Public transportation in Florence is widely used. City buses (they are orange buses, but the newer models are a deep purple and white color and the most recent are blue) are run by ATAF and LI-NEA. Ordinary (a single use 90 minute ticket) and multiple-ride tickets (four 90 minute rides on one single ticket) can be purchased from authorized sales points (bars which are coffee shops here, tobacconists, newsagents: anyone with "ATAF" stickers on their shop windows) and from the ATAF booth within the SMN train station.
Let me say this again: Buy your tickets BEFORE you board the bus, as the bus driver does NOT check tickets and let's everyone on without asking for a ticket. You can buy tickets from the driver but they cost more - and since they often run out of tickets, there is no guarantee you can get tickets from him/her!
The "tramvia" or tram
In 2010, Florence got its first tram line, the T1, that runs from Scandicci to SMN train station and since then, the line has been extended to reach the Careggi teaching hospital in the north-western part of the city. The T2 line to the Florence airport opened February 2019 and goes from the SMN train station to the airport, making it the easiest and cheapest way to travel from the airport to the center of Florence.
The same tickets for ATAF also work on the tram. There are ticket machines at all tram stops so buy your ticket before you get on.
Trams for the T1 line starting from Careggi Hospital run from 4:44am and from Villa Costanza at 5:36am. They start from the De Andrè stop at 4:35am. Trams from Villa Costanza end at 12:12am everyday except for Friday and Saturday, when they run longer until 1:38am. In the opposite direction, from Careggi, the last tram is at 12:13am everyday, and until 1:41am on Fridays and Saturdays.
For the T2 line, trams start at 5am from the Unità stop (SMN area) and run until 12:29am (until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays). From the airport, the trams run from 5am until 12:02am weekdays, until 12:12am on Sundays and until 1:32am on Fridays and Saturdays.
Tips on riding on ATAF buses
There are three doors on the ATAF buses, the front and back ones are for getting on and the middle one is for getting off. After you get on, make your way to the nearby "ticket validating" machine and put your bus ticket in. The date and time is then printed on the ticket, starting the time validity of your ticket. You basically have 90 minutes on your ticket, so you could get on and off onto different buses and you use the same ticket.
How to validate tickets on the bus
The validating machine can either be right by the door (in the newer buses) or right around the corner at the top of the aisle if you get on in the front of the bus or right to your right around the corner as you enter from the back of the bus. Most older buses have 3 doors, you can get in from the front one and back one, and the middle one is for getting off.
The newer buses only have 2 doors, you have to get on at the front of the bus and use the second middle doors to get off.
The machines print/stamp date and time on the ticket and you have 90 minutes from that time for the ticket to be valid, you can get on and off buses while you still have time on that ticket. PLEASE CHECK THAT THE MACHINE PRINTS OUT THE TIME AND DATE! They can run out of ink and you hear the printing but see no date or time. If you don't check and tell the bus driver that the machine is not working and then go use the second validating machine on the bus, and you get asked for your ticket with no date or time on it, you will get fined!! They won't believe you - even with all best intentions clearly marked on your face - and will ask you to pay on the spot.
It is your right to REFUSE to pay the fine on the spot. The difficult things is to prove that you actually validated your bus ticket, so while you can contest the fine, you might end up having to pay it anyway further down in time. Many visitors write to us saying they bought tickets and validated them but the machine was not working, or they simply forgot. But rather than ruin your vacation with a fine, I hope that you read this before you come to Florence and know of the risk -- so always CHECK your ticket is validated!
Buy tickets ahead of time - and avoid fines!
You should buy tickets before getting on the bus and really SHOULD validate the ticket: don't be tempted to not do it and "reuse" the ticket on another ride. Even if the system still works on an "honor" system, there are many who abuse the system to everyones detriment. For this reason, there are many controllers continuously getting on buses and checking tickets. We've seen many tourists get a fine for not having a ticket or not having validated their ticket, often because they didn't realize how the system works. It is easy: buy ticket, get on and stamp it, ride the bus without worries!
Once controllers get on the bus, the driver will NOT sell you a ticket. Fines go up to 240 euro, but average is around 45-50 euro that I've heard of.
If you get on and need to ask the driver for information (if you know you are on the right bus), first go validate your ticket, then return to ask the driver! An "I didn't know" will not get you off the hook if you get caught without a stamped ticket. The fine is minimum 40 euros if you pay on the spot or within 5 days of getting the fine (payable at the ATAF office at the SMN train station), then it goes up. Don't risk a a heavy fine when the cost of the ticket is small. Buy several tickets beforehand and use them as you need them. Tickets are valid for 90 minutes and cost €1,50 each. A 4-ride ticket costs € 4,70.
If you don't have a ticket and no means to get one beforehand, you can sometimes buy one directly from the driver for € 2,50 (no change is given so make sure to hand the exact amount). It's more expensive but worth buying rather than risk riding without a ticket. Even if he has run out tickets or says he doesn't have tickets, get off at the next stop! If you stay on the bus, it is as if you were riding without a ticket and can be subject to fines if you're asked for a ticket and don't have one. So if the driver says he has no tickets, get off the bus and go get one before getting back on!
Another option but doesn't always work: if you have a cellphone, you can get a ticket by SMS by sending a text message with the message "ATAF" to: 4880105. The cost is € 1,80 for the ticket (plus any charge your carrier might add) and you're supposed to send the message before getting on the bus, as you need to wait for the replying text message that confirms purchase and validity of the virtual ticket before getting on-board. But if you are on the bus, there are no tickets from the driver, and you have a phone, just send the text message and wait for the ticket to arrive. Otherwise, get off the bus at the next stop, try to get a ticket somewhere else or you'll be risking a fine if you're caught.
NEW OPTION SINCE JULY 18, 2019: If you have a contactless debit or credit card (Mastercard, Visa, Maestro and V-Pay), you can get on the bus and use that to buy a ticket directly from the machine that normally validates tickets for €1,50, valid 90 minutes. All you need to do is put the card near the digital reader on the machine and it should say "ticket validated". You can view the pamphlet on the ATAF website in Italian and English that explains how to use this method of buying tickets.
If you buy the Firenze Card to get into museums, you can add on for 5 euros the FirenzeCard+ option to include unlimited bus travel on ATAF buses for the 72 hours the Firenze Card is active. You need to get the special bus ticket when you buy the Firenze Card, since it will have the card number on it, and stamp this bus ticket the FIRST time you get on a bus. If you're asked for a ticket, you need to show this ticket along with your Firenze Card to the controller. Read more about the Firenze Card here »
This page on the ATAF website has two maps showing the current routes of the various lines. The CITY LINE map (preview above) shows the ones that cross the historical center, the colored routes of the C1, C2, C3 and D lines. Since the Duomo area, Via Tornabuoni and Piazza Pitti is now pedestrian-only area, most of the buses going outdide of the center either can be picked up outside the SMN train station or in Piazza San Marco.
For more information: You can call the "ProntoAtaf" hotline toll-free within Italy (800 424500) or obtain more information online at www.ataf.net. The ATAF booth, located in the ticket area within the SMN train station, sells tickets, gives out information and provides maps of the bus routes. The small bus office in Piazza San Marco on the side opposite the church also gives out information. Try to know exactly which bus to get on before getting on, just ask the driver to let you know of a specific stop if you don't know where to get off. Normally drivers are not the ideal source for general information on routes - they are trying to concentrate on driving and respecting the route schedule. If you're not sure you're on the right bus, do punch your ticket in the meantime.
Sightseeing Tours within Florence
They've only been in Florence for a few years, but the open top, two story sightseeing buses seen in other cities of the world offer an interesting way to view the city. The buses follow a route to take you by all of the main sights as well as passing by the more panoramic points that you might otherwise not visit if you're going through Florence quickly (meaning limited time like a day in Florence). View details and book your tour of Florence now ».
Visiting nearby areas outside Florence
Tourists interested in seeing areas outside of Florence by bus will find all of the bus companies in the area around the Santa Maria Novella train station. The main lines offering services are: CAP, FlorentiaBus, Lazzi and Sita (now called BusItalia). Some lines service particular areas around Florence, so depending on where you want to go, you might have to go with a particular company. Check the schedules on their sites to see which one is the one you'll need to take - in general, CAP takes you toward Prato, Lazzi to Pistoia, Valdarno and Lucca, Florentia is for longer distance trips but also runs the bus to the McArthur Glen Shopping Outlets in Barberino and SITA runs most buses to Chianti, Mugello, Casentino and Siena in cooperation with other companies.
If you have any specific questions about how to move around Florence - how to get to a specific landmark or which buses to take, feel free to post your questions on our Florence section of our Forum! We will gladly offer any assistance we can :)!
Last update: October 17, 2019