19 Free Things To Do In Florence, Italy

Looking for free things to do in Florence?

florence duomoFlorence's cathedral is free to visit any time of year. Keep reading for lots more suggestions!

Besides the obvious "walking around and soaking up the atmosphere", Florence offers a wealth of stunning sites that are free to visit any time.

From churches to gardens to courtyards, here are some of the best things you can do in Florence without spending one cent!

Free things to do in Florence - stretch your budget!

Of course you can visit some of Florence's beautiful piazzas such as Piazza della Signoria and Piazza della Reppublica.

view of piazza della republicaPiazza della Repubblica is just one of Florence's many beautiful piazzas you can enjoy as you walk around its center.

And there are times when you can enter major sites for free, like the first Sunday of the month when state museums, the Uffizi Gallery, Boboli gardens and more have free entry.

Painting Adoration of the Magi by Leonardo da Vinci in the Uffizi GalleryOnce a month you can see the stunning art on display in the Uffizi Gallery like this Adoration of the Magi by Leonardo da Vinci for free, but what if you're not in Florence on that day?

But you have plenty of choices for actual sites in Florence, including some of Florence's most iconic churches, with free access as standard all the time!

You'll also be able to enjoy some free art, architecture, and green spaces.

(I'm not including markets in this list, as it goes without saying you can visit a market for free, although you may wind up spending money there!)

Whether you are on a budget or just want to explore all that Florence has to offer, don't miss these special places!

  1. Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as the Duomo
  2. Santo Spirito
  3. Saint Salvatore of Ognissanti
  4. San Miniato al Monte
  5. The Last Supper by Andrea del Castagno in Sant'Appollonia
  6. The Last Supper by Domenico Ghirlandaio
  7. Votive Cloister in Santissima Annunziata
  8. Chiostro dello Scalzo
  9. The Life of Saint Francis fresco by Ghirlandaio in Santa Trinita
  10. Rose Garden
  11. Stibbert Museum Garden
  12. Cascine Park
  13. Ponte Vecchio
  14. Piazzale Michelangelo
  15. Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy
  16. Loggia dei Lanzi and Piazza della Signoria
  17. Entrance of Palazzo Vecchio
  18. Chapel of Buonomini di San Martino
  19. Casa Museo Rodolfo Siviero

Click here to see a map of all these sites on Google Maps.

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Take a look at these pages to find out how to make the most of your time in Florence:

Duomo, Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

Florence Cathedral - 'Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower' - features the largest brick dome ever constructed.

dome of duomo from outside belowFlorence's cathedral has an amazing dome - well worth admiring from the outside and the inside.

Along with the baptistery and the bell tower in Piazza del Duomo, it's part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site covering all of Florence's historic center.

main altar of  florence's duomoThe interior of Florence's duomo is less ornate than the exterior but there is still plenty to see.

One of Italy's largest cathedrals, the Duomo remains a tourist favorite thanks to the spectacular marble on the exterior, which looks magnificent (especially when lit up at night!)

While the outside is really impressive, I find the cavernous interior a little underwhelming, just because it's relatively simple inside.

Learn the fascinating story of Filippo Brunelleschi and how he made the dome of Florence's stunning cathedral in this book by Ross King.

It's such an easy read and a great way to prepare for your visit!

The frescoes on the inside of the cupola are astounding but not that easy to see from ground-floor level.

florence duomo inside - cupolaOne of the most beautiful things about the church of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Duomo of Florence, is the stunning Last Judgement fresco on the inside of the dome.

Many fine artworks have been added over the years, including a large clock decorated by the celebrated artist Paolo Uccello, but for such a prominent landmark, you will see the most impressive elements from outside in the Piazza del Duomo.

duomo inside - clockThe beautiful clock by Paolo Uccello inside Florence's cathedral.

If you have time, don't miss the underground area of Santa Reparata, or the climb all the way up to the dome (neither of these are free however.)

Opening hours and location: 

Santo Spirito

Completed in the late 1400's, the church of Santo Spirito is in the Oltrarno quarter of Florence and an excellent example of Renaissance architecture.

Facade of santo spirito view from outsideThe plain facade of Santa Spirito gives no indication of the beauty awaiting you inside!

Unlike the Duomo, it does not look anywhere near as impressive on the outside.

But head inside and you'll be greeted with a breathtaking masterpiece designed by genius architect Filippo Brunelleschi (who also designed the dome of the Duomo, above.)

The 38 side chapels contain several important pieces of artwork, with altarpieces in the transept chapel by Filippino Lippi being particularly stunning!

Inside of santo spiritoThere is a lot to explore inside the church so give yourself plenty of time

One of the biggest draws for me is the famous Crucifix of Michelangelo, which hangs in the church's sacristy.

This wooden crucifix was likely completed in the 1490's but was lost for hundreds of years before being rediscovered in 1962.

Michelangelo's crucifix

I should point out that many art historians contend that this is not the work of Michelangelo so you will have to decide if you want to see it.

There is a small fee to view the crucifix but for me, it's well worth it, whether it was made by Michelangelo or not.

Once you've explored inside, head back out to the Piazza Santa Spirito and turn around to admire the ornate bell tower.

Opening hours and location: 

  • Monday-Tuesday: 10:00 - 13:00, 15:00 - 18:00 | Wednesday CLOSED | Thursday - Saturday: 10:00 - 13:00, 15:00 - 18:00 | Sunday: 11:30 - 13: 30, 15:00 - 18:00
  • Piazza Santo Spirito, 30

Oltrarno is a fun place to spend some time after your visit.

Take a seat in the piazza, order a coffee and people watch before taking a walk back to the city center.

It's the perfect place to see Florentine life in action!

Saint Salvatore of Ognissanti

ognissanti central naveThe basilica of Ognissanti is a very special free church you can visit in Florence. There is a lot to see inside!

Saint Salvatore of Ognissanti - 'Church of All Saints'-  is a stunning basilica - one of very few examples of truly Baroque architecture in Florence (unlike Rome which is chock-a-block with Baroque churches!)

The ornate facade leads to a magnificent interior that includes some important artworks.

One of the main reasons for visiting is to see the burial place of two important historical figures.

(There is another reason for visiting, another free thing to see, further down this page.)

ognissanti - saint augustine by botticelliThis beautiful fresco by Sandro Botticelli of Saint Augustine is reason enough alone for me to visit the Basilica of Ognissanti.

One of my favorite pieces to see is an ethereal painting by Sandro Botticelli, depicting Saint Augustine in his study.

I would happily pay to see this but it's free!

Botticelli himself is buried here, as is the youngest sister of Napoleon, Carolina Bonaparte, who was queen of Naples.

ogissanti - botticelli tombSandro Botticelli is buried in the church of Ognissanti.

There are actually many more beautiful and important things to see in this church, but one you can't miss is the crucifix by Giotto.

It's just to the left of the apse.

ognissanti - crucifix by giottoAnother must-see inside this gorgeous basilica is this crucifix by Giotto Bondone.

Make sure to stop by the Vespucci side chapel, a Florentine family whose most famous member was Amerigo Vespucci, whose name was used to name America, to see some stunning frescoes by Domenico Ghirlandaio.

Opening hours and location: 

  • October 1 - March 31: Tuesday CLOSED | Monday, Wednesday - Sunday: 09:00 - 13:00 | 15:00 - 19:30
  • April 1 - September 30: Tuesday CLOSED | Monday, Wednesday - Sunday: 09:00 - 13:00 | 15:00 - 20:00
  • Borgo Ognissanti, 42

San Miniato al Monte

The San Miniato al Monte basilica sits on one of Florence's highest points, just up from Piazzale Michelangelo with its amazing views, thought to be one of the most beautiful examples of Romanesque architecture in Tuscany.

The spectacular interior of the church is well worth the climb up the hill, with the panoramic view of Florence an added bonus.

You can take the bus or a taxi if you prefer!

front view of the basilica san miniato al monteSan Miniato al Monte is perched high above Florence

Construction of the church began in 1013, before a monastery was also built next door which was originally run by a Benedictine order.

Today, the working monastery is still home to Olivetan monks, who have been in residence since 1373 - yes, the monastery has been in use for over a millennium!

san miniato central naveSeeing the beautiful interior of the abbey of San Miniato is worth the climb to get here!

While free to enter, the shop next door run by the monks sells homemade liqueurs, herbal teas, and honey so you may well find yourself spending some money on these delicious treats.

The adjoining Monumental Cemetery is also really interesting, with a number of historical figures buried here, including the famous painter Pietro Annigoni, Carlo Collodi (who created Pinocchio), and the great filmmaker Franco Zeffirelli.

Both the basilica and cemetery are free.

san miniato cemeteryThe cemetery that surrounds the abbey of San Miniato is beautiful to walk around.

Opening hours and location: 

The Last Supper by Andrea del Castagno in Sant'Appollonia

There are many artistic interpretations of The Last Supper, called "cenacoli" in Italian.

This beautiful example by Andrea del Castagno was not known to the public until the 1860s.

cenacolo of sant'appolloniaThis "cenacolo", or Last Supper fresco by Andrea del Castagno is one of my favorite free things to see in Florence.

The fresco was created in the 15th century along the wall of the refectory in the convent of Sant'Apollonia, so for hundreds of years it was only the nuns who lived there who were able to see it.

After the convent closed in the 1800's, the incredible work was finally available to the public, and it is absolutely worth the detour to see it.

This part of the convent is now a museum, but has free entry!

cenacolo of sant'appollonia preparatory sketchIt's amazing to see these preparatory sketches along with their corresponding frescoes.

One of my favorite things about Sant'Appollonia is the display of sinopie, which are preparatory sketches for the works you see there, giving a fascinating insight into the process these artists had to go through to create the final product.

Opening hours and location: 

  • Monday - Sunday: 8.15 - 13.50.
  • CLOSED 1st, 3rd, 5th Saturday and Sunday each month. January 1st, December 25th, from 5 to 16 June.
  • Via Ventisette Aprile, 1

The Last Supper by Domenico Ghirlandaio

Located in the convent of the Ognissanti in central Florence, this example is one of three depictions of The Last Supper, "cenacolo" in Italian, painted by the great Renaissance artist Domenico Ghirlandaio on display in Florence.

cenacolo by ghirlandaioThis Last Supper by Domenico Ghirlandaio probably inspired Leonardo da Vinci to paint his own.

If you're an art lover, this is one of the free things you have to see, both for the quality of the painting and the impact on art history!

the cloister of ognissantiTo see the Last Supper fresco by Ghirlandaio, you'll enter this Renaissance cloister that is part of the church of Ognissanti.

Ghirlandaio was a very famous artist in his time.

He worked on the original artwork in the Sistine Chapel - his pupil Michelangelo was asked to paint its ceiling several decades later!

Leonardo da Vinci was likely familiar with Ghirlandaio's version of The Last Supper, and some art historians believe he may have been influenced by it when creating his own masterpiece.

Opening hours and location: 

  • October 1 - March 31: Tuesday CLOSED | Monday, Wednesday - Sunday: 09:00 - 13:00 | 15:00 - 19:30
  • April 1 - September 30: Tuesday CLOSED | Monday, Wednesday - Sunday: 09:00 - 13:00 | 15:00 - 20:00
  • Borgo Ognissanti, 42

Votive Cloister in Santissima Annunziata

The Basilica Santissima Annunziata may be a minor basilica in Florence, yet it is famous for the Chiostrino dei Voti or Cloister of the Vows.

sant'annunziata cloisterThe cloister of Sant'Annunziata is gorgeous and free to access.

A small but elaborate cloister in front of the pretty building facade, it's known for its eight notable artworks, including the Birth of the Virgin by Andrea del Sarto.

sant'annunziata cloister frescoThe cloister contains beautiful recently-restored frescoes like this nativity.

The cloister itself is easy to visit as you can walk right in from the square.

The church is harder to visit, masses are held one after the other each morning so it's worth returning later in the afternoon to see if you can go inside.

piazza santissima annunziataPiazza Santissima Annunziata is well worth lingering in on your way to other Florence must-sees.

The piazza in front of the cloister is also impressive, not only because of its size, but also because of the large bronze equestrian statue, which was the last work Giambologna completed.

This is a great free place to visit on your way to or from the Accademia gallery, which is only a few minutes walk away.

Opening hours and location: 

  • Monday - Friday: 7:30 - 12:30, 16:00 - 18:30 | Saturday - Sunday: 7:30 - 12:30, 16:00 - 18:30, 20:45 - 21:45
  • Piazza della SS. Annunziata

Chiostro dello Scalzo

Chiostro dello Scalzo was originally the entrance hall to a chapel, but now only the cloister itself remains.

chiostro dello scalzoChiostro dello Scalzo

This is one of my favorite free things to do in Florence, and I always try to pop inside when I visit the nearby Accademia gallery.

I've never seen more than a handful of people inside, and sometimes, we are completely alone here.

The light coming through the glass ceiling gives the space a meditative, peaceful feeling and I always find myself slowing down when I walk in here.

chiostro dello scalzo frescoFresco inside Chiostro dello Scalzo

Going inside the unassuming door you will be met with an incredible series of frescoes by Andrea del Sarto, depicting the life of St John the Baptist.

The twelve scenes were done in a style of painting known as 'grisaille,' which is a method using tones of grey only, which results in a beautiful and mysterious atmosphere with a mythical undertone.

The del Sarto fresco cycle is undoubtedly worth a visit, especially if you are in the San Marco neighborhood and/or visiting the wonderful museum of San Marco right nearby.

Opening hours and location: 

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The Life of Saint Francis fresco by Ghirlandaio in Santa Trinita

It's easy to walk right past the basilica of Santa Trinita and not go inside, but you should not miss the church if you can help it!

Basilica di Santa Trinita facadeThe exterior of the Basilica di Santa Trinita doesn't reflect the stunning interior!

Found in the heart of the city, close to the Arno river and the Ponte Santa Trinita bridge, the basilica has been witness to centuries of Florentine history, being built originally in the 13th century.

santa trinita central naveCentral nave of Santa Trinita.

The church's Sassetti chapel houses an undisputed masterpiece, a stunning series of six frescoes by the great Domenico Ghirlandaio showing scenes from the life of Saint Francis.

Occupying three walls of the Sassetti Chapel, the series is known as the 'Stories of St. Francis' and shows his life in glorious color and astonishing detail.

santa trinita ghirlandaio nativity frescoThis stunning fresco by Domenico Ghirlandaio is part of a larger fresco in the Sassetti chapel in the church of Santa Trinita.

Of particular interest is 'The Confirmation of the Rule' which depicts various people who were very important in the 15th century, including members of the Medici family along with current and future popes.

These are considered to be extremely accurate portraits, as Ghirlandaio painted them from life, rather than dramatizing them as other artists of the time would do.

This particular fresco is widely considered to be one of Ghirlandaio's greatest works, and the church is simply an amazing place so definitely add this to your Florence Italy itinerary!

Opening hours and location: 

Rose Garden

Given Florence is one of the most impressive cities in the world when it comes to art and architecture, it's no surprise that most free attractions in Florence are based on that, but it's not all churches and paintings!

The Giardino delle Rose is a magnificent garden just below Piazzale Michelangelo that offers stunning views across Florence.

florence rose gardenThe Rose Garden just below Piazzale Michelangelo offers beautiful panoramic views of the city and in spring and fall, when the roses are in full bloom, it's a wonderful place to visit.

The garden was commissioned in 1865 when the city became the capital of Italy (which was later switched to Rome) and first opened to the public in 1895.

Originally only open in May and June when the spectacular roses were in bloom, other plants were added and now it is open all year round, although it's still at its best in spring.

To me this is one of the best free things to do in Florence Italy, and perfect for those on a travel budget!

Opening hours and location: 

No matter when you visit Florence, here are four things never to leave at home:

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Stibbert Museum Garden

The Stibbert Museum houses an eclectic collection put together in the 19th century by Frederick Stibbert.

Born in Florence, with an English mother and Italian father, he inherited a huge fortune when he was 21 and spent his life (and the money!) creating his collection and the unique gardens.

On his death, he left his home and collection to the city of Florence for it to be displayed to the public.

Stibbert's garden is fascinating, filled with symbolic layouts pointing to mysterious and Masonic imagery, grottos and cascades, statues and fake ruins, and even a mock Egyptian temple!

A great place to visit with kids, it's open all year round except Thursdays and major holidays.

Opening hours and location: 

Part of traveling on a budget is getting a great deal on accommodation.

Staying in apartments is generally cheaper than staying in hotels, with cooking and washing facilities in house, and Florence has some excellent self-catering accommodation options to choose from!

Cascine Park

florence cascine park autumn leavesCascine park is the perfect place to escape the busy streets of Florence! Photo credit: Paolo Costantini

Originally a large estate of the Medici family, used for farming and hunting, the Cascine Park is now the largest public park in Florence.

Running along the north bank of the River Arno, the many meadows and wooded areas are delightful to explore and a great place to cool off in the summer, especially if you're traveling with kids.

florence cascine park autumn leavesI love walking through this park, any time of year! Photo credit: Paolo Costantini

Florence's largest park also has many sporting venues, including a swimming pool, tennis courts, football fields, and a velodrome, and a visitor center was added in 2013.

The park is well-maintained and under constant improvement, easily reached on tram Line T1 from the city.

Opening hours and location: 

Ponte Vecchio

One of the most famous landmarks in Florence is the Ponte Vecchio.

A bridge was erected here at the river Arno's narrowest point in Roman times, and the old bridge structure we see today dates mainly from the 14th century when it was rebuilt.

ponte vecchio as seen from ponte trinitaPonte Vecchio is one of the many bridges that cross the Arno river.

As well as being of great historical importance, the Ponte Vecchio is famous for the shops that line its length.

Originally these shops would have been selling the goods of mainly tanners, farmers, and especially butchers, but today, the shops cater to the vast numbers of tourists walking over the bridge, selling leather goods, souvenirs, art and jewelry.

ponte vecchio winter morningPonte Vecchio is a delightful place to stroll and shop, especially when it's not crowded like in the early morning.

Going across the top of the bridge, you can see the Vasari corridor, which was what the Medici family used to cross the river without having to mix with the people below.

It is currently closed but there are plans to re-open it for visitors.

Opening hours and location: 

Piazzale Michelangelo

Named after one of Florence's most celebrated sons, the great High Renaissance painter, poet, sculptor and architect Michelangelo, Piazzale Michelangelo is a square high up on the hill overlooking this beautiful city.

piazzale michelangelo davidThe bronze replica of Michelangelo's David is the centerpiece of Piazzale Michelangelo.

Designed by Giuseppe Poggi in 1869 when Florence was the capital of Italy and undergoing considerable renovation, the central sculpture is a bronze cast of Michelangelo's David, one of the most famous sculptures in the world.

The original is now in the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence and should be viewed by anyone visiting the city.

florence views from piazzale michelangeloThe views from Piazzale Michelangelo are unrivalled

The square is perfect for the best views of Florence, and both locals and tourists love coming here at sunset, with good reason!

You should not visit Florence and miss out on Piazzale Michelangelo.

Opening hours and location: 

Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy

santa maria novella pharmacy displayThe Santa Maria Novella pharmacy is equal parts museum and store

A genuine curiosity and place of great historical importance is the pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella.

Across the road from the beautiful church of Santa Maria Novella, the Dominican monks who lived in this church complex grew herbs and sold various herbal remedies and perfumes to the locals.

Over the centuries the monks have continued to sell their products, giving their store the reputation of the oldest pharmacy in the world.

santa maria novella fragrancesListening to the expert staff talk about the different fragrances in their collection is so interesting!

Today you can visit the store and browse the high quality, artisan products on offer from the ancient pharmacy (which have been refined for modern requirements!) as well as a small museum featuring fascinating exhibits telling the story of the World's Oldest Pharmacy.

santa maria novella original fixturesI love looking at all the products in these beautiful surroundings

Opening hours and location: 

Loggia dei Lanzi and Piazza della Signoria

Located on the beautiful Piazza della Signoria, the Loggia dei Lanzi is an open-air gallery featuring many wonderful Renaissance sculptures and works of art.

Loggia dei LanziThe Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence's free open air sculpture gallery

Next to the world-famous Uffizi Gallery, which houses perhaps the world's greatest collection of Renaissance art, the spectacular sculptures on display in the loggia include the magnificent bronze 'Perseus with the Head of Medusa' by the great Benvenuto Cellini, which took almost 10 years to complete.

cellini's perseus in loggia dei lanziCellini's famous bronze statue of Perseus holding the head of Medusa can be found in the Loggia dei Lanzi in Piazza della Signoria.

And don't miss the rest of the impressive sculptures there.

You can walk up onto the loggia and get up close to them.

Opening hours and location: 

Entrance of Palazzo Vecchio

view of palazzo signoriaYou can't miss Palazzo Vecchio when visiting Florence

The famous Palazzo Vecchio is the magnificent town hall of Florence and is particularly well-known for its wonderful entrance.

The impressive marble frontispiece features the Monogram of Christ and an inscription in Latin that translates as 'King of Kings and Lord of Lords.'

Michelangelo's David originally stood at the entrance until 1873, when it was moved to the Accademia Gallery, but a replica stands to one side of the doorway today.

cortile di michelozzi in palazzo vecchioYou can see this stunning courtyard without having to pay the entrance fee - not bad!

You can pop inside for free to see the ground floor courtyard as well if you don't want to pay to go inside the museum, but it contains a wealth of important artwork and sculptures so for me it's worth visiting, and even climbing the tower, for a fee.

But if you don't have time, even just the entrance is well worth a peek!

Opening hours and location: 

  • Open daily, 24 hours
  • Palazzo Vecchio: Monday - Wednesday: 09:00 - 22:00 | Thursday: 09:00 - 14:00 | Friday - Sunday: 09:00 - 22:00
  • Piazza della Signoria

Chapel of Buonomini di San Martino

This is one of my favorite free things to do in Florence because it really feels like a well-kept secret.

oratorio bonomini of san martino - exteriorThe exterior of the Oratorio di Buonomini di San Martino is so non-descript, you could easily walk right past it.

Located in the small Piazza San Martino, the Buonomini di San Martino chapel dates back as far as 986.

The Buonomini are a lay order of Christian brothers known as 'The Procurators of the Shamed Poor of Florence' who are famous even today for their charitable work, although they keep secret who they help.

oratorio bonomini of san martino - frescoIt's worth popping in to see the beautiful frescoes adorning the walls of this small oratory in Florence's center.

There are ten lunettes going around the tops of the walls.

They depict scenes in the life of Saint Martin and other scenes from life in Florence in the 15th century.

Because the frescoes show what life was really like in everyday Florence in the Renaissance, they are especially important as well as interesting to study in detail.

The bright vivid colors are even more beautiful after recent restoration work.

Opening hours and location: 

  • Monday - Thursday: 10:30 - 12:30, 14:30 - 17:00 |  Friday - Saturday: 10:30 - 12:30 | Sunday CLOSED
  • Piazza S. Martino

Casa Museo Rodolfo Siviero

This fascinating museum in Florence is a testament to the life and work of Rodolfo Siviero, often nicknamed the '007 of Art.'

He dedicated his work as a Minister of Foreign Affairs in the 1950's to recovering hundreds of important works of art taken from Italy during World War II by the Germans.

On his death in 1983, he left his house and all belongings to the city with the proviso that it became a museum open to the public.

The artworks, including many from artists Siviero knew personally, such as Pietro Annigoni, are from his collection.

All the works recovered by him and his team were returned to their owners or museums, so getting to see a fantastic collection and learn about a man who worked in military intelligence during the war and dedicated his life to art makes for a truly enjoyable experience!

Opening hours and location: 

  • Monday: 10:00 - 13:00 | Tuesday - Friday CLOSED | Saturday: 10:00 - 18:00 | Sunday: 10:00 - 13:00
  • Lungarno Serristori, 1/3

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