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Florence’s iconic Renaissance skyline is just the tip of the iceberg: once on the ground, you’ll find stunning art and architecture that will have you pulling out your camera at every turn. There’s so much history and so much to see, in fact, that the city can prove overwhelming when it comes to planning your itinerary. The good news is that whether you have five days on a budget or 48 hours to splurge, there’s a travel guide out there for you.
Rather than feel like you have to cross absolutely everything off your list, it can be helpful to start with a focused guide — so we’ve found ones that center in on design and luxury travel. There are also guides that take the larger region into account; after all, if you’re heading to the gateway of Tuscany, you should— schedule permitting — allow some time to explore the area's vast scenery and gastronomy. Read on for our favorite guidebooks to Florence.
Our Top Picks
Fodor's Florence & Tuscany: with Assisi and the Best of Umbria
Fodor’s is one of the biggest names in travel, and this comprehensive guide to Florence and the surrounding regions of Tuscany and Umbria is a major help for anyone planning a vacation to the region. Although it’s not specifically dedicated to Florence, we love this option for travelers who are planning a trip to the larger region, or who plan to stay in the city and use it as a base before taking off on day trips. Expect the options to fit a moderate budget, though there are suggestions for more budget activities, lodging, and dining, as well as options toward the luxury end of the scale. At 413 pages, the guide is pretty lengthy but still well laid-out and easy to use, so travelers in the midst of planning stages won’t get bogged down or overwhelmed by decisions. One note: as the guide was published in 2017, we suggest double-checking suggestions to ensure that information hasn’t changed.
Wallpaper* City Guide Florence
Florence is a destination for art-lovers, and what better tour guide to have along than a book that emphasizes architecture and design? Wallpaper*’s guide to the city presents the best of what Florence has to offer, no matter how long your stay is. There are great suggestions for those in town for 48 hours as well as those in town for a week or longer. Expect advice on the best design-driven hotels, concept stores, and gorgeous bars and restaurants that transform a simple drink or meal into an experience. Don’t expect a lot of budget suggestions — places that make it into this tightly curated book tend to come at a price — but for travelers looking to splash out on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, this guide will be perfect.
Rick Steves Florence & Tuscany
Chances are if you’re coming to Florence, you’re not going to leave without exploring the surrounding region of Tuscany at least a little, and this guide covers it all. Rick Steves has been one of the leading names in travel for decades now, so his Florence and Tuscany-focused volume doesn’t disappoint. Expect plenty of information of how to make the most of your trip, from top sights like the Uffizi Gallery and the Duomo to little-known spots that allow travelers to dine, drink, and shop like a local. The 400-odd pages are printed on thin paper, so you get all the information without the typical bulk of book that length. We love all the self-guided walking tours through the city, as well as the information on surrounding locales like Siena, Lucca, and Montepulciano — and after a busy day of sight-seeing, there’s plenty of suggestions for where you should kick back with a glass of wine.
Fodor’s Florence 25 Best
Fodor’s is one of the leading resources for travelers wanting well-curated, comprehensive destination guides and this 25 Best edition for Florence is well worth the money. Expect a quick hit of the essential things to see in the Renaissance city, with overviews of the best dining, drinking, lodging, cultural activities, and shopping. It’s easy to flip through, which is a massive plus — this doesn’t require a long sit-down read (travel planning takes enough time, after all). We particularly like this list of essentials for those in town on business and those breezing through town on a trip that might only last a few days. Fodor’s isn’t known for budget travel, but the suggestions are still accessible enough for travelers who have a moderate budget.
Clued In Florence: The Concise and Opinionated Guide to the City (2019)
Full disclosure: This unique guide is only available on Kindle, but if you're traveling with an e-Reader anyway, it's a pretty perfect fit. Florence is a dense city, with a lot to see and do, and this guide sorts out the not-worth-it sites so you get to the good stuff faster. The guide is meant to make visitors fall in love with the city, and it does a great job, dishing out suggestions like a friend who just happens to be a travel expert. There’s also a ton of practical advice that might take time to figure out on your own, like suggestions on how to tip, Florence’s unique “opening hours,” and the best way to get from the airport to city center. And for those who want to get out of the city for a day, suggestions for a day trip to Siena are also included in this handy manual.
If your travel preferences lean toward the luxe, jet-setting end of the spectrum, you’re going to want to pick up a copy of this book for your next trip to Florence. The luxury-centered book offers a comprehensive guide to the best of where to eat, sleep, go out at night, get pampered, and do a little souvenir shopping in between. There’s a ton of information packed into this little volume, so read it carefully to catch all the tips and advice woven in. There’s also a free mobile download, so if you want to travel even lighter, you can.
A Comprehensive 5-Day Travel Guide to Florence + Tuscany
This guide is designed specifically for those who don’t have a ton of time in the city, making it a wonderful resource for travelers who are coming through town on business or incorporating a stop into a larger weeks-long trip through Europe. The guide is laid out to fit many different types of travelers, from those with shoestring budgets to those with funds to throw down. There’s great information about local customs, local tour companies, and even the food you’ll find there, making this a great introduction to the city as well as a comprehensive resource once you’re past the planning stages and actually on the ground. Also, if you’ve always dreamed of being able to rattle off a bit of Italian, there are a few handy phrases tourists should know tucked in there too.
FLORENCE: A Traveler's FunBook
Flying all the way to Florence isn’t the easiest thing for kids — there’s lots of hurry-up-and-waiting and long flights with very little room to run around. This book is a lifesaver when it comes to keeping kids entertained; its 45 pages are packed full of crosswords, decoders, and word searches, as well as other games like spot-the-difference, bingo, and “Who Am I?” Best of all, the clues and answers for each puzzle are themed around Florence itself, so young travelers will start to learn about the city they’re off to visit before they even hit the ground. The book is slim enough to fit in purses and daypacks, making it easy to tote around while sightseeing. In fact, it's a great way to keep little ones occupied while waiting in line at museums, at restaurants, or on public transit.
Our writers spent 2 hours researching the most popular Florence guidebooks on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 20 different guidebooks, screened options from 15 different publishers, and read over 50 user reviews (both positive and negative). All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.