Best Budget-Friendly Things to do in Florence

Prepare for a fabulous journey to the enchanting city of Florence, Italy, as you seek out the most spectacular sights! Like many Italian destinations, the real challenge isn’t finding delightful attractions, but choosing how to spend your precious vacation time strategically. In the captivating city of Florence, the fun truly begins when you dive into this vibrant, artistic wonderland!

First, how to get around in Florence, like many cities in Europe such as Venice, is quite straightforward. The best way to get around Florence is on foot. Florence’s city center is compact and most of the major attractions are within walking distance of each other. Walking not only allows you to explore the city at a leisurely pace (get some exercise…), but also helps you discover hidden gems and picturesque streets along the way.

However, if you need to travel longer distances or if you prefer not to walk, you can use public transportation. Florence used to have a reliable bus network operated by ATAF but the service went out of service in 2021. Single tickets were relatively inexpensive and could be purchased at ticket machines, tobacco shops, or newsstands. The new bus service is called Autolinee Toscane (

Taxis are also available but can be more expensive, especially during peak tourist season which typically falls between April and October, with the busiest months being May, June, and September. If you choose to use a taxi, make sure it’s an official one with a meter, and be aware that there might be extra charges for luggage or late-night rides.

Finally, renting a bicycle is another option to explore Florence. There are several bike rental shops throughout the city, and some hotels even provide bikes for their guests. Keep in mind, though, that Florence’s historic center can be quite crowded, and cycling may not be as convenient as walking in some areas.

Peak Tourist Season

As mentioned above, peak tourist season in Florence typically falls between April and October. The busiest months being May, June, and September. During these months, the city sees an influx of tourists, resulting in larger crowds at popular attractions. Also expect higher accommodation prices, and longer wait times at restaurants and museums.

If you prefer to avoid the peak tourist season, consider visiting Florence during the shoulder seasons of March, April, October, and November. During these months, you can still expect pleasant weather, but with fewer crowds and more affordable accommodation options. The winter months, from December to February, are considered the low season, with colder temperatures and fewer tourists, but it’s an excellent time to enjoy the city’s museums and art galleries at a more leisurely pace.

With the foundation set, let’s dive into our curated list of 5 must-visit attractions in Florence. We’ve thoughtfully arranged the order to maximize your sightseeing experience while minimizing the walking distance between these fabulous destinations:

1. Accademia Gallery

Things to do in Florence: Accademia Gallery

The Accademia Gallery, housing Michelangelo’s famous David sculpture, is a must-see attraction. Despite tickets being pricey, with even “free tickets” for minors having a 10.50 Euros online booking and pre-sales fee, the experience is worthwhile. Book online ahead of time to skip long wait times. Besides David, the museum also features works by Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, and Orcagna, as well as a collection of Renaissance musical instruments. A fun fact about Michelangelo’s famous David sculpture is that it was originally intended to be placed on the roof of Florence’s Cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore. However, due to its massive size (17 feet tall) and weight (over six tons), it was decided that the sculpture would be installed at ground level, in the Piazza della Signoria.

2. Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

Things to do in Florence: Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, or the Duomo, is Florence’s most iconic sight. Did you know that the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, or simply known as the Duomo, boasts the largest brick dome in the world? Designed by mastermind Filippo Brunelleschi, this incredible feat of engineering was achieved without the use of any supporting framework during its construction. Even today, it leaves architects and engineers in awe of Brunelleschi’s innovative approach and skillful craftsmanship. While entrance to the cathedral is free, climbing the dome or visiting the bell tower, baptistery, and museum requires a combined ticket. Arrive early to beat the crowds.

3. Piazza della Signoria

Things to do in Florence: Piazza della Signoria

Who could go to Florence and not take time to visit the renowned Piazza della Signoria? Located in the center of the Florence. As the political heart of the city, Piazza della Signoria is an excellent starting point for your Florence adventure.

This bustling square is home to the impressive Palazzo Vecchio, the Loggia dei Lanzi, and numerous statues, including a replica of Michelangelo’s David. Best of all, exploring the piazza is free, and it’s lively at any time of day. The best time to visit Piazza della Signoria in Florence is during the early morning or late afternoon. During these times, you can enjoy the beauty of the square with fewer crowds, as most tourists tend to visit during the peak hours of the day. Additionally, the soft sunlight during the early morning or late afternoon hours adds a magical touch to the atmosphere of the square, making it even more enjoyable.

If you’re looking to avoid the busiest times, consider visiting on a weekday or during the shoulder seasons of March, April, October, and November. These periods typically see fewer tourists in Florence, resulting in a more relaxed atmosphere at Piazza della Signoria and other popular attractions.

4. Ponte Vecchio

Things to do in Florence: Ponte Vecchio

A few minutes south of Piazza della Signoria is Florence’s iconic medieval bridge, Ponte Vecchio, is a must-visit landmark. Lined with historic shops selling jewelry, art, and souvenirs, this picturesque spot offers stunning views of the Arno River. To avoid the crowds, visit during early morning or late evening. Window-shopping is free, but be prepared for higher prices if you decide to buy something. The best time of day to visit Ponte Vecchio in Florence is either early in the morning or during the late afternoon to early evening. Early mornings offer a quieter experience with fewer crowds, allowing you to better appreciate the bridge’s unique architecture and charm. In the late afternoon to early evening, the soft, warm light provides a beautiful backdrop for the bridge and the Arno River, making it an excellent time for photography.

Visiting during these off-peak hours not only helps you avoid large crowds but also allows you to experience the historic bridge in a more relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere.

5. Uffizi Gallery

Things to do in Florence: Uffizi Gallery

The Uffizi Gallery, one of Florence’s most iconic museums, is a treasure trove of world-renowned art. While admission can be expensive at 92 euros for a family of four, the experience is truly unparalleled. Marvel at masterpieces such as Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus,” Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Annunciation,” and Caravaggio’s “Medusa,” among others. The rich collection of art housed within the museum is a testament to the city’s illustrious past, justifying the price of admission. Fun fact: The Uffizi Gallery was originally built as a government office complex, commissioned by Cosimo I de’ Medici in the 16th century. It was later transformed into a gallery to showcase the Medici family’s vast art collection to the public.

6. Basilica of Santa Croce

Things to do in Florence: Basilica of Santa Croce

Although the Basilica of Santa Croce is currently closed for much-needed renovations, its magnificent exterior is still a sight to behold. The church’s intricate façade, adorned with marble statues and reliefs, showcases the splendor of Florentine Gothic architecture. Even without stepping inside, visitors can appreciate the historical and artistic significance of this remarkable landmark. As the final resting place for luminaries like Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli, the basilica stands as a testament to Florence’s rich cultural heritage. While it’s unfortunate that the interior is off-limits for now, these restorations ensure that future generations will be able to experience the full majesty of Santa Croce.

7. Piazzale Michelangelo

Things to do in Florence: Piazzale Michelangelo

Piazzale Michelangelo is a must-visit spot in Florence. It offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city, including the magnificent dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. As you take in the sights, you’ll also encounter lively street vendors adding to the vibrant atmosphere. Although the walk uphill can be a bit steep, the stunning vistas are well worth the effort. Plus, it’s completely free! If you prefer an easier journey, hop on bus 12 or 13 from the city center. Here’s a fun fact: Piazzale Michelangelo is home to a bronze replica of Michelangelo’s famous David statue. It’s a perfect spot for a memorable photo op!

8. Boboli Gardens

Things to do in Florence: Boboli Gardens

The Boboli Gardens are an exquisite oasis of greenery in Florence, providing a delightful spot to spend a few hours. Plan your visit strategically to explore nearby attractions. The Pitti Palace is situated north/northeast of the gardens, while the Bardini Gardens are to the west. Forte di Belvedere is nestled between the latter two, making it easy to visit all these fascinating sites. The sprawling Boboli Gardens, located behind the Pitti Palace, boast beautifully manicured lawns, mesmerizing fountains, and elegant sculptures. While there’s an admission fee, it’s worth it for the experience. For a budget-friendly alternative, visit the charming Bardini Gardens, which are smaller yet often less crowded. Fun fact: The Boboli Gardens served as an inspiration for the Palace of Versailles’ gardens in France! Visit the gardens during spring or early autumn for mild weather and flourishing flora. These seasons offer the best experience for exploring the gardens.

Florence is a city that rewards those who take the time to explore its rich history and culture. By planning your visit carefully, you can enjoy many of its top attractions without overspending. Remember to pack comfortable shoes, as walking is often the best way to experience the city. And, of course, be sure to indulge in some delicious Italian gelato along the way!