Let’s face it — Florence, Italy is home to some of the world’s best museums. It has so many museums, in fact, from famous ones like the Uffizi Gallery and Palazzo Vecchio, to lesser-known ones such as La Specola and Museo Bardini, that you could argue the entire city is one huge museum.
With this being said, it’s difficult to imagine a trip to Florence that doesn’t include visits to some of the famous museums there, the history and culture you’ll take in via osmosis notwithstanding. Here are some of Florence’s can’t-miss museums—and a way to see them without spending all day in line.
With more than two million visitors in 2015, Uffizi Gallery is not only the most museum in Florence, but the third-most popular attraction in all of Italy. Uffizi’s most famous tenant is Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus,” but no matter what draws you into this world-renowned museum, one thing is for sure: You’ll have to wait your turn.
Well, not entirely for sure: There’s now a way to skip the line at the Uffizi Gallery—not to mention, many of the other amazing Florence museums on this list.
While Uffizi Gallery is a proper museum, the Medici Chapels take a different approach: These unique churches at the Basilica of San Lorenzo don’t need to have art hung inside them—they are the art. Built to celebrate the infamous Medici Family, the Medici Chapels are ornate enough that you could spend days inspecting them, from well-known elements like the Chapel of the Princes and the Lantern, to more minute details.
Palazzo Vecchio, whose name literally means “Old Palace,” has been Florence’s city hall for centuries—the building’s structure and the various modifications to it are a living timeline of the city’s history. To say nothing of the frescoes that adorn the walls inside, which tell more literal stories about Florence’s often bloody past, including military conflicts with Pisa (“Pisa Attacked by the Florentine Troops”) and Siena (“The Taking of Siena”).
Museo Bardini is a more typical museum à la the Uffizi Gallery, even if the former is not nearly as famous as the latter. Indeed, Museo Bardini contains works of art collected by late 18th-century Italian antiquarian Stefano Bardini, whose collection speaks as much to the individual works of art as it does to Bardini’s aptitude for curation.
The Bottom Line
Florence is one big museum—even if you decide not to visit any of the museums on this list, you’re going to get a history lesson just by being here. The good news is that while history and heritage are an inevitable part of visiting Florence, long queues are not, which means that you can spend your next trip to Florence in awe, not in line.
Be sure to read when in Florence, Do Florence.