Perugia Recommendations from a Local

Looking for Perugia, Italy travel recommendations? I’ve lived in both the province and the city center for over a year and a half, and can confidently say that Perugia is a must-visit for anyone touring Italy.

Rome, Venice, Florence, and the Amalfi Coast are renowned destinations, but there’s something special about Perugia, the capital of Umbria. To Italians, it’s well-known, but many foreigners discover it only after their first or second visit to Italy – a pattern I believe should change.

Perugia panoramic 2

I have traveled to all 20 Italian regions, and Perugia still remains one of my favorite places in Italy. Everything from the food, architecture, and the music & arts scene – there’s something for everyone.

Jump to section:

  1. Getting there and Getting Around
  2. Where to Stay in Perugia
  3. What to Do in Perugia
  4. Eats and Drinks of Perugia

Getting there

Being in the center of Italy, Perugia is well connected via train. 

Train from Rome to Perugia – tickets here

Train from Florence to Perugia – tickets here

First a quick logistical note. The Perugia city center is at the top of a hill. If you arrive by train (the station is at the bottom of the hill), I suggest you take the convenient Minimetro up to the city center. When you get off the train, navigate to platform 1 and walk left up the hill. Tickets are easily purchased at the Minimetro station. If for some reason the Minimetro isn’t available, there are several buses that will take you to the center (bus “TS” usually being the most convenient line).

Transportation in Perugia

Once you’re in the city center, most transportation can be done by foot. Those with accessibility needs should know that besides the center-of-the-center, Perugia is not wheelchair friendly.

picture of dog named Francesco on stairs
Much of Perugia looks like this. The dog with the watch is Francesco. If you see him, don’t worry – he’s not lost. He knows the city better than any of us (and he’s usually just hanging out outside his owner’s house).

Where to Stay in Perugia

Because Perugia is built on a hill, you’ll want to stay in or close to the city center. With the blue link below you can sort by distance from city center, rating, and price. You don’t want to end up so far from the center that you need to walk uphill for 30 minutes to get to all the attractions – trust me. 

Recently a good friend stayed here and loved it. It’s got several rooms, ideal for multiple people. 

What to do in Perugia

Here’s some of the main sights you need to see in Perugia.

Piazza IV Novembre is the main piazza at the end of Corso Pietro Vannucci, the main strip in the city center. Its centerpiece is Fontana Maggiore, and it’s bordered on two sides by Palazzo dei Priori and the Perugia Cathedral. Not only is it a beautiful piazza, it’s also a great place to grab a porchetta panino and sit on the stairs and chill out for a bit. You won’t be alone.

Piazza IV Novembre Perugia
Piazza IV Novembre

Arco Etrusco is a perfect example of Etruscan architecture on display in this pre-Roman city. Built in the 3rd century BCE, it’s one of the eight gates in the Etruscan wall of Perugia.

Arco Etrusco in Perugia
Arco Etrusco

A little outside the busy city center, navigate to Abbazia di San Pietro, which will take you down the more quiet Corso Cavour. After a walk through the abbey, you can go right next door to the Gardini del Frontone. Corso Cavour is one of my favorite parts of the city because it’s quieter and has a more local feel than the main center.

Take a walk down peaceful Via Della Viola to see the open air art gallery that’s become a unique staple of the city.

street on via della viola Perugia
Via della Voila Street Art

From the main center, you can walk down Via dei Priori to Piazza San Francesco, out front of the Church of St. Francis. This greenspace is a popular lay-in-the-sun spot for locals, especially university students.

For those interested specifically in the food, you should definitely check out the Taste Perugia Food Tour Led by Local.

As is the case with most Italian cities, the best thing to see in Perugia is the city itself. Just walk around and take it slow.

Some scenic spots with great views are from Giardini Carducci, Belvedere alla Via delle Rupe, and Porta Sole.

view from Porta Sole
View from Porta Sole

Museums

Here’s two museums that are worth checking out:

Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria is the most well-known museum in Perugia, with Umbrian art on display from the Middle Ages to the Baroque period. Locals will often visit when there’s a new exhibit to see. Official website here.

Museo Archeologico Nazionale dell’ Umbria as the name suggests, is an archeological museum with a beautiful courtyard. The website is only in Italian, so I suggest just checking the hours and buying tickets in person.

If you have time for a tour, Perugia Underground (Perugia Sotterranea – official website here) is absolutely worth doing. Tours are offered in both English and Italian. It’s a great way to see the Etruscan roots of the city and better understand the history. If you’re instead looking for an underground experience that doesn’t require a ticket, check out the Rocca Paolina Renaissance fortress.

two pictures inside Rocca Paolina perugia
Rocca Paolina

Live Music

If open-mic events are your thing, Indigo Art Gallery & Cafe and Cafe Pinturicchio are both great spots.

Marla – Marla is an awesome bar / small night club that always has awesome live music and a cool vibe. Wednesday funk night is my personal favorite. It’s closed during the summer (Italians don’t like to be inside during the summer). The owner, Andreas, is from the USA and has become a fixture of Perugia, having lived there for over 15 years. 

Jazz musicians at club Marla in Perugia
Funk Night at Marla

If you’re looking to see some live jazz, there’s of course the famous Umbria Jazz festival every July, which I highly recommend. Otherwise I suggest you check out a jazz jam session at Osteria Cardinali on Fridays.

What and Where to Eat in Perugia

Every region of Italy has a culinary specialty. I always recommend when you go to Italy – eat the regional food. You’re not in Perugia for pizza (though if you’re having pizza withdrawals, good pizza can be found at Pizzeria Mediterranea Trearchi).

In Perugia, some of the specialties are porchetta, cinghiale (wild boar), chocolate, Umbrian wine, and black truffle. If want to learn about Umbrian food from a pro, check out the Taste Perugia Food Tour.

Restaurants

Some great restaurants where you can find traditional Perugian/Umbrian cuisine are Ristorante Il Cantinone Perugia, Locanda Del Bartoccio, and Osteria a Priori. I suggest making reservations ahead of time if you can. Some of my personal favorite Umbrian dishes are pappardelle with white wild boar ragù and stringozzi with ricotta, mushrooms, and sausage.

pictures of people eating at tables outside Ristorante il Cantinone Perugia
Ristorante Il Cantinone Perugia

Casual Options

For more casual food options, you can try Testone or Caffè Dal Perugino. The latter is more of a pre-dinner spot for an aperitivo, but they also have great sandwich and tagliere (meat and cheese board) options. Want pizza by the slice? Check out Reginella or the not-yet-on-Google Maps pizza place right next to Gold Bar.

two pictures of cafe dal perugino. one interior, the other outside with people
Caffe Dal Perugino

If you’re looking for something different, Pinturicchio Cafe & Kitchen specializes in American breakfast and lunch with great coffee, plus beer, wine, and spritz. It’s also a good place to study or work if needed.

Bars

Marla – mentioned previously, Marla is an awesome bar / small night club that always has awesome live music and a cool vibe. 

Dempsey’s – Having the same owner as Marla, Dempsey’s small yet hyper-local bar that’s adored by locals. It’s a great vibe and one of my favorite spots for drinks.

picture inside small bar Dempsey's
Dempsey’s Perugia

Elfo Pub – An awesome tucked-away bar serving drinks of all kinds, but specializing in craft beer. The staff is always fun, and the owner, Natale, knows his beer. It’s also a good place to watch a football game or see a local Italian stand-up comedy act.

Venti Vino is great you’re looking for a wine bar for a wide selection of wines beyond Umbrian wine.

Caffè Fortebraccio is a popular local hang out spot for those who like a less-polished scene, for everything from morning coffee to late night drinks. 

That’s All For Now

I sincerely hope you found value in this article.  If you have recommendations of your own or have suggestions on what else you would like to see covered here, please write in the comments below. Additionally, if you’re planning a trip to Italy and need one-on-one support or guidance, check out my services page where you can get in touch with me.

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