Where to Stay in Florence: The Best Neighborhoods For Your Visit

Where to Stay in Florence: The Best Neighborhoods For Your Visit

Where to Stay in Florence: The Best Neighborhoods For Your Visit
Posted: 4/10/24 | April 10th, 2024

With its iconic Renaissance architecture, picturesque streets, world-class museums, and incredible food, Florence is one of my favorite cities in Italy. I’ve been a handful of times over the years and it never disappoints.

It’s also a compact and easily walkable city, so nothing is too far from anything else. That said, each neighborhood has its own unique feel and accommodation options. For that reason, it’s a good idea to choose a neighborhood that best suits your travel style and budget.

To help you do just that, here’s my list of the best neighborhoods in Florence:

Area
Best for
Best Hotel
Centro Storico
First-Time Visitors
Santa Maria Novella
Budget Travelers
Santa Croce
Nightlife & Foodies

 

Where to Stay for First-Time Visitors: Centro Storico

People milling about in the street with the iconic Duomo cathedral in the background in Florence, Italy
This is Florence’s emblematic historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the iconic Duomo (cathedral), world-class art at the Uffizi Gallery, and bustling plazas like Piazza della Signoria. Stay here to be in the center of it all, with the main attractions just steps away.

It’s also a good neighborhood if you’re looking to do some shopping. For luxury, head to Via de’ Tornabuoni, where all the high-end designers have storefronts, while Ponte Vecchio is the place to go if you’re in the market for jewelry.

You’ll also have the largest array of accommodation options here. Just keep in mind that it gets incredibly crowded in the summer, and prices skyrocket accordingly.

Best places to stay in Centro Storico:

  • BUDGET: Emerald Palace – Offering affordable private rooms and dorms (including female-only dorms), Emerald Palace is an excellent no-frills option for budget travelers who don’t want to compromise on location. The rooms are spacious, with beautiful painted ceilings and terracotta floors, and everything (including the shared bathrooms) is kept sparkling clean. While there aren’t a ton of amenities here (though there is breakfast and a guest kitchen), it’s a friendly and affordable choice in the heart of the historic center.
  • MIDRANGE: Hotel Davanzati – This cozy three-star hotel offers a lot of value, with a complimentary continental breakfast, afternoon tea, and an aperitivo hour with prosecco. The rooms are a bit dated in their décor, but they are spacious, with comfy beds, a desk, a flatscreen TV, and a wardrobe. The bathrooms are large too and have heated towel racks, as well as nice showers with excellent water pressure. The staff really go out of their way to help with anything you need too.
  • LUXURY: Hotel Bernini Palace – It feels like you’re staying in a palace in this five-star hotel, set in a 15th-century building. The elegant rooms are spacious and feature wood-beamed ceilings, parquet or terracotta floors, glass chandeliers, antique furnishings, and plush beds with gilded headboards. They also have all the amenities you’d expect from a hotel of this caliber, including minibars, flatscreen TVs, desks, and air conditioning. There’s a complimentary breakfast buffet too, served in a room with a frescoed ceiling that used to be a meeting place for members of Italy’s parliament!

 

Where to Stay for Budget Travelers: Santa Maria Novella

A piazza with flowers and grass around a monument and the painted Santa Maria Novella basilica in the background in Florence, Italy
Santa Maria Novella is a large area west of Centro Storico. It surrounds a basilica, piazza, and train station, all with the same name as the neighborhood. The area is great for budget-conscious travelers who appreciate the convenience of being both close to the historic center and the train station for onward travel. It’s also a good area for backpackers that want a traditional hostel experience, as all the best hostels in Florence are here.

The area around Piazza Santa Maria Novella and south toward the river is a bit more upscale, while most hostels are concentrated just to the northeast of the train station. Just avoid staying right next to the train station, as it’s not the not the nicest section of the neighborhood.

Best places to stay in Santa Maria Novella:

  • BUDGET: Ostello Bello Firenze – This lively hostel has a cozy common room, guest kitchen, and bar where all guests get a free welcome drink. There’s also a rooftop terrace and lots of social events throughout the week (such as live music or parties). It’s a really easy hostel to meet people in. Plus, all dorm rooms have ensuite bathrooms and lockers and are filled with lots of natural light. It’s one of the best hostels in town.
  • MIDRANGE: Hotel Alba Palace – This beautiful three-star hotel is decorated in a traditional Florentine style. Each room is unique, with historic features that include antique terracotta floors, arched ceilings, and exposed brick walls. The fantastic complimentary breakfast is served in a tranquil atrium with a glass ceiling. All rooms have a flatscreen TV, minibar, desk, Nespresso machine, hairdryer, and safe. While the bathrooms are small, there’s great water pressure in the showers. There are even rooms with a twin bed in case you’re a solo traveler looking to save money but don’t want to stay in a hostel.
  • LUXURY: The Place Firenze – This five-star hotel is located right on Piazza Santa Maria Novella in a restored 17th-century building. All the rooms in this award-winning boutique property are decorated in pastel colors, with unique artwork, chandeliers, bespoke furniture, and elegant marble bathrooms. Each soundproofed room comes with a flatscreen TV, minibar, and a desk. There’s also a complimentary breakfast on the hotel’s outdoor terrace on the piazza, and a rooftop with incredible views, not to mention exceptionally helpful staff.

 

Where to Stay for Food and Nightlife: Santa Croce

Expansive piazza lined with buildings, with people walking around in the open space in front of the majestic painted Santa Croce Basilica in Florence, Italy
The Santa Croce neighborhood is located just a ten-minute walk to the east of Centro Storico but is much less frequented by tourists. Along with its beautiful basilica and lively square, it’s filled with restaurants, cafés, and boutiques. It’s especially renowned for its vibrant nightlife, with all varieties of bars, pubs, and clubs centered around the main square and on Via de’ Benci.

If you’re after good food and a more low-key atmosphere, head to Sant’Ambrogio, a micro-neighborhood that surrounds the market of the same name.

Best places to stay in Santa Croce:

  • BUDGET: B&B Hotel Firenze City Center – This bed-and-breakfast is your best choice for budget-friendly accommodation in Santa Croce. It features simple, light-filled rooms with a desk and flatscreen TV. The bathrooms have a bidet, complimentary toiletries, and a hairdryer. There’s a breakfast buffet in the mornings too (9.50 EUR) with croissants, cakes, muffins, cereals, yoghurt, and eggs.
  • MIDRANGE: La Maison du Sage – This four-star hotel is eclectically designed, with Art Deco furniture, hardwood floors, and brightly colored walls. The rooms are spacious, filled with natural light, and include a minibar, flatscreen satellite TV, Nespresso coffee machine, and kettle for tea. The bathrooms are sleekly designed and spacious, with a bidet and a walk-in shower (some rooms have separate tubs). There’s also an excellent breakfast buffet boasting pastries, juice, eggs, ham, cheese, and fresh fruit.
  • LUXURY: Relais Santa Croce, by Baglioni Hotels – This five-star hotel is set in an 18th-century building that retains its historic décor (including frescoed ceilings and hardwood floors). Each spacious guestroom contains different historic elements, such as a four-poster bed or exposed beams. All of the airy rooms have a desk, flatscreen TV, minibar, and large bathroom with a bidet, bathrobes, and complimentary bath products. There’s also a tasty free breakfast each morning with lots of variety.

 

Where to Stay for Feeling like a Local: Oltrarno

People sitting around near a fountain in the leafy Santo Spirito piazza in the Oltrarno area of Florence, Italy
Located on the south side of the Arno River (the name literally means “across the Arno”), Oltrarno is known for its artisan workshops, antique stores, and more laid-back atmosphere. There are several micro-neighborhoods here, but trendy Santo Spirito is best for most visitors, as it’s just a short walk to the center of town.

This area is not without its own attractions though, home to both Pitti Palace and the whimsical Boboli Gardens. Overall, Oltrarno is best for travelers looking for a more authentic and local experience away from the tourist crowds.

Best places to stay in Oltrarno:

  • BUDGET: “il Pitti” Soggiorno – There aren’t any hostels here (you’ll mostly find midrange accommodation in this area), but this hotel directly across the street from Pitti Palace offers affordable and comfy private rooms with ensuite or shared bathrooms. The rooms are painted in cheery pastel colors and have lots of natural light, as well as parquet floors. The décor is a bit dated, but all rooms have a desk, wardrobe, electric kettle, and bathroom with a rainfall shower and bidet. It’s a great no-frills option for budget travelers that want to stay in a quieter neighborhood.
  • MIDRANGE: Hotel Palazzo Guadagni – Situated in a 16th-century Florentine palace on a quiet square, this three-star hotel boasts elegantly decorated rooms with frescoed ceilings, large windows, antique furniture, and fireplaces. In-room amenities include a minibar, flatscreen TV, safe, and tiled bathroom with a heated towel rack, a bidet, fluffy bathrobes, and slippers. There’s also a fantastic complimentary breakfast and a rooftop with stunning views over the city. I think the value for what you get here is fantastic. It feels much more luxurious than your typical three-star hotel.
  • LUXURY: Hotel Lungarno – Lungarno Collection – Located just steps from Ponte Vecchio bridge leading into Centro Storico, this gorgeous five-star hotel features original modern art throughout. The spacious, light-filled rooms have Italian white marble bathrooms with a bidet and luxury toiletries, and all rooms have a desk, a flatscreen TV, a minibar, and sound-proofed walls. There’s also a Michelin-starred restaurant and an excellent breakfast spread here.

 

***

Florence is like a giant open-air museum. It’s impossibly beautiful and bursting with historic sites and stunning architecture. By using the list above to pick the neighborhood that best suits your needs, you’ll be able to make the most of your stay in Tuscany’s largest city!

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Book Your Trip to Florence: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.

Want More Information on Florence?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Florence for even more planning tips!

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