Best Museums in Florence, Italy

Buongiorno and welcome to the travel blog of Stefano’s RomeCabs, Italy’s premier company for Tuscany tours from Rome and Shore Excursions to Tuscany.    For more than 18 years we’ve taken thousands of our guests to Florence on day tours from Rome and Transfers from Rome to Florence.  While in Florence, you may wish to squeeze in as many must-see places and museums in Florence as possible.  With so much to see and do in Tuscany’s capital, we narrowed it down to the best Museums in Florence worth visiting on a day tour from Rome or cruise ship.   Whether touring Florence from Rome or from the cruise port, you have the option of visiting 1 museum in order to allow sufficient time for visiting all the other amazing locations in Florence.

For travelers spending a few days in Florence,  it’s possible to visit a number of top Florence museums and revel in the Renaissance masterpieces Florence is so famous for. If you plan on staying in Florence during your visit to Italy, you may use this helpful list as a guideline for the most important and influential museums to visit in Florence.

Many of our past clients have asked us: What are the best museums in Florence, Italy?

In this travel blog, we bring to you the 7 best museums in Florence for travelers either visiting Florence for the day or staying for a few days who wish to visit the best museums in Florence.


Best Museums in Florence, Italy

While there are about 72 museums in Florence to visit, unless you are on an extended sojourn in Florence and have a dedication to visit all the museums in the city, chances are you will just want to visit the top few.  With so many museum options, how can you choose the best museums in Florence that offer you the masterpieces that you absolutely must see? Read on…


Uffizi Gallery

Uffizi gallery ranks as one of Europe’s largest art museums and it’s in the top 3 most visited sites in Italy.  For art lovers, this premiere gallery is conveniently arranged chronologically from the early Byzantine to the Renaissance offering visitors an overview of the amazing evolution of art from the 13th to 18th centuries.

The Uffizi Gallery houses the spectacular art collection of the Medici, the wealthy family and patrons of the art that ruled Florence for three centuries.  This museum is huge and can take hours to properly visit it!

Uffizi Gallery Best Museums in Florence Italy

Is Uffizi Gallery worth visiting on Florence excursions?

Definitely! Even if you are in Florence on a shore excursion from Livorno or on a day trip from Rome, visiting the Uffizi Gallery is well worth it. Allow up to 1.5 hours to enjoy the highlights of this impressive museum.


What you should not miss at the Uffizi Gallery
  • The Ognissanti Madonna - by Giotto di Bondone (1310)
  • Portraits of the Duke and Duchess of Urbino - by Pietro della Francesca (1467–1472)
  • Coronation of the Virgin - by Fra Angelico (1432-1434)
  • Annunciation - by Leonardo da Vinci and Andrea del Verrocchio (1475)
  • La Primavera - by Sandro Botticelli (1480)
  • Birth of Venus - by Sandro Botticelli (1482-1485)
  • Doni Tondo (The Holy Family with young St John the Baptist) - by Michelangelo (1506)
  • Madonna del Cardellino - by Raphael (1506)
  • Madonna with Long Neck - by Parmigianino  (1535-1540)
  • Venus of Urbino - by Titian (1538)
  • Medusa - by Caravaggio (1596)


Traveling from Rome to Florence? We also offer Private Transfers from Rome to Florence

Accademia Gallery

The Accademia Gallery  (Galleria dell’Accademia)  is the most popular museum in Florence for cruisers on shore excursions from Livorno and La Spezia, and for day tours to Florence from Rome. This museum is just the right size and visiting it doesn’t take too much time away from exploring the rest of Florence. Most visitors only need about 40 minutes to visit the Accademia.

The Accademia was created in 1784 by Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo for students attending the nearby Academy of Fine Arts (Accademia di Belle Arti).  Today, the Accademia Gallery hosts a treasure trove of masterpiece paintings from the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

But, the most important reason why 2 million people visit this museum each year is to admire the world’s most famous statue: Michelangelo’s David.  This exquisite marble statue stands 5 meters tall and weighs over 5 tons.  For 400 years this statue graced the entrance of Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza della Signoria.  After centuries of exposure to elements and vandalism, in 1873 David was moved to the Accademia Gallery for conservation and placed inside a circular hall designed specifically for him. 

The museum houses more statues by Michelangelo:  the four unfinished Prisoners (intended for the tomb of Pope Julius II), the  Pietà di Palestrina (discovered in the Barberini chapel in Palestrina), and the unfinished statue of Saint Matthew.

In addition to Michelangelo’s sculptures, the Accademia Gallery also displays Florentine masterpieces by Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and Giambologna among others. You will also discover the Museum of Musical Instruments which displays a Stradivari violin and the most ancient upright piano currently preserved.


Accademia Gallery Beest Museums in Florence Italy


Is the Accademia Gallery worth visiting on Florence excursions?

The Accademia is the most popular choice for cruisers on shore excursions to Florence or for travelers on day tours to Florence from Rome. Admiring the REAL David in person is something that millions of visitors dream of when visiting Florence. With only about 40 minutes needed to visit this wonderful museum, day-trippers and cruisers still have plenty of time to explore the rest of Florence!


What you should not miss at Accademia Gallery

  • Hall of Colossus
  • Hall of Prisoners - by Michelangelo 
  • David - by Michelangelo
  • Rape of the Sabine Women - by Giambologna
  • Tree of Life - by Pacino di Buonaguida (14th century)
  • Coronation of the Virgin - by Jacopo di Cione (1372)

READ MORE: Top 10 monuments to see in a Tuscany shore excursion from Livorno or La Spezia



Bargello Palace National Museum


The National Museum (Museo Nazionale), was established in 1859 as the first national museum of unified Italy and selected its setting inside the impressive fortress with powerful embattlements built in the late 1200s giving it the appearance of a medieval castle. Initially, Palazzo del Bargello served as the headquarters of the Capitano del Popolo (Captain of the People), and later of the Podestà and Council of Justice

By the 16th century, the palazzo became the residence of the Bargello (the chief of police) and was used as a prison throughout the 18th century.  The walls of Palazzo Bargello witnessed important episodes of Florence's civic history.

Today the Bargello is the national museum of sculptures, enriched with masterpieces by renowned sculptors such as Michelangelo, Donatello, Ghiberti, Giambologna, and Verrocchio, as well as noteworthy pieces from the Medici collections that include bronzes, tapestries, ivories, metal objects, and more.


Palazzo Bargello Best Museums in Florence Italy


Is it worth visiting Bargello Palace National Museum in Florence?

If you are staying in Florence for a few days and you love Renaissance sculpture, you would love the Bargello Museum! Allow about 2 hours to visit this museum.

What you should not miss at Bargello Palace National Museum

  • Bacchus - by Michelangelo (1496-7)
  • Bust of Brutus - by Michelangelo (1539 -1540)
  • Pitti Tondo - by Michelangelo (1504-1505)
  • David in bronze - by Donatello (1440’s)
  • David in marble - by Donatello (1408-09)
  • St George and the Dragon - by Donatello (1416)
  • Marzocco - by Donatello (1416)
  • Bust of Costanza - by Bernini (1636-37)
  • Self Portrait - by Bernini (1638)
  • The Competition Panels of the Baptistery of Florence 
  • Flying Mercury - by Giambologna (1580)
  • David - by Andrea del Verrocchio (1469-70)

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Museo dell’Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore

Inaugurated in late 2015 and located near the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo is dedicated to the art and history of Florence’s magnificent Cathedral (Duomo) rising among the ranks of Florence’s important museums. The museum is about 6,000 squares meters large comprised of 28 rooms across 3 floors.  Here you will discover original masterpieces from Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, Donatello, and Ghiberti. Not to be missed is Michelangelo’s "The Deposition”, a pieta he intended for his own tomb.

While visiting Museo dell’Opera del Duomo you will also learn how Brunelesschi constructed the dome of the Cathedral, admire the wooden model he created in the 1400s, and see the original tools and scaffolding he used.

The museum also dedicated a room to original Medieval and Renaissance sculptures of the facade of the Duomo. All in all, about 750 works of art are displayed from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance.  You could easily devote 2 hours admiring the masterpieces inside this museum.

Is the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo worth visiting?

This unique museum should be considered by anyone staying in Florence for a few days, who is fond of sculptures, who would like to learn more about how the Cathedral of Florence was built, and who would like to enjoy visiting a spacious museum that doesn’t feel crowded.


What you should not miss at The Opera del Duomo Museum

  • Pieta - by Michalengelo (circa 1550)
  • Gates of Paradise - by Giberti (1424, 1452)
  • Il Battesimo di Cristo - Andrea Sansovino, Innocenzo Spinazzi - 1502-1505, 
  • Model of the facade of the Duomo
  • Retro della “Porta nord” - Lorenzo Ghiberti - 1402, 1424

 READ MORE: Experience the Magic of Valley of Paradise Tuscany Tour


Museum of Palazzo Vecchio

The imposing and instantly recognized Palazzo Vecchio was built in 1299 to house the government organization of the Republic of Florence.  By the the16th century, Cosimo I de Medici commissioned the restructuring of the palazzo and transformed it into his residence, acquiring its present appearance as a Ducal Palace.

Eventually, Cosimo I de Medici moved his residence to Palazzo Pitti, once again returning his former ducal palace into government offices and renaming it Palazzo Vecchio (The Old Palace).  Palazzo Pitti was then connected to the administration offices (currently Uffizi Gallery) and to Palazzo Vecchio by the famous corridor above Ponte Vecchio which we know as Vasari Corridor.  This elevated corridor allowed the Medici to commute between Palazzo Pitti and Palazzo Vecchio in comfort and privacy.

Centuries later Palazzo Vecchio is still used for the administration of the city as the town hall of Florence. For visitors, Palazzo Vecchio is much more than that: it’s also a wonderful museum adorned with frescoes and rich in paintings and sculptures from the most esteemed artists of the Renaissance era including Michelangelo, Raphael, Donatello, and Ghirlandaio

Here, you will discover the Hall of the Five Hundred (Salone dei Cinquecento) where special audiences and events are held just as it has been for centuries, and the Map Room (Stanza delle Mappe). It’s possible to also climb the 94-meter tall tower of Palazzo Vecchio to enjoy a stunning view of Florence from the top!


Palazzo Vecchio Best Museums in Florence


Is Palazzo Vecchio worth visitsing?

If you are short on time with so much more to see of Florence in one day from your cruise ship or from Rome, perhaps you might want to consider saving this visit for when you can dedicate a longer visit to Florence.  For visitors staying in Rome for a few days, Palazzo Vecchio is definitely worth visiting as it offers a wonderful glimpse into the opulent Renaissance-era residency of one of Florence’s most influential and powerful families with exquisite tastes for fine art and architecture.

What you should not miss inside the Museum of Palazzo Vecchio
  • Cortille di Michelozzo
  • Salone dei Cinquecento
  • Sala dei Gigli and Medici Apartments
  • Sala delle Carte Geographiche (Geographical Map Room)
  • Apartments of Elenora of Toledo
  • Hall of Priors

READ MORE: 10 Best Trips & Tours of Tuscany from Rome


Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens

More famous for its gardens than the palace, Palazzo Pitti is a splendid 15th-century palazzo that was once the private residence of the powerful Medici family.  Originally designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and built by his pupil Luca Francelli in 1457 for the Pitti family,  the palace initially consisted of only the central cube of the current structure. 

After it was purchased in 1550 by Eleonora da Toledo (the wife of the Grand Duke Cosimo I de’Medici) for the purpose of being their private residence, the palace was expanded and modified over the decades. Different members of the Medici family were housed in different private apartments situated on different wings of the palace.

Today, the Pitti Palace is a magnificent complex of 5 museums and boasts the superb Boboli gardens behind it.  The Boboli Gardens itself can be considered an outdoor museum combining nature with art and architecture to feature fountains, statues, small lakes, and an amphitheater. 


Pitti Palace Boboli Gardens Best Museums in Italy


Is Pitti Palace worth visiting?

Most visitors come here for the gardens alone because they really can’t be missed.  The museums themselves are also quite appealing to visitors interested in the subjects on display.

What you should not miss at Pitti Palace:

  • The Treasury of the Grand Dukes (previously the Silver Museum) houses priceless Medici Treasures.
  • The Palatine Gallery displays a collection of 16- 17th centuries paintings
  • The Royal Apartments
  • The Boboli Gardens

READ MORE5 Ways to Stay Cool Touring in Rome this Summer


Basilica of Santa Croce


Everyone who visits Italy knows that many of the greatest treasures are found inside its churches, and the Basilica of Santa Croce is no exception.  Santa Croce is the world’s largest Franciscan church and an exquisite example of early 13th-century Italian Gothic style characterized by height, light, and ornamentation (not necessarily compared to the Gothic style of architecture from northern Europe).

By mid-1850s, Santa Croce was clothed with its beautiful neo-Gothic polychrome panels of green, pink, and red marble over a white facade. An imposing statue of the legendary Dante Alighieri (the famous Italian poet) stands to the left of the basilica overlooking the square.

Art lovers will be impressed by its extraordinary 16 chapels, many of which were frescoed by Giotto and his students Taddeo and Agnolo Gaddi, Giorgio Vasari’sLast Supper”, and three of Donatello’s sculptures.  What makes Santa Croce unique and earned its nickname the “Temple of Italian Glories” is its vast celebratory tombs that include Renaissance masters and luminaries such as Michelangelo, Galileo, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Nicola Machiavelli, and the famed composer Gioachino Rossini.

Inside the church's Refectory, you will also discover Museo dell’Opera di Santa Croce (the museum of Basilica of Santa Croce) which boasts many artworks including frescoes, sculptures, and paintings.


Basilica Santa Croce Best Museums in Florence Italy


Is Santa Croce worth visiting on an excursion to Florence?

Due to its small size and enormous importance, Santa Croce is definitely worth visiting if you’re in Florence for just one day or on a longer stay. In fact, we include a visit to this important basilica on our shore excursions to Florence as well as on our day tours to Florence from Rome. 

What you should not miss at Basilica of Santa Croce:

  • The Belltower
  • The 16 Chapels
  • Pazzi Chapel
  • Tombs and Cenotaph:  Michelangelo,  Machiavelli, Galileo, Dante (a cenotaph), 
  • Museo dell’Opera di Santa Croce
  • Cloister

READ MORE: Top 5 Tuscany Tours from Rome


Thank you for reading our travel blog.   Visiting Florence by cruise ship? We offer Shore Excursions to Florence from Livorno and Florence Shore Excursions from La Spezia.  If you’d like to also see Pisa, check our Pisa and Florence Shore Excursions from Livorno, as well as Pisa and Florence from La Spezia.

Staying in Rome and looking for tours to Tuscany from Rome?  You can visit Florence from Rome, as well as other top destinations in Tuscany.

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