Things to do in Florence that won’t break the bank 13

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Spending any length of time in a big city can become costly. We recently spent a month in Florence and being on a tight budget we needed to find affordable things to do and eat. We were pleasantly surprised to discover many activities that cost next to nothing. Here are a few of our favourites.


Known to North Americans as happy hour, aperitivo is what Italians do after work and before dinner. Seeing as they eat their last meal of the day close to 9 pm, aperitivo is usually enough of a meal to tide them over until dinner. Snacks can vary and you may be offered anything from a bowl of chips or nuts to a full buffet. For one of the most affordable aperitivo in Florence, head to the Caffetteria delle Oblate at Via dell’Oriuolo, 24, go in through the library and follow the signs. The restaurant has an indoor area and a large outdoor area.

Things to do in Florence that won't break the bank

Aperitivo at Caffetteria delle Oblate

They serve a full buffet and you can enjoy the spread with the purchase of one drink. The view of the Cupola del Brunelleschi is wonderful and if you are there around sunset you may be lucky enough to see the starling murmurations.


Another great place for aperitivo is Art Bar at Via del Moro 4r. What they lack in snack originality they make up in drink creativity. If you want something with pizzazz, order the Mai Tai or Fruit Cocktail. Both are loaded with fruit so you won’t go hungry. Order drinks two at a time, things get a bit slow when they are busy.

Things to do in Florence that won't break the bank

Cozy tables at Art Bar

Fiaschetteria Fantappiè at via sei Serragli 47 is a great local spot. This small wine shop offers wines by the bottle, glass and some wines on tap. Bring an empty bottle and get it filled for a few euros or hang out with the locals and enjoy a glass, or bottle at one of the two tables inside or on the patio out front. A bowl of chips is what you’ll get during aperitivo but they also have some food for purchase.

Things to do in Florence that won't break the bank

Snacks and wine menu at Fantappiè

For an affordable luxury head to Procacci for their little truffle sandwiches (2€ each), paired with a glass of wine or macchiato it’s a nice treat. No table service means you can sit at any available seat without incurring inflated prices.

Things to do in Florence that won't break the bank

Tasty truffle sandwiches and macchiati at Procacci

Find a deal at the market

No matter what you’re looking for, you can probably find it at one of Florence’s many markets.  The biggest has to be the market at Parco delle Cascine along the Arno. Stall after stall of deals, if you’re willing and patient enough to jump in and sort through a lot of less than appealing product. Some of the deals we found, an Eddie Bauer Heritage 100% wool cable knit men’s sweater for €5, 3 pairs of cashmere, made in Italy socks for €5 and the deals aren’t only on clothing. We had one of the best porchetta sandwiches at one of the food trucks at the entrance, for €3.50 you get a good mound of meat with all sorts of toppings to choose from including sundried tomatoes, fried onions, mushrooms, salsa verde and more.

Things to do in Florence that won't break the bank

Sandwich toppings on display at Parce delle Cascine market

The Mercato di San Lorenzo is an indoor/outdoor market better known as Mercato Centrale, inside you can find all sorts of regional foods on the first floor and second floor is dedicated to a food court. Outside you can haggle for leather goods, souvenirs and luggage among other things.

Things to do in Florence that won't break the bank

One of the stalls on the main floor of Mercato Centrale

Another great market is the one that is held on the 2nd Sunday of the month in front of Santo Spirito church. This oltrarno neighbourhood also holds a daily market from 8am to 2pm Monday to Saturday where vendors sell fruit & vegetables, household items, clothing, etc…but during the monthly market, the piazza and nearby streets are bustling and there are antiques, food and handmade goods and much more on offer.

Walk off the pasta pounds

Walk off all the extra calories by making your way up to Piazzale Michelangelo and enjoy the amazing view of the city. Pack a lunch of local meats and cheese and stay for the sunset. Or go the distance, up to San Miniato al Monte, walk through the cemetery behind the church and marvel at the beautiful headstones and crypts. If you want to go the true extra, extra mile, there is a hike from Florence to Bologna called the Path of the Gods that will be literally life changing. And then… you can eat more amazing food in Bologna.Things to do in Florence that won't break the bank

The view of the city from Piazzale Michelangelo

La dolce far niente

Embrace the Italian la dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing). The Italians know how to do nothing at all without seeming lazy. Whiling away hours on a patio drinking wine or walking the streets at a snail’s pace, stopping every now and then to start a conversation with a passerby or a store clerk. Learn to slow down and enjoy every minute of the day.



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About Nat and Tim Harris

Together for close to a quarter of a century, A Cook Not Mad‘s Tim and Nat have indulged their passion for life and experience to the fullest, but they feel most alive when traveling, cooking and eating. An award winning chef, Tim has dedicated his life and career to cooking and the pursuit of honest food. As a professional photographer, Nat records their adventures with incredible pictures of everyday life and the extraordinary. They believe that everyone should get to know a culture by learning about the foods they eat and living like locals as much as they can.

13 thoughts on “Things to do in Florence that won’t break the bank

  • deborah

    Great ideas for Florence on a budget. We were there only for one day, unfortunately, and spent most of the time in the Mercado Central. The food upstairs was great and hard to choose just one place to buy lunch from. So we didn’t, and then brought enough food back to our rented house for dinner and another lunch the next day. Great fun, next time we are in Italy i want to spend more time in Florence and implement some of your suggestions. Some day we may write about our adventure in the Market on our blog

  • Naomi

    I’m going to Italy this summer, and after spending 3 weeks in Spain last year, I was shocked at the difference in prices – i.e. at how expensive Italy is in comparison! It’s always good to get recommendations about value-for-money places away from the tourist trail. Thanks for these suggestions!

  • jcmatt

    I wish I had more money while I was in Florence (and more time). I should’ve found better restaurants, but I managed a few really good meals, like smoked duck salad and a sampling of small dishes at the central market (also the cheapest place for a cocktail). And mojito gelato was the most refreshing thing I could find on a hot day.

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