Are you thinking of coming to Florence in January?
Yes, it's cold but it's also quiet and almost tourist-free, so January is a great time to explore Florence.
Read on to find out what you can expect!
January is one of my favorite months to be in Florence.
It's pretty simple - there are virtually no crowds! At least after the 6th...
Here's what you need to know about coming to visit Florence this time of year:
January is one of the coldest months in Florence, but while it will feel cold, winters here tend to be on the milder side.
At the start of the month it's possible it will snow in Florence, but if it does, the snow will not be heavy.
The average temperature starts to slowly climb as the month progresses into February, so it's much more unlikely for it to snow at the end of January.
The chance of rainfall is at its highest in January so you will definitely want to come prepared (see below for what to pack.)
The weather in Florence in January is on the cooler side, with lows (at night) averaging 38-40 Fahrenheit/3-4 Celsius, and
highs during the day of about 48-50
The days are still pretty short, being winter, but they are already getting longer after the winter solstice on December 22.
Packing for Florence in January is easy as the weather is pretty consistently wintry cold.
It can be surprisingly warm for a short few hours during the middle of the day when the sun is out, but it gets cold quickly, which is why you should pack plenty of layers.
jeans or cotton pants and long-sleeved tops, waterproof jackets and a heavier cardigan or pullover - it's definitely not shorts and t-shirt weather!
I would also recommend carrying a warm scarf and gloves with you, ready for the afternoons and evenings when the temperature drops fast.
These are my personal recommendations for packing for Florence in January:
This is the time of year in Florence to wear a warm and cozy winter hat.
They're easy to pack and keep in your bag as you walk around. Trust me, when temperatures drop as the sun goes down, you’ll appreciate a warm hat!
I own these e-tip gloves and just love them. They are perfect for cold weather, and I can keep them on while I use my phone to make calls or take pictures.
I've washed them more than once, and they still look brand new.
A scarf is a must-have item throughout the year in Florence. In warmer weather, it's just fashionable.
But in winter, I love having a large pashmina which I find is more versatile than just a regular scarf. I prefer a blend of cashmere and silk because it's not overly hot, and it doesn't make me itch.
Bonus - these are great for the plane ride too!
Another essential thing to include in your packing for Florence is a good jacket.
The best option for what to wear when sight-seeing in Florence in cold weather is a waterproof hiking jacket, with removable lining.
I have several for when I hike, and I wear them around Florence in winter. It's really 3 jackets in one with the different combinations!
Here is a men's version of the same kind of jacket: waterproof, sporty, and with removable lining. It's the perfect travel jacket to include in your packing for Florence in January!
It doesn't hurt to travel in Florence (or anywhere in Italy) with a good travel umbrella. You can always buy one here, but having one in your bag will prevent you getting wet in a sudden downpour!
I love mine, that has features like wind-resistant ribs, and a cool open AND close button.
When deciding what to pack for a trip to Florence in January, heavy cotton pants or comfortable jeans are an excellent idea for men, women, and children alike.
A warm cardigan, pullover, or turtleneck is a good idea as well.
Even when you take off your jacket, you will still stay warm and cozy.
It’s essential to be prepared for rain (and possibly even snow) in Florence this time of year, so I would recommend including a rain hat, a sturdy umbrella and good quality waterproof shoes on your packing list.
What else do you need to consider when packing for Florence in January?
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 January?
You will probably be walking a lot, so you need comfortable shoes.
My number one rule for sightseeing in Florence, at any time of year: be comfortable.
This is most important when it comes to your shoes, it is crucial to wear good walking shoes, and good quality socks.
I would recommend only bringing shoes you have already broken in, and don’t worry about looking like a tourist - that’s exactly what you are!
The next rule, which is especially relevant for January is: dress in layers.
Since the weather can change significantly throughout the day, and it sometimes rains unexpectedly, it's necessary to wear layers that you can remove/put on easily such as cardigans/pullovers/jumpers and waterproof jackets.
Also, when you go inside a museum or restaurant with heating, you'll want to take off a layer or two.
It's a good idea to wear a backpack as you travel around Florence, so you can have a place to stow your layers if you take them off.
Bottom line, when packing for Florence in January, don't forget to:
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.
And besides, don't you want to shop?
Once the festive season ends on January 6, Florence becomes much quieter, with low visitor numbers, so exploring the different parts of the city center is easy.
It's one reason I love Florence in January, as mentioned at the top of this page.
While it's definitely winter-cold, it's not so extreme as to stop you from exploring.
I just bundle and happily walk around.
You might expect January, being a winter month, to be pretty quiet in Florence.
That depends on which part of January you are here.
The first week of January is high season in Florence, and very crowded.
First of all, it's still part of the New Year's Eve and general holiday season.
January 6 is a national holiday in Italy and other Catholic countries: it's the Day of the Kings (the day the Magi brought gifts).
In Italy, this national holiday is mostly about kids, and is known as Befana, which is the name of a not-very-pretty witch, who is actually nice, and who flies around bringing gifts to the kids.
The Christmas holiday season officially ends on the 6th of January (although you will still see some lights up around Florence through late January) so there are still Christmas markets and a festive atmosphere in early January.
Most major tourist and historic sites, and even shops, are open on January 6.
However, schools and a lot of offices are closed through that date.
And often, this will stretch through whatever the following weekend is.
Then everything gets back to "normal" the following Monday, so until then, Italian families are traveling and visiting Florence.
And that makes it pretty crowded here!
And, finally, winter sales begin sometime at the start of January, and Italians will flock to their favorite stores that day, so it's yet one more reason you will see Florence's streets very busy in those first few days of January.
After that, Florence tourism drops to almost nothing, so you can count on having a lot of sites to yourself.
January is a great time to enjoy all the seasonal winter foods like artichokes, chicory, broccoli, cabbage, apples, pears, citrus fruits, and persimmons.
Some of my favorite seasonal things to eat in Florence in the winter include the hearty Tuscan ribollita soup, as well as everything truffle-based - truffles are everywhere this time of year!
Besides the obvious holiday dates of New Year's Day and January 6, there are a few other important Florence events in January to note:
January 1, New Year's Day, is a bank holiday as well as religious holiday.
Many shops are closed, but sites are generally open for visitors.
No matter what day of the week January 1 falls on, Florence is busy on the dates surrounding it and pretty much throughout the first week of January.
January 6 marks the end of the Christmas holidays.
In some countries, including Italy, it's known as the Epiphany or as the Day of the Kings.
In Italy, it's also known as the Befana, who is an ugly but good witch who goes around bringing toys to children.
In fact, many Italian children expect to open gifts on this day as opposed to December 25.
Epiphany is a particularly popular festival in Tuscany and Florence, with lots of events taking place to celebrate.
Every year there is a procession through the city center ending at the Piazza del Duomo recreating the journey of the three kings of the Magi (the wise men) to Bethlehem, complete with historic costumes and animals.
In Italy, we have big sales twice a year, once in summer and once in winter, look for the signs that say "Saldi."
Winter sales generally start on the first Saturday in January, running until the end of February.
The better stuff goes early so if you want to make the most of the sales, try and plan your trip for earlier in January.
Saint Zenobius (San Zanobi or Zenobio in Italian) was the first bishop of Florence. He lived from 337–417.
Several miracles that include bringing the dead back to life are attributed to him.
On January 26, 429, Saint Zenobi's remains were transferred from the basilica of San Lorenzo to the new cathedral of Santa Reparata (today underneath the Florence cathedral or Duomo where he is currently buried.)
According to legend, an old dying elm tree in Piazza San Giovanni miraculously sprang to life as the saint's remains were carried past it.
To commemorate this event, a column was erected in Piazza San Giovanni in 1384.
Every year on January 26, you can watch a parade and show by historical procession put on by the Florentine Republic, the Bandierai of the Uffizi and the city authorities.
They retrace that journey of centuries ago and lay a wreath at the base of the column in Piazza San Giovanni.
One of the best places to catch the show is in Piazza della Signoria, where we happened to be by chance one day when they came by to celebrate.
The cooler fall and 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 January 2023 around the city:
At the beautiful Palazzo Strozzi you can explore the art of Olafur Eliasson, with Olafur Eliasson: Nel tuo tempo
Runs until January 22 2023
Booking required - find out more details here.
The Museo degli Innocenti (right next to the Galleria Academia) is hosting an exhibition dedicated to the works of brilliant Dutch artist Maurits Cornelis Escher.
Entrance is included in the regular museum tickets, which can be booked online.
See more information and book your tickets here.
Open from October 20, 2022 to March 26, 2023.
Palazzo Medici Riccardi was the first Medici palace and is now home to an incredible collection of art and sculpture.
From September 24, 2022 to January 8, 2023 they are hosting a prestigious selection of works by 20th century masters, from private collections.
Two impressive works by contemporary English sculptor Henry Moore will be on display at two locations in Florence until March 31, 2023.
Organized by the Museo Novecento, one sculpture will be in Piazza della Signoria and the other in front of the Abbey of San Miniato al Monte (further up the hill from Piazzale Michelangelo).
No entrance ticket required.
Read more about this special collaboration here.
The Cattedrale dell’Immagine is a relative newcomer to Florence. A former church, the space has been digitally mapped and turned into an immersive theater.
From November 26, 2022 until February 26, 2023, this space is home to Inside Banksy, a digital exhibition about Banksy and his art.
Booking required - find out more and book here.
There are lots of concerts and other events available to book for your trip to Florence in January.
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 to 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 free entrance days 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 Florence attractions, there are lots of great things to see and do!
While you can of course look at a day trip to the Tuscan countryside, Rome or even Venice, here are some ideas for your visit: