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10 Things to Do in Florence at Christmas

Florence is a magical city at any time of the year, but the lighting, atmosphere and Christmas decorations make it a dream place. Do you dare to visit it during this special time of year?

María Cano

María Cano

8 min read

10 Things to Do in Florence at Christmas

Christmas tree in Florence | ©The Florentine English

If there is one thing that makes Florence stand out, it is for being one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and if you take advantage of such a special time for your trip as the Christmas season, it will seem even more special. The illumination of the palaces, museums and churches, the decoration of the streets and shop windows, as well as the atmosphere, captivates all those who visit at this key time of the year. Take note of all the plans you should not miss on your trip to Florence at Christmas.

1. Lose yourself in the Christmas market in Piazza Santa Croce

Piazza Santa Croce Christmas Market| ©Dade2287
Piazza Santa Croce Christmas Market| ©Dade2287

Florence's most popular and important Christmas market is held in Piazza Santa Croce and welcomes thousands of visitors every year from the end of November to the end of December. This market recreates a Christmas village and the stalls are wooden houses decorated with Christmas motifs.

There are around fifty exhibitors with food, crafts, toys, clothes, etc., from Italy and Europe in general. Ideal for looking for gifts for Christmas and to enjoy a Christmas sweet, a mulled wine or even a bretzel or strudel in the middle of a day of sightseeing.

The opening hours of this market are from 10 am to approximately 8-9 pm. In addition to the Santa Croce market, the city of Florence organises Christmas markets in other squares and streets, so take a stroll through every corner of the city and let yourself be surprised!

Book a guided tour of Florence

2. Visit the Nativity Scene in Piazza del Duomo

Nativity Scenes in Florence| ©Pilar Arcos
Nativity Scenes in Florence| ©Pilar Arcos

Very close to the most popular Christmas tree in Florence, in Piazza del Duomo, stands the city's popular Nativity Scene. A nativity scene worth seeing whether you like nativity scenes or not. It is characterised by life-size terracotta figures. If you are travelling between December and the beginning of January, don't hesitate to visit it. It is on until 6 January, Epiphany Day.

And after visiting the crib, don't hesitate to enter the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and see Brunelleschi's Dome.

Book a tour of the Duomo with access to the Dome

3. Escape the cold in one of the city's museums

Galleria dell'Accademia entrance| ©Mongolo1984
Galleria dell'Accademia entrance| ©Mongolo1984

And, of course, to escape the cold, don't hesitate to visit one of the main museums in the city of Florence.

  • Uffizi Gallery: an essential visit on your trip to Florence. This gallery houses some of the most important works of classical art. The Birth of Venus' by Botticelli or 'The Annunciation' by Da Vinci are just some of the most characteristic examples of the more than 1,500 works by renowned artists such as Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Raphael, Titian, Giotto, Fra Angelico and Masaccio. Read the post Uffizi Gallery tickets or the best paintings of the Uffizi Gallery if you want to have more details about your visit.
  • Galleria dell'Accademia: another unmissable visit. In this museum you will find the original sculpture of Michelangelo's 'David', 5.2 metres high. You will also have the opportunity to see works by other Renaissance artists, such as Fra Filippo Lippi, Botticelli or Andrea Orcagna. Read more information on tickets for the Galleria dell'Accademia or the best works of the Galleria dell'Accademia and prepare your visit in detail.

If you want to know more about other museums, check out the post The best museums in Florence.

Buy tickets for the Uffizi Gallery

4. Admire the Christmas trees

Christmas tree in Piazza del Duomo square.| ©Filippo Bianchi
Christmas tree in Piazza del Duomo square.| ©Filippo Bianchi

Strolling through Florence at Christmas time is the best thing you can do. The lights, the decorations, the atmosphere and, of course, the Christmas trees that decorate the city will make you fall in love. The most popular tree is the one installed in the Piazza del Duomo, whose lighting ceremony is celebrated in style with the attendance of authorities and a day with various activities such as concerts and shows for both adults and children.

You can also see the Christmas trees in Piazza della Signoria, Piazzale Michelangelo, Piazza della Repubblica, Piazza della Santissima Annunziata, Piazza Pitti and Piazza Santa Maria Novella.

Traveller's tip

Florence is a city of dreams, but if you have the opportunity to visit it at Christmas, with its characteristic Christmas lights and decorations, you will be even more captivated by its beauty.

5. Enjoy a winter day in Firenze Winter Park

Firenze Winter Park| ©Sicrea
Firenze Winter Park| ©Sicrea

Firenze Winter Park is open, barring exceptional years, from late November to late February in Lungarno Aldo Moro in the Obihall garden, and is a sort of winter theme park with facilities for ice skating, downhill skiing and other similar activities. The little ones can also visit Father Christmas' house and have some sweets or snacks at one of the food stalls on the site.

6. Skate on ice on the longest rink in Europe

Europe's longest ice skating rink| ©Richard Chester
Europe's longest ice skating rink| ©Richard Chester

With the arrival of Christmas, many of us get the urge to go ice skating and have a few laughs with friends and family. And what better setting than Florence, a unique picture for our photo album. The city is also home to Europe's longest ice rink, which is over 300 metres long.

But this is not the only option, as you can also enjoy the ice rink in Piazza Libertà, located north of the historic centre, as well as the ice rinks in Firenze Winter Park, which has a rink for adults and another for children.

7. Come to Fierucola dell'Immacolata

Touring the Fierucola dell'Immacolata| ©Gogo
Touring the Fierucola dell'Immacolata| ©Gogo

Considered one of the oldest Christmas events in the city, the Fierucola dell'Immacolata is held in Piazza Santissima Annunziata for a couple of days in December, and is a flea market where you can find handicraft items as well as local products such as olive oil, wine, honey, jam, sweets... In addition, as part of this celebration there are workshops for both adults and children and book presentations related to various topics such as organic farming, healthy eating...

In addition, you can take the opportunity to visit the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum, an interactive museum dedicated to the artist, inventor, scientist and painter where you can see some reproductions of the machines he invented based on his sketches. In the post tickets to the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum in Florence you can learn more about this museum which is located next to Piazza Santissima Annunziata, just a three-minute walk away.

8. Take the best snapshots from the Pizzale Michelangelo

Viewpoint of the Pizzale Michelangelo| ©Peter Oshkai
Viewpoint of the Pizzale Michelangelo| ©Peter Oshkai

On your Christmas visit to Florence, don't hesitate to go up to the Piazzale Michelangelo, one of the best viewpoints in the city. This is an essential plan throughout the year, but if your trip coincides with Christmas you will have the opportunity to see a different, more amazing image, both for the lighting and for the Christmas decorations.

To do this, choose a time from sunset onwards, when the city gradually begins to light up, and let yourself be dazzled by the emblematic museums and monuments such as the Ponte Vecchio or the Duomo, as well as its main streets and squares.

And after enjoying this viewpoint, consult the practical guide to enjoy Florence by night and discover the next plan for your day.

9. Taste typical Christmas products and dishes

The pannettone| ©Vicky van Santen
The pannettone| ©Vicky van Santen

If you go to Florence you can't miss the Christmas sweets. Pannettone with sultanas or chocolate or pan d'oro are some of the typical products of this time of the year. But on your trip to the Florentine city you can also try panforte, a sweet made with honey, spices and almonds; riciarelli biscuits, made with egg white, almond flour and sugar, or callucci biscuits, with candied fruit and nuts.

And if you want to delve deeper into the gastronomy of Florence, don't hesitate to take a gastronomic tour. Read the post the best gastronomic tours and choose the one that best suits your tastes and interests.

10. Take a Christmas tour of Florence

Christmas Lights in Florence| ©Sajiv Gurung
Christmas Lights in Florence| ©Sajiv Gurung

Another proposal that you can only enjoy at this time of the year is a Christmas tour that will take you to the monuments, squares and streets that stand out for their Christmas lights and decorations such as Ponte Vecchio, Piazza del Duomo, Piazza della Signoria, Piazza Santa Croce, Piazza San Lorenzo,... This tour, which is organized throughout the month of December and the first days of January, will fascinate you. Let yourself be carried away by the Christmas spirit!

Temperatures in Florence at Christmas

Snow in Florence| ©Sara
Snow in Florence| ©Sara

The weather in Florence at Christmas is characterised by low temperatures and humidity, with temperatures between 2°C and 10°C. Some days it can even drop even lower. On some days it can even drop even lower and if you are lucky you may have the chance to see snow.

With such low temperatures I recommend that you take advantage of outdoor activities in the central hours of the day. Also, start the day as early as possible, as it is already dark by 17:00. Even so, during Christmas days, there is a lot of life in the streets and the opening hours of shops and restaurants are longer than in other winter weeks despite the cold.

Florence's Christmas tourist crowds

Florence smells like Christmas| ©Mark Soetebier
Florence smells like Christmas| ©Mark Soetebier

Despite being the most magical time of the year, the number of tourists at Christmas is not as high as in other months of the year. It is true that there are more tourists than on other winter days, but it is still lower than in other seasons when the weather is more pleasant.

Prices in Florence at Christmas

Euro banknotes| ©Pixabay
Euro banknotes| ©Pixabay

Prices in Florence at Christmas time are more expensive than in the winter season in general, as the city is very touristic and it is always usual that coinciding with the holidays there is more tourism. However, this is not excessive and prices for flights and hotels are still cheaper than in summer and spring, when there are more tourists.

What to pack for your Christmas visit to Florence

Luggage| ©Vlada Karpovich
Luggage| ©Vlada Karpovich

If you're travelling to Florence at Christmas, wrap up warm. Don't hesitate to pack several thick jumpers and the warmest coat, jacket or down jacket you have. If it's waterproof, all the better, as the city is not only very cold but also very humid. On the other hand, don't forget your hat, gloves, scarf and thick jumpers. And, of course, wear comfortable, non-slip and waterproof shoes.

Holidays in Florence at Christmas

Christmas in Piazza della Repubblica| ©Kari
Christmas in Piazza della Repubblica| ©Kari

If you are going to Florence at Christmas, be aware that, as in Spain, there are a number of public holidays when the timetable of public transport, as well as the main attractions and museums, may be altered or even closed. These days are 25 December, Christmas Day; 26 December, Santo Stefano; 1 January, New Year's Day; and 6 January, Epiphany.