Should I Travel To Venice Or Florence – Which Trip Is Better?
Italy is one of the most popular travel destinations and it’s not hard to see why. With ancient ruins, cultural wonders and incredible food, it has everything one could desire when it comes to a vacation destination. However, establishing which Italian city to visit presents its challenges.
Florence is the better choice because it offers a much more authentic experience and has a longer shoulder season, which means fewer crowds. However, if you want to explore historic wonders and go island hopping, then Venice is the choice for you.
In this article, we compare and contrast these Italian hotspots to help you decide whether to visit Venice or Florence. For both cities, we discuss the best times to visit, the landscape, cultural attractions, local cuisine and nightlife, providing a full breakdown of what you can expect in Florence and Venice.
How Far is Venice from Florence?
The distance between Venice and Florence is around 160 miles when travelling by car, but depending on your mode of transport this can vary slightly. You can get from Florence to Venice by train, as both cities are very well connected via Italy’s rail network. A high-speed train service can get you from Florence to Venice in approximately 2 hours.
Alternatively, you can take a bus to get between them, but this could take longer depending on the route. You can also opt to fly between Venice and Florence as they both have large airports. However, when factoring in cost and sustainability, it is much more effective to travel between them by other means. If you want to visit both Venice and Florence on an amazing Italian vacation, be sure to check out our 9 day Rome, Florence and Venice tour, where all transport is handled for you by our expert team.
The Best Time to Visit: Florence vs Venice
The best time to visit Italy will largely depend on your own preferences and desires. Florence and Venice have similar tourist seasons, with both getting very crowded during the peak summer months of July and August. It is advisable to visit Venice or Florence during the shoulder seasons as there are fewer crowds and cheaper prices.
However, the best time to visit these Italian cities is slightly different and we expand on each of them below.
The Weather in Florence
The best time to visit Florence is during springtime, between April and June. The weather in Florence during this time is much milder, with flowers bursting into bloom adding to the atmosphere. Average daytime temperatures in Florence range from 59°F to 77°F, which is perfect for exploring museums and visiting the lush gardens.
The shoulder season in Florence is also much longer than in other parts of Italy as it extends into September and October. During fall, Florence enjoys pleasant weather and fewer tourists. This is one of the best times to visit Florence if you want to enjoy outdoor activities or explore the verdant vineyards of Tuscany.
The Weather in Venice
Much like Florence, spring is one of the best times to visit Venice as summer can bring scorching heat to the lagoon. The weather is crisp with the promise of summer and tourists have yet to fill up the narrow alleys and canals. Temperatures in April and June in Venice range from 57°F to 72°F, which is ideal for exploring the city.
It is also worth noting that Venice has a significant flood season, known as ‘acqua alta’. This period of high water lasts from October to January, with November having the highest chance of flooding. You should avoid visiting Venice around this time of year as it could severely impact your travel plans and always check local weather forecasts.
Italian Landscapes: Venice vs Florence
Venice and Florence are some of the most popular cities in Italy, with each boasting distinct features which add to their charm. They have very different landscapes as Venice is on the Adriatic coast and Florence is landlocked, but both are brimming with beauty.
Venice – The City of Canals
The most striking feature of Venice is its iconic canals and waterways. The main thoroughfare is the Grand Canal, which is lined with historic buildings and palaces. This historic architecture dominates Venice’s skyline, with Gothic and Renaissance buildings rising directly from the edge of the glistening water. There are also some examples of Byzantine architecture, which makes the experience much more varied when compared to Florence.
The benefit of visiting Venice is that you can explore its many islands, which offer a welcome escape from the bustling city. You can take a tour of the Venetian Lagoon and visit incredible sites like Murano, which is famous for glassmaking, and Burano, which has colourful houses and incredible photo opportunities.
Florence – The Gateway to Tuscany
Similar to Venice, Florence is made up of historic buildings and landmarks which make it one of Italy’s most beautiful cities. The compact city center is filled with some of the most famous landmarks in Florence, such as the Florence Cathedral and the Palazzo Vecchio. The Arno River flows through the city and can be crossed via the iconic Ponte Vecchio.
The buildings in Florence are heavily influenced by the Renaissance, as this is the supposed birthplace of the historic movement. Tourist attractions like Pitti Palace and the Medici Chapels showcase the city’s fascinating artistic heritage. These classical designs can be found all over Florence which makes it a great place for sightseeing in Italy.
Surrounding Florence, visitors can explore the rolling hills of Tuscany. You can view this lush landscape from Giotto’s Campanile and get some mesmerising photos. Alternatively, Florence is well connected to other towns in the region meaning you can easily embark on vineyard tours and day trips to destinations like San Gimignano.
Culture & History: Florence vs Venice
Both Venice and Florence are brimming with cultural experiences and historical sites, which makes them excellent destinations on an Italian tour. However, these cities showcase very different artistic styles and cultural influences. Florence is synonymous with the Renaissance and is famous for producing artists like da Vinci, whereas Venice has more Gothic styles in architecture.
Below, we highlight the different cultural and historical highlights of Florence and Venice to help you decide which city is best for you.
Florence – An Art and History Lovers Delight
If you love exploring artistic heritage while on vacation then some of the best things to see in Florence are the exceptional collections of the Uffizi and Accademia Galleries. Many masterpieces from the Renaissance are housed in these historic institutions, making them great places to visit for those who want to learn more about Florence’s artistic legacy.
One of the most important elements of Florence’s history is the influence of the Medici family. Starting as wealthy merchants in the 15th century, the Medici family were patrons of the arts and contributed heavily to the flourishing of Florence during the Renaissance. Sites like the Medici Chapels and the Palazzo Medici Riccardi stand as testaments to their influence and impact on the city.
Alongside its artistic and historical offerings, one of the best things to do in Florence is to visit the elegant Florence Cathedral (Duomo). The iconic dome immediately draws the eye and is a symbol of Florence. On your visit, you can also explore the Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile to learn more about Florence’s architectural history.
Venice – Where Romance & Architecture Collide
While Florence has some impressive landmarks, Venice is not much different. Top attractions in Venice like St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace offer tremendous insight into the city’s history and culture. The ornate details of these buildings showcase the wealth and influence that Venice enjoyed when it was a powerful maritime republic.
Another of Venice’s landmarks that offers amazing cultural insight is the Rialto Bridge. Here visitors can take in some of the best views of the Grand Canal and explore an exciting array of shops and cafes to connect with locals. It is also visually breathtaking, with stone reliefs and statues adorning its features for the perfect scenic experience.
It’s no secret that Venice is one of the most romantic places in Italy. The meandering canals and narrow lanes, plus the gorgeous architecture at every corner create a truly enchanting atmosphere that is perfect for couples visiting Italy. Be sure to explore Venice’s hidden gems on a gondola ride for a more authentic cultural treat.
Cuisine: Florence vs Venice
The main difference between the cuisine of Florence and Venice comes down to their locations. Florence is known for its decadent dishes that are inspired by the rustic Tuscan hills, while Venice takes full advantage of its coastal position with extravagant seafood. They are both excellent destinations for foodies and we dive into the details below.
Florence – Enjoy the Bounties of Tuscany
Although the weather in Florence in November may not be as inviting as the warm summer months, this is a great time to visit for sensational culinary experiences. The harvest will be in full swing by this time meaning you can enjoy artisanal delicacies, like truffles and olive oil. Florence also gets some of its best wines from Tuscany and you’ll often see locals sipping on glasses of red Chianti.
We highly recommend trying Bistecca alla Fiorentina, a juicy steak seasoned with olive oil and rosemary. It’s a classic Florentine dish that has to be tried on your visit. Other foods in Florence that are worth sampling include, Ribollita (a hearty Tuscan soup) and Lampredotto (a sandwich filled with slow-cooked beef).
Venice – Savour the Freshest Seafood
Venice’s location on the Adriatic Sea has heavily influenced its cuisine, with fish and other seafood dominating its culinary offering. Popular dishes in Venice include Risotto al Nero di Seppia (squid ink risotto) and Sarde in Saor (sweet and sour sardines). Another staple food in Venice is Polenta, a cornmeal-based dish that can be enjoyed hot or cold.
The best food in Venice can be found in authentic trattorias, where you can try unique dishes that locals love. The San Polo area of Venice has a fabulous selection of restaurants, many of which source their produce from the lively Rialto Market. We’d also suggest that you avoid dining in tourist-heavy areas, as your experience will be muted in comparison.
Nightlife & Entertainment: Venice vs Florence
While nightlife in Italy may not appeal to every visitor, Venice and Florence have a fabulous evening scene which makes them great places to explore once the sun goes down. Those seeking thrilling bars and sumptuous beverages will find Florence fulfils their needs while travelers seeking a more relaxed evening will be blown away by Venice.
Venice – Opera and Aperitivo
There is some incredible nightlife in Venice that will suit a variety of travellers. Whether you wish to visit the best bacari bars or experience cultural showcases, there is something for everyone in the City of Canals. With a strong aperitivo culture, you can start the evening early and try some incredible cocktails.
Some of the best nightlife in Venice can be found in Campo Santa Margherita, a spirited square in the Dorsoduro district. It’s a popular evening spot for both locals and tourists alike, with various bars and outdoor seating. The atmosphere is truly energetic and you can enjoy comfortable conversation alongside live music.
Those seeking evening entertainment that doesn’t involve bar hopping should visit the Teatro La Fenice Opera House. This historic venue hosts countless operas, ballets and classical music shows which are an extravagant way to spend an evening in Venice. They have an extensive schedule, so they are guaranteed to have something that will pique your interest.
Florence – Piazzas and Parties
The nightlife in Florence is mainly centered around its historic Piazzas, which come to life in the evening. There are a variety of bars and clubs which make for perfect evening entertainment in Florence and cater to a range of tastes. It is much livelier than Venice which enjoys a more relaxed and intimate atmosphere.
Piazza Santa Croce is a vibrant square surrounded by historic buildings. In the evenings, many come here to meet and enjoy drinks at the numerous bars and cafes. There are a variety of different venues here, including jazz bars and clubs with themed parties and acclaimed DJs, so you are certain to find somewhere special.
Likewise, Piazza Santo Spirito in the Oltrarno district is a haven for anyone who wants to enjoy the brilliant bohemian atmosphere. There are several bars surrounding the square, including quirky cocktail bars and laid-back blues bars with live music. Located near the square is the Blob Club, one of the top nightclubs in Florence and the premier place to dance the night away.
Both Venice and Florence have a wealth of attractions and sights that are certainly worth experiencing, which makes them rather hard to compare. They both have incredible architecture and historical sites which allow visitors to experience their rich culture.
However, the main differences between them come down to their locations. Florence is ideal for those who want to explore Tuscany and avoid the summer crowds. It also has a much livelier evening scene which is perfect for visitors who enjoy nightlife.
On the other hand, Venice is better suited to travelers who want to discover the different islands and make the most of the coastal cuisine. It provides a more laid-back evening experience and has a plethora of historic sites that are more varied than the ones found in Florence. Nevertheless, a visit to either of these Italian cities will leave you with fond memories and a yearning to discover more.
Thinking about a show stopping vacation to Florence or Venice? Get in touch with our experts at Italy4Real for friendly advice and bespoke itineraries.
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