Visiting Florence on a budget is easier than you think. In fact there are plenty of ways to enjoy its art and entertainment without splashing too much of your cash. Here are our tips on how you can make your money last longer in this famous city.
Florence on a budget – a few tips
The last half of January and February are typically good months to get accommodation deals, and so are March and November. It’s still out of season, Florence is a bit quieter than usual and there are still plenty of things going on. In high season you can expect prices to rise along with the temperatures. But bear in mind that August is the cheapest month to come and visit in Summer.
Travelling around Florence is relatively cheap. Being a compact city, it is possible to walk everywhere. Alternatively use the ATAF buses; the price is €1.20 euro for a 90 minute ticket, or you can get a 24 hour ticket for €5. Be aware that if you purchase the ticket on the bus it’s €2 for 90 mins, so buy them at the station or at bars and tobacconists (big T sign outside)- you’ll see the sign ATAF on the window if they sell them.
The Firenze Card is a convenient ticket that will get you into most of the Florence museums. The ticket costs €72, so you’ll need to squeeze in plenty of sights in 3 days to get your money’s worth (the cost of buses is included too). Just remember that aside from the major museums (Uffizi, the Cathedral Complex and Accademia Gallery), most museums in Florence will cost you less than €10 for a visit. So if you think you’ll only see two museums a day over three days, the card won’t be worthwhile. Remember – the ticket is valid for 72 hours, starting from the first time you use it.
Taxis here are expensive compared to other European cities. The traffic is often congested in Florence so for a short ride you could well part with €15-€20.
Eating on a budget in Florence
If you want to try something cheap and authentic, go for the Florentine favourite: lampredotto in a sandwich (essentially boiled cow stomach). It’s delicious and filling and costs around €4 at the street food vendors in the centre. Amongst the more popular are the one near the Porcellino statue, and another outside San Lorenzo food market. And the all time favourite in via dei Cimatori.
For something more straightforward go to a forno (bakery) and try one of the pizzette or schiacciata. You’ll find a choice of panini to die for in Via de’ Neri at “All’Antico Vinaio” with a cheap glass of wine. If you’re looking for a sit down meal in a trattoria, many offer deals for lunch. For a convenient and very Italian light dinner, try an ‘Apericena’ at one of the many Florence’s bars.
San Lorenzo Food Market
At the San Lorenzo Food Market you’ll find variety, quality and reasonable prices. On the first floor there are informal eateries, bakeries and plenty of typical Tuscan fare. Order at the various counters and grab a free seat, or head to a table for waiter service and freshly made dishes. On the ground floor in the colourful food market there are salumerie that prepare delicious sandwiches or panini on the spot. The quality is excellent and the price modest.
Remember as a general rule that in bars if you sit down you usually get charged; so it’s not the best way to experience Florence on a budget. Make sure you ask if there’s extra cost for seating to avoid surprises.
Art and churches for nothing
Duomo interior – No ticket required
In Florence you can see lots of beautiful and historic churches for free. And surprisingly, the Cathedral is one of them. Once you’ve had a good look at the facade, you can simply wander in and appreciate the vast space, the frescoes, and the portrait of Dante. You’ll need a ticket to climb up to the dome. But with the same ticket you’ll also be able to see the Baptistry the Bell tower and the Opera Duomo Museum.
Historic churches that are free to enter
Other free churches are the delightful Orsanmichele near Piazza Signoria, Santa Trinita Church where you can admire a beautiful fresco by Ghirlandaio. And the Santo Spirito Church in the Oltrarno area. Finally, you’ll also be able to see one of our favourite churches in Florence, the Romanesque masterpiece of San Miniato al Monte, a few steep steps up from the panoramic terrace Piazzale Michelangelo.
Museums are free on the first Sunday of the month, and some museums are very cheap by European standard.
Free tours – See the sights of Florence on a budget
Check the Florencefreetour of Florence – daily walking tours where the guides operate on a tip only basis, no tariff is asked. It’s definitely cheaper than any other tours and they operate twice daily.