A guide for the budget traveler: free museums, entertainment, parking and wi-fi in Florence
Free Florence

A guide for the budget traveler: free museums, entertainment, parking and wi-fi in Florence

Florence is one of the most visited and expensive cities in Italy, and even many churches here charge admission. On traveler forums there is often a statement that for free in the capital of Tuscany you can only gawk at the facades. This is not true. There are free excursions, museums and observation decks in Florence and it is not difficult to find them.

Free guided tours of Florence

Let’s start with the daily free guided tours of Florence. They are organized by local enthusiasts in several languages, several times a day. Russian is not on the list, but in English it’s easy to choose a suitable tour. Choose here:

In both cases, pre-registration is required. And although the tours are often led by licensed guides, they are not paid for these tours, so the rule of thumb is to leave a tip, at least 5—10 €.

Free Wi-Fi in Florence

The city administration provides 500 Mb of free Wi-Fi per day — a great help for tourists. Internet is available in libraries, squares, public transportation stops, parks and other not always obvious places. In addition, you can always find free Wi-Fi in cafes, stores, etc. I recommend preparing yourself and choosing convenient points in advance:

Free parking lots in Florence

There is no free parking in downtown Florence. None at all. There used to be a free parking lot near Piazza Michelangelo, but it was removed.

Parking on the streets of the city is almost everywhere paid. In addition, the city center is a ZTL zone, entry to which is allowed only with special passes. To avoid serious fines, motorists should not cross its borders.

Before traveling, check the current list of parking lots here: Full description of parking lots in Florence and nearby areas

A good option is to leave your car at one of the free parking lots on the outskirts and get to the center by public transport, which costs only 1.2 per trip. The map shows all of the city’s parking lots. The green «P’s» are free parking lots.

Map of parking lots in Florence

Free water

A half-liter bottle of water in Florence in the most touristy places, where there are no supermarkets nearby, can cost up to 2 euros. Florentines once drew water directly from fountains, but you shouldn’t do that nowadays. Free water refills in the Tuscan capital are available at drinking fountains.

Free museums in Florence

In 2020, on the first Sundays of the month from November to April, there is no admission fee to public museums, villas and gardens in Florence. The rule only applies to museums with statali status, and the schedule is not very stable. To avoid confusion and disappointment, check before your trip which museums can be accessed for free during your stay in Florence here.

In addition to these facilities, there are several attractions where admission is always free. Or almost always.

Map of free attractions in Florence

Duomo of Florence (Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore)

It is impossible to be in Florence and pass by the Duomo! The full name of the cathedral is Santa Maria del Fiore. Its white-green walls and brick-red roof look very imposing. For a long time it was considered the largest Christian church in the world. Entrance to the Duomo is free, but you have to pay to climb the belfry, visit the baptistery and the dome.

Entrance to the cathedral: free of charge
General ticket to all museums of the complex — 18 €
Duomo of Florence
Duomo of Florence

Viewing platform in Piazzale Michelangelo (Michelangelo Square)

A visit to Piazzale Michelangelo is unforgivable. One of the best viewpoints in Florence, it’s free to enjoy a magnificent panoramic view of the city and take those «postcard» photos of Florence and the Duomo with its magnificent dome and bell tower. In the evenings, many people gather here to admire the city lights and the illumination of the Duomo, sitting under the replica of David and sipping Prosecco. Quite a few — but still fewer than at the Duomo itself.

View of the Duomo from Piazzale Michelangelo
View of the Duomo from Piazzale Michelangelo

Giardino dell’Iris (Garden of Iris) and Giardino delle Rose (Garden of Roses)

If you are in Florence in May, after admiring the panorama, descend from Piazzale Michelangelo to the Giardino dell’Iris and Giardino delle Rose. Beautiful colors, delicate smells and no expense spared!

  • Giardino dell’Iris is open: from April 24 to May 20, 10:00 am — 12:30 pm and 3:00 pm — 7:00 pm.
  • Website: Iris Garden
  • Giardino delle Rose open: 01:05 — 15:06, 8:00 — 20:00

San Lorenzo Market (San Lorenzo)

The San Lorenzo Central Market is an incredibly interesting place. Here you will find goods that you won’t see anywhere else. For example, several types of cow stomach. On the stands with national Tuscan products you will find local wines, cheeses, salami. On the second floor there is a restaurant courtyard where you can try local cuisine at very affordable prices.

Office hours:

  • Market: Monday — Friday from 7:00 to 14:00, on Saturdays from 7:00 to 19:00 (break 14:00—16:00). Sunday is a day off.
  • Food court: no weekends from 12:00 to 00:00.

The old pharmacy of the Dominican friars.

Next to the church of Santa Maria Novella in the chapel is the old pharmacy. Back in the 13th century, Dominican friars made herbal potions, perfumes, soaps and aromatic lotions here. Today, the shop still sells elixirs, perfumes and more modern skin care products.

Santa Maria Novella Church
Santa Maria Novella Church

Palazzo Strozzi

Palazzo Strozzi is a Renaissance mansion. It looks like a small fortress in the very center of the city. Every Thursday evening from 18:00 to 22:00 admission to the contemporary art exhibition in the palace halls is free of charge.

Free: Thursday, from 18:00
The hours of operation on Thursdays are until 23:00.

Orsanmikele Museum

If you’re in Florence on Monday, you should definitely come here. The museum is open only one day a week, but there is no admission fee. Its interesting exhibition consists mainly of sculptures from the facade of the church of the same name, including Donatello’s work.

  • Website: Orsanmichele
  • Opening hours: Mondays 10:00 — 17:00

Refectory of Sant’Apollonia (Cenacolo di Sant’Apollonia)

In the refectory of the former monastery of Sant’Apollonia (now most of its rooms have been given to the University of Florence) is a beautiful fresco of the Last Supper by Andrea del Castagno. Several other works by Andrea del Castagno were later moved here, forming a small museum. There is no entrance fee, you are only asked to check in the guest book. They also give you a booklet.

  • Website: Cenacolo di Sant’Apollonia (site may not open if you enter with Russian ip)
  • Opening hours: daily, 08:15 — 13:50. Closed on the 1st, 3rd and 5th weekends of the month, as well as January 1 and December 25

Church of All Saints Ognissanti

It is an exceptionally Florentine pastime to find different versions of the Last Supper in the most unexpected places. Another beautiful fresco by Domenico Ghirlandaio can be seen in the refectory of the Onisanti monastery. In addition to Ghirlandaio’s work, you can see the burial place of Sandro Botticelli in the church of the monastery.

  • Website: Chiesa di San Salvatore in Ognissanti
  • Opening hours: Monday, Tuesday and Saturday from 09:00 to 12:00. Closed on the 1st, 3rd and 5th weekends of the month, as well as January 1 and December 25.

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