Florence

15 Things You Must Do In Florence

15 Things you must do in Florence

Florence has to be one of the most beautiful cities that I’ve visited.  So much art everywhere, it’s incredible!  Check out my Top 15 must-do things in Florence.

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15. Palazzo Pitti

You can’t miss this impressive building – it’s huge!  Head across the Ponte Vecchio, turn a corner, and, wham! there it is.  The inside is beautiful – but everything in Florence is beautiful so, unfortunately, this is number 15 and not higher on the list.

DSC_021314. Santa Reparata

love archaeology and the site of the original cathedral beneath the new Cathedral is amazing!  Make sure to visit the bones of Saint Zenobius – the first bishop of Florence.

DSC_008213. Palazzo Vecchio

The town hall of Florence.  Admittedly, the outside is more impressive than the inside, but it’s definitely worth having a look.

Gates of Paradise 412. Museo Dell’Opera del Duomo

An amazing museum with original artwork from the Cathedral, the Baptistry, and the Campanile.  The original Gates of Paradise are kept here and are incredible!

Piazza della Signoria 311. Piazza della Signora

One of the main squares in Florence, this is central to a lot of things, including the Palazzo Vecchio, the Uffizi Gallery, the Logia dei Lanzi, and is just around the corner to the Cathedral.  Make sure to check out the Fountain of Neptune, and the copy of Michelangelo’s David.

Logia dei Lanzi 210. Logia dei Lanzi

Essentially an open-air museum, with beautiful statues on display for anyone to see, the most famous of which is Perseus with the head of Medusa.

Baptistry 19. Baptistry

Unfortunately, when I visited, the entire Baptistry was covered in scaffolding(!), so I didn’t get to see how amazing it can be (which gives me an excuse to go back – not that I need one!).  The inside was gorgeous, though.  So much gold mosaic!  My favourite was the demon eating a bunch of people (morbid but amusing).

Florence Belltower 38. Florence Campanile

The main belltower in Florence, this is beautiful.  And unfortunately (again!), I didn’t get to climb it, as it was so busy, and I was only in Florence for a few days, and wanted to explore.

DSC_01517. Ponte Vecchio

The main bridge in Florence, I love all of the shops hanging over the water.  Make sure to have a nosy in the jewellery shops (although, they’re crazy expensive!).  And, if you have the money (which, unfortunately, I did not), you can maybe visit the Vasari Corridor that runs above it and connects the Palazzo Vecchio with the Palazzo Pitti.

Grotto 16. Buontalenti Grotto

I’ve never seen anything like this before.  It’s situated in the Boboli Gardens and looks like a natural cave that should be next to the sea – but is in the middle of a city.  All of the stalactites and stalagmites are amazing (I love caves), and are mixed through with statues that look like they are slowly being reclaimed by the rocks.

DSC_01305. Uffizi Gallery

One of the most famous art galleries in the world, there is so much to see here!  I’d make sure to give yourself at least a couple of hours to fully explore it (and see The Birth of Venus).

Florence Cathedral 14. Florence Cathedral

This is another one of those cathedrals that, personally, I think is more amazing outside than inside (not to say that the inside isn’t amazing – it is!).  The outside of this Cathedral is so unique and extremely beautiful (and is, thankfully, easy to find, so you can’t miss it!).

Florence 133. Wander and get lost

I know!  This should probably be number one on this list, but my first and second must-do things in Florence are even more spectacular!

David 22. Accademia

This is mainly to see Michelangelo’s David.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more impressive statue in my life (apart from the Winged Victory in the Louvre, which is my favourite statue ever!).

Boboli Gardens 231. Boboli Gardens

I could have easily spent an entire day here – I loved it!  It’s basically a garden on a bunch of hills and it’s beautiful.  The view from the top of the gardens is almost like you’ve left Florence and are in the middle of the Tuscan countryside!

Is An Interrail Pass Worth It?

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My first trip abroad alone!  As I mentioned in an earlier post, my (sad) reasoning for finally deciding to travel solo was the fact that I turn 26 in October (sad face) and Interrail tickets seem to double in price.  So, I bit the bullet, got over my fears of travelling alone (sort of – I was still super nervous until I was actually sat on the plane), and booked.

I chose the Interrail Italy Pass, which cost me around £170 at the time ($244 or 215 Euro), for 8 travel days.  I’d heard pretty decent things about the trains in Italy and I wasn’t fussed about 1st class, so I booked everything 2nd class (which saved me about £100!).

I’d decided to travel Italy by train, as I’ve been told that train travel is the best way to get around Italy (plus, I was desperate to go back to Venice!).  Those people were not wrong – trains in Italy are amazing and they get you into the centre of each city or town you arrive in!  There are noticeboards all over the stations, which tell you each individual stop, and the time the trains are arriving at each stop.  The people who worked at the stations were also happy to help if I needed (but everything was so straightforward that this hardly happened).  I would definitely recommend travelling Italy by train.

But would I do it again with an Interrail pass?  That I still haven’t decided, and here’s why:

IMG_0814(Double-decker trains in Italy!  These were a novelty for me)

First things first, if you do decide to go Interrailing, you must choose between an Interrail pass and a Eurrail pass.  Simply put, an Interrail pass is for people who live in Europe, and a Eurrail pass is for people who don’t live in Europe.  As I live in the UK, I chose an Interrail pass.

I chose the Italy Pass with 8 travel days, as I wasn’t sure how many trains I was going to need (I officially knew I was going to be travelling for 6 days, so I used my 2 leftover days for all of the trains around Cinque Terre).  On a travel day, you are allowed to take as many trains as you want, which is extremely handy.

A lot of trains in Italy (and other countries) require seat reservations.  This was a bit of a pain, as it meant that I had to pay around 10 Euro just to reserve a seat for at least half of my trains (trains in Italy are strict.  If the train requires a reservation, you are not allowed to just hop on and stand in the aisle, or at the end of the carriages – you need to have a reservation.  And if you are caught without one – or without a ticket on a non-reserved train – then you get an on-the-spot fine of around 200 Euro).  So keep in mind that this has the potential to get very expensive.  Visiting certain cities (like Milan) require you to get a reservation for every train you catch going into and out of the city, so if you were to visit the Lakes (which is roughly a 30 minute journey), you would be paying 10 Euro on top of the ticket price, just for one journey.  Unfortunately, seat reservations are not included with the Interrail pass, so do your homework beforehand and look at the regional train websites (like TrenItalia) and work out if it would be cheaper to just buy an individual ticket (for some reason, it’s cheaper to buy some tickets individually with the seat reservation included, than to just buy the seat reservation).

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I wouldn’t recommend an Interrail ticket for Eastern Europe, as my friends who have travelled by train there have told me that the trains are so cheap that it wouldn’t be worth it – and when I visited Prague last year, I found out exactly how cheap everything was (except trains, which I didn’t have time to try out).

However, travelling in Western Europe, yes, having an Interrail Pass certainly does make things easier (less tickets to carry around), the pricing works out roughly the same as buying individual tickets (but if you were to do this, buy in advance as, obviously, trains get more expensive, closer to the date of departure!)

I’m definitely going to travel Italy again by train, but next time I think I will try buying individual tickets, just to see if the pass was actually worth the money (it was definitely worth the experience, as I loved every bit of it!)

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Florence 2014

After not having travelled in five years, I visit Venice and then the next year I visited Florence.  Two holidays in two years – I was on a roll!

I travelled again with my mum and we decided to get a taxi from the airport to the hotel, as they were set at 20 Euros.  I got my first experience of Italian driving.  And it was terrifying.  If there was a space, a car would be instantly in it.  Horns honking, other drivers waving their hands in annoyance at everything.  And our taxi driver was surprisingly calm throughout all of it.  She was really chatty and pointed out sights to us, like our own personal tour guide.

I knew our hotel was near to the cathedral but I didn’t realise that you could actually see it from the windows.  The hotel was literally not even a minute away from the cathedral and it was amazing.

 Florence Cathedral 1

Again, we spent the first couple of days looking around the touristy sights – one of my favourites was Michelangelo’s David.  It was incredible!  I’d definitely recommend it.  I’d also recommend the Pitti Palace, just so you can wander around the Boboli Gardens.  They were huge, there wasn’t a flat area anywhere, I saw a newt (at least I think it was a newt), I petted a cat and I loved every bit of it.  The gardens are beautiful – so many statues and fountains!

Boboli Gardens 19

Florence is quite a small city, so my mum and I managed to see all of the touristy things that we wanted to within the first couple of days, and we had the last day to just get lost.  We also visited the archaeology bit underneath the cathedral – I saw a skull, so that was pretty cool 🙂

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If I had longer than two weeks for my upcoming holiday, then I would have tried to spend another day in Florence.  As it is, I’m really only going to be seeing the train station – I thought, only having two weeks to explore, that it’d be nice to see and experience somewhere new.

Again, roll on the end of March!

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