Even if you are spending a day in Florence, you shouldn’t miss Michelangelo’s David. I have paid David a visit more than once and would do so again in a heartbeat.
Michelangelo’s sculpture is housed in Florence’s Accademia Gallery (Galleria dell’Accademia). In this article, I will walk you through why this artwork is so important and how to see the statue of David in Florence, including important information about “skip-the-line tickets.”
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VISITING GALLERIA DELL’ACCADEMIA: QUICK FACTS
Opening hours: 8:15 am to 6:50 pm (last admission at 6:20 pm). From June to October 2023, the museum stays open until 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. Check current hours here.
Closed: Every Monday, January 1, December 25.
Full ticket price (2023): €13 + €4 booking fee. Official ticket website here
Why You Should See the Statue of David in Florence
Carved from a single block of Carrara marble, the sculpture represents the biblical figure David, who famously defeated the giant Goliath with a single stone.
A young David is standing in a contrapposto pose, his weight shifted onto one leg. He is completely nude and holds a sling over his left shoulder, just moments before his battle with Goliath.
Michelangelo created this masterpiece between 1501 and 1504 in Florence, Italy. It was originally commissioned as part of a series of sculptures for Florence Duomo, but it was ultimately placed in the Piazza della Signoria in front of the Palazzo Vecchio. The statue’s positioning in this prominent public square underscored its political and symbolic importance for the city of Florence.
David is one of Michelangelo’s greatest sculptures and is widely held to be one of the most important in art history. It is an enduring testament to the genius of Michelangelo and the ideals of the Renaissance.
How to Buy Tickets to See David at Florence’s Accademia Gallery
Similar to the Uffizi Galleries, Florence’s other big artistic attraction, I highly recommend pre-booking your ticket to visit the Accademia Gallery. Reports of epic queues to buy tickets are not exaggerated, and you run the risk of not being able to see the sculpture at all.
The bottom line is you should buy your tickets as soon as you have firmed up your Florence dates.
Regardless of what you might read, there are no true skip-the-line tickets for the David statue. But by booking your ticket in advance, you will avoid the long and slow-moving line of people waiting to buy tickets.
Armed with your reservation, there is a much shorter and quicker queue to pick up your ticket and to enter the Accademia Gallery during your designated time slot.
#1: Buy your ticket from the official website (the cheapest option)
B-ticket is the official ticketing website for the Florentine State Museums. It’s safe to say that it’s not the slickest website in the world.
It’s easier to enter your date first here and then select Galleria dell’Accademia. You will be presented with the ticket availability for that date. Tickets are sold as 15-minute entry slots.
To process your order, you will need to register as a new customer (or sign in as an existing customer) and provide your full name and date of birth. Major credit cards are accepted.
Once your order is processed, you will receive an email confirmation which includes an order number.
This is not your admission ticket. You will need to pick this up from the ticket office at Via Ricasoli 60 and will need your order number handy. When I last visited, I collected my ticket from the ticket office at the Uffizi Galleries.
#2: Buy your ticket by phone (alternative cheapest option)
There is also an official phone line to buy tickets for the Accademia Gallery. The number is +39 055 294883.
#3: Buy your ticket from a 3rd party reseller (the most flexible option)
Although buying your ticket from a third party will be a few Euros more expensive, there are advantages of booking a David ticket this way.
- As resellers purchase tickets in bulk, this is a useful option if tickets are sold out on the official website.
- GetYourGuide is the platform that I use and they usually offer free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance. This is valuable if you want to keep your plans flexible.
- The booking interface is much clearer than that of B-ticket.
#4: Buy a ticket bundled with a guided tour (the value-added option)
This option is for you if you fancy learning more about Renaissance Art or Florence and want someone else to take care of reserving your time slot. These highly rated tours include your ticket to see David.
This small group tour with a maximum of 10 – 15 people lasts for one hour and also explores other works by Michelangelo in the Accademia Gallery.
I really like the look of this 4-hour tour which includes entrance to the Uffizi and Accademia plus a short walking tour.
This 2-hour tour is for you if you want to combine a visit to the Accademia Gallery with a short walking tour of Florence.
How to See David for Free
It is possible to see David without handing over a single Euro. Well, sort of.
#1 Free entry to the Accademia Gallery
The good news is that you can visit the Accademia Gallery for free on the 1st Sunday of the month. The bad news is that you cannot book tickets in advance.
Arrive early and be prepared for a very long wait.
#2 See the fake Davids
If you are not able to get tickets to see the real thing, you can see one or both of the fake Davids, just a few of the fabulous free sculptures in Florence.
One stands in the statue’s original position, guarding the entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio.
The second is a bronze copy in Piazzale Michelangelo. This vast square is one of Florence’s best viewpoints.
My Top Tips for Seeing David in Florence
1. Buy your ticket in advance
Don’t waste precious time in Florence queuing for tickets or, worse still, risk leaving the city without clapping eyes on Michelangelo’s buff biblical shepherd.
2. Try to avoid busier times
David draws the crowds year-round. But to stand a better chance of not having to elbow people out of the way, avoid the busier summer months and weekends.
I last visited the Accademia Gallery midweek in April and it was not rammed with visitors.
3. Bring a guide
To get the most out of your visit, carry a good guidebook or rent the museum’s inexpensive audio guide. You can pay for this at the same time as booking your ticket or purchase it on arrival.
4. Take your time looking at David
Michelangelo’s masterpiece deserves much more than a cursory glance to tick him off your Florence bucket list. Examine him from all angles. You might be surprised at what you discover.
5. Leave large bags at the hotel
The museum does not have a cloakroom, and visitors with large bags and backpacks will not be allowed to enter. Note also that you will not be allowed to carry water bottles exceeding 500 ml.
6. Don’t miss the other artworks in the Accademia Gallery Although David is the Accademia’s rock star, he is not its only attraction.
Don’t miss The Prisoners, also known as The Slaves. This extraordinary group of unfinished Michelangelo sculptures were commissioned by Pope Julius II in 1505 for his monumental tomb. The Accademia Gallery is also home to his Palestrina Pietà and St. Matthew.
The museum features paintings from the Florentine Gothic and Renaissance periods. These include works by Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and Filippo Lippi.
The Accademia Gallery is also known for its collection of historical musical instruments, including the oldest piano in the world.
Ready to See More Art in Florence?
Florence is an all-you-can-eat buffet of Renaissance art and I have made a few suggestions for further reading to help you make the most of your time there. If you want to learn more about the “divine artist”, here are my favourite books about Michelangelo.
- 8 Places to Find Michelangelo Sculptures in Florence, Italy
- Where to Find Fabulous Free Sculptures in Florence, Italy
- 20 Famous Paintings in the Uffizi Gallery That You Cannot Miss