The Ultimate Traveler’s Guide to Florence on a Budget

The Ultimate Traveler's Guide to Florence on a Budget

Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance set in the heart of Tuscany, attracts travelers with its storied past, architecture, and a treasure of art housing masterpieces from Michelangelo to da Vinci.

Here’s our Florence travel guide on a budget.

Travel Costs: Detailed Breakdown

Florence on a budget? You got it! This Tuscan city might ooze Renaissance grandeur, but it can also be surprisingly budget-friendly. Here’s a breakdown of what your daily spending might look like:

Suggested Budget per person

  • Low: €55-85
  • Middle: €85-150
  • High: €150+

Detailed Costs: Florence Travel Guide


  • Low: Hostels or budget guesthouses (€25-50 per night) offer dorm beds and simple private rooms.
  • Middle: Mid-range hotels or B&Bs (€50-100 per night) provide more personal space and amenities.
  • High: Luxury hotels or upscale apartments (€150+ per night) put you in the lap of luxury.

Read: best hostels in Florence.

Public Transportation:

  • Metro ticket: €1.50 (single ride)
  • Daily pass: €5
  • 3-Day tourist pass: €18

Entrance Fees:

  • Low (mostly Free): Free walking tours,  Ponte Vecchio, Boboli Gardens.
  • Middle: Palazzo Vecchio: €12, Accademia Gallery: €16 
  • High: Uffizi Gallery: €20, Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo): €18


  • Low: Grab a slice of pizza (around €2-3) or a hearty panino (Italian sandwich) for a quick bite.
  • Middle: Mid-range restaurants (€10-20) offer local specialties like pasta dishes and Florentine steak.
  • High: Treat yourself to a fine dining experience in a historic setting (€50+).

Foodie Must-Try: Bistecca Fiorentina (Florentine Steak) – This thick-cut, char-grilled T-bone steak is a carnivore’s dream.

  • Low: You might find a smaller portion around €20.
  • Middle: Expect prices around €30-40.
  • High: In high-end establishments, the sky’s the limit!


  • Low: Grab an espresso at a local bar for a quick €1-€2.
  • Middle: Enjoy a leisurely cappuccino in a cafe for €2-€3.
  • High: Specialty coffees or trendy cafes can set you back €4-€5.

Beer & Wine:

  • Low: A local brew or glass of wine at a bar can be as cheap as €3-€4.
  • Middle: In a mid-range restaurant, expect prices around €5-€7.
  • High: Craft beers and special vintage wines can range from €8 and upwards.

Exploring Florence: Things to See & Do

Florence isn’t just about Renaissance masterpieces; it’s a city where history spills onto the streets and art pops out from every corner. If you’re wondering what to do in Florence, here’s our suggestions:

Things to do in Florence

  1. Duomo (Santa Maria del Fiore): This awe-inspiring cathedral boasts Brunelleschi’s magnificent dome and Giotto’s bell tower. Climbing them offers panoramic city views (entrance fee applies).
  2. Ponte Vecchio: Stroll along this historic bridge lined with gold shops, a quintessential Florentine experience.
  3. Piazza della Signoria: A square buzzing with street performers, home to Palazzo Vecchio (the town hall) and a copy of Michelangelo’s David.
  4. Uffizi Gallery: A treasure trove of Renaissance art, showcasing masterpieces by Botticelli, da Vinci, and Michelangelo. (Consider pre-purchasing tickets to avoid long lines)
  5. Accademia Gallery: Michelangelo’s iconic “David” stands tall here, alongside other sculptures by the master.
  6. Palazzo Vecchio: Explore the seat of Florentine government, adorned with stunning Renaissance art and secret passageways. This imposing fortress-palace was once the seat of the Medici family, Florence’s powerful rulers.
  7. Santa Croce Basilica: This church houses the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli – a must-visit for history buffs.
  8. Piazzale Michelangelo: Hike up or take a bus to this scenic viewpoint for breathtaking panoramic views of Florence.
  9. Boboli Gardens: These sprawling gardens behind Palazzo Pitti offer a peaceful escape, filled with sculptures, fountains, and manicured lawns (free entry to the first part).
  10. Basilica di San Miniato al Monte: This Romanesque church perched on a hilltop offers stunning views and a serene atmosphere.

Free things to do in Florence

  1. Walking Tours: Join a free (or tip-based) walking tour and gain local insights into Florentine history and hidden gems. You can also try to do the tour DIY with a Rick Steves Florence walking tour.
  2. Window Shopping: Admire the exquisite jewelry displayed in the Ponte Vecchio’s gold shops, even if your budget isn’t for a purchase.
  3. Piazza Santa Croce: Catch a free outdoor concert or movie screening during the summer months.
  4. Basilica Santa Maria Novella: This beautiful church boasts frescoes by Ghirlandaio and Brunelleschi’s stunning facade. (Free entry, donations appreciated)
  5. Santo Spirito Market: Immerse yourself in the local scene at this lively market, browsing fresh produce, local crafts, and delicious street food.
  6. Explore Neighborhoods: Wander through charming districts like Oltrarno (known for its artisan workshops) and San Lorenzo (home to the Medici Chapels).
  7. Piazza Santo Spirito: This charming square in the Oltrarno district is a great spot to relax by the Arno River, people-watch, or grab a bite to eat at a local cafe. The 16th-century Basilica di Santo Spirito is also worth a visit for its Renaissance architecture.

Top Museums in Florence

  1. Uffizi Gallery: A must for art enthusiasts, showcasing masterpieces of the Renaissance. 
  2. Accademia Gallery: Witness Michelangelo’s “David” and other sculptures by the maestro. 
  3. Palazzo Vecchio Museum: Delve into the history of Florence within the Palazzo Vecchio’s opulent halls. 
  4. Museo dell’Opera del Duomo: This museum houses sculptures originally intended for the Duomo, including Michelangelo’s “Pietà.” 
  5. Bargello National Museum: Admire sculptures by Michelangelo, Donatello, and other Renaissance masters. 
  6. San Marco Museum: Explore the former Dominican monastery known for its collection of Fra Angelico’s religious frescoes. 

Day Trips: Florence Travel Guide Itinerary

  1. Siena: (Distance: 78 km | Travel Time: 1 hour 10 minutes by train)
    This rival city of Florence boasts a stunning Piazza del Campo, a central square famous for its shell-shaped pavement and twice-yearly Palio horse race. Explore the Siena Cathedral, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, and get lost in the charming medieval streets. Foodies won’t want to miss Siena’s delicious Sienese cuisine, including Pecorino cheese and wild boar ragù.
  2. Chianti Classico Wine Region: (Distance: 27 km | Travel Time: 45 minutes by bus)
    Immerse yourself in the rolling hills, vineyards, and charming villages of the Chianti Classico wine region. Explore Greve in Chianti, the “gateway” to the region, or wander through the medieval hilltop town of Montefioralle. Sample local wines at a winery (with stunning views, of course!), and don’t forget to grab a bottle (or two) to bring back as a souvenir.
  3. Cinque Terre: (Distance: 183 km | Travel Time: 2-3 hours by train)
    Cinque Terre is a string of five colorful villages clinging to the cliffs along the Italian Riviera. Hike between the villages on scenic trails (prepare for breathtaking views!), take a boat tour for a different perspective, or simply relax on a beach and soak up the sun. Be sure to try the local seafood dishes and pesto – fresh and flavorful! Note: Due to the distance, this might be a longer day trip, so plan accordingly.
  4. Pisa: (Distance: 83 km | Travel Time: 1 hour by train)
    While the Leaning Tower is undoubtedly Pisa’s star attraction, this city offers more than just a tilted wonder. Explore the Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles), home to the Leaning Tower, the Pisa Cathedral, and the Baptistery. The city also boasts charming riverside walks along the Arno River and a vibrant university atmosphere.
  5. Lucca: (Distance: 58 km | Travel Time: 1 hour by train)
    Lucca is a walled city known for its well-preserved Renaissance ramparts. Rent a bike and cycle along the top of the city walls for panoramic views, or simply wander the charming streets and squares. Lucca is also a music lover’s paradise, being the birthplace of the composer Giacomo Puccini. Catch a concert or opera if you’re lucky!
Florence architecture

Where to Stay on a Budget

Where you rest your weary head plays a big role in any trip, and Florence is no exception. While the city center might ooze charm, it can also drain your wallet faster than a rogue gelato spill. If this is your first time in Florence, people might have told you about the Four Seasons Hotel or Rocco Forte Hotel, but these will drain your wallet out of everything it has. This is why we’re including budget-friendly places to stay in Florence for backpackers and travelers on a budget. 

Read: We have an awesome guide on the best hostels in Florence.

The “Oh-So-Central” Zone (a.k.a. Piazza del Duomo):

  • This area puts you right in the heart of the action, with the Duomo, Uffizi Gallery, and all the tourist hotspots a stone’s throw away.
  • Convenience comes at a cost, with accommodation prices generally being higher here.

Budget-friendly areas: Florence travel guide

  • San Marco: This artistic neighborhood is a haven for budget-conscious travelers. Lined with artisan workshops and vintage shops, it offers a glimpse into Florentine life beyond the tourist crowds.
  • Santa Croce: Steeped in history, this area is home to the Santa Croce Basilica and houses the tombs of Michelangelo and other Renaissance bigwigs. Be warned, the streets can get lively at night, especially during summer.
  • Oltrarno: Cross the Ponte Vecchio and discover this bohemian district. Think quirky shops, local trattorias, and stunning views from Piazzale Michelangelo. It’s slightly less touristy than the city center, but still close enough to the action.
  • Novoli: This area, slightly further out from the center, offers the best bang for your buck. Home to the university, it has a youthful vibe with plenty of student hangouts and budget-friendly cafes. While the historical sights might be a bus ride away, the peaceful atmosphere and lower prices make it a good option for budget-savvy explorers.

Eating and Drinking

Forget the stereotype of expensive Italian dining! Florence offers a delightful smorgasbord of culinary experiences that won’t leave your wallet feeling like a deflated souffle. Here’s how to be a savvy foodie and conquer your cravings without breaking the bank:

Water: Unlike some countries, Florence boasts perfectly safe drinking water. Skip the bottled stuff and refill your reusable bottle at any public fountain. Mother Earth (and your wallet) will thank you!

Where to eat on a budget in Florence

  • Pizzerie: Who needs a fancy meal when crispy, cheesy goodness awaits? Local pizzerias offer slices for as low as €2-€3. Perfect for a quick lunch or a late-night bite.
  • Skip the Square, Seek the Trattoria: Tourist areas are notorious for inflated prices. Wander a bit further and discover authentic trattorias, which are family-run restaurants serving classic Tuscan fare at more reasonable costs. Look for places with handwritten menus – that’s usually a sign of local goodness.
  • Lunch is King (and Queen): Many restaurants offer a fixed-price lunch menu (pranzo fixo) that’s lighter on your wallet but still heavy on flavor. This is a great way to try a variety of dishes without breaking the bank.
  • Bistecca on a Budget? Think Twice: Florence is famous for its Bistecca alla Fiorentina, a giant T-bone steak grilled over charcoal. This is a delicious splurge, but be warned – it’s not exactly budget-friendly. If you do decide to indulge, share it with a friend if you can.

Food Markets:

  • Mercato Centrale: This indoor market is a paradise for foodies. Grab a fresh panino (Italian sandwich) overflowing with local delights, sample regional cheeses, and cured meats, or indulge in a sweet treat from the bakery stalls.
  • Sant’Ambrogio Market: Another treasure trove for the senses, this market explodes with beautiful colors and enticing aromas. Stock up on fresh produce, and local delicacies like truffle honey or pecorino cheese, and grab a tasty arancini (fried rice balls) from a street vendor.
  • Mercato delle Pulci: Don’t be fooled by the name (Flea Market)! This market also boasts vendors selling delicious local treats like fresh pasta, cured meats, and seasonal fruits.

Affordable Eats:

  • Panini: These delectable Italian staples are a lifesaver for budget travelers. Stuffed with an assortment of meats, cheeses, and veggies, they’re a satisfying and portable meal option. Look for panini shops (alimentari) or bakeries selling them for around €4-€6.
  • Lampredotto: Feeling adventurous? Try lampredotto, a Florentine street food made from slow-cooked cow stomach. Dipped in a flavorful sauce and served on a bread roll, it’s a unique and surprisingly delicious experience for just a few euros.
  • Gnocchi: Craving comfort food? These pillowy potato dumplings are a local favorite. Trattorias (casual eateries) often serve them in various sauces at affordable prices.

Grocery Gems:

  • Esselunga: A supermarket giant loved by locals, Esselunga offers a vast selection of products at reasonable prices. Stock up on essentials, grab pre-made salads or sandwiches for a quick picnic lunch, or explore their extensive cheese and cured meat section.
  • Coop: Another major supermarket player, Coop provides good quality groceries without a hefty price tag.
  • Lidl: The budget-conscious traveler’s best friend, Lidl offers basic necessities and a surprising variety of products at rock-bottom prices.

Bonus Tip: Bakeries are your secret weapon for late-afternoon deals! Many bakeries have “sconti” (discounts) on leftover bread, pastries, and even cakes. Keep an eye out for these signs and snag yourself a delicious treat at a fraction of the price.

How to Get Around

Florence, while relatively compact, has a public transportation system that can whisk you to all corners of the city. Here’s how to get around like a local without a hefty dent in your wallet:

Understanding Florence’s Public Transportation

  • Buses: Florence’s bus network is extensive and affordable. A single ticket costs €1.50 and is valid for 90 minutes, allowing transfers between buses during that timeframe. Download the app “Moovit” or grab a map to plan your journeys.
  • Trams: A single tram ticket also costs €1.50 and allows for 90 minutes of travel. There’s currently one tram line operating in Florence, but it connects some major points of interest.
  • Daily Pass (€5): For a day of extensive sightseeing, consider the daily pass. This grants you unlimited travel on buses and trams for 24 hours.
  • Multi-Day Passes: Staying longer? There are also 3-day (€18) and 7-day (€30) tourist passes available, offering unlimited travel on public transport within the validity period.
  • Insider Tip: Tickets can be purchased at newsstands, tobacco shops, and vending machines at tram stops. Validate your ticket as soon as you board to avoid fines.

Taxis: While not the cheapest option, taxis can be handy for late-night journeys or reaching locations outside the city center. Avoid hailing one on the street. Instead, call a taxi company (e.g., Taxi 4242 or Taxi 4390) or head to designated taxi ranks near major attractions.
Walking: Don’t underestimate the power of your own two feet! Florence’s historic center is relatively small and easily walkable. Strolling the streets allows you to soak in the city’s atmosphere and discover hidden gems along the way.

Cheapest Way to Get To and From the Airport in Florence

Florence Airport (FLR): The main airport serving Florence.

  • Bus: The most budget-friendly option is the Vola in Bus shuttle service (€6 one-way, €10 return) that takes you directly from the airport to Santa Maria Novella train station in about 20 minutes. Tickets can be purchased online or at the airport.
  • Taxi: A taxi ride from the airport to the city center costs around €22-€25.
    Pisa International Airport (PSA): While slightly farther (around 55 km), Pisa can sometimes offer cheaper flights.
  • Train: The Pisa Mover shuttle train connects the airport to Pisa Centrale train station in 5 minutes. From there, you can catch a train to Florence (around €9, 1-hour journey).
  • Bonus Tip: Consider pre-booking your airport transfers online. This can often be cheaper than booking upon arrival and saves you time waiting in queues.

Best Time to Visit Florence

Deciding when to visit Florence depends on what you prioritize. Here’s a breakdown of the seasons to help you pick your perfect time:

  • High Season (May-September):

Pros: Pleasant weather, great atmosphere, longer daylight hours.
Cons: Packed with tourists, higher accommodation prices, long queues at popular attractions.

  • Shoulder Season (April & October):

Pros: Pleasant temperatures, fewer crowds, good balance between sightseeing and enjoying the city’s atmosphere.
Cons: Temperatures might not be ideal for all activities (especially swimming).

  • Low Season (November-March):

Pros: Rock-bottom accommodation prices, minimal crowds, opportunity to experience a different side of the city.
Cons: Some attractions might have shorter opening hours, and colder weather (including occasional rain).

National Holidays & Peak Festivals

  • New Year’s Day (January 1st): Expect celebratory crowds and slightly higher prices.
  • Epiphany (January 6th): Traditional “Befana” festival with street markets and processions.
  • Love in Bloom (February 14th): While not a national holiday, Valentine’s Day can see a slight increase in tourist numbers and hotel rates.
  • Easter Week (Varies): The city comes alive with religious processions and special events. Accommodation prices tend to be higher during this time.
  • Scoppio del Carro (Easter Sunday): A spectacular historical pageant culminating in an explosion of fireworks (check the date in advance).
  • Calcio Storico Fiorentino (June): An intense, traditional football game played in period costumes. Be prepared for large crowds and book your accommodation well in advance.
  • Florence Biennale (Held every other year in September/October): A major contemporary art exhibition attracting visitors from around the world. Book your stay early, as hotels tend to fill up quickly.

Essentials, Money & Safety Tips

Florence may be a treasure trove of Renaissance art, but navigating the city as a backpacker requires a bit more than just an adventurous spirit. Here’s your essential cheat sheet to ensure a smooth and safe expedition:

Florence Safety Tips

  • Beware of Bag Snatchers: While Florence isn’t notorious for violent crime, petty theft can happen, especially in crowded areas. Keep your backpack close to your front and be mindful of your belongings around tourist hotspots like the Ponte Vecchio.
  • Dodge the “Friendly Bracelet” Scam: Approaches by individuals offering to tie a “friendship bracelet” on your wrist are usually a ploy to distract you while an accomplice picks your pockets. Politely decline and keep walking.

Scams to Avoid 

  • The “Helpful” Local: Individuals approaching you and offering unsolicited help with directions or maps might be trying to distract you from an accomplice to steal your belongings. Always rely on official tourist information points or apps for guidance.
  • Fake Petition Papers: Circulating petitions might seem like a noble cause, but they can be a ploy to steal personal information or distract you from a pickpocket. Avoid signing anything from strangers.

Florence Passes

  • Firenze Card: This all-access pass grants free entry to 72 museums and public attractions, including the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia Gallery. Perfect for art enthusiasts who want to maximize their sightseeing. (Valid for 72 hours, priced around €85)
  • CityPass Firenze: This combo ticket offers free entry to the top 3 museums (Uffizi Gallery, Accademia Gallery, Palazzo Vecchio) along with discounted access to other attractions and skip-the-line privileges. Ideal for those who want to hit the must-see sights efficiently. (Valid for 72 hours, priced around €72)

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