The powerhouse of the Renaissance and one of the world’s most artistic cities, Florence rarely fails to impress. Set in a wide valley over the uber-romantic Arno River in the northern reaches of Tuscany, it’s a handsome conglomeration of domes and terracotta spires and one particularly majestic Duomo. Most will come to seek out the masterpieces, whether that’s Michelangelo’s David or the endless portraits of the Uffizi Gallery (one of the best in Italy). Others plan honeymoons between the atmospheric cobbled lanes, or jet in for a city break before escaping to the vineyards and medieval hill towns that swirl all around.
Airbnb in Florence is a sure way to source top-notch accommodation. The service lists thousands of options all over town, often with enticing deals on weekly and long-term rentals. There’s also a great mix of different styles of stay. They go from romantic pads for loved-up couples to family villas dotting the Tuscan hillsides nearby. Here’s a guide to finding your perfect Florentine flat via Airbnb this year…
Although the local authorities in Florence have been considering limits to Airbnb-style rentals for some years, the service still operates 100% as normal in the enthralling city. You’re free to scan all the listings there are across the UNESCO centre and the outskirts and book as you please. There are no restrictions on what you can rent, where you can rent, or how long you can stay. You may need to pay a local tourist tax for each booked night, and provide documentation like passports or ID when you check-in, but all that is usually handled efficiently by your individual Airbnb host on arrival.
Where should I stay in Florence Airbnb?
The City Centre(1) of Florence is the area you’ve probably seen on the postcards (it’s home to the Duomo and the most iconic art galleries), but nearby Santa Croce(2) also boasts fantastic churches and tasty Tuscan eateries. Going southwards over the Arno River means entering the interesting Oltrarno(3), where workshops rub shoulders with grand 18th-century villas and gardens. To the north is happening San Marco(4) with its bars and traffic-filled piazzas. Then you’ve got the gritty but cheap train station area of Santa Maria Novella(5). Further out from the city, it’s also possible to find charming family getaways in the Apennine foothills around the village of Fiesole(6).
Attractions on every street corner
Loads of Airbnb options
Coffee shops, ice cream and food wherever you look!
Probably the most expensive part of town
Locals refer to the heart of Florence as, simply, the City Centre. It’s the part of the town that bears that coveted UNESCO World Heritage tag and offers all the most enthralling sights and attractions. You’ll almost certainly pay a premium to bag an Airbnb here, but it could be worth it. The Uffizi Gallery, the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio will be right on the doorstep. There are cafés and trattoria everywhere you look, too. Generally speaking: Footfall is high but you’ll be in the thick of the action.
Shh! Santa Croce might just be the last hidden gem of downtown Florence. Lots of Florentines still gather in the small cafeterias for their morning espressos here. Loads still head out to dine on rustic Tuscan fare and glug a bottle of Chianti after dark. Push east past the main Piazza Santa Croce to find some of the top osterias and wine bars the regional capital has to offer. Oh, and don’t miss the stunning Basilica of Santa Croce, with its marble-dressed façade and Gothic spires.
The Oltrarno is an umbrella term for all of the neighbourhoods that sit just over the south side of the Arno River, all of which share the same sort of off-beat, bohemian feel. Once a major artisan hub, there are still oodles of workshops selling hand-worked leather and jewellery in the vicinity. To swap that for buzzy beer bars and wine cellars, consider seeking Airbnbs nearer to vibrant Piazza Santo Spirito. The other bonus of Oltrarno is the lookout points above, coalescing around the edges of the elegant Boboli Gardens.
The vast quarter of Santa Maria Novella makes up the north-western end of the city. It’s a place of two sides. Close to San Lorenzo is where you can seek out stylish independent guesthouses with regal rooms and good access to the Arno boulevards. Around the eponymous train station is where things get a little less savoury, although there are some serious bargains to be had if you don’t mind hearing a little traffic from the window.
Looking for a great escape? Look no further. Fiesole is all about getting a taste of rural, rustic Tuscany. The region’s draped over the rolling Apennine foothills that rise to the north of Florence. The Airbnb range is typically stone-built farmhouses and small flats in groves of cypress trees. They aren’t the option if you’re keen to see all the sights and visit the Uffizi. They are the option if you want to sunbathe, smell the pine forests, visit wineries, and take it slow.
San Marco district centres on the bustling piazza of the same name, just a stone’s throw to the north of the main UNESCO heart of town. It’s a hubbub of life virtually 24 hours a day. Mornings see students dodging the rush-hour traffic on bikes. Evenings see locals gathering for Aperitivo in street-side bars in the surrounding alleys. There’s a bit of extra grit and down-to-earth energy in the air, which means you’ll get a feel for lived-in Florence at its most happening in these parts.
Compact but dignified, this beautiful Airbnb Plus listing will transport you to the area between San Marco and the City Centre. You’ll be a short walk from the Galleria dell’Accademia and the Duomo, but also within reach of the riverside and old town. When you’re done sightseeing, retire back to the pad for Nespresso coffee and a rainfall shower in a marble-clad bathroom.
Retreat to the quiet backstreets of the Oltrarno district on the southern side of the Arno to find this lovely townhouse hidden behind its own centuries-old arch. The interiors ooze Tuscan charm – think terracotta floors and polished real-stone walls (some of which used to be a part of the city’s ancient fortifications). There’s room enough for four in total over 60 square metres of rental.
You simply cannot find a better front-row seat over the eye-wateringly wonderful Church of Santa Croce than the one on offer from the loggia of this family-sized flat. The terrace opens up beautifully to offer side-on views of the Franciscan basilica. Inside, there’s a bright and comfy communal area with designated lounging and dining spaces. You’ll also get four individual bedrooms that can host up to seven guests in all.
If you don’t mind ditching the Duomo and heading a few hills over from the Ponte Vecchio, the luxurious grounds of Villa Belvedere can host your whole group within a stone’s throw of Florence. With space for up to 16 guests, it boasts a gorgeous pool and sundeck combo with sweeping views across the Tuscan hills. Inside has modern kitchen and living quarters, while BBQ areas and al fresco eating await in the gardens.
Under $50 a night should be enough to secure this small but cosy apartment on the edge of the Ponte Vecchio (a great location for launching sightseeing and shopping trips in Florence). It maximises its living space by making use of a mezzanine bedroom area, and there’s a fitted kitchenette so you can cut costs even further with a touch of self-catering.
Hotels in Florence are actually among some of the priciest in Italy – this is one of the country’s cultural and artistic hubs, after all! On the flip side, travelers are often pleasantly surprised by the cost of Airbnb rentals. They’ll typically range from around $10 to anything over $400 a night in the shoulder season, with the biggest selection around the $80-90 a night mark.
That said, there are still some bonuses to picking a hotel in Florence. First off, most will be really close to the legendary museums and landmarks that put the city on the map, either in the UNESCO centre or a short walk away. In addition, you’ll get frills in a hotel that Airbnb digs just don’t provide – think buffet breakfasts to fuel that sightseeing and on-site spas and pools. A prime example would be the well-rated Student Hotel Florence Lavagnini, where a rooftop garden offers sweeping urban panoramas and guests enjoy extra features like a dedicated fitness center.
Florence is filled with wonders. One moment you’ll be gazing at the sculpted outline of Michelangelo’s David. The next, you could be scaling the domes of one of Italy’s most famous cathedrals. Then, you’ll be on to shopping over the Ponte Vecchio or dining on Tuscan cooking in local osterias. Don’t miss it!