Seasonal Planning for Florence Travel
Florence enjoys the four seasons, which means that its landscape constantly changes. Summer brings energy and warmth, with everyone basking in the sunshine and looking for ways to cool off. Winter sees a more quiet side of the city, which looks breathtaking in the rare snowfall. These two seasons are the harshest in terms of weather, with summer bringing intense heat, and winter being quite cold for Italy, though very rarely dropping below freezing. Summer and winter are also the best time to enjoy countrywide sales, in which shops slash their prices significantly.
Fall is the time of harvest and wine. Most of the tourists have gone home by late fall, and the surrounding countryside is set ablaze with foliage. Join culinary tours for the best Tuscan seasonal fare. Many consider fall to be the best time to visit Florence, given its relative emptiness, pleasant weather, and food festivals. Spring is also a great time to visit, as the city blooms with color. Everyone seems in a better mood after the winter's end, and people start coming back out into the streets to enjoy the atmosphere of the season. Spring also hosts numerous important holidays like Easter, which is amazing to witness but also means larger (usually local) crowds.
Learn more about the best time of year to visit Italy.
|Season||Pros||Cons||Best For||Where to Visit|
|June through August (Summer)||Long days, longer opening hours, summer sales, various festivals and events||Peak season for crowds and prices, long lines, very hot weather||People-watching in outdoor cafés, eating gelato, doing coastal day trips||The Arno river to cool off, Cinque Terre on a day trip|
|September through November (Fall)||Mild weather, foliage, fewer crowds and deals on accommodation (late in the season), harvest festivals||November is the rainiest month of the year, weather varies greatly throughout the day||Biking trips through surrounding vineyards, wine-tasting, museums||Uffizi Gallery, Il Duomo, Galleria dell'Accademia, Chianti for wine tours|
|December through February (Winter)||Least crowded season, holiday decorations and festivities, winter sales||Cold weather, shorter opening hours, some businesses are closed during holidays||Indoor attractions like museums and churches, Christmas markets||Piazzale Michelangelo to see New Year's Fireworks, Palazzo Vecchio|
|March through May (Spring)||Mild weather, Spring festivals, full blooms||Frequent rain showers, multiple holidays that bring in crowds||Outdoor activities, walking around town, local markets||Ponte Vecchio, town squares like Piazza della Signoria, Pitti Palace for flowers|
Summer (June through August)
Tourists flock to Florence during the summer. This season is jam-packed with tour groups, backpackers, and solo travelers, all fighting for spaces in hotels, cafés, and museums. Places like the Ufizzi Gallery—where you can find Botticelli's Birth of Venus—and Galleria dell'Accademia—which houses Michelangelo's David—tend to have extremely long lines. To avoid wasting most of your day on this, we recommend buying tickets online well in advance and reserving your time of entry, or joining a guided tour.
Summer is also quite hot, with temperatures usually ranging from 75°F (24°C) to 90°F (32°C). The past few summers have seen record-breaking heat, which can be an inconvenience if you're planning to walk around town, which is one of the best ways to explore the compact historic center.
Of course, not everything is bad during summer. The days are much longer, so you get to make the most of the light, and the heat is always a perfect excuse to endlessly stuff yourself with excellent gelato. You can also take this as an opportunity to do unusual activities like kayaking on the Arno River.
If you love shopping, this is also the perfect time to arrive, as the biannual saldi, or sales, are happening. You'll be able to get great deals on everything from small local crafts to luxury brands like Salvatore Ferragamo. With prices often going at 50% off, you can give in to the dream of owning quality Italian leather shoes.
Summer Solstice: To celebrate the official beginning of summer on June 21st, Italians go big on the festivities. In Florence, part of the magic is watching Brunelleschi's Il Duomo in Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, and waiting for the moment where the sun hits it at the exact time and exact spot as it is hitting the Pantheon in Rome—and no, this is not a coincidence. At night, you can watch locals burn old herbs in the street. If you're brave enough, you can even attempt to jump through the purifying fire.
Feast of St. John: This celebration of John the Baptist takes place on June 24th, which means that it adds on to summer solstice festivities for a great extended party. A religious procession passes through the city's historic center and the night ends with beautiful fireworks.
Ferragosto: In accordance with Italy's strong Catholic culture, August 15th commemorates the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. The day is so important that it is a national holiday, so many businesses shutter their doors. However, that is made up for by the elaborate processions you will witness.
Fall (September through October)
As the weather cools down and the crowds go home, Florence takes on a much quieter and peaceful semblance. The beginning of fall ushers in mild weather that ranges from around 50°F (10°C) to 75°F (23°C). This makes it perfect for biking through the countryside that surrounds the city or taking day trips to small towns like Siena. You can see fall foliage, do a wine tour during harvest, and even enjoy some truffle hunting.
Later in the fall is often considered the best time of the year to actually hit all of Florence's highlights, as you won't be competing with as many people. Once you've done all the art galleries and churches, do a guided or self-guided culinary tour through all of the season's best offerings, like Tuscan olive oil and truffle paninis.
As temperatures vary greatly during the day, it is recommended that you bring layers that you can take on and off throughout the day. You should also be aware that November is the rainiest month in this region, so outdoor activities may be limited then.
Harvest Festival: Harvest is a serious affair in Florence, with an entire month of events dedicated to it. The last event is the September 24th grand farmers' market at Piazza della Signoria.
Festa della Rificolona: Italy is strongly devoted to the Virgin, and September 6th and 7th celebrate her birthday with a gorgeous paper lantern ritual that lights up the entire city.
Musica dei Popoli: Translating to "The People's Music," this event lasts for two months and showcases global music. Performances range from folkloric regional music to international modern beats.
Winter (November through February)
If you don't mind cold weather, winter provides the best escape from the crowds. Of course, this is not the case during the holidays, when people from around the region flock to the Tuscan capital to enjoy its Christmas festivities and markets. If you're a fan of these celebrations, you'll love strolling around this astonishing city when every street is decorated with lights.
The good news is that it never gets bitterly cold in Florence. Temperatures in the winter usually range from 40°F (5°C) to 50°F (10°C). It may get to freezing or slightly below, but this is rare.
The downside of the season is that days are shorter and businesses close earlier, so you will have to either rush through each day's itinerary or make it shorter. Winter is the perfect time for indoor activities, which is great news in a city with endless museums. Pro tip: don't feel bad about spending the entire day (or multiple days!) at a single museum. You can also enjoy other beauties like Palazzo Vecchio and the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, which houses several pieces by Italian artists.
Those looking to do some retail therapy will be delighted with the winter sales. As with the summer sales, you can get incredible deals even on luxury brands, but you'll be competing with fewer people to get them before they're gone.
If you're looking for a unique activity, think about taking a day trip to a thermal spa like the one in Bagno Vignoni, which has been around since Roman times.
Pitti Immagine: This January event is one of Florence's most important fashion shows of the year. Since 1954, the event has brought international designers from all over the world to the city, cementing its place as one of the fashion capitals of Europe.
Epiphany: If you've ever wanted to celebrate Halloween on Christmas, you'll love this event. Every January 6th, children dress up as an old witch named La Befana, who leaves them small gifts. The children then go around the neighborhood knocking on doors and asking for candy. Florence also boasts a magical Procession of the Magi, which you can enjoy from any of the city's major squares (though we'd recommend Piazza della Signoria, Piazza del Duomo, or Palazzo Pitti).
Carnevale: This worldwide event changes every year, but frequently happens in February. It begins right before Lent and features a number of parades, family events, and parties.
Spring (March through May)
Once the chill begins to leave the air and Florence fills with the fragrance of flowers blooming, the city seems to come alive. Spring's pleasant temperatures between 55°F (12°C) to 80°F (26°C) bring people back out into the streets.
This is a great time to shop in the iconic Ponte Vecchio as you cross it to reach the Oltrarno District. Often neglected by tourists, this district provides a less manicured look into daily life in Florence. You can walk through Palazzo Pitti or up to Piazzale Michelangelo to take in the blooming flowers. If you're visiting in May, you might also be able to see the city's wonderful Iris Garden, which is open to the public for 19 days during this month.
Easter celebrations bring in many domestic tourists, so parts of this season are overcrowded. However, braving the crowds may be well worth it given the beauty of the festivities.
Spring is also an exceptional time to go on day trips around Tuscany. Check this 14-day itinerary for ideas on what to do around the region.
Easter Weekend: One of the most important holidays in Italy, Easter is quite special in Florence. Besides the typical processions, food stalls, and music, you'll also find interesting rituals like the "Explosion of the Cart," in which a cart full of fireworks is set off as a sign of luck.
Liberation Day: If you happen to be in Florence on April 25th, you'll get to witness this joyful day, which celebrates Italy's independence at the end of World War II. This is perhaps Italy's most patriotic day, so get ready for streets full of national flags and proud Italians happily flooding the streets.
Maggio Musicale Fiorentino: This festival is held at the Teatro dell'Opera di Firenze, Florence's grand opera hall. It is the country's oldest music festival and consists of two entire months of concerts, ballets, and operas.