Thinking of visiting Florence in December, January, February or even November? There are plenty of things to do in Florence in winter just as there are if visiting in summer. A small city such as Florence gets big tourist crowds during the warmer months. But in winter, it’s one of the best times of year to visit – the crowd doesn’t go away entirely but it does lessen up a lot. You get to witness and experience the city in an authentic way as the locals do, as the pace seems a touch more relaxed during winter. Although Florence doesn’t have any low season but compared to the super busy warmer months, the winter offers a welcome respite.
From its shortened lines to cozy, hot cocoa cafes, Florence in winter is a frosty treat. Now with fewer tourists filling the streets, you can get to feel the warm and cheerful side of the city. The whole season is filled with bustling, citywide events. And even if you missed the Christmas festive time, you are still in time to enjoy glimmering snowflakes crowning the streets or the New Year festivities. In January, biannual menswear trade fair, Pitti Uomo, transforms the city’s streets into a catwalk.
I will share more details of winter activities in Florence in additional to many things to do in Florence in winter that are just as good any time of the year like the Dumo, Santo Croce and Ponte Vecchio. Just come prepared with warm clothing, for additional tips on what to wear in Florence in winter, check out my blog post. It doesnt snow offen by when it does, you do not want to come unprepared with unsuitable clothes.
- 1 Things To Do In Florence In Winter
- 2 Winter activities In Florence
- 3 How To Get To Florence
Things To Do In Florence In Winter
I have previously shared things to do in Florence in one day. This extends on that with more of the best places to visit in Florence from museums, viewpoints, best places to eat and shopping in Florence whether that is markets in Florence or designer outlets.
1. Santa Croce
Set under the shadows of the beautiful Santa Croce church. The German-style Weihnachtsmarkt on Piazza Santa Croce is the most famous Christmas market in Florence. Forty wooden stalls twinkling under their candy-striped roofs and boughs of evergreen await. From November 30 until December 21, you can try typical and traditional German delicacies as bratwurst, mulled wine and strudel, and also specialties from other European countries – Hungary, Greece, Austria and UK.Especially in Christmas, you will find many stalls with Christmas decorations, pottery, decorations, and trinkets. You can find rows of homemade lavender soaps, sugary-sweet pastries, and roasting meats. Wash it all down with an artiginal beer or a toasty cup of Vin Brule.
2. Duomo and Cupola
The only way to see the inside of the egg-shaped dome up close and enjoy the extraordinary view of Florence it offers is to climb 463 steps – on the way up, the route takes you by the interior of the dome where you can admire Giorgio Vasari’s frescoes of the last judgment up close. But to climb the famous Duomo of Florence, a reservation is mandatory. The entrance to the cathedral itself is free of cost, but you have to purchase a ticket to climb. The ticket costs around €15 and you can visit the museum of Duomo, climb the dome and Giotto’s Bell Tower and visit the crypt in the cathedral and baptistery.
3. Ponte Vecchio
An everlasting symbol of Florence, whenever we think of Florence, Ponte Vecchio is one of the first attractions that come to mind. The picturesque old bridge has gone hand in hand with the Florentine people and has seen the development of the city across the centuries. It is the first bridge ever built in Florence, containing the centuries-old memories and countless stories to tell, making it one of the great icons of the city and one of the most famous tourist attraction bridges in the world.
4. Palazzo Vecchio
In the city’s main square stands the town hall, the Palazzo Vecchio. Built-in the 13th century, historically it is known to have many names such as Palazzo dei Priori, Palazzo Della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio. The town hall was used for the civic power of Florence and the supreme governing body, The Priors and the Gonfalonier of Justice. From the outside, the exterior of the building is typically medieval, designed by Arnolfo di Cambio. In the entrance, surrounded by a glory, is the monogram of Christ and the statue of Michelangelo’s David welcome you. The interior designed by the famous Giorgio Vasari is enticingly rich in history along with many secrets known and yet to be discovered. The interior consists of the historically rich Palazzo Vecchio museum and the spectacular Salone dei Cinquecento (known to hold power in Florence once).
5. Campanile di Giotto
Standing 84.70 meters tall is the Campanile di Gotto, the most beautiful bell tower in Florence. It was built in 1334 and designed by Giotto di Bondone, a famous artist of during his time. The slender tower is placed aligned to the church’s façade and has been given equal importance with the rest of the complex buildings of the Florence Cathedral. It comprises of seven bells, hexagonal panels that represent history of mankind, the lozenges which are the unique marble figures, and the four statues in the niches sculpted during different periods of time. Check out my post to see the beautiful views from Campanile di Giotto.
6. Piazzale Michelangelo
Built on the hills south of Florence is an outdoor terrace, the Piazzale Michelangelo. It is one of the best viewpoints offering a panoramic view of Florence and the view of sunset you just cannot miss. Built-in the 1800s the terrace is named after the famous legendary artist, Michelangelo Buonarotti and decorated by some of his famous sculptures. If you wish to do more than just taking pictures at the Piazzale Michelangelo, take a 10-minute walk uphill and visit the beautiful medieval buildings of the 11th century, Abbey of San Miniato al Monte. Make sure you also visit Accademia Gallery for the statue of David. You can buy ‘skip the line’ tickets for Accademia Gallery.
7. Palazzo Pitti and Giardino di Boboli
Palazzo Pitti translated as Pitti Palace is the grand Palace in Florence. Built on the south of the river Arno, the Palace has been home to the Medici family in 1549, power base to Napolean in the 18th century and principal royal palace later. The Pitti Palace with its beautiful Boboli garden makes up the largest open-air museum in Florence. Known famously as the “Green architecture” of Florence, you won’t be able to see much of the green, however, beautiful sculptures; 100 years old oak trees and fountains make it a site still worthy of a visit. You can purchase skip the line ticket for Pitti Palace and Palatine Gallery tour.
8. Mercato Centrale
The Mercato Centrale, translated as Central Market in English, is a market in which sells various ingredients that are used in Tuscan Cuisine. Those ingredients include a variety of Italian seafood and shellfish along with some imported seafood too, these can be found in the northern side of the market. Located outside the market are vendors who sell an assortment of nuts, spices, fruits, and vegetables.
You can also find leather goods situated in the area outside the Central Market called the Mercato di San Lorenzo.
The Mercato Centrale was founded at the time when Florence was the capital of Italy, this dates back to the late nineteenth century in the time of risanamento by Giuseppe Mengoni. There are market tours that take you around to the best delis, street food spots and more all for a more local experience.
9. Santa Maria Novella
Santa Maria Novella is an important Gothic church in Florence which is one of the two mendicant churches in the city. The mendicant orders meant that the church was built by the begging order of the monks of the Dominicans, so Santa Maria Novella is a Dominican church. Architecturally, the exterior and the interior of the church hold extraordinary works. The church was built in 1279, designed by two Dominican converses, Fra Sisto and Fra Ristoro. The beautiful interior of the church is similar to the Cistercian Gothic churches decorated with spectacular works of art such as The Trinita painting by Masaccio, Giotto’s Crucifix, Strozzi Chapel right to the main altar and the small cloister and refectory.
10. Italian Gelato
One of the innovative approaches to exploring Florence is the gelato experience! Florence is known as the birthplace of gelato during the renaissance. It is known to be invented by Bernardo Buontalenti and was served during a culinary contest to impress Tuscany’s Grand duke. Blended with raw ingredients and a passionate heart, an authentic shop at Florence will serve you fresh Gelato with traditional florentine flavors such as Pistachio, chocolate, and hazelnut. When ordering your Gelato watch out for bright colors, as authentic Gelato comes in color original to the ingredients. You can also learn how to make gelato while in Florence.
11. Italian food
The authenticity of Florence comes from its history of mouth-watering foods. Historically Florence is known for its traditional staples, Florentine and Tuscan cuisine, it is also famous for Caffe. You can typically start your day in Florence with a cup of magnificent coffee or a cappuccino with a pastry on the side from a different café every time.
In Florence, you’re going to encounter numerous Pizzerias and pasta servings. However, you cannot miss out the traditional dishes such as Crostini Neri, Bistecca Alla Fiorentina, Bistecca Alla Fiorentina, and Peposo Alla Fiorentina.
For the foodies amongst you, a place you must visit is the food market known as Mercato Centrale Firenze located in central Florence. A vital venue to rediscovering authentic Italian taste, Florence offers this market as a center for an ideal Italian meal. To make the most of your time in Florence I would highly recommend doing a food tour in Florence to fully experience all there is to enjoy when it comes to Italian food.
Winter activities In Florence
12. Visit Christmas tree on piazza duomo
If you are visiting Florence in December and looking for things to do in Florence at Christmas. There are plenty of places to visit exhibiting the festive spirit. Shops and Piazzas in Florence are embellished with Christmas decorations and grand Christmas trees. On the 8th of December, celebrations are marked by turning on the huge Christmas tree and a traditional nativity scene in Piazza Duomo, located in the Cathedral Square also known as the religious heart of Florence.
The ancient Italian tradition of a nativity scene, also known as Presepi, was founded by Saint Francis in 1223, in which the birth of Jesus Christ is commemorated. It is common to find Presepi frequently in homes and churches, but the one in Piazza Duomo is famous for being handmade from the terracotta of Impruneta by a local potter.
13. Firenze Light Festival
From December 8th to 6th January, Florence hosts the F-Light Festival. This luminous local initiative involves a substantial amount of lights that spread over the monuments. It also involves colorful projections, light games, and optical illusions, video mapping and art installations involving lights in 15 different locations of the city. These include the well-known monument of Florence such as Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Vecchio, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Piazza Santa Maria Novella and the Oltrarno as well as the famous towers and gates of the renaissance city.
14. Christmas Markets in Santa Croce
During Christmas, the renaissance city of Florence lights up with Christmas trees and lightened up Piazzas. While enjoying all the beautiful sites at Christmas don’t miss out on the traditional Florence market. Filling up one of the main squares of the city is Piazza Santa Croce, which continues the tradition of typical markets in Germany. The market is actually a recreation of traditional Christmas village with decorations for Christmas, with German products to offer (such as strudels and gingerbread) and a carousel in the center for the children.
15. Winter sales
A comprehensive guide to end of season sale can help you plan ahead of time and save you great deal of money. With winter sales in Florence, you can find some great bargains even at expensive stores such the Quadrilatero Della Moda. Generally, help in Christmas, winter sales are held in January and February.
If you are looking for those expensive branded designs, winter sales are just the perfect time to grab those haute couture items in luxury outlets and department stores at a price you can afford. Don’t miss out on the jewelry in Florence as it famous around the world for its designs by boutiques of Bulgari, Cartier, and Ponte Vecchio. For dresses you can shop at factory outlets and designers such as Armani, Gucci, and Versace.
16. Florence NYE activities
There is nothing more magical than starting your new year in a new place. The Piazzas host fantastic events and entertainment making Florence an ideal place to spend your new years eve. The main venue for New Year’s Eve at Florence is the event at Piazzale Michelangelo which is attended by 14 thousand people! Though there is a free entrance for the event, you need to make it there by 9 pm.
If you want a more relaxed new years eve and have an interest in classical music Piazza Della Signoria is just the ideal place to be where Orchestra da Camera Fiorentina and Orchestra Sinfonica Ucraina di Lugansk directed by Giuseppe Lanzetta was played last year. Before visiting a venue you’re interested in making sure you check for reservations and timings of the event as only limited number of people can attend some of them.
How To Get To Florence
Getting to Florence is super easy. Pisa is the nearest airport to Florence with plenty of flights coming in from all over Europe and beyond. I have detailed tips on how to travel from Pisa to Florence, by train, bus, and rental. Although I would not recommend getting a car in Florence unless you intend on exploring around Tuscany, beyond Florence. You can easily walk around the city with no major issues.
There you have it, things to do in Florence during winter? So have you been to Florence, Italy in the winter months of December, January or February? What was your experience of the city during your visit?
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