Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but it can also be a frustrating place to visit. Florence can be a busy city, even in the off season, but during peak season you’ll find yourself elbowing between tourists and locals alike, but there are steps you can take to minimize your frustration. Here are 5 tips to beat the lines in Florence, Italy, that will maximize your enjoyment of the spectacular city.
1) Plan Ahead And Buy Your Tickets Early
Many of the major sites in Florence allow you to buy tickets in advance, in lieu of standing in line. Tickets to see David at the Accademia gallery, to the Uffizi gallery, as well as to climb to the top of the Duomo can all be bought in advance, and sometimes you can even purchase multi- access tickets, and save some money on entrance fees. If you know the dates of your arrival, take some time and plan out which days you’d like to go to specific tourist sites and purchase your tickets beforehand. Most sites in Italy will require physical copies of your tickets (e-tickets won’t cut it!), so make sure you print out your tickets before you leave, otherwise, you run the risk of not being allowed in. Be aware, however, that even when you purchase tickets beforehand, there are often pre-purchase lines (like at the Uffizi gallery), though when the wait times for the regular line are in excess of three hours, waiting twenty minutes in the pre-purchase line isn’t a bad trade-off.
2) Go Early In The Morning
This tip isn’t utilized as often as you’d expect. Many tourists suffer from jetlag and hate the idea of getting up any earlier than they have to, so beat the line and go early. Most large, organized tour groups will head to the sites later in the morning, so if you’re at the entrance at opening, you’ll likely walk right in. Other than purchasing your tickets before you leave, this is one of the best tips out there. So get to bed early and get to the sites right at opening. Another benefit to this kind of tourism is that you’ll have the entirety of your day to do whatever else you want– and you won’t waste any of the precious hours of your vacation stuck in line.
3) Travel In The Offseason
If you are able, travel to Florence outside of the peak season– avoiding the summer and holidays, especially Christian holidays. If you go to the city during peak season, you’ll be competing with both foreign tourists and locals, as many individuals take time off in the summer to spend with their families. Though the weather might not be as sunny, traveling outside of peak is the best way to see Florence without the huge lines. Plan for the weather and be aware that Italy can still be rather nice, even into late October. Another benefit to traveling during the offseason is that the local shop owners aren’t quite so tired of seeing tourists and are more welcoming and friendly.
4) Head Off The Beaten Path
If you didn’t plan ahead and the lines are unbearable, take a moment and head away from the major sites– and keep walking. Florence is a big city and there are many beautiful churches,
small galleries, local shops, and fantastic open-air markets that you can enjoy. So when the tourism hustle gets you down, explore the city like a local would. Stop into a cafe that doesn’t have a tourist menu and work your way through a little Italian with a local. Climb to the top of Piazzale Michelangelo and enjoy the gorgeous view of Florence, or head to the other side of Ponte Vecchio and explore the local artisanal shops and gorgeous neighborhoods of Florence. Florence is a city made for walking (and has many, pedestrian only areas), so get moving and
5) Be Flexible
Being flexible is the number one rule of travel, but it also works for Florence. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, things won’t go according to plan, and that’s okay! You are in one of the most beautiful and visited cities in the world. When in doubt, just walk around and enjoy the splendor of the architecture while you munch on some gelato. No matter what you end up doing, keep a positive attitude and you’ll never have a bad time.
By utilizing these five tips to beat the lines in Florence, you’ll be sure to have the time of your life– and spend less time standing in place. All it takes is a little research and some pre-planning in order to maximize your vacation fun so you can spend your time enjoying the sites with the people you love.