When planning my vacation to Italy last summer, I saw the option to buy tickets to many of the famous attractions ahead of time. For some, you have to plan the exact time of your visit which can be difficult if you don’t have your itinerary pinned down. I didn’t buy all of my tickets online for fear over over-scheduling our vacation and losing out on a bit of spontaneity, but I found it was often a huge timesaver and wished I had bought more of our tickets online! Here are my ticket tips and tricks for the major attractions in Rome, Florence, and Venice.
Rome is home to some of Italy’s most famous attractions. Some like the Trevi Fountain and Pantheon can be viewed for free while others will require a ticket.
If you want to visit the Galleria Borghese, definitely buy your tickets ahead of time. You can either do this online or in person when you first arrive in Rome. We went on a Saturday and the next tickets weren’t available until Wednesday!
For the Vatican, I also recommend buying Vatican Museums tickets online unless you’d prefer to wait for 2-3 hours in a massive line that wraps around the block. There is a 4 euro fee per ticket, but I definitely think it’s worth it. You can book tickets three months out with entry times occurring every half hour. I’d recommend going to St. Peter’s first thing in the morning (around 7am) to avoid that line and choosing an afternoon entry time for the museums.
Also at the Vatican, you can book the Scavi Tour which allows 250 people per day to see the excavations below the basilica including an ancient Roman necropolis and the tomb of St. Peter himself. If you’re interested, request a tour by emailing the Scavi office as soon as you know when you will be in Rome. If a date is available, they’ll walk you through the online payment process. Space is limited as each tour only allows 12 people. I booked at the beginning of January for our trip at the end of June and had no issues securing a spot.
For Ancient Rome’s attractions, you only need one ticket to see the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. You can buy the ticket online with a 2 euro booking fee. The ticket is valid for two days in a row from date of first usage with one entrance to each site. The ticket can be used at any point within the calendar year. If this is too much planning ahead, you can also buy the ticket in person with this trick. Most people head to the Colosseum to buy the ticket where the crowds can be insane. Instead, buy your ticket at Palatine Hill then head over to the Colosseum to use it. It’s the same ticket after all!
Check out my full guide to Rome here.
Florence is the city where I should have bought everything online. We actually missed out on going to the top of the Duomo as a result! If you want to climb the dome (the Cupola del Brunelleschi), make sure to either a) buy your tickets online in advance or b) buy your tickets the moment you get to Florence. You have to reserve a specific time to climb the dome and spots fill up fast. We bought our ticket in the morning, and the next climb time wasn’t until the next afternoon! Since we were leaving the next morning, we had to miss out.
This ticket also gets you access to inside the Duomo, the Baptistery, and Giotto’s Campanile (aka Bell Tower). The ticket allows you to visit all of the monuments within 48 hours of visiting the first one with one visit per site.
For the Galleria dell’Accademia, home of Michelangelo’s David, you can buy your ticket online with a 4 euro reservation fee. Time is money and you’ll save at least an hour by not waiting in line!
Lastly, save yourself another hour or so by booking your Uffizi Gallery tickets online. That 4 euro reservation fee is getting old, but you can spend your extra time relaxing at one of the city’s famous piazza’s instead!
Check out my full guide to Florence here.
To say Venice is crowded in the summer is an understatement. However, there are much fewer attractions and less demand for them so it’s not as important to book ahead of time.
We waited in a short line to go to the top of St. Mark’s Campanile. From April to October, you can pay 3 euro extra for a skip-the-line ticket, but I don’t actually think this is necessary.
The Doge’s Palace had no line so I also wouldn’t recommend buying this in advance unless you are interested in the Secret Itineraries tour. We didn’t do the tour so I can’t comment on it, but it sounded cool! Our time in Venice was limited so I decided to skip it.
Lastly, St. Mark’s Basilica usually has a line that lasts 45 minutes or so. Not bad, but if you’re schedule is tight, you can pay 2 euro for a skip-the-line ticket from April to November. Entry to the basilica is otherwise free.
Check out my full guide to Venice here.
My rule of thumb is to book ahead of time if you know for sure it will fit in your schedule. While it may cost a few extra dollars, you’ll save yourself several hours here and there which can really add up. You didn’t go to Italy to stand in line did you?
More from our Italy vacation:
Points and Miles Guide:
How I’m Spending 11 Days in Italy for Less Than $150
Part 1: Four Days in Rome
Part 2: Florence in 48 Hours
Part 3: The Best of Tuscany in One Day
Part 4: 48 Hours in Venice
Part 5: One Night in Milan
Hotel Review: Waldorf Astoria Rome Cavalieri
Hotel Review: JW Marriott Venice
Hotel Review: Park Hyatt Milan
Priority Pass Lounge Review: Air France Lounge at Boston Logan Airport
Priority Pass Lounge Review: Club S.E.A. Sala Leonardo at Milan Linate Airport