How to do a self-tour of Florence and Venice, Italy?

Navigate Florence on foot and Venice by water with this self-tour guide
Written By: Andrea Spallanzani
Reviewed by: Rick Orford
How & Why We Created This Article

This article has been written, reviewed, and fact-checked by Rick and I. We live in Italy and travel throughout the country to help you make the best choices for your trip. We wrote this piece to help you have the best trip possible on your next trip to Italy. Portions of this article have been written using assistive AI tools to help with tasks like research, spell-checking, grammar, and translation.

Last Updated March 11, 2024

In this article, you'll learn how:

  1. Florence and Venice offer distinct experiences - Florence is known for art and culture, while Venice is famous for its canals.
  2. Getting around in Florence is best on foot, while Venice offers various boat options, including water taxis and gondolas.
  3. Consider the best time to visit, accommodation options, and budgeting when planning a self-tour of these iconic Italian cities.

Florence and Venice are two of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, with around 30 million yearly visitors to Venice and around 16 million to Florence, so researching a self-tour can be exhausting. Indeed, there’s lots to see and do in Florence and Venice. While they share some similarities- both are historic cities built on water- they offer very different experiences to visitors. Florence is known for its art and architecture, while Venice is known for its canals and gondolas. If you’re looking for a romantic getaway, Venice is the place to go; if you’re interested in history and culture, Florence is the city for you.

No matter your interests, these two cities will undoubtedly fascinate and enchant you. Here’s some information you’ll find helpful when planning your trip to Italy.

How do you get around on a self-tour to Florence and Venice?

Italy is a popular tourist destination, with Florence and Venice being two of the most visited cities, so doing a self-tour will be easy.

While both cities are beautiful and have much to offer tourists, they can also be crowded and congested. Here are some tips for getting around Florence and Venice:

In Florence, the best way to get around is on foot. The city is relatively small and easy to walk around so that you can explore it in about 30 minutes. A few buses also run through the city but can be crowded and challenging to navigate during peak tourist season. The sights and sounds of the city are best experienced by walking through the narrow streets and alleyways.

There are also many interesting shops and restaurants in the heart of Florence, so it’s easy to find something to do while exploring on foot. The narrow streets and alleyways have great restaurants, cafes, and shops. As you walk around the city, you will also have plenty of opportunities to see the art and architecture.

Getting AroundOn foot, narrow streets, alleywaysWater taxis, gondolas, Vaporetto (water bus)
Must-See AttractionsUffizi Gallery, The Bargello, Ponte VecchioSt. Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace, Rialto Bridge
AccommodationVarious options, some luxurious in VeniceVenice offers luxury and affordable choices
Best Time to VisitSpring for Florence, consider fall for VeniceAvoid peak season in Venice for a less crowded experience
Budgeting TipsCosts more than other Italian citiesPlan in advance, book tickets early for savings


Venice has many different ways to get around, depending on what you want to see. The best way to see the city is by boat – there are water taxis, gondolas, and vaporetti (water buses). While walking around the city, getting lost in the maze of canals is easy. You may also want to consider renting a gondola, which will take you deep into the city center. And if you want to look for places to stay in Venice, it’ll be easy peasy.

If you’d rather spend time shopping or eating, you can take a Vaporetto (water bus) or gondola. No matter what your interests are, Venice has something to offer everyone. Traveling by train is also an option, with a network of trains operated by Trenitalia and the Veneto region’s significant stations.

The most prominent railway station in Venice is Stazione di Venezia, located near Piazza San Marco. You can take a Vaporetto to and from the airport from this station. But how far is Florence from Venice by high-speed train? It’s an approximate 166-mile journey, in around 2 hours and 5 minutes, via Freccia high-speed services. 

What to see on a self-tour in Florence

Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. It’s home to many famous art museums and historical landmarks, but it’s best to stay somewhere central.

If you’re planning on visiting Florence, here are some of the things you should see:

Uffizi Gallery

The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Florence, Italy. The gallery is home to a wealth of art, including pieces by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Botticelli. The gallery was founded in the 16th century by Cosimo I de Medici and has been open to the public since the 18th century. It’s home to some of the most famous paintings in the world, including Michelangelo’s “The Tondo Doni” and Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus.”

The Uffizi Gallery is located adjacent to the Palazzo Della Signoria, a Renaissance palace that was the seat of the Florentine government during the 15th century. The main entrance to the gallery is also located on the first floor of this palace. 

The Bargello

The Bargello Museum is the city’s largest museum. It contains a collection of ancient and medieval art, including sculptures and works by Donatello, Giotto, and Michelangelo. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions.

Ponte Vecchio

The Ponte Vecchio (literally “Old Bridge”) is a medieval stone bridge over the Arno River in Florence, Italy. It measures 105 feet wide and 276 feet long, constructed with three main segmental arches spanning 98 feet.

The bridge is lined with shops and was initially used to transport goods across the river. It is the oldest surviving bridge in Florence. It’s one of Florence’s most iconic landmarks, lined with shops and restaurants.

The Ponte Vecchio is one of the oldest bridges in Florence. It was built 1298 over the Arno River and was previously called “Ponte a Carraia.” In 1345, the bridge was rebuilt with stone and marble. The bridge was damaged by floods in 1425, 1527, and 1630. It has been restored several times, most recently in 2000.

The Ponte Vecchio is a single-span stone arch bridge with two towers. It is in the Gothic style and has a single central arch. It’s decorated with statues of ancient Roman emperors, including Julius Caesar and Augustus. The Ponte Vecchio is a popular tourist attraction in Florence.


Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral: This church is located on the top of the hill in the center of Florence and was built between 1296 and 1419. The Duomo is Florence’s cathedral and one of the largest churches in Europe. It was built in the 14th century and featured a beautiful dome by Brunelleschi that can be seen from miles away. This dome was the largest in the world until they built the one in Saint Peter’s in Rome. The dome was completed in 1420 and is one of Florence’s most famous landmarks.

Piazzale Michelangelo

Michelangelo’s Piazzale is a breathtaking lookout over Florence. The steps leading up to the plaza are lined with shops, vendors, and tourists. Once you reach the top, Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the David, greets you. The view of Florence from this vantage point is unparalleled.

What to see on a self-tour of Venice

Venice is a city in northwestern Italy and the capital of the Veneto region. It is generally spread across a group of 118 adjacent small islands connected by bridges and canals. It is one of the most stunning and famous cities in the world, and it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. Venice has many things to see and do, so it is worth planning your visit carefully.

The must-see attractions include St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, the Rialto Bridge, and the Grand Canal. Venice is also home to some excellent restaurants serving delicious Venetian cuisine, so try some local dishes there. Venice is the home of many world-class luxury hotels, so be sure to book your stay well in advance. Many upscale hotels are located near St Mark’s Square, a beautiful location for viewing the city.

St. Mark’s Basilica

The St. Mark’s Basilica is a church located in Venice, Italy. It is one of the most famous churches in the world and is known for its beautiful architecture. The basilica was built in the 11th century and has been renovated many times. It is home to some of the most famous artwork in the world.

Piazza San Marco

The Piazza San Marco, also known as St. Mark’s Square, is located in Venice, Italy. It is one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations known for its beautiful architecture and stunning views. The piazza was initially built in the 9th century and has been remodeled and added to. Highlights of the square include the Clock Tower, St. Mark’s Basilica, and the Doge’s Palace.

Doge’s Palace

When I think of a palace, I think of an extravagant and ornate home fit for a king or queen. But the Doge’s Palace in Venice, Italy, is entirely different. It was once the home of the Doge, the leader of Venice, but is now a popular tourist attraction. The palace is not as opulent as expected; it’s simple and austere. But that’s what makes it so unique and exciting. The Doge’s Palace has a long and complicated history, and it’s been through a lot over the years. It’s worth a visit if you’re ever in Venice!

Rialto Bridge

The Rialto Bridge is a bridge in Venice, Italy. It was built in the 16th century and crosses the Grand Canal. Today, tourists and locals alike use the bridge to cross the Grand Canal. On both sides of the bridge, you can find several stores.

Where to stay after a self-tour of Florence and Venice

Before embarking on a self-tour of Florence and Venice, consider that two of the most popular cities to visit are Florence and Venice. Their stunning architecture, fantastic art, and delicious food make it no wonder people flock to these cities yearly. But with so many tourists coming, hordes of people are vying for a place to stay.

So where should you stay, Florence or Venice? Here are some tips.

Venice is the place to be if you want a luxurious experience. There are countless luxury hotels lining the canals, and they offer some of the most opulent accommodations in all of Europe. Venice has plenty of great options if you’re looking for something a bit more affordable. Just be prepared for the sticker shock—hotel prices in Venice can be pretty high.

Florence is a beautiful city for those on a budget.

When should you go on a self-tour to Florence and Venice?

Florence and Venice are two of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations, and for a good reason. Both cities are packed with unique architecture, art, and history. But when is the best time to visit?

Springtime is a great time to visit Florence because the weather is mild and the city is blooming with flowers. However, during peak season in April and May, Venice can be pretty crowded. If you’re looking for a less crowded experience, consider going in the fall when the weather is still warm, but the crowds have died down.

Many options in Venice are worth visiting, and while the city is less busy, the best way to get to know Venice is to walk around on your own. The locals will happily advise you on where to go and what to see. On the first day of your trip, it’s a good idea to take an early train from Florence and spend the night in Venice. This way, you’ll be able to see more of Venice in the morning than if you had stayed in Florence overnight. Venice is a city with many sights to see and must-see attractions. There are hundreds of churches, palaces, museums, and other interesting buildings to explore. If you’re afraid of crowds, don’t worry! Venice is not as crowded as Florence and Rome.

How long do you spend in Venice and Florence?

A two-night visit may allow time to view highlights of Florence and Venice, while three full days could facilitate museum and church visits in Florence. Some travelers may wish to allocate two full days, or three nights, to take in sights across Venice.

How much does it cost?

Florence and Venice are two of the top tourist attractions in Italy, and it’s easy to see why. Both cities are full of history and incredible scenery, making them wonderful to explore. But how much does it cost to visit these cities?

In general, visiting Florence and Venice will cost you more than visiting other Italian cities. However, there are ways to save money on your visit to Italy, especially if you’re flexible with the time of year and willing to do some research and plan. Here is a breakdown of some of the main expenses you’ll incur while touring Florence and Venice.

DIRECT FLIGHTS: Direct flight is the best way to get to Italy. However, these tickets can be expensive, and you’ll need to plan to get the best deals. In general, the price of a direct flight is around €800-1000 per person. If you travel with a big group, it’s also worth considering buying tickets in advance. You can get a better deal on airfare by booking your tickets at least three months in advance.


In conclusion, a self-tour of Florence and Venice, Italy, is a great way to see these fantastic cities. Be sure to enjoy all that they have to offer! Following the tips in this article, you can make the most of your time in each city.