Before travelling to Italy, people often warned me about how expensive it is. They prepared me to be spending ludicrous amounts of money at every turn, that money would just flow from my bank account. These people are not wrong, but they aren’t entirely right either. No matter where you go in Italy, you can find inexpensive things to do. Take Florence for example, here are ten things to do in Florence for under €10:
1. Free walking tour!
One of the first things I like to do in a new city is a free walking tour. There are many tour companies that all host amazing tours (Sandeman’s is often the company I choose), but in Florence we went with Florence Free Tour (their website). The tour guide is often in love with the city— that’s why they became a tour guide— and know so many little details about the place. Wear good walking shoes and bring water. You’ll spend a few hours on your feet! It is called a free walking tour, but the guide works on a tip basis, so you pay what you think the tour was worth!
2. Bardini Giardini
The line to get to the top of the Duomo was enough to deter us, but when we caught wind it was €15 to climb to the top*, we lost interest entirely. So, we went to the Bardini Giardini instead. It lies on the south side of the river, and has only been open to the public for a few years. The gardens are beautiful, and what’s more, you will find a panoramic view of Florence, including the Duomo. Wander through the rose bushes, nap in the shade of a tree, and enjoy some grass— there isn’t much of it in the city centre.
*€15 gets you a ticket to the top of both the Duomo and the tower, but you can’t buy just one or the other, you have to buy the bundle.
3. Eat some street food!
If you like people-watching and a cheap dinner, Via dei Neri in the city centre is the place to do it. Locals and tourists alike gather on this street to buy food and then enjoy it, while sitting on the sidewalk. The people-watching is amazing, and this street is the home of La Fettunta, maker of the best sandwich I have ever eaten (so good, I wrote a whole story about it! You can read it here). So grab your libation of choice and have a seat on the street!
Cost if you buy a sandwich at La Fettunta: €5
4. Walk down the river and have a beer at Il Tempio
The river in Florence is lovely. With picturesque bridges and beautiful buildings lining the streets, it makes for a lovely walk. A little ways out of the city centre, 20 pleasant minutes walking east along the river, you will find Il Tempio. This little bar sits on the edge of the river, with tables and chairs set up under the trees. It’s pop-up feel gives this bar a hip vibe. Live music plays on the weekends (and maybe more often? I didn’t go on a weekday), people gather to have a beer and watch the street lights reflect off the river.
Cost: ~€3 for a 750ml beer.
5. Mercato Centrale
Another cheap place to eat is Mercato Centrale. The food prices here range, so keep your eye out for the cheap stuff. We had the most delicious pizza for €8! You can also bring your own €3 bottle of wine from the supermarket, and ask one of the vendors for wine glasses.
Cost: Ranges between €5-€20
6. Drink a beer on the steps of a friggin’ old building, and people watch!
I am from Canada where drinking in public is not as widely accepted as it is in Italy. I think people sometimes forget that— you can drink in public here! Now, you can’t get drunk in public here, be civil about it, but a glass of wine, or a cheeky beer is not a crime. Florence is chalk full of beautiful, old buildings. Find one with some steps, or a bench across the street, and crack open a cold one!
Cost: €3 for a beer from the supermarket!
7. Eat Gelato.
Duh. Gelato is the perfect snack for any time of day (there was a day in Italy in which gelato was the first thing I ate)! There are SO many Gelaterias sprinkled through the city centre, you won’t have a hard time finding a cone. Remember though, gelato is meant to be served ice cold, so if in the display case the gelato is mounded up in great big heaps it’s not going to be as good! (you can read more about why). Best gelato I had? A cone of dulce de leche and Straciatella at Venchi, mostly because of the chocolate melted into the bottom of the cone!
Cost if you go to Venchi and have them put chocolate in the bottom of the cone: €3.50
8. Visit the Duomo
While it costs €15 to go to the top of the Duomo, it costs nothing to go inside and check the ceiling. There may be a line, but it is only there to organize the people, and it is fairly fast moving. The inside of the building, while not nearly as ornate as the outside, is stunning. The frescoes on the ceiling are divine (literally) and the stained glass windows are gorgeous. Definitely worth a wander through.
9. Have an Aperol spritz somewhere, but don’t pay more than €4…
Before dinner, Italians partake in an apertivo. Apertivo is usually an alcoholic beverage of some sort, typically an Aperol spritz, and a snack. Aperol is a bitter liquor, but when mixed with Prosecco and splashed with orange, it’s a lovely, light fizzy drink, perfect for 5pm. In the city centre, we were shocked to find Aperol spritz for €9. When you see Aperol spritz for €9 keep walking. As you move away from the Duomo, the prices drop. We wandered closer to the Galleria Dell Academia and found a place just across the street from it pouring these orange lovelies for €4 each. That meant we could have four for almost the same price as two at the other place!
10. See David!
I’m just going to say it: Michelangelo was one crazy Italian. He was a genius, a jack of all trades, and a master of all trades. He was a true Renaissance man. When in Florence, I implore you to see Michelangelo’s David. I am no art buff, but this thing is breathtaking and totally worth seeing. The line up to get inside can be overwhelming, but we went at about 5 and it was much shorter than earlier in the day. We stood in line for about 15 minutes. The last entrance into the museum is at 6, and they close at 6:30, so we had ample time to check the art.
Cost: €12. Ok, this one isn’t under €10, but for a little extra, you can see a little extra… if you know what I mean.
Enjoy Florence! For more travel tips about countries all over the world, head here!