Florence Travel Tips: Dos and Don’ts of Traveling to Florence

Visiting Florence is a dream come true in every sense. Walking along the cobblestoned streets, admiring the towering Duomo, hearing playful accordion music drifting through alleyways… It’s easy to be swept up in your own daydreams of what your trip to the Tuscan capital will be like. However, it’s important to keep some Florence travel tips in mind to have the trip of your dreams.

Trying traditional dishes is one of the best things about traveling to Tuscany!
To prepare you for your journey, we compiled this comprehensive list of Florence travel tips for visiting the birthplace of the Renaissance.

Our list of Florence travel tips covers everything from understanding Italian culture to teaching you how to ask for a sample of gelato like a local (because you should be able to try before you buy!). Keep reading for the Dos and Don’ts of traveling to Florence. Hope you’re taking notes!

Cultural Tips for Florence

Do get to know Italian culture

Things move a little more slowly in Italy. Everything happens at its own pace, even if we want things to work faster or more efficiently. Italians are very family oriented and love children, so don’t be surprised to see strollers tableside at a bar! Overall, the quality of life is quite high, so you don’t have to worry about tipping everyone.

Do exercise patience

Or as the Italians say, “piano piano.” As we mentioned, the pace of Italian life is a little slower than what you might be used to. Stay calm if your train runs late or you miss the bus. Expect to spend around two hours at a restaurant for lunch or dinner.

Here’s another Italian phrase for you: “piano piano.” The idiom can mean many things, but overall it means no hurry, slowly but surely, and don’t worry you will get there.

To prepare you for your journey, we compiled this comprehensive list of Florence travel tips for visiting the birthplace of the Renaissance.
Make sure to slow down and enjoy the beautiful sights that Florence offers at every turn.

Don’t expect things to be the same as they are in your home country

This should go without saying, but culture shock is very real and can be unnerving! It bears repeating that the pace of life in Italy is very different. Try not to get frustrated if certain conveniences you take for granted back home don’t exist in Italy.

Italian Language Tips for Florence

Do learn a few Italian phrases

Many shopkeepers and restaurant workers in Florence will speak English, but curry favor for yourself when you use some simple phrases in Italian. A few of our favorites:

  • Buongiorno and buonasera are universal greetings.
  • Grazie means thank you and can never be said enough!
  • Posso…? (May I?) Is great to use when gesturing to an empty table at a restaurant or an empty seat on the train to ask permission to sit down and occupy the space.
  • When you’re finished with a meal, ask your waiter for the bill, “il conto,” because they won’t bring it out right away!
  • To ask for a sample of gelato, say, “Un assaggio di —— per favore?” Thank us later.
We hope you’ll take some of our Florence travel tips to heart when planning your visit.
Learning even just a few words of Italian will really enhance your time in Florence.

Sight-Seeing Tips for Florence

Do buy museum tickets in advance

Who likes waiting in a long line under the heat of the Tuscan sun? Absolutely no one. If you know for certain that you want to visit the Uffizi Galleries or other sites during your visit to Florence, do yourself a favor and buy your tickets online before you go. In the same vein, if there’s a restaurant in Florence you’ve been dreaming of visiting since you read about it here on our lovely blog, make a table reservation so you don’t get turned away.

Buy tickets in advance to ensure seeing masterpieces like Michelangelo's statue of David!
Book your tickets in advance to ensure seeing masterpieces like Michelangelo’s David!

Do ask for recommendations

While we recommend planning ahead for the bigger activities of your trip, leave some open space to go with the (Arno) flow! Ask your hotel concierge for recommendations of things to do or places to visit. Ask your waiter for meal recommendations as seasonal ingredients can vary from week to week. You might be surprised what the locals recommend.

Don’t schedule every single minute of every day

We love a fully booked itinerary, but the beauty of Florence is found in the unexpected. Try to leave at least one day of your visit open and wander the city. Take a walk along the river and see where Florence leads you.

Do get outside the city center

To really understand Tuscan culture, getting outside the city center of Florence is a must. Free apps like Moovit can help you navigate the bus lines for a trip up the hill to take in the stunning city views from Piazzale Michelangelo. Trenitalia will help you when planning that day trip from Florence to Siena – or any other destination – by train.

Lucca is one of many stunning Tuscan towns that can easily be reached from Florence.
Lucca is one of many charming Tuscan towns that can easily be reached from Florence.

Tips for Eating in Florence

Do learn tipping etiquette

How much should you tip? And when should you tip? Can you leave a tip when paying by card? Make sure to brush up on tipping etiquette with our article on tipping in Florence!

Do try the local cuisine

When you learn what lampredotto or crostini neri are made out of or see a whole roasted pig in the window of a porchetta shop, those dishes might not seem so appetizing anymore! But they wouldn’t be classic Tuscan dishes if they didn’t taste good, so take a risk and try the local cuisine and local flavors when you visit Florence.

Take our word for it - sampling traditional dishes is one of the best things about traveling to Florence.
Take our word for it – sampling traditional dishes is one of the best things about traveling to Florence.

Safety Tips for Florence

Don’t make yourself a target

Florence is a very safe city, but that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down completely. Pickpockets and scammers benefit from the many distractions in high-traffic tourist areas like Piazza del Duomo, so stay aware of your surroundings. Leave the designer bags at home, keep jewelry and accessories to a minimum, and always have an eye on your belongings.

Stay aware of your surroundings in busier places like the Ponte Vecchio.
Stay aware of your surroundings in busier places like the Ponte Vecchio.

A Final Florence Travel Tip

Do set reasonable expectations

We encourage daydreaming and planning ahead, but in the end Florence isn’t actually perfect. You might come across people that are having a bad day, or find yourself in a disappointing tourist trap because you were starving. Try to remain neutral and just enjoy the new experiences for what they are.

Even for the seasoned traveler, a first time visit to Florence might be overwhelming. Don’t worry though! People in Florence are generally patient and friendly, and if you know the things to avoid and manage your own expectations, you’ll set yourself up for the trip of a lifetime.

The Duomo is an unforgettable sight in the very center of Florence.
We hope you’ll take some of our Florence travel tips to heart when planning your visit.

There’s so much more we could say, but we think this list of Florence travel tips sum up our main points on how to have a great trip. Florence is a wonderful city, and we can’t wait for you to fall in love with it just as we have.