Florence has a sweet place in my heart. I studied abroad here and have visited many times since. This is a city filled with art, incredible food, medieval streets, riverside views, and an incredible skyline.
Florence is a pedestrian city. Most of the city center is off limits for cars unless you have a special permit. For this reason, it's extremely important to base yourself in the right area.
You'll want to stay within the city center. Basically, locate the Duomo and stay within a radius of 15 to 20 minutes from there.
Go farther than this and you'll lose a lot of precious sightseeing time getting to all the top sights and restaurants, plus you'll lose the experience of staying where all the atmosphere is.
There's something about being a 5 minute walk from the local cafe for your morning cappuccino and close to the picturesque streets surrounding the Duomo.
I've made a point to stay in various locations throughout the city and have my favorites.
This post will take you through the best areas to stay in Florence, Italy that are within 15 to 20 minutes of the city center. You'll learn the best luxury hotels in each neighborhood as well as mid-range options.
This map shows the best areas to stay in Florence, Italy. Click the icon in the very top left to see a list view of each pinned location. Click the top right button to enlarge the map. Click the star to save to your own Google Maps account. To access this map once saved (after clicking the star), open Google Maps (on your phone/computer/tablet), click the menu button, go to "your places", select "maps", and you will see this map listed.
- Purple - luxury hotels
- Black - mid-range hotels
South of the Duomo - Between Ponte Vecchio and Ponte alla Carraia (red area)
Where to stay in Florence, Italy for first-time visitors and those looking to be close to the action and sights
The area below the Duomo, above the Arno river, and between the Ponte Vecchio (Ponte is bridge in Italian) and Ponte alla Carraia is as close to the action as you can get. This is a great base if you have limited time in Florence and want to be as close to sights and restaurants as possible.
Joggers will appreciate being close to the river. I always jog to and through Cascine park in the mornings. It's always filled with locals and tourists biking, rollerblading, and running. Just don't go at night for safety reasons...as is the case with most city parks.
It tends to get quite crowded around the Ponte Vecchio, which is why most of my hotel recommendations are around Ponte Santa Trinita and Ponte alla Carraia.
BEST luxury HOTELS IN FLORENCE: SOUTH OF THE DUOMO
Best MID-RANGE HOTELS IN FLORENCE: SOUTH OF THE DUOMO
South of the Duomo - West of Ponte alla Carraia (blue area)
WHERE TO STAY IN FLORENCE, ITALY to be minutes from the action, yet have a luxury/quiet stay
The area by the river and just west of Ponte alla Carrraia is just outside the busiest part of the city center. And by "just by", I mean a few minutes' walk.
This is where you'll find a lot of luxury hotels as this location is ideal. River views, close to the action but far enough away to not be noisy and annoying.
If money was no object, this would be my first pick on where to stay in Florence, Italy.
Best luxury hotels in Florence west of Ponte all Carraia
- The St. Regis Florence (Marriott/Bonvoy family)
- The Westin Excelsior, Florence (Marriott/Bonvoy family)
If you're willing to go a bit further, about 15 minutes from the city center, you'll find some nice hotels with decent prices. I recently stayed at Sina Villa Medici and enjoyed how calm the hotel felt. The 15 minute walk to the city center felt like nothing. Though, if I was a first time visitor with a jam packed itinerary, I might have felt different.
This area I would only recommend for return visitors or if you have an extended stay and don't mind the extra walking time added to your itinerary.
Hotels a bit farther from the city center (15 minute walk)
- Sina Villa Medici (Marriott/Bonvoy family)
North of the Duomo (purple area)
One of the best areas to stay in Florence, Italy if you're a budget-minded traveler and prefer to be just outside the action
This is one of my favorite areas to stay for two reasons.
One, I'm usually able to find a good hotel rate just north of the Duomo as most tourists prefer to be close to the Duomo, the train station (which I don't recommend), or the river. If you're having a hard time finding an affordable hotel, this area and across the river will be your best bet.
Two, this area is quiet...or at least less hectic than around the Duomo and other tourist hotspots. I really enjoy the atmosphere in this neighborhood and always feel safe on my walks back to the hotel.
All the hotels listed are a 10 minute walk from the Duomo except Hotel Spadai...which is literally a stone's throw away.
I've stayed in this area the most as I'm always looking for a hotel bargain that's close to the city center.
Best mid-range hotels in Florence north of the Duomo
Santo Spirito (grey area)
Where to stay in Florence, Italy if this is a return visit or you're looking for a local vibe and a better price
Those that have already visited Florence and are looking for something different will want to cross the river and look around the Santo Spirito neighborhood.
More locals live on this side of the river and the further you get, the more local (and cheaper) it will become.
I prefer to stick around the Santo Spirito neighborhood because there are a lot of great restaurants here and you're not far from the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens.
There are also a lot of AirBnBs on this side of the river for a great price.
Best luxury hotels in Florence across the river
BEST mid-range HOTELS IN FLORENCE ACROSS THE RIVER
Santa Croce (green area)
Santa Croce is a 15 minute walk from the Duomo and 10 to 15 minutes from the river.
Personally, if I'm not going to stay in the city center, I prefer staying across the river or west of the Duomo. That's because I like being close to the park for jogging and walking distance to the train station.
But, if you're looking for a luxury stay that's close to the heart of Florence and don't mind being far from the train station, then Santa Croce is a nice option.
Summary of where to stay in Florence, Italy
I hope this post steers you in the right direction of where to stay in Florence, Italy. These are my personal favorite neighborhoods and some of the best hotels in Florence.
Just south of the Duomo and between Ponte Vecchio and Ponte alla Carraia is my top pick for first-time visitors since you're steps away from all the top sights.
South of the Duomo and to the west of Ponte alla Carraia is perfect if you're looking for a luxury stay. This area has several gorgeous hotels that are by the river and minutes from top attractions and the heart of the city.
North of the Duomo is great if you want a location a little less hectic. This is one of the best areas to stay in Florence for my budget-minded travelers. I almost always manage to find a good hotel deal in this neighborhood.
Santo Spirito is the perfect choice if you've been to Florence before and want to experience a different area. Santa Croce is a nice alternative if you couldn't find a hotel you liked in any of the other neighborhoods.
No matter which area you pick, you’ll be walking distance to the best sights and restaurants!