2 Days In Florence, Italy ; How To Visit Florence On a Budget | Travel Guide
Touted to be the birthplace of Renaissance, Florence, Italy is exploded with culture, monuments, museums and renaissance art. Its the capital of Italy’s tuscan region and among my top 10 recommended destinations for solo travellers in Europe.
For number of reasons; a) City’s artistic and architectural heritage. It was also ranked as the “most beautiful city in the world” by Forbes magazine. b) It is located in the centre of Italy thus has a great connectivity to the entire tuscan region and rest of the country, making it a perfect base for short day trips in gorgeous Tuscany. c) Its extremely safe like most of the Europe but also millions of tourists visit Florence,Italy thus you won’t feel like an outsider. d) Though Florence is not as cheap as other places like Prague but its not too harsh on budget either. Its definitely more affordable than Rome or Venice.
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HOW TO REACH FLORENCE ?
- Fly ✈️; Florence has one of the two busiest airports (known as FLR) in Tuscany region. Its located not very far from the city centre. Taxi fare should cost roughly around 22€ to downtown Florence. Better and cheaper option is a direct bus shuttle, it should take roughly 20 minutes and one way ticket is 6€. (can be purchased inside the bus).
Tip; Instead of flying to Florence, look for flights for nearby airports like Pisa and Bologna for cheaper airfare. Both the towns are hardly one hour away from Florence and have good public transport connectivity.
- Train 🚆; Main train station is Santa Maria Novella Station. Its located walking distance from the centre. From here you can either take a tram (T1 & T2) or bus to your accommodation.
- Bus 🚌; If you are coming to Florence by road, there are many bus companies like Flxibus, italo and many more to choose from. Main bus stop is SITA bus station and is located very close to Santa Novella train station.
If you need help in booking your accommodations and travel tickets, checkout my post on best travel apps to make this process much smoother and help save you money.
GETTING AROUND IN FLORENCE
Walking ; Like any other European city, Florence is best explored on Foot. Having said that in recent years, city has tremendously grown beyond tourist attractions and its sensible to use public transport if you are staying away from main tourist centre. Once in the centre walking is the best option. I will not advise using a car as centre is small, most roads are one way only, with limited parking.
Trams ; My preferred way. There are two lines T1 and T2. Connecting almost entire city. 90 minutes ticket cos 1.2€.
Bus; City buses in Florence are managed by the ATAF. Although buses have reputation of running late but luckily I didn’t encounter that while my visit . 90 minutes ticket cos 1.2€.
Remember; You can use the same ticket for buses and trams ( one ticket = within 90 minutes). Tickets can be bought at coffee shops, tobacco store, kiosks or the train station. Don’t forget to validate the tickets upon boarding.
BEST TIME TO VISIT FLORENCE
Well in terms of weather best time to visit is April, May, June, September and October. Weather is pleasant ( average temperature during the day is in 20s). But these are also peak tourist seasons. Comes with a cost of high prices on accommodation, food, and crowds.
I will suggest visiting between November to March. Not the best weather but you will get to experience Florence like a local rather than a tourist. This will help you in stretching your budget quite a lot and you can cover more of Tuscany at the same price you will rather have to pay in peak seasons.
I will avoid July and August, mainly due to gruelling summer heat.
Get Insured Before Traveling To Florence
I never ever travel abroad without a travel insurance. Really!! In case something goes wrong, you must have a travel insurance. Frankly speaking, it will be stupid to head off to a new destination without one.
I will recommend World Nomads. Simply because they are backed by reputable insurers, 24-hour assistance providers and offer travel insurance to travellers from over 140 countries.
Even if you don’t get one from World Nomads, make sure to get your travel insurance sorted before you actually start traveling.
WHERE TO STAY IN FLORENCE ?
Florence is a small city packed with mouthwatering Italian food, cultural heritage, art galleries, museums and stunning architecture. One thing its not is Cheap. Finding the right accommodation specially if you are on a budget could be daunting. Don’t worry I got you !
As I mentioned its a very small city and all the main attraction are centred around Duomo within a circular ring and could be walked from one end to the other in 30 minutes.
- Staying within the ring; If you are short on time and plan on visiting maximum tourist attractions, you can choose to stay within the centre of this renaissance city.
- There are plenty of options. You can stay near Santa Maria Novella Station . Its 5 minutes walk from Duomo. An energetic neighbourhood with tons of bars, cafes, shops and restaurants. If you are staying near Duomo, you will be 5 minutes walk from Uffizi, Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Vecchio. So you see, it doesn’t really matter where you are staying within the circle. Though you will be in the centre but as you would guess, its expensive. I will recommend staying in San Marco neighbourhood if you are on budget. It a vibrant neighbourhood few minutes walk from the duomo, plus this borough has plenty of budget hotels and hostels.
PS- If you are looking to stay at airbnb, use my code and get upto €38 off .
Staying outside the ring ; If you are looking for high residential area which is good on your wallet, I will suggest staying near Piazza Beccaria or Piazzale Michelangelo. Not only this will save you money but also you will get to experience the daily life of local Florentines.
There are are many B&B options, hotels and hostels. You can also find good airbnb deals.
HOW MANY DAYS IN FLORENCE ?
Ideally I feel 2-3 days should be enough to explore Florence,Italy. Historic centre has lot to offer but its small and could be covered easily in 2 days time. I will suggest extra 3rd day for short day trips from Florence. There are plenty of options like Sienna, San Gimignano, Cinque Terre and other gorgeous Tuscan towns.
BUDGET FOOD OPTIONS (VEGETARIAN/VEGAN)
Florence undoubtedly has some of the best food of Italy and of Tuscany region. From creamy gelato, to mouthwatering pasta and crusty pizza, list doesn’t end. Unfortunately because of growing tourist footfalls, many places are overpriced and are low in quality. After few bad experiences and some mind blowing ones, here are my suggestions for best value for money food in Florence;
- Gelato ; You can’t think of Italy without a creamy delicious gelato right? I have tried few (probably more than I should have in 2 days lol) and still couldn’t get enough of them Haha ! My two favorites were Gelateria La Carraia (near Ponte alla Carraia) , and Rivareno ( their peanut butter ice cream is to die for). For Vegan gelato try at Perche No. They have a wonderful range vegan ice creams made of soy and rice milk.
- Pizza ; This one is easy. L’OV, l’Osteria vegetariana. Its located on the other side of the river. They have vegetarian version of original Tuscan dishes. A must vegan go to for Florence. Livio pizzeria napoletana is another great option for some authentic delicious pizza.
- Pasta ; Il Vegetariano is the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Florence with good Vegan options. Portions are generous and most dishes are less than €10. Libreria Brac is located in Santa croce. Its more like a cafe. Try mix platter of pasta and risotto.
- Indian Food; To satisfy your desi cravings, there are plenty of go to in Florence. Al Noor, Gandhi restorante have good reviews ( I didn’t try but have good ratings). I went to Royal India and wasn’t disappointed.
THINGS TO SEE IN FLORENCE ( DAY 1 )
Start your day with a cup of cappuccino at any cafe catches your eye ( literally at every corner of the city) . Now our caffeine intake is done let’s begin exploring Florence !
- Take a ( free ) walking tour ; I have said it a thousands times but I love walking tours. I prefer to take them on first day of my trip as it gives me a brief idea about the city’s history, attractions and things one otherwise would miss. Because of enormous history attached to Florence, I don’t think there is a better way to begin your exploration than this.
Remember free tours are not really free. They work on tips, don’t forget to tip them well !
- Piazza della repubblica ;
After you are done with your walking tour, probably already got a brief idea about the city and main attractions, now its time to begin seeing these sights at your own pace and enjoyment. Start with city’s main square. This also is home to a beautiful carrousel. Its surrounded with vibrant cafes, shops and restaurants.
- Fontana del Porcellino
From piazza della head towards Fontana which is a bronze fountain of boar. The walk shines with luxury high end stores and is one of the busiest streets in Florence.
Porcellino in Italian means piglet. This unique bronze statue sits outside the colourful leather market, has a shiny nose, almost impossible to miss. Its believed if you rub the nose of the boar, you will come to Florence again.
Tip; There is a small water fountain near the boar. Get your bottles out, refill and get going.
- Piazza Dela Signoria ;
Few meters away from Fontana is another gorgeous piazza call Piazza della Signoria. Its an L shape square and has historical significance to Florence’s political and cultural life.
It houses an open air museums (showcasing some breathtaking sculptures) , the prominent palazzo Vecchio and the fountain of Neptune. Adjacent to piazza is Uffizi gallery ( Italy’s top art museum and also our next stop).
- UFFIZI GALERY ;
Uffizi is a prominent 2 floor art gallery famous worldwide for outstading collection of paintings and sculptures by art legends like Leonardo, Raffaello, Michelangelo and many more. How much time do you need here? Well it depends on your personal inclination. I would say anywhere between 2-4 hours.
Its one of the most visited sites in Florence and thus I will recommend buying the tickets in advance. You can get them here if you like.
- Ponte Vecchio bridge ;
It won’t be completely wrong to say that Ponte vecchio has become symbol of Florence. Well this and Duomo off course. Looking to get a perfect postcard image of Florence? Head towards Ponte vecchio bridge. Its not very far from Uffizi gallery.
Get a gelato on your way, wander around the streets and take a stroll maybe couple of strolls through this medieval stone arch bridge. Historically, butchers occupied the bridge but today you can finds many tenants of jewels, souvenirs and art dealers.
After crossing the bridge, you will reach other side of the river arno, which will lead you to our next stop, Boboli gardens.
Tip; If you are hungry and in mood for authentic true Napoli style pizza, go to Gusta Pizza. Very close by and justifies its name.
- Boboli gardens ;
Now your food soul is satisfied, its time for another Florence must see and the final stop for day one, the marvellous Boboli gardens. These vast green space became the model for many European courts. They have wonderful renaissance statues, sculptures, and outdoor museums. Perfect place to take a stroll, stretch your legs and soak in the beautiful tuscan sun.
Things to See In Florence ( Day 2 )
Start your second and final day little early, grab a quick breakfast and some delicious Italian caffe, as today we will be seeing two of the most famous Florence sights, The majestic Duomo and the David.
- Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore ( DUOMO )
More famously known as the duomo of Florence, this I feel is a must visit. You simply cannot miss this. Any trip to Florence,Italy is incomplete without visiting this iconic masterpiece.
Although the entrance to the cathedral is free but you will need a ‘Grande Museo del Duomo pass’ to visit other site that is the Bell Tower, climbing the Dome, the Baptistery and the museum. ( price ; € 18 ). Official Website.
You can also buy separate tickets for the museum and climbing up the dome. The line for the cathedral and the dome can be really long and might take huge chunk of your day. Or buy skip the line tickets in advance. I will really recommend this.
Important ; You need to reserve your time slot for Brunelleschi’s Dome separately that is even after you have the tickets. As they allow fix number of visitors to climb the dome.
- Galleria dell’Accademia
Accademia Gallery is another must see in Florence,Italy . Its a prominent sculpture gallery with many masterpieces but the most famous is Michelangelo’s David statue. There are many replica’s of David but there is only one original, which is here. Again I will highly recommend buying the tickets in advance. It will be foolish not to ( you don’t want to stand in gruelling long lines). You can book them here.
- Santa Croce Church
Adjacent to Duomo is another iconic cathedral, Santa Croce. With an ornate interior it has memorable domes of Galileo and Dante.
Tip; Want to escape the crowd and enjoy perfect views of the duomo? Well it’s possible. There is a small library call Oblate Library, very close to the Dome. Entrance to the library is free. It has a small cozy coffee shop on the second floor . Order a drink and have the dome completely to yourself !
- Piazzale Michelangelo
Let’s end our trip on a high note. Piazzale Michelangelo is a public square located on the other side of the river Arno. It has stunning panoramic views of the city. I will advice going here for the sunset or sunrise. Atmosphere in the evening is very lively. You can find street musicians, artists, locals all coming together to enjoy breathtaking views of Florence skyline.
Carry some food, get a glass of wine and admire the stunning views of this wonderful city as the sun goes down. I can’t think of better way to end this perfect day !
Popular day trips from Florence, Italy
Florence is located literally at the heart of Italy and the centre of Tuscany region, making it a perfect base for various day trips around the area. If you can which I absolutely recommend, plan an extra day or two for short trips from here. The region is so diverse and beautiful and it will be shame not to see it. You can find the details below ;
PS. Have a wonderful time in Florence,Italy ! ❤️ If you still have any questions or need help on specific topics, feel free to leave it in a comment down below or DM me in any of my social media. I will be happy to answer them 😁
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