Florence in Winter – Cold But Beautiful

If you’ve been thinking about visiting Florence in winter, you’ll get to experience way more than just Christmas markets and twinkling lights.

Florence Christmas shoppingFlorence in winter has a lot to offer, even outside the Christmas holidays!

With thinner crowds, budget travelers can experience the museums, piazzas, and famous sculptures in this gorgeous Italian city without feeling overwhelmed.

Everything you need to know about Florence in Winter

It’s no secret that Florence is one of Italy’s most stunning cities, always at the top of the list with Rome, Venice and Milan.

From the beautiful Uffizi Gallery to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and the Ponte Vecchio, art is everywhere and every corner has a history.


ponte vecchio winter morningStrolling along Ponte Vecchio is more enjoyable in the winter due to the lack of crowds


But you might be trying to figure out what visiting Florence in winter is like.

Maybe you’re wondering whether the cobblestone streets of this beautiful city are less jam-packed during the holiday season.

On this page you'll find:


Is winter a good time to visit Florence?

The winter months are a gorgeous time to see Florence, I love visiting this time of year

The weather will be colder and wetter than if you were visiting Florence during the summer (as you’d expect!).

But, usually, you can stroll through the tourist attractions and Christmas markets without being overwhelmed by crowds.


Piazza del duomo in winterThe crowds around the Duomo are much quieter in the winter


Plus, you can bask in the festive atmosphere with a life-size nativity and stunning Christmas decorations!

In my book, the holiday-themed activities are a great way to break up visiting museums, the Medici Chapels, and endless art galleries.

Oh, and did I mention it’s sale season?

Hey, you need to spend all that saved cash somewhere!

Is the winter low season in Florence?

Far fewer tourists tend to visit Florence in winter.

This usually means that Florence hotels reduce their prices to stay competitive. 

For the same reason, flights tend to be cheaper (except around Christmas and New Year’s).


Uffizi in December - no crowdsThe halls of the Uffizi in December are much more peaceful, perfect for exploring the galleries


Because fewer people are visiting the city, you’ll also deal with smaller queues at major attractions around the city center.

During the summer and fall months, you'll need to grab tickets for top sights like the Accademia and Uffizi Gallery way in advance.

You can still book ahead in the winter, and it's sensible to do so around the holidays, but I've found you can typically get away with grabbing tickets at the door.


Winter weather in Florence

Although Florence in winter is chilly, it’s not as bitterly cold as in other parts of Europe.

You should expect average highs and lows of 12°C/3°C and 53°F/37°F in early December.

As you reach January, things get slightly colder with highs and lows of 11°C/2°C and 51°F/35°F.


Piazza della Signoria on a rainy winter dayEven on a rainy day in December Piazza della Signoria is still worth visiting!


By February, you’ll inch up to December’s temperatures before hitting more pleasant highs and lows of 16°C/5°C and 60°F/41°F.

Throughout December, you should expect relatively regular rain.

So, make sure you have a travel umbrella to hand!

Snow is possible when it gets very cold, but generally a winter visit to Florence does not result in snowy scenes.



Check out our top tips for making the most of your time in Florence:


What to pack and what to wear in Florence during the winter months

Visiting Florence in winter can be tricky to pack for, but it’s generally all about thermal layers, rain gear, and comfortable shoes.

You should plan for slightly warmer daytimes, cool weather in the evenings, and several rain showers.


Gorgeous winter sunset with ponte vecchioThe winter sunsets are gorgeous in Florence, but it will feel cold so wrap up warmly


So, bringing accessories like hats, warm scarves, and gloves can help you feel comfortable if temperatures fluctuate throughout the day.

You’ll also want easily-removable gear for when you hit the museums and other indoor attractions to avoid overheating.


5 things to bring with you no matter the season

  • A hat: You can lose a lot of body heat through your head. To conserve heat, try a simple beanie or fluffy hat (it’ll keep your ears cozy too!).
  • Comfortable shoes: You’ll be navigating potentially slippy surfaces and lots of steps when visiting Florence in winter. I recommend bringing sturdy, waterproof walking boots and wearing relatively thick socks underneath. This should keep your feet warm and comfortable.
  • A scarf: Not only is a scarf a major Italian fashion statement, but it’ll keep your neck protected from the winter wind. Wool or cashmere is ideal, but any large scarf will work.
  • Anti-theft bag: Pickpocketing is extremely common in large Italian cities, and they work quickly. A sturdy locked backpack or a secure crossbody should deter most thieves.
  • Travel insurance: You don’t want to go anywhere without travel insurance in case you’re faced with cancellations, a medical emergency, or lost luggage. You can grab basic insurance for your trip, but a comprehensive option with great repatriation terms and medical cover are good to have.

Packing for a winter trip to Florence Italy

Winter in Florence isn’t too difficult to pack for as the temperature and rainfall levels are pretty stable.

You’ll want a pair of warm waterproof shoes, a thick scarf, and thermal layers that are easy to peel off.

I also recommend going for neutral colors to make matching easier (and packing lighter a breeze!).

Early winter is usually slightly milder, and you can grab lighter layers and a trusty heavy coat to see you through.


Florence cathedral in winter with lineAs you can see from these people waiting to go inside the Duomo in January, heavy coats and scarves are the way to go


As you head into January and February, you’ll want to wear heavier sweaters, jackets, and socks to keep you warm.

Things typically start warming up as March hits, but it’s still very much coat weather!

Regardless of which month you choose to visit Florence in winter, you’ll always want to carry a travel umbrella.

The rain can be quite unpredictable, so don’t be caught out.

No matter what season you visit Florence, here are 4 things never to leave at home:

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Winter events in Florence

There are several events to put in your diary if you’re visiting Florence in winter. 

Just be warned that events around Christmas time and New Year will be particularly busy.


Christmas lights in FlorenceThe sparkling lights at Christmas time attract a lot of visitors

DECEMBER 8: IMMACOLATA

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is an Italian public holiday, marking the start of the festive season.

Italians usually commemorate this Catholic holiday by attending mass and laying floral wreaths at statues of Mary.

It shouldn't impact your trip much as major sites stay open.

EARLY DECEMBER TO JANUARY 6: NATIVITY AT THE DUOMO

christmas tree next to florence cathedral at nightThe nativity scene outside the Duomo is just behind the large Christmas tree


If you want to see a life size nativity scene, then you need to head to the Florence cathedral in Piazza del Duomo at Christmas.

This scene depicts the arrival of the Three Wise Men and is made entirely using terracotta figures which I adore.

Just FYI, you’ll spot 2 nativity scenes here; the terracotta set is outside next to the big Christmas tree and there’s another inside the cathedral.


CHRISTMAS

There are lots of events and things to do over the Christmas period, take a look at our dedicated page to find out all the details!


Christmas in florence lightshowThe light projections across the city stay up across the Christmas and New Year period

DECEMBER 31: NEW YEAR’S EVE

New Year’s Eve in Florence is always a major affair.

You’ll see plenty of fireworks in the historical center along with lots of other events to liven up those pre-midnight hours.

Check out our page for lots more information!

JANUARY 6: EPIPHANY AND BEFANA

The Epiphany is a Christian feast day that commemorates the visit of the Magi and the baptism of Jesus.

This is usually celebrated with a large parade from Palazzo Pitti that crosses to Ponte Vecchio and through to the Piazza del Duomo.

The costumes are marvellous and it’s entirely free to attend (it’ll just be VERY busy!).

Befana is the name of a friendly old witch who brings children presents on this day.

If you're in Italy this time of year, you'll see lots of stockings appear in the shops, which are done in January not December here. 


EARLY TO MID-FEBRUARY: CARNEVALE

The annual Florentine Carnival starts the week before Lent begins and through to Shrove Tuesday (the dates vary depending on when Easter falls).

There are plenty of events all over the city so look for local listings before you visit.


The best things to do when you visit Florence in winter

Piazza della Signoria and Loggia dei LanziPiazza della Signoria is a great year-round destination, but what else can you do and see in the winter?

I highly suggest hitting some of the following hot spots as well as exploring Florence's seasonal offerings, as they are must-visit attractions whatever time of year you visit:

But if you’re looking for seasonal things to do, here are a few ideas:

Firenze winter park

Grab your ice skates and head to the Florence Winter Park this festive season, one of my favorite winter things to do here!

This event runs almost every day from mid-November to mid-February just outside the historic center.

This annual event offers everything from tasty drinks to ice skating and Tuscan food.

Plus, the ice rink is right by the Arno River (which is perfect for a post-skate stroll on Christmas Eve!).

Christmas market in Piazza Santa Croce

basilica santa croce at nightSanta Croce at night in the winter


Piazza Santa Croce hosts the largest Christmas market in Florence each year and runs from mid-November to just before Christmas.

Underneath the candy-striped roofs, you’ll find handmade decorations, toys, mulled wine, gingerbread, bratwurst and everything in between.

It’s been running for the past 500 years, so it’s certainly worth a visit.


Green Line festival

Get into the Christmas spirit with Florence’s famous Green Line Festival (previously the Florence Light Festival).

It usually runs from early December to just after Epiphany, with the lights turning off just after midnight each day.


florence christmas light show on bridgeThe light shows are always spectacular! Photo Credit: Esther Baardemans


This takes Christmas lights to the next level and sees mapped lighting effects projected onto Florence’s famous buildings.

The Ponte Vecchio’s projections are especially stunning, but keep an eye out for the Museo Galileo and Piazza San Lorenzo too!

Hit the winter sales

Florence’s winter sales begin in early January each year.

You’ll get to grab locally made Italian garments for a fraction of their usual cost.


Via Tornabuoni - Florence shoppingVia Tornabuoni is the place to go to browse the winter sales at many high end stores


But designer boutiques will have massive markdowns too, so now’s your chance to hit Gucci and Versace for new threads.

Oh, and don’t forget to check out the area’s artisan leather goods which will be very fairly priced.

Via de’ Tornabuoni is the place to head for designer picks, while Via del Corso is best for artisan boutiques.

Grab Italian hot chocolate at Venchi

In my opinion there’s nothing better than battling Florence in winter with a smooth and creamy hot chocolate in hand.

Venchi is a fantastic place to check out for hot chocolate as it’s one of the area’s oldest chocolate manufacturers.

You can also pick up boutique boxes of chocolates to bring home (there are over 350 chocolate recipes on offer!).

If you’re out exploring, it’s easiest to stop by the Piazza Signoria branch.

It’ll be busy, but it’s worth the wait!


What foods are in season in winter?

Seasonal eating is a big thing for most Italians as they value ingredients at their freshest.

So, you’ll usually find veggies like radicchio, cabbage, kale, beans, and oranges making an appearance in winter.


ribollita in a restaurantThe Tuscan classic soup of ribollita is the perfect winter warmer!

Join Devour Tours for a sunset food adventure in Florence's Oltrarno district! Taste Tuscan delights from street bites to traditional dishes!


If you head into local restaurants, you’ll probably see carabaccia (Tuscan onion soup) and ribollita (soup with bread and veggies) on the menu.

For pasta fans, make sure you order a plateful of Tagliolini al tartufo nero. It’s pasta with black truffle shavings and it’s utterly delicious!

And although you’ve missed prime grape and olive harvesting seasons, you’ll still find plenty of great Tuscan wines around.


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