Perugia Travel Guide: Where to Stay, Eat, and Immerse Yourself in Culture
Perugia, located in the heart of Italy's Umbria region, is a city with a rich history dating back to Etruscan times. As with many towns on top of large hills, it was an important center during the Renaissance and has preserved much of its medieval and Renaissance architecture. Perugia, known for its art, culture, and vibrant university atmosphere is small enough for an overnight visit. But Perugia is so quaint with the best valley views, you will want to stay longer.
Perugia has a fascinating history that spans over two millennia. Its origins can be traced back to the Etruscan civilization, which flourished in Central Italy between the 9th and 3rd centuries BCE. The Etruscans established Perugia as one of their twelve powerful city-states, and the city grew in importance as a center of trade and culture. Evidence of this ancient civilization can still be seen today in the form of Etruscan walls, tombs, and artifacts.
During the Roman period, Perugia, then known as Perusia, became an important Roman municipality. It played a significant role in the Roman Empire and was known for its thriving agriculture and production of textiles. Perusia also had its share of conflicts, including a siege by the Roman general Octavian (later known as Emperor Augustus) during the Perusine War in 41-40 BCE. Despite the destruction caused by the conflict, Perugia managed to recover and continue its development.
Perugia experienced a golden age during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. It became a free commune in the 12th century and grew into a prosperous city-state, known for its art, culture, and university. Notable figures, such as the painter Pietro Vannucci (known as Perugino) and the architect and sculptor Agostino di Duccio, contributed to the city's artistic heritage. Perugia also played a significant role in the Italian Wars of the 15th and 16th centuries, being a battleground between various regional powers ranging from Noble clans all the way up to Pope Paul III and the Papal State.
Today, Perugia stands as a testament to its rich history, with well-preserved medieval and Renaissance architecture and a vibrant cultural scene that continues to attract visitors from around the world.
A Full Day Itinerary
You could probably work this full-day itinerary into something of a half-day if you were doing a day trip from another location. My recommendation is to spend the night so you can take advantage of the beautiful sunset views as well as the sunrise the next morning before your departure.
Start your day by visiting the historic center of Perugia, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take a leisurely stroll through the winding streets and picturesque squares, such as Piazza IV Novembre and Piazza Matteotti.
Visit the magnificent Perugia Cathedral, located in Piazza IV Novembre. Admire the stunning architecture and the beautiful frescoes inside the church.
Explore the Rocca Paolina, a 16th-century fortress built by Pope Paul III. The fortress offers panoramic views of the city and houses an underground city with a
rich history that you can explore.
Take a walk along Corso Vannucci, the main street of Perugia, lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants. Enjoy the lively atmosphere and stop for a coffee or gelato at one of the local establishments.
Visit the Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria, an art museum located in the Palazzo dei Priori. The museum houses an impressive collection of artworks from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, including paintings by famous artists like Perugino and Pinturicchio. While in Palazzo Priori be sure to look up for some stunning ceilings.
Head to the Fontana Maggiore, a medieval fountain with 25 detailed panels located in Piazza IV Novembre. Admire the intricate sculptures and reliefs that depict biblical scenes and the history of Perugia.
If you're a chocolate lover, don't miss a visit to the Perugina Chocolate Factory. Take a tour to learn about the chocolate-making process and indulge in some delicious samples.
Enjoy a traditional Umbrian dinner at one of the local trattorias or osterias. Sample regional specialties like truffles, porchetta, and Umbrian wines.
Take a walk along the city walls to enjoy the panoramic views of Perugia at sunset. The Etruscan walls offer a unique perspective of the city and its surroundings.
Hotel Brufani Palace
Located in the historic center of Perugia, this luxurious 5-star hotel offers stunning views of the city and surrounding countryside. With elegant rooms, a spa, and a rooftop terrace, it provides a memorable and comfortable stay.
Hotel Sangallo Palace
Situated near the city's main attractions, this modern 4-star hotel offers spacious rooms and excellent amenities. It features a rooftop pool, a fitness center, and a restaurant serving delicious local cuisine.
Hotel Giò Wine e Jazz Area
This unique 4-star hotel combines two of Perugia's passions – wine and jazz. It boasts stylish rooms decorated with jazz-themed artwork and a wide selection of regional wines. The hotel also hosts live jazz performances, creating a lively and artistic ambiance.
Osteria a Priori
This charming restaurant offers a delightful blend of traditional Umbrian cuisine and modern flavors. It uses fresh, locally sourced ingredients to create dishes like wild boar ragù and truffle-infused pasta. The cozy atmosphere and attentive service make it a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Via dei Priori, 39
Ristorante La Taverna
Located in a historic building, this restaurant is known for its warm and inviting atmosphere. It specializes in classic Italian dishes prepared with a creative twist. Don't miss their homemade pasta dishes and delectable desserts. Via delle Streghe, 8
Perugia San Francesco d'Assisi – Umbria International Airport (PEG) is the main airport serving Perugia. It's located approximately 10 kilometers outside the city center. From the airport, you can take a taxi or a shuttle bus to reach the city center.
Perugia is well-connected by train to other major cities in Italy. You can take a train from Rome, Florence, or other nearby cities to reach Perugia. The train station, Stazione di Perugia, is located in Piazza Vittorio Veneto.
Italian authenticity, away from the crowds. There’s much to discover in the green heart of Italy, and even more to fall in love with Umbria - especially Perugia.
Read more about Umbria:
The Way To Italy has been providing fee-based, custom travel planning for travelers to Italy for 23 years. I handcraft once-in-a-lifetime Italy experiences down to the last detail.