What’s not to love about happy hour? Cheap drinks. Cheap nibbles. Catered mainly for students, it’s a great way to mingle and enjoy a cocktail or two without breaking the bank. But finding discounted drinks in a lavish city like Florence can be tough, now more than ever with prices on the rise. Let me take you on a tour of my 5 favourite happy hours in Florence.
This was the first bar I went to in Florence, and it remains one of my favourites. Tucked away in a basement-style building just a minute’s walk away from the Bargello museum, this hidden gem is easy to miss. But don’t! As you walk down the stairs to this underground cantina messicana, you’re greeted with an abundance of reggaeton tunes and colourful motifs in a cosy, exposed-brick space. The most attractive thing about this bar, however, is the happy hour prices. Every day from 5:30 to 8:30pm, all cocktails cost a beautiful 4.50 euro, including their mountainous daiquiris and on-the-rocks margaritas. Can’t decide between an aperol or a mojito? Combine the two! Their aperol-mojitos put a twist on two classics that most people wouldn’t dare tamper with. So, if you’d like a change from your typical Negroni and want to indulge in an exotic alcoholic smoothie over a bowl of nachos, l’Margaritaio should be at the top of your list.
A stone’s throw away from l’Margaritaio, you’ll find a bar that takes happy hour to a whole other level. Naima’s happy hour is all day every day for international students, except during “crazy hour” between 9 and 10pm, when their prices are even cheaper! Whenever I’ve found myself in this student hangout, no drink has never been more than 4 euro, making it a great spot to meet up with friends on a night out, especially for when your pockets are feeling a little empty. The compact yet comfy set-up, with walls covered in American college t-shirts, two TV sets and a dartboard, create a home-away-from-home atmosphere, attracting a happy mixture of international and Italian students. Before heading off to the clubs, why not sit back, play some darts and soak up the fun vibes of the most affordable bar in Florence?
3. Art Bar (Antico Caffè del Moro)
Fancy something fruity? Art Bar’s name speaks for itself as the cocktails are quite simply works of art. Bartender and owner Paolo curates each of his cocktails with an utmost attention to detail, creating fruit bouquets that won’t disappoint your eyes or your tastebuds. Their service can be described as “slow food”, so don’t expect your drinks to come out quickly. But with complimentary popcorn and bar snacks, alongside a 6 euro cocktail masterpiece during the 7-9pm happy hour, the waiting is worth every cent. In a quaint, underrated location next to the Ponte alla Carraia bridge, away from the busier neighbourhoods of Florence, the bar’s cosy setting is somewhere to stop by and unwind after a long day. It still gets quite lively though, especially at weekends, so bear that in mind if you’re not a fan of crowdier environments. Whatever your reason for visiting Art Bar, Paolo will make you feel like family.
4. Kikuya Pub
Moving onto pubs, we have Kikuya. With happy hour from 7 to 10pm, this is the place to be if you’re a young expat living in Florence and want to meet new people. Enjoy cheap drinks in a comfortable, studentesque setting, with a mix of both current and nostalgic pop/R&B music in the background. Offering a generous selection of beer and spirits, the bar staff are friendliest I’ve met since coming here. (Don’t forget to ask for the Jenga game behind the bar!) A popular choice is their Dragoon ale and for 5.50 euro (only during happy hour, of course), you can also try one of their signature cocktails—the Sound of Bubbles is my favourite. Situated directly between Red Garter and piazza Santa Croce, this “English” pub is in an ideal location for some pre-drinks before singing some karaoke. If you’re looking for somewhere fun to start the night, definitely give Kikuya a try.
Last, but certainly not least, is Dragonfly. It’s often overlooked due to its less-exposed location in piazza Salvemini; the crowds that form outside The Lion’s Fountain in the neighbouring piazza sometimes hide the magic that’s going on just around the corner. This small but quirky, steampunked themed pub is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. You can sit either outdoors or indoors, but I’d recommend getting a table inside, if you can, purely to admire the phenomenal decor. During happy hour (5:30-8pm), you can enjoy a pint of Ichnusa beer for 4.50 euro or choose from a selection of cocktails for 6 euro—both come with a complimentary bowl of potato chips and salsa dip. If that’s not enough to sway you, they also have great pizza. And if you cough up a bit more you can experience drinking one of their specialty cocktails from a terracotta cup, each served with a unique and meticulous presentation. Could it get any happier?