While Florence is one of the most sought-after destinations on any Italian summer itinerary, Florence in winter is a true underrated beauty. Florence and Italy in general may not have always been on your radar. However, upon discovering it you’ll see why so many fall in love with this famous city in the magical months of winter.
Winter in Florence is the perfect time to discover its many museums and delicious seasonal dishes as well as many Christmas and winter markets. In the summer and warmer months, Florence is packed, but in the winter, you’ll mainly be among the locals taking advantage of this city in its rawest form.
Continue reading this article to be on your way to an enchanting winter trip in Florence, the home of the Renaissance.
Florence in Winter Weather
One of the main factors that will likely be in consideration when deciding to visit Florence in winter, is the weather. While it will be far from what most will picture when thinking of an Italian holiday; with the right clothing and perspective, Florence in winter can be mesmerizing.
Due to its location in a valley, it can get quite cold in Florence in the winter in comparison to the rest of the Tuscan region. For the most part, if you’re going to be visiting Florence in the winter you can expect a mix of cold air, lots of rain, lots of sunshine, and anything and everything in between.
Weather in December
December in Florence is likely the rainiest part of the year as well as one of the coldest months of the year.
The average low in the city in December is typically around 3°C (37°F) with a high of around 11°C (52°F), although this can vary. Due to the high rainfall in December, I recommend bringing an umbrella on your trip as it can be quite pricey to buy in the city!
Weather in January
The month of January in Florence is up there with December as one of the coldest months of the year in Florence.
The average low temperature is around 2°C (36°F) and the high temperatures of the month are typically around 11°C (52°F). It may not be as rainy as in December, but it’s certainly as cold so don’t forget your warmest jacket and scarf.
Weather in February
February in Florence is likely going to be the mildest of the three months. It’ll still be quite cool but temperatures will start warming up at this point; slowly, slowly hinting towards spring. This means there will be more sun than in December or January as well as less rain.
Expect on average a low of 3°C (37°F) and an average high of 12°C (54°F) in Florence in February. Also, bear in mind that the end of the month will undoubtedly be a lot warmer in comparison with the beginning.
Which Month to Visit Florence in Winter?
Due to Florence’s numerous holiday festivals and decorations in December, December is a wonderful time to visit. If you’re someone that is drawn to Christmas and holiday festivities, sparkling lights, and festive trees, December may be the perfect time for you to visit.
On the downside, be prepared for rain and quite cool weather as December is the coolest and rainiest time of the year in Florence. Also, keep in mind that because Florence is a prime Christmas destination, December is likely going to be the busiest month of the trio.
Are you looking for an exciting place to visit to ring in the New Year? Florence has a few New Year festivities in the city that make it a fun place for New Year, but a lot more low-key than if celebrating in Rome.
On January 6th, Italy also celebrates Epiphany, a Christian holiday celebrating the arrival of the Three Kings to the crib of baby Jesus. Epiphany is easily one of the biggest holidays in Italy so it’s something quite interesting to be a part of.
In Florence, over 500 dressed characters parade through the streets of the city ending at the cathedral to reenact the original epiphany. January is also when some of the best sales take place in Italy, so maybe you may just want to come to shop until you drop!
January is also another cold month in Florence, so be prepared with the appropriate clothing if this is when you decide to visit.
February in Florence is without a doubt the month of romance. The combination of Valentine’s Day, as well as Florence being known as one of the most romantic cities in the world, makes for a wonderful February destination.
In February, things start to pick up in the city with more events as well as increasingly better weather as the month progresses. If you’re someone looking for an ideal Valentine’s trip with a loved one or a winter trip to Florence that isn’t *too* cold, a February in Florence trip is a great option.
Things to do in Florence in Winter
Wander Around the City
If you’re looking for things to do in Florence in Winter, there’s nothing better than just wandering around the city. Taking in one of the most beautiful cities in the world is truly a joy, and it makes it even better when you’re not surrounded by the crowds of the warmer months.
In the warmer months and especially summer, you can likely expect to be bumping shoulders with tourist crowds while trying to take in the views from the Ponte Vecchio bridge. In the cooler months, you’ll have the benefit of having all of the most popular monuments to yourself, albeit with a warm jacket!
Get lost throughout the cobblestoned alleyways, finding small diamonds of Italian local life as well as some of the most stunning Rennaisance architecture in the country.
If you end up visiting Florence in December or January, you’ll have the great benefit of experiencing how Florence celebrates the winter holidays.
While Rome may be a wonderful holiday destination, there’s something about the Christmas and Holiday magic in Tuscany that’s unrivaled anywhere else.
From Christmas Markets to ice skating, to showstopping Christmas trees and lights, there’s something for everyone.
Christmas Eve Mass
For those celebrating, or even if you’re just looking for a unique experience, head to the Duomo of Florence at midnight on Christmas Eve for a Christmas Eve mass. Make sure to plan ahead and arrive early as it fills up quickly, and yes, it is free!
Santa Croce Christmas Market
Located in the picturesque and famous Piazza Santa Croce, is the annual and largest Christmas market in Florence. The market has been a staple in Florentine culture for the past 500 years and is certainly worth the stop if you’re visiting.
You’ll find a warm and festive atmosphere with food, treats, drinks (including mulled wine!), and a wide array of local and international goods to purchase.
The Santa Croce Christmas Market is open From November 28 to December 20th from 10 AM – 10 PM.
Festival of the Lights
Every year in Florence on December 8th, the city is lit up with mesmerizing lights and the city’s Christmas tree is put up in Piazza Duomo. While the lights and trees are available to see for the entire month, December 8th is also the day of the Festival of Lights.
In true Renaissance style, during the Festival of Lights, an impeccable display of light shows paint the city of Florence. From light displays over monuments to colors plastering the many beautiful facades of the city, this is an extraordinary event to witness during your stay.
Florence Ice Village
Located in the Fortezza da Basso area from early December through late February, you’ll find one of the largest ice skating tracks in Europe (320 meters). In this peaceful yet central part of the city, is the Florence Ice Village where there’s also a Christmas market with plenty of stalls and stands for you to browse.
Don’t worry if you don’t have your own ice skates, you can rent them here. The rink is open daily from the first week of December until February 28th from 10-midnight.
Museums without a Queue & Crowd
If you’ve visited any museum or monument in Italy in the summer, you likely know how big of a drag it can be to wait in endless queues and be surrounded by endless crowds.
One of the biggest advantages if you decide to visit Florence in the winter is being able to bypass the grievances that come with visiting some of the most popular attractions in the world.
Take your time and wander slowly throughout the Galleria dell’Accademia or Uffizi Gallery without feeling rushed with a queue behind you. Without having to wait so much time in line to enter or make your way through different museums and attractions, your trip really opens up with a lot more time to experience the city.
What better way is there to spend a cool day in the Tuscan capital than by passing time with a wine tasting? Some of the world’s most loved wines come from the Tuscan region so you’re in the prime spot to taste them from the source.
Head to an enoteca (or wine bar) in the city and get some inspiration from the locals and staff or you may want to take part in one of the many wine tours and tastings in the city. Another option is to get outside of Florence into the wine valley and make your way even deeper into the source.
Take a Day Trip
While Florence may be the capital of Tuscany, the region itself is deeply rooted in rich history and culture with many other towns and cities worth visiting. Thankfully, Florence has quite a few train stations giving the opportunity for many incredible day trips right on its doorstep including the city of Siena.
The city of Siena is the second largest city in Tuscany next to Florence and is a great option for a day trip during your winter visit to Florence. Siena is located just 85 kilometers away from Florence’s Santa Maria Novella Station with trains taking around an hour and a half. You can view schedules here.
The train ride itself is also incredibly scenic, passing through the rolling Tuscan countryside and small local villages. Make sure to spend time passing through Siena’s historical center, Siena Cathedral’s Piccolomini Library to marvel at the frescoes, and be brought back to medieval Siena while standing in awe in the famous Piazza del Campo.
It is also possible to visit Siena on an organised day trip such as this full-day tour to Siena, Pisa & San Gimignano
Eat Tuscan Winter Dishes
One of the greatest joys of visiting Tuscany in the wintertime is undoubtedly, the food. From enjoying a hearty bowl of ribollita soup to a warming bowl of Tuscan ragu, you’ll quickly see why winter is many locals’ favorite time of year.
My recommended spots to eat a winter meal in Florence include Antica Trattoria Da Tito – a classic Florentinian trattoria offering quintessential Tuscan dishes from Florentine steak to Ribolitta soup and Trattoria Mario – a no frills Italian trattoria from 1953 known for their hearty winter soups.
Viareggio for Carnevale
Another great day trip option from Florence in the winter is the city of Viareggio. If you’re looking for a specific event to experience while visiting, Viareggio is perfect. Carnevale is easily one of the most loved holidays in Italy and experiencing it in Viareggio is something you’re ever likely to forget.
Carnevale is the last celebration before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and the country puts on a big party with delicious treats and interesting costumes. Some say if you want to experience Carnevale to the maximum, head to Viareggio and witness one of its many parades in February.
Trains from Florence run just about every hour to Viareggio with a journey taking around an hour and a half.
Where to Stay in Florence
Hotel Bellavista – A mid-range hotel located close to the train station, they have rooms suitable for couples and families with the option to include breakfast in the daily rate. Click here to check availability
25hours Hotel – An upscale option located within walking distance of many attractions, they have modern rooms with guests having access to a sauna. Breakfast is available daily. Click here to check availability
Ostello Bello Firenze – Located just a short walk from many of Florence’s major attractions, this hostel offers both private rooms and dorms and has a social atmosphere. Click here to check availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Florence
Whether you’ve booked a cheap journey to Florence in the winter or you’re someone whose dreamed of the city under winter magic, Florence is an incredible winter destination. After eating savory stews and soups and feeling as if the entire city is yours with the locals, you’ll wonder why the city is so packed in the summer after all.
Looking for travel insurance before visiting Florence in winter? World Nomads offers flexible and simple travel insurance policies with coverage for more than 150 activities that you can buy or extend while on the road.
Are you planning to visit Florence in winter? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments!