365 days in Florence: A season on season guide
This is one of the questions I get most often: when to visit Florence, which is the best season, and how to face the crowds? There is no simple answer to this question. As you can imagine, the period with the best climate also attracts the most tourists. To make the right choice, you need to ask yourself what kind of a trip interests you, what activities you are looking for, and what weather conditions you expect. It is also important to ask yourself if you want to visit museums slowly and calmly, with no lines, even if it is raining outside, or is the sun and wearing short sleeves more important to you?
In this article I will help you choose the best time of year for your trip to Florence!
When to visit Florence: the most beautiful places for each season
I always say there is no good or bad weather. Each season has something to offer. The trick is making the best of each season.
Winter is certainly the best time of year to visit Florence for art lovers and those who want to visit the museums. It might be cold outside but in return you will be able to appreciate masterpieces by Botticelli and Raphael without a sea of smartphones in front of the paintings.
Spring is undoubtedly the best time for those who love gardens and nature. The temperatures are mild, nature reawakens, and Florence blooms.
Summer in Florence is very hot, which makes cultural visits difficult, but a visit to the city can be combined with a trip to the Tuscan coast.
Autumn spoils us with her flavours. It is the best time to visit for food lovers who want to taste schiacciata all’uva, castagnaccio, or taglietelle with porcini mushrooms! Let’s discover together the most beautiful places in Florence for each season!
Florence in Winter
In my personal opinion, winter is the best season for exploring Italy. A winter visit to Florence has a lot to offer, above all: no crowds and no lines. If your ideal trip means visiting as many museums as possible, winter is the best choice for you. If you decide to visit the city in January or February, you can easily go to the Uffizi and the Academy without a reservation. The museums will be pleasantly empty and you will have an unforgettable visit.
In winter you will also save money. In January and February hotels often cost half what they would cost in June.
So January and February are the perfect months for organizing a cultural vacation to Florence, visiting the most famous museums, such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Academy, but also the lesser known ones, like the Bargello, the Medici Chapels, San Marco, Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce.
If you are lucky and there is plenty of sunshine, you can arrange day trips outside the city center, like a half day in Fiesole or a tour of wine cellars in Chianti. The countryside is beautiful in the winter. When nature sleeps, there is a slower rhythm, and it is the best time to really relax.
What temperatures can you expect? In January and February it is typically between 7 and 12 degrees Celcius. At night it goes down to zero.
Florence in spring
Spring in Florence is glorious! The ancient Romans, who founded Florence in 59 BC, called the city Florentia because they found such an abundance of flowers, plants, and wondrous nature in the Arno valley. Even Florence’s coat of arms is a flower: a lily, a red iris on a white background. Florence is the city of flowers and spring is the best season to appreciate the colors and perfumes of a blooming city!
If you come to Florence in April or May you must visit the gardens of Florence, such as the Boboli Gardens, the Bardini Garden, the rose garden and the garden of irises.
In April you can see the flowering of the beautiful wisteria in the Bardini Garden. The garden of irises opens each year around April 25th and stays open for one month, when the irises reach their full bloom.
Spring is also the best time to spend time outside the city. During your stay in Florence you can visit the areas surrounding the city: Fiesole, the Medici Villa in Poggio a Caiano, or the Medici Park of Pratolino. Spring is the nicest time to be outdoors.
The “Maggio Musicale Fiorentino” Festival begins at the end of April and continues through the months of May and part of June. It is one of the most important music festivals of Europe for opera and symphonic music. Including the “Maggio” in your program will allow you to experience another important aspect of Italian culture. Since it is a renowned festival, I suggest that you look at the program as soon as you know the dates of your stay in Florence. You can purchase your tickets ahead of time on the official website of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino.
As you can imagine, the beautiful weather attracts a lot of visitors. For this reason April and May are a lot busier than the winter months. If you want to visit the most famous monuments such as the Uffizi and the Academy Galleries, remember to reserve your tickets ahead. The official website for purchasing tickets to the state museums is https://www.b-ticket.com/b-ticket/uffizi/ .
Florence in summer
In my opinion, summer is the worst time to visit Florence. Lately the scorching heat arrives as early as June and in July and August the temperatures can reach 40 degrees Centigrade even in the shade. This is not the ideal weather for cultural tours. You will be tired after the first museum and during the hottest hours, in the afternoon, you will be forced to stay in your hotel or in a place with air conditioning.
At the same time, summer is the holiday season for most families, so if it is impossible to organize your travels during another season, here are some suggestions for the summer!
- Visit museums with air conditioning: The Uffizi Gallery, the Opera del Duomo, and the Academy. Unfortunately Palazzo Vecchio and the Bargello Museum are not the best places to escape the heat.
- Avoid being outside during the hottest hours. If you want to go on a guided tour in the center, ask your guide to meet you early in the morning, around 8.30 or 9 am, in order to finish the tour by 11 am.
- Avoid places that are exposed to the sun, such as the Boboli Gardens or Piazzale Michelangelo.
- If you are tired of the heat, take a train to the coast. A day at the seaside, in Viareggio, Marina di Pisa or Castiglioncello, can be relaxing.
Florence in autumn
Autumn, like spring, is one of the best seasons in Florence. The heat is not oppressive. The nice weather allows you to walk around freely without umbrellas or jackets. Just as in spring, September and October in Florence are still very crowded. After the holiday weekend of November 1st, the city gets quieter and stays like this until it gets busy again the weekend of December 8th, another major holiday, and during the Christmas season.
If you choose to come in September or October, you need to be organized and book tours and tickets to the museums well ahead of time.
September is the best time for a culinary tour in Chianti. A visit to a winery during the harvest will allow you to see the difficult work involved in wine production: from the initial steps, from harvest to fermentation.
In autumn you can also discover many Tuscan flavours associated with this season. If you visit Florence in September, you must taste the schiacciata all’uva, typical of the harvest season, tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms and castagnaccio. September and October will spoil you at the table.
What to wear when visiting Florence?
The most important part of your outfit are the shoes! You can expect to walk a lot. When I accompany my guests, we walk 12 km a day on average! So, forget wearing heels or hard shoes.
Furthermore, in the summer, it is very important to wear a hat to protect yourself from the sun’s strong rays!
Also remember that when visiting churches, especially in summer, you must dress appropriately for places of worship. Women must cover their shoulders. Both men and women must wear at least knee length trousers or skirts, and you are asked to take off your hat.
You may also want to bring something more elegant in case you enjoy dressing up to go out for dinner or to the theater.