Where to stay: There are some really amazing Airbnb listings in Florence, so that will probably be your best option. I stayed in a hostel called Hostel Greci, which was great because I was traveling with 6 other people, so we were able to all fit into one room. This hostel doesn’t have much of a hostel atmosphere, though, and is just as expensive as an Airbnb rental. There are other hostel listings on Hostelworld, although many are just as expensive as staying in an Airbnb, so unless you’re dying to have a hostel experience I would go with Airbnb for this one!
Where to eat: Italy is the mecca of good food in Europe, and Florence definitely holds it own with that reputation. Be sure to stay away from the museums and tourist sites when choosing a place to eat, or else you’ll be stuck with subpar spaghetti with a hefty price tag. Wandering away from those areas will lead you to restaurants that locals are more likely to frequent! The hidden secret of Florence is definitely that of the “secret bakery”. These are bakeries that are open in the middle of the night while they bake their goods for the next day, and they’ll sell you products fresh out of the oven. Stephanie Castro explains where to find a few on the site Flo’n the Go.
What to do: There are some really well known things to see in Florence, and I definitely recommend that you check them out. First, head over to the Duomo and check out the building from the outside. You can (and should) climb to the top of the Duomo for spectacular views of the city. For other great views of the city, head over to the Piazzale Michelangelo, which is on a hill overlooking the city. It’s especially incredible if you visit at sunset as the Tuscan city seems to glow gold. And of course a visit to Florence would be incomplete without a visit to the Uffizi Gallery. This is where the world-famous sculpture “David” is housed, but that certainly isn’t the only thing worth seeing- there are several other Michelangelo sculptures in various states of completion that I found to be truly incredible, as they show the process of this particular Renaissance master. If you’re looking for some classic Florentine architecture, I would also recommend taking a stroll along the Ponte Vecchio (try to do this in the evening and you’ll probably find it to be less crowded).
Overall Opinion: Florence is one of my favorite cities in Italy. I absolutely love the architecture, the history, and just the vibe of the city. Plus, Tuscan wine (Chianti!) is basically the nectar of the Gods. Be sure to give this city the time it’s due, it’s a great rival to Rome on my “top places in Italy” list. If you go in the winter it’ll likely be much less crowded than it will be in the summer. The weather might be cold, but seeing this city when it isn’t swamped by tourists will be worth the jacket you’ll have to wear.