No matter where you walk in Florence, chances are you will spot its famous Duomo—a defining element of the city’s history, geography, and identity—towering above. Beneath its red-tiled dome lies Florence’s largest church, officially known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Together with the Museum of the Duomo, an opera museum, the baptistery of San Giovanni, and Giotto's Bell Tower, the Duomo complex has become the city’s most famous landmark.
A visit to the Duomo is essential for understanding and immersing yourself in both Florence and the Renaissance.Tickets to the complex include access to the dome, baptistery, bell tower, crypt, and museum, and are valid for 48 hours from use. As entry to the cathedral is free, there are often long lines. Many visitors opt to join a small-group guided tour to explore the more hidden corners of the complex—and to skip the lines. Audio guides are also available.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The cathedral is open daily from 10am, but is closed for Sunday morning service and on major holidays.
- Dress modestly. For women, it’s best to cover shoulders and knees (a scarf will do). Sandals, sunglasses, and hats are discouraged.
- It is more than 400 steps to the top of architect Filippo Brunelleschi’s dome, so proper footwear and fitness level are recommended. There is no elevator.
- Tickets can be purchased at the Duomo, but expect lines. You can also purchase tickets in advance, or access the complex through a private guided tour.
How to Get There
The Duomo is at the very center of Florence, fewer than 10 minutes walking from the train station. It is near the must-see Uffizi Gallery, with which it is often visited in combination. Independent travelers and guided tours alike often stop at the Accademia Gallery as well, where Michelangelo’s David resides.
When to Get There
The museum is closed on the first Tuesday of each month. Crowds are unavoidable, but quieter times are early morning and late afternoon, especially outside of the busy summer months (May through September).
An Unforgettable View of Florence
The pink, white, and green marble facade of the Duomo is a sight in itself, but the real can’t-miss views are from the top of the cupola. Climbers are rewarded with an unforgettable vista of Florence’s red-roofed skyline, the Arno River, and the rolling hills beyond. There are panoramic views from atop Giotto’s Campanile, as well. Back on ground level, admire the famous stained glass and frescoes that line the cathedral’s interior. The cathedral’s crypt, which includes the tomb of Brunelleschi, is also worth a visit.