Florence is a city always at the top of the ranking of the most desired tourist destinations in the world: every year millions of tourists pour into the capital of Florence. Many are convinced that it is not possible to take low-cost holidays because of the average higher prices of other Italian cities of art.
The best times to visit Florence are definitely May/June and September/October, due to the mild and welcoming climate. But precisely for this reason those months are more crowded and therefore more expensive. Also in June, avoid the week of Pitti Uomo, the event linked to men's fashion, because during those days the city is transformed and all the hotels raise their prices!
November or January could be particularly economical months, if you are not afraid of the cold. Remember that even in January there is Pitti Uomo! Excepting those 3 days, you won't find high sleeping rates.
Florence is a city that offers a lot from the gastronomic point of view: in other words you can find restaurants for every budget. If you want to discover the delights of Tuscan cuisine without spending much you can look for the less touristy, and perhaps more hidden places, where you will find good value for money. The service may be better, and your wallet will thank you.
For example, in via del Proconsolo, not far from the Florence Cathedral, you can have lunch at the Mossacce, a tiny Tuscan trattoria, with authentic flavours and affordable prices. But, as the name implies - the owners will not be happy if you don't hurry to free the table after finishing the meal - you have to get up quickly. Let's say it's not a place to relax in!
You can find a really cheap tavern in the San Frediano area, right next to the homonymous port: Trattoria Sabatini. Among elderly gentlemen and residents, you can sit at the vintage tables of this restaurant that offers portions of chicken at 2.50 am!!!
If you are a group of friends with various needs you may consider the idea of climbing the first floor of the Central Market of San Lorenzo: a large covered area with gastronomic shops for every taste!
An economic alternative to lunch is a sandwich. You can choose the famous lampredotto sandwich, or more traditional assorted sandwiches with cold cuts, cheeses and various sauces. Among the most famous in Florence there's the Antico Vinaio (costs 4 euros) and the Fratellini (2.50 euros).
Do you want an honest bar and with cheap prices? the tiny Quelo in Borgo Santa Croce offers salads, croutons and snacks for lunch on a tight budget, as well as a veg-friendly aperitif at 5 euros. Great for a cheap meal. They also have free wi-fi.
Do you prefer pizza? without looking for a pizzeria, you can go into a bakery and order a piece of pizza. There is a good one, cheap, in via de' Cerchi a few steps from Piazza Signoria: the Sartoni bakery.
If you are in the Florence Southern area you could have lunch at the Fabbrica di Pedavena: a rich buffet with meat, vegetables, pizza and the first cuts waiting for you!
Another way to replace lunch is to give yourself a good ice cream! avoiding the ice cream shops in Ponte Vecchio and via Calzaiuoli which offer higher prices than average, in Florence you can find excellent ice-cream shops. A large cone with more flavours will cost you less than 5 euros!
A tip for a good central ice-cream parlour? The historic Gelateria de' Neri in the street that bears the same name (and that many tourists know because of the ancient Vinaio).
In Florence there are many hotels, b&bs and landlords. If you want to sleep in Florence for next to nothing, we offer you the Plus Florence Hostel & Hotel. An accommodation that offers rooms of various types: double, triple and even multiple, or in a 6 or 8-bed dormitory.
If you travel with a group of friends and choose the multiple room you can sleep in Florence for 15 euros each! For families there are the really advantageous 4-bed family rooms.
Plus Florence Hostel & Hotel is much more than a hostel or a hotel with many facilities. First of all there is a summer swimming pool where you can swim and sunbathe in the centre of Florence. If you come in the winter, you can swim in the indoor heated pool. Another service appreciated during the winter months is the wellness area with sauna and turkish bath!
Inside the hostel you will also find a bar that serves as a meeting point for guests, with theme nights, karaoke, happy hours and many activities. If you come in summer enjoy the summer breeze on the rooftop terrace overlooking the rooftops of Florence and the Duomo.
Where is Plus Florence? in via Caterina d'Alessandria, a convenient road to be reached by those who come by public transport (train, tram, bus).
Once you have found an affordable place to sleep in Florence, you will be wondering what you can do in the city. Here are a couple of low cost activities to do in Florence.
- Walking through the streets of Florence. For a cultural holiday it's not necessary to visit the Uffizi or the Accademia: Florence is an open-air museum! Visit the main squares of the city - Piazza Duomo, Piazza Santa Croce, Piazza Santa Maria Novella - taking a selfie in front of the respective churches is a great experience. If you then add a walk to Ponte Vecchio or a climb to Piazzale Michelangelo, you will already have breathed in a lot of art during your stay in Florence!
- Attend a Florentine event. For San Giovanni (24th June), the city's patron saint, there are many free activities, from the historical parade to the fireworks. For the flower of San Zanobi (26th January), to commemorate the famous miracle of the Bishop of Florence, another historical parade takes place with flag bearers in the streets of the city. For Easter there is the famous Scoppio del Carro. Keep in mind that the Florentine Historical Procession parades more than 100 times a year, for various occasions!
Despite public museums no longer being free on the first Sunday of the month, you will be glad to know that there are many other days when it is convenient to enter the museum!
If you are under 25 and live in Europe then on Mondays, the civic museums are free.
On 14th February, the day of lovers, the museum has a promotion for couples, or two entries for the price of one. On 18th February for the celebrations of the Palatine Electress, the last of the Medici family who donated the family heritage to the city, committing to stay in Florence, Palazzo Vecchio, the museum of Santa Maria Novella, the Museo del Novecento and other museums are free.
On 8th March, some museums offer free entry to women.
During European Heritage Days (in September) many museums offer free admission.
- If you are thirsty, don't buy water bottles (half a litre can cost you up to 1.50 euro!). Next to Palazzo Vecchio there is a free water fountain.
- If it's raining and you want to find some shelter without having to get out the cash, enter one of the Florentine libraries. Books, magazines, small events, as well as in some cases corners for children, will allow you to spend some time relaxing. Sometimes you can also find international magazines! The most famous are the Biblioteca delle Oblate, with its panoramic terrace and aperitif overlooking the Duomo, and the Library of Palagio di Parte Guelfa.
- Need to do some shopping? If you need to buy something, and you do not want to shop in expensive tourist shops, you can take advantage of the markets. For example, the Central Market of San Lorenzo (inside the beautiful nineteenth century building), or the Sant'Ambrogio Market.
- Do you need guides and maps? If you need printed information material, go to the information point in front of the Santa Maria Novella train station (practically leaving the central part of the station you will find it in front of you after going down the steps, at the back of the church).
If you want to getto Florence by plane, Florence has a small airport, Amerigo Vespucci, covered by some low cost airlines, like Vueling. There are also some larger companies that often offer more accessible packages. If you can't find any low cost flights to Florence, take a look at the next best thing. Pisa airport is about 1 hour from Florence and is covered by Ryanair and Easyjet.
To reach the city centre from Florence airport why not arrive by tram, a convenient means of transport by rail.
If you need to park your car in the airport area for a few days, try FlyParking Firenze not far from the airport. Open 24 hours a day, it costs a third of the official car park in front of the airport. A convenient shuttle will take you to the terminals at any time of the day or night.
On the other hand, if you come to Florence by car, avoid the more central parking areas such as the Santa Maria Novella station. You can leave your car at the car park in front of the Coop di Ponte a Greve and from there take the tramway to the city centre (approx 20 minutes).
Another convenient car park, and very close to the historic centre, is located in Ponte alla Vittoria. My recommendation: park in spaces with blue lines! those with white stripes are for residents.
We advise you not to enter the city by car, due to the traffic and the scarcity of parking spaces! And remember that in the centre is the ZTL, or Limited Traffic Zone (Zona a Traffico Limitato), accessible only to residents or those who have permission.
Florence is very well connected by trains. Travelling at high speed you can quickly reach Milan, Turin, Naples, Venice and Rome. The main station is Santa Maria Novella and from there you are practically in the historic centre.
Many trains also stop in Florence Rifredi or Florence Campo di Marte, slightly less central, but still well connected to the city centre.
From Florence you can also take regional trains or buses to visit other cities of art (Pisa, Lucca, Siena, Arezzo).
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