Exploring Florence on a budget is a bit hard, especially when they have some luxurious spots of accommodation, dining and drinking.
Airbnb is the best way to go when booking on a budget. They have some cool places to rent out for the week, not far from the city center. Also cooking at home, and packing sandwiches for day trips is an easy way to save money. The food in Florence can be pricy, as this is a popular tourist spot.
The airbnbs are normally equipped with cooking utensils and basic cooking ingredients, so my advice would be to find a local grocery store and cook at home. Florence is beautiful at night so grab a bottle of wine and enjoy it on the steps of Piazzale Michelangelo where you will see panoramic views of the city.
Things to see:
The David: Michelangelo’s masterpiece ‘the David’ is in Galleria dell’Accademia. I recommend buying your tickets a few day in advance online, it is a few dollars more, but you get a faster entrance to the museum, than buying your tickets at the door, which can be over an hour wait.
Santa Croce: The tombs of Michelangelo and Galileo.
Michelangelo’s apartment: If you decide to take the free walking tour, they will guide you down a narrow alley, where you will see the first floor apartment where he use to live.
The cathedral di Santa Maria del fiore: This cathedral is the largest brick dome ever constructed, and built in beautiful gothic architecture. For 10 euro you can climb to the top to get panoramic views of the city. Inside the church is free of charge.
The central market: Most of the locals go here to get authentic Italian dishes at reasonable prices.
Free walking tour is always a good way to get information when exploring a city for the first time. It gives you an inside of the city’s history from a locals point of view, which is the best way to see a city. This tour is free but it is appreciated to tip at the end. I think around $10 a person is acceptable.
Day trip to Tuscany: Check with trip advisor if you do not have a car, they have day trips that provide you with a shuttle service and wine tours all included in one price.
If you have a car I would check out some wineries that have a bed and breakfast and stay up in Tuscany for a night, the countryside is beautiful. We went for a wine tasteing and tour at Viticcio, they also have accommodations that we wished we would have known about.