Renting a Car in Florence Italy – Up-to-date Advice from a Local

You’ve got Florence on your list of places to visit in Italy and you’re ready to see Michelangelo’s David, eat gelato, and visit Tuscan vineyards.

Read through this guide to renting a car in Florence Italy. It includes the best places to rent for YOUR trip and helpful tips and tricks to make the process smooth, stress-free, and even fun! 

I live just outside of Florence and have been planning trips here since 2004.  I’ve also worked as a guide and have rented numerous cars in Florence.  I regularly assist others in renting cars here.  I hope you find this information helpful!

Want to know everything about renting a car in Italy? 
Check out our Complete Guide to Renting a Car in Italy in 2022

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase from the links, we may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Please see our Disclaimer for more information.

SHOULD YOU RENT A CAR IN FLORENCE?

You probably want to know, “Is it worth renting a car in Florence?” 

Quick Answer:  NO, if you’ll just be in Florence.  YES, if you want to explore outside of the city.

RENTING A CAR FOR FLORENCE

View of cars and scooters waiting at a traffic light in Florence, Italy.

You don’t need a rental car for your time in Florence.  It’s not a fun place to drive or park in, and you have to worry about accidentally driving into the ZTL (zona traffico limitato – limited traffic zone) and getting a multa (fine). 

It’s best to use public transport or your feet to get around the city while you’re visiting.  The historic center is small and public transport can help you when you’re tired.  Buses, the tram, and taxis are all available in the center of Florence. 

RENTING A CAR FOR THE TUSCAN COUNTRYSIDE

Car driving in the countryside of Tuscany, Italy.

If you’re based in Florence but want to do day trips into the Tuscan countryside, you have a couple of options: 

  1. Rent a car. 
  2. Have someone else drive – hire a driver, go on a tour, or go on day trips to places that you can reach by public transport from Florence (Pisa, Lucca, Siena).

Check out our post on the Best Day Trips from Florence!

If you have plans to visit Tuscany outside of Florence for more than just a day trip, I highly recommend renting a car. 

Many towns (including San Gimignano, Pienza, Montepulciano, Montalcino, Pitigliano, Saturnia, Cortona, Volterra, and beach towns like Forte dei Marmi) are best visited with your own wheels. 

Even if you’re planning on visiting a town that’s accessible by public transport (like those I mentioned above – Pisa, Lucca, and Siena), it’s still nice to travel there in your own car.

With a rental car, you will have more flexibility to explore at your leisure, and to stop when and where you want.

RENTING A CAR TO TRAVEL TO YOUR NEXT DESTINATION

Another reason to rent a car in Florence is to use it to travel to your next destination.

  • Use a Florence rental car to get to your departure airport in another city.  Stop to visit towns and landmarks along the way.
  • Use a Florence rental car to travel to and explore your next destination in Italy.
  • Use a Florence rental car to travel to another place in Italy if you have a lot of luggage and don’t want to lug it on and off trains.

Good To Know:  Remember to check the one-way drop-off fee. 

RENTING A CAR IN FLORENCE ITALY – MAIN COMPANIES

  • Hertz (FLR & City Center)
  • Avis (FLR & City Center)
  • Budget (FLR & City Center)
  • Thrifty (FLR)
  • Alamo (FLR & City Center)
  • Europcar (FLR & City Center)
  • Dollar (FLR)
  • Sixt (FLR & City Center)
  • AutoEurope (FLR)
  • Enterprise (FLR & City Center)
  • Sicily by Car (FLR & City Center)

I recommend checking out consolidators like DiscoverCars.com and AutoEurope.com for a round-up of the best deals from the main rental car companies in Florence.

WHERE TO RENT A CAR IN FLORENCE

The main places you can rent a car in Florence are:

  • Florence Peretola (FLR) airport
  • the area between the Santa Maria Novella train station and the Arno River

There are a few other places (at the Santa Maria Novella train station, near the Bagno a Ripoli suburb, in the Novoli neighborhood), but I recommend renting from the airport or the area between the train station and the river.

The best place to rent a car is at the Florence airport (more on that below). 

RENTING A CAR IN FLORENCE ITALY – WHEN TO BOOK

Florence is a popular rental car hub – most visitors to the Tuscan countryside rent a car.  So, it’s important to book in advance to guarantee you’ll get a car and get one at a good price.

The busiest times of the year for car rentals in Florence are April through October

RENTING A CAR AT THE FLORENCE AIRPORT

Signs directing arriving passengers to transportation options inside the Florence, Italy airport.

This is the easiest (and often cheapest) Florence car rental location – the Florence airport (aka Florence Peretola or Florence Amerigo Vespucci). 

ADVANTAGES OF RENTING AT THE AIRPORT (VS THE CITY CENTER)

  • It’s usually less expensive
  • If you’re flying out of Florence, it’s easy to return your car and catch your flight
  • It’s easier to drive out of the airport area than drive out of Florence city center.  Bonus – you’re really close to the Autostrada entrance.

Good To Know:  Even if you’re already in the Florence city center, you can hop on the tram for 2€ and you’ll be at the Florence Peretola (FLR) airport in 15 minutes. 

The Florence airport car rental location isn’t part of the airport.  From the airport, you’ll need to take a 5-minute shuttle bus to the car rental location.

The Florence airport car rental location is on Via Palagio degli Spini, about 500 meters from the airport.

Good To Know:  If you don’t have a lot of luggage, you can walk:

There are multiple car rental agencies in this location, so you just need to find the part of the building with your company.

After checking you in, your Florence rental car agent will give you the keys to your car, which is located in the large lot adjacent to the building.

RENTING A CAR IN THE FLORENCE CITY CENTER

Borgo Ognissanti in Florence, Italy, with some of the main car rental offices and a yellow 'garage' sign which is the garage of the main car rental companies.
Car rental offices and main garage on Borgo Ognissanti in the Florence city center

The area between the Santa Maria Novella train station and the Arno River is the car rental hub for the Florence city center, especially on Borgo Ognissanti. 

ADVANTAGE OF RENTING IN THE CITY CENTER (VS. THE AIRPORT)

  • If you’re staying in Florence, you can walk to pick up your rental car

Some of the major companies (Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz) use the Interparking Garage Europa Firenze:

The office hours for the main companies are shorter, typically 9:00 am – 5:00 pm on weekdays, and earlier closing on weekends (1:00 pm).  The garage is open until 2:00 am and reopens in the morning at 6:00 am.  If the offices are closed, you can leave your keys in the garage dropbox.

If you’re renting from Avis, Budget, Europcar, or Hertz, check-in and get your car keys at the office next to the Interparking Garage Europa Firenze, then walk up the ramp into the garage to find your car.

Good To Know:  When you leave the car rental pick-up, make sure you have the agent mark the route you should take to exit the city!  It’s important you don’t get lost and end up in the ZTL (and get fined!).

TIPS FOR RENTING A CAR IN FLORENCE

MAKING YOUR FLORENCE RENTAL CAR RESERVATION

  • Check rates with a consolidator like DiscoverCars.com or AutoEurope.com.  They usually have the best rates, especially for well-known companies.
  • Rent in advance, especially if you’re coming in the busy season.
  • Rent an automatic transmission.
  • Choose a car that’s large enough to carry your passengers and luggage, but no larger.  Italian roads and parking spaces are narrow – you’ll be happy to have a smaller vehicle. 
  • Avoid reserving a car pickup during morning or evening commute times, if possible.
  • Reserve a GPS (or bring your own), or make sure your phone has data so you can use Google Maps.  It’s often cheaper to buy a GPS than rent one from the car rental agency (just make sure you download the correct maps).

Before you head to Italy, make sure you review Important Italian Road Signs!

PICKING UP YOUR RENTAL CAR IN FLORENCE

Car rental pickup lot at the Florence (FLR) airport in Italy.
Florence Aiport (FLR) car rental lot
  • Bring all required documents, including your valid driver’s license, your international driving permit if you need one, and a credit card.
  • If you choose to return the car with a full tank (vs. pre-purchasing a fill-up from the car rental company), ask your agent which gas station is closest to your location.
  • Before driving out of the lot or garage, be sure to check your car!  Florence is a very busy car rental location, and dings and small dents (inside or outside of the car) can easily be overlooked.  In general, Italian rental cars are a little more beat up than I’ve seen in the US. 
  • If you have a problem or notice damage that’s not listed on your contract, go in and tell your agent!  It’s better to say something at pick up than being charged for damage when you drop off the car.  Photos aren’t enough because they can always say you took a photo after the damage occurred.
  • Also, this is the time to ask questions about the car:

Do you know how to get the car into reverse? 
Does the car use diesel (gasolio) or gas (benzina)?
Do you see where the parking brake is? 
Do you understand how to turn on the air-conditioning?
Do you know how to use the GPS?

You may want to read our posts
Can I Rent a Car in Italy with a US Driver’s License
International Driving Permit – Why and How to Get One

Driving in Italy

RETURNING YOUR RENTAL CAR IN FLORENCE

Returning a rental car to a garage in Florence, Italy.  A sign points the driver in the direction of the parking for the major car rental companies.
Rental car return in a Florence city center garage
  • Fill up your gas tank if you haven’t pre-paid for a full tank.  Remember to get a receipt so you can show the agent you’ve just filled up the car.

Florence Airport Returns: If you need to fill up your tank, there’s a gas station about 100 meters before the airport entrance on Viale Giovanni Luder. 

City Center Returns: If you need to, fill up where your rental car agency recommended.  There are a couple of gas stations near Piazza Taddeo Gadd, on the opposite side of the river.

See our post on Italian Gas Stations and How To Get Gas in Italy!

DRIVING IN FLORENCE TIPS

If you do need to drive in Florence, here are some helpful tips:

KNOW THE ZTL ZONE

ZTL closed/active sign in Florence, Italy.
The ZTL is closed / active – if you enter you’ll receive a fine (unless you register your license plate with your hotel or parking garage in this zone)

Before you start driving through the Florentine streets, check out the City of Florence ZTL Map:

ZTL map of the Florence, Italy city center.
ZTL map courtesy of Comune di Firenze. Click on the map to open the PDF file in a new window.

KNOW WHAT A ONE-WAY STREET LOOKS LIKE

One way road sign in Italy.
The blue sign with a white arrow indicates one-way traffic

Florence has quite a few one-way streets.  Know the sign for a one-way street, plus other important signs like pedestrian zone, do not enter, and yield. 

If you’re renting a car in Florence Italy, check out our post on Important Italian Road Signs.

DON’T RELY ON GOOGLE MAPS OR GPS

Unfortunately, Google and GPS units aren’t always up-to-date on Italian streets.  They may send you onto a one-way street or into a ZTL.  Make sure you’re paying attention!  Whenever possible, take a peek at your route before you leave, and if you get lost, just pull over as soon as it’s safe to do so.

WATCH WHERE YOU PARK

Many streets and lots require parking permits (usually for residents or city workers). 

The signs vary, so read them carefully.

Basic rules:
Blue is pay parking (this is for you).
Yellow is handicap parking or loading/unloading.
White is resident parking (but sometimes free parking for anyone).

ALTERNATIVES TO RENTING A CAR IN FLORENCE

TAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Florence, Italy taxi.

The Florence city center is serviced by buses, the tram, private drivers, and taxis. 

If you want to travel in the outer suburbs of Florence, you can take the bus, train, taxi, or tram.  You can also use a private driver or go on a sightseeing tour.

If you’re heading to other parts of Italy, your best options are trains (regional and high-speed), long-distance buses (like FlixBus), private drivers, planes, or sightseeing tours.

Less common modes of travel include scooters and bicycles.  Both are fun if you have experience but can be dangerous if you don’t.  If you’re set on cycling or renting a scooter, it’s best to go with a tour company. 

RENT FROM A DIFFERENT CITY

You can also rent a car somewhere else in Tuscany or further away in Italy.  Nearby airport locations include Pisa airport (PSA) and Bologna airport (BLQ). 

THINGS TO SEE IN FLORENCE

Florence, Italy Duomo from above.

Rental car or not, you’ll want to check out some of Florence’s main attractions:

  • Accademia Gallery (Michelangelo’s David statue)
  • The Uffizi Gallery (Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Primavera, Leonardo da Vinci’s Annunciation, Caravaggio’s Medusa, and more)
  • The Duomo and its Bell Tower and Baptistry
  • Bargello National Museum (former prison barracks turned art museum, home to Donatello’s David and his St. George and the Dragon sculptures, the Baptistry competition panels, and more)
  • The Ponte Vecchio (Florence’s ‘old bridge,’ home to the city’s gold and jewelry shops)
  • Palaces (Palazzo Vecchio, Palazzo Pitti)
  • Gardens (Boboli, Rose, Iris)

Check out the Best Things to Do in Florence + What to Skip!

THINGS TO SEE NEAR FLORENCE WITH A RENTAL CAR

Walking on the walls of the Fortezza in Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy.
Montalcino

There are excellent day trip choices from Florence.  You can visit other cities, small Tuscan villages, beaches, mountains, and vineyards. 

A few places we love visiting:

  • The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Val d’Orcia and its villages (including Montepulciano, Pienza, Montalcino)
  • Beaches on the Tyrrhenian coast
  • Tuscan cities (Lucca, Pisa, Siena)
  • Chianti (including Castellina, Gaiole, Greve, Panzano and Radda)

Get more ideas in our posts:
Best Day Trips from Florence
Things to Do in Tuscany

WHERE TO SLEEP IN FLORENCE

If you’re planning on renting a car while you’re staying in Florence, you’ll want to either stay on the periphery of the city center (so you can avoid driving into the ZTL) OR make you’re your hotel has parking nearby. 

Read about Where to Stay in Florence in 2022.

FAQ

Can a foreigner rent a car in Italy? 
Yes, a foreigner can rent a car in Italy.  If you’re an EU resident, you can use your EU driver’s license.  If you’re from outside of the EU, you’ll need your home country license along with an international driving permit.

Can you drive a rental car in Florence? 
Yes, but the real question is, “do you want to?”  Florence streets are busy and narrow, the parking spaces are tight and scarce, and drivers are assertive.

Is it difficult to drive in Florence, Italy? 
Yes – not as difficult as Rome or Naples, but it’s not particularly enjoyable.  The traffic moves quickly, and drivers are assertive and know where they’re going.  Driving in the Tuscany countryside is easier and much more pleasant!

Should I rent a car in Florence to visit the Cinque Terre? 
A car isn’t very helpful in the Cinque Terre, but you could drive it to La Spezia (the main entrance city to the Cinque Terre) and park it in a lot there while you visit the Cinque Terre.  That’s what we do. 

Can I rent a car seat in Florence? 
Yes, you can rent car seats through your rental agency.  You can book them online while you’re making your reservation, or you can call and add it to your reservation.  The other option is to bring your car seat with you from home.  You can read more about renting a car in Italy with kids in our Guide to Renting a Car in Italy in 2022 and learn everything you want to know about car seats in our article on Car Seats in Italy.