Rome or Florence: Which Italian City to Visit?
When it comes to deciding whether to visit Rome or Florence, there is no easy answer. Both cities offer a wealth of attractions and activities, making either one an ideal destination for travelers.
If you are debating which Italian city is better, and if it deserves a spot on your itinerary, then this complete travel guide to Rome vs Florence, will be useful for you!
Bonus: We have included a 5, 7, and 10-day itinerary below to help you plan a trip to include both!
Rome or Florence: Which Italian City to Visit?
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Rome is the capital of Italy and one of the most famous cities in the world. The city is filled with historical monuments from centuries past, from the Colosseum to St. Peter’s Basilica, and its rich culture makes it a great place for sightseeing, shopping, and enjoying the local cuisine.
Florence is often considered to be Italy’s artistic heart. The city boasts many museums filled with Renaissance artwork and architecture, as well as iconic landmarks like the Ponte Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti.
Florence is a paradise for foodies, with traditional trattorias serving delicious Tuscan fare.
Whether you choose Rome or Florence depends on what kind of travel experience you are looking for. In either city, you will be surrounded by beautiful artwork and stunning architecture, as well as have the chance to explore and experience a range of cultures.
Rome vs. Florence: Things to consider when choosing between Rome or Florence
We will go over each of the different factors that will be useful in planning your trip to Italy, and will share our top pick for each category!
Rome vs. Florence: Transportation and Connectivity
Transportation and connectivity are two key factors when deciding between Rome and Florence. Both cities offer excellent transportation options for getting around town, but there are some notable differences between the two.
Rome is home to the largest airport in the country – Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport. When traveling from anywhere in the world to Italy, flying to Rome is your best bet. It is easy to find non-stop or one-stop flights to Rome.
Rome is also well-connected with a solid public transportation network, including buses, trains, trams, and even a metro system.
Roma Termini is the largest train station in the country, and you can find a ride to connect to other parts of Italy quite easily!
However, since the city is so large and sprawling, you may find that navigation can be a bit confusing at times.
In contrast, Florence is much smaller than Rome and thus has fewer transportation options. The local buses are reliable but slow during peak hours, and there is no subway system.
The central station in Florence is called the Santa Maria Novella Railway Station, and it is located close to the city centre.
Walking is the best way to explore the city’s narrow cobblestone streets and get around quickly, but a car or taxi may be necessary to reach some of Florence’s farther attractions.
Note that the nearest airport in the Tuscany region is in Pisa, which is about an hour away from Florence by train. For this reason, many touchdown in Rome and then take the high-speed train to Florence.
Overall, Rome has better transportation and connectivity options than Florence, making it easier to get around the city. But…if you are just keen on exploring Florence, you don’t have to rely on public transit or rent a car – the city is walkable and actually quite enjoyable to get around this way!
Rome vs. Florence: Accommodation
When it comes to accommodation, both Rome and Florence offer a variety of options to suit different types of travelers.
In Rome, there is a wide range of lodging available, from five-star hotels to budget hostels.
Rome is bigger than Florence, and there are many neighborhoods that are located away from the historic centre where you can also find affordable accommodation – ranging around $120 USD per night (for two, 3-star properties).
Thanks to a good transportation network you can stay away from the center, if you like, depending on your budget.
We prefer staying at the centre and then walking to various attractions as much as possible, and surely Rome has great hotels near the Colosseum, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain or the Vatican. The only thing to keep in mind is that they will be very expensive during the peak season and often rates are 3 to 4 times higher.
With a bigger city, although you have a lot of options, you have to be mindful of some ‘not so pretty or preferred areas’ and Rome has its own share. Nothing to be afraid of, but avoid staying in areas like Rome Termini as they are usually very crowded, and pickpocketing is also possible.
On the other hand, in Florence, you can find accommodations ranging from luxury to mid-budget boutique hotels.
For those looking for a luxurious stay, many of the city’s five-star hotels offer spectacular views of the cityscape, including the view of the Duomo!
We stayed at a hotel right in the heart of Florence with a Duomo view – and there are lots of options. These are mostly B&B style properties (3 to 4 stars, locally owned, with a very boutique experience). They will set you back by $150 USD to $250 USD per night (twin share with private bathroom).
There are also plenty of mid-range hotels that offer comfortable rooms at reasonable prices. For budget travelers, there are hostels and 2-star modest hotels in Florence.
In Florence, plan to stay at the center or near the main railway station for better accessibility and options.
Verdict: Overall, both cities offer excellent accommodation options. Rome is a large city with many hotels and hostels to choose from, while Florence has fewer choices but offers some high-end luxury accommodations.
If you’re looking for more of a boutique experience with decent prices, then Florence might be the right place for you.
When you compare staying in Rome’s historic center vs Florence city center, Rome will be expensive. During peak season a 3-star property can explode to 3 to 4 times the usual rate.
Rome vs. Florence: Restaurants
Traveling for food? You are in luck! Both Rome and Florence offer a great variety of culinary experiences, and they boast many different types of cuisine from traditional Italian dishes to international fare.
From rustic trattorias serving classic dishes such as spaghetti alla carbonara and pollo alla romana, to elegant restaurants offering exquisite gourmet cuisine, Rome is a foodie’s paradise. With its abundance of fresh ingredients and passionate chefs, the quality of Italian cooking in Rome is simply unmatched.
Florence also has a great selection of restaurants, offering a range of flavors. Traditional Tuscan dishes such as ribollita, bistecca alla fiorentina, and tagliatelle al ragù are served in cozy trattorias, while the city’s more upscale eateries provide inventive menus featuring locally-sourced ingredients.
When it comes to restaurant options, Rome and Florence both offer a great variety of culinary experiences. However, those looking for traditional Italian cuisine may prefer Rome’s larger selection of trattorias.
Verdict: Rome (for a wider selection of restaurants and Italian and international cuisine)
Rome vs. Florence: Day trip options
When considering which city to visit, you must also consider day trip options from each to make the MOST of your Italian vacation.
Rome is the capital of Italy and is one of its most beautiful cities, with centuries-old architecture, historical sites, and monuments.
When it comes to day trips, by keeping Rome as a base you can visit
- The Vatican City (a European microstate)
- Amalfi Coast (1-2 towns are possible to visit on a day tour)
- Villa D’Este and Hadrian’s Villa Tivoli
- Appian Way
Sightseeing in the Vatican, Villa D’Este and Hadrian’s Villa Tivoli, the Appian Way, and Pompeii archaeological site are easy day trips from Rome.
Towns on the Amalfi and Tuscany deserve a few days of exploration.
Read: Rome and Amalfi Coast Itinerary
On the other hand, Florence may be a better choice for those looking for a more relaxed experience away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
You can explore a lot of the Tuscan towns with ease and even keep Florence as a base.
In Tuscany, you can explore,
- Chianti wine tours
- San Gimignano to name a few.
These places are easy to get to by public transportation or by renting a car. The quaint streets, art galleries, and picturesque sights of Tuscany make it an excellent destination for those who prefer to take things slow.
Florence is also a good base to visit the European Microstate of San Marino (by car, or train and bus ride).
Verdict: In the end, both cities are great destinations for day trips and it all comes down to personal preference on which places you wish to explore on your vacation.
Rome vs. Florence: Sightseeing and Attractions
A day or two in Rome can easily be filled with visits to the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Sistine Chapel.
The city also has a wealth of museums and art galleries to explore.
Rome is GREAT for history buffs, city/urban lovers, active travelers, shopping enthusiasts, and foodies alike!
Read: 3 days in Rome itinerary
Florence is a much smaller city compared to Rome and is renowned for its art and culture. It is home to many famous Renaissance landmarks such as the Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Pitti, and the Uffizi Gallery.
The city also has a plethora of charming alleyways, boutique stores, and eateries that are perfect for exploring on an afternoon stroll or shopping spree.
A visit to Florence will be sure to delight tourists with its picturesque streets and stunning views of the Arno River.
Florence is PERFECT for art and culture lovers, and those looking for a relaxed getaway, and quaint corners. You will find some museums, luxury shops, and restaurants here, but Rome is the clear winner for its sheer volume of attractions, extensive historical sites, and unlimited dining options.
Read: 3 days in Florence itinerary
Rome vs. Florence: Which city is more touristy, and has more things to do
Rome is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. It is home to some of the most iconic monuments in the world, like the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Pantheon.
Most travel bucket lists will feature Rome for its different UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and the city has 13 of those.
Not to mention, its vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, and fascinating history make it a must-visit for any traveler looking for an authentic Italian experience.
On top of this, Rome is also well connected with airports, train stations, and other cities in Italy making it easy to access from any destination.
Florence is also a popular tourist destination and is known as the birthplace of the Renaissance, which gives it its distinct charm.
The city boasts some spectacular sights, not to mention incredible works of art from famous artists like Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci.
Art lovers all over the world will appreciate a trip to Florence and probably could spend days visiting various churches, museums, and other heritage sites. Although it may not be as well connected to other cities and airports like Rome, there are still some good transportation links and the city can easily be reached by train or car from nearby locations.
Verdict: In conclusion, Rome is the better choice for those looking for a touristy destination with lots of sights to explore and well-connected transportation links.
Rome is great for those who want to see a lot in one day and Florence is ideal for those who are looking for a more relaxed experience.
Rome or Florence: USP for each city
Rome and Florence are two of the most iconic cities in Italy. And here are their USPs and what they are famous for.
Eternal City | History | Capital city | The Colosseum | The Vatican
Rome is renowned for its amazing architecture, delicious Italian cuisine, and fascinating history.
Known as the Eternal City, Rome has been around since 753 BC and continues to draw visitors from all over the world who are looking to explore its many attractions.
From the Colosseum to the Pantheon, and from the Trevi Fountain to St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome is a timeless city filled with incredible sights and attractions that will leave you in awe.
Cradle of Renaissance | Tuscan Countryside | Art History
Florence is known as the Cradle of Renaissance, with its incredible architecture and art, as well as iconic landmarks such as the Ponte Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti.
Florence’s cobblestone streets lead to some of the world’s most beautiful churches and piazzas, offering endless opportunities for sightseeing and exploration. Strolling through the city, you can admire its many museums, galleries, and historical sites.
Rome or Florence: Which is better for solo travelers
Solo travelers can enjoy and survive in both Italian cities. Rome’s excellent public transportation system will allow one to navigate with ease, without relying on taxis or tour guides.
Plus the city center is full of restaurants, bars, and cafes where solo travelers can interact with locals, making it a great destination for those who want to make new friends and experience the culture firsthand.
If you are new to solo travel, our recommendation will be to choose Florence.
Florence is compact, easily walkable to sightseeing attractions, and relatively easy to navigate than Rome. It also has a vibrant nightlife scene with many bars, pubs, and clubs that are perfect for solo travelers looking to meet new people. Read: Things to do in Florence at night
Verdict: Florence (especially for first-time solo travelers)
Rome or Florence: Which is better for couples
When it comes to deciding which is the better city for couples, Rome and Florence both provide a romantic atmosphere. While each city offers its own unique charm, they also have some similarities that make them ideal locations for couples looking to explore Italy together.
Rome is referred to as the Eternal City, and with good reason. Its vibrant culture, stunning architecture, and enchanting atmosphere make it the perfect place for couples to explore together.
From the Colosseum to St. Peter’s Basilica, ancient Roman ruins to modern art galleries, Rome is perfect for active travelers. Couples can spend their days sightseeing and shopping in the many piazzas or simply take in the romantic atmosphere of this historic city.
Rome’s iconic sites can be great photo spots for couples and engagement shoots! We saw so many wedding shoots at the Colosseum and the Spanish Steps!
Florence also provides a romantic setting for couples looking to explore Italy. The city’s architecture and artwork, which date back centuries, will leave you mesmerized as you walk through its narrow streets.
Couples can explore the many museums, art galleries, and churches of Florence, or spend their days tasting delicious Tuscan fare at the local trattorias.
When staying near the Duomo, couples can soak in the vibes of the city, or embark on day trips of the Tuscan countryside.
When deciding between Rome and Florence for a romantic getaway, it really comes down to personal preference. Both cities offer plenty of activities and attractions suited to couples looking to explore Italy together.
Rome or Florence: Which is better for families
Both cities offer a wealth of attractions and activities that are sure to keep visitors of all ages entertained.
Rome is a great choice for families looking for an exciting city adventure. The city is jam-packed with historical monuments and artworks from centuries past, allowing kids of all ages to learn about the history of Italy.
For more active families, Rome is also home to numerous parks and recreational areas where you can spend time outdoors enjoying nature.
Florence is an ideal destination for families looking for a more relaxed and laid-back vacation. Its Renaissance architecture and artworks are sure to fascinate kids of all ages, while its cobblestone streets provide a charming atmosphere that everyone can enjoy.
For outdoor activities, Florence has plenty of green spaces such as Boboli Gardens, where you can explore nature and marvel at the city’s beautiful landscape.
Verdict: Ultimately, deciding between Rome or Florence for a family vacation depends on what each individual group is looking for in their experience. If you are planning a long holiday and wish to have a jampacked trip then pick Roma!
Rome vs. Florence: Which is affordable to visit in Italy
Rome is a more affordable option of the two. Since it’s a large city, there are plenty of budget-friendly accommodations available, including hostels and Airbnbs.
There are also several free attractions and activities that can fill up your itinerary without breaking the bank. The Colosseum (exterior view), Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, and Pantheon are all free to visit.
Eating out in Rome is also relatively affordable if you stick with the traditional local eateries.
Florence can be a bit more expensive than Rome, but there are still plenty of options for budget travelers. Accommodation prices tend to be a bit lower than in Rome, and there are several free attractions to enjoy, like the Duomo (tower access is extra), Piazza Michelangelo, and Ponte Vecchio.
You will have to pay to see Michelangelo’s David, and the Uffizi Gallery though. Eating out is also affordable though if you stick with local cuisine.
Rome vs. Florence: Choose Florence or Rome based on your travel style and interests
When it comes to deciding between Florence and Rome, you should consider their own travel style and interests. Each of these two cities offers its own distinct charm.
Choose Rome: History buffs | Bucket list chaser | Active traveler | Shopping | Sprawling city | Many neighborhoods to explore
Rome is a vibrant city that is filled with amazing art, architecture, and culture. It is home to iconic landmarks as well as many other lesser-known attractions.
You can 10000% stay active hopping from one attraction and UNESCO site to the next – easily filling up your itinerary. One can spend hours exploring its ancient streets, discovering hidden gems in its countless churches, and enjoying the delicious Italian cuisine.
Choose Florence: Art lover | Relaxed getaway | Compact | Easy to navigate | Romantic
On the other hand, Florence’s most defining feature is its art and architecture. Its streets are filled with Renaissance-era landmarks such as the Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Pitti, and the Duomo.
You can take in the vibes and views whilst admiring the city’s many sculptures and monuments. Art lovers will be in heaven in Florence, as it is home to some of the world’s most famous works of art such as Michelangelo’s David.
If you are looking for a more relaxed and laid-back atmosphere, you should consider visiting Florence. The city offers a slower pace than Rome, allowing one to enjoy its tranquil atmosphere and take in the sights at a leisurely pace.
Florence also offers plenty of excellent restaurants, cozy cafes, and relaxing parks to explore.
How to add Rome and Florence to your Italy Itinerary
If you are interested in exploring both Rome and Florence on a single trip, then here is a 5, 7, and 10 day itinerary. You can read the full guide and travel tips here – 7 days in Tuscany itinerary
- Day 1: Rome (arrive and stay here for the next 3 days)
- Day 2: Rome & Vatican City
- Day 3: Rome
- Day 4: Florence (arrive and stay for the trip duration)
- Day 5: Florence
- Day 6: Pisa day trip
- Day 7: San Gimignano (day trip or stay there)
- Day 8: Lucca day trip
- Day 9: Explore Siena for a day
- Day 10: Chianti wine tour
Start your trip in Rome, spend 3 days here and then take a train to Florence. Spend 2 days in Florence and wrap up your 5 day Italy itinerary.
Or extend your vacation by keeping Florence as a base to explore Tuscany (days 6 to 10).
Day 1: Rome
Start your vacation in the Eternal City by exploring the iconic Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Tour this magnificent landmark and its surrounding area.
After that, take a stroll along Via dei Fori Imperiali and visit Rome’s bustling piazzas such as Piazza Navona.
In the evening, head to Trastevere for some traditional Roman cuisine.
Day 2: Rome & Vatican City
Head to the Vatican and visit St. Peter’s Basilica, Sistine Chapel, and the Vatican Museums.
Then continue your tour of Rome by exploring some of its lesser-known attractions. Take a walk along the Tiber River and take in the city’s stunning views.
Visit the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain. Afterward, spend some time shopping and dining at a trattoria!
Day 3: Rome
Explore the Pantheon in the morning, before it gets too crowded. Then head to the beautiful Villa Borghese gardens and visit some of the city’s breathtaking museums, such as Galleria Borghese and the Capitoline Museum.
Day 4 – 5: Florence
Leave Rome behind and head to Tuscany, where you’ll be spending the next few days exploring some of Italy’s most beautiful landscapes.
Spend your first 2 days in Florence, and take in its stunning architecture and art.
Visit the Uffizi Gallery, the Duomo, and Piazzale Michelangelo before heading off to explore some of the smaller towns in Tuscany like San Gimignano and Siena.
Day 6 – 10: Tuscany
Head to Pisa and spend one day there. Visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Miracles Square. Later wander the city, and soak in the sunset by the Arno river banks. (Day 6)
Next visit San Gimignano and Lucca, two of Tuscany’s most beautiful towns, and explore their historic center. (Days 7 and 8)
Spend your 9th day exploring Siena’s beautiful landscapes. Explore the historic center, Siena Cathedral, and Basilica of San Domenico, and climb the steep steps of Torre del Mangia for amazing views!
Then hang out at the Piazza del Campo, and enjoy a nice meal.
Continue your exploration of Tuscany by driving through the beautiful Chianti vineyards and stopping in some of the local towns.
Sample the region’s famous wines before heading off to Rome on day 10.
Read other 10 day Europe itineraries
The distance between Rome and Florence is 260.7 km (162 miles). High-speed trains from Rome to Florence take 1 hour and 30 minutes, and it takes you through the scenic Lazio and Tuscany regions.
If you are driving, it will be about 3 hours (one way).
Where to Stay in Rome
For a short trip to Rome, consider staying in a centrally located neighborhood so that all the major attractions will be within walking distance.
Accommodations near the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Trastevere, and Prati (north of the Vatican) are great options for all budget levels.
Here are some of our favorites in Rome,
- Prassede Palace Hotel in Rome: This is a 4 star property located in the historic centre, super close to the Colosseum, and the Roma Termini Station. It is also within walking distance to various trattorias, and public transportation. Click to book your stay here
- Atlante Star Hotel: Another 4 star hotel, Atlante offers an amazing scenic restaurant and is located close to Vatican City. When you stay at this hotel, you will get to enjoy a free breakfast. Book your stay here
- Condotti Boutique Hotel: Condotti Boutique is a mid-budget hotel, just minutes away from the Spanish Steps. This spot is great for sightseeing as well as shopping! Book your stay here
Where to Stay in Florence
Choose a Florence hotel at the centre, and soak in the views of the Duomo from your accommodation.
- La Terrazza sul Duomo B&B: La Terrazza is our favorite place to stay in Florence. Choose a room with a view, and at sunset head up to the rooftop to access uninterrupted views of Duomo and other city landmarks. Book your stay here
- Grand Hotel Cavour Florence: Stay at the upscale Grand Hotel, and hang out at their rooftop bar. Click to view photos and prices
- Locanda dei Guelfi: Locanda dei Guelfi is another hotel offering rooftop access so that you take in the city views. This hotel is located near the Accademia Gallery, Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, as well as the Santa Maria Novella train station. Book your stay here
Rome vs Florence: The Verdict
Rome is definitely ideal for those who are looking to explore a historical city with plenty of attractions and activities, while Florence is better suited for those interested in art and culture.
Rome is largely spread, and a big city. Florence is compact, picturesque, and easily walkable.
When it comes to nightlife, Rome is a better option. From wine bars to nightclubs, there are plenty of places where you can enjoy a drink and dance the night away.
Both cities have plenty of affordable activities and attractions available, so it really comes down to what you’re looking for during your trip. If budget is your main concern, Rome will be the more affordable option; but if you’d like to experience a smaller city with stunning architecture and art, Florence may be the better choice.
We absolutely loved exploring Rome, and it could be because we LOVE big cities and historical sites. Rome is the perfect city break for couples, bucket list chasers, and families alike!
~ La Mia Roma
Read our other Italy travel guides