Florence is one of the best destinations in Europe for travellers seeking heaps of culture, great food and pleasant temperatures. Millions pass through this small city every year and getting around has never been easier, with options including public buses, trams, taxis, cars and of course affordable bike rental. You can get from one end of the city to another in no time at all, allowing you to take part in copious amounts of gelato eating and sightseeing in Michelangelo’s playground.
Public transport is widely used in Florence by locals and foreigners alike. The main line is run by ATAF (the buses are either orange or the newer models are a deep purple and white colour). A single ticket is valid for 90 minutes and there are a variety of options you can choose from. Purchase your tickets from authorised sales points (tobacconists, bars, newsagents: anyone with ‘ATAF’ stickers on their shop windows). You can also buy tickets and maps from the ATAF booth in Piazza Stazione (on the left as you exit the station). Call the ProntoAtaf hotline toll-free within Italy (800 424500) or obtain more information online at www.ataf.net.
Travelling by bus in Florence can be a frustrating experience. Diverted routes are common, meaning that your journey can often take longer than it should. Rush hour sees most buses packed to the gunnels, and bus services don’t run overnight. Nor are there any specific night buses, but they will occasionally run until late at night if there’s a special city-sponsored event on.
On the plus side, there are plenty buses around, with air conditioning in the summer, and wheelchair accessibility. More and more bus stops now have real-time displays of arrival times, and you can now buy your tickets via SMS on your mobile. Just send a text saying ‘ATAF’ to 4880105 before getting on the bus. The cost of the ticket is 1.20€ plus the cost of the text message, which will vary according to the operator.
When it comes to tickets, if you’re going to be a regular users of the buses, opt for the ‘Carta Agile’. This is a discounted bulk ticket which allows 10 trips for 10€ or 20 trips for 20€. Instead of stamping the card at the machine, you will swipe it in front to start your trip.
Outside of Florence the bus lines are CAP, FlorentiaBus, Lazzi and Sita (now called BusItalia).
Florence only has one electric tram line, the T1, which runs from its own station on Via Alamanni (close to the Santa Maria Novella train station) to the suburbs of Scandicci. Calling in at 14 different stops along the way, an end-to-end journey takes around 25 minutes, operating from 05:30 to midnight every day.
The tram is a frequent, reliable service, and is definitely the easiest way to reach Scandicci. Within the city centre, it stops off at Cascine, Florence’s largest park. You can expect to pay the same for the tram as you would on the bus. The T1 doesn’t operate at night, however – the last tram leaves at midnight.
Florence is an unusual city in that it’s not customary to flag down a taxi in the street. Instead, you will need to either find a taxi rank or book ahead (taxis do tend to arrive quickly after you’ve called). There are two major taxi companies in the city – Taxi Radio (tel 055 4499/4390) and Taxi Socota (tel 055 4242 or 055 4798).
Rates tend to be quite confusing, and the best thing to do is confirm the price with the driver as soon as you get into the cab. Bear in mind that there’s a baggage supplement too (currently 1€ per suitcase).
Renting a bike
Navigating Florence by bike is a great way to get to know the city up close, as well as save money on parking and get a little exercise at the same time. There several bike rental options scattered across the city.
Sponsored by the municipality of Florence, the ‘Mille e una Bici’ service was set up to promote the use of bikes by the city’s population. You can pick up a rental bike at various locations, including the central railway station, Campo di Marte and Rifredi railway stations and Piazza Ghiberti. To hire a bike for a whole costs a reasonable 10€.
Take the tourist bus
As in many cities, an ideal way to cover lots of ground with minimal hassle is to jump on the city sightseeing bus. These open top buses take you round the city’s most important monuments, and provide you with multi-lingual audio guides so you can hear a little history along the way. Hop on and hop off as many times as you like, depending on which sights take your fancy.
City Sightseeing Firenze is the operator of the Florence City Sightseeing tours, and clients of GowithOh automatically receive a discount to the service.
Activities & tours in Florence to book online
All Tours & Activities in Florence
Parking in Florence
While public transport is usually a much better option for getting around Florence, there are several parking zones dotted around the historical city centre. Be careful not to drive into town during the ZTL hours (every day apart from Sunday until 19:30). The official website with all the parking information is http://www.firenzeparcheggi.it/.
If you drive along the Arno River, you can park anywhere you see a ‘blue line’/pay parking area – just park and find a machine nearby to buy the ticket. Remember to display it on your windshield.