Ask Harriet: Advance tickets for Michelangelo's masterpiece

Visiting art museums is one of my favorite activities while traveling, which is one reason I was happy to see a fellow enthusiast post this question on our Travel Forum:

Q: I will be going on the Tuscany & the Amalfi Coast trip, and during free time in Florence would like to go to Accademia Gallery to see the statue of David. A recent traveler review says that "with pre-planning" she was able to get tickets in advance, but there was no explanation how that was done. Searching the web revealed comments that it is not a good idea to book online, but a phone call was the way to go. Another says it is important to have the "ticket in hand" (not "will call"). One traveler review said the Program Director helped purchase tickets, but can I expect that to always be the case? Bottom line: any information about purchasing tickets to Accademia, how to get to the gallery, etc., would be appreciated.

—Jean Kiley, 7-time traveler from Indianapolis, Indiana

A. Great question, Jean. The Accademia Gallery is justifiably one of the most popular destinations in Florence, with the statue of David its piece de resistance. But the museum is also home to gems like Michelangelo’s unfinished sculptures, musical instruments from the private collections of Tuscan dukes, and paintings dating to the 13th century—making it one of my favorite places to visit when I’m in Florence.

As a world-class museum in the birthplace of the Renaissance, it’s no surprise that the Gallery can get crowded—so we recommend you reserve tickets ahead of time. The good news is that yes, your Program Director can buy tickets for you in advance so you don’t have to stand in a long line. Be sure to let him or her know that you are interested as soon as possible once you arrive in Italy, so that there is ample time to purchase the tickets for a time that works for you. If you’d prefer to get your own tickets before the trip, you can purchase them through the gallery’s website. Tickets are sold for specific times of the day, and visitors should show up 15 minutes prior to their reservation time.

It is possible to visit the museum without a reservation—if you do, though, I recommend visiting after 4 pm. Lines are sometimes shorter in the late afternoon, especially in off-peak travel months.

Do you have advice to share about reserving museum or attraction tickets in advance? Share with me at