Do you know what the "Stendhal syndrome" is ? It is the reaction (elevated heart rate, trembling, palpitations...) to a work of art of extreme beauty. Stendhal coined the term when he visited Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance and home to the masterpieces of geniuses such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo**.
If you have already decided that visiting Florence is one of the things to do during your trip to Rome, you must first know the different ways to travel from one city to another, whether by bus, train, car or plane.
The best way to get to Florence from Rome: an organised tour
My favourite way to visit Florence from Rome is as part of an organised tour that you can book online in advance. The best part? You don't have to worry about anything, you'll enjoy a heightened experience with an English-speaking guide and you can even take the opportunity to see other cities such as Pisa and its iconic Leaning Tower.
In this case, the trip which departs from one of Rome's main stations in the centre is usually on an air-conditioned bus (very important in summer in Rome!) and takes about 3 hours. However, if you choose the option of booking a small group tour to Florence from Rome, you will be picked up and dropped off at your hotel. Also, with this option you will travel with just a few other people in a comfortable minivan.
During the tour you will cross the Ponte Vecchio, the only bridge in Florence that was not destroyed in World War II, and you will see the marvellous dome of the Santa Maria di Fiori cathedral, made of four million bricks. And the icing on the cake: you will visit **Michelangelo'**s famous David.
Types of tours to visit Florence from Rome
The minimum duration of a tour from Rome to Florence is usually about 12 hours including the return trip, but you can also book a multi-day tour if you want to make the most of your trip in Italy and visit Rome, Bologna, Siena, Florence and Venice.
If you're looking for a personalised tour, you have the option of booking a full-day excursion from Rome to Florence and Pisa for a small group of up to 15 people, transfers in private vehicles and tickets for the Accademia Gallery in Florence and the Baptistery and Duomo in Pisa for around 257 euros - perfect for the more discerning traveller!
Or, if you prefer, you can book a day trip from Rome to Florence which includes bus travel with 50 passengers, local guide and all for 121 euros.
What do excursions to Florence usually include?
- A professional English-speaking guide.
- Transfers between cities.
- Free cancellation.
- Hotel accommodation and meals on the multi-day tour.
In this article I compare the different excursions you can book from Rome so that you can choose the option that best suits your interests and your budget. There is something to suit all budgets - take a look!
How to get to Florence by train: the most convenient way to get to Florence
I find the train the most comfortable way to get to Florence from Rome. The journey takes only 1.5 hours and you will hardly notice it. For example, the Italo company operates every day from 5:40 am, with a frequency of 15 minutes or half an hour, depending on the time of day, until 8:40 pm.
The price usually ranges in total, one way, between 40€ and a maximum of 90€ on peak days, such as weekends and during the summer season. You can find deals for €21.75 one way, but keep an eye out as these journeys usually take around 4 hours, rather than an hour and a half. To find the best price I suggest you book your tickets online as far in advance as possible - there's a lot of demand!
Specifically, trains depart from Rome Termini, the capital's main railway station, and arrive at Santa Maria Novella in Florence, which is located in the heart of the city and is well connected by public transport.
- Train fare: from €40 return.
- Operating companies: Italo, Frecciarossa and Frecciargento.
- Journey time: one and a half hours.
- Recommended if... you are short on time during your trip.
How to get to Florence by bus: the cheapest way to get there
On a budget? Don't worry because buses in Italy are very cheap, especially the route between Rome and Florence, as it's one of the most popular trips for travellers but also for Italians. You'll find real bargains from €4.97 one way. However, be warned, the journey usually takes between three and a half and four hours, depending on the ticket you choose. If you don't mind taking longer, go for it!
In this case, I recommend using ** Itabus buses**, one of the cheapest companies and one that runs a large number of routes between these two cities every day. The first buses from Rome leave at 6am and the last ones at 11:45pm. They are also quite comfortable and have air conditioning, free wifi (very important for hanging out) and you get a bottle of water. What more could you ask for?
Disadvantage of the bus
The downside? Time is money when travelling and compared to the train it takes twice as long. On the other hand, the main disadvantage of the bus is that the bus station in Rome (Largo Guido Mazzoni) is quite a bit further from the centre than the train station, which will make you lose even more time as you will have to take another transport first. My advice is to skip the hassle and book a tour.
- Price: from €10 return.
- Operating companies: Itabus, the cheapest; MarinoBus, Flixbus...
- Journeytime: 3 and a half to 4 hours.
- Recommended if... you are a born saver.
Nuria's Traveller Tip
If you don't mind wasting time travelling and you want to go by bus to save money, I advise you to use a ticket comparator, such as "checkmybus". You'll save a few euros!
How to get to Florence by car: the most practical option
If you are a free soul and don't like to depend on anyone or anything, renting a car is the best option. The advantage is that you'll be able to stop at places like Cinque Terre, where you'll see the five most charming villages I've ever seen, and the stunning Amalfi coast. Don't forget to try some of the best Italian wine on your trip to the capital of Tuscany. Chinchini!
The drive takes about three to three and a half hours on the motorway and you have to pay a toll of 18,40 €. Please note that there is no route that allows you to avoid tolls. For example, if you are travelling alone it will cost you a total of €42 each way, including the toll and petrol, plus car rental!
In my opinion, if you add up all the costs, it is a rather expensive means of transport compared to the previous ones. It is only recommended if you are a group of 4 or 5 people. Also, car rental companies usually charge an extra fee for returning the car in another city.
- Price: from €42 between petrol and tolls.
- Companies operating: Sixt, Europcar, Rentalcar
- Travel time: 3.5 hours
- Recommended if... travelling in a group
BlaBlaCar: the more adventurous option
If you are a globetrotter and love to meet local people on your travels... Read carefully! In Italy, BlaBlaCar, a service where people agree to share vehicles and travel expenses, has recently become very popular. If you're not shy, I recommend it - it's perfect for chatting and meeting new people! In this case, the journey will be part of the experience.
Generally the minimum price on BlaBlaCar is around €12 one way. What's the downside? Drivers usually post their trips two or three days in advance so you won't be able to plan anything far in advance.
Plane: the worst way to get to Florence from Rome
If you're thinking of flying to Florence from Rome, I recommend you discard this idea. Why? Very easy: the prices are exorbitant (in low season you can pay around 160 €), there are few airlines that fly this route and the trips are usually with a stopover.
However, you can find some "bargains" in low-cost airlines like Ryanair or Vueling for 90 €. However, as I said, you will have to transfer at an airport and buy your ticket well in advance. It will take you twice as long as other means of transport and on top of that it is the most expensive. In my opinion, it's not worth it in any case.
- Price: 160€ average price
- Operating companies: Ryanair, Vueling
- Travel time: 4 hours with stopover
- Recommended if... you find a bargain.
In short, we compare the different options for getting to Florence
But... Which is the best option? You already know the pros and cons of each of the means of transport, but if you still can't decide between taking an excursion, the train or the bus, I'm going to give you some tips to help you make a decision. As I said, I would rule out the car or plane because of their very high price.
Is it better to go on an excursion, train or bus?
- I recommend the excursion if... you are only going to be in Rome for a few days, but you want to take advantage of the trip to get to know Florence. In this case, the best thing to do is to book a day trip to Florence because the guide will take you to the emblematic monuments and masterpieces and you won't waste time in planning, getting your bearings with the map or in the endless queues at the museums... You'll be on your way!
- I recommend the train if... you like to travel on your own. It's the fastest and most comfortable option, but book in advance! Ideally, you should buy your tickets one month in advance.
- I recommend the bus if... you have more days, you are the king of low cost and you like to travel cheap. I promise it won't be as uncomfortable as you imagine! It is another of the most popular means of transport in beautiful Italy.
Overview of the different options to get to Florence
The best option
Price: from €121 return
Duration: one day trip
You can book it with Hellotickets
The fastest option
Price: from 40€ round trip
Duration: 1 hour and a half
Companies: Italo, Frecciarossa and Frecciargento
The cheapest option
Price: from £10 return
Duration: 3.5 or 4 hours
Companies: Itabus, MarinoBus, Flixbus...
The most practical and expensive option
Price: 100€ one way
Duration: 3 hours
Rent a car with Sixt, Europcar...
The most expensive and cumbersome option
Price: from 90€.
Duration: depends (almost all with stopover)