We went to a lot of museums in Italy and have picked our favorite must see museums in Florence for you.
After the video, I share the details for planning your own trip to Florence’s best museums.
(If you are reading this via email, you will need to click through to get to the video. It’s worth it!)
How to Buy Tickets for Florence’s Museums
Buy tickets ahead of time
To visit some of Florence’s best museums, you are going to want to buy tickets ahead of time rather than standing in long lines (Accademia Gallery, Uffizi, and Opera dell Duomo). If you go in the off season as we did, you won’t need to do this.
Get family tickets
Many of the museums offer family tickets, which are less expensive than tickets for four non-EU people. If there family tickets are not offered, children are usually half price or free. We found that the ticket sellers were very helpful in getting us the least expensive entry.
The Firenze Card is a great deal if you want to see a lot of museums and churches in a short period of time. You do have to be dedicated to make it worth it. You have 72 hours from the first use of the card (not the purchase time) to see as many of the included 72 museums and churches. Whew! We never went to more than one place in a day, so we did not purchase the Firenze Card. La Specola is not included, but the Natural History Museum in the same building is. Buy a Firenze Card here or at one of the ten points of sale in Florence.
Tips for Visiting Florence’s Museums with Kids
- Get excited ahead of time. We looked at websites, watched videos, or talked up what we would see. Understanding the significance of the David, or how amazing the architecture of Brunelleschi’s Dome was for it’s time, makes the visit more enjoyable.
- Eat and drink right before your visit. If your kids are like ours, they get hungry or thirsty 30 seconds into a food-free activity. We tried to stuff them beforehand to avoid this. It sort of worked.
- Take a break. For big museums like the Uffizi, take a break part way through. We sat on the terrace and sipped hot cocoa and ate bruchetta. Not only were we reenergized, but it was a lovely part of the experience.
- Go in the morning. Or after lunch. Find the time of day when you can get the most patience and motivation out of your kids. We seem to do best first thing, plus that’s when the museums are least crowded.
- Take a tour. We only took one tour, but we learned so much more than if we had wandered alone. In retrospect, we probably could have taken more tours, or rented the audio tours. NOTE: Make reservations for tours and audio tours ahead of time. I downloaded several free apps for the museums but did not find them very useful. Eavesdropping on other tours provided a fount of information. I also looked up individual paintings on Wikipedia and read pertinent sections to the kids.
- Don’t worry if they aren’t getting the most out of their experience. As homeschoolers, we tend to want every experience to be a learning experience. But sometimes it’s just boring. Let them lay on the couch and be bored. They are probably getting something out of it anyway.
Must See Museums in Florence
In this hands-on, interactive museum, kids and their adults can learn about da Vinci and his machines. I wrote about it my Five Things to do in Florence with Kids post.
Tickets: Buy at the museum or use your Firenze Card. No need for advanced tickets here.
This is the home of Michelangelo’s David, as well as other sculptures by Michelangelo and a collection of Renaissance paintings. The Michelangelo statues are the show stoppers, but the room full of busts was pretty interesting. It demonstrated how Renaissance sculptors were able to create such life-like works. It’s best if you can listen in on a tour guide here.
Tickets: Get them online or use your Firenze Card
This is another museum I included in my Five Things to do in Florence with Kids post. It’s a funky place and a little off the beaten path — exactly why we loved it. I wish we had take the time to visit the Natural History Museum in the same building, but that’s for another visit.
Tickets: Buy them at the museum. If you buy the full ticket (not the family pass), you can access the Museo Galileo at a reduced fee. No need for advanced tickets here.
The interactive exhibits on the ground floor will keep kids’ interest and we adults found the scientific instruments on the next two floors fascinating. Our kids got pretty bored here, but it may have just been timing. We visited a lot of museums!
Tickets: Buy them at the museum or use your Firenze Card. If you buy the full ticket (not the family pass), you can access La Specola at a reduced fee. No need for advanced tickets here.
The Duomo Museum includes the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Brunelleschi’s Dome, Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Baptistry of San Giovanni, the Crypt of Santa Reparata, and the Opera Museum. We visited all of the spaces except the crypt. Once again, we ran out of time or energy…or ended up at the bar-cafffe drinking wine and eating potato chips. It happens.
Museo dell’Opera del Duomo far surpassed our expectations. Inside it feels like a cathedral in part, an art gallery, and an archaeological dig. Most notably, we appreciated the original “Doors to Paradise” (replicas are used on the Baptistry). There are also works from Arnolfo, Ghiberti, Donatello, Luca della Robbia, Antonio Pollaiolo, Verrocchio, and Michelangelo.
Tickets: Get them online or use your Firenze Card. Tickets to all the Duomo museums are good for 48 hours. The church is free, so we visited that on a separate day from what we called “Two Days of Duomo.” Climbing the bell tower and cupola are also must sees in Florence.
This is the big one. Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Primavera hang here. Art by da Vinci, Rafael, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, and other Renaissance masters adorn the walls. The whole museum was really quite extraordinary and all four of us enjoyed it. Even the building with its painted ceilings is a piece of art. We took a break about 3/4 of the way through and had a snack on the terrace with a view of the Palazzo Vecchio. The café was a nice treat in itself. It took us three hours to get through, so you can imagine that it would be hard to fit this into a Firenze Card experience.
Tickets: Get them online or use your Firenze Card.
Any museums you’d add to a must-see list?