Florence is a great walking city, but sometimes you need a little help. You can catch the orange ATAF buses for trips around the city that are just too long to walk (or if the weather is really atrocious!). They are easy to use – simply purchase your ticket from one of the newspaper vendors around town (you can purchase tickets on board but they are more expensive). Currently the rates are €1.20 for 90 minutes for a regular ticket, although they sell multiple day tickets as well.
As you enter the bus (preferably through the front or back doors – save the middle door for exiting passengers), be sure to validate your ticket in one of the little yellow machines. If you are caught without a validated ticket, you will be fined – not knowing the rules is not a valid excuse to avoid the fine!
Check the ATAF website for route planners, fares, and schedules:
The buses are a great way to travel around Florence. If you are only in town for a day, leave your luggage at the train station, hop aboard a bus, and hit the highlights of this spectacular city!
You don't need to take a traditional tour bus to get to Sienna, San Gimignano, or other neighboring cities. It is so easy and affordable to take the public bus. The buses are nice and comfortable and run on a fairly regular schedule. There are direct buses btw Florence and Sienna. And regular buses usually to San G only most of the time you need to stop to switch in Poggibonsi.
You could even do both of these cities in one day (if you just want a taste of each). I took the bus to Sienna first (about an hour and 15m ride for about 6 euros) and then after exploring for a while decided to check for buses to San Gimignano. There were quite a few and I was able to get another ticket (about 5 euros) from Sienna to San G. A little over an hour later I was there. The ride is pretty and bus really convenient. The only thing is on the way back to Florence (from San G) I needed to switch in Poggibonsi. I timed it perfectly so the wait was minimal but if you don't check the schedules carefully you could be waiting for a bit. The other thing when leaving San G the bus stop is a not clearly labeled. There are two waiting spots and at first I was a bit confused. Luckily, enough people speak English that I was able to get to the right one. Just leave yourself a little extra time just in case!
Check out my travel pages for more info and pics of San G and Sienna.
If you like to go to Siena or San Gimignano you have to take a bus at the SITA bus station. This is situated in via Santa Caterina da Siena; it is around 100 meters from Santa Maria Novella train station.
There are various buses to Siena every day. The journey should takes one hour to one hour and half to get there. Ask for a "linea RAPIDA" bus. These buses are faster than the ordinary ones.
As far as I know there aren't any direct buses to San Gimignano. I had to take a bus to Poggibonsi. From there I took another bus to San Gimignano.
Agile is the new ATAF smart card that holds within its chip a series of 60 minute tickets: exactly what’s been missing between the four ride ticket and the monthly passes. It’s available in 10.00 and 20.00 denominations and it comes real handy when you want to have a batch of tickets for yourselves and your friends.
You can get Carta Agile in every newsstand and tabacconist that usually sell Atafa tickets.
It can be shared by more people.
E-card available in 2 fares:
€ 10 = 12 tickets/valid 60 minutes
€ 20 = 25 tickets/valid 60 minutes
The SITA bus station sits 100 meters from the Santa Maria Novella train station. You purchase your tickets inside and the waiting area is there, as well. there is a snack stand there and a few restaurants are within a 1 minute walk if you have to wait for long. The bathrooms are pay bathrooms.
From here you have connections to most smaller cities that trains do not run to. One of the most popular and best destinations is San Gimignano. Sienna and other are served by both. I rode the buses on 4 different occasions and the drivers were helpful each time and the buses were excellent.
If you are going to and from Florence and Siena, the quickest most convenient way is the SITA bus. The Siena bus station is at Piazza Gramsci near the Jolly Hotel (unless that location has been changed) and in Florience it is across from the train station, Santa Maria Novella.
Make sure you get on the bus that does not stop at every little village. That would be a scenic ride, but takes twice the time. Look for the RAPIDA
If arriving by car, the best is to leave it in a hotel garage and use the local bus which cost one euro only for a ride in one direction. Besides, since it has privileged routes for bus only, it is more quicker then the car and can take you everywhere inside the historic centre of the town.
Most of the main sights in the city are within walking distance of each other, but you may be tired of walking or you have to go somewhere far from the city center; for instance to Piazzale Michelangelo.
Urban transportation in Florence is run by ATAF (Azienda Trasporti Area Fiorentina). It provides a network of bus lines that serves Florence and surroundings. ATAF buses run around the city from 6 a.m. until 1 a.m..
Tickets and bus passes are sold at tobacconists, bars and at many newstands. You can buy your ticket on the bus too, but you'll have to pay a bit more than the ordinary price.
Don't forget to validate your ticket in a box inside the bus to avoid a steep fine.
The tourist bus includes 15 stops of particular interest along the itinerary as following: Stazione FS - Martelli - San Marco - Colonna - Beccaria - Tintori - Zecca Vecchia - Piazzale - Galileo - Machiavelli - Porta Romana - San Felice - Tornabuoni - Antinori - Unita.
It is possible to get and off at every stop.
Bus frequency: every 30 minutes, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. every 60 minutes. Timetable: summertime 9 a.m. to 11p.m., wintertime 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Price: adults € 20,00, children € 10,00, ticket is valid 24 hours.
Tickets can be bought on board, at some stops or in selected hotels.
One of the easiest ways to get from the airport to downtown Florence is to take the SITA shuttle. As you walk out of the airport terminal, turn right and head towards the line of taxis. Walk through the taxis and cross the street to the bus stop marked “Shuttle Downtown.” The blue SITA bus runs every half hour from the airport direct to the central train station (Santa Maria Novella) and drops you off in front of it. Buy your ticket (€5) from the driver – pay in cash.
I had done the research on this before heading to Florence and everything (books, website, etc.) told me that I would need to purchase the ticket in the terminal from a machine. But this was not the case – the driver sold the tickets. I looked all over the terminal and could not find the machine mentioned so I finally went to the bus and asked the driver, who sold me and everyone else the ticket.
You can use this same shuttle in reverse to get from the train station back to the airport as you are leaving Florence. It took about 15 minutes to make the drive. At the train station, wait in the same place where the bus originally dropped you off – on the side of the building near the overhang and the small bike parking and taxis waiting. The blue bus will come past the front of the station, passing all the city buses, and make the loop to the bus stop, which is marked by a sign that says “Vola in Bus” and has SITA in the top right corner. (Note: there are other blue buses – this one will say SITA on the side).
Our bus back the airport was about 10 minutes late (we waited 40 minutes) but once it arrived we learned why – the bus was packed full of people and they all had luggage, which is loaded under the bus, so it took longer to load than expected. The driver can help you load your luggage under the bus if you need help.
This was definitely the easiest way to go from the airport to the city center and back again.
After the SITA bus dropped me off at the Santa Maria Novella train station, I still had about a 10 minute walk to my hotel. This was an easy walk, but the roads were very busy and chaotic. Dragging around my suitcase on cobbled streets was awkward. But Florence has some underground walkways around the train station that make it easier and safer to cross to the other side of the streets.
You will notice quiet, small buses roaming the streets of Florence, and they are the ATAF electric buses, calle bussini. They mainly run around the center of Florence and its small streets, where larger buses can't go. They can be quite useful in the heat or rain. Can't remember the exact price, but they were cheap. I think a Euro - Euro and half.
There are four main bus companies that serve Florence.
LAZZI: serves the region North and West of Florence. They are located in the Piazza della Stazione, right next to the porno movie theatre.
SITA: Serves the south and east. This is where you get the bus for Siena and San Gimignano (via Poggibonsi). The station is located across from the station in Via di Santa Caterina di Siena (the street that connects to Via della Scala).
COPIT: serves Pistoia and Abertone (the mini-ski resort just an hour from Florence).
CAP: the north and the Mugello. Located in Largo Fratelli Alinari 9
VOLA IN BUS is the fastest and cheapest way to go to andfrom Florence’s historic city centre and the convention sites.Tickets may be purchased on board, at the Airport, at theSita Bus Station, or at the ATAF Ticket Booth (Central Station).
Departures from Sita Bus Station (Central Station):
05:30* 06:00 06:30 07:00 07:3008:00 08:30 09:00 09:30 10:0010:30 11:00 11:30 12:00 12:3013:00 13:30 14:00 14:30 15:0015:30 16:00 16:30 17:00 17:3018:00 18:30 19:00 19:30 20:0021:00* 22:00* 23:00**
Departures from A. Vespucci Airport:
06:00 06:30 07:00 07:30 08:0008:30 09:00 09:30 10:00 10:3011:00 11:30 12:00 12:30 13:0013:30 14:00 14:30 15:00 15:3016:00 16:30 17:00 17:30 18:0018:30 19:00 19:30 20:00 20:3021:30* 22:30* 23:30** to P.zza Stazione(Largo Alinari)
Monthly ATAF bus passes are valid for this service.
You can easily walk all around Florence. For an inexpensive city tour take bus number 12 or 13. Each makes an hour long circuit through the city. It's a good way to familiarize yourself with the city.
You can also take the orange electric buses (routes A, B, C, or D) which are able to navigate Florence's narrow streets.
You must buy your tickets before boarding. You can buy them from newstands, tobacconists, or the bus termini. You can buy a daily pass or a ticket for four trips, which works out a little cheaper than single tickets.
The Hop-on Hop-off double-decker tour bus a great deal!! 20 Euro for 24 hours. It goes to Fiesole, Piazelle Michelangelo, Pitti Palace and plenty in between. You can get on and off at any place around the city. We took it several times in a day and it was great!! The audio tour is a nice compliment to a great way to see the city.