Florence

10 Free Things To Do In Florence: Budget Friendly Activities

Florence is famous for attractions like the Duomo Cathedral, Accademia Gallery & Uffizi Gallery, but entry into all of these can easily add up… Here are 10 free things to do in Florence instead.

1. Admire the inside of the Duomo Cathedral

Exterior of the Duomo Cathedral and Clock Tower in Florence

Entry into the Duomo Cathedral is completely free! For entry into the other monuments in Piazza Duomo (such as climbing up the Cupola, visiting the Bell Tower, Baptistery & Museum) you need to buy separate passes which cost 15-50 EUROS depending on which monuments you want to visit. The passes available are the Ghiberti Pass, Giotto Pass or Brunenelleschi Pass.

If you are short on time, or want to save money then instead you can visit the inside of the Duomo Cathedral – which for me is my top free thing to do in Florence!

For free admission, enter via the right-hand side door at front and make sure that you are wearing appropriate clothing (covered knees and shoulders and no sandals, sunglasses, hats etc). Once you’re inside, you can visit the five magnificent chapels, admire Baccio d’Agnolo’s marble floor or visit Michelino’s painting inspired by Dante’s La Divina Commedia.

2. Watch the sunset at Piazzale Michaelangelo

This free activity involves a bit of a walk, but the sunset you will be treated to will definitely make up for it!

If you climb the stairs right by the Torre San Niccolò, follow the ramps and paths all the the way to the top, you will discover Piazzale Michaelangelo. A 19th century viewing terrace which was designed in 1869 by Giuseppe Poggi, and gives one of the most beautiful panoramic views across the city.

Watchinf the sunset at Piazza Michaelangelo is one of the MOST POPULAR free things to do in Florence. So, in the hour or so before sunset it gets packed with tourists, street vendors, performers etc so get there early to secure your spot. Watch your bags as this can be a prime spot for pickpockets to strike on unsuspecting tourists enjoying the sunset.

If you can’t be bothered to climb all the way to the top then you can take bus number 12 or 13 from Santa Maria Novella Station instead, just visit a tobacco shop or the station to buy a ticket in advance.

3. Walk across Ponte Vecchio – especially beautiful at night

Ponte Vecchi literally translates to Old Bridge in Italian, and is the oldest and most famous bridge in Florence. It even survived the bombings of WW2, when the Germans destroyed all of Florence’s bridges, except this one.

If you decide to walk across the bridge during the day the bridge is usually packed with tourists outside the jewellery shops. However, at night the bridge is slightly quieter. The shops shut, masses leave and the bridge takes on a magical quality. Florence is illuminated as the sun goes down and the walk across the bridge is particularly beautiful.

4. Visit Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella – the oldest pharmacy in the world

Image Courtesy of Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella

Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella has been active for over four centuries. Opened in 1221, and founded by Dominican friars the oldest pharmacy in Florence is completely free to visit.

Although, if you have a bit of cash to spend, they also sell handmade soaps and perfumes. Including one of the oldest perfumes in Italy – ‘Acqua di Santa Maria Novella’ – a fresh and citrusy perfume which can be all yours if you have 150 EUROS to spend.

Where is the Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella located?

5. Wander around the Mercato Centrale Firenze

Designed by the same architect as the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II in Milan, Florence’s Central Market located in the San Lorenzo district is a great place to spend a few hours. Opened in 1874, the market is loved by local Florentines who visit to get their fresh groceries. Inside you will find stalls selling fresh produce ranging from fruit, meat and cheese to fresh pasta and bread.

On the top floor of the market there is now a food court which has wine bars, restaurants and tasting rooms. Making this the perfect place to try local Tuscan produce likes porchetta, lampredotto and trippa. The best thing is that prices are slightly cheaper than the centre of Florence, so a great place to come if you want to save a few coins.

The food court is open from 10 am to midnight every day. So, you can visit for breakfast, an aperitivo, dinner or even a midnight snack!

Where is the Mercato Centrale Florence located?

6. Take a stroll through the courtyard of Palazzo Vecchio & see a replica of Michaelangelo’s David

Image Courtesy of Palazzo Vecchio

Entrance into Palazzo Vecchio starts from 15 EUROS. BUT, many people don’t realise you can visit the courtyard for FREE!

Palazzo Vecchio is an important symbol of Florence, at the entrance you are met with a replica of the famous David statue by Michaelangelo. To see the real thing you will have to visit the Accademia Gallery, which houses the largest number of Michaelangelo’s sculptures in the world.

Located next to the palace’s entrance is Michaelozzo’s courtyard which is freely open to the public to visit. Inside you will find a courtyard surrounded by beautiful porticos, highly decorated walls and bronze statues.

7. Admire the Fontana del Porcellino

Image Courtesy of Visit Italy

Definitely one of the most unusual free things to do in Florence – touch this statue’s nose and drop a coin from it’s mouth for good luck!

The stalls in Mercato Nuovo are open from 9am -6.30 every day and sell leather goods, gloves and other souvenirs. BUT, most tourists come here to visit the Fontana del Porcellino – a bronze statue of a wild boar. Legend has it that if you stroke the boar’s nose you will return to Florence. For good luck, throw a coin from its mouth into the fountain below. If the coin falls into the grate below you’ve got good luck, if it doesn’t then you don’t!

8. Take a walk through Le Cascine Park, and catch the weekly market!

Image Courtesy of Visit Tuscany

The largest park in Florence has over 395 acres of gardens to explore! If you visit on a Tuesday you can can visit the open air market which sells anything and everything. From fresh meat to shows, to flowers – you can find anything here!

The park originally belonged to the Medici Family in 1563 who used it for hunting and farming. Now, its a green oasis in Florence which you can visit for a picnic, gentle stroll or in summer there is a public swimming pool open (which has an affordable all-day entrance pass).

Where is Le Cascine Park located?

9. Admire Florence’s street art

If you’re a street art lover, Florence has lots to offer – with popular artists Exit/Enter & Clet filling the city with their designs.

For a unique free thing to do in Florence, spend a few hours exploring Florence’s street art scene. The best street art is found in theSan Frediano and San Niccolò quarter. Here you will find world famous street artist Clet’s work, where he modifies street signs.

Alternatively, you can explore the back streets between Piazza della Signoria and Ponte Vecchio where you can discover lots of different pieces of graffiti and street art.

Check out this article by Visit Italy on Street art in Florence: artists you don’t want to miss

If you want to explore Florence’s street art more deeply then why not consider taking a guided tour?

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalise a purchase.

10. Sit and soak up the sun at Easy Living Beach

‘Summertime/An’ the livin’ is easy:’ is the motto, and mission of Florence’s Easy Living project. Located in the San Niccolò district along the river Arno, this is a hidden seaside escape for local Florentines. Here you will find a small sandy beach with free chairs, umbrellas and loungers. If you are a yoga fan – on Wednesdays evenings there is even a free yoga class. Suitable for all levels!

There are DJ sets every Tuesday and Friday, so this is the perfect place to sit and enjoy a traditional Italian aperitivo whilst enjoying the river views. There is a small kiosk serving sandwiches, salads, fruit smoothies and pizzas – all made from fresh, locally-sourced ingredients,

Where is Easy Living Beach located?

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