The preconception is that Florence is a luxury destination. But, if you’re shrewd, trips here needn’t be expensive. With low-cost airlines doing return fares from as little as £70, it’s just a matter of knowing where you’re going.
Strolling through San Lorenzo at dusk is a lively affair. Around seven o’clock al fresco dining areas are lit up with enchanting fairy lights and half melted candles. However don’t buy into the romance. Restaurants in the San Lorenzo area of Florence aren’t any different from those you’ll find in a quiet side walk further down, but expect to pay double for the ambience. Find the restaurants with the best meal deals. Café Duomo (map) always seemed to have a set menu which was serious value for money offering a two course meal and a glass of red wine all for 9 euros each. All served with a charming soundtrack of a live accordion. Mouth-watering ice cream is of abundance in Florence as well as vintage bakeries but ask for prices before you settle as they tend to fluctuate.
Being a rather compact city, Florence has a lot to offer in a small space. Pack your comfiest shoes and invest in a map right away as well as finding a base as close to the cathedral as possible. The Locanda Daniel (map) is a perfect economical hostel and prices start from just 30 euros a night; you really can’t argue with the value. The communal kitchen overlooks San Lorenzo and even offers a balcony for smokers, al fresco diners or general daydreamers. Everyone is welcome and catered for and as well as booking any tours for you, staff give you a free map at check-in. Beware though of the city tax which is payable on arrival (see florence-ky.gov for more details).
Without a doubt walking is the most recommended method of transport when sight-seeing but alternatively you can opt for a ‘hop on, hop off’ bus tour and choose from two routes. One 48 hour ticket will cost 20 euros and entitles you unlimited time on either route. The first route explores most sights including the views at Michelangelo Square and Galileo’s house (map). Top Tip: hop off at Michelangelo and you can walk down, all the way through the Boboli Gardens (map) up to the Pitti Palace (map) and all the way over the Ponte Vecchio (map). This way you can take in the sculptures and acres of natural beauty you can’t see from the bus, and, let’s face it, you can’t nab your golden souvenirs from the bus!
The second route takes you away from Florence up to the quaint hilltop village of Fiesole where the view will stay with you forever.
Florence is a city to be adored by sight; it doesn’t take thousands of pounds to do a full exploration. Four nights is enough to see and do it all with enough time for an extra tour to Pisa or Tuscany. Take your time, play your cards right and this city can be all yours.