Despite being an affordable travel destination in Europe, Florence can be an expensive city in Italy to live in or visit, especially compared with other cities in Italy. Visiting all the attractions and museums in Florence is certainly expensive. However, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy this art capital on a low budget.
1. Visit the main hall of Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral
One of the most important squares in Florence is the Piazza del Duomo, which is the home to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Brunelleschi’s Dome, Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Baptistry of San Giovanni, the Crypt of Santa Reparata and the Opera Museum. The cathedral’s main hall on the first floor is free to visit. It’s a stunning, Gothic, massive piece of art that was designed and built over 3 centuries, making it probably one of the most famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Florence. Pay attention to the ceiling’s detailed and elegant artwork under the Dome, including the Last Judgement painting. With a rather expensive combined ticket (72 EUR or approximately 80 USD), you can access all the above mentioned buildings, including Giotto’s Tower to get a panoramic view of the city, but seeing Florence from above is also possible for free.
2. View Florence from above for free
At Michelangelo Square, you will find a spectacular panoramic view of Florence from above, which locals claim to be the best viewpoint you can possibly find in the city. You can take several buses (e.g., number 12 or 23) from the centre directly to the square, and walk back down to the river banks. Another worth-checking out viewpoint with free access is at Fiesole - a nearby town on a scenic hill above Florence. Fiesole is also located in the Italian region of Tuscany.
3. Work in a roof-top library
Besides being well-known as the Italian centre of art, Florence is also a student town. You will find many schools and libraries around that have a unique atmosphere. The Oblate Library offers excellent views of Florence’s famous cathedral from the top floor. There’s an open-air balcony to sit and chill outside, an indoor bar and several areas inside for reading and studying. If you are a digital nomad, this library is useful for finding free high speed internet connection.
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4. Enjoy one of the best ice creams in Florence
There are so many gelato shops in every corner of Florence’s historic centre especially around the famous Ponte Vecchio Bridge and the Piazza del Duomo. One place I strongly recommend is the Venchi Chocolate Shop. The gelato is homemade, delicious and affordable here. One cone with two gelato flavours and chocolate topping costs around 3 EUR (roughly 3.5 USD) here, which is reasonably cheaper than many other locations in the city. You can also find Italian chocolate of all kinds here.
5. Go for a yummy pizza
One of my favourite places for pizza in Florence is the Amici di Ponte Vecchio Da Stefano. One slice of pizza costs about 2.50 EUR (roughly 3 USD) here. This is an ideal lunch or a quick snack while exploring Florence.
Traveling cheap from Florence to other cities
Traveling within Italy can be extremely cheap by bus, train with prior booking or car-pooling. If you travel by train, remember to stamp your ticket before boarding, otherwise the ticket won’t be validated though you have already paid for it.
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