One of the best parts about living in Florence was how centrally located I was for travel. Whether it was exploring a new region of Italy, or flying to a European capital, Florence's central location and discount-carrier airport makes it an ideal city to travel from. This is also probably why it is so attractive to American students studying abroad.
I created this list to highlight some obvious and some not-so obvious ideas for easy day and weekend trips from Florence. If you're studying abroad in Florence, take advantage of Vueling, Easy Jet, and Ryan Air deals from Florence (and Pisa). For example, it is amazing how easy and inexpensive it is to get to Greece and Morocco. And, if you are simply vacationing in Florence, you can see almost all of Italy using Florence as your home base.
Venice and Rome
Ok, let's start with the obvious two -- Venice and Rome. Hotel hopping through the Italian peninsula from one major city to the other is exhausting and pricey. Instead, you could get a hotel or airbnb in Florence for a week or 10 days and still see Venice and Rome. Both are easy day trips thanks to the high speed train. Simply walk to the Florence Santa Maria Novella Station, hop on an hour and 20 minute high speed train full of comfortable amenities, and arrive in Rome (with no bags to worry about). This option might not appeal to everyone, but it is a great option if you prefer staying in a smaller, quainter city like Florence (as opposed to Rome).
A day trip to the Cinque Terre is one of my favorite trips and something I do every year. Because it is such an easy day trip, lots of companies (like FlorenceForFun) offer a day excursion by bus. But you can also do it on your own by train (you just have to change at Pisa). A day trip to Cinque is so much easier that trying to navigate this treacherous region by car, and I can't even fathom dealing with luggage in these cliff-side cities.
The charming medieval city of Siena is just a bus ride away from Florence (the bus is actually better/easier than the train IMHO). You can spend a relaxing day strolling, shopping, and eating in one of the most charming cities in Italy for the price of a bus ticket.
Bologna is the food and hipster center of Italy. Plus, it is only a 20-min high speed train ride from Florence. Bologna boasts one of the oldest universities in the world, unique trendy shopping, and hip cafes and eateries. I personally couldn't see myself spending a week there, but it makes the perfect day trip (or even evening trip for dinner... did I mention how amazing the food is in Bologna?).
The Amalfi Coast holds a special place in my heart. I spend at least three days there every summer. I am not sure which I love more, the crystal blue waters of Capri, the charming town of Positano, or the amazing views along the coastline. From Florence, you can take the high speed train to Naples and then switch to a local train, called the Circumvesuviana, to Sorrento (where I prefer to stay). From Sorrento, the cute towns that dot the coast are accessible by bus (and ferry) and the islands of Capri, Ischia, and Procida are just a boat ride away. You can read more tips for traveling to and in the Amalfi Coast here.
I will never forget the first time I discovered that I could fly to the gorgeous Greek islands directly from Florence for around 70 bucks each way (depending on time of year). And the fact that the flight time is under two hours, it makes for an unforgettable, yet super convenient, weekend trip. You can read more of my Santorini cost saving tips here.
Several discount European carriers offer lots of flights to Paris from Florence every day. If you watch for sales, you could fly to Paris for as low as 29 euros (each way). You can also take the overnight train from Florence to Venice or Milan, and then on to Paris. You sleep on the train and awake refreshed in Paris!
Both Florence and Pisa offer affordable and quick flights to Marrakesh, Morocco. I flew direct from Pisa to Marrakesh and was amazed by how quickly and easily I was transported to another world.
Honestly, becuase Europe is relatively small (in comparison to the US) you can do tons of European capitals in a weekend from Florence (Prague, Budapest, Vienna, London, etc.). But, I wanted to highlight the easiest trips. These are the ones that have direct flights and can be enjoyed in a weekend. Amsterdam is one such city. Amsterdam is one of those cities that you could enjoy in just three days. Of course you could spend more time in the "Venice of the north," but unlike London, you don't need a week to feel like you have seen the city.
If you are studying abroad in Florence this upcoming spring or summer, the best advice I can give you is to take advantage of Florence's central location and the relative cheapness of European travel and see as much of Europe as you can! Hopefully this list will get you started!
PS - If you know of any other inexpensive and easy cities to travel to from Florence (or Tuscany), please share below!
Labels: featured, florence, study abroad, travel, Travel Tips