If there is one thing not to be missed on a trip to Florence, it is a visit to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Known locally as the Duomo, it is one of the largest Christian temples in the world.
1. The best guided tours of the Duomo of Florence
There are different options to visit the Florence Cathedral, so I will summarize the best ones for you to choose the one that suits your trip and your budget:
2. Guided tour of the Duomo with entrance to the dome, the Baptistery and the Museo dell'Opera
When you approach the imposing cathedral and see the long lines that form at the door, you will be infinitely glad you took this this guided tour in English with entrance to the dome in advance. With this option, you will skip the long queues to enter the Florence Cathedral and go up to its dome.
In addition, admission to the Baptistery and the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo is also included, making it a great choice for the most complete visit to all the points of interest of the square.
What is included in this visit
- English-speaking guide to tour the dome for 1 hour and the Cathedral for the remaining time
- No-queue entry to the Cathedral and the dome
- Access (not without queues) to the Baptistery and the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo
3. Guided visit to the dome of the Cathedral of Florence and the Accademia Gallery
If you want to complete your visit to Florence visiting two of its most emblematic landmarks, this option will allow you to enjoy a guided tour in English of the Duomo and the Accademia Gallery. This option can be of great value if you are considering doing these two visits and do not want to give up understanding the history and the details they hide.
The artistic and cultural content of the city is such that I think it is a shame not to take a guided tour, at least, of its most relevant points of interest. This will help you to know how they were built, when and why, and above all, it will put in context the works of art that you will see during your trip. In addition, doing it in a small group will create a more intimate and pleasant atmosphere in this experience.
What is included in this visit
- Fast-track entrance and 1-hour guided tour of the Accademia Gallery, home to Michelangelo's iconic 'David' and the second most visited museum in Florence after the Uffizi Gallery
- Quick access and 1-hour guided tour of the dome of the Duomo of Florence
- Free access to the other buildings attached to the cathedral on your own for 72 hours: the Baptistery and the majestic Giotto's Bell Tower
- English-speaking guide for small groups of a maximum of 12 travelers
Vicky's Traveller Tip
Please note that it is not allowed to enter the Florence Cathedral wearing very short pants or with bare shoulders.
4. Private guided tour of the Florence Cathedral, the dome, and the other monuments of Piazza del Duomo
For an even more personalized and exclusive treatment (although at a higher price), you can take a private guided tour with skip-the-line access to the Cathedral and its dome. In addition, this tour will also take you to the rest of the monuments in Piazza del Duomo.
What is included in this tour
- Private professional guide just for you and your group
- Quick entrance and guided tour of the Florence Duomo
- Skip-the-line entrance and guided tour of the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo
- Skip-the-line entrance and guided tour to the Battistero di San Giovanni
- Skip-the-line entrance to the Brunelleschi Dome
- Skip-the-line to the Campanile di Giotto, which you can go up on your own within 72 hours after the tour.
5. Get organized to visit to the Duomo of Florence
The Duomo of Florence is open every day of the week, but with different opening hours:
- Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
- Thursday from 10.00 a.m. to 3.30 p.m.
- Saturdays from 10.00 a.m. to 4.45 p.m.
- Sundays and holidays from 1.30 to 4.45 p.m.
How to get to the Florence Cathedral
Located in the historic center of Florence, in Piazza del Duomo, you can reach the Florence Cathedral on foot if your hotel is in the center. Otherwise, you can always reach it by bus (Lines 6, 11, 14, 23, C1 and C2) and tram (Alamanni, T1).
6. What to do and what to see in Piazza del Duomo
Tour the Piazza del Duomo
A focal point of any trip to Florence, Piazza del Duomo is a feast for the eyes, bringing together in one place some of the city's most outstanding historic buildings.
Climb to the Dome of the Florence Cathedral
This marvel of architecture, 114 meters high and 45 meters in diameter, was the greatest work by the great architect Filippo Brunelleschi, who built it for 14 years and almost a century after the completion of the Florence Cathedral.
Its construction brought skepticism at first and then remained an architectural mystery for centuries given the great weight and size of its structure. If you want to appreciate its height and the breathtaking frescoes that decorate it, such as Vasari's 'The Last Judgment', you will have to overcome a steep climb of 463 steps. However, if only for the panoramic views of the city of Florence that its top offers, the effort is well worth it.
Discover the Baptistery of St. John the Baptist
The Battistero di San Giovanni, in commemoration of the Saint, is the second element that makes up the architectural complex of the Duomo and is located next to it. It is the oldest building in Piazza del Duomo, with its works beginning in the 11th century, as can be seen in the spectacular golden Byzantine mosaics on its dome.
Its façade stands out for its three entrance doors, among which stands out "The Gate of Paradise" by Ghiberti and composed of 10 bronze panels, a replica of the originals exhibited in the Duomo Museum, with reliefs depicting parts of the Old Testament. Inside you can also see the tomb of John XXIII, whose tomb was designed by Donatello.
Climb the Giotto's Bell Tower
Considered the most beautiful bell tower in Italy for its delicate decorations in colorful marble and the harmony of its proportions, the Campanile of the Florence Cathedral completes the Duomo complex. The bell tower serves as a spectacular viewpoint, with views similar to those offered by the dome of the Duomo, and climbing the 414 steps leading to its terrace 275 feet high.
It was built by master Giotto and finished after his death by Andrea Pisano in 1359. To see its original statues, visit the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo.
Enter the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo
If you have enough spare time, a visit to the Duomo Museum is worthwhile to see the original sculptures that decorated the Piazza del Duomo, with the reliefs of Ghiberti's "Gate of Paradise" and the authentic statues of the Campanile, as well as objects, such as original tools and sketches, used for the construction of the Florence Cathedral.
7. Other interesting visits in Florence
If you liked this article on how to visit the Duomo in Florence, don't miss my other Florence travel tips in the following guides: Hop on Hop off Bus Tours, Uffizi Gallery Tickets and Tours and Accademia Gallery Tickets and Tours.
If you are interested in exploring the city in depth or even going on a day trip from Florence, here are the guides I have prepared to make it easy for you: Tours and Daytrips from Florence, Cinque Terre Day Trips from Florence, Siena Day Trips from Florence and Pisa Day Trips from Florence.
Frequently asked questions
Why should I climb up the Duomo Complex?
It will take you to the interior of the Duomo where you can admire the impressive frescoes of Vasari and enjoy a stunning panoramic view of Florence. But be prepared: to get there you will have to climb more than four hundred steps and, of course, there's no elevator.
How long does it take to visit the Duomo Complex?
Visiting all of the relevant sites of the Duomo can take up to two days. However, most tours are around one hour long, and they will show you highlights of the Complex such as the Baptistery, Giotto's Bell Tower, Santa Maria del Fiore, Opera del Duomo and you will even get the chance to climb up the the Museum panoramic terrace.
What else can I see at the Duomo Complex?
If you're itching for some more of the Duomo's wonders, you can check out the Cupola de Brunelleschi, the Crypt of Santa Reparata or Piazza San Giovanni. Also, you can take a tour of the Hidden Terraces of the Duomo, not open to the general public.