Umbria is perhaps my favorite region of Italy. But it is hard to pick favorites in a country with so much history, culture and beauty! I spent many childhood vacations in Umbria, so I am biased, but I consider it one of the most underrated destinations in Italy.
The central Italian region has lakes and mountains, vineyards and valleys. In between those, it is dotted with beautiful Medieval cities and villages. Time truly feels like it stood still in Umbria. And it is much less crowded and touristic than nearby Tuscany!
If you’re looking for a more off-the-beaten path and authentic vacation in Italy, filled with historic architecture, delicious food and breathtaking views: Umbria is the place to go. You’ll be able to absorbs the same immaculate Italian vibes, for a lower price and a slower pace.
That’s why Umbria is a great addition to any Italy itinerary. The region is also easy to get to from either Florence or Rome by train, so why not add it in as an extra stop? When you do, you’ll see for yourself that Umbria has a lot to offer.
From vibrant cities to picturesque villages, these are the best places to visit in Umbria according to me and other travel bloggers:
How to travel around Umbria
If you’re traveling to Umbria, you will have a few options for transportation. Umbria is a rural and mountenous region, so public transportation is not always available or convenient. However, there are a few train lines that run from Perugio to different parts of the region. Local bus services make up the rest of the public transport network.
The train lines give you the option of visiting a few of the popular towns in Umbria, such as Assisi and Spello. If you want to venture out further, to more remote villages, you will need to get your own transportation.
A car is by far the easiest way to get around Umbria. You will be completely flexible in your Umbria itinerary, and you’ll be able to visit some wineries and farms (which I highly recommend). Keep in mind that you will have to park outside of villages, as Medieval towns are not car-friendly. Solo travelers who want to take day trips can also make due with a moped. But keep in mind that these are not allowed on the highway, so you’re limited in your range.
There are two types of highways in Italy: toll roads and provincial roads. The toll roads are better maintained and faster, but also cost money to use. Traffic in Italy has a bad reputation, some of which deserved. For inexperienced or insecure drivers, it will be a little overwhelming. The trick is to drive with the traffic, be alert and assertive. Don’t try to follow all the rules, and instead just follow the lead of the locals.
Where to stay in Umbria
The easiest city to base yourself when exploring Umbria is Perugia. It is the capitol, biggest city, and transport hub of the region. From here, you can catch trains and buses to other towns around Umbria. In Perugia, you also have a lot of options for hotels and vacation rental apartments.
It’s one of my favorite places to visit in Italy!
If you would like a calmer vacation and get a taste of real Italian life, I recommend booking an agriturismo. An agriturismo is accommodation for tourists on a farm. But don’t think you’ll be sleeping with the cattle! Agriturismi often take the shape of apartments in historic rural estates or vacation houses on the property. Many agriturismi have a pool and offer fun activities like tours and cooking classes.
My personal recommendation is Agriturismo Marzolano, where I stayed a few years ago.
Perugia is the capital of Umbria, so no visit to the region is complete without exploring this glorious city. Dating back to Etruscan times, the city has a rich history, with impressive Renaissance architecture in its piazzas and intriguing medieval lanes to explore. Etruscan ruins lie beneath the cathedral, and a remarkable Etruscan arch can be found at Piazza Grimana.
Perugia is at its best in July, when the annual Jazz Festival sees the streets and squares filled with live music. Many of the concerts are free and there’s a great atmosphere with crowds taking to the city to enjoy the music.
If you’re exploring Italy with kids, ensure you pay a visit to the Perugina chocolate family – home to the delicious Baci chocolates.
Perugia is well-connected for visitors who would like to use it as a base to explore the region. Assisi, Spello and Spoleto can all be reached in under an hour, while Rome is around three hours from Perugia.
Allow at least three days to explore Perugia – Hotel Locanda della Posta is an appealing place to stay in the center of the city. Alternatively, try an agriturismo in the countryside outside the city to experience true Umbrian hospitality and authentic local cuisine.
By Annabel from Smudged Postcard
No list of the best places to visit in Umbria is complete without the beautiful and historically important town of Assisi. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Assisi is most famous for being the birthplace and the deathplace of St Francis of Assisi, who was a hugely important figure in Christianity. St Francis came from a rich family, but gave up his wealth and privilege to live a life of poverty, preaching the gospel, healing the sick and supposedly talking to animals. Today, a visit to the magnificent Basilica of St Francis is one of the most unmissable things to do in Assisi, and indeed in all of Umbria.
It’s easy to visit Assisi as a day trip; other great things to see while you’re there include visiting the beautiful Basilica of St Mary of the Angels, climbing up to the ruins of the Rocca Maggiore castle to admire the stunning views over the town and surrounding area, or simply wandering around and exploring the town’s many cute cafes, shops and restaurants. While it always helps to have a car, you can easily reach Assisi by train or bus from other cities like Florence or Siena.
By Bella from Passport & Pixels
Spoleto is a charming hilltop town located in central Italy. It is known for its stunning medieval architecture, rich history, and vibrant cultural scene. Even though it is a small town, it is perfect for those looking to escape the crowds and enjoy the beauty of the local Italian culture.
One of the most notable sights in Spoleto is the Ponte delle Torri. It is a medieval bridge that offers breathtaking views of the Umbrian countryside, which looks similar to the Tuscan countryside. The town is also home to several historic churches and museums, including the National Museum of the Ducato di Spoleto and the Church of Sant’Eufemia. In addition, Spoleto is famous for its annual arts festival, the Festival dei Due Mondi, which showcases world-class performances in music, dance, and theater.
When it comes to food and drink, there are plenty of options in Spoleto. For a traditional Umbrian meal, try the local trattorias, where you can sample dishes like porchetta (roast pork) and the famous olive oil of the region. Umbria is also known for the truffle, so make sure to try a nice pasta with truffle during your time here. One of my all-time favourite cold cuts, Ciauscolo, a soft spreadable fresh salami can also be found in Umbria. I highly recommend trying it during your time in Umbria. Wine lovers, make sure to taste the local red wine Sagrantino at any local bar in the town.
Spoleto is easily accessible by train and makes for the perfect day-trip from Rome and Perugia. If you’re driving, you can reach Spoleto from the nearby A1 motorway.
By Merryl from merrylstravelandtricks.com
Spello is a gorgeous hill town in Umbria. Many only visit the town on a day trip, but it’s a great place to base yourself when exploring this region in Italy.
No need to worry about driving; Spello is easily reachable by train. From the train station, it’s only a ten-minute walk to town.
But be warned; wear comfortable shoes; Spello is a hill town with steep hills. You will rarely be walking on the flat – always uphill or downhill., but that’s part of its charm.
The best things to do in Spello are simply wandering the streets and the floral alleyways, admiring the pretty churches and the stunning vistas of the Umbrian countryside. If you’re a fan of renaissance art, you must visit the Baglioni Chapel in the Collegiata di Santa Maria Maggiore to see paintings by Pinturicchio.
The town is famous for its Infloriata festival, which takes place in June, and the streets become floral carpets.
This delightful tiny town has so many excellent restaurants and wonderful delicatessens. The food here is incredible – try the local black truffles, olive oils, Chianina beef, and wild boar. For instance, at La Cantina di Spello.
By Sarah from Life Part 2 And Beyond
Bevagna is not only one of the best places to visit in Umbria, it is also considered one of the most beautiful towns in Italy! Settlements in this location date back to the Iron Age, but it became a town during the Roman Empire. The oldest structures in Bevagna are a Roman temple and theater.
Most of the town architecture is Medieval and beautifully preserved. Within the old city walls, it is easy to feel like you’re being transported back in town. You might even see women washing clothes in the ancient municipal wash house!
Life in Bevagna is slow and leisurely. The best way to explore it is to drive here and park outside the city walls. Then stroll through the narrow streets, visit the churches and sit down at a restaurant on the main street.
Castelluccio is a mountain village famous for two things: lentils and earthquakes.
In 2016, this small community was shaken by an earthquake that all but destroyed the village. In true Italian fashion, reconstruction has been slow, despite financial aid from the EU. The village itself is mostly inhabitable, but people are reluctant to completely abandon their homes. They come back to help reconstruction and to sell their wares. This is why Casteluccio is one of the best places to visit in Umbria, so that you can help this community recover.
Castelluccio lies all the way up in the Appenine mountains in the north of Umbria, at around 1350 meters elevation. This creates a beautiful view as well as a climate that is perfect for growing lentils. Lenticchie di Castelluccio are expensive, but well worth the money! They are hardy and full of flavor and one of the best things to eat in Umbria. The best time to visit Castelluccio is in the late spring, when the lentil fields full of wildflowers are in full bloom.
One of the best places to visit in Umbria is the Etruscan town of Orvieto. Sitting on a soft limestone hill, it is famed for its underground attractions.
Among the best things to do in Orvieto is to do a tour of Orvieto Underground, which you must book in advance. There, you will learn more about the history of the kilometers of underground tunnels and rooms that have been built under the city throughout the centuries.
Next, visit the imposing cathedral. Not only is the façade of impressive beauty, but the interior will take your breath away. There are two wells in Orvieto that you must see. One is the Pozzo della Cava which is 36 meters deep and was built by the Etruscans.
The second well you must visit is the Pozzo di San Patrizio where you can walk the 248 steps to the bottom of the 54-meter-deep well. For a fantastic pizza, head to Piazza del Popolo.
Orvieto is easily reached by train from Rome in one hour, but if you drive, there are plenty of paid parking spots around the town, also right next to the cathedral. You can see most attractions in a day, but if you have two days, you will tour it a lot more relaxed.
By Linn Haglund from Brainy Backpackers
If you want to dive into the regions’ history, Amelia is one of the best places to visit in Umbria. According to some, this is the oldest town in Umbria, dating back to 1134 B.C. Parts of the current city walls even date back to its earliest time!
To experience the rich history and culture first hand, you should visit Amelia in late July and early August. It is worth braving the heat to attend the Palio dei Colombi, a traditional contest on horseback. During this time, the town put on a big Medieval festival.
Outside of these two weeks, Amelia is delightfully low on tourists. It is such an underrated place that you can really experience the authentic Italian charm.
Amelia lies close to Terni and makes a good stop on the way from Perugia to Rome. If you have the money, I highly recommend staying at Villa Totano near Amelia. This beautiful old convent was converted into a vacation home and argiturismo. My parents know the owners, and I spent many summers here as a child. It is heaven on earth!
Gubbio is about 50 kilometers away from Perugia. This charming medieval town is immersed in the countryside and surrounded by primeval woodland.
Gubbio is one of the best places to visit in Umbria because it’s one of the oldest medieval Umbrian settlements. The town was an important fief of the Montefeltro and Della Rovere families during the Middle Ages, and over the centuries jealously has preserved its medieval appearance.
Piazza Grande is a must-see when visiting Gubbio. From this piazza, you can enjoy spectacular views over the valley and see two of the most important historic buildings of the town: Palazzo dei Consoli and Palazzo Pretorio. You should also visit the Duomo and the Church of San Francesco, where they say St. Francis found refuge after leaving the father’s house.
If you visit Gubbio around Christmastime you can marvel at the world’s biggest Christmas tree which is built upside Monte Ingino! In Gubbio, you can taste the best of Umbrian cuisine, with everything from legume soup to the strangozzi with meat sauce (a pasta dish) and crescia, a delicious local flat bread. Try the one from bar La Crescia Mia! All in all, Gubbio is perfect for day trip, and you can get there by car, by train or by bus from both Perugia and Rome.
by Maddalena from Venice Travel Tips
A trip to Umbria wouldn’t be complete without exploring its wine culture, and the picturesque hilltop town of Montefalco is one of the best places to do it.
Montefalco stands aloft in the very centre of Umbria. From its walls you can enjoy fantastic views across the region in all directions, hence it is known as the “balcony of Umrbia”. Quaint cobbled roads line the old town, leading you among beautiful medieval churches and stony houses.
The landscape around Montefalco is a blanket of vineyards. This is the only place in the world where sagrantino grapes are grown natively, and they yield the most extraordinary red wine. Azienda Agricola Montioni, one of the best wineries in Umbria, is located just outside Montefalco.
Montioni is the perfect place to sample sagrantino wine and learn about its cultivation. On a tour, you can visit vineyards and olive groves, where you will find more breathtaking countryside views.
To explore independently, follow La Strada Del Sagrantino, a cultural discovery trail that follows the wine route around Montefalco. Montefalco is a rural town, and the best way to reach it is by car. Visit in September to experience vineyards just before the harvest.
By Alex Trembath from Career Gappers
This post has been a collective effort of travel bloggers. I would like to thank them for their contributions to this list of the best places to visit in Umbria. Have a look at each of their blogs!
I believe that Umbria is woefully underrated, and I hope this post will convince you to take a trip here. Visiting less touristic places is a more sustainable way to travel and provides income to remote communities. Traveling through Umbria is an opportunity to discover a new area of Italy. One full of history, culture, and delicious food. I am sure you’ll fall in love with is the way that I have!
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3 thoughts on “The Best Places to Visit in Umbria”
Nice post! You describe some wonderful places; I walked to most of them on the Way of St. Francis, another way to see Umbria!
Thank you! I would love to walk the Way of St. Francis
It is a wonderful trek…if you’re interested, I wrote about iIt n my book, Trippin’ Through My 60s. Hope you get to walk at least part of it some day!