Planning a trip to Italy will have you making some tough choices like – Venice vs Florence – which city to visit. As a holidaymaker, Italy has many beautiful cities. The list is endless. So when you’re deciding to go, it’s understandable that you want to see as many as you can, OR you want to know which ones to prioritize.

Will it be Venice or Florence? Venice with its picture-perfect canal views. Or, Florence, where everywhere you look there’s art and beauty.

Both Venice and Florence are worth visiting, but which city is better?

Let’s dive in and compare Florence vs Venice on many factors that are important to travellers.

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Is Venice worth visiting

Visiting Venice feels like a dream, and it looks like one too! Known as the “city of canals” this floating city is so picturesque with its beautiful canals and bridges and winding alleyways perfect for getting lost in.

Venice was styled in la serenissima, which means the most serene. And serene is right. Especially at night, as the city grows quiet you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

This is one European destination that deserves to be seen at least once in your lifetime.

Venice canal with boats and lanterns with dome building in background

Is Florence worth visiting

Visiting Florence is simply captivating. Known for its Renaissance art and architecture, this culturally rich city in the heart of Tuscany is a work of art in of itself.

Gardens, statues, and scenic bridges over the Arno River are all pristine. Walking through the winding streets of this historic city is like strolling through an open-air museum, one monument after another.

This is one European destination that is worth experiencing at least once in your lifetime.

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Venice or Florence: which city is better

It appears that both of these Italian cities are worth visiting. So, now the tough question is, which city is better? That all depends on what type of traveller you are.

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Florence beats out Venice on almost on every factor, but it doesn’t make it any less desirable to visit. It only means that if you were to choose only one, it would be Florence. Or, if you are planning on visiting both, spend more time in Florence.

Let’s get to know more about Venice and Florence helping you decide which is the better city worth visiting.

Venice vs Florence: Vibe

Venice is undeniably beautiful, magical in fact. But, it is overrun with tourists. So much so that it may negatively impact your experience (at least it did for me).

Visit any must-see city in Europe like London, Paris, Rome, or Lisbon, and you expect to find tourists. But, it doesn’t detract from enjoying the city. You still can find those hidden gems and the city feels liveable.

Yes, Florence also receives lots of tourists, especially near the top attractions. But, locals still own Florence. It’s their city. You see everyday Italian life here.

When I think about a city’s vibe, I always ask myself…would I live here or would I want to revisit here.

Florence

Venice vs Florence: Sightseeing

Top Things to Do in Venice

  • Visit top landmarks in Venice like Rialto Bridge and St Mark’s Square
  • Palazzo Ducale or Doge’s Palace – is an impressive pink and white palace and former seat of government sitting on Piazza San Marco. Tour this Gothic building for the impressive Venetian Renaissance frescoes and the famous Bridge of Signs to the prison. Save time and get your skip-the-line entrance ticket here
  • St Mark’s Basilica – is located on the lively St Mark’s Square attached to Doge’s Palace and is known as the ‘golden church’ due to its gold mosaics. Although it’s free to enter, the lines are always incredibly long (up to an hour) so to save time and get your fast-track entrance ticket giving you priority access to the church and the terrace overlooking views of St Mark’s Square
  • Peggy Guggenheim – art lovers will want to tour the former home and art collection full of famous 20th-century artists. Save time and get your skip-the-line entrance ticket here
  • A memorable experience and popular thing to do at night in Venice is to enjoy a Four Seasons Vivaldi concert at Santa Maria Della Visitazione church, reserve your tickets in advance (as they do sell out) and get the best price here

Top Things to Do in Florence

  • Visit the top landmarks in Florence like Piazza della Signoria, Palazzo Vecchio, Michelango and Della Signoria and bridges (or Ponte) Vecchico, alle Grazie, Santa Trinita
  • Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral. Join a guided tour which includes all of your skip-the-line priority access tickets to the dome, museum, baptistery and bell tower
  • Uffizi Gallery – Italy’s (and the world’s) greatest art museum where you can admire masterpieces by Michelangelo and Da Vinci, and Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus.” Get your skip-the-line entrance ticket here
  • Accademia Gallery – see the world-famous paintings and sculptures, like the iconic pieces by Michelangelo of ‘the Prisoners’, ‘St. Matthew’ and the statue of David. Get your priority access and timed entrance ticket to admire Michelangelo’s David
  • Boboli and Bardini Gardens – a historic park since the 18th century which has inspired other parks and gardens in Europe. It’s worth the €12 admission fee for the garden and views of the city
dome church with details of red roof and marble in white and green in florence

Florence

Venice vs Florence: Food

The food experience in Venice was a letdown. Mostly because it caters to tourists and not locals. You will be hard-pressed to find any authentically chef-run restaurants. Expect much higher prices and an emphasis on seafood.

A local tradition is to graze at bacari (or traditional bars) that serve cicheti that look like tapas over a glass of wine. This is a popular meal with locals throughout the day.

Here are a few recommended restaurants in Venice that won’t break the bank, and offer a delicious meal: All’Arco (Campo San Polo, 436), the vegetarian LaZucca (San Croce, 1762), and Al Covo (Castello, 3968).

Like any major city, restaurants closest to the sightseeing landmarks will cater only to touristico. Florence too. But, it won’t take you long to find some exceptional meals in Florence, including six Michelin-starred restaurants. Local specialties are ribollita (bread-based soup with black cabbage and beans) and bistecca alla fiorentina (a very large steak).

Here are a few recommended restaurants in Florence to try: Vini E Vecchi Sapori (Via dei Magazzini 3), Osteria dell’Enoteca (Via Romana, 70), Trattoria Cibreo (Via dei Macci, 122), and the lively food hall of Mercato Centrale (Piazza del Mercato Centrale, Via dell’Ariento).

Florence

Venice vs Florence: Getting around

Venice and Florence are small, compact, walkable cities making it easy to get around. Both have lots of winding historic streets to simply “get lost” in without really getting lost.

Yet, it’s Venice with its far more scenic mode of transportation of water taxis and gondola rides. Taking a gondola ride is quintessentially a Venice thing to do, and shouldn’t be missed.

Venice

Venice vs Florence: Weather

Venice

Venice is considered subtropical temperatures. The Spring months of March to May and Autumn months of September to November receive average temperatures of 14-22°C/57-71°F, with June to August reaching an average temperature of 28°C/82°F. The winter months of December to February dips to an average of 8°C/46°F.

During the months of October and January, Venice’s water levels rise and parts of the city may flood. When high water or acqua alta occurs, St Mark’s square, the lowest point in the city, can flood and for a few days be part of the lagoon.

Florence

The summer months of July and August are the hottest reaching average temperatures of 32°C/90°F. Try and visit during the Spring (April to June) and Autumn (September to October) when temperatures are a pleasant 19-24°C/66-75°F. The winter temperatures are much cooler averaging 11°C/52°F. And, November experiences the highest amount of rain, followed by December, March and April.

Florence

Venice vs Florence: Value for money

Due to the mass tourism in Venice, the value of money is not the best. Restaurants and hotels are overpriced compared to other cities, like Florence.

Although many of the top sightseeing sites are free in Venice, expect very long lines, upwards of an hour. So, to maximize your time, it’s best to pre-book priority access or skip-the-line entrance tickets at a fee.

Florence

Venice vs Florence: Day Trips

Venice

Florence

  • Take a Chianti wine tour at two wineries in the stunning Chianti Hills which includes wine tasting and sampling of local products like cheese, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, click here for more info about this guided tour
  • Day trip from Florence to Pisa, Siena and San Gimignano, 3 must-see medieval towns in Tuscany, click here for more info about this full-day tour

Florence

How long to spend in Venice and Florence

Venice

Spend at least one night in Venice. If you do, you will see the city at its quietest. Most travellers come for the day, either as a day trip from a nearby city or as part of a cruise excursion.

Florence

Florence is the perfect getaway for 2 to 3 nights. As well, Florence makes for a great home base for even longer. Then you can add popular day trips to see more of Tuscany.

Accommodations in Venice and Florence

Venice

  • Hotel Flora – located in a 17th-century building on a quiet alleyway near Piazza San Marco this boutique hotel is full of fine antiques and includes a breakfast served on a pretty little courtyard
  • Avogaria – this 5-room boutique B&B is a fun, vibrant and highly stylized property in the quiet Dorsoduro neighbourhood. Upgrade to a suite and you will get your own private walled garden
  • Centurion Palace – a 5* ultra-modern hotel overlooking the Grand Canal is perfect for any luxury traveller who appreciates the finer details in a hotel stay
  • Palazzo Stern – this pretty hotel is one of the most photographed on the Grand Canal. A rooftop terrace and hot tub sit above the traditional rooms you’ll find in this 15th-century building
  • Ca’ di Dio – a small luxury hotel that is a rare new build in the historic city featuring a modern interior, private courtyards, rooftop terrace and lagoon views
  • Or, do your own search here

Florence

  • The Place Firenze – a 5-star hotel with amazing panoramic views from its rooftop terrace (including the Duomo)
  • Velona’s Jungle – a stylish B&B with 10 rooms featuring fine antiques and Christian Lacroix wallpaper that is a 10-15 minute walk to the historic centre
  • Palazzo di Camugliano – a 16th-century palace in the heart of the historic city offers a refined stay with a full breakfast
  • Granduomo – an 18th-century palace with 6 elegant serviced apartments with views of the Duomo
  • Il Tornabuoni – a 5-star hotel by the chain Hyatt Hotels offers a refined stay with a rooftop terrace this is a great choice for families
  • Or, do your own search here

FAQs About Venice and Florence

When is the best time to go to Venice?

The best time to go to Venice is in the winter especially if you want to beat the crowds. The summer months are the busiest, followed by April to June and September to October.

How far is Venice from Florence?

Venice is almost 270 km from Florence. The driving time from Florence to Venice would be almost 3 hours. The best way to get to Venice from Florence is by high-speed train which takes 2 hours and 27 minutes.

Is a day trip from Florence to Venice worth it?

A day trip to Venice from Florence is worth it. Plan for a long, busy day with 5 hours of travel time by high-speed train. Pre-book your skip-the-line tickets to optimize your time visiting some of the top sites in Venice.

Should I spend more time in Venice or Florence?

Florence because it has more top sites to visit and options for day trips than Venice does. That’s what makes Florence the better city to make your home base to explore nearby Tuscan towns and beautiful countryside.

Why is Florence referred to as Firenze?

Florence is called Firenze in Italian. In Italian, you would pronounce Firenze as fee-rent-say. Firenze comes from the Latin Florentia, which is what this city was called during the Roman age.

Italy Travel Inspiration

To help with your planning, here are more beautiful destinations in Italy for your reference.

  • Cinque Terre – 5 colourful islands along the Italian Riviera coastline
  • Pienza – a hilltop Tuscan town (115 km, or 1.5-hour drive from Florence)
  • Cortona – a hilltop Tuscan town and the location of Under the Tuscan Sun (116 km, or 1.5-hour drive from Florence)
  • Tuscan Towns and villages in the Siena region of Tuscany
  • Rome – First timers to the capital city (280 km, or 1.5-hour on direct high-speed train)
  • Siena – a medieval city in Tuscany (80 km, or 1-hour drive from Florence)
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites – 18 of the best sites in Italy

As a holidaymaker…

Venice vs Florence comparison of which is the better city has Florence being the clear winner. However, both Venice and Florence are worth visiting. There’s no denying that both are beautiful Italian cities. I do hope you get the chance to experience both one day.

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