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Getting from Paris to Florence (& vice versa)

Hitting the highlights of Europe during one holiday is a common theme for many travelers, and having both Paris and Florence on your agenda helps you accomplish your goal. They’re both incredible cities crammed with artistic masterpieces – the only trouble is getting from one to the other since they’re not very close together.
There are several ways you can get from Paris to Florence, and they’re outlined below – some are faster, and others are cheaper, and it’s up to you to figure out which is best for your travel style and budget.
Need to know how to plan your stop in Florence? Look no further than this Florence travel guide.
Note: This information is presented as if you’re starting in Paris and going to Florence. The same information will work if you’re starting in Florence and going to Paris. Travel times and ticket prices will be the same, you’ll just need to confirm departure times and stations.

Flying from Paris to Florence

There are actually two airports serving Florence, and the larger of the two isn’t actually in Florence – it’s in nearby Pisa. The two cities and airports are so close together, however, that you shouldn’t let the city name throw you off. Especially since Pisa’s airport is well-served by some of Europe’s budget airlines.
Flying from Paris directly into Florence’s Peretola Airport (FLR) often requires one stop, and the trip can take between 2-7 hours (or more, all depending on the layover – the direct flights are around 2 hours one-way). Tickets aren’t exactly cheap, either, starting at €170 round-trip even in the low season.
Flying to Pisa’s Airport (PSA), by contrast, is usually a direct flight of less than 2 hours one-way, and tickets can be found for less than €50 round-trip. It’s the budget carriers like Ryanair and easyJet that offer the best deals (no surprise there), but with budget airlines it’s extremely important that you read the fine print to find out what all the extra fees are that aren’t included in that ridiculously low base fare. Don’t forget to also look up the transportation cost of getting to the airport in Paris (Ryanair especially likes to base itself at airports that are quite a way from the city) and getting to Florence from Pisa‘s Airport. It’s not that it’ll be super expensive, just that you’re better off knowing than being surprised.
Quick search for flights from Paris (PAR – all airports) to Pisa (PSA):

Quick search for flights from Paris (PAR – all airports) to Florence (FLR):

Taking the Train from Paris to Florence

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While taking the train from city to city in Europe has long been the best way to get around, it’s not always ideal for really long-distance trips when your vacation time is limited – especially when there are other options that don’t cost a fortune.
There is basically one option for taking the train from Paris to Florence, and it’s an overnight train. This is good news, on the surface, because it’s a 12+ hour trip – and no one needs to sit that long in a train during the day when you could be doing something more fun. The trouble with this particular overnight train is that it departs Paris before 7pm. It’s only six minutes before 7pm, but still – it’s before 7pm. And what’s so special about 7pm? It’s the point at which an overnight train trip only counts as one travel day on your Eurail Pass.
What this means is that while using your Eurail Pass for this long trip will still save you money, it could “cost” you two travel days (unless the conductor who stamps your pass is really nice and just forgets those six minutes). Without a pass, a 2nd class ticket ranges from €75-120 one-way (and that’s for a bunk in a 6-bed couchette). With a pass, all you’d pay for is the couchette reservation, so the cost would be closer to €25-70 (depending on the pass you get).
The trains bound for Florence leave Paris at 18:54, arriving in Florence at 07:13 the next day.

Driving from Paris to Florence

According to the ViaMichelin site, the drive from Paris to Florence is just under 1160km (that’s a little more than 720 miles), which – using mostly highways and not counting any traffic problems or stops – would take over 11 hours to complete. This isn’t to say you can’t rent a car and drive in order to get from Paris to Florence – it’s just to let you know what you’re getting into.
Even if you love road trips, perhaps the better option is to pick a point or two along the way that would be good for stopping points. You may not spend days in them, but that would help break up your trip a bit and give you another place to explore en route to Florence. And whatever you do, make sure you’ve got a good (detailed!) driving map in your car, even if you have a GPS unit.

Taking the Bus from Paris to Florence

Bus travel in Europe can be really easy on the wallet, but covering as much ground as there is between Paris and Florence is so hard on the schedule that it’s not usually worth the cost savings.
You can find one-way tickets on Eurolines buses for €50 or so, but the trip is just over 20 hours long. Even if you’re not on a really tight vacation schedule, the expense of losing an entire day to a bus trip is pretty hard to justify – especially when there are other transport methods available.
photos, top to bottom, by gareth1953, bigpresh, sludgegulper