Celebrated as the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is the capital of Tuscany and the region’s artistic treasure trove. A maze of cobblestone streets and former palaces, the city’s historic center showcases a time capsule of medieval Italy and is ideal for exploring by foot on a walking tour. Skip-the-line tickets help visitors save time when flocking to world-class museums like the Uffizi Gallery and Accademia Gallery to admire originals by Italian luminaries including Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael. A stroll across the Ponte Vecchio provides views of the Arno River and centuries-old jewelry shops, while the Boboli Gardens and the Palazzo Pitti provide a peek into the former home of the powerful Medici family. Food and wine enthusiasts can easily escape to nearby Chianti, San Gimignano, and other countryside hill towns for a day tour filled with bold Italian reds and gourmet Tuscan cuisine.
Italy’s most-visited museum is an essential stop on any Florence itinerary. Housed in a former Medici palace that’s a work of art in itself, the immense collection features high Renaissance gems like Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, da Vinci’s The Annunciation, and Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo. Skip-the line tours help visitors avoid long waits that often stretch for hours, while small-group tours led by an art historian help enrich the viewing experience and provide visitors with a focused route through the endless galleries.
Visitors who prefer exploring independently can take advantage of priority access with skip-the-line entrance tickets that can save hours of time during peak tourist season.
This popular tour lets visitors bypass the Uffizi’s long entrance lines and make the most of a visit with a guide who provides art-history commentary on collection highlights.
Early birds get to skip the entrance queues and enjoy less-crowded galleries with this guided tour that gets them in before the museum opens to the general public.
This early-entrance tour combines skip-the-line privileges and emptier galleries with the intimacy of a small group, plus breakfast at the museum cafe after a morning of guided art appreciation.
Read more about Uffizi Gallery tour options here.
Florence’s second-most-popular museum draws major crowds to see one of Europe’s most compelling statues–Michelangelo’s original David. Other highlights include Michelangelo’s unfinished Prisoners series, Renaissance paintings by Botticelli and Ghirlandaio, and rare musical instruments like a Stradivari viola. Like the Uffizi, entrance lines here can be extreme, so skip-the-line tours and tickets offer a great value. Combo tours pair the two museums for a double dose of world-famous art, all in one day.
This basic, best-selling tour lets visitors skip the long entrance lines and browse the Accademia’s treasures at their own pace.
For art lovers with limited time, this combo offers skip-the-line access and a guided express tour at both the Accademia and Uffizi Galleries, with a break for lunch or independent time in between.
For a full great-value day of sightseeing, this Super Saver combines guided skip-the-line tours of the Uffizi and Accademia, plus a walking tour of the city center’s most important palaces and churches.
Read more about Accademia Gallery tour options here.
The red-roofed Duomo (Dome) that caps the Cathedral of Santa Maria dei Fiori is the architectural jewel of Florence. Designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, the Duomo was a marvel of engineering in its day and remains a must-visit attraction for modern visitors. Tickets are required to enter the cathedral and lines are often long, so skip-the-line tours save time. Adventurous travelers can climb the steps to the top for the best views in Florence, while many guided tours include a look at the neighboring bell tower, baptistery, and museum.
A good option for first-time visitors, this tour offers priority access to the cathedral and a guided climb to the top of the Duomo, all in under two hours.
Visitors go behind the scenes on this tour including skip-the-line cathedral entry, a small-group climb to a lookout terrace and the top of the dome, and access to secret passages not open to the general public.
This tour wraps up all elements of the grand Duomo Complex, with a guided visit to the cathedral and Duomo plus the baptistery, bell tower, and Opera del Duomo museum, home to devotional works by Michelangelo and Ghiberti.
Pair art and architecture in one morning with a guided early-access visit to the Accademia Gallery to see Michelangelo’s David without the crowds, followed by a small-group tour of the entire Duomo Complex and a dome climb.
Read more about Florence Duomo tour options here.
Chianti and the Tuscan Countryside
Just a short drive from Florence, the renowned Chianti wine region beckons day-trippers with its picturesque landscape of vineyards, olive groves, and rolling hills dotted with elegant villas. Abundant day tour options offer a feast for the senses with wine tasting, Tuscan cooking classes, and farmhouse meals, all without the hassle of renting a car. Also within easy reach, the UNESCO-listed towns of San Gimignano and Siena provide a perfectly preserved glimpse into medieval Italian life and are often combined with winery visits for a full day under the Tuscan sun.
This food and wine tour serves up the best of Chianti’s famous flavors with winery visits and tastings of Chianti Classico, olive oil, and artisan cheeses, rounded out with a gourmet restaurant lunch.
For a taste of Tuscany beyond just wine, this tour includes a Tuscan wine tasting and lunch, plus stops in Siena, San Gimignano, and even Pisa, with time to check out the famous Leaning Tower.
For a hands-on culinary experience, this cooking tour starts with a shopping trip at a Florentine market, followed by a chef-led cooking class and homemade meal at a historic villa in the Tuscan countryside.
Read more about Chianti tour options here.
Things to Know
When to Go
Late spring and early fall offer cooler temps and thinner crowds, but visitors during the more popular summer months can take advantage of a wide range of cultural events and festivals. Many businesses shut down for August vacations.
Florence’s historic city center is made for walking, while a public bus system can help visitors reach out-of-the-way locations. Bicycle rental and tours offer a convenient way to wind through narrow streets and medieval piazzas in less time.
Churches and other sacred sites may refuse entry to visitors with exposed shoulders, arms, or knees. Travelers should be mindful of photography rules inside museums and palaces.
What to Bring
Sketchbooks come in handy if visitors are inspired to join legions of art students in capturing Renaissance sculptures in a low-tech way.
What the Locals Know
Enjoying an after-dinner gelato in one of the city’s public piazzas is a cherished summer tradition. Legendary ice cream shop Vivoli draws big crowds for a reason, and is walking distance to nearby Piazza Santa Croce.