In the heart of Tuscany, Florence is a dream destination. Idyllic cobbled streets are lined with designer boutiques, awe-inspiring art galleries and world-class food set in breathtaking architecture.
These days, with budget airlines and a plethora of hotels to choose from, one is spoilt for choice when it comes to transport and accommodation – and it is very easy to find a good deal. But the lifestyle in metropolitan Italy is notoriously lavish. Is there also a way to enjoy the city in an economical way? Our answer is YES! if you stick to these five simple steps
You are in the middle of a country proud of using good, simple ingredients in tasty food. Remember those Olilvio adverts? There is nowhere better to get a rustic meal than in the Mediterranean, so don’t think that you need to go to a posh restaurant for that memorable holiday meal. Grab a slice of pizza (not caked in god-knows-what kind of cheese like at the hut!) and a pot of gelato for a scoop of what some of our most popular foods taste like authentically.
Travel on Foot
Unlike a lot of cities in Europe, the public transport system in Florence isn’t terribly comprehensive. Perhaps for a good reason, as most things are within walking distance if you pick a fairly centrally-located hotel, like the Hotel de la Ville. A city sightseeing tour is recommended for those who need to know what the key attractions are, but with the money you could save on travel overall, you could afford a short horse-drawn carriage ride around the Ponte Vecchio area at dusk.
Get a good Guide Book
A lot of tourists fall into extra expenses by relying on hotel staff, tour guides, and taxis to advise them on their day-to-day activities, all of which come at a premium. Invest in a guide book with a good map that you can flick through on the plane to find the places you will truly enjoy. If you’ve booked in advance, do an internet search to find those little-known niche places of interest.
Three simple words (meaning “where are we?”) can get you further than you think if you’re lost, and can avoid those embarrassing “I am a tourist who expects you to speak English” moments. Indeed, the more Italian phrases you can pick up, the easier it will be to blend in on your trip, and stand a better chance at haggling in the markets off the Via Porta Rossa.
Watch your Entrance
Unfortunately, most attractions in Florence have compulsory entrance fees, which are unavoidable. But you can avoid adding unnecessary fees to this yourself. The cheapest way to book is on the day, at the attraction, despite what guide books and your hotel will tell you. You will end up having to queue to buy pre-booked (and surcharged) tickets anyway, so the extra charge is unnecessary. Also look out for child, senior citizen, and student discounts, which should apply across the EU.
Picture of the River Arno, Florence originally posted by Strocchi