your classmates but you also get to bring home the recipes!
TAKE A SHORT BREAK FROM FLORENCE
If you’re tired of the crowds, get out of Florence for a little while. We booked a vintage Fiat 500 driving tour. It’s a small-group tour that winds through the hills behind Florence and concludes with wine tasting and aperitivo in the countryside. You need to be very comfortable driving a standard transmission, but the views are worth it.
If you don’t want to drive a vintage Fiat 500, head to Fiesole to appreciate the countryside. It’s approximately 20 minutes away by bus but feels worlds away from the bustle of Florence. In addition to stunning views of Florence, there are well-preserved Roman and Etruscan ruins to see.
COMMEMORATE YOUR TRIP
My husband is not an Instagram husband. After several years of dating, I knew it would be hard to get photos of us together on our honeymoon. I like to find a local photographer and schedule a photography session as part of our trips. In addition to getting a local’s perspective of a city, we get pictures of us together (this makes Christmas cards so much easier!) In Florence, we booked Facibeni Fotografia. Cristiano gave us some fabulous travel tips and beautiful images of my favorite city.
FLORENCE HONEYMOON RESTAURANTS
Florence taught me to love small, cozy restaurants. The challenge is that most of these restaurants need reservations. Your hotel concierge can help you with this if you’re not confident in your Italian.
Trattoria Sostanza is not the most romantic restaurant, but my husband enjoyed their steak. The other most popular dish is butter chicken, and it’s delicious (you will walk enough to make it worth it, I promise!) Appetizers and primi courses are traditional Tuscan fare, and I recommend that you eat with the season and ask your server for recommendations.
Buca dell’Orafo is located in a small alleyway right off the Arno. It’s easy to miss but shouldn’t be. It has a slightly larger menu than Sostanza while still offering what I believe is the most delicious Florentine steak.
For vegetarians, I’m still thinking about how I can recreate the penne alle carrettiera. Their Tuscan seasonal specialties are worth trying; ask the knowledgable waitstaff for recommendations. They didn’t steer us wrong.
For a more romantic dinner, complete with jazz music and a view of the Ponte Vecchio, head to the Golden View. We always make a reservation for a table by the windows. Between the candlelight, the warm glow of the Ponte Vecchio, and the wine, it’s the perfect restaurant for a memorable meal.
Trattoria Nella is right around the corner from the Gallery Hotel Art. We enjoyed the penne Nella and the ravioli alle noci (walnut ravioli). A carafe of house wine is more than enough for two, and this is one of those times when I would say not to skip dessert.
I BASTIONI DI SAN NICCOLO
After climbing to watch the sunset from the Piazza Michelangelo, you’ll be ready for dinner. At the foot of the hills is I Bastioni Di San Niccolo, located on a lively street and offering delicious pizza.
LA REGGIA DEGLI ETRUSCHI
A short drive (or bus ride) from Florence is La Reggia degli Etruschi. Nestled in the hills of Fiesole, this restaurant offers tables with an unbeatable view of Florence.
The wait staff is delightfully witty and happy to make recommendations on everything – from wine to searing the bone after enjoying your steak to ensuring that you properly slow down and enjoy your meal (do as the Florentines do). You will need reservations.
QUICK EATS IN FLORENCE
With so much to do in Florence, you might just want a (relatively) quick meal.
Schiacciata is a traditional Florentine bread that is used for panini. Forget everything you know about sandwiches and head to ‘Ino or Gustapanino for fresh, delicious sandwiches that are made to order. They are so fresh that they slice the meat when you order. Get your food to go and head to the Piazza della Signoria or Piazza Santo Spirito for cheap lunch with a view.
The food court on the second floor of the Mercato Centrale is lauded for its many options, but on the first floor of the market, there is Pasta Fresca. For 5 euro, you can choose your pasta and your sauce (skip the pesto; everything else is delicious).
The downside is that there is no seating. The plus side is that there is a counter where you can eat and watch the pasta being made. For dessert, find the bakery that sells occhi di bue, a delicious cookie filled with chocolate or apricot jam.
GELATO IN FLORENCE
Florence is the birthplace of gelato and some of my favorite gelaterias are in Florence. The best way to enjoy gelato is to get it to go and spend your evenings wandering the streets of Florence. Between the ambient lights of the city and the street museums, there is nothing more enjoyable than a gelato walk.
Word to the wise: not all gelato is created equal. Skip the huge mounds of gelato. Skip unnaturally colored gelato. Expensive gelato is not better gelato. Experiment with different flavor combinations. Ask for recommendations from locals (basically, try all the gelato).
In the City Center
In the Oltrarno
IT’S YOUR HONEYMOON; SLOW DOWN
There is so much to do in Florence that it’s impossible to do it in one trip. It can be tempting to cram as much as possible into your days. Florence can feel frantic because of the crowds, but it’s your honeymoon. Don’t be frantic.
The best advice I can give is to slow down in Florence. Sit piazzas and listen to music. Visit the museums and recognize that the artists were inspired by the very views in front of you. Watch the sunset. Take long, leisurely meals as the Italians do. Eat gelato and stroll the lamp-lit streets.
There’s a reason that my husband and I keep going back to Florence year after year, and it started with our honeymoon.
We hope that this article has helped inspire you to plan your honeymoon in Florence. If you have any questions about the destination or have your own travel tips to share please leave these in the comments below.
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Our Top Places To Stay In Florence, Italy:
- St. Regis Florence
- Gallery Hotel Art
- Ville Sull’Arno
- NH Collection Firenze Porta Rossa
- Hotel Bernini Palace
- Find the best price on hotels in Florence, Italy
- Sign up to AirBnB and receive a US $35 off your first booking
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