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The Best Museums in Florence: 10 Must-Visit Places for Art Lovers

Tue 19 Mar 2024

The Best Museums in Florence: 10 Must-Visit Places for Art Lovers

What it lacks in size, Florence more than makes up for in cultural stature. Despite being far smaller than Europe’s major cities, Florence boasts a large proportion of the continent’s finest museums and art galleries.

This is thanks, of course, to the city’s pivotal role in the development of Renaissance culture, science and philosophy in the 15th and 16th centuries - a period that saw painters, sculptors, writers and scientists produce ground-breaking work in their fields that helped transform Florence into one of the early-modern world’s most important cultural centers. 

It’s a status that Florence holds to this day. You’d be hard pressed to walk more than a few minutes in any direction without encountering a new museum, church or gallery housing artistic masterpieces and hidden treasures. And in our 20 years of offering guided tours in Florence, we have pretty much visited them all! 

But which are the Florence museums you really need to see when in the city of the Medici? From the Uffizi to the Accademia and beyond, in our opinion these are the 10 best museums in Florence that you need to visit in 2024. 

The Uffizi


Simply put, Florence’s Uffizi Gallery is the world’s finest showcase of Renaissance art. Nowhere else are so many masterpieces of that golden age gathered together under one roof.

Housed in a magnificent 16th century palace originally intended to be government offices, or uffizi, the first nucleus of the gallery was the extensive private collection of the mighty Medici dynasty, before morphing into the world’s first public museum in 1574. It’s been a mecca for art lovers from around the globe ever since. 

All of the Renaissance heavy-hitters are here, from Giotto to Botticelli, Leonardo to Michelangelo and beyond. Their paintings offer fascinating windows onto other worlds: from ancient mythology to incredibly realistic portraits, from altarpieces rich in spiritual fervour to propagandistic celebrations of military victories, the rich tapestry of the Renaissance unfolds in the galleries with seemingly endless variety. 

Discover the masterpieces in the Uffizi that you need to see with our in-depth guide to the collections.

The vast collections of the Gallery can be overwhelming, which is why it can be a good idea to join a tour of the Uffizi. Find out more about our expert-led Uffizi Gallery group tour here

Opening Hours and Tickets: From Tuesday to Sunday, 8.15 am to 6.30pm. €25 + €4 online booking fee, €2 reductions.

The Accademia


The Accademia Gallery is the city’s second-most visited museum after the Uffizi, and for good reason. This is the home of Michelangelo’s jaw-dropping David, perhaps the world’s most famous sculpture and icon of Florence. The David was carved in 1504, and was originally intended to be placed high up on the facade of the city’s Duomo.

The startling quality of the work meant that city authorities soon decided hiding Michelangelo’s masterpiece so far from view was a terrible idea, and instead plumped for a prominent position in central Piazza della Signoria. Find out more about the fascinating history of Michelangelo's David here. 

The David was moved to the Accademia Gallery for safekeeping in 1873, where it stands today alongside a number of other fantastic works by Michelangelo. Chief amongst them are the so-called Slaves, a series of sculptures initially designed by Michelangelo to adorn the tomb of Pope Julius II in Rome.

Although unfinished, they give a real insight into Michelangelo’s working practice, which saw him allowing figures to emerge gradually from the blocks of marble he was carving. 

With limited tickets available, visiting the Accademia Gallery in Florence can be difficult - especially in high season. Take the hassle out of your visit by joining our Best of Florence Semi-Private Tour, which includes privileged entrance to the Accademia. 

 Opening Hours and Tickets: From Tuesday to Sunday, 8.15 am to 6.50pm. €16, €2 reductions.

Museo dell’Opera del Duomo


All visitors to Florence will find their way to the city’s enormous Duomo sooner or later, but surprisingly few choose to visit the adjacent museum. Don’t make the same mistake!

This extremely underrated collection features an array of must-see Renaissance gems, like Ghiberti’s original Gates of Paradise doors (the gilded panels now guarding the entrance to the Baptistery in the Piazza outside are replicas), and a series of seriously haunting expressionist sculptures by Donatello, including a particularly haggard-looking Mary Magdalene

The remarkable museum is also home to Michelangelo’s last great masterpiece, a powerful, unfinished Pieta that makes a fascinating contrast with his earlier version of the same subject in St Peter's Basilica, as well as the original wooden models created by Filippo Brunelleschi as part of his proposals for the cathedral dome. 

Opening Hours and Tickets: Every day from 08:30 - 19:30, closed first Tuesday of each month. From €15 (cumulative tickets available).

Palazzo Davanzati



One of the city's most characterful museums, Florence's incredibly well-preserved Palazzo Davanzati offers a fascinating insight into the rarefied world of the Italian aristocracy in the Renaissance. The palazzo was built by the Davizzi, a family of wool traders who rapidly rose into the upper echelons of Florentine society in the 14th century thanks to their dominance in the Arte della Calimala, or wool guild.

What started life as  a forbidding, fortified tower in the Middle Ages was gradually converted into a spacious Renaissance townhouse in the centuries to come, reflecting the increasing wealth and influence exerted by Florence’s savvy business classes during the Renaissance. 

Look out for the vibrant fresco cycle that adorns the palace's master bedroom. The paintings depict a steamy love triangle between a medieval knight, his beloved and the malevolent and lustful Duchess of Burgundy. A must for history buffs!

Opening Hours and Tickets: Friday, Saturday, 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month: 13:15 - 18:50. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: 08:15 - 13:50. € 9, €5 reductions. 


The Bargello


Originally built as a fortress in the 13th century before serving as a prison and government office, the Bargello now stands as one of Florence’s foremost museums, with a particular focus on Renaissance sculpture.

Amongst the big names represented here are Michelangelo, who carved his drunken Bacchus when he was only 21 years old, and Donatello, whose masterful bronze David is the highlight of the grand Sala del Consiglio where the city’s council used to meet.  

Works by Benvenuto Cellini, Gianlorenzo Bernini and many others will also stop you in your tracks here. Look out too for the grand sculpted lion known as the Marzocco, traditional herald of Florence. An array of humbler objects made from wax, enamel, terracotta and ivory help to round out the picture of the visual culture of Renaissance Italy.

It’s a real pleasure to contemplate these magnificent artworks in the serene surroundings of this elegant medieval edifice, away from the crowds that can be overwhelming elsewhere in the city center. 

Opening Hours and Tickets: Every day from 8:15 am - 2pm, closed on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of every month. €13, €5 reductions.

Palazzo Vecchio


Designed by Arnolfo di Cambio - the same man responsible for building the city’s Duomo - the soaring 13th-century tower of imposing Palazzo Vecchio is visible from all across Florence. The city's magistrates met here during the long period of the Florentine Republic, before the Medici decided to transform the palace into their own private residence in 1540. 

As the long-standing political focal point of Florence, Palazzo Vecchio - and the Piazza della Signoria in front of it - has been the spectacular stage for many of the city's key historical events: the instigators of the failed Pazzi Conspiracy plot against the Medici were hung from the palace's windows in 1478, whilst the fire-and-brimstone preacher Savonarola was burned at the stake here in 1498.

No such violent drama lights up the Palazzo these days; instead the building is home to one of Florence's best museums, where you can admire Michelangelo’s Genius of Victory sculpture as well as enormous frescoes by Vasari celebrating the successes of Florence in the Salone dei Cinquecento, where the Grand Duke Cosimo I de'Medici had himself portrayed as an ancient god.

As you enter the museum, make sure to pause and appreciate the stunning courtyard, which was decorated with stuccoes and frescoes depicting Austrian towns to celebrate the wedding of Francesco de' Medici and Giovanna of Austria in 1565.

Opening Hours and Tickets: Every day from 9am - 7pm, except Thursday, 9am - 2pm. €12.50, €10 reductions. 

The Pitti Palace 


Located on the southern side of the river Arno, the massive Pitti Palace is one of the largest and best Florence museums. With multiple separate museums located on the complex, as well as the extensive Boboli Gardens, you could easily spend a day exploring this sprawling ex-residence of the Medici.

The real must-visit part of the museum is the section that houses the Palatine galleries, whose array of dazzling Renaissance artworks is not far behind the collection of the Uffizi across town. Highlights include a number of exceptional portraits by Raphael, Caravaggio’s Sleeping Cupid and Giorgione’s Three Ages of Man.

If you need some fresh air after your time in the historic palace, then take a spin into the adjacent Boboli Gardens. Mannerist sculptures and fountains peek out from leafy landscaped paths and terraces - look out for Giambologna’s statue of Cosimo I de Medici’s beloved dwarf, who rides an oversized tortoise. 

Opening Hours and Tickets: Tuesday to Sunday, 8.15am to 6.30pm. €16, combo ticket with Boboli gardens €22, €3 reductions.

San Marco Museum


Not far from the Accademia, the 15th-century Dominican monastery of San Marco was home to two of the most important figures in the history of Renaissance Florence: the preternaturally gifted painter-monk Fra Angelico and the firebrand apocalyptic preacher Savonarola, who briefly ruled the city as a theocracy before being burned at the stake in 1498.

Before his dramatic rise and equally dramatic fall, it was here that the preacher slept, prayed, and wrote scathing attacks on the sins of Florence.

For his part, Fra Angelico dedicated much of his career to painting the austere monks’ cells with images from the life of Christ. Thanks to his artistic contributions, today the monastery is one of the best museums in Florence. It’s a quietly profound experience exploring the silent cells and corridors enlivened with such beautiful artworks.

Look out too for Domenico Ghirlandaio’s enormous Last Supper on the wall of the monastery’s refectory - it’s a masterpiece of Renaissance art that demonstrates Ghirlandaio’s incredible grasp of perspective. 

Opening Hours and Tickets: Tuesday to Saturday: 8:15 - 13:50; 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month: 8.15 - 13.50; 1st and 3rd Monday of the month: 8.15 - 13.50. €11, €5 reductions.

Casa Buonarotti


Home to two of Michelangelo’s most important early works, fans of the artist will want to visit Casa Buonarroti when in Florence. Although Michelangelo himself never lived here, his heirs constructed the elegant house using the funds left in the artist’s will. 

The small palazzo was also conceived as a museum dedicated to their famous ancestor; featuring frescoes extolling Michelangelo’s genius as well as various contemporary objects, the highlights of the Museum are two important sculptures by the artist’s hand - the Madonna of the Steps and the Battle of the Centaurs, a chaotic tangle of contorted bodies inspired by ancient sarcophagi.

Opening Hours and Tickets: From Wednesday to Monday, 10am to 4.30pm. €8, €5 reductions.

Palazzo Strozzi


One of the most important historic buildings in Florence, Palazzo Strozzi was considered to be the apogee of Renaissance design principles when it was built for the powerful family of the same name by the architect Benedetto da Maiano in the late 15th century. The palace’s wonderful open courtyard remains a major meeting point in the city, whilst the exhibition spaces above regularly host some of the city’s most important temporary shows, with a special focus on contemporary art.

A visit to the Palazzo Strozzi is a good way to remind yourself that Florence is more than a time capsule to past glories - instead it’s a living city with plenty going on!

Opening Hours and Tickets: Varies depending on exhibition. Currently every day from 10am to 8pm, to 11pm on Thursdays. €20, €12 reductions.


Planning a visit to Florence? Through Eternity offers a range of group tours in Florence as well as private itineraries that take you to the best sites in the city, including the Uffizi Gallery and Accademia. And of course, if you'd like us to come up with a personalised itinerary featuring any of the museums on this list, our travel experts would be delighted to help!




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