Delightfully compact and jam-packed with architectural landmarks, Florence is a breeze to navigate. Over the centuries its Unesco-listed centro storico (historic center) has been tried and tested by pedestrians, horse-drawn carriages and motorized vehicles, with explorers on foot consistently bagging the ‘easiest way to get around’ prize.
The center of this Renaissance city was designed for walking. If you need to travel further afield, an efficient network of public buses and trams joins the dots between Florence airport, Santa Maria Novella train station in the city center and points of interest spangled across greater Florence and its seductive green fringes. Here are the best ways to get around.
The cent-saving Firenze Card (€85), valid for 72 hours, offers gratis entry to many museums and sights, and you can pay an additional €7 to include unlimited public transport in this good-value deal. If you're an EU citizen, your card also covers family members aged 18 or under who are traveling with you.
Florence is one of the most walkable cities on earth. Whether you are hopping between fountain-clad piazzas, uncovering bijou chapels squirreled away on dimly lit backstreets, or stumbling across artisan workshops in the Oltrarno and San Frediano, navigating the city on foot is the key to finding its greatest treasures.
It's also the best way to get to grips with the unique selling points of each Florence neighborhood. It's the things you stumble across on the back lanes that stick in the memory, as well as the big sights. Wear decent, sturdy shoes – vintage Florentine cobbles were not designed with heels in mind.
Bicycle, e-bike & Vespa
Locals love whizzing around their city on two wheels, but there are no dedicated bike lanes or bike racks in the historic center, and motorists pay little heed to cyclists, meaning you’re in for a scary ride. Bike-sharing through Ridemovi (formerly Mobike) has been around for a while, but shared e-bikes and e-scooters are a new craze.
Away from the center, bike lanes make an appearance, particularly along the River Arno and towards the gemstone-like villages much-loved by Florentines seeking a peaceful green escape in the hills. Rent an e-bike or Vespa scooter (available from Florence Station Rental and other companies) and you can follow their lead into the seductive hills, Audrey Hepburn-style.
Top destinations include hilltop Fiesole, green Settignano and chichi Bellosguardo. Florence by Bike is one of several outlets in downtown Florence offering bike rental and guided bike tours.
A nifty fleet of buses and electric minibuses zips around the city. Buses are immensely useful for taking the legwork out of the tramp uphill to the replica David statue on Piazzale Michelangelo (lines 12 and 13), or escaping the sizzling city heat in summer with an out-of-town foray to the leafy hilltop village of Fiesole (line 7 from Piazza di San Marco).
Florence’s distinctive vintage orange city buses and newer white-and-purple and blue buses have been operated by regional bus company Autolinee Toscane since November 2021 (after being run by Azienda Tranviaria Automobilistica e Filoviari since 1945).
The cheapest way to buy a single journey ticket is digitally via the easily-downloaded Tabnet app, or in person at the Santa Maria Novella bus station ticket office on Via Santa Caterina da Siena. Tickets are valid for 90 minutes and cost €1.50, or €14 for a carnet of 10.
The same ticket costs €2.50 direct from the bus driver or €1.80 if you pay via SMS using a phone with an Italian SIM card (send a message reading ‘Firenze’ to 4880105). Children shorter than 1m (39.4 inches) in height travel for free.
Tickets must be validated once on board, either digitally via the Tabnet app or using on-board machines that stamp your paper ticket with the date and time. Check that both appear on your punched ticket as machines are known to run out of ink! Traveling with an unstamped ticket brings the risk of a €50 fine.
Tip for bus etiquette: Board the bus using the front or rear doors; the middle door (or rear door if only there are only two doors) is strictly for getting off the bus.
Florence has two tram lines in operation, with two more in the works. Sleek modern tram cars glide across the city, with line T1 running north to south, and line T2 linking Florence Airport with Piazza della Unità in front of Santa Maria Novella train station.
Trams run from 4:30am or 5am until 12:30am (1:40am or 2am Friday and Saturday), and use the same tickets as buses. Handily, every tram stop has a ticket machine accepting coins and cards.
Tip for arty tram rides: Tram stops further from the center are often just footsteps from off-beat cultural sights that are well worth a peek, such as the hyper-realist street mural of Nelson Mandela by Italian street artist Jorit in Piazza Leopoldo, or Florence’s groundbreaking new arts center, Manifattura Tabacchi (soon to be serviced by line T4). More arty stops are highlighted on the website of the city’s creative Tram-E-D’Arte project.
Car & Motorcycle
Having a car in Florence is frankly a pain in the neck. Parking is hellish and nonresident traffic is banned from the entire historic center between 7:30am and 7:30pm from Monday to Friday, and from 7:30am to 6pm on Saturday.
From the first Sunday in April to the first Sunday in October, the nonresident ban also applies on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 11pm to 3am. This strict Limited Traffic Zone is monitored by cyclopean cameras positioned at all entry points to the city, and hefty fines are imposed on those who dare to break the rules.
For the days when you can drive into Florence, there's heavy competition for parking spaces. Free street parking can be found around Piazzale Michelangelo and there are plenty of car parks around town, including at Stazione di Santa Maria Novella, by Fortezza da Basso and in the Oltrarno at Piazza della Calza. Most car parks open 24 hours and charge €1 to €5 per hour.
Depending on how laden down you are with luggage and your final destination, grabbing a cab – always metered in Florence – can make sense. There are dozens of taxi stands in the city center, including in front of the Santa Maria Novella train station, on Piazza Sante Croce and Piazza del Duomo (on the corner of Via del Proconsolo).
Alternatively request a taxi by phone through Taxi 4242 or Taxi 4390. You can contact these companies for a pick up via WhatsApp, SMS, online, or through apps such as appTaxi or It Taxi. Just give your location, and wait for a car to roll up – your ride will usually arrive within five minutes, assuming you’re downtown. You'll pay a €2.20 call-out fee on top of the regular fare.
Minimum standard fares on weekdays are €5; this rises to €8.30 at night, or €7 on Sundays and holidays. At night, between 9am and 4am, female callers can take advantage of priority booking by pressing ‘1’ upon reaching the operator; women riding solo get a 10% discount.
Unlike in Rome and other Italian cities, Florence is simply too small for ride-sharing to be viable. Uber’s luxury ‘black cab service’ was trialed in the city a few years back, but hasn’t functioned since 2020.
Accessible transportation in Florence
With its ancient cobblestones, painfully narrow streets and often nonexistent pavements, Florence is not an easy city for travelers with disabilities to navigate. Getting around can be a real problem for wheelchair users.
Trams and platforms are accessible for people with a physical or visual impairment. Newer buses are wheelchair-accessible (with low-floor platforms by one door and a designated wheelchair area inside), but with heavy traffic and narrow pavements, accessing the bus's door ramp is another matter altogether.
City car parks tout a handful of wider spaces for motorists with disabilities. Taxi 4242 and Taxi 4390 both have minivan cabs suitable for wheelchairs, bookable in advance. For more information on accessible travel, see Lonely Planet's Accessible Travel Resources page.
Safety recommendations and restrictions during a pandemic can change rapidly. Lonely Planet recommends that travelers always check with local authorities for up-to-date guidance before traveling during Covid-19.
You may also like:
The most fabulous things you can do in Florence – get a pizza the action
The best freebies in Florence for budget travelers and bargain hunters
Here's why Florence is perfect for your next winter break