Most itineraries for Umbria will assume you’re in a car. Driving is definitely the easiest way to explore Umbria, and for that matter most of central Italy.
But I love the train. There’s a bit more sense of adventure. Meeting locals and fellow travelers is easier. And of course it’s better for the environment.
So here’s a 14 day itinerary of Umbria done in 3 segments so you can cut it up and make your own, all by train.
With the train you can easily see the larger towns of Umbria; Perugia, Orvieto and Spoleto.
But there are also some smaller towns that you can easily access with public transport. Hill top towns like Assisi, Spello and Trevi have good transit systems connecting the train station to the historic center. And even the north side of Lake Trasimeno is possible with trains and ferries.
And for areas that you can’t get to by train, like the wine districted of Montefalco or the many wooded areas? Book a day truffle hunting, or a wine tour in Montefalco and you’ll manage to taste parts of Umbria off the train tracks.
I’ve made this itinerary of Umbria a circle, so begin at any point. But for the purpose of this blog post I’ll assume you’re coming up from Rome.
The First Itinerary is exploring Southern Umbria.
Day 1: Start by getting the train up to Spoleto and settle in for 5 nights. I would use Spoleto as a base to see towns like Narni, Trevi, and Foligno.
Day 2: Spend the first day exploring Spoleto, it’s a great town to explore on foot. Make sure to book well in advance if visiting at the end of June or beginning of July as they have their Due Mondi arts festival. Be sure to see the UNESCO site, the Basilica of San Salvatore which dates from around 600AD. Here’s a post all about Spoleto.
Day 3: The next day take the train back to Narni. It stops in Narni Scalo, below the old town. You’ll need to get a taxi or bus to get up to the old town. Wander around Narni, take the ‘Sotterranea’ tour (you need to book in advance here) which is under the old city. And enjoy some black truffles and pasta.
Day 4: There are two options for fourth day:
Option A) have a quiet day and head up to the small town of Trevi for lunch. Another hilltop town. It’s known for having some of the best olive oil in Umbria and ‘black’ celery, which they have some great recipes for. It’s a pretty town with some good restaurants and churches to duck into.
Option B) go and explore the flat city of Foligno. It’s a 15-30 minute train ride between Spoleto and Foligno. Find the frescos by Perugino (the church of San Giacomo), a 12th century cathedral San Feliciano and a palace (Palazzo Trinci) to explore.
Day 5: use Foligno or Spoleto as a jumping off point for a wine tour around Montefalco and Bevagna or truffle hunting.
Or if you’re enjoying visiting towns explore Terni for another day out. They have some great street food and aperitivo scene.
The Second Itinerary is Northern Umbria.
The famous hilltop town of Assisi, its neighbor Spello, and the capital of Umbria, Perugia.
Start by staying 2 nights in Assisi to explore this famous medieval town with a side trip to Spello. Then head to Perugia for 3 nights.
Day 6: Take the train to Assisi for two nights. The train station has many buses and taxis to help you get to where you’re staying. One of my favourite Basilicas is here. I have a post on Assisi and on restaurants to try there.
Day 7: Spello. Just around the corner from Assisi, Spello is another town with the historic center at the top, meaning more walking up hills for beautiful views of the Apennine mountains. Find the museum of Roman mosaics, and enjoy all the flowers everywhere. To get there go by train or by taxi, it’s only a 15 minute drive.
Day 8: Get the train and head up to Perugia. Visiting Perugia is best without a car. Between finding parking and one way streets it’s definitely best done on foot. It’s the biggest town in Umbria, with more museums and restaurants.
Day 9: A day in Perugia: there are lots of options of what to do: museums, galleries, walks and piazzas to chill in. I have a list of free things to do, museums or churches to see.
The Third Itinerary is Western Umbria.
This Itinerary includes Lake Trasimeno and the stunning Orvieto.
Day 10: Depart Perugia in the morning on the commuter train to Passignano del Lago for lunch. Stay the night. Walk along the lake front and enjoy the piazzas for a caffe, glass of wine or gelato. And make sure to see the sunset.
Day 11: Continue along the shores of Trasimeno lake. Head to Castiglione del Lago, you’ll need to change trains in Terontola to get to Castiglione del Lago. Spend the afternoon strolling through the town, go into the fortress and perhaps enjoy the beach below.
Day 12: The next morning depart Castiglione del Lago and head south to Orvieto. Direct trains are every few hours and take between 30-45 minutes.
Day 13: Orvieto: Another not to be missed cathedral in Italy. Like Narni there is an entire other part of Orvieto underground which is worth learning about with a tour. And be sure to try their white wine. I have a post all about Orvieto here.
Or if you’d like a bit more adventure on Lake Trasimeno try this:
Day 10: Depart Perugia in the morning and take a train to Passignano del Lago
Day 11: Take the train to Tuoro sul Trasimeno, then take a ferry to Isola Maggiore. Spend the night if you like, or take the ferry to Castiglione del Lago
Day 12 and 13: Head south to enjoy Orvieto.
Day 14: Head back to Rome or up to Florence. Orvieto is linked by train to Rome and Florence.
Helpful links for Trains, ferries and buses.
Schedules change so make sure to look about 3 months before departing. Trenitalia is great and in English but you need to use Italian city names, like Roma and Firenze. I also find thetrainline helpful for booking tickets.
Here is the 2023 spring ferry schedule for Lake Trasimeno. They do change it every season. Here is the link to the general page which is in Italian.
Joseph Ficarra says
We are planning a trip to Umbria beginning Oct 9 through Oct 15. We have made a reservation for a small apartment in Spello. Prior to Spello we will be staying at an apartment in Sorrento Oct 2 through the 9th. Our tentative plan is to travel by train from Sorrento to Napoli, then travel to Roma by train. Now is where I am uncertain on how to continue the trip to Spello and I am therefore seeking your advice.
I thought about renting a car but getting out of Roma onto the autostrada seems like a hassle. What would be your advice on traveling to Spello? Thank you.
Katy Thomas says
if you don’t want a car while here then there are a few trains a day go directly from Rome to Spello. The rest you usually have to get off in Assisi and switch trains to go back down to Spello. However Assisi and Spello are very close together and I would probably just get a taxi from Assisi to Spello.
If you do want a car while staying in Spello it might be easiest to get the train to Terni and rent a car from there. Or from the Perugia Airport which is very close to Assisi and you could again get a taxi to the airport. You can also rent cars from the train station in Perugia.
Hope this helps,