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The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is the most important religious building in Florence Italy. When planning your Florence tours, you can opt for walking tours that include the Duomo as one of the attractions, but if you want to go more in-depth visiting the Duomo complex, then you can opt for complete Florence Duomo tours. Any Florence walking tour includes the Duomo, but it’s just a brief explanation of the architecture from outside and maybe a short visit inside (if you happen to be there during the opening hours). By the way, if you have only one day in Renaissance city, I suggest you go for a Florence in a day tour. Visiting the church doesn’t require any ticket, but there are long lines: tour guides with up to six customers and groups with radio sets have a privileged line. Joining a Florence Duomo tour means not only that you will visit the church for a longer time catching many more details, but also that you will visit the crypt, the Baptistery and the Opera del Duomo Museum (grand-reopening after restoration on October 29th, 2015). These additional attractions require a ticket, which is included in the top three Florence Duomo tours I’m going to review in this article. The same ticket also allows to climb Giotto’s Bell Tower and Brunelleschi’s Dome, something that you can do on your own if it’s not included in the tour. Both climbs are long and steep, there is no elevator and no washrooms along the way. Make sure you have no issues with heights or small spaces because helping you if something goes wrong while you are up there is not easy (and often happens that someone needs help). This said, which one should you choose? It’s a big dilemma: Brunelleschi’s Dome climb is more interesting, as you’re going to see the church inside from a high terrace, but there are longer lines to get to the staircase and you have a big disadvantage once you are up there: the Dome itself is missing from the skyline! Climbing the Bell Tower is less interesting but there is a shorter line to start the visit and once you are up in the terrace, the view of Florence (including Brunelleschi’s Dome) is wonderful. You got some tips already, let’s rank the top three Florence Duomo tours!
#3: Florence Duomo tour with Baptistery Matroneum
This two hours tour starts at 4 pm close to the Cathedral. After joining your group, you will move to an ancient rectory to see a 30 minutes video about the Duomo complex. Let me tell you that this doesn’t impress me: at 4 pm you are more likely to fall asleep and by the way, if you want to see any video on Florence Duomo you can just make a search on Youtube. Still, I recommend this tour for what comes later: the next stage is a visit of the gorgeous Baptistery of San Giovanni, and this tour is the only one which offers a visit to the Matroneum, the gallery reserved to women during the Middle Ages. This by itself makes the tour unique, because you will have a chance to see the mosaics and the floor from a privileged position. What follows is a visit inside the Duomo, and to finish the tour you will be offered a glass of Chianti wine with bread, cheese and balsamic vinegar (not bad!). This tour doesn’t involve almost any walking; you can use the ticket next day, to climb the Dome and/or the Bell Tower and to visit the crypt (not included). Considering what it offers, it’s worth the price of € 45/person.
#2: Florence Duomo tour with Brunelleschi’s Dome climb
This is a 2.5 hours Florence Duomo tour which includes the church, the climb to Brunelleschi’s Dome and a visit to the Opera del Duomo Museum. At the moment of writing, the museum is closed for restoration works, and the agency offers, in substitution, a visit to the Baptistery. The meeting point is not at the Duomo but at the agency, close to Piazza Della Signoria. This is somewhat inexplicable because you will spend 15 minutes reaching Piazza del Duomo, after starting the tour at 2:30 pm. Make sure you are in decent shape because after visiting the church you will have to climb 463 steps to get on top of the Dome. Here you will enjoy the beautiful landscape around, with all the monuments of Florence. After about half an hour spent on top, you will come down and exit the church to visit the Baptistery and see his magnificent mosaics. It’s a pretty expensive tour at € 75/person, but good for climbing the Dome skipping the line with a tour guide.
#1: Florence Duomo tour with terraces
This tour is my top choice for Florence Duomo tours. The price is right (€55/person), the duration is correct (2 hours) and it offers something that no other tour can offer: the Duomo terraces. Starting at 2:30 pm, you will visit the church inside and then climb the terrace on the Northern side of the church, finding yourself 32 meters above the square, in a privileged position to admire Giotto’s Bell Tower and Brunelleschi’s Dome. This is an exceptional opening, that only elite tourists booking this tour will be given. The tour will also show you the restorers at work on statues that decorate the Duomo. You can still use the ticket in the next 24 hours to visit the Baptistery and the new Opera del Duomo Museum.
Private Florence Duomo tours
As a tourist guide, I offer Florence Duomo tours. Differently from what I did for Uffizi Tours, I decided not to place my own tour in the top three for this particular category. My tours are private and as such they are better than any group tour, but I have no special agreement to have the terraces or the Matroneum opened for me. I can skip the line to enter the church, but I can’t skip the line to Brunelleschi’s Dome. My tour takes full advantage of the ticket you have to buy, visiting the crypt (not included in any of the top three Florence Duomo tours), the Baptistery and the Opera del Duomo museum. We can arrange to climb on top of Giotto’s Bell Tower and/or Brunelleschi’s Dome as well (without skipping the line), but the question is: do you need a tour guide for this? After all, it’s a place from where you can take great pictures, not something that needs to be explained. If you’re interested in private Florence Duomo tours, see my offer.
What other suggestions can you find in this section?
- The best Florence tours and activities reviewed by a tour guide
- Walking tours
- Uffizi tours
- Florence in one day
- Duomo tours
- Vasari Corridor tours
- Inferno tours
- Skip-the-line David tours
- What to do on Mondays
- Tours of Florence from Rome or Venice
- Florence outdoor activities
- Florence food tours
- Wine tours in Tuscany
- Cooking classes
- Wine tours in Florence
- Day trips from Florence to Tuscany countryside
- Day trips from Florence to Pisa
- Day trips from Florence to Siena
- Day trips from Florence to Cinque Terre
- Day trips from Florence to Rome
- Day trips from Florence to Venice