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How to Beat the Crowds in Florence, Italy This Summer

The summer crowds outside the Duomo in Florence, Italy


Florence, Italy, is a dream destination for many travelers, especially during the summer. With its rich history, stunning art, and delicious food, it's no wonder Florence attracts visitors from all over the world. However, summer also brings large crowds, making it challenging to enjoy the city's beauty. But don't worry! I've got you covered with some insider tips on how to beat the crowds in Florence this summer.


Early morning view of the Medici Chapels in Florence

Plan Your Visit for Off-Peak Times

One of the best ways to avoid the crowds is to plan your visit for off-peak times. Early mornings and late afternoons are usually less crowded, giving you more space to explore. For instance, visiting the Uffizi Gallery or the Accademia Gallery right when they open or just before they close can make a huge difference. You'll have a better chance to admire the masterpieces without feeling rushed or overwhelmed.


Walking through the Bardini Gardens in Florence

Explore Lesser-Known Attractions

While everyone flocks to famous sites like the Duomo and Ponte Vecchio, there are plenty of lesser-known attractions that are equally fascinating and much less crowded. Consider visiting places like the Bardini Gardens, which offer stunning views of the city, or the Museo di San Marco, where you can see incredible frescoes by Fra Angelico. These hidden gems provide a more relaxed and intimate experience.

Visitor traffic graph by month in Firenze

Visitor traffic graph by month in Firenze

Take Advantage of Skip-the-Line Tickets

Many of Florence's top attractions offer skip-the-line tickets, which can save you a lot of time and hassle. These tickets allow you to bypass the long queues and head straight into the museums or churches. While they might be a bit more expensive, the convenience and time saved are well worth it. Be sure to book these tickets in advance, as they can sell out quickly during the busy summer months.


Walking in summer along the Arno river in Florence, Italy

Enjoy Early Morning Strolls

One of the best times to explore Florence is early in the morning. The city is quiet, the air is fresh, and you can see the sights without the usual hustle and bustle. Take a peaceful walk along the Arno River, visit the Piazza della Signoria, or enjoy a leisurely breakfast at a local café. This is also a great time for photography, as the soft morning light creates beautiful scenes.

Top of the steps at San Miniato looking down the valley at Florence

Personal Tip: One of my favorite ways to avoid crowds in Florence is to wake up early and climb up to San Miniato al Monte for some exercise. This area is quieter and less touristy than the city center. I love starting my day with a cappuccino at a local café, like Ditta Artigianale, and then making the climb. The view from the top is amazing, and it's a peaceful and rewarding way to enjoy Florence without the crowds.


Palazzo Davanzati museum looking at a medieval bedroom

Visit Lesser-Known Museums

Florence is home to many smaller museums that are often overlooked by tourists. These museums offer unique insights into the city's history and culture without the crowds. For example, the Museo Novecento showcases 20th-century Italian art, and the Palazzo Davanzati provides a glimpse into medieval Florentine life. These museums are usually quieter and allow for a more personal and immersive experience. One of my favorites might be a bit busier than these but extremely interesting is the Galileo museum.


A plate of fresh pasta at restaurant La Giostra in Florence, Italy

Dine at Local Eateries

Instead of dining at the popular tourist restaurants, seek out local eateries where the Florentines themselves go. Not only will you enjoy authentic Tuscan cuisine, with some of the best Florentine pasta restaurants and steak houses but you'll also avoid the crowded and often overpriced tourist traps. Although, this is a hard one because everywhere is packed in the summer. Walk or take the tram away from Centro Storico and you'll find less packed options. I'd suggest earlier dining or later in the evening you can find some places to walk right in and get a table.


The facade of Ristornate Buca Mario in Firenze

Make Reservations in Advance:

Florence is a culinary haven, and many of its best restaurants are in high demand, especially during the summer. Making reservations in advance is crucial. Many restaurants, including popular spots like Trattoria La Casalinga and Osteria Vini e Vecchi Sapori, accept reservations for both lunch and dinner. Booking a table ensures you won't be disappointed or stuck waiting in long lines.


Dining Recommendations:

For a true taste of Florence, try dishes like ribollita (a hearty vegetable and bread soup), bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine steak), and cantucci with Vin Santo (almond biscuits with sweet wine). Exploring local markets like the Mercato Centrale can also offer a unique dining experience, with various stalls offering fresh and delicious options.


Siena Duomo

Take Day Trips to Nearby Towns

If you need a break from the crowds, consider taking a day trip to one of the charming towns near Florence. Places like Fiesole, Lucca, and Siena offer beautiful landscapes, historical sites, and a more relaxed atmosphere. These towns are easily accessible by train or bus and provide a refreshing change of pace from the bustling city.


Specific Day Trips:

- Fiesole: Just a short bus ride from Florence, Fiesole offers stunning views of the city, Roman ruins, and a peaceful atmosphere. Bus number 7 from Piazza San Marco will get you there in about 30 minutes.

- Lucca: Known for its well-preserved Renaissance walls and cobblestone streets, Lucca is a delightful town to explore. Trains from Florence Santa Maria Novella station take about 1.5 hours to reach Lucca.

- Siena: Famous for its medieval architecture and the Palio horse race, Siena is a must-visit. Trains and buses from Florence take around 1.5 hours to reach Siena, making it an ideal day trip destination.


walking by a Tram in Firenze

Use Public Transportation and Walking

Florence is a compact city, and many of its attractions are within walking distance. Walking not only helps you avoid crowded public transport but also allows you to discover hidden gems along the way. However, if you need to use public transportation, consider taking the bus or tram during off-peak hours to avoid the crowds.


Public Transportation Specifics:

- Buses: ATAF buses are the main public transportation in Florence. You can buy tickets at local tobacconists (look for a "T" sign), newsstands, or via the ATAF website and app. A single ticket is valid for 90 minutes from the time it's validated. Key bus lines include the 7, which goes to Fiesole, and the 13, which circles the city center.

- Trams: The tram system in Florence is another efficient way to get around. The T1 line runs from Villa Costanza to Careggi, passing through the main train station, Santa Maria Novella. Tickets can be purchased at tram stops and must be validated before boarding.


The Firenze card

For a seamless experience, consider getting the Firenze Card, which includes unlimited access to public transportation for 72 hours, in addition to free entry to many museums.


Stay in Less Touristy Neighborhoods

Choosing accommodation in less touristy neighborhoods can make a big difference in your overall experience. Areas like Oltrarno, Sant'Ambrogio, and San Frediano offer a more local vibe and are generally quieter than the city center. You'll find charming streets, local markets, and authentic restaurants, all while being just a short walk or bus ride away from the main attractions.


Oltrano neighborhood in Firenze

Neighborhood Highlights:

- Oltrarno: Located across the Arno River, Oltrarno is known for its artisan workshops, local cafes, and the beautiful Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens.

- Sant'Ambrogio: This neighborhood is famous for its vibrant market, where you can find fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and more. It also has a lively food scene with many excellent trattorias.

- San Frediano: Often considered one of the coolest neighborhoods in Florence, San Frediano boasts a mix of traditional and trendy spots. Visit the Brancacci Chapel for its remarkable frescoes.


Watching a traditional festival in Tuscany

Attend Local Events and Festivals

Florence hosts numerous local events and festivals throughout the summer, many of which are less crowded than the main tourist spots. These events offer a unique opportunity to experience the local culture and traditions.


Festival Specifics:

- Festa di San Giovanni: Celebrated on June 24th, this festival honors Florence's patron saint, St. John the Baptist. The day is filled with events, including a historical football match called Calcio Storico, held in Piazza Santa Croce. In the evening, there's a grand fireworks display over the Arno River. Arrive early to secure a good spot for viewing.

- Estate Fiorentina: Running from May to September, this festival includes a variety of cultural events such as concerts, theater performances, and art exhibitions. Many events take place in beautiful outdoor settings like the Cascine Park and the Piazzale Michelangelo, providing a perfect way to enjoy Florence's summer evenings.

- Florence Dance Festival: Held in July, this festival features contemporary dance performances in the stunning setting of the Chiostro Grande of Santa Maria Novella. It's a unique opportunity to experience dance in a historical context.


Santa Maria Novella at night

Explore the City at Night

Florence takes on a magical quality at night, with beautifully lit buildings and a more relaxed atmosphere. Many attractions, such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Palazzo Vecchio, offer evening hours, allowing you to visit when the crowds have thinned out. Strolling through the city at night, you'll see a different side of Florence, one that's peaceful and enchanting. If one night you want a bit of busy excitement check out my nightlife guide article.


Walking in the Uffizi gallery in the evening with no crowds in Firenze

Night Tour Highlights:

- Uffizi Gallery: Enjoy the masterpieces in a quieter setting by opting for evening entry, available on certain days of the week.

- Palazzo Vecchio: Explore the historic rooms and tower of the Palazzo Vecchio with evening tours that offer a unique perspective on Florence's history.


Book Guided Tours

Guided tours can be a great way to learn more about Florence's history and culture while avoiding the crowds. Many tours offer early access or after-hours options, giving you the chance to explore popular sites without the usual crowds. Look for small group tours or private tours for a more personalized experience. Not only will you gain deeper insights from knowledgeable guides, but you'll also enjoy a more relaxed visit.


Illustration of a walking tour in Firenze

Recommended Tours:

- Early Access to the Accademia Gallery: Beat the crowds and see Michelangelo's David before the museum opens to the general public.

- Florence Walking Tour: Join a small group tour to explore hidden gems and learn about the city's rich history from a local expert.


Utilize Apps and Technology

There are several apps and online resources that can help you navigate Florence and avoid the crowds. Apps like "Feel Florence" and "Firenze Card" provide up-to-date information on opening hours, crowd levels, and ticket bookings. Google Maps is also handy for finding the best routes and discovering nearby attractions. Using these tools can save you time and help you plan your days more efficiently.


Jason Steven at Piazzale Michelangelo overlooking Firenze


With a bit of planning and these insider tips, you can beat the crowds and make the most of your summer trip to Florence. From exploring lesser-known attractions and dining at local eateries to making advance reservations and taking advantage of technology, there are plenty of ways to enjoy a more relaxed and enjoyable visit. So pack your bags, and remember they call it under The Tuscan Sun for a reason so pack appropriately as it gets warm in the summer. With all this said get ready to immerse yourself in the beauty of Florence, and create unforgettable memories in this stunning Italian city.



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