Not so much a tourist trap as a caution I guess....
If you decide to pull up a seat at one of the outdoor tables of the numerous cafes that line Florence's piazza's, you will certainly pay for the privilege of having a prime people watching position.
While it may cost you less than 1 euro to have a coffee standing at the bar inside, it may cost around 8 euros if you sit outside!
Sometimes when you go to one of these cafe's they come and take your order without you ever seeing a menu....or the prices....
Unique Suggestions: Look - I love sitting in these cafes and watching the world go by, but at least now I know what I am in for and am prepared when the bill arrives!!
Fun Alternatives: Why not buy a gelato or snack to takeaway from a shop nearby, and find a ledge to perch on in a Piazza - much cheaper!!
This busy shopping street filled with outdoor vendors is also lined with low end restaurants that extend outside into the street. Their tables are filled every day with unfortunate tourists who don't recognize that within 50 feet in any direction they could have found a better spot to eat. Perhaps it isn't until they sit down that they notice the terrible smell of sewage that emanates from the drains along the sidewalk! What's more, the street is unclean and is one of the most heavily trafficed by pedestrians.
Unique Suggestions: If you really want to eat here, take a seat inside.
Avoid buying an online ticket for the main museums like the Uffizzi or the Pitti. You pay for the ticket, plus the reservation, plus the online fee. In all , tickets can cost twice the usual price. They say that if you buy online you avoid the large queues at the ticket office, but there are alternatives.
Unique Suggestions: If you want to buy a ticket in advance, you can get it the day before, for instance, at some ticket agencies. There's one at the Orsanmichelle church, near the Duomo. This way you don't pay the online fee.
Fun Alternatives: Get to the museums about 20 min before opening time, and the queues are not long. At least in May, when i visited Florence.
If you go into a gelateria and order an ice cream cone be sure to ask the price first. The cups are usually marked, but not the cones. I was about to buy a bottle of water in Perseo on Piazza Signoria when i heard the cashier tell the guy next to me that it was 24€ for two ice cream cones. I think the poor guy almost dropped them on the floor. Who would have ever believed that you can pay as much for an ice cream cone as a complete lunch at a tourist restaurant. Needless to say, I put the water back.
There are London style doubledecker buses in the city that bring tourists for rides around the city. Be advised that all the greatest attractions (Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio, Piazza Santa Croce, Ponte Vecchio...) are in areas restricted to traffic. You won't see much with these tours. Go for a walk instead. Most monuments are very close to each other.
Unique Suggestions: Just (don't) do it!
It's possible to skip the line at some of Florence's museums by booking tickets on line at http://www.firenzemusei.it/. It costs an additionnal 4 Euros to make the reservation, and you must pick a date and time. This system, though it must be great for those whose prime reason for visiting Florence is to see the Uffizi or Accademia, also has for side effect that it's nearly impossible to get in without a reservation! The lines are ridiculously long and if like me you don't like to be tied down to a schedule when you travel and would rather not book tickets in advance, then chances are you'll have to choose between wasting precious hours of your time in Florence by waiting in line or skipping the Uffizi and Accademia galleries all together. We ended up picking the second option. We only had 3 days to spend in Florence and with so many things to see and do, we decided to leave the Uffizi and Accademia for another time.
Unique Suggestions: If your heart is set on visiting the Uffizi and Accademia, make sure to book your tickets at http://www.firenzemusei.it/. Tickets are available for the Uffizi, Accademia, Palazzo Pitti, Bargello and Medici Chapel, but unless you're traveling during peak tourist season you really only need to book in advance for the Uffizi and Accademia. You can also try getting up REALLY early and go stand in line first thing in the morning.
Fun Alternatives: There are several other museums in Florence that are less popular but still worth visiting, especially the Bargello and Palazzo Pitti. Art lovers will also discover many masterpieces hidden in the churches of Florence.
You'll be paying a lot extra to shop in this location.
For example, when searching for a jar of white truffles, I found that in a store in this piazza the price was over $30. Two blocks away I found the same jar, same brand, same size for $15.
All the time I overhear tourists placing orders for cheese in one of the shops to get shipped to the US. None of them realize that many stores offer this, and for quite a bit less.
It really doesn't take much effort to find a better price. At least, take a few side streets and compare.
Well , forget what the book or travel guide said about the so called Museum with the most 1st class art pieces per inch in the world. yes no doubt there are master pieces from Botticelli etc etc but there is a catch there ....the museum is so small and so many paintings are all squezzed into a room.
Uffizi - accroding to my dear friend Rene ( one of Florence most noted celebrity ) means office , thus its was never meant to be a museum.
The whole area is dwarfed by British Museum and the Louvre anytime. In Louvre and British museum you never have to queue up for so long and you can appreciate those paintings with enough oxigen.
The exterior is also not very expensive and properly cared for. And the queue is horribly long. I blame it on the administrations inability to relocate to a bigger place and their inability to create more entrance ( but after all , its so small )
If you dont make reservation, dont trying to queue up unless you can turn up like two hours before the museum opens.
( my case- my dear celebrity friend booked for me , I forgot and went to PISA , but dutifully waited for 1 hour the next day before I walked away )
- I heard my VT fren said that if you go like at 6pm ..there will be no crowd and its also free
When choosing a tourist menu at a restaurant, check if the price shown on the menu really includes everything (service, covert, taxes, etc.).
Unique Suggestions: If you really want to order the fixed tourist menu, be advised that when you seat at the table the waiter will bring you a menu that does not have that option.
You should ask for the fixed price menu, and he will bring you a different menu, so you can choose the available options.
Fun Alternatives: Most of the times it’s better to choose an option from the menu and a glass of wine. You have a lot more choice, and the final price is about the same.
Aside from it unlikely being his actual house, the "museum" is virtually empty and very small. All it really contains are some photographs of Florence , some assorted documents, and a few copies of the Divine Comedy, none of which are remarkable. The house is a bit interesting for the sake of the building's architecture, but this is just as well viewed from without.
Fun Alternatives: Dante's death mask is on display in Palazzo Vecchio.
Also, if you are really interested in early renaissance period homes and how they originally looked, Palazzo (Museo) Davanzati is very well done. It's been temporarily closed for two years, for restoration I believe. Check to see if it's opened when you come if this sort of museum interests you.
Beware when you sit down at an outside table at a bar for a nice beer or glass of wine. The prices are different if you sit inside (less expensive) or outside where you can see and be seen. My husband and I actually paid 6 euros apiece for a beer because we chose to sit at an outside table.
Unique Suggestions: Look for the prezzo lista. It is supposed to be prominently displayed but sometimes it's inside and you're outside or ask if there is a difference in price to drink inside or outside. I bet there is!
We all know this and we all do it!! Cafe's in main squares are great for people watching and relaxing after a day sightseeing, but to pay more than half the normal price for a cappuccino is a bit much! We paid €5 each for a cappuccino in Piazza Repubblica that was finished in 2 minutes.
Same goes with restaurants - we ate best in some side streets far away from the hub of it all...
Fun Alternatives: Instead wander round a corner or find a less touristic 'piazza' and pay €1.50 instead, for an even tastier cappuccino!!
Our Segway Tour of Firenze was an absolute delight, highly informative and personalized. The Segway is a joy to ride and the thoughtful, professional staff makes the experience unique and unforgettable. We are telling all of our friends. Of all the things we did in Italy, we had the most fun, and learned the most, on the Segway Tour of Firenze!
The Duomo is a masterpiece in architecture. The variations of marble and the marvel of the dome construction is beyond words.
Despite this, I think the Duomo is over-valued compared to the long lines, the cost, and wasted time. If you're looking to get a beautiful view of Florence, go to Michelangelo's Terrace instead of paying money to go up the tower at the Duomo.
Instead of wasting time in line, go to Santa Croce where the crowds are less (see our Santa Croce tip for more info).
Don't get me wrong, I'm an art history buff (like you couldn't tell) and I love the Duomo... but I think tourists should avoid falling into the trap of wasting half a day at the Duomo (most of it waiting) when there are so many other worthy things to see and do in Florence.
Unique Suggestions: If you're going to do the Duomo, at least make a point of spending 1.5 - 2 days in Florence (or more if you plan on visiting more than 1 gallery). I certainly don't think you can do all of Florence and do the Duomo in a single day.
Fun Alternatives: Go to Micheangelo's Terrace instead of the Duomo to get a view of Florence.... and it's FREE!
Santa Croce is just as beautiful as the Duomo and is equally worth your time with less lines... and it's FREE too!
The restaurants in Florance play some funny games to get a little more money from you. Be careful of items added to your bill you didn't order, or items brought to you table you did not order.
Also watch the receipts for the words Servicio Incluso or NOT Incluso. Sometimes even with the tip added, they will cover that up with their hand hoping you tip them anyway.
Keep a running count of the items you ordered (2 coffees, 2 entrees, 1 desert, 4 wines = totals 9 items) When you DO see the receipt, the itemized one you almost have to beg for, count the items. Some receipts do not say anything more than ITEM 6,50 ITEM 7,60 ITEM 3,00, so knowing the count helps when there are 14 items on the tab.
Fun Alternatives: If your budget isn't so tight then tip them any way. You will find in Florance that there is just a small tight group of restaurants so you will probably be back at the same place if you stay there for days. If you can tip them again, they love you when you come back, invite you in, find you a great table, drinks come fast.
If you are on a super budget, mind your receipt, remember BE NICE about it. You represent up all while there so be polite but it's ok to be to the point. Make them fix your bill and then give them a tip and tell them how much you enjoyed your time and food there. Event then, when you go back, they will welcome you in.
If someone else drops something off at your table that you didn't order and you do no want to pay for it (which you will if you choose to leave it on your table) POLITELY but firmly get the attention of the person that dropped it off STRAIGHT away and put it right back on the tray. this is usually done by someone other than your waiter and will probably include items that you DID order. It's possible that they maybe though they bring you something good like an espresso or some orange liquor, you might just wanna consider keeping it .. think fast though. No matter what, don't get up tight about it all, you're there to enjoy your time in such a beautiful city with beautiful restaurants and scenes. Don't let a lousy 8 euro ruin your day. If you're that worried about 10 bucks you might should stay home in the first place. Italy is not a place to under budget.