Rome and Florence are two of Italy's most historic cities, separated by several centuries and less than 200 miles. The ruins of Rome hark back to its days as the then-capital of civilization over 2,000 years ago, while Florence flourished much later as the birthplace of the Renaissance. Both cities boast art, churches, history, and cuisine unlike anywhere else in the world, and a visit to both is standard for most travelers coming to Italy.
Thankfully, Rome and Florence are easily connected by the train, and you can reach one from the other in under two hours. You can also go by plane, bus, or car, but all of them will take longer than the train, and are often more expensive as well.
How to Get from Rome to Florence
- Train: 1 hour, 32 minutes, from $30 (fastest option)
- Flight: 55 minutes, from $96
- Bus: 3 hours, 15 minutes, from $10 (cheapest option)
- Car: 3 hours, 175 miles (280 kilometers)
The easiest way to travel around Italy is, without a doubt, the train, especially when traveling between major cities like Rome and Florence. Trains are comfortable, fast, and affordable, especially when booked with advance notice, and are the transport of choice for locals and visitors alike.
You can reserve a train through Italy's state-run rail service, Trenitalia, or the privately-owned Italo. Both companies are comparable in price and comfort, so look at tickets on both websites before making your purchase. You can also use RailEurope to compare the two companies on one webpage, although RailEurope charges a small commission when checking out. Less expensive regional trains take two to four hours and do not have reserved seats.
Trenitalia trains leave from Termini and Tiburtina station in Rome, while Italo trains depart from Tiburtina and Ostiense stations. If you're staying in Rome near Termini or Ostiense, choose the respective company that serves that station in order to avoid crossing the entire city with all of your luggage.
All trains arrive in Florence Santa Maria Novella Station—sometimes written as "Firenze SMN"—the main station of the Tuscan capital. This accessible city is easily traversed on foot, although taxis are allowed to enter the car-free city center if you need to haul luggage to your hotel.
Direct flights by Alitalia get you from Leonardo da Vinci Airport (FCO) in Rome to Florence Airport (FLR) in under an hour, but the total travel time taking into account transport to the airport, checking in, going through security, and waiting at the gate is actually much longer. The train is clearly the winner in terms of transport, taking only 30 minutes more but shuttling passengers directly from city center to city center. Plus, low-cost airlines such as RyanAir don't fly to Florence, so in addition to being more of a hassle, the flight is also significantly more expensive.
Travelers on a budget can use the bus for travel to Florence for dirt cheap prices on FlixBus, sometimes for as low as $10. It takes about two to three hours longer than the train, but it's a viable option when euros are running short, especially for last-minute plans. Trains and buses both go up in price as your travel date gets closer, but if you're flexible with your departure time, you can often find bus tickets for under $20 even if purchasing for later the same day.
Buses leave Rome from Tiburtina station, and they arrive in Florence at Villa Costanza, which is about 25 minutes outside of the city center and accessible via the local tram, which takes passengers to the main train station. The tram only runs from 5:30 a.m. until midnight, so think twice before booking a late-night bus that arrives in Florence in the early morning or you may be stuck hiring a taxi, totally negating your savings by using the bus.
You won't need a car in Florence, and in fact, you can't even bring your vehicle into the historic city center, so having a car can actually be more of a headache than it's worth. Plus, trying to get out of the madness of Rome in a car is every driver's worst nightmare. When you add up the costs of the rental, gas, and tolls on Italy's autostrada highways, driving isn't very cost-effective either.
Despite the inconveniences, the journey from Rome to Florence is a beautiful one, passing through the rich countryside of Umbria and Tuscany. And even though you can enjoy the same scenery from the window of a train or bus, only a car gives you the flexibility to stop in the charming Italian villages you'll pass along the way to enjoy a hearty lunch and a local Chianti wine. You can also take day trips from Florence if you have your own vehicle, such as to nearby Pisa, with its famous leaning tower, or Siena.
What to See in Florence
Lovers of art, history, food, wine, culture, and shopping all have something to enjoy in Florence. The local cathedral, or Duomo, is one of the most impressive in all of Italy with its bright pink and green facade and massive brick dome. The Ponte Vecchio, or Old Bridge, is the only remaining bridge from Florence's medieval days, offering unbeatable views of the city along the Arno River. The Uffizi Gallery and Galleria dell'Accademia are two of the most important art museums in Europe, the latter of which is home to the Michaelangelo's "David." Travelers who love to shop will have plenty to keep themselves busy with while in Florence, from street stalls selling local handicrafts and genuine leather to high-end designer products, such as the original Gucci store. Apart from renowned Tuscan wines, other local items to try include artichoke panini, any kind of gelato, and the mouthwatering Florentine steak.