If you are coming to Florence in December, you are in for a treat: the city is very un-crowded in December and Florence begins to light up for the holidays.
Did I mention how un-crowded it is?
Here's what you need to know about coming to visit Florence this time of year:
The first day of winter is December 21.
So actually, most of December is an autumn month (yeah, that seems weird to me too.)
It seems to rain a little less in December than in November, and the days can be clear, sunny and crisp.
And they are short of course.
The winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, is in December so there are some pretty short days.
It does snow occasionally in Florence, but typically not in December.
During the day it's in the low 50's °F/low teens °C, and in the evenings it is still quite chilly, with lows in the mid 30's °F/single digits °C.
When packing for Florence in December, the key thing is to bring plenty of layers.
If the sun is out, it can feel pretty mild during the day, but once the sun goes down it will feel much colder!
Think long sleeved t-shirts, heavy pants/jeans, warm pullovers or cardigans, and a good, waterproof jacket/coat. And don't forget the scarf!
These are my personal recommendations for packing for Florence in December:
When visiting Florence in December you will want to wear a warm cozy winter hat.
These ones are easy to pack and keep in your bag as you walk around. Trust me, when the temperatures drop when the sun goes down, you will want a hat!
I own these e-tip gloves and just love them. They are perfect for cold weather, and I don't have to take them off while I use my phone to make calls or take pictures.
I've washed them plenty of times and they still look brand new.
A scarf is a must in Florence at all times of the year, but especially when it's colder.
In winter I love having a large pashmina with me, which I find a more versatile option.
Bonus - these are great for the plane ride too!
In Italy, men wear scarves year-round.
It's partly for the fashion and mostly because Italians have a firm belief in always keeping your neck warm.
These men's scarves are both stylish and functional.
The best jacket to include in your December packing is a waterproof hiking jacket, with removable warm lining.
I have several like this for when I hike, and I wear them out in Florence in winter. It's really 3 jackets in one!
Here is a men's version of the same kind of jacket: waterproof, sporty, and with removable lining.
It's the perfect versatile travel jacket for December in Florence.
You won't regret including a good travel umbrella in your packing for Florence.
You can always buy one here, even off a street vendor, but they tend to be poor quality.
I love mine, that has features like wind-resistant ribs, and a cool open AND close button.
A warm cardigan, pullover, or turtleneck is a good idea, so even when if you want to take off your jacket, you will still stay warm and cozy.
It’s essential to be prepared for rain in Florence this time of year, so I would recommend including rain-hats and good quality waterproof shoes on your packing list.
What else do you need to consider when packing for Florence in December?
These are a few of my essential packing recommendations, any time of year:
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Yes it can be rainy in Florence occasionally, but the sun will be shining more often than not so you'll want a good pair of sunglasses.
Any medications you take, along with a list of these medications.
I would recommend keeping these with you in your carry-on in a dedicated container, rather than packing them in your checked luggage.
Photocopies or clear photographs saved on your phone of your passport - much safer than carrying your actual passport around Florence!
Plug converters for your dual-voltage appliances.
Voltage in Italy is 220, and in the US and some other countries, it's 110. Most electronic devices will default to dual voltage, but you will need a plug adapter as the plug shapes are different here.
This universal adapter covers you in multiple locations, perfect for travel to different parts of the world.
Carrying a well-stocked first-aid kit gives you peace of mind when traveling.
I always like having one with me when I travel, it’s very handy for when you need something quickly.
Travel insurance isn't something to pack but it is something you should not forget!
It is not uncommon these days for visitors to have to deal with lost luggage or cancelled or delayed flights, and your credit card coverage may not be as extensive as you think - chances are you are not covered for what you need when these things happen!
So how should you dress when you visit Florence in December?
You will probably be walking a lot, so you need comfortable shoes.
My number one rule for sight-seeing in Florence, any time of year: be comfortable.
This especially pertains to shoes.
It is crucial to wear good walking shoes with good quality socks that keep your feet warm when you're out all day.
Sneakers, trainers, hiking shoes, good walking shoes: all these are fine and you will fit right in.
The next rule, which is definitely applicable in December is: dress in layers.
While the weather in December is pretty cold, especially at the end of the month, the days can feel surprisingly warm if the sun is out.
It's best to wear layers that you can remove and put on easily according to whether you're out in the midday sun or eating dinner outside at night.
As part of your packing for Florence in December, I would recommend bringing a light backpack to wear as you travel around the city, so you can have a place to put your layers if you take them off, along with your scarf, winter hat and gloves when you don't need them.
Bottom line, to sightsee comfortably in December in Florence:
If you are planning to go to an event, for example a wedding, opera or dinner at a special restaurant, then you may wish to bring something elegant to wear.
Otherwise, it is fine to wear more casual clothes to eat out at many restaurants in Florence so you do not need to pack much, if any, evening-wear.
December is a beautiful time of year to be in Florence, because the city starts lighting up with decorations and there is a festive feeling in the air.
Plus, outside of the Christmas period, the city is relatively quiet.
This is a good time to visit monuments and museums, since they will be much less crowded (except during the holidays).
December is the beginning of (mostly) low season.
This is a great time to visit if you want to see all the popular sites and monuments in Florence, with much smaller crowds than you find in high season.
December is the real beginning of citrus season. Oranges, mandarins and clementines fill the markets now.
What better way to keep cold and flu germs at bay than to have a nice fresh-squeezed spremuta (juice) of Sicilian blood oranges?
December is also the time of year to fill up on traditional, hearty Tuscan food, perfect for keeping you warm and nourished when it's colder.
Try ribollita (thick vegetable stew) or zuppa di fagioli (bean soup) as well as the thick hot chocolate for when it gets really chilly!
Besides the obvious Christmas holiday dates, there are a few other important Florence events in December to note:
In Italy the Catholic holiday of December 8, the Immaculate Conception, or Immacolata, is celebrated.
Many shops will be closed, but major sites and museums are open.
If the 8th falls near a weekend, you can expect it to be busy in Florence.
The main Christmas tree in Florence is in the Piazza del Duomo near the cathedral, but there are usually also trees in Piazzale Michelangelo, Piazza San Firenze and in front of Palazzo Medici Riccardi and Palazzo Vecchio.
These tend to be lit in the first week or two of December - check back here closer to the time for specific 2023 dates!
The main Christmas market in Florence is held in Piazza Santa Croce, and is in the style of a traditional German market with stalls selling food, gifts and Christmas decorations.
There are also lots of other smaller markets which take place each year in different locations which you can explore.
The cooler winter months are a great time to see some of the limited-time exhibits in Florence.
Here are some of the events taking place in December 2023 - we'll update this page with more as they get announced!
Anish Kapoor - Untrue Unreal
Showcasing Kapoor's work in contemporary art, this exhibition curated by Palazzo Strozzi's Director General will feature monumental installations, intimate environments and thought-provoking forms that will forge an original and captivating dialogue with the architecture and audience.
October 7, 2023 to February 4, 2024
Learn more and purchase your tickets here.
Museo degli Innocenti
Alphonse Mucha - The Seduction of Art Nouveau
Explore more than two hundred works from the era of the 'Belle Époque', the Paris art movement at the end of the 1800's that Mucha spearheaded, creating the iconic Art Nouveau images we still know today.
October 27, 2023 to April 7, 2024
Find out more details here.
There are lots of concerts and other events available to book for your trip to Florence in December - take a look at some of our suggestions here:
Enjoy operatic pieces from famous Italian composers live in concert in the evocative surroundings of the Santa Monaca church.
Concerts take place every evening, booking highly recommended.
See the Three Tenors live in concert at the Santo Stefano al Ponte church.
You will be treated some of the best-known arias from the operas of Puccini, Verdi and Rossini, as well as Neapolitan songs.
Takes place twice a week - why not book your tickets to include a special 3-course Tuscan meal for an extra special evening!
Enjoy a variety of concerts and events in Florence's oldest theater, Teatro Niccolini.
Teatro Verdi hosts many contemporary shows and concerts almost every day of the week.
On the first Sunday of each month you can access Florence's state-run museums, archeological parks and cultural sites for free - yes, completely free!
These are very popular events so plan to arrive early to be sure you get in.
Maybe it's your 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) time in Florence. Or you have more than 3 days here. Or you just want to see and do lots of fun things.
Besides the obvious must-see tourist attractions, there are lots of great things to see and do in Florence!
Here are some ideas for your visit: