So you want to avoid the queues to Uffizi and Accademia in Florence? Are you absolutely sure it is enough to book your tickets well in advance to "skip the line" and be the first to see the breathtaking Venus by Botticelli? All tour operators promote "skip-the line" special offers. But let me tell you the bitter truth:
In high season (beginning of May to end of October) you will most probably still need to wait in the reservation area for quite a while with your pre-booked tickets in your hands. Sometimes you will skip the line, but there is no guarantee for that whatsoever. This is something nobody tells you. Ever.
I guide private and small group tours to Uffizi and Accademia museums all the time and I constantlynhear this question: we booked in advance... why do we have to wait?
They are right! And here I come with my honest explanation:
The reason you still have to queue depends on the fact that the stunning historical buildings that host Uffizi and Accademia museums were not designed to manage a huge number of people. The Uffizi complex was built by Giorgio Vasari back in 1560s and little did he know that six centuries later millions will fight for the chance to see the world renowned masterpieces... Even the word "museum" was not in use in the XVIth century.
Thus... the buildings were meant for hundreds... not thousands of human beings per day.
The reason number two is that these museums are constantly overbooked and it is difficult to find a solution for this. I'd be very happy if they decided to limit the number of people per day but.... how many travellers who cross the ocean to see Michelangelo's David would end up not seeing him?
Bad solution for the masses. So here is the equation
little space + a far from perfect museum entrance management = CROWDS standing under the burning sun or pouring rain... waiting, waiting, waiting.
But let me tell you something: it IS possible to avoid the queues to Uffizi and Accademia in Florence and it might be fairly simple.
Here are my FIVE pills of wisdom you can put in your pocket when you start planning your Florentine adventure:
Once you know what are the days of your stay in Florence start thinking whether you want to visit the two major museums.
If the answer is yes, do it WELL IN ADVANCE either through your agency, your tour guide (which could easily be me 🙂 ) or through the Official Uffizi Webpage - here is the link.
Bear in mind that some moments of the day are naturally more crowded! So if you can avoid any time between 9:00 and 16:00. Both Uffizi and Accademia open at 8:15 and there are not so many people willing to wake up so early to gaze at the paintings or sculptures. But believe me it is soooooo worth it!
For the Uffizi choose your entrance time between 8:15 and 8:30 in the morning or any time after 16:00. There is a greater chance you will have the freedom to really enjoy the visit.
For the Accademia, if possible, stick to the early morning option only. In high season there are endless queues even at 6 pm. No salvation!
So if you have to do both museums in one day try to schedule the Accademia for the early morning and the Uffizi for late afternoon. Otherwise visit them on different days.
This might seem obvious but I think it is very important: if you have booked your Uffizi tickets for, let's say 8:30 am, do not drink your coffee in a bar around the corner until 8:28 to then run to the museum entrance.
Get there at least 15 minutes ahead. Go to the Door Number 3 to pick up your pre-booked tickets and then calmly proceed to the Door Number 1 where they will let you in at your pre-reserved time.
In other words if you want to be inside of the museum at your reserved time, go there 20 minutes earlier and should be just fine.
Now... why is this, you might want to ask. Yes, at the Uffizi gallery they do not allow big backpacks, selfie sticks and long umbrellas. If you carry any of these with you they'll send you to the wardrobe and you'll lose time waiting to hand this stuff over to the personnel. You do not want to bother with it! You are there to enjoy art!
What on earth is wrong with Tuesdays? Nothing really... apart from the fact that in terms of the crowds Tuesdays are the craziest days for both Uffizi and Accademia. The reason is that the museums are closed on Mondays so.... everybody lines up once they reopen. The worst part of any Tuesday is between 13:30 and 16:00 when big tour operators take their huge groups on a one and a half hour tour. Terrible.
Just enjoy your lunch in some nice local restaurant and go there later.
There is a special Sunday every month you should be aware of: the FIRST SUNDAY of each month all the State museums all over Italy grant free entrance to everyone.
Wonderful, isn't it?
It is and it is not. The queues for these Sunday special promotions are mind blowing and there is no way to reserve a ticket and thus... no way to avoid the queues to Uffizi and Accademia in Florence. You have to wait. Fullstop.
If the first Sunday of the month happens to be the only day for you to see the Accademia or the Uffizi, the only way about it is to get the Firenze Card. It's a special card that costs 72 euro per person, is valid for 72 hours and gives you priority entrance to 72 different museums. Here is the link for your information. It might be a good choice but you have to calculate carefully whether it is convenient for you depending on the duration of your stay and the number of museums you want to go to. Let's be clear on this: you cannot possibly visit 72 museums in three days. You'd get mad 🙂
Now you might be looking at your calendar and realising that chances are you'll find yourself right there in the busiest hours. Do you need to panic?
Nothing terrible is happening. You are not going into a battle to fight some terrible giant. You're trying to avoid the queues to Uffizi and Accademia in Florence but you are also on vacation. And you are in one of the most beautiful places on Earth!
Just be ready to have to wait for a while even if you have your reservation. And... let me tell you a secret psssst...
Even in the busiest and crowded hours a professional tour guide will be your helping hand. The guides know the personnel of the museums, the personnel knows them and I personally will work very hard to get you into the museum ASAP and give you the best experience full of inspiration, beauty and love for art.
When waiting happens I have tons of stories to tell, so you enter the museum with a great background knowledge about what is awaiting for you inside. We navigate the place together, you can ask all of your questions, stop in front of every little piece of art that interests you and I'll be right there to reveal all the secrets behind the paintings.
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Licensed tour guide, sommelier and blogger. She helps adventurous travellers, art enthusiasts and wine lovers find their way in Tuscany.