Never mind the Renaissance. Florence is fast becoming an international capital of cool. This thanks to its hip and happening San Frediano neighbourhood, south of the river Arno. Situated in the Oltrarno around Borgo San Frediano, this previously down-at-heel area is now dotted with hip bars and cool restaurants decked out in contemporary chic. So much so that Lonely Planet recently named it as one of the world’s coolest neighbourhoods. For anyone headed to Florence it makes the perfect spot for an evening cocktail. Or two.

Eat, drink and be hip in San Frediano, Florence

The Oltrarno wasn’t always so on trend. Full of narrow cobbled streets and pokey artisan studios it was the place tourists went to only after they’d exhausted themselves in the museums and shops on the other side of the river. But these days it’s one of Florence’s go-to neighbourhoods as everyone looks to escape the crowds of Piazza Duomo. The atmosphere here is lively and alternative, where locals rub shoulders with tourists all looking for the perfect aperitivo. Needless to say, we know it well. Here are just a few of the spots we love the most.

Read our quick guide to the perfect aperitivo!

GESTO The place of the moment on Borgo San Frediano. Gesto mix a mean cocktail, the vintage interiors are a pleasure to behold, the music is right on, and the tapas style food is mouthwateringly good. If our senses were keeping score we’d give it full marks.

MAD SOUL AND SPIRITS For our money this is the best cocktail bar in Florence, which is saying something. It has a simple, but achingly hip interior and an electric atmosphere that’s a million miles from the traditionally staid aperitivo scene in Florence.  Locals love this spot in San Frediano, Florence and so will you.

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SANTA ROSA BISTROT – A contemporary restaurant and bar that opens out onto a lovely urban garden. Make yourself comfortable on its sun chairs, and soak up the good vibes. This is a friendly unpretentious place that serves good food. On Lungarno di Santa Rosa. Open for lunch and dinner.

AS. AURORA This place dates back to 1946, though these days its a modern, intimate spot with a alternative atmosphere. Its creative vibe, friendly staff and their aperitivi are made with love. Situated in Piazza Torquato Tasso it’s a great spot for a chilled cocktail.

TASSO HOSTEL This chic hostel turns into a concert venue at week ends. Cool, young and friendly.

NOF CLUB A great spot for live music along Borgo San Frediano. You can expect to hear a range of rock, funk, blues and alternative acts. Attracts a nice crowd of twenty and thirty somethings.

HIDDEN PUB A cosy little spot in Piazza del Carmine. Cheap and cheerful, you can listen to rock while you sip a reasonably priced beer. Friendly service and they do bar food too.

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GHERARDO PIZZERIA Along Borgo San Frediano this small pizzeria is a challenge to find but a joy to eat in. The pizza is delicious and the menu changes regularly, the staff are chatty and friendly and though it’s small it has a genuinely nice atmosphere. Well worth a visit.

IL GUSCIO RESTAURANT  Much loved by locals,  Il Guscio on Via dell’Orto has earned itself a great reputation over the years. A mouthwatering menu with original and classic dishes. Impressive wine list and a welcoming atmosphere. Open for lunch and dinner.

L’OV – OSTERIA VEGETARIANA A godsend for vegetarians visiting San Frediano, Florence, L’OV is a vegetarian restaurant in Piazza del Carmine. Lovely decor, a creative menu and, most importantly, great food.

Find out about more great places to go for an evening out in Florence.