5 ways to save on sightseeing in Florence

ATAF buses Florence
The ATAF's zippy little orange buses make transit a breeze in Florence. Photo: hugovk.

Between the Tuscan winechic clothing and world-class museums, your trip budget in Florence can really add up.  While there are some things you can’t avoid shelling out for (your hotel, flight, etc.), there are ways to save in Florence that you might not have thought of.

Here are five budget tips that will help you save your money for what’s really important: wine, wine and more wine!

1. Use (and reuse) public transportation.

Taxis are incredibly expensive here in Florence. Think about it: You pay almost double the base fee every Sunday and on holidays, you pay extra when you take a taxi after 10 p.m. (until 6 a.m.) and central Florence is almost always congested with traffic. You know what’s worse than waiting in traffic? Waiting in traffic and paying for it!

That’s why I recommend using the bus/tram system (ATAF). A 10 ticket pass costs €10 and gets you 10 trips almost anywhere in Florence, each up to 90 minutes. I recommend buying a 20 or 30 ticket pass (21 rides for €20/ 35 rides for €30), especially if you are going to be in town for awhile. They’re also great for traveling with others, as you can share the pass (just swipe it two times when you get on the bus).

A one-ride ticket will cost you €1.20, so purchasing the multi-ride pass is a good deal. You can buy these passes in most Tabacchi stores. (Tabacchi stores are located throughout the city and can be recognized by the big “T” symbol sign outside the store.)

2. Go bowling.

This is a recent discovery of mine and I am so glad to know about it. Bowling is a ton of fun and so cheap! Go to Crazy Bowling (Via del Cavallaccio 3) on Thursdays, which is “Happy Bowling” day, where they offer a reduced price of €2.50 per game.

I would never have thought to go bowling when I’m traveling, but it’s a great activity if you are traveling in a group or looking for something to do with friends.

If you don’t have a car or bike, you will need to take a bus or tram to get there from the center of Florence. (Plan ahead on the bus website.)

You'd be hard pressed to find a better setting for cinema than the Odeon in Florence. Photo: aeminphilly.

You’d be hard pressed to find a better setting for cinema than the Odeon in Florence. Photo: aeminphilly.

3. Take in a screening at the Odeon.

For all film fanatics, a trip to the Odeon is a must. Located in the center of Florence in Piazza Strozzi, the beautifully decorated movie theater has been around for more than 85 years. Sitting under the stained glass cupola in the center of the theater, you might assume that ticket prices must be quite high, but that is often not the case.

On Wednesdays, the Odeon offers reduced priced tickets all day for €6 (normal tickets are priced at €7.50). They also offer cheap tickets for students, kids under 10 and senior citizens with identification.

Foreign films shown here are in their original language (with Italian subtitles). Meanwhile, most of the other theaters in town charge about €8 or €9, and show films that are either in Italian or dubbed in Italian.

99 Cent Store Florence

Florentine shopping at its finest—er, well, cheapest. Photo: skidder.

4. Shop at the 99-cent store.

This a great place to make some basic purchases: personal hygiene items, snacks, household supplies. These stores are a much better alternative to the mini-markets you’ll find around town, which cater to tourists and charge you triple the price.

I would stay far away from all mini-markets, especially in the downtown Florence area. The 99-cent stores are scattered throughout the city and have bright yellow and blue signs (you can’t miss them). The products are often not the best quality so pay attention to what you’re buying.

5. Hang out in the Oblate Library.

Florence’s public libraries offer many free or low-cost activities. I recommend stopping by the Oblate Library in particular (located behind the Duomo), as it offers free Wi-Fi, computers and printers (at five cents a page).

When heading to the library, remember to bring your passport, as you’ll need it to sign up for an account to use the internet. Once you have an account, you can access the city’s free Wi-Fi (FirenzeWiFi) as well.

The Oblate sometimes offers an Apericena (buffet with alcoholic drink included) or live music. The Apericena costs €8 and the live music is free. If you understand Italian, or are learning, the Oblate offers many lecture series throughout the year, most of which are free!

About the author

Living full time in Florence since May of 2010, Taylor Zerbey, a freelance photographer and writer, is in constant awe of the Italian way of life; be it for their no nonsense attitude about eating top quality food and wine, their penchant for enjoying life or their impartial attitude towards public urination. Taylor is a 2007 graduate of The University of Hawai?i at M?noa, earning a Bachelor's degree in Photography.
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Cheapo Comments

3 Responses to “5 ways to save on sightseeing in Florence”
  • Joanne says:

    Interesting but why not just walk by the city and enjoy the view of Florence ?

  • TAylor says:

    Hi Joanne! I absolutely love going for walks around the city. There are so many things to see, hear and smell (mostly good smells, occasionally not so good). I like to go for walks in the neighborhood in east florence called “Campo di Marte”, where there are nice parks, not touristy and great little shops. Santo Spirito is also nice, but there is a lot of construction work still going on, so it’s kind of a pain to walk around. Have you been to Florence? Where do you like to go or would like to see ?

  • Karen says:

    We love riding the electric buses when in Florence, but this year, Sept 2013, we were not able to use the 30Euro pass for two people…..tried to swipe it twice and was told by the machine that it was “valid” for 90minutes. I believe ATAF has changed the policy regarding the cards.

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