If you had told me when I was studying abroad that I would want to spend a romantic weekend in Florence at least once year, I would have laughed at you. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed my time in Florence. I thought it was beautiful. However, I was also 22-years-old and constantly looking for my next adventure. As it turns out, Florence is always a great adventure.
We spent part of our honeymoon in Florence because it was my husband’s first time in Europe (and, obviously, Italy). We had a lovely stay, and I discovered a very different, romantic Florence that I missed when I was studying abroad.
We’ve returned to florence every year since 2015. In 2017, we spent an entire week there. In 2018 and 2019, we rang in the new year in Florence. Every year I think that our trip that year was my favorite, but every trip seems better and more magical than the last.
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Romantic Hotels in Florence
In planning a romantic weekend in Florence, the first order of business is sorting out where to stay. There is no shortage of hotels in Florence, but there is one that is always at the top of my list: the St. Regis Florence with its superior service and beautiful rooms.
St. Regis Florence
We almost always stay at the St. Regis Florence. Whether it was our honeymoon junior suite or a river view room, each room at the St. Regis is beautiful, romantic and unique. We’ve had some Renaissance rooms that felt extra cozy and romantics you’ll want to do your research when booking. If you aren’t sure, you can always reach out to the hotel if you have specific room requests. They are extremely responsive and very, very kind. Any room you book will be incredible. (You can see every St. Regis room that we’ve stayed in here!)
The location of this hotel is part of what makes it perfect for a romantic weekend in Florence. It is far enough away from the action that you can easily get away from the crowds, but it’s close enough to the city center that you can walk everywhere. I really enjoy the walk along the Arno River in both directions. Whether it’s early in the morning or late in the evening, the Arno river is always beautiful.
If you book the river view rooms, you can enjoy the beautiful sunsets from your room. (I am never awake for sunrise but I’m sure it’s lovely, too.)
The other thing that makes this hotel especially romantic is how great the staff is at anticipating your desires. Stephanie cultivates such a warm and welcoming staff. From customized itinerary suggestions, to sending up a bottle of champagne on New Year’s, to the mementos they provided to make our honeymoon extra special, the St. Regis Florence has a personal touch like no other hotel.
It starts from the pre-arrival experience. The personal emails make us feel welcome and excited to return. As soon as we arrive, Park is always ready to help with any detail. But, truth be told, Andrea always made our stays extra special. Each year, he would leave recommendations and suggestions based our interests. One year, he directed us to the less busy Bardini Gardens, and I was able to recreate one of my favorite photographs from my study abroad semester (with a much, much better camera). Since he also enjoys photography, he provided recommendations on where to find the best views of the city beyond the Piazzale Michelangelo!
BONUS: There is an on-site spa. I’m a big fan of the customized massage at the Clarins spa. Book it. They also offer make-up services, if you want to feel extra pampered before a night out!
The St. Regis has found ways to personalize each and every single one of our romantic trips to Florence. I don’t know that we would find this level of detail anywhere else.
Hotel Gallery Art
If the St. Regis is too expensive or even too traditional, I also recommend checking out the trendy 4-star Gallery Hotel Art. This hotel is more centrally located, right in the heart of Florence. Literally. It’s behind the Ponte Vecchio on a small, quiet square facing the Continental and The Portrait.
We’ve stayed at the Hotel Gallery Art twice and we’ve enjoyed both stays. Younger, trendier couples will probably really enjoy the sleek decor of the rooms, especially when compared to the St. Regis or the Four Seasons Florence.
If this is your first trip to Florence, you can’t beat the location. The Gallery Hotel Art is in the middle of all the action (and the crowds). Many of their rooms face an interior courtyard, so you won’t have any issues with noise. These rooms don’t get a lot of natural light, so it can be very cozy and romantic.
The Gallery Art is a boutique hotel of the Lungarno Collection. (They have 4 boutique hotels in the collection.) As such, the Hotel Gallery Art offers reciprocal privileges with the Continentale, so you can enjoy their rooftop bar or book an appointment at their spa. It’s not quite as convenient as merely going downstairs at the St. Regis, but it is nice that they have a spa option, especially if you’re planning a romantic weekend!
The Portrait and the Hotel Lungarno are part of the same collection and offer river view rooms, if that’s something you like about the St. Regis.
Tips for a Romantic Trip to Florence
I don’t think you can (or should!) take a romantic weekend to Florence and skip all of the iconic sights. Whether it’s watching the sunset from the Piazzale Michelangelo or wandering the Boboli Gardens, you should have those experiences. That being said, here are a few secrets to make it a bit more enjoyable, a little less crowded, and a lot more romantic.
Best Views of Florence
Jockeying for a spot at the Piazzale Michelangelo stresses me out. I love the view, but it’s stressful. No one wants to watch the sunset with their loved one and 1,000 of their closest friends.
This year, we skipped the piazzale and made our way up to San Miniato al Monte. We had a front row seat for the sunset and way less people to deal with. We might have even been able to sneak a few kisses without an audience. (The year before, we took photos with Facibeni Fotografia near sunset and we had a audience. We definitely made it into some people’s vacation photos.)
Don’t skip the Piazza Michalangelo, just go a little bit higher. There is a reason that it is considered to be one of Florence’s most romantic spots.
Florence’s Gardens are Most Beautiful in the Morning
I know it can be hard to pull yourself out of bed on vacation but getting to the Boboli Gardens before 12:00 ensures that you’ll feel like you have the place to yourself. (The light will be softer and more beautiful, too.)
We arrived around 9:30, and we had the place to ourselves. (Actually, there was a school group touring the Pitti Palace but we went in the other direction and never saw them again.) It was nice to beat the heat, skip the harsh mid-day sun, and feel like we had the whole place to ourselves.
We found the same to be true at the Bardini Gardens. If you’re traveling in high season, start with the Bardini Gardens. They are less well-known and you might find fewer crowds there. There’s also a beautiful wisteria archway with an amazing view of Florence.
Skip the Lines at the Florence Museums
The Uffizi and the Accademia shouldn’t be missed, and if you’re not an art person, booking a tour will ensure that you get the most out of your visit to either museum. It also ensures that you can skip lines if you don’t book your museum tickets far enough in advance.
We’ve done both early access tours and enjoyed them equally. I don’t recommend booking them back to back or on the same day. (Everything will be a blur. There’s a lot to see!) I
think we’re particularly looking forward to visiting the Accademia again since I forgot my camera the first time. (The David really is that impressive.)
If you’re looking to just book tickets in advance, I suggest an earlier reservation time to minimize the time in lines, as well as the crowds. You can DIY an audio tour of the Accademia or the Uffizi using the Rick Steves app.
End Your Day at the Duomo
Confession: I’ve never stood in line to get into the Duomo.
My apartment was a block away from the Duomo, and I watched the line constantly. Thee is a line when the cathedral opens (both in the morning and the afternoon), but there is rarely a line towards the end of the day.
Visiting the Duomo in the late afternoon meant that I could spend as much time as I wanted staring up at that dome.
DON’T FORGET: There are other equally as impressive churches in Florence: Santa Croce (my favorite in the early morning light), Osranmichele (perfect for mid-day light), and Santa Maria Novella (near the train station).
Once you’re done sightseeing, take a scenic walk back through the Piazza della Signoria. Head back to your hotel, freshen up, and enjoy a delicious dinner at one of these tasty Florence restaurants.
Ponte Santa Trinita vs. Ponte Vecchio vs. Ponte alle Grazie
I’m always confused when I see people staking out a spot before the sunset on the Ponte Vecchio. While it’s beautiful to watch the sunset over the Arno from any perspective, you can’t see it if you’re on the bridge.
Personally, I tend to gravitate towards the Arno from wherever I am at that moment. If you want to see the sunset over the Ponte Vecchio, you need to be on the Ponte alle Grazie.
It’s a little further away, so bring your zoom lens if you want photos. If you want to watch the blue hour descend on the Ponte Vecchio and still be able to appreciate the sunset, you want to be on the Ponte Santa Trinita.
DON’T FORGET: Turn around to see the brilliant colors of the sunset!
Unique Romantic Things to Do in Florence
Get Out of Town (briefly)
If a trip to Tuscany isn’t in the cards this trip, you can still take to the hills of Florence! My husband probably has PTSD from the time we did a Fiat 500 tour (and Nico, the most patient tour guide ever, probably does, too). I, however, choose to remember golden hour in the Tuscany countryside, what it felt like to snap this perfect photo (and others) from the side of a hill, and watching the sunset while drinking delicious wine and snacking on tasty prosciutto.
The tour departs from the hills outside of Florence, and you’ll be back in time for dinner or a stroll along the Arno.
If driving a double-clutch Fiat 500 isn’t on your bucket list, take the No. 7 bus up to Fiesole and plan lunch or dinner with a view of Florence. (We really enjoyed La Reggia deli Etruschi.) We sat up there for at least an hour just enjoying the view.
Make Pizza, Gelato, or Pasta in Florence!
One of the first cooking classes I ever took abroad was a pizza and gelato class Florence. Since then, Tom and I have take several fresh pasta classes in Florence! It’s a fun way to spend an afternoon or evening, and you’re basically bringing home a souvenir that you can always enjoy. (They give you the recipes.) Read more about our additional Florence cooking classes and considering booking one or two of these for an extra romantic weekend in Florence (and a fun date night when you get home).
Read more: Best Florence Cooking Classes to Take
We started this photo souvenir trend while we were on our honeymoon in Paris. Not only do I always have pictures for our Christmas cards, but it’s a fun way to commemorate a romantic weekend in Florence.
I cannot recommend Cristiano with Facibeni Fotografia enough. I love looking back on these photos since we rarely have photos of us together.
BONUS: I make photo books for our parents when we get back. What better way to commemorate a trip and knock out a gift idea for the parents?!
Photo Credit // Facibeni Fotografia