Like most tourist destinations in Italy, a trip to Florence can result in long queues and big crowds. While it can be difficult to avoid big crowds, there are ways that you can avoid waiting in long lines to see everything on your Florentine bucket list. One of the cheapest ways to do this is to pre-book a time slot, and this is important in some places more than others.
Pre-Book the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia
If you know anything about art and art history in Florence then you will know that these two galleries are by far the most famous, and by default the ones with the longest lines. Peak season is from April to November, although there can still be lines all year around for these infamous galleries. It is therefore a good idea to pre-book a time slot for Galleria Accademia and Uffizi.
You can book them individually or you can book them as a combined ticket if you are planning to visit both places.
How to book
Tickets and time slots can be booked on the official websites for both of these galleries. You will need to pay a €4 reservation fee, and then you will be sent an email confirmation and a ticket discount voucher, which need to be taken to the ticket desk to be exchanged for your actual ticket on arrival. There are some ticket broker websites like tickitaly.com that are slightly easier to use, but they charge a higher reservation fee.
You can also book time slots over the phone and then pick up and pay for your tickets on arrival using the confirmation number they give you over the phone
(Italian number, answered in English: 055-294-883. There is a €4/ticket reservation fee, and the booking office is open Mon–Fri 8:30–18:30, Sat 8:30–12:30, and closed Sun)
Alternatively, some hotels will book this reservation for you when you book your room, usually for a small fee. There is also some tour companies who will include a booked time slot when you are with them.
Pre-Book the Dome climb at the Cathedral
One of the other main attractions in Florence is the enormous Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, which features the characteristic dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. If you climb the 463 steps to the top of the dome you can experience breathtaking views of the city, see Vasari’s ceiling frescoes, and unusual architecture up close.
Filippo Brunelleschi had no formal training to build the octagonal dome, a marvel of engineering. He was buried in the crypt of the Cathedral as a mark of honour.
How to book. You only need one of either the OPA ticket or the Firenze Card for this particular part of Florence sightseeing.
You can visit all of the attractions in the Piazza Duomo if you purchase an OPA ticket for about €15. It is very important to note that even if you have this kind of ticket, you MUST book a time in advance if you are wanting to climb the dome.
All of the monuments of the Cathedral complex area are covered by the Firenze Card - The Baptistery, the Cupola or Dome, Giotto’s Campanile bell tower, the Duomo Museum, and Santa Reparata crypt - and this pass gives people the chance to skip the lines at attractions.
If you buy an OPA entrance ticket or a Firenze Card, you still have to reserve your place in line ahead of time, and this time cannot be changed once it has been booked, so it is a good idea to plan your trip to Piazza Duomo in advance if it is possible. Once you have purchased your ticket online, you can book a time to climb the monument using your ticket number on the Museum Florence website.
What about other Florence attractions?
Other attractions around Florence offer advance reservations as well, but frankly they are often not necessary, as they are not as crowded as Uffizi and Accademia.
Book in advance as many tickets as you can! Will spare you from some infernal queue!
In my opinion, you should book tickets for the Uffizi, which otherwise has the longest of queues.
Also for the Galleria dell’Accademia (where the famous David statue is located) is strongly recommended.
If you want to climb the Brunelleschi’s Dome, don’t forget to book in advance, otherwise, you won’t go anywhere.
4. Vasari Corridor
Also, if you want to visit the “Corridoio Vasariano” you’ll have to book several months in advance since it’s generally not open to public visits. It’s also quite expensive but it’s totally worth the visit.