Should I Buy the Firenze Card when Visiting Florence?

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Should I buy the the Firenze Card to visit Florence?

With a high concentration of masterpieces within the historical center, Florence is a great destination for art lovers. The news in 2011 that the city was finally coming out with its own version of a museum pass for visitors the likes found in many other cities in Europe and the U.S. had us excited – we, like many visitors, like to go visit the museums knowing it is easy and doesn't cost too much!

We often receive questions on whether the card is "worth" the €72 (price was €50 at first but went up in June 2013) so we sat down to evaluate what the card offers and whether it is something we would recommend our visitors to purchase.

What we found is that there is no clear cut answer if you're making a decision based solely on the cost of the card: in that case, whether you should buy it or not depends on your plans, the time you have at your disposal and the size of your family or traveling group.

Keep in mind that museums have improved their services for Firenze Card holders, for example, by adding priority lines at the busiest museums: you'll find priority entrance at the Uffizi, the Accademia, at the Baptistery, Giotto's bell tower, the Cupola (dome), Palazzo Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti. If you're visiting in the summer or have limited time, it is without a doubt a benefit to skip any lines at the main museums in Florence regardless of the cost.

What do you want to see?

To decide whether it is right for you, you first need to have an idea of which museums you definitely want to visit as well as others you might like to visit. With this list in hand, then you can figure out whether the card is a better deal or whether you'll pay less by paying for the normal entrance ticket (or just prebooking at the Uffizi or Accademia directly).

Here are some of the benefits of purchasing the card:

  • entrance to the major museums in Florence, including the Uffizi and Accademia.

  • jumping any normal lines AND no need for reservations.

  • travel on ATAF/Linea bus lines and tram for the duration of the card (72 hours) - you can use it to get to Piazzale Michelangelo as well as to reach the Medici Villas of Petraia and Castello outside of the historical center of Florence.

  • EU children under 18 years old get to take advantage of the same benefits if the parents buy the Firenze Card (so no need to buy their own – one child per adult. ***)

  • free, unlimited Wi-FI access provided by the city of Florence during the 72 hours the card is active.

Characteristics:

  • card is valid 72 hours, starting from first entrance into a museum.

  • can be purchased online on www.firenzecard.it (you get a voucher to turn in and only get the card once you're in Florence) or you can buy the card directly at the ticket office of several museums (at the Uffizi, Palazzo Pitti, Palazzo Vecchio, Bargello, Santa Maria Novella museum, Brancacci Chapel, Bardini Museum and Palazzo Strozzi) as well as at the tourist info points located at Piazza SMN and Via Cavour.

  • each museum can only be visited ONCE during the 72 hours (so no short visits hoping to make a return visit later on).

Should you buy it?

Our conclusions vary depending on various factors. It isn't possible to say "yes, the card is worth it" or "no, it isn't" for all situations, it really depends on each individual/family case: how many in the family unit, your nationality, the ages of children, what you were planning on visiting. So read carefully below to decide whether it makes sense for you or not!

COST: Most people want to visit the two major museums in Florence, the Uffizi and Accademia. These are the ones with the longest lines, especially in the summer, and on Tuesdays and in the mornings year-round. Ticket cost can vary: if there is an exhibition taking place in the museum, you HAVE to pay the higher ticket price that includes the exhibit, no choice about it. If you also decide to book tickets ahead of time, you HAVE to pay a booking fee to the museum as well as the commission to the reseller selling tickets online. So the Uffizi and Accademia can cost an average of €15-22 each, no matter what the museum says the ticket cost is. Are you only interested in visiting one or both of these two museums? Then the Firenze Card is NOT worth the 72 euros (since buying tickets online for both museum at the most will be around 45 euro).

LINES: Again, major lines are at the same two museums, the Uffizi and Accademia. Other museums might have a line at a certain time of the day but generally those lines move quickly. Also, I've seen a separate entrance for Firenze Card holders at the Uffizi and Accademia, not at the other museums. In this case, it IS a benefit to have the card if you're planning to visit these two museums for sure.

BUS travel: If you're staying in the center, you can get most everywhere on foot and the buses that do cross it might not be headed in your direction (generally out of the center). So it's likely you don't even need to worry about buses at all during your stay, or if you do feel you need to use a bus, you can easily pay the € 1,20 for the one-way ticket to ride it and save money in the end. So in this case, there is NO added benefit to have the card.

WI-Fi access: With the price hike in June 2013, the major new service to visitors who purchase the card is free Wi-Fi access across the city. It provides unlimited access during the 72 hours that the card is active - all visitors (and residents) can access the free Wi-Fi the city provides regardless but it is limited to an 1 hour a day. With the card, you have unlimited access - a big plus!

Museums: At its introduction in 2011, the card included about 33 museums. In 2013, the list included 60 museums, practically the majority of attractions in Florence, including the Duomo complex and Palazzo Strozzi which were are not part of the two major museum systems in Florence. Again, the high number of museums is great: but how many can you realistically visit in 72 hours? In my proposed, jam-packed 3 days in Florence itinerary, I managed to include 12, two of which are free. If you did follow this itinerary and bought tickets for each separately, you could more or less spend about the same amount (from € 70 to 88,50) since it depends on when you visit Florence (whether there are temporary exhibits at the museums at the time) and it includes the cost for prebooked tickets to the Uffizi and Accademia. So as far as amount of museums listed and ones you can realistically fit in, this is more or less a tie.

*** EU CHILDREN UNDER 18: Most museums (not all) are already free to EU citizens under 18. There are several that aren't free so this saves a few tickets for them. Since Fall 2013, non-EU children under 18 also get into State museums for free. The advantage of the card for EU citizens is this: you go to the priority entrance at the Uffizi and Accademia and all of the family skips the line together.
If you're a non-EU citizen (and so are your children), then your children can enter free but you still have to stop at the ticket office to get their "free" ticket AND pay for the "reserved access" so that they can skip the line with you. This is only at the State museums, which includes the Uffizi and Accademia.

Note another benefit: If your family includes more than 2 children, you will all be allowed to enter together as long as both parents buy the Firenze Card.

Should I buy the Card online?

I don't recommend it. You can just wait and buy it once you're here, since you can buy a voucher online beforehand but you still need to pass by one of the ticket offices to collect the Card(s).

Visiting the museums

Remember you can only visit each museum ONCE so that means you cannot stop for a quick visit and come back the next day for a longer visit. Your entrance into that museum has been “used up”.

Conclusions

When not to get it: Again, if we evaluate whether to get the card or not solely on its cost, with the price increase in June 2013 getting the card might not make much sense if you weren't planning to visit many museums in 72 hours. If you're staying in the historical center, you won't be using the buses very much at all. At the most, you might get to use them a few times if you want to make your way up to the Piazzale or to the Medici villas.

If you and a partner plan on just visiting the Uffizi and Accademia, then the Card is not worth purchasing. You can buy tickets online for each of the two museums and end up spending less. Prebooked tickets (you can buy them here) also give you entrance through a separate entrance, the same one used by Firenze Card holders.

When to get the card: To make the card worthwhile, you need to plan on visiting at least the Uffizi, Accademia, Palazzo Vecchio, the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens, the Medici Chapels and the Brancacci Chapel. If you do follow the 3 day itinerary mentioned above, then the Firenze Card is definitely worth buying! If you're visiting in the summer when there are many visitors to Florence in general and you were planning on visiting more than just the Uffizi and Accademia, the card is also worth getting to skip the lines at the other monuments.

If you're a family with 2 minors, they get in free most everywhere so they don't really factor into the equation.... and if you're actually planning to just visit State museums during your visit, the Amici degli Uffizi pass might be a better deal for your family at €100 total (rather than the €144 the Firenze Cards for two adults would cost you).

Museums included in the Firenze Card

in Florence:
Church of Santa Croce and Museum
Brancacci Chapel
Medici Chapels
Casa Buonarroti
Last Suppers: Fuligno, del Ghirlandaio, di Andrea del Sarto and di Sant'Apollonia
Chiostro dello Scalzo
Contini Bonacossi Collection
Orsanmichele
Palazzo Strozzi
Salvatore Romano Foundation
Foundation of Science and Technique
National Archeological Museum
Uffizi Gallery
Accademia Gallery
Casa di Dante
Modern Art Gallery – Pitti
Palatine Gallery and Royal Apartments – Pitti
Boboli Gardens – Pitti
Silver Museum – Pitti
Costume Gallery – Pitti
Porcelain Museum – Pitti
Bigallo Museum
Soccer Museum
Museum of Opificio delle Pietre Dure
Museum degli Innocenti
Museum of Casa Martelli
Palazzo Davanzati
Museum of San Marco
Museum of Natural History – Anthropological and Ethnological Section
Museum of Natural History – Geology and Paleontology
Museum of Natural History – Minerals and Litology
Museum of Natural History – Zoology “La Specola”
Museum of Natural History – Botanical Garden “Giardino dei Semplici”
Museum and Instiute of Prehistory “Paolo Graziosi”
Galileo Museum
Horne Museum
Marino Marini Museum
National Museum of Photography Alinari
National Museum of the Bargello
Stefano Bardini Museum
Stibbert Museum
Palazzo Medici Riccardi
Church and Cloisters of Santa Maria Novella
Synagogue and Hebrew Museum
Palazzo Vecchio – Museum and Tower
and in Piazza del Duomo (all of these can also be visited with a new €10 pass sold by the Opera del Duomo that you can buy separately):
Baptistery
Giotto's Bell tower
Cupola / Dome
Museum of Opera del Duomo

in Fiesole:
Archeological area and Museum
Bandini Museum

in surroundings outside of Florence:
Villa Corsini in Castello
the garden of the Medici Villa in Castello
Medici Villa of La Petraia
Medici Villa in Cerreto Guidi and the Museum of Hunting and Territory
Medici Villa in Poggio a Caiano

Last updated: March 2015

About Lourdes Flores

An American living in Florence for over 12 years, Lourdes loves to explore and discover new places in Tuscany - trying to maintain the eyes of a "tourist" despite the experience of living in Italy for so many years ;-). She loves to share her experiences through this website, offering help in travel planning on the Forum - if you have questions for Lourdes, post them there!

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