Florence has always been a city rich in culture. Its fame certainly dates back to 1700 when it was the destination of the Grand Tour, and is a tradition that has been preserved intact today. The Tuscan capital is in fact a destination for many tourists who every year, in any season, visit the city and its incredible museums. Florence can however be a very expensive city to visit for a few days or to live or spend a period of 30 days. Here are some tips that will help you live the city 100% without giving up anything.
Avoid high season!
This is a rule that is valid for all Italian cities, especially for Florence.
Florence is always crowded, but the best times to visit it are those typically working, so from November to March. In this case, even housing costs less, there is a discount of at least 50%. In this period it is much easier to visit the Uffizi or enjoy the panorama from the dome of Brunelleschi to the Duomo of Florence. The prices at the museum are also drastically reduced: from March to October the ticket costs 20€, while in the other months it costs only 12€.
Save cash by taking the train
The fastest way to get to Florence is definitely by train. Although Florence has an airport, we strongly recommend taking the train because Santa Maria Novella station is in the city center, just ten minutes walk from Piazza del Duomo. Often in large cities it is impossible to find such comfort, but Florence fortunately allows this kind of advantage.
For those arriving by plane, however, we recommend taking the tram that connects the airport directly to the city than taking a taxi. The tram costs only 1.50€! Public transport is, in general, the best solution for those who want to move around Florence without spending too much. Some people also prefer to land at Pisa airport and from there take the train to get to Florence to save a few euros.
Our advice is always to prefer the train, especially if you are on an Italian tour: from Naples are only three hours of travel!
Don’t even think about visiting Florence by car. Parking is practically impossible, since many areas are limited in traffic due to the historical and cultural value that categorically prohibits vehicles from passing.
Book in advance
Choosing a B&B is the cheapest option in Florence. Hotel costs are far above average, which is why many people rely on sites like Booking or Air Bnb to find suitable accommodation. Also staying in neighborhoods like those of Oltrarno will be an incredible experience: these are areas full of art, characteristic for this reason. Here too, as in the rest of Italy, there is an abundance of hostels that also offers shared spaces and spaces to cook, in order to reduce costs further.
For those interested in staying for a period of 30 days, it is clear that the best option is to rely on the services of WillAge, so that you have all the expenses included in one price.
Avoid the storic center
The general advice is to stay away from the historic center. In fact, no local decides to have lunch, stay or do activities in the latter: prices are higher than average, and for this reason, visiting the suburbs or the back roads is the best choice. Just outside the center, in fact, you can use the main means of transport that connect the whole city of Florence in the best possible way and at a much reduced price. Not only that: it is in the secondary roads that you can find e-bikes and other electric means of transport.
Enjoy the local food market!
In Florence there is the Central Market, and the Market of Sant'Ambrogio. These are two huge spaces where you can buy food and food of any kind. Not only are the raw materials and therefore the individual ingredients sold here, but it is also possible to find places that cook traditional and fresh food. Our advice is to take advantage of these less touristy and more authentic places. Here you can also have conversations with locals and get more into the heart of Florentine life full of charm and unforgettable stories. Remember that Tuscany is one of the best producers of olive oil and cheese, and for this reason tasting these zero kilometer products could be a unique experience.
In these markets it is also possible to taste free samples of the most disparate foods and is therefore an opportunity to explore the culinary tradition of one of the oldest cities in Italy.
Buy discount card or combo ticket
Florence is not only the Uffizi or art galleries, but it is also free entertainment and parks to visit! There are many parks and many points to fully enjoy the city. In addition, on February 18 both the Uffizi and the Accademia Gallery are open free of charge on the occasion of the Feast of Anna Maria Medici: did you know?
Not only that, other free openings are scheduled on the first Sunday of each month, or in museum week in March. Visiting these places also taking advantage of subscriptions is the winning choice. There are in fact "combo" cards (just like that of Naples) that allow you to have a 72-hour pass throughout Florence and to visit over 70 museums, including public transport.
Food: everything you need to know
Food is a delicate matter in Florence. As in the rest of Italy, this city also has its typical dishes: one of these is the famous bistecca alla fiorentina (T-bone steak), and the other trippa alla Fiorentina (tripe in tomato sauce).
In general, the best way to save money in Florence without sacrificing taste is to go to a typical trattoria. It is better to avoid the crowded restaurants and especially the ones in the center, as they are only tourist traps with exaggerated prices.
A typical tradition is to make "apericena" or a less demanding dinner characterized by frugal meals: the typical Florentine schiacciata is consumed at these times, and this makes much lower the total cost of each meal. The apericena is an aperitif (finger food) combined with a dinner, which takes place from 5 pm to 10 pm, when we gather in the streets.
Also try the lampredotto, another traditional dish with a very low cost. It is a cow’s stomach cut, seasoned and usually served in a sandwich or in a container. As disgusting as it may seem it is a delicacy, and it is definitely a street food to try.
Daily costs in Florence
Public transport from Florence/Pisa airport €1.50/11.30 (US$1.70/12.80)
Dorm bed in hostel €20–45 (US$22.50–51)
Budget hotel room for two €60–80 (US$68–90.50)
Tripe panino €5 (US$5.60)
One-hour public bike share €1.50 (US$1.70)
Museum admission €4–20 (US$4.50–22.50)
Espresso at the bar/ table €1.50/5 (US$1.70–5.50)
Trattoria dinner €15–25 (US$17–28)
Glass of Tuscan red wine €1–5 (US$1.13–5.60)