If you are considering Venice or Florence for yourItalian adventure this yearbut if this city isn't right for you, then you've come to the right place. In this guide, we'll take a closer look at both cities to highlight seven important things. From the general atmosphere of each city to the type of sightseeing you can expect in both, it will highlight some of the highlights among travelers heading to the land of risottos and Roman ruins.
The truth is that both places are pretty amazing. There is Venice, the legendary city of canals, carved by mighty waterways and adorned with opulent Renaissance palaces. Then it isFirenze, once Michelangelo's bustling precinct, where colossal art galleries line the incredibly romantic Arno River. We have a wanderlust for both!
It would be best to tick these two on the same trip. There are now high-speed trains connecting Venice and Florence in just over two hours. But if that's just not an option and youat havetake your pick, read on for tips to help you decide…
Venice or Florence for sights and attractions?
Florence rolls up the hills of Arezzo in northern Tuscany to meet the winding Arno River. In this way, it offers glimpses of some of the country's most romantic and iconic landmarks. At the top of the list is undoubtedly this magnificent Duomo, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Flowers. It soars high thanks to its tiled domes and marble facades, Giotto's bell tower (perhaps the most beautiful bell tower in the world?) and Michelangelo's equally hidden works.
Speaking of Michelangelo, you can go north of the cathedral to seeGallery of the Florentine Academyin San Marco, where the legendary statue of StDavidis accommodated. You can also go the other way, where the Uffizi gallery houses more valuable works such as Da Vinci and Botticelli. Finally, Florence also has the beautiful Ponte Vecchio (photo if ever there was one) and Piazzale Michelangelo viewpoints that take in both the jagged Tuscan mountains and the city.
Venice needs no introduction. Tourists don't even have a moment to blink as they wind along the Grand Canal and under the carved Ponte di Rialto, where Shakespeare set some of his scenes.
The whole city is centered on the mighty Piazza San Marco, which reigns aszEurope's largest medieval square. Start there when landmarks appear close and fast - the bell tower towering over you, the big oneDoge's Palaceon the side the Basilica of San Marco with oriental motifs and filigree domes. To get away from it all, head to Murano's glass workshops, sunbathe on the city's beaches or the spy collections at the Leonardo da Vinci Museum or the National Archaeological Museum in Venice (both excellent).
Winner:To draw. Sorry, but these are two of Italy's most iconic cities, filled with some of Italy's most iconic sights.
Venice or Florence for food?
Food is of course an important factor when planning a trip to Italy. The good news is that both cities offer the taste of Mediterranean cuisine you're looking for. However, they are not copies of each other. No, they draw from a rustic regionTuscany, known for its simple peasant cuisine and rich wine, while the other draws influence from the Alps and the Adriatic Sea.
The flavors of Florence are about the tasty landscapes of the surrounding region: Tuscany. Expect thick venison, rich red wine sauces, highland spices as well as heavy pastas and crusty bread filled with porchetta. There's a reason why this part of the country is hailed as a culinary mecca, so be sure to try the local delicacies:
- Lampredotto- Don't be put off by the fact that this crispy venison bread is made from the fourth stomach of a cow. It's a salty, filling surprise when baked in vegetable broth and sprinkled with spices.
- Tomato soup- This thick soup consists of two of Tuscany's most important ingredients: bread and tomatoes. It comes with strong basil and thyme and can be served hot or cold.
- Tagliatelle with boletus and truffles- The capital of Tuscany is one of the best places to experience the richness of the forest, which is why this pasta dish is packed with mushrooms and truffles. It tastes best in August, when boletus is in season.
In Venice there is a more delicate balance of flavours. The bubbles of the Prosecco region are joined by seafood from the Adriatic Sea (have you heard that?), and also accents of German and Austrian cuisine. You can eat several dishesmustflavors while walking around the famous city of Canals are:
- Sarde free– Vinegar soaked sardines, caught in the Adriatic Sea.
- Risotto with squid ink- A combination of squid ink from the sea and rice harvest from the Veneto region, this strong and spicy dish is typical of Venice.
- SprayingNot a dish but a drink, the ubiquitous Spritz is now the drink of choice among skiers and sunbathers the world over. It was actually invented in Venice, so try it like the locals d-from Campari instead of Aperol.
Winner:Florence - Tuscan food is just something else!
Venice or Florence for the overall atmosphere?
Venice has been in the news in recent yearsdue to overtourism. Locals have criticized the inundation of travelers and the environmental damage to their floating city by huge cruise ships docking in the summer months, and laws have since been introduced to prevent such large ships from entering the city. But it's not just about the ships - Venice is one of the most visited city break destinations on the continent, attracting millions to its water-filled streets.
You can definitely see it. Perhaps here more than anywhere else in Italy, the hordes of people taking pictures are more noticeable, especially since there is not much space between the Adriatic Sea and the rippling canals. Unless you arrive in the middle of winter, just get used to the crowded places and the certain lack of local authenticity. But really, there is no place like Venice anywhere in the world.
Firenzeit has an old core that is a real tourist magnet. It is located on the north bank of the Arno River, roughly from the bank to the center of San Marco. However, it is almost never as busy as Venice and remains an indelible place to live. Yes, there are queues around the Uffizi Gallery and Accademia Gallery, but you can still find a seat at an outdoor cafe for people-watching with only locals for company.
Furthermore, Florence is actually the beating heart of Tuscany, as well as an important economic and university city. It has areas teeming with everyday life in a way that the Venetian archipelago could only dream of. Head to Sant'Ambrogio to see the regional markets for cheese, wine and crusty bread. Head to San Frediano for cocktail bars in old warehouses.
Winner:Florence. Venice is VERY touristy. Florence is more like a real, lived-in Italian city.
Venice or Florence for nightlife?
There's something theregood party for getting through itin both cities. However, we would say that Florence is generally a bit livelier…
Yes, the capital of Tuscany has three districts that give it that extra energy when the sun hides behind the Arezzo mountains on the horizon. The first is Santa Croce, actually the main road to the city's party scene. There you can wander along Via de Benci and Corso de Tintori - both are long stretches of restaurants and cocktail bars. Then head to San Frediano, a hipster club favored by students, where you'll find bolder venues and edgier rock pubs. There is also Santo Spirito, perfect for outdoor drinks and aperitivo in the piazzas.
However, don't dismiss Venice entirely for its nightlife. The city has some good choices. The best of them is in the heart of the student district on the west side of the Grand Canal. Look out over the wide, open Campo Santa Margherita, a sparse cobbled square set back from the waterways but full of bustling beer halls and taps. From there, the party scene continues north as far as the narrow Salizada San Pantalon. Good nightlife can also be found in the markets below the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi near the Rialto Bridge.
Venice or Florence for travel convenience?
Florence has an airport, but it is not the largest in Tuscany. Look for him in Peretola in the northwest part of the city. Many airlines arrive, including premium flag carriers such as Lufthansa (with a convenient connection to the Frankfurt hub) and Air France (with a similarly convenient connection to CDG).
However, there is a noticeable lack of cheap flights to Florence, as the budget part of the market is mainly focused on nearby Pisa. That said, be sure to check out Vueling, which has affordable flights from Gatwick, Madrid and Prague, to name a few. We would say that the best way to get to Florence is by high-speed train. They arrive daily from Venice (yes!), Milan and Rome and reach speeds of 300 km/h. Driving is also made easy as the main road that runs through the spine of Italy, from Calabria in the south to South Tyrol in the north, crosses the town.
Venice is definitely not that central for people who come by car, for exampleRom. It's tucked away in the far northeast corner of Italy, a long (but scenic) 6-hour drive from the capital. However, it has two main airports. The former is mainly outsourced to low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and easyJet. This is in Treviso in the north.
The other, the large Marco Polo Airport in Venice, serves major airlines and offers arrivals from the Middle East and North America as well as several European hubs. There is also another great way to get to Venice: by boat. Ferries run from both Croatia and Greece, providing a way to connect other sun-drenched Adriatic countries with this stunning cityscape.
Winner:To draw. Venice has both and two airports, but Florence is more central in Italy.
Budget Venice or Florence?
We'll just go ahead and say this: Neither Venice nor Florence are great destinations if that's the casetraveling on a budget. Together with Rome and Milan, both cities are among the most expensive places in De Laars. Of course, there are ways to cut costs - eat at local markets, stay in hostels - but you might want to consider a smaller regional town in southern Italy if you really don't have the energy for it.
Venice in particular is famous for its high mid-season prices. They are growing at a dizzying pace as cruise ships (which should be completely stopped by now) and package tourists arrive in droves. We were looking for a hostel for one night in August 2018 and practically nothing was under €80 ($93)!
A big part of the problem is that Venice's Old Town (the area known as the Venetian Lagoon) is limited by the size of the islands. There is no room for new construction and new hotels. This is part of the charm, but also keeps the home in one market. The only alternative is to stay on the mainland in Mestre, but remember that you have to take the train every morning to see the main sights.
It is a similar story in Florence, where the mainCenter UNESCOThere are hotels in the area that can quadruple in the high season from May to August. Fortunately, Florence isn't an island, so you can head a little south or north to find cheaper accommodation that's still close to the sights – areas like Sant'Ambrogio and boho San Lorenzo are good options.
You can also go to more local neighborhoods like Campo di Marte and Santo Spirito, where restaurants cost a fraction of the price in the center.
Winner:Florence, because you can at least get away from the extremely expensive tourist areas on foot.
Venice or Florence for history?
No matter which of these cities you go to, you won't be short of history. Both played a very important role in the development of modern Italy. Both are full of fascinating monuments and attractions that tell the story of the great golden ages. Venice is known for its former trading empire that stretched all the way to the eastern Aegean coast. You can visit the place where it came from by going to the Doge's Palace in Piazzetta San Marco. In the nearby basilica of St. Mark's Cathedral has fantastic oriental influences, as well as the impressive Correr Museum with collections detailing the city's very history from its earliest days.
Florence was founded about 2,000 years ago by a certain Julius Caesar. However, the Golden Age came when the Medici came to power in Italy through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. These are the people who brought wealth to the city and built many of the magnificent palaces and churches that we see today. They also made Florence a center for artists, which is why you can come here to see masterpieces such asThe Birth of Venusand MichelangeloDavid. Florence is also a good base from which to explore the many historic Etruscan cities around Tuscany.
Winner:To draw. Both cities have a rich history.
Venice or Florence for day trips and sightseeing in Italy?
For many travelers, a ticket to Venice or Florence will be a springboard to the Italian countryside. It's hard to blame them. Yes, cities are great for culture lovers, but when you're away from UNESCO World Heritage sites, there are so many things to do that it's hard to ignore the appeal of a day trip.
Let's start with Venice. Shorter tours here can take you from the hustle and bustle of Piazza San Marco to the quieter edge of the Venetian lagoon. Why not take a trip to Murano, the city's famous glassworks district? Or do you prefer dazzling walks around Venice Lido for sunbathing and swimming? Both can be reached by local vaporetto water taxis, so planning your trip is very easy. For those who like to venture further afield, consider:
- Prosecco(1.5 hour drive) - Wine lovers can head east to sample wines in this growing region on the Slovenian border.
- Belluno(1.2 hour drive) - Welcome to the Dolomites. This picturesque mountain town is on the brink of some of the world's most dramatic hikes!
- Padova(0.5 hour drive) - Two UNESCO World Heritage Sites and some of Italy's most beautiful churches and frescoes make Padua a destination for art lovers.
Florence is the gateway to northern Tuscany, which is undoubtedly one of the most romantic and beautiful corners of Italy. Head south to see rolling farms dotted with Mediterranean cypress trees. Head north to reach the Apennines, where you can swim, hike and grow eco-farms. Some of the attractions in this region are:
- Pizza(1.5 hour drive) - See the Leaning Tower of Pisa in one of Tuscany's most attractive locations.
- They are from Gimignano(1 hour drive) - Prepare to be enchanted by this fairytale town on a hill. Espresso on the square, anyone?
- Chianti(1.2 hour drive) - Italy's red wine mecca, Chianti is a fertile valley between mountains and hills with some of the best cellar doors in the area.
Winner:To draw. It's Tuscany against the Alps.
Venice or Florence for romance?
It's difficult because both Italian cities are known for their romantic side. Newlyweds heading to Venice will be faced with a host of painful things to do. Hardly a day goes by without a proposal near the Rialto Bridge, while long, lazy lunches of frutti de mare pasta near Venice's Lido can be preceded by a leisurely ride in a traditional gondola. There are also many very nice hotels in Venice for romantic travelers such asHotel Daniela($$$)and exquisiteHilton Mill($$$).
Florence has a look and charm that goes with everything, but you must miss the gondola rides in these parts. Instead, a honeymoon to this Italian city is all about seeing priceless works of art at the Uffizi Gallery and then climbing the Piazzale Michelangelo vantage points to watch the sunset over Ponte Vecchio and the Arno River. Another real highlight of Florence is that you can stay in Tuscany, where there are charming agriturismo hotels with farm-to-table restaurants and swimming pools.
Winner:Just Venice. Don't forget that Florence is your ticket to Tuscany, one of the most romantic parts of Italy.
Venice or Florence for families?
There is no doubt that every member of the family will be delighted with Venice. It is a city you will never forget. The labyrinth of canals and hidden places often delights both the youngest and older generations. Then they see the larger monuments - the Doge's Palace, St. Brand and others - and these glories reach new heights. Venice on the other hand is VERY expensive for a family vacation and can be difficult to navigate if you are traveling with a full crew.
Florence doesn't have that last problem so much. Yes, it's still expensive, but nowhere near Venice's level during the main holiday seasons (where you'll likely be on the move a lot if you're traveling with kids). You'll also get some great cool draws here, such as the Galileo Museum, which focuses on the amazing discoveries of its namesake in the 16th centurymiw 17micenturies. Another reason we like Florence for families is the food. Venice is more focused on seafood and expensive restaurants. Florence is an opportunity to taste the spicy pasta of Tuscany, which is generally better for all ages.
Winner:Florence, but not a HUGE distance.
Venice or Florence for individual travelers?
If you are going there on your own and looking for a place that is easy to get to, full of the best hostels and ideal for meeting people, Florence should be your choice here. We traveled to Venice on our own and noticed a distinct lack of quality dorms aimed at solo globetrotters (we ended up staying in an old monastery for $25 a night - not ideal!). However, there are good accommodation options for backpackers in Florence, and there are communal areas and bars on site. They are great for mingling with other travelers and companionship for exploration.
Also, it can be harder to get into the more local scene in Venice. Much of that continues in the new mainland town of Mestre, while the main entertainment centers are quite far from the tourist traps of San Marco. In Florence, they are woven into the fabric of the city and you can just wander from one neighborhood to another to try the local trattorias, find lively student bars on the weekends and family restaurants that welcome you at any time. if you are alone or in a large group.
Winner:Florence. It is a town more populated and ready for backpackers.
Will it be Venice or Florence? We think both places will surprise you. However, they are very different.
Venice is a northern Italian city strongly associated with the sea, with seafood and salty canals instead of cobbled streets. Florence is a vibrant, lived-in metropolis with a center teeming with stunning art and architecture. It is also the gateway to the super-romantic Tuscany.
Overall, we'd say it all comes down to personal choice, although the best option would be to hop on a fast train and experience both places in the same trip.
How long will I spend in Venice or Florence?
We think that three or four days are ideal for a holiday in both cities. Each has lots of art and churches, beautiful street scenes and amazing galleries. A long weekend is usually enough to get you through all the big events without being overwhelmed. Then consider extending your trip by adding adventures to nearby destinations, whether it's the Dolomites from Venice or the hills of Tuscany from Florence.
What is the best time of year to visit Venice or Florence?
The high season in both cities is in the middle of summer, but we don't want to put it that waythe bestit's time. This honor rolls over into the fall. The months of September and October remain warm in Italy, but are much less crowded than between June and August. They also see harvest festival celebrations in Tuscany and loss of cruise ship traffic in Venice.