Home Destinations 20+ Fabulous Free Things to do in Florence (Cool Markets, Top Museums, & Walking Tours)

20+ Fabulous Free Things to do in Florence (Cool Markets, Top Museums, & Walking Tours)

From panoramic views to markets, museums, and walking tours, here are the best FREE things to do in Florence you can't miss!

by Michele
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Florence, oh what a magnificent sight! But all that beauty comes with a price. After all, the city is considered the cradle of the Renaissance and boasts a vast historical and artistic heritage like few other places.

However, fear not, for there are copious amounts of free things to do in Florence that allow you to experience the city’s unique character. From gazing at the breathtaking frescoes in ancient churches to strolling through picturesque gardens, you can rest assured that your wallet will be given a break.

This guide offers a list of cost-free activities in the city organized by category, so it’s easier for you to pick and choose based on your interests.

PS: I’ve saved the more unique things for last!

Table of contents

Here’s what we’ll cover in this guide: 

Free walking tours of Florence

Let’s start with the obvious. To save money in Florence and still get a good feel for the city, consider joining a free tour. Free tours often showcase the most iconic sights, taking you to places like the main square, the markets, and key cultural attractions, while also providing local recommendations for places to visit during the rest of your stay. With options ranging from city highlights to themed walks centered on the Medici dynasty, the possibilities are endless. Plus, who knows, you may even find new travel companions for the rest of your trip.

Travel tip: While these tours are free of charge, if you feel the experience was valuable, you’re expected to tip the guide as a gesture of appreciation.

Free religious buildings in Florence

Florence is home to numerous churches and chapels boasting magnificent works of art that can be viewed at no cost – starting with the Cathedral itself!

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

Free Things to do in Florence - Dome of Santa Maria del Fiore Free Things to do in Florence - Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral - Exterior Free Things to do in Florence - Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral - Frescos Free Things to do in Florence - Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral - Medici family on ceiling of the domeLocated in the heart of the historic centre, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is one of the most iconic Gothic structures in the world – and it’s completely free to wander inside! Construction started in 1296 under the direction of Arnolfo di Cambio and was completed in 1436 with the iconic dome by Filippo Brunelleschi. Throughout those 140 years, many artists alternated, which is evident from all the different styles in the building. While it has the most intricately decorated facade, its interior isn’t nearly as ornate. However, it still has amazing art to see, including the incredible fresco of the Last Judgment by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari on the interior of the dome.

Travel tip: The cathedral is free to enter, but you have to pay to climb the dome and visit the Santa Reparata archaeological remains beneath the church. Also, be prepared for long waiting times.

Church of Orsanmichele

Free Things to do in Florence - Church of Orsanmichele - Statues of Guilds

Halfway between Piazza della Signoria and Florence’s Cathedral, Orsanmichele is a church like no other. Its square shape reveals its origins as a grain market loggia, which was then converted into a church in the early 14th century after a series of miraculous events were attributed to the Madonna depicted on a column inside the barn. In those days, the major Florentine arts and crafts guilds, which supported the church financially, were given their own niche on the facade to decorate with statues of their patron saints and hired Renaissance stars like Donatello, Ghiberti, and Verrocchio to do the job. The interior has breathtaking frescoes, a beautiful tabernacle painted by Andrea Orcagna, and Bernardo Daddi’s painting of the Madonna delle Grazie.

Travel tip: On Mondays, the museum on the first floor is open and you can see most of the original statues that once decorated the facade (yep, the current ones are replicas).

Church of Santo Spirito

Free Things to do in Florence - Inside Basilica di Santo SpiritoDon’t let the bare facade fool you. The Church of Santo Spirito is a beautiful example of Renaissance architecture and a treasure trove of art pieces. It’s the late legacy of Brunelleschi, who designed it in the 15th century but died before it was finished. It was within these walls that 17-year-old Michelangelo sought refuge after his patron Lorenzo il Magnifico died in 1492. The prior allowed him to do anatomical studies on corpses at the convent’s hospital, which led to the beautiful wooden crucifix that hangs in the sacristy today. Other notable works of art inside the church include Filippo Lippi’s Pala Nerli and Pietro Donzello’s Annunciation.

Travel tip: Whilst the visit to the church is free, you can visit the sacristy with Michelangelo’s crucifix, the cloister and the refectory with a €3 ticket.

San Miniato al Monte

Free Things to do in Florence - Abbazia San Miniato al Monte Free Things to do in Florence - Inside Abbazia di San Miniato al MonteFree Things to do in Florence - Abbazia di San Miniato al Monte - AltarAccording to legend, the martyr St. Minias picked up his head after being beheaded and walked up a hill where a shrine was eventually built in his honor. The church of San Miniato is now 1000 years old and serves as a working monastery. It’s considered one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in the region, with green and white marbles adorning the façade, frescoes, and mosaics decorating the interior. The monks produce excellent liqueurs and honey that can be purchased in the shop next to the church. There’s also an interesting cemetery where Pinocchio creator Carlo Collodi is buried.

Travel tip: Every afternoon at 6:30 pm, the monks who live here sing Gregorian Chants (checking the time on their website is always a good idea).

Free Things to do in Florence - Sunset from San Miniato al Monte

Sunset from San Miniato al Monte

The Last Suppers…yep, there’s more than one!

When we think of the Last Supper, we instantly think of Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic painting. However, he wasn’t the only artist to depict this biblical scene – nor was he the first! Florence alone boasts numerous churches with frescoes of the Last Supper, three of which can be admired for free. There’s one by Andrea del Castagno in the convent of Sant’Apollonia (1445), with Judas depicted as a satyr. Later, Domenico Ghirlandaio painted a large Last Supper at the convent of Ognissanti (1480) that includes naturalistic and symbolic elements that generate a sense of everyday life. Finally, you can see Andrea del Sarto’s Last Supper at San Salvi (1526) , which has a more theatrical feel.

Travel tip: the gate at the Church of San Salvi is often closed for security reasons; just ring the bell to get in.

Enjoy the best views in Florence

One of the best things to do in Florence is visiting the best viewpoints, most of which happen to be free.

Piazzale Michelangelo

Free Things to do in Florence - View of Florence skyline from Piazzale Michelangelo

Located on the southern edge of the city, Piazzale Michelangelo has a magnificent view of the city and its famous landmarks. It was built by local architect Giuseppe Poggi as part of major urban renovations in 1869 when the city was the capital of the newly united Kingdom of Italy. The square is named after the famous Renaissance artist Michelangelo. There’s a bronze replica of his famous David in the center of the square, guarding all the beauty of Florence. The panorama is especially striking at sunset when the city is bathed in golden light. You can grab a drink from the little kiosk and admire the view from the steps off one side of the square.

Travel tip: You can avoid the long walk uphill by taking bus #12 from the city center.

Rose Garden

This magical garden underneath Piazzale Michelangelo is an oasis of tranquility. Here you’ll find a diverse array of plants, including 350 rose varieties, lush lemon trees, and even a Japanese garden gifted to Florence by the Koadai-Ji Temple in Kyoto. All of this is in front of one of the most beautiful views you can get in Florence and in complete tranquillity. Since 2011, the park has been graced with 12 works by Belgian artist Jean-Michel Folon which seamlessly integrate into the landscape. One of the most popular pieces isPartir, a huge bronze suitcase that frames a spectacular view of the city.

Travel tip: It’s best to visit the Rose Garden between May and June, when it’s in full bloom.

Iris Garden

Near the Rose Garden is the Iris Garden, a botanical treasure specializing in the cultivation of iris flowers, the symbol of Florence. It opened its doors in 1957 to host an annual International Iris Competition. Today, it boasts a diverse collection of hundreds of iris species from around the globe, making it a genetic goldmine for this stunning flower. You can wander along charming cobbled stone paths and staircases, taking in the idyllic countryside atmosphere of the garden and catching glimpses of the city of Florence from striking vantage points. There’s also a permanent exhibition of tall bearded and border irises sent for various editions of the international competition.

Travel tip: the Iris Garden is only open between April and May, when flowers are in bloom; visit the Iris Society website to check this year’s opening.

Orti del Parnaso

Though lower than Piazzale Michelangelo, Orti del Parnaso offers incredible views of Florence’s skyline, plus a prime spot to admire Roster’s famous iron and glass Tepidarium. Located at the top of the Horticulture Garden, this small patch of green gets its name from a bizarre fountain shaped like a giant snake winding along a staircase. It references the myth of Python, the monster snake Apollo killed on Mount Parnassus, the holy mountain where the sun god and the nine Muses lived. Since 2003, the Orti del Parnaso have been the home of the Giardino dei Giusti (Garden of the Righteous), a memorial for ordinary people who tried to save others from violence.

Travel tip: This is one of the best spots to watch the fireworks for Saint John the Baptist’s feat on June 24th.


Free Things to do in Florence - View from Fiesole

If you feel adventurous, catch bus no. 7 from San Marco Square and head to Fiesole, a small hilltop town just outside Florence with a beautiful view of the city, so much so that it’s called Florence’s belvedere. The best views require a hike to the top of the Monastery of San Francesco – the effort will be well worth it! Fiesole isn’t only known for its panoramic spots, but also for its rich cultural heritage, which makes it a great day trip from Florence. During the summer, you might stumble upon Estate Fiesolana, a music and shows festival held from mid-June to the end of July.

Travel tip: Walk along Via Vecchia Fiesolana and look for the Queen’s Bench, named after Queen Victoria, who considered it her favorite spot in Fiesole during her summer stay at Villa Palmieri in 1888.

Enjoy the city’s lively markets

If you’re a fan of markets, then you’ll be spoilt for choice in Florence. Visiting markets allows you to immerse in the local culture, indulge in people-watching, and engage with locals. And it won’t cost you a dime!

Mercato Centrale

Mercato Centrale is an indoor market hall in Florence’s San Lorenzo neighborhood that’s considered a foodie’s paradise. It boasts 3000 square meters of delectable goods sold by local producers. This grand building was designed in 1874 by Giuseppe Mengoni, the same guy behind the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, and opened during the International Horticultural Exhibition that same year. The ground floor is all about the grocery experience, with everything you’d need to prepare a typical Italian meal. Then, on the upper level, there’s a food court serving a vast array of Italian dishes as well as some international delicacies.

Travel tip: the lampredotto sandwich made by Lorenzo Nigro on the ground floor is an authentic Florentine treat.

Leather Markets

Free Things to do in Florence - Leather MarketFlorence is home to a thriving leather industry that dates back centuries. In the Middle Ages, skilled artisans used the abundant water supply of the Arno river to craft a wide variety of leather goods and today, local artisans continue to uphold this tradition by using techniques passed down through generations. Outside the Mercato Centrale, the San Lorenzo Market is a popular spot to browse leather goods, with vendors showcasing everything from wallets and bags to belts and shoes. Another location is the Mercato Nuovo, which sits under an ancient loggia only steps from Piazza della Signoria and is filled with leather goods and souvenirs.

Ensure your return to Florence by rubbing Il Porcellino

Free Things to do in Florence - Mercato Nuovo - Il Porcellino Free Things to do in Florence - Mercato Nuovo Leather marketItalian for “piglet”, Il Porcellino is the local Florentine nickname for the bronze fountain of a boar located at Mercato Nuovo. It was sculpted and cast by Baroque master Pietro Tacca before 1634, following a marble Italian copy of a Hellenistic marble original. This statue, originally intended for the Boboli Gardens at Pitti Palace, was moved to the Mercato Nuovo.

As tradition goes, visitors are invited to rest a coin on the tongue inside the boar’s gaping jaws. When you let it fall, it should slip through the underlying grating securing you good luck. Then, by rubbing the boar’s snout, it will ensure your return to Florence.

This tradition was already recorded as far back as 1766 by Scottish literary traveller Tobias Smollett. Like most precious objects in the city, the present statue is a modern copy that was replaced in 2008, while Tacca’s bronze is sheltered in the Museo Stefano Bardini in Palazzo Mozzi.

Travel tip: Visit early morning to avoid the crowds and queuing up for your turn.

Sant’Ambrogio Market

Free Things to do in Florence - Sant’Ambrogio Market - Herbs and spicesWhile the Sant’Ambrogio Market is similar to Mercato Centrale in concept, it feels more authentic because it’s slightly off the tourist path and attracts a more local crowd. It’s an indoor and outdoor market that’s been operating since 1873 and has many independent vendors selling fresh Italian produce, including bread, fruits and vegetables, meats, and cheeses. You’ll also find some non-food stalls selling clothes and household goods. And if your stomach starts grumbling, try some traditional food at one of the little kiosks dotted around the market.

Free Things to do in Florence - Sant’Ambrogio Market

Florence flower market

Every Thursday morning, the porticoes of Piazza della Repubblica host vendors selling an array of fresh flowers and lush plants from all over the region. The market, which has been taking place for over a century is a true visual treat, with a wide variety of colorful blooms on display. And even if you don’t need flowers, a stroll through this picturesque market is a cheerful addition to your day in Florence.

Travel tip: the market doesn’t take place in July and August.

Free museums in Florence

There are many opportunities to see free art in Florence. Certain museums provide free entry on specific dates, while others are always free to visit. Plus, the city itself is a massive open-air museum accessible to all.

Free museums on the first Sunday of the month

Free Things to do in Florence - Uffizi Gallery

Free Things to do in Florence - Uffizi Gallery - Statue of Venus de' MediciOn the first Sunday of the month, the city’s museums open their doors for free, allowing visitors to experience the rich cultural heritage of Florence without spending a dime. This is part of a nationwide program that applies to hundreds of state-run museums across the country. All the top museums in Florence are part of the initiative, including the Uffizi Gallery, Galleria dell’Accademia with Michelangelo’s David, and Palazzo Pitti with its extensive collection of paintings and sculptures. The higher turnout on this day of the month means you’ll have to show up early to avoid long lines. Here’s the complete list of participating museums: domenicalmuseo website.

Travel tip: Women enjoy free entrance also on 8 March, International Women’s Day.

Free Things to do in Florence - Galleria dell'Accademia - Piano collection

Piazza della Signoria

Free Things to do in Florence - Palazzo Vecchio

Free Things to do in Florence - Loggia dei Lanzi - Head of Medusa - Perseus statueFree Things to do in Florence - Loggia dei Lanzi - Hercules and NessusFree Things to do in Florence - Piazza della Signoria - Loggia dei Lanzi - Giambologna's Rape of the Sabine WomenFree Things to do in Florence - Piazza della Signoria - Status of David and Lion

Technically, it’s not a museum, but the sheer amount of art and history surrounding you in this square qualifies it as an open-air art gallery! The cherry on top: it’s totally free! There’s a replica of Michelangelo’s David at the entrance to Palazzo Vecchio, the grand palace that’s been the seat of political power since the Medici. You can visit the courtyard designed by Michelozzo for free. Another jewel is the Loggia dei Lanzi, which has a collection of beautiful sculptures from the 14th to 16th centuries. These include Benvenuto Cellini’s Perseus with the Head of Medusa and Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabines.

Free Things to do in Florence - Piazza della Signoria and Fountain of Neptune Free Things to do in Florence - Piazza della Signoria - FountainMoving to the centre of the square, Neptune’s Fountain is a colossal sculpture in Carrara marble built by Bartolomeo Ammannati after Cosimo I de’ Medici launched a competition to design Florence’s first public fountain in 1559. Close to the fountain stands the grand statue of Cosimo I by Giambologna, which was the first sizeable equestrian sculpture of its kind in Florence. It gained so much acclaim throughout Europe that the artist was hired to make similar ones, including Henry IV’s in Paris.

Travel tip: On May 23, a historical procession remembers Girolamo Savonarola, the Dominican friar executed in Piazza della Signoria in May 1498 for heresy.

Piazza del Duomo

Free Things to do in Florence - Piazza del Duomo Free Things to do in Florence - Bronze doors of the BaptisteryAnother incredible open-air museum in Florence is the Piazza del Duomo, showcasing some of the world’s most iconic and significant works of art and architecture. Walking here will take you close to the beautiful facade of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Giotto’s Bell Tower, and Brunelleschi’s dome, one of the most impressive architectural achievements of the Renaissance that stands as a symbol of human ingenuity and innovation. Not to be missed is also the Gates of Paradise in the Baptistery of St. John, a gilded bronze door considered one of the finest examples of Renaissance art.

Rodolfo Siviero Museum

Did you know that Italy had its own 007 for art? His name was Rodolfo Siviero, and you can find more about his fascinating story at the Rodolfo Siviero Museum, about 10 minute walk from Ponte Vecchio. This little gem is surely one of the best free things in Florence for art lovers. It tells the story of his work as a spy and art restorer and his mission to recover artwork stolen during World War II. His work led to the recovery of over 2,000 art pieces, many of which are now on display in the museum. These also include pieces by major modern Italian artists like Giorgio De Chirico and Giacomo Manzù, plus personal items belonging to Rodolfo.

Travel tip: The museum is currently closed for extensive renovation but it’s worth taking note of it as there will be more to see when it reopens in 2025.

More free things to do in Florence

Let’s wrap up this list with some unique things that will make your trip to Florence all the more interesting!

Write a letter to Dante’s muse

Free Things to do in Florence - Write a letter to Dante’s museTucked away in a narrow alley of the city center lies a Santa Margherita de’ Cerchi Church where Dante met Beatrice for the first time. Though their love was never meant to be, as they were both betrothed, Beatrice remained Dante’s muse for the rest of his life. A plaque in the church marks the supposed tomb where Beatrice was buried on June 8, 1291 (though this may not be true). At that very spot, a red basket holds countless notes addressed to Beatrice asking for her protection of their love. Inside the church, there’s also a painting depicting a young Dante completely enraptured by Beatrice’s passage.

The name refers both to the dedication to St Margaret of Antioch and to the Cerchi family, who held the patronage of this little. church from 1353, at first together with the Donati and the Adimari families, and then in the I 7th century on their own.

Recorded since 1032, the building was altered several times in later centuries. Inside, on the high altar, there is an altarpiece. with the “Madonna enthroned with St Lug, St Margaret, St Agnes and St Catherine of Alexandria” by Neri di Bicci (15th century). Santa Margherita is also known as Dante’s Church, because it may have been here that the poet married Gemma Donati, and first clapped eyes on his beloved Beatrice Portinari, whose family had their tombs here.

Read one of Dante’s famous poems that he wrote about Beatrice with it’s English translation, and other important Italian poems here.

Free Things to do in Florence - Painting of Dante and Beatrice at Santa Margherita de' Cerchi Church

Painting of Dante and Beatrice at Santa Margherita de’ Cerchi Church

Admire street art

Free Things to do in Florence - Street art - Clet - Rabbit and carrot

Free Things to do in Florence - Street art - MichelangeloFree Things to do in Florence - Street art - Dante Alighieri

Florence’s Renaissance masterpieces are legendary, but the Tuscan capital has also a thriving street art scene. One of the most well-known street artists in Florence is Clet Abraham, the man who’s making street signs both fun and entertaining by adding playful elements such as googly eyes and humorous twists. Other notable street artists who left their mark on the city’s walls and buildings are Exit/Enter, famous for his stylized little humans, and Blub, whose artworks portray famous figures wearing a diving mask. Their work can be found in various neighborhoods, proving that a historically rich city like Florence can also be a hub for contemporary creativity.

Travel tip: street artist CLET has a studio in the San Niccolò neighborhood that’s open to the public, visit his website for more details.

Free Things to do in Florence - Street art - Clet - Cat and mouse

Visit historic pharmacies

Free Things to do in Florence - Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella - Products on display Free Things to do in Florence - Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella - InsideFlorence boasts historic pharmacies that have been preserved in their original state, exuding timeless charm. These ancient shops are authentic treasures of the city and boast sophisticated interiors and stunning architectural details that could rival the ancient palaces around them. One of the most popular historic pharmacies in Florence that you can explore for free is the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella. Established in the 14th century by monks from the church of Santa Maria Novella, this pharmacy is the oldest of its kind and you can browse their amazing products displayed in beautiful Baroque-style rooms. Other stunning pharmacies are the Farmacia Santissima Annunziata, which dates back to 1561, and Farmacia Molten, which was Dante’s favorite.

Don’t miss my guide to the TOP Things to do in Florence

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20+ Free Things to do in Florence

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