Museums of Florence – A guided tour

Florence is a small and very scenic Italian city in the heart of Tuscany. I will direct you to the picture below rather than trying to put it into words.

Florence Italy Bridge

View of the Arno and the bridges in Florence.

What I can say is that Florence has a little something for everyone. When it comes to tourism, they are going for the high score. You could easily spend days just taking in the sights, sounds and food. If you can tear yourself way from the views, I would highly recommend taking a day or two to experience the incredible museum collections. There are some unique museum offerings that you would have trouble finding anywhere else.

The most popular museum choice is the Uffizi Gallery. Travelers come and wait in long queues to glimpse the treasures inside. Admission is €11 (€6.50 if there is no special exhibit, but there usually is a special exhibit.) and you can reserve a time for €4 extra and skip the line entirely if you wish. As budget travelers, we did not pay extra and spent an hour waiting in line despite being there before 9AM. There really are some outstanding pieces of art. Di Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael are all present. They are incredible to see if you successfully fight your way past the tour groups and get an unobstructed view. The museum is, in a word, busy.

If you are in Florence and are interested in a more relaxed alternative to the Uffizi Gallery; I have a secret for you. Museo Galileo is located directly next to the Uffizi Gallery. Find the hour long line at the Uffizi and go around the corner; you can’t miss it.

Galileo Museum and Uffizi Museum Florence Italy

Uffizi (left) and Galileo Museum (right). I told you that you can’t miss it.

If you love science and technology as much a Molly and I do, you wont be disappointed. You may feel like enrolling in a physics class, however. It is incredible to speed through over 500 years of scientific history in just a few museum floors. The collection houses historically significant globes, sextants, original Galileo telescopes, orreries, and Armillary Spheres!

Galileo's Telescopes, Galileo Museum, Florence, Italy

Original Galileo telescopes!

Armillary Sphere Galileo Museum, Florence, Italy

Giant Amillary Sphere! Just like in your living room, right?

Some pieces are historically significant, others intriguing and some true head-scratchers. If you don’t like scientific equipment – how about Galileo’s middle finger? It’s there too.

Galileo Museum Interior, Florence, Italy

Interior of Galileo Museum. Don’t touch those metal objects, by the way.

We spent over four hours walking the Galileo Museum but you may be able to see it all in about two. There were no lines and no groups fighting to see the educational videos. Admission to Museo Galileo: €9. Pro tip: Save your ticket stub from the Uffizi gallery and get a €2 discount at the Galileo museum!

As wonderful as Museo Galileo was, it still wasn’t the best value in Florence. For only €10 per person you can get a ‘combo-ticket’ that will get you to the top to the Duomo (Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore), the crypt of the Duomo, the top of Giotto’s bell tower, the Baptistery and to the Gallery Opera di Santa Santa Maria del Fiore. The views are tremendous from the Duomo and the Giotto’s bell tower. You can practice taking ‘selfies’ in all 360° of the Duomo’s roof if you like.

View from middle of Giotto's bell tower Florence Italy

View from the middle of Giotto’s bell tower.

Roof of Duomo, Florence, Italy

On top of the Duomo.

Best part? The combo-ticket is valid for 24 hours from when you first use it. We used part of the combo ticket in the morning and completed the rest of the activities after a break for lunch at Dolce Vegan (So good! Go there and get the lasagna. You’re welcome).

If you get the combo ticket, be sure the visit The Galleria dell’Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore. It has some incredible pieces which compliment those highlighted at the Uffizi in addition to ‘The Gates of Paradise.’ I’m not sure which was more interesting to me; the gates or the immense environmentally-controlled preservation chamber.

The Gates of Paradise Florence Italy Galleria dell’Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore

The gates of Paradise in Galleria dell’Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore. They look the part.

Get your combo ticket and take your time visiting any or all of the five attractions situated in or around the Duomo. Oh, and be prepared for some stairs.

Florence, in my estimation, is the perfect storm of Italy. Pizza, pasta, (vegan) gelato, amazing views and incredible museums. Go and make Galileo proud. If you want to make us proud, please like us on Facebook!

For more Italy information, check out Molly’s post about Venice.