Your stay in Florence is not complete of course without having visited the world-renowned Uffizi museum. The U-shaped building of the Uffizi is located right in the center of Florence between Palazzo Vecchio and the Arno River. It covers an impressive total of 13,000 m2. Divided over two floors, the museum houses a collection of thousands of works by major Italian masters like Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raffaello, Giotto, Cimabue, and Caravaggio, to name just a few.
The Uffizi is one of Florence’s most famous tourist attractions, and in 2016 it first reached the milestone of more than 2 million visitors a year. So I’m sure you’ll understand that the Uffizi is not a museum where you can just stroll in for a dose of art and culture. In order to survive your visit to the world-famous museum as good as possible and make the most of it, it’s useful to be aware of a few things in advance.
Even though I live in Florence, I don’t often go to the Uffizi. I only visited it for the second time in my life last month; the first time was 20 years ago when I had just moved here. I noticed a couple of things when I was there, and I compiled a list of useful information that you could use to plan your visit to the Uffizi.
Buy your tickets online
During the crowded summer months, the waiting time for the Uffizi can be as long as 5 hours!
But don’t expect to be able to just walk in during off-season either. I visited the museum on March 31st and when I arrived there at 9 am a line with at least an hour waiting time had already formed. A limited number of people are allowed inside the museum at the same time, 900 I read somewhere, so when it’s full, you’ll have to wait for people to leave before more are allowed to enter.
Don’t wait in line for hours and buy your tickets online at TicketsFlorence.com
Select the day and time you want to visit the museum and pay securely with your credit card or PayPal. You will receive a voucher by email that you have to print, ask at your hotel’s reception to print it for you, and pick up the tickets at the dedicated desk at the Uffizi. You can now access the museum through the cardholder entrance.
I had to wait exactly 90 seconds, just enough time to take a photo. Thanks to my ticket from Tickets Florence, I didn’t waste time standing in line, and I started my visit to the Uffizi full of energy and ready to go.
Know what you are going to see
If you have no idea what the Uffizi has to offer, you might feel a bit lost surrounded by thousands of masterpieces. Consult your travel guide in advance or look online for information about the most important paintings and artists, so you can plan your own itinerary including all the pieces you want to see.
The Uffizi also provides audio guides that lead you through the museum and provide explanations and background information. An audio guide costs € 6.00.
Take a good look around
The Uffizi building was designed by the famous architect and painter Giorgio Vasari in the 16th century, commissioned by Cosimo I de’ Medici. All the administrative offices (uffici) were housed here, right next door to the center of power Palazzo Vecchio. Hence the name Uffizi, it was actually just an office building. But a nicely decorated one. Do not forget to look up to the beautiful ceilings that are still present in many rooms. Also, peek through the windows to catch beautiful panoramas and an exceptional view of the Ponte Vecchio. Personally, I was very impressed with the view from the terrace of the cafeteria on the second floor. Palazzo Vecchio is so close by that you can almost touch it.
Bags and shoes
Travel light. Large bags and backpacks must be checked in at the cloakroom; the service is free. Coats are not accepted. If you come to the Uffizi in winter, you could stuff your warm winter coat in your backpack and leave at the cloakroom.
Wear comfortable shoes. Strolling, standing and strolling again. Nothing is as tiring as visiting a museum. So you better wear shoes that you can walk on and stand in for several hours. There are benches to sit on in the gallery, but they are usually already occupied, so keep in mind that you will be standing for a long period of time.
Patience is a virtue
You never have the Uffizi to yourself. You will have to share the experience with hundreds of other tourists who all want to take a selfie in front of the Birth of Venus. So make sure to take your time for the visit and wait patiently for your turn to see the masterpieces up close. Particularly groups with a guide can significantly obstruct your sight and the flow. Most people reserve about 4 hours for their visit and that is the minimum you need to see as much as possible because you will be moving slowly inside the museum.
- It’s hard to estimate what’s the best time to visit. I read different opinions online like at the opening of the museum at 8:15 am, lunchtime 1:00 pm or towards the end of the day, the museum closes at 6:35 pm.
- To enter the museum, you have to go through a metal detector, and your bag is scanned, just like at the airport.
- Start on the second floor where the most famous paintings can be found.
- The toilets are scarce, so it is a good idea to go there first directly after the security check.
- It is allowed to take photographs inside the museum, but only without flash. Selfie sticks are forbidden.
- The museum is wheelchair accessible. Ask a staff member about the entrance in Via della Ninna and for assistance with the elevators.
- There is a special Touch Tour with a guide for the blind and visually impaired to experience the art with the other senses.
- The Uffizi is closed on Mondays.