Neighbourhoods of Florence
Florence is a notoriously walkable city especially if you are a tourist. While all of the main attractions are within the historic centre, you can walk further crossing different Florence neighbourhoods in about 30 minutes. The feel of Florence changes going from the historic centre to its neighbourhoods.
Here is an outline of the main neighbourhoods in Florence:
Santa Maria Novella
The Santa Maria Novella area is the closest neighbourhood to the Santa Maria Novella train station, and it is still very close to the centre of the city (about a 10-15 minute walk). This is a good neighbourhood to stay in if you are on a budget or want to be close to main train station, but you will probably have to pick you accommodation carefully. The part of town that is immediately next to the station leaves a lot to be desired. Hotel Santa Maria Novella at five-minute walk from the train station is perfect if you are arriving late or leaving early by train.
This neighbourhood is in the very heart of Florence, you are only minutes away from places like the Florence Cathedral, Uffizi gallery and the Palazzo Vecchio. This would be a good neighbourhood to stay in if you want a room with a view, if you are staying for a very short amount of time and want to be extremely close to everything.
In Piazza della Signoria, a ten room Bed and Breakfast comes recommended. The views of Piazza della Signoria and the cathedral's dome from the top floor is simply bewitching
San Marco & Santissima Annunziata
This is the university area that is just north of the historic centre. You will not find buzzing restaurants and nightlife, but you might find an escape from the main tourist hubs of Florence. It is still an easy walk back to the centre, and this area has important galleries like the Accademia which is probably high on your list of places to visit in Florence.
Santa Croce is located between Duomo and Oltrarno, and it is the place to be if you want to be close to the centre, and be right on top of some great nightlife. This area is most well-known for the Santa Croce Basilica, and the streets are lined with people taking advantage of aperitivo hour in the many bars and restaurants. Stay here if you want to feel like more of a local, take advantage of nightlife, and discover the artworks in the Basilica.
Oltrarno is one of the areas that is located across the river and is home to many artisan workshops. If you stay somewhere around the Piazza Santo Spirito, you can take advantage of the lively nightlife in the many bars and restaurants. Other areas close to this with similar vibes are San Frediano and San San Niccolò. There is not an extensive range of hotels across the river, but even if you do not stay here, it is an easy walk across the river to take advantage of the nightlife.
If you want to be right in the middle of everything, you could try finding accommodation near Piazza San Lorenzo, which is located between the train station and the Duomo. There is a market everyday on the streets surrounding the church, so if you thrive on crowds then this might be the place for you. If you can find accommodation on the side streets they are generally a bit quieter while still being in the thick of the city. This is a great place to stay if you want to explore the food culture in Florence, want to explore the markets, and want to be relatively close to both the train station and the main attractions.