Are you planning to visit Florence during Christmas? It’s a beautiful time of the year! Florence is stunning all year round, but Christmas decorations and cheer add an extra festive touch.
Nevertheless, you should remember that many shops and restaurants will close for Christmas. These are our top tips to make Christmas in Florence unforgettable!
Florence sightseeing during Christmas
Good news! Florence’s most renowned museums are less crowded during holidays so that you can see the sculptures and paintings more closely. The majority of museums, including those at the Uffizi or Accademia are open to tourists on December 24 and 26. Keep in mind that most sights will be closed on Mondays (including Dec. 23 and 30, as usual). This list contains useful information about what to do in Florence on Mondays.
Most museums will be closed on Christmas Day. Palazzo Strozzi has modern and contemporary art exhibits that will satisfy your Christmas cravings. Florence is also an open-air museum. Take a stroll along the Ponte Vecchio on Christmas Day to see the extraordinary architecture of Florence. Or, take in the panoramic view from Piazzale Michelangelo in the Oltrarno area. Here are more reasons you should explore Florence’s Oltrarno.
Another option is to take a day trip. Another option is to take a day trip. Even though trains may not run as often as usual (always verify the schedule on the Trenitalia website), it is a great way to spend Christmas Day in a small town.
Take note that almost all restaurants and shops in small towns will be closed. So make sure to return to Florence before it’s too late!
Evening Mass at Florence’s Duomo
The Duomo is the perfect place to experience a Florentine Christmas. They offer a midnight Mass in Italian at the Duomo on Christmas Eve. To ensure your spot in the mass, please arrive before 10:30 pm.
Instead, you can experience the Christmas Mass in English. St. Head to St. James (both hold midnight Masses at 11 pm, complete with joyful music).
On Christmas Day, the Duomo can be opened for Mass with Gregorian chants.
Remember that Florence’s churches close on Christmas Day – except during Mass hours. Etiquette-wise, it is better to visit the church to see its architecture and art, rather than participate in a ceremony, as this will be looked down upon during the holy day. The Duomo closes the door to the dome’s top on Christmas Day and December 26, respectively.
Christmas holiday eating out
It is not surprising that many family-owned Florence restaurants and stores close on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and St. Stephen’s Day (December 26, 2012) in order to allow the owners time with their loved ones.
Don’t worry, there are still options available for holidays! For Christmas Day, reservations are required, as the main meal will be a large one with a fixed price menu. Our top picks for Christmas lunch are Mangiafuoco and La Gisotra.
Explore Florence’s Christmas Markets
For your Christmas shopping, skip the malls and go straight to stands selling artisanal crafts! Florence has two Christmas markets. The Florence Noel, which charges a 7-euro entrance fee, is located at the Leopolda Center. The Weihnachtsmarkt is a traditional German market in Piazza Santa Croce. Click here to learn more about Italy’s best Christmas market.
These markets are open from mid-November through Christmas Eve and feature unique gifts, as well as local holiday, treats such as panettone or vin brule. (Check out our post about Italy’s Christmas cakes, including Panettone!
Christmas Day: How to get around
Although trains and local public transport are available from Florence on Christmas Day, they may be limited in their operation. We recommend buying tickets for bus tickets the day before you plan to travel, as most coffee shops and newsstands that sell them will be closed.
You need to plan your transportation in advance. You should check the ATAF bus schedules and Trenitalia train schedules for Florence.
Ring in the New Year… like the Florentines!
You can celebrate Capodanno (New Year) in Florence with friends or family in a restaurant or outside in a piazza. It is known for its spectacular firework displays and concerts in piazzas.
There are many options for dinner. Many restaurants open on New Years Eve and offer Florentine dishes. Some even have live entertainment. Make sure to book ahead. Yes, many of our top Christmas restaurants also offer New Year’s Eve dinner.
(By the by If you want to truly celebrate as a local, check out our post on New Years Eve Traditions across Italy!
Do you want to enjoy a celebratory drink with friends? Lochness, one of Florence’s most loved bars, is also a great place to grab a celebratory drink. Here are four other top-rated wine bars in Florence. Be aware that New Year’s Eve is a busy time, and many spots may be crowded. There will also be higher cover fees.
You can enjoy a more cultural and elegant experience at the New Years Eve Opera & Gala at St. Mark’s English Church.
Florence sightseeing on New Year’s Eve & Day
Florence’s amazing museums are open on New Year’s Eve. In preparation for the evening’s celebrations, most shops and restaurants will be open throughout the day.
Capodanno (New Year’s Day in Italy) is a national holiday that allows most Italians to take a day off, close all shops, and close restaurants for the day. Are you tired of being idle? Palazzo Vecchio is located in Piazza Della Signoria and offers a glimpse into the life of the noble Medici family.