Florence, with its fine art, food and fortified palaces, may not immediately spring to mind as a budget-friendly break, but it has plenty to offer backpackers on a shoestring budget. The entire city is an open-air museum, with spectacular architecture, historic palazzi and renaissance sculptures to be explored even before you set foot inside a museum. The city’s many local tavernas and food markets make it easy to find authentic and affordable Tuscan fare. Likewise, a boom in hostel accommodation has made it possible to sleep cheap and chic too.
Unlike other backpacker hotspots, Florence’s hostels are small in size and rarely offer upwards of twenty rooms. Book ahead. From 17th century palazzi to luxurious spa facilities, here are five of the best hostels in Florence.
1. Tasso Hostel
Tasso Hostel is located in Oltrarno, the creative quarter of Florence. It’s the perfect option for budget-conscious travellers who want to be in the thick of the action but don’t want to sacrifice style. The hostel is a giddy mix of eclectic colour schemes, retro fittings and vintage furniture. The bar, which was once a school assembly hall, boasts its own theatre and regularly hosts local and international artists, musicians, and writers. Visitors can choose from three or six-bed dorms, as well as private and twin rooms.
Via Villani, 15
2. Academy Hostel
Academy Hostel is located in the pulsing heart of the city, just a few steps from the Duomo di Firenze and Michelangelo’s David at the Galleria della Academia. Housed on the first floor of Baron Ricasoli’s 17th-century palazzo, the hostel has retained its stucco cornices, vaults and sunlit terrace, making it the perfect setting for those seeking to immerse themselves in history. Visitors can choose from four, five and six-bedroom dorms with private or shared bathrooms.
Via Riscasoli, 9
3. Plus Florence
Travellers looking for a little added luxury without paying a premium should look no further than Plus Florence. It boasts an indoor and outdoor swimming pool – a rarity in Florence. With its stylish bar and restaurant, rooftop terrace, and spa facilities – including a Turkish bath and sauna – Plus Florence feels more like a boutique hotel than hostel. Just a short stroll from Firenze Statuto Railway station, the hostel is less than 15 minutes from Florence’s main attractions. Visitors can choose from four to eight-bed dorms, as well as a range of reasonably priced private rooms.
Via Santa Caterina D’Alessandria, 15
4. Hostel Archi Rossi
Run by two charismatic brothers – Leonardo and Marco – Hostel Archi Rossi is a friendly and laidback hostel conveniently located just 250 yards from Santa Maria Novella train station, the gateway to the rest of Tuscany. Artworks from guests and locals adorn the walls of the lobby, leading out to a charming private garden and terrace. After a day of pummeling the pavements, guests can make use of the in-house wellness centre, which includes a sauna, hot tub and bookable massages.
Via Faenza, 94 R
5. Hostel Gallo d’Oro
Hostel Gallo d’Oro is more home away from home than hostel. Located in the historic heart of Florence, the hostel prides itself on its ‘casa familiare’ ethos, offering sparkling service and home-cooked food. Its thirteen rooms are cheerfully decorated – sleeping four to six guests on letti a castello or ‘castle beds’. Additionally, throughout the day, the hostel provides a spectacular buffet service offering everything from breakfast pastries in the morning, to paninis and pasta in the afternoons.
Via Cavour, 104
By Allie d’Almo