What's the best way to visit the Uffizi Gallery?
Visiting the Uffizi Gallery in Florence is at the top of the list for lots of visitors to the city, but due to its popularity, it's important to plan ahead to make sure you have a great experience.
Keep reading for some of our top tips for visiting the Uffizi Gallery!
With over 2 million visitors each year, and ranked number 25 in the list of most visited art museums in the world, visiting the Uffizi Gallery can become more of a stressful task rather than an enjoyable encounter with Botticelli’s Birth of Venus.
However, there are plenty of things you can do to make your visit to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence much smoother so keep reading for our top tips!
Some of these suggestions may seem very obvious, where others may sound a bit strange to you, but with these top tips for visiting from a local you will for sure enjoy your visit more:
More important than knowing the best month to visit the Uffizi Gallery though, is knowing what day, and what time of day, is ideal in order to have the best experience in the art gallery.
Generally speaking skip the weekends.
The weekends tend to be a lot more crowded than during weekdays.
But, and this is an important one, the hour matters a lot too!
During the weekdays there are lots of school groups which come to see the most famous masterpieces, who typically come in mid-morning, or right after lunch.
These are times you want to avoid, as they move in large groups through the museum and will most likely block your view, especially of the most famous artworks inside the galleries.
At the weekend you won't see the school groups, but a lot more people in general flock into town and therefore also into the Uffizi Gallery.
A really good time to visit therefore is around (Italian) lunch time.
Say you get inside the Uffizi Gallery by 1PM, you’ll have about 1.5 hours to see the most famous artworks before the crowds come back from their lunch break.
This doesn’t mean you will be alone in front of the paintings, but there will be significantly less people around.
The same goes for an end of the day visit.
If you book your Uffizi tickets for one of the later time slots (say after 5PM) you will also find a lot less people around than early morning or midday.
The Uffizi Gallery has a really good website with lots of information about one of the most famous museums in the world, covering all the important paintings, the cultural heritage of the collection and its impact on art history.
You can also access their online ticket office, where you can book your Uffizi tickets online.
This way you can pre-book your preferred time slot and skip the line when visiting the Uffizi Gallery.
Even if you purchased your tickets online, a bit of waiting in line will still be required, as you need to pick your tickets up and queue for the security check.
But these lines are usually quite fast.
Preparing for visiting the Uffizi is even more important to those of us who are merely art-lovers rather than connoisseurs.
The Uffizi museum is HUGE.
By huge we mean really, really, really big.
I've lived in this city for over 5 years, and still haven’t seen the entire collection!
With so many famous artworks on display, one of my top tips for visiting is to look at what's on offer and decide what pieces you want to see the most.
Most of the highlights are located on the top floor.
You can easily spend 2.5-3 hours just exploring this floor, so to avoid getting lost in the land of beautiful paintings; read up a little bit beforehand.
The Uffizi Gallery website has tons of information on the works of art you can find in their world class collection, which will give you an idea of the masterpieces that you’d like to see and where they are.
Helpfully the rooms in the Uffizi Gallery are ordered in chronologically.
This means you start with the oldest pieces and work your way through the centuries.
It helps you to get an idea of the way painting and art in general changed from the Middle Ages until now.
Take a look at the different guided tours available to make sure you get the right one for you, why not do a combined tour which also includes a visit to the Accademia Gallery to see Michelangelo's David or with a Florence city walking tour for example!
If you don’t want to join a guided tour, but you do want some specialized and in-depth information, an audio guide can be a good solution.
The Uffizi Gallery offers a very good audio guide, but you can also look online for self guided tours that you can download and play on your own mobile device (headphones required!).
You may have to stand in line just a tiny little bit to access it, but the Uffizi Gallery has a beautiful terrace with a spectacular view.
The Uffizi Gallery sees millions of visitors walk through its doors each year, so sometimes the crowds can get overwhelming especially in high season.
Allow yourself to take a little break from all the beautiful art and take the time to relax with a coffee (or glass of wine!) during your visit.
The terrace and cafe is located on the second floor, on top of the Loggia dei Lanzi.
This historical building in Florence’s Piazza della Signoria serves as an open-air art gallery.
From its roof you can almost touch Palazzo Vecchio, and you’ll have a beautiful view over the rooftops of Florence!
This might be an obvious tip, given the previous two points.
However, it is important to remember that stretching yourself to see absolutely everything is not going to help make the trip (or your holiday for that matter) more enjoyable.
Don’t try to see it all.
Don’t attempt to take it all in.
It’s a lot and even for very experienced art lovers and connoisseurs a museum like the Uffizi is exhausting.
You can of course decide for yourself what your own limits are, but don’t expect or try to have the same attention span for every single piece in the galleries.
Like we said before; pick some favorites that you really want to see and want to know more about, and take plenty of breaks!
This is another tip that seems like an obvious one, but I will repeat it time and time again, be comfortable!
Don’t wear those cute but uncomfortable sandals; there will be another time and place for that.
In the Uffizi Gallery you will be doing a lot of walking and taking lots of stairs.
So comfortable shoes are key!
The same goes for your outfit, you will be inside so heavy coats are definitely not needed.
To preserve the paintings in the best possible way, the temperature in the Uffizi Gallery is carefully controlled, so you may want a cardigan if you feel a little chilly.
Talking about not carrying anything heavy, that goes for your accessories as well.
Backpacks, big bags and other large items are not allowed into the Uffizi Gallery, and this rule is strictly enforced by the museum staff at the ticket office and inside the galleries.
It's best to leave large bags at your accommodation, but if you do have one with you, there’s a cloakroom available at the Uffizi Gallery where you can leave your items.
There is no charge for using the cloakroom, but you need to collect your items before the ticket office closes.
The reason for not being allowed to take these big items in is that there’s a risk of damage to the works of art if people walk into them without noticing (or intending) during a visit to the more crowded rooms.
Bringing a small bag is not a problem.
Of course, you can take pictures of all the beautiful masterpieces that you will come across in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
However, a few rules do apply.
Selfie sticks and tripods are absolutely forbidden, without any exception.
If they find you walking around the museum with one, it will be taken away from you.
If you are taking pictures when inside the museum, make sure to turn off the flash, as the burst of light can damage the delicate layers of paint, especially when there are millions of pictures being taken over and over again!
Be aware of your surroundings, check behind you before you step back or crouch down to get a good angle.
Remember that you’re sharing the space with pieces that have been painted centuries ago.
They are delicate and easily damaged so if we all adapt to the rules, the generations after us can also enjoy all this beauty.
Once a month on the first Sunday of the month, many of the state museums in Florence are open to the public for free, including the Accademia Gallery, Pitti Palace and National Archaeological museum as well as the Uffizi Gallery.
No matter how attractive it may seem to get into these amazing museums without worrying about booking fees, online ticket prices or arriving at pre scheduled times… skip the free Sunday unless you’re prepared for a lot of waiting!
It’s not only tourists who seek out these free Sundays, they're also very popular with the locals, who will line up early to see their favorite Florence museum.
The lines get very long and museums are very crowded.
If you can, avoid these Sundays and do another fun activity that doesn’t include a museum!
It may sound a bit strange, me advising you not to go, but nobody is making you go and see the Uffizi Gallery when you’re in Florence.
If you're not that into art or painting, you can ask yourself why you’d even go.
Is it because you feel you must?
Well, nobody was ever arrested for not going to a museum!
Ask yourself what you like to do with your time in a city where there’s so much to see and do.
Holidays and free time are precious so spend them the way you like.
The Uffizi Gallery is a magical place with hundreds of years of history shown through beautiful works of art.
There’s something for everyone to discover, but if you really don’t feel like going…just don’t go!