While you may think of Italy as a rather expensive travel destination, traveling to Florence doesn’t have to be costly. One of the main ways to lessen the load on your wallet when traveling to Florence is to do free or cheap activities. Luckily, there is A LOT to do in Florence that is free or only costs a few euros.

We spent three months in Florence and spent the entire time getting to know the city, its charm, its food, and its budget-friendly things to do. So, let’s jump right into the 30 free (and cheap) things to do in Florence!

Free Things to Do in Florence

You’ll be surprised by just how many attractions are actually free in Florence. Here are the free things in Florence to look out for.

1. Walk Around Piazza Del Duomo 

free things to do in florence piazza del duomo

It’s impossible to visit Florence without visiting the epic domed cathedral at least once. The Duomo is one of the most popular things to do in Florence for a good reason! The church is insanely impressive, especially considering that it took over 140 years to complete. And it is still the largest brick-domed church.

Interestingly, when construction began in 1296, the architects did not even know how to build a dome of this size, as domed buildings had not been built in Europe since Roman times!

While you will need to pay a fee to climb to the top of the Duomo as well as enter the baptistry and bell tower, you can enter the church for free. That said, the cathedral’s interior is a bit underwhelming and is nowhere near as spectacular as the outside.

2. Climb Up Piazzale Michelangelo

free things to do in florence michelangelo

One of the most famous views of Florence is from Piazzale Michelangelo. This viewpoint boasts one of the best views of the historic city, and better yet, it is completely free! You can easily walk to the top of the hill from any part of Florence. But be prepared to sweat a bit as you will be climbing up! 

Once you get to the top, we recommend grabbing a drink from one of the vendors and relaxing on the steps to take in the views. Sunset is definitely when most tourists come to Piazzale Michelangelo, but the views are absolutely stunning.

3. Head to San Miniato Al Monte

free things to do in florence san miniato

Looking for a less touristy viewpoint of the city? San Miniato al Monte is your best bet. This church is super close to Piazzale Michelangelo, but it is much less popular, so you won’t have to battle it out with other tourists to snap the perfect sunset photo.

The Church and Cemetery at San Miniato are also definitely worth a visit. This 11th-century church is one of the oldest in Florence and has some beautiful frescos and mosaics. Additionally, the cemetery at the church has some very impressive monuments, and several famous Italians are buried there.

4. Go to a Museum on a Free Sunday

free things to do in florence museum sunday

If you want to make the most out of a trip to Florence while still sticking to a budget, you should visit the city on Domenica al Museo. On the first Sunday of each month, most major museums in the city are completely free! As Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance, the art and history museums in the city are some of the best in the world. That said, these museums are certainly not the cheapest. So, if you are traveling on a shoestring budget, visiting on a free Sunday is a great option.

Here are a few of the best museums in Florence that are free on Domenica al Museo:

  • Uffizi Gallery: Art museum with Bottecelli’s Birth of Venus, Roman sculptures, and much more!
  • Galleria dell’Academia: Small museum housing the original David statue by Michelangelo
  • Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens: Large Medici Palace and extensive gardens
  • Bargello Museum: Museum housing several famous sculptures, including Donatello’s David
  • Palazzo Vecchio: 14th-century palace in the center of Florence

5. Find All the David Replicas

free things to do in florence david replicas

While you will have to pay to see the original David statue in Galleria dell’Academia (unless you visit during a free Sunday!), you can see several copies of the Michelangelo masterpiece around the city. So, if you don’t want to pay to see the David statue, you can still see fairly accurate replicas for free.

The most popular spot to see a “fake” David is in Piazza Signoria in front of Palazzo Vecchio. Interestingly, this was actually the original location of Michelangelo’s statue, which was moved to Galleria dell’Academia in 1873. 

Another replica of the statue is located in the center of Piazzale Michelangelo. This replica is slightly different as it is made of bronze.

6. Walk Across the Ponte Vecchio

free things to do in florence ponte vecchio

Undoubtedly, one of the best free things to do in Florence is to visit Ponte Vecchio. This unique medieval bridge is lined with jewelry shops and is unlike any other we have ever seen. During our stay in Florence, we walked across the bridge more than a dozen times, and we were equally in awe each time! 

Historically, several other old bridges crossed the Arno River, but Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge to survive the bombings of WWII. The bridge is entirely free to visit and a must-do in Florence!

7. Marvel at the Basilica Di Santa Croce

free things to do in florence santa croce

One of the best churches to visit in Florence is the Basilica di Santa Croce, which is a spectacular Franciscan church on the east side of the city center. Santa Croce is free to look at from the outside, but if you want to go inside, you’ll have to pay 8 euros. That said, going inside Santa Croce is definitely worth it, as it is the burial place of several famous people, including Galileo, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and Rossini.

After visiting a few Italian churches, they all started to blend together, but this was one of my favorites. So, if you are narrowing down which Florentine churches to go inside, Santa Croce should definitely be one of them.

8. Visit a Local Market

free things to do in florence local market

An awesome free thing to do in Florence is to head to one of the many local markets. Something that we really loved about the city is that it is still completely normal to shop for things at local open-air markets. There are so many markets all around the city in Florence, and you’ll find everything from groceries, clothes, appliances, artwork, handicrafts, artisanal foods, and more! Here are a few of our favorite markets to check out:

  • Santo Spirito Market (Our favorite): Saturdays and Sundays
  • Cascine Market (Largest market in Florence): Tuesdays
  • Mercato Centrale (Expensive and touristy, but still fun): Everyday
  • San Lorenzo Market (Biggest leather market): Everyday
  • Sant’Ambrosio Market (Less touristy version of Mercato Centrale): Everyday
  • Mercato Nuovo (Smaller picturesque market): Everyday

9. Stroll Through the Oltrarno District

free things to do in florence oltrarno

One of our favorite areas of Florence is the Oltrarno district, which is just across the river from the main part of the city. The area is much less crowded and has a more authentic feel than the central parts of Florence. Don’t get me wrong, MANY tourists still venture to Oltrarno, but there is definitely more room to breathe. 

While many of the central areas of Florence feel a bit like Disneyland and tend to have more tourists than locals, you can tell that many local residents still live in Oltrarno. Here, you’ll find antique shops, authentic restaurants and cafes, art sellers, and other interesting local establishments. 

10. Snap a Photo at Piazza Della Signoria

free things to do in florence piazza della signoria

Florence has no shortage of insanely picturesque piazzas, and Piazza Della Signoria is one of the most dramatic. You simply cannot visit Florence without getting a photo of this square, which houses Palazzo Vecchio, a massive fountain of Neptune, and a replica of Michelangelo’s David. Palazzo Vecchio, in particular, is one of the most remarkable buildings in Florence. It was built in the early 1300s! This piazza is also just around the corner from the Uffizi Gallery and Ponte Vecchio.

11. Check Out the Statues at Loggia dei Lanzi

free things to do in florence loggia dei lanzi

While visiting Piazza Della Signoria, you cannot miss the free statues at Loggia Dei Lanza, a covered space made of large arches next to Palazzo Vecchio. This area has some pretty impressive statues, some of which are from the Renaissance and others dating back to Roman times!

The best part is that these statues are entirely free to see, giving you a taste of what the Uffizi Gallery has to offer without having to shell out any money.

12. Visit a Medici Villa

free things to do in florence medici villa

Florence is the land of the Medicis, a powerful Italian family that ruled over the city from the 1400s to the mid-1700s. The Medicis were extremely wealthy and had a passion for art. Their investments in the Florentine art community during this time are partially responsible for the start of the Renaissance period. 

There are several Medici villas around Florence, three of which are completely free to visit. These are:

  • Villa di Castello
  • Villa la Petraia
  • Villa Corsini

Visiting one of these villas is a pretty unique thing to do in Florence, as most tourists do not know about them. It is a good chance to learn a bit more about Medici history, see some amazing artwork, and experience the Tuscan countryside, all for free!

13. Head Inside San Salvatore Church

free things to do in florence san salvatore

I know what you are thinking, “Really, another church?” But hear me out. Florence has a ridiculous number of churches, and not all of them are worth visiting, but San Salvatore is pretty interesting. This church has some amazing artwork, especially the ceiling frescos, and it is also the resting place of famous Italian artist Sandro Botticelli and explorer Amerigo Vespucci. One of the most interesting pieces of art in this church is Ghirlandaio’s Last Supper, which many believe inspired Leonardo Da Vinci’s iconic fresco. This church really surprised us, and since it is a bit of a hidden gem, it provides a great opportunity to escape the crowds.

14. Explore the Sant’Ambrogio Neighborhood

free things to do in florence sant'ambrogio

Another of our favorite neighborhoods in Florence is the Sant’Ambrogio area, which is on the city’s east side. This is one of the only central parts of Florence that few tourists venture to, despite it being only around 15 minutes from Piazza Della Signoria. The Sant’Ambrogio neighborhood is home to the old Jewish Ghetto of Florence and a massive synagogue. There is so much life in this part of the city, with tons of great restaurants, bars, cafes, clothing shops, and a large local market. So, if you are looking for something to do that is a bit off the main tourist trail, we highly recommend heading here.

15. Explore the Flower Gardens

free things to do in florence flower gardens

This is an excellent free activity to do in Florence during springtime. For a short period, between late March and early June, the flowers of Florence start to bloom in great numbers. And there are several public gardens you can visit in the city to get the best photos (and fragrances!). While Florence is a gorgeous city all year, it is honestly indescribably beautiful in the spring. 

Here are a few of our favorite flower gardens and the best months to visit:

  • Giardino delle Rose: Roses are generally in bloom between mid-April and early June
  • Giardino dell’Iris: Irises only bloom for a short period between the end of April and mid-May
  • Villa Bardini (Wisterias): Wisterias also bloom for only a few weeks between mid-April and early May. Note: tickets for Villa Bardini cost 10 euros.

16. Follow your Nose in the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella

free things to do in florence santa maria novella perfumery

Even if you aren’t in the market for a new perfume, we highly recommend checking out the Santa Maria Novella Perfumery. This is one of the most beautiful shops we have ever set foot in and is inside an extremely picturesque building. The perfumery has a really interesting history dating back to the 14th century when monks would create strongly scented concoctions to treat the black plague. Eventually, the monks began to sell their scented creations to the public, and the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella was officially founded.

The business still functions in its original location and sells many of the same products that the monks sold in the Middle Ages! The building is decorated amazingly and even has some frescos from the early Renaissance by Mariotto Di Nardo.

The perfumes at this shop are not at all cheap, but if you have the budget, they would make an awesome souvenir!

17. Rub Il Porcellino’s Nose

free things to do in florence porcellino

This is a bit of a strange but still a fun and (mostly) free thing to do in Florence! Il Porcellino, located in Mercato Nuovo, is a bronze sculpture of a wild boar that was sculpted in 1634. You’ll notice that the snout of the statue is a different color than the rest of it. This is due to the fact that for more than 300 years, visitors to Florence have been constantly touching this part of Il Porcellino.

It is a popular tradition to place a coin in Il Porcellino’s mouth, allow it to drop into the grate below, and rub the snout. It is pretty fun to take part in such an old tradition in this beautiful city!

Rubbing the statue’s nose is said to give you good luck and ensure that you will one day return to Florence.

18. Stroll Through the Cascine Park

free things to do in florence cascine

During our three-month stay in Florence, we were lucky enough to stay just across the river from this massive park. Florence is a pretty densely packed city with not a lot of green space, but Cascine Park more than makes up for this! The Cascine is HUGE, stretching for more than three kilometers and encompassing 160 hectares, which is around a third the size of Florence’s historic center.

There is quite a lot going on in Cascine Park, with events and markets often being held here. Additionally, at the eastern end of the park, you’ll find a massive Ferris wheel that will give you a panoramic view of the city.

19. Watch and Listen to the Street Performers

free things to do in florence street performers

One of the first things we noticed when we arrived in Florence was just how impressive the street performers were. Talented street performers in any city are fun to listen to, but Florence takes “busking” to another level.

Walking around the Florence city center, you’ll come across opera singers, string quartets, classical guitarists, and dancers who are talented beyond words. These performers really add to the magic of Florence, immersing you in the Renaissance culture. Of course, these street artists are technically “free” to watch. But it is always good practice to leave a small tip if you enjoy yourself!

20. Go Leather Shopping

free things to do in florence leather shopping

Florence is world famous for its leather products, and you’ll likely be surprised at how affordable some of the leather merchandise is in the city. Tuscan leather craftsmen produce some of the highest-quality leather products in the world. Even if you aren’t planning on buying any leather merchandise, walking through one of the leather markets in the city is still a fun and must-do activity. Here are a few of the best leather markets in Florence.

  • San Lorenzo Market
  • Mercato Nuovo
  • School of Leather Florence

Cheap Things to Do in Florence

Are you still looking for some things to do in Florence that won’t break the bank? Here are some cheap things to do in Florence. Most of these activities will cost under 10 euros, while a couple will cost under 15.

21. Eat a Panino (or 2!) 

free things to do in florence panino

In our opinion, the best thing to do in Florence is eat! And one food that you absolutely need to try in the city is a sandwich (or a schiacciatta). Florence does sandwiches better than just about any place in the world. And better yet, a world-class panini will only set you back around 5 to 7 euros! You can get a simple yet delicious sandwich from pretty much any local bakery or deli, but there are also several specialty schiacciatta spots in the city.

We tried quite a few paninis in Florence, and here are our top picks:

  • Crazy Horse Street Food Paninoteca: It only costs 5 euros, and you get to build your own sandwiches. The porchetta is to die for.
  • Fermentino “Schiacciata e Dintorni”: This is a fancier panini shop that fuses unique ingredients with a more creative spin on classic Tuscan sandwiches. It is a bit pricier at around 7 euros per schiacciata, but they are so worth it!
  • Panini Toscana: This is a unique sandwich shop where you can build your own panini, choosing everything from bread to cheese, meat, and toppings.

22. Head to Fiesole

free things to do in florence fiesole

Fiesole is a hidden gem of a town perched up in the hills just above Florence. We were truly in awe when we visited this town, as we were greeted with jaw-dropping panoramic views and some amazing sites. Unless you are up for a long uphill hike, Fiesole is not a 100% free thing to do in Florence. You will need to shell out 3.4 euros for the round-trip bus ticket, but it is completely worth it!

You can easily take a day trip to Fiesole from Florence, which will give you a great opportunity to see some of the iconic Tuscan countryside without having to venture very far. The town has a few cool things to see, including an 11th-century church, Roman and Etruscan ruins, and plenty of old Italian villas.

Additionally, Leonardo Da Vinci tested out his iconic flying machines in Fiesole, so the town is rooted in Renaissance history.

23. Visit the Boboli Gardens

free things to do in florence boboli

A sprawling garden attached to Palazzo Pitti, Boboli Gardens is definitely one of the best things to see in Florence. These gardens are very well-maintained and are filled with a variety of different flowers, trees, fountains, and statues. As we mentioned previously, you can visit the garden for free on the first Sunday of every month. That said, if you aren’t in Florence on the first Sunday of the month, tickets to the gardens will only set you back 10 euros.

24. Climb to the Villa Bardini

free things to do in florence bardini

Villa Bardini is a cliffside villa from the 1600s with a magical view over Florence. While the villa itself is quite impressive, the main draw is the gardens, which are one of the best places to see wisteria flowers (when they are in season). The ticket to Villa Bardini costs 10 euros, but it is actually included in your ticket to Boboli, so your best bet is to combine them and visit both attractions in one day.

25. Have an Aperitivo at a Piazza

free things to do in florence aperitivo

A must-do cheap activity in Florence is to stop at a local bar for aperitivo. Aperitivo is a big thing in Italy and is essentially a pre-meal drink with a small snack that you have at around 5 or 6 pm before heading to dinner. Most bars and restaurants in Florence will have specific deals for aperitivo time, which usually includes an alcoholic drink and taglieri (charcuterie board) for around 5 to 15 euros per person.

Honestly, there were times when we would have aperitivo, and it would fill us up to the point that we wouldn’t even need to eat much for dinner! So, it is a great way to eat and drink for cheap in the city.

26. Go Thrift Shopping

free things to do in florence thrift shopping

Due to the number of luxury brands based in Italy, thrift shopping might be a bit of a different experience than you are used to. Thrift shops have a huge range of items in Florence, ranging from cheap used clothing stores to pricy designer vintage shops. If you get lucky, you may be able to find some end-of-the-season deals where all items in the thrift shop are less than 5 euros!

Even if you aren’t in need of any clothing, we recommend window shopping at some of the designer vintage shops in Florence, as they have some pretty unique items.

27. Walk Around the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella

free things to do in florence basilica santa maria novella

Santa Maria Novella is a 15th-century church located near the train station in Florence. This church has a beautifully decorated marble facade on the exterior and houses some famous paintings and frescoes on the inside. You will need to pay 7.5 euros to enter this church, and while it is certainly beautiful, there are plenty of free churches in the city.

28. Marvel at the Cappelle Medicee

free things to do in florence cappelle medicee

Another cheap thing to do in Florence is to visit the Medici Chapel, the final resting place of some of the most powerful members of the Medici Family. The chapel is insanely grandiose and displays just how wealthy the Medici Family was during the Renaissance period. It also houses some sculptures by Michelangelo and a sacristy that the artist designed. The entry ticket to the Medici Chapel costs 9 euros.

29. Visit the Bargello Museum

free things to do in florence bargello

The Bargello Museum is located in an old army barracks and prison and houses some famous wooden, bronze, and marble sculptures by Michelangelo, Donatello, Verrocchio, and others. The building itself is incredibly beautiful, and it is definitely worth a visit, especially if you are interested in Renaissance sculpture art. Tickets to the Bargello Museum will cost you 10 euros.

30. Eat at Trattoria Sabatino

free things to do in florence trattoria sabatino

We are big foodies, so we were in heaven in Florence, which is one of the best places to eat in the world. While there are seemingly endless options for a good meal in the city, one of our favorites was the traditional “grandma-style” cooking at Trattoria Sabatino. This is a popular restaurant in the Oltrarno district located right next to the city wall. This family-owned establishment serves no-frills Tuscan dishes that are made with love, taste amazing, and come at an astonishingly low price.

At Trattoria Sabatino, you can get a two or three course meal with wine for under 15 euros per person. For example, pasta dishes cost around 4 euros, a meat dish costs just 7 euros, and a quarter liter of house wine is just 1.5 euros! It’s so cheap we thought there was a typo when we first looked at the menu!

The owners of Trattoria Sabatino are super friendly, and the matriarch, “nonna” will generally even greet you when you come in.

Visit Florence on a Shoestring

Florence is by no means the cheapest city in the world, but as you now know, a trip here doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, with so many cheap and free things to do in Florence, you will find that you can have an amazing time in the city without maxing out your budget.

Looking for some more Italy travel recommendations? Check out our guide to Rome for first-timers as well as our list of free things to do in Rome!

About the Author