I knew that we would spend part of our honeymoon in Florence; I left part of my heart there when I studied abroad. Florence was a no brainer for me. If we were going to have our honeymoon in Europe, we were going to Florence. My husband, who had no previous attachment to Florence (or Europe), loved our time there, too. I would say that it’s now one of his favorite places too. In what is an unofficial marriage agreement, I require that my feet touch Florentine soil regularly. So far I’ve gotten away with at least once a year since 2015.
Our honeymoon in Florence was absolutely magical. There are no other words to describe the days we spent in Florence. I think Florence is one of the best places in Italy to honeymoon. It was equally as magical as the time we spent in Paris for our honeymoon (or any other time). At the end of our trip, Tom asked me where I would buy a house in Europe, and I said Florence. It may always be Florence. After all the time I’ve spent there, I still find new things to do and have a restaurant list that is a mile long.
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Our Europe / Italy Honeymoon Itinerary Details:
- 4 nights in romantic Rome. We flew into FCO to start our Italian honeymoon.
- 3 nights in Florence, including our first (and extra special) stay at the St. Regis Florence! This is, without a doubt in my mind, the best place to stay in Florence for your honeymoon!
- 3 nights in mysterious and romantic Venice
- 4 nights in perfect Paris, including our a photo session with L’Amour de Paris. Paris was so beautiful and so lovely that we skipped London to stay in Paris longer.
- 2 nights on a road trip in Ireland. Our final stop was a short road trip around the Irish countryside before flying back from DUB.
Because Tom had never been to Europe, he was insistent on seeing the three big cities in Italy. I typically like pairing cities with smaller towns and villages, so I think it would be great to add some time in Tuscany or Umbria to your honeymoon itinerary. I think Borgo dei Conti would be a lovely experience for part of your honeymoon if you wanted to really slow down between Florence and Rome. If you need more Tuscany hotel ideas, I’ve got you covered with every romantic experience imaginable for your honeymoon.
Florence Honeymoon Hotel Recommendations
I need to preface this hotel discussion with a couple of comments about why I will always choose the St. Regis Florence when I can.
One, when we decided to postpone our original honeymoon because of work, the St. Regis Florence was very kind and very understanding. They were so great about it that I wasn’t not going to give them the business when we re-booked.
Two, the St. Regis Florence has the best hotel staff of almost anywhere we’ve stayed in Europe. They truly go above and beyond to make our experiences memorable. Even when we book with a few hours notice (see New Year’s Eve 2018), they always make us feel like valued guests. Even after 9 stays, it never feels routine.
We’ve stayed at other luxury hotels in Florence; the St. Regis staff is unparalleled.
Three, no two rooms are the same and the hotel was designed by Brunelleschi. It doesn’t get more Florentine than that.
The St. Regis Florence
With those comments out of the way, for me, there is only one address for your honeymoon in Florence: the St. Regis Florence. Out of all our European honeymoon hotels, the St. Regis is the most romantic hotel we stayed in. And, every detail of our stay was perfect. From being escorted to our suite by Stephanie, the manager, to all the memorable notes and itinerary ideas that Andrea, our butler, left for us, to the doorman who provided explicit directions to our cab driver to mitigate traffic so that we didn’t miss the Piazza Michelangelo at sunset, no detail is overlooked by the staff at this hotel.
We were fortunate to be upgraded to a junior suite for our honeymoon, but every single one of the St. Regis rooms are lovely. I tend to reserve rooms with a river view, but even our rooms without a river view have been beautiful. (Check out all the different St Regis Florence rooms we’ve stayed in since 2015! It’s impossible to choose a favorite!) I find the St. Regis rooms to be the most beautiful of all the Florence hotels I’ve stayed in because of the style. I love the rich fabrics and wall coverings, the chandeliers, and of course, the comfortable beds. (This last point cannot be understated. My mom still comments on the hotel beds where we stayed at in 2010. Location trumped comfort in that case.)
Another reason that the St. Regis is great for your honeymoon is beau case of the spa. The Iridium Spa is also a great perk because it is on property and right downstairs from your room! This might be the most beautiful spa I’ve ever been in, ever. It’s worth booking a treatment just to see the beautiful details. Personally, I really enjoy the custom massages; they are my New Year’s Eve ritual! I also used the spa to get my make-up done before our Florence photo session.
Lastly, I love the location for a romantic trip to Florence. You are only three bridges away from the Ponte Vecchio but you can still enjoy the views of it from your river-view room. It is far enough away from the crowds to be quiet while also being close enough that you can walk to all the beautiful sites of Florence. You can sit on your balcony with wine and enjoy the sounds of the Arno River. (Naps with the sounds of the river are also lovely.) I love the quiet walk back from the city center at night.
Bonus: The St. Regis is actually closer to some of Florence’s more delicious, less-touristy restaurants. You might have better luck over here than wandering in random restaurants in the city center. Their concierge has also been most effective at getting us restaurant reservations.
Gallery Hotel Art
If the St. Regis isn’t in your budget, a few other luxury Florence hotels I would encourage you to check out are the Lungarno Collection. We’ve stayed with them a couple times when the St. Regis wasn’t available and when we took our families to Florence.
I think the best bang for your buck is the Gallery Hotel Art though I LOVE the Hotel Lungarno. The Gallery Hotel Art is located right behind the Ponte Vecchio on a quiet square. It is a great location if you want to be close to the action. Many of the rooms face the interior of the building, so they are quiet. We’ve stayed on the first floor and the sixth floor and haven’t noticed a big difference in terms of noise. (The Continentale and the Portrait are adjacent to this square as well.)
Designed by Salvatore Ferragamo, the decor is more modern and minimalist than the St. Regis. They are quite a bit smaller than the St. Regis rooms as well, but they are well-laid out and a very efficient use of space. Bathrooms are large by any standard, but especially European standards. We’ve stayed here a few times in various rooms. In 2023, we were upgraded to one of their suites, and it was very nice.
Beyond the prime location, the rates at the Gallery Hotel Art can be extremely reasonable. That makes it one of the best places to stay in Florence and what led us to book the first time. When we stayed over Thanksgiving, we were about to get a buy 3 nights, get 1 free rate that included breakfast. This proved to be a pretty good deal, though I wouldn’t necessarily pay for breakfast if it’s not included in your rate. (We aren’t breakfast people.) We were given a card at check in with reciprocal benefits at the other Lungarno properties. I ended up getting a massage at the White Iris Spa at the Continentale. The massage was good, but I did feel very rushed from check in to check out.
I you’re looking for a cozy, romantic hotel that is also a fantastic value in the heart of Florence, this is a wonderful option. The rooms are quite lovely and the location is amazing, especially if you are visiting Florence for the first time.
Tips for Dining in Florence
Eating in Florence is tricky. On one hand, there are a lot of restaurants. My list of Florence restaurants to try gets longer the more that I research. On the other hand, there are a lot of tourist traps and its easy to make mistakes in Italy. You need to do a lot of research and planning. Don’t just expect to pop into a restaurant and have a good meal.
Pro Tip #1: You will probably need a reservation. Most tasty restaurants in Florence are fairly small. If you don’t speak enough Italian, have your concierge call. (We’ve found that the St. Regis concierge can almost always get us into restaurants if we don’t have reservations.)
Pro Tip #2: Don’t be afraid of cheap eats in Florence. The panini in Florence are nothing like Subway or other sandwich chains in the US. Similarly, the 5 euro pasta on the ground floor of the Mercato Centrale is one of my favorite quick meals – especially when polished off with an occhi di bue cookie.
Pro Tip #3: Find a square and have at least one meal at a restaurant where you can enjoy the ambiance of it. For me, the best meal that we’ve had on a square is in Santo Spirito. Even though it was winter, they had heat lamps and blankets available and it was very cozy The ambiance of Florence’s squares can be very romantic in the evening. (The squares of Florence are Tom’s favorite places to be in the evening.)
Best Gelato in Florence
Let’s start with what Florence is known for: the birthplace of gelato.
It’s well established on this blog. I am a gelato connoisseur. I’ve visited all the famous gelato places in the city center of Florence, and my conclusion is that Gelateria dei Neri is the best. (There are a lot of delicious places to eat on Via dei Neri; you could have a progressive meal on that street and end with gelato and music in the Piazza della Signoria!) I also really enjoy the flavors at Vivoli, but the service can leave a lot to be desired.
Along the Arno, I really enjoy Gelateria Santa Trinita and La Carraia on the walk back to the St. Regis. The latter tends to have more exotic flavors and was highly recommended by one of our tour guides. If you find yourself deep in the Oltrarno, Sbrino offers incredibly fresh gelato with interesting flavors. (My last trip led me to try a white chocolate hazelnut!)
Like my restaurant list, my gelato-to-try list is very long. Check our Coral’s list, too.
Best Bistecca Fiorentina in Florence
Let’s move to the second thing that Florence is known for: bistecca Fiorentina. This delicious steak is best enjoyed medium rare. Seriously. Let the Florentines cook and serve it the right way. It doesn’t need any sauce. It’s olive oil and salt. There is nothing better.
I’ve been coming to Trattoria Sostanza for years… along with everyone else in the world. This is one of those places that is worth the hype and a visit. The menu is small and doesn’t vary much. You get the butter chicken, you get the Florentine Steak and you ignore the calories.
The staff at Sostanza is very patient and kind. The chef is generally pretty welcoming to guests who want to see the kitchen or how the steak is made. To me, Sostanza feels warm and friendly, even though you are likely miles away from home. In the evenings, it’s energetic and lively. It’s not fancy nor is it particularly romantic, but it is consistent and delicious.
This is one of those places that needs a reservation. You can try and wait for a table when they open at 12:30 but you might not be successful. They are open less than 5 hours a day.
My mom still talks about when I took her here in 2010. After having it as the first meal on our honeymoon in Florence, Tom wanted to go back for every meal. (Lucky for both of them, we had our Thanksgiving dinner at Sostanza as family in 2019!)
If you can’t get a reservation at Sostanza, I have more ideas for steak in Florence. If I have a choice, however, I will always choose Sostanza.
Restaurants with View of Florence
Golden View Restaurant and Bar – I have to point to the nostalgia factor of why this is the Florence honeymoon restaurant I chose. My friends and I celebrated my 22nd birthday here. It is associated with some very happy times in my life and my honeymoon was no exception. There is no table more romantic than one by the windows overlooking the Ponte Vecchio at night. (Ask for “un tavalo alle finestra”) I’ve spent more than a few long leisurely dinners here. I always love every single moment.
Bonus: You can request a reservation online! (I love advance planning.)
If you want to get out of Florence (or away from the crowds), book a dinner reservation at La Reggia degli Etruschi in Fiesole. A short drive from Florence, Fiesole offers the same type of views as the Piazza Michelangelo (from a different vantage point) without the crowds. The food was delicious and I find the service to be very warm and friendly. Our waiter was helpful in choosing the appropriate wines to pair with our meal – and he taught Tom a little more about how to enjoy bistecca the Florentine way. This is a great option for a romantic splurge.
If you want to sit, head upstairs at the Mercato Centrale. (However, skip the fresh pasta to go on the second floor. That has never worked out for me. Get it at the first floor stand and stand at the bar to eat it.) The market is frantic, busy, and you might be tempted to leave.
I’ve had some delicious, quick and easy meals here and they are an excellent value. It’s also a great place to pick things up for picnics in your room. I really love the wild boar sausage and the truffle sausage. If you go in the morning, you can pick up fresh pastries. I recommend the occhi di bue cookies. Apricot or chocolate – it doesn’t matter to me. Both are delicious.
Again, not the most romantic setting but there are definitely some delicious finds. Don’t be afraid to try new things. If you are too intimidated, take a Central Market tour and cooking class. That is how we found an appreciation for some different meats in the market!
Florence Honeymoon Itinerary
Getting around Florence is really easy on foot. When you arrive at Santa Maria Novella, you are never more than a 15-20 minute walk to all the main attractions of Florence. I always recommend staying in the city center for that reason. I don’t think that staying outside the center provides the same experience. If you want to explore Tuscany, skip the day trips and stay in Tuscany for part of your trip.
There is no shortage of things to do in central Florence and a lot of that will depend on what your personal interests are as a couple. That being said, here are some things that we recommend.
I’ve shared more about some of our favorite tours in Florence, as well as food and wine experiences that we’ve really enjoyed from 2015-2023, too.
Watch the Sunset (or sunrise) from the Piazzale Michelangelo
No one (neither my husband nor my mom) wants to admit that this is the best view in the entire world. They are still salty that I make them climb it, rather than taking a cab or a bus. But REALLY. There is no better view. Go at sunset. Go at sunrise. Stretch your legs and make the hike. (The way down is easier than the way up?) If you want to get away from the crowds, head a little bit further up to San Miniato al Monte and you’ll have the view to yourself. Check out this post for tips to make Florence more romantic.
If you’re feeling especially romantic or want to commemorate your trip with a beautiful souvenir, book a couples photo session with the amazing Facibeni Fotografia and document your trip in a magical way. (Caution: His photography from weddings in Florence and Tuscany may cause you to elope.)
photo credit // facibeni fotografia
dress // lela rose
Visit the Gardens of Florence
For more delicious views of Florence, plan a morning visit to the Boboli Garden and you can have it to yourself. (The light is softer and more beautiful, too.) The same is true if you head to the Bardini Gardens, which was recommended to us by the St. Regis staff. I love them both equally – you can’t go wrong if you just have to choose one.
dress // lela rose
Take Cooking Classes in Florence
You know what the best souvenir from a honeymoon is? Learning to cook together and recipes for entertaining when you get home! In addition to a hands-on lesson (and a meal!), you usually get a recipe book that you can take home.
We’ve taken multiple pizza and gelato classes, as well as fresh pasta classes in Florence! You get to share a table with people from all around the world, many of whom are celebrating something in Florence, so it is always a lively conversation and a good time for all. We enjoy our cooking classes abroad so much that it is one of the first things I look for when planning our trips. You can read more about our Italian cooking classes throughout this blog as it is one of my favorite things to do when traveling!
If cooking classes aren’t your thing, consider taking a wine walking tour of Florence to learn more about the history of Florence and try local wine. Food tours in Florence are another great way to try new things and get recommendations from tour guides. I’m dying to try one of Coral’s Florence aperitivo tours.
Visit the Churches of Florence
Can you really come to Florence and not go see the Duomo? If you don’t get claustrophobic (I do), hiking to the top of the dome can be fun. If you do, skip it and head to Giotto’s Bell Tower instead. Personally, I find the outside of the Duomo the most beautiful part of the cathedral. The details have captivated me since the beginning.
For a truly beautiful church interior, head over to Santa Croce. It is Tom’s favorite church we’ve visited in Florence – and I don’t think he’s wrong. I love checking out the artists who set up outside of Santa Croce, the Medici Chapel, and the Duomo. There’s also a lovely Christmas market in Piazza Santa Croce in the winter.
If you want to truly understand the beauty of the Renaissance and why its so remarkable, head to Santa Maria Novella and San Miniato. You’ll appreciate so much more because you can see the evolution of art in all of these spaces.
Pro Tips for Visiting Churches in Florence: I love visiting Santa Croce in the morning when the light illuminates the church is in the most beautiful way. Orsanmichele is beautiful in the middle of the day when the sun lights up the stained glass. I save visiting the Duomo for the end of the day when the lines are shorter.
Science & Art: The Renaissance Museums of Florence
One of my favorite small museums is the Leonardo da Vinci Museum. This place is just neat and I think it has broad appeal, especially if you don’t consider yourself an art person! It is tiny (compared to the Uffizi or the Accademia) and they have rebuilt some of da Vinci’s imaginative contraptions. Perhaps what is most incredible to see is how progressive Da Vinci really was for his time period.
If you want to see and experience more about the scientific renaissance, you can hit up the Galileo Museum, but it’s quite a bit more dense than the da Vinci museum. There are some very cool instruments to see, but I preferred the set up of the da Vinci’s museum.
Art in Florence
Whether you are a museum person or not, don’t miss booking an introductory tour of the Uffizi or a tour of the Accademia. These two tours allowed us to skip the line and get the most out of our visits. The Uffizi tour gave us the best introduction to Renaissance art and understanding why it was so progressive for its time. I think it is one of the best introductions to art, especially if you don’t have a foundation for it.
If I had to choose, I would go back to the the Accademia again because the David is that impressive. (And, I forgot my memory card the first time.) If you can’t find time to visit the museum, there are several replicas of the famous David statue – including one in the Piazza Signoria and another at the Piazza Michelangelo. Best of both worlds? Enjoy an evening listening to music in the Piazza Signoria and getting up early to skip the line at the Accademia.
Vintage Fiat 500 Tour of Florence
This Fiat 500 driving tour of Florence was a true test of our relationship.
As excited as I was about the idea of driving through the hills of Florence at sunset, Tom was not nearly excited by this surprise. (Vintage Fiats have a double clutch system, which is not for the faint of heart.)
Nico, our tour guide, was very patient and helpful though. The views were lovely, it was nice to get out of Florence, and we enjoyed an aperitif and watching the sunset just outside of Florence.
When is the Best Time to Visit Florence for Your Honeymoon?
In my mind, there is not a bad time to be in Florence. Well, maybe my least favorite time is the summer when it is crazy crowded.
Our honeymoon (and most subsequent trips) was in April. April is a great time because of the mild temperatures and crowds aren’t too overwhelming. You can get away with sundresses, sandals, and cardigans. Hotels are pretty reasonably priced in April. The exception is Easter weekend, which is very crowded and very expensive. There are some neat traditions, however, and I think we should plan to be there at least once for that.
We also really enjoy being in Florence in the winter. Prices were very inexpensive in November and the temperatures were mild. (Heavy coats not required!) We’ve spent two New Year’s Eves in Florence and both were magical. It feels crowded during the day, but by evening, the crowds thin out and you can wander the squares and enjoy the ambiance.
I’m hoping that we will be able to spend Christmas in Florence soon and see what that is like.
All that said, there’s really not a bad time to visit Florence. Put it on your Italy honeymoon itinerary and go!