Florence is an unmissable travel destination - a stunning setting for some of the world's most iconic art and architecture

The city of Florence has a near mythical status for many travellers, so much so that its 380,000 strong population is heavily outnumbered by tourists, especially during high season.

For a more relaxing holiday and a better chance of obtaining the most economical airplane tickets from Cape Town or Johannesburg , avoid the heat and the crowds of the month of August and choose to travel in Spring. Your flight will arrive at Florence Airport, Peretola, about 5km from the city centre. The journey time from Johannesburg can be as little as 14 hours.

Italy is both a Eurozone and a Schengen Area member state, so please consult the relevant regulations and customs
section of the Air France website before your stay. The same website also hosts useful information on health precautions worth taking before travelling.

More than any other city, Florence epitomizes the European Renaissance and masterpieces from this period - in stone, marble and on canvas - abound. Florence became extremely prosperous between the 13th and 16th centuries, especially during the time of the Medici family.

Florence is compact enough and the main sights sufficiently grouped together for walking to be the best way of seeing the city. An excellent place to start is the Piazzale Michelango, which offers tremendous views of the city, helping you to get your bearings and plan your next move! Many people also climb Giotto's bell tower (the Campanile) for a different perspective on Florence, but the classic Florence viewpoint has to be from the very top of the dome of the Duomo, well over 100 metres above ground level. This architectural marvel is still the fourth largest church in Europe and its revolutionary dome design remains the largest brick dome ever to have been built.

The world's finest art galleries and the rough and tumble of the historic sport of calcio storico, Florence has it all

Florence is renowned for the quality of its public art galleries, the most famous of which has to be the Uffizi. There is no greater collection of Italian Renaissance paintings on display anywhere in the world, with gems by Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Caravaggio amongst the must-sees.
A stone's throw away is the Piazza della Signoria and the Palazzo Vecchio, long the heart of Florentine politics and society. Here you can see Michelango's outsized statue of David, Goliath's nemesis. If you'd like a change from Renaissance art, the Palazzo Pitti on the other side of the Arno River, contains 19th and 20th century painting, silver, porcelain and even museums of costumes and carriages, all housed in what was the main residence of the Medici family from the mid 1600s onwards.
Florence, like all Italian cities, is also famous for its beautiful churches and other religious buildings.
The best-loved, in addition to the Duomo, are:
  • San Miniato al Monte
  • Santa Croce
  • Florence Synagogue
  • Convento di San Marco
  • Santa Maria Novella
  • San Lorenzo
If you are in Florence in late June or early July, you may catch a glimpse of another side to the city in the shape of the 'calcio storico' matches held in the Piazza di Santa Croce. The physicality of this forerunner of the game of modern football makes for an interesting contrast with Florence's more traditionally artistic attractions!
Finally, it's worth remembering that although accommodation in Florence is plentiful, the sheer variety of places to stay means that you may need a little help in choosing!

These holiday websites will take the headache out of planning your trip to Florence!

Here is a selection of handy tourist information websites for the city of Florence: