Venice or Florence: which city is the best?

Ties Lagraauw

written by
Ties Lagraauw

updated 11.04.2024

When choosing travel destinations in Italy, you are often faced with the question: Venice or Florence? Venice is mesmerizing with its winding canals, enchanting gondola rides and timeless architecture. Florence is a treasure trove of artistic marvels. Both cities are worthy of your attention and offer unparalleled experiences, but in this guide, we will try to help you decide which one to choose.

The information in this article is taken from The Rough Guide to Italy, your essential guide for visiting Italy.

Visit Venice or Florence. Which one is better?

Both Venice and Florence are considered among the most sophisticated cities in Italy, but each has its own unique and distinctive appeal and cultural values. The choice of Venice or Florence depends primarily on personal preferences and interests.

Venice has a romantic atmosphere with canals and mesmerizing architecture, and is a unique city built on a cluster of islands. The Grand Canal and the famous gondolas offer a unique experience, while historical sites such as St Mark's Square, St Mark's Basilica and Doge's Palace impress with their historical significance.

Meanwhile, Florence, often referred to as the birthplace of the Renaissance, boasts an endless array of artistic and architectural marvels. The Uffizi Gallery and the Galleria dell'Accademia house masterpieces by Michelangelo, Botticelli and other world-renowned artists, representing the city's artistic heritage. The city's cultural heritage extends to literature and science, with notable figures such as Dante and Galileo having lived here.

Editors tip: can't decide, and you want to visit both cities? This is how you get from Venice to Florence.


Tips from Martina

Italy Travel Expert


"The best way to decide between Venice or Florence, is visiting both cities. Although they are only 3.5 hours apart, it's better to go for one. My choice would be Venice. Walk the less crowded paths early in the morning to see the city's true beauty. This is when Venice whispers its secrets, through the serene canals and the soft morning light".

Florence cityscape © Bob Hilscher/Shutterstock

Florence cityscape © Bob Hilscher/Shutterstock

Grand Canal, Venice, Italy © Apple Kullathida/Shutterstock

Grand Canal, Venice, Italy © Apple Kullathida/Shutterstock

Major differences between Venice and Florence

As charming cities in their own right, Venice and Florence have striking contrasts. Below we have compiled the main differences that will help you decide whether Venice or Florence is more suitable for your travelling interests.

  • Geographical location and scenery: Venice is built on a series of islands and connected by canals, creating a unique and romantic cityscape. Florence, on the other hand, which is located in the heart of Tuscany and surrounded by picturesque countryside, offers a more traditional cityscape.
  • City Structure: Venice is famous for its intricate network of canals where boats and gondolas are the main forms of transport. Florence is characterised by winding streets, alleys and piazzas designed for pedestrians and infrequent car traffic.
  • Architecture: Venice is characterised by its Venetian Gothic and Byzantine architecture with examples such as St Mark's Basilica and Doge's Palace. Florence represents Renaissance architecture, including the magnificent Florence Cathedral (Duomo), Giotto's Bell Tower and Palazzo Vecchio.
  • Regional Cuisine: Venice offers cuisine based primarily on seafood dishes, often served in beachfront restaurants. Florence, being the capital of the Tuscan region, offers traditional Tuscan cuisine with an emphasis on high-quality ingredients, olive oil and wine.
  • Transport and Excursions: Venice is famous for its canals and exploring the city by gondolas, vaporettos and water taxis provides an easy to get around. Florence can be travelled mostly on foot, which however allows you to better appreciate its historical sites and enchanting streets.
  • Romantic allure: Venice has an unparalleled romantic atmosphere, complete with gondola rides along spectacular canals and breathtaking views of historic architecture. Florence, on the other hand, offers a different kind of romance: museums with stunning artistic heritage, lush green gardens and picture-postcard views from Piazzale Michelangelo.
  • Accommodation: Venice offers luxurious canal-side hotels with historical charm, often at higher prices. Florence boasts a mix of modern and renaissance accommodations, more budget-friendly options available. Both cities deliver unique experiences reflective of their rich heritage.

Editor tip: do you want to get the best out of your trip? Check our Italy itineraries.

The duomo and campinile, Florence

The duomo and campinile, Florence

Gondolas in Venice © Shutterstock

Gondolas in Venice © Shutterstock

Costs and crowds comparison

When choosing between Venice and Florence, it is important to consider the cost and number of tourists in these cities. Venice, with its unique setting and picturesque canals, tends to attract more tourists, which is reflected in restaurant prices, accommodation and excursions.

In turn, Florence tends to offer more budget holidays. Affordable accommodation options can be found here, and dining choices range from luxury restaurants to local trattorias and charming cafes.

Among other things, Florence's urban layout helps to spread out the crowds and creates a relatively peaceful walking environment compared to the narrow streets and canals of Venice, which can be overcrowded with tourists, especially during high season.

Editor tip: make sure to check the best time to visit Venice

Venice is perfect for couples and those seeking romantic escape

Venice is ideal if you are craving a unique romantic experience surrounded by picturesque canals and historical charm. Venice's Gothic architecture, maritime heritage and artistic treasures will satisfy those who want a holiday with charm and luxury. 

Whether strolling hand in hand along the Grand Canal, riding a gondola under the iconic bridges or exploring the city's secluded corners, Venice's enchanting atmosphere creates a fairytale setting. It transports you to another world, making it an unforgettable holiday destination for couples and those seeking an unparalleled romantic escape.

Editor tip: Beyond Venice - lies a whole world of exploration. Read our guide to the 10 best day trips from Venice and enrich your trip to this romantic city.


Venice, Italy @ Shutterstock

Unforgettable and fully customizable Venice itineraries

Take an unforgettable journey through Venice with our fully customised itineraries. Immerse yourself in the canals, architecture and culture of the city, focusing on your interests for a truly personalised and enchanting experience.

  • Romantic Venice (4 days): Enjoy a weekend getaway in the most romantic of cities. This compact trip features a unique insight into the history, art and architecture of Venice.
  • A Grand Tour of Northern Italy (16 days): Explore Venice as a part of a comprehensive tour through Northern Italy.

Florence is perfect for art lovers and budget travellers

Florence is ideal if you are seeking a rich cultural experience, immersed in Renaissance art, architecture and history. Florence's status as the birthplace of the Renaissance makes it an unbeatable destination for art lovers, where you can see iconic works by legendary artists. In addition, Florence's affordability in terms of accommodation and dining makes it an appealing choice for budget travellers.

Whether you're wandering through art-filled galleries, savouring Tuscan cuisine or marvelling at the city's magnificent structures, Florence holds the promise of a cultural journey through time and creativity.

Editor tip: Travel beyond the cobbled streets of Florence and discover an enchanted world. Check out our 10 best day trips from Florence, each revealing breathtaking scenery, rich history and unforgettable experiences.


Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence, Italy @ Shutterstock

Unforgettable and fully customizable Florence itineraries

Enjoy an unforgettable journey through Florence with our carefully designed itineraries. Immerse yourself in the city's exquisite art, architecture and heritage, guided by your tastes, for a truly tailor-made and fascinating journey.

So... Venice or Florence?

In conclusion, choosing between Venice or Florence absolutely depends on your personal taste and financial preferences. Venice, with its unique romantic atmosphere, canals and Venetian Gothic architecture, is ideal for those looking for glamour and luxury. If Venice attracts with its canals and historical charm, Florence attracts with its incomparable artistic treasures and experiences that will amaze not only art fans.

When choosing a city, cost and the number of tourists of course also play an important role: Venice may be more expensive because of its popularity, while Florence offers a more budget-friendly option. Ultimately, the choice depends on whether you are attracted to the watery expanse of Venice or the artistic heritage of Florence, and depends on the experiences you desire.

Ready for a trip to Italy? Check out the snapshot of The Rough Guide to Italy.

If you prefer to plan and book your trip to Italy without any effort and hassle, use the expertise of our local travel experts to make sure your trip will be just like you dream it to be.

Ties Lagraauw

written by
Ties Lagraauw

updated 11.04.2024

Ties is a true world explorer - whether it be for work or leisure! As Content Manager at RoughGuides, and the owner of Dutch travel platform, Ties is constantly on the move, always looking for new destinations to discover.

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