Umbria offers visitors the opportunity to discover the breathtaking nature and cultural treasures of the Green Heart of Italy. While there are many ways to explore Umbria, look no further than a walking or cycling trip – where rolling green hills, ancient hilltop villages, and world class vineyards can be experienced up close. By choosing to travel on foot or by bike, it’s easy to head off-the-beaten-track and uncover stunning hidden gems.
In this article, we’ll delve into why a walking or cycling trip in Umbria is so special and share some of the best tours – along with tips to make the most of your journey. This enchanting Italian destination will captivate you with its unique blend of picturesque countryside, rich history, gastronomic delights and warm hospitality. Whether you prefer slow-paced walks or invigorating cycling adventures, Umbria will leave its mark on you.
Benefits of a Walking Trip in Umbria
Walking through the lush landscapes of Umbria is an invitation to slow down and savor the moment. The well-preserved villages and towns transport you back in time – as you meander along cobblestone streets, passing historic churches and encountering the local life. The relaxed nature of walking allows you to appreciate the colors of the countryside, soak in the intricate details of the architecture and stumble upon unique sights that often go unnoticed when traveling by other means.
Another highlight of a walking trip in Umbria is the chance to indulge in the food. As you traverse the trails, you’ll come across quaint trattorias and family-run osterias. Here, you can relish in quintessential Umbrian dishes. From savory truffles to hearty soups, each bite tells a story of the region’s culinary heritage. Walking through the vineyards and olive groves, you can also sample exceptional wines – such as the velvety red Sagrantino and the crisp white Grechetto – and taste liquid gold in the form of extra virgin oil, all while learning about the artisans who have perfected their craft.
By opting for a walk, you can gorge on cuisine without feeling guilty – as the next moment you are burning off the calories you consumed. Indeed, walking is one of the best exercises for your health because it can help you build stamina, lose excess fat and make your heart healthier – great for older folks who want to incorporate wellness into their holidays.
The Thrill of a Cycling Trip in Umbria
For those seeking a more challenging and exhilarating experience, cycling through the undulating terrain and striking valleys of Umbria is an absolute joy from start to finish. Pedaling along well-maintained cycling paths, you’ll witness spellbinding vistas at every turn – with the scent of wildflowers and the gentle breeze guiding you along the way. The increased speed that cycling generates lets you cover more ground, while still empowering you to live in the moment and take in the spectacular scenery of the region.
Umbria offers a range of options for all levels of fitness and expertise. From leisurely rides by vineyards and olive groves to adrenaline pumping ascents up mountainous landscapes, there’s a route to suit every preference in this part of Italy. As you cycle through Umbria, you’ll also be able to spot ancient ruins and majestic castles – each with its own fascinating history.
Perhaps the main reason why a cycling trip is so rewarding is the physical and mental component. Everyday is a chance to lose weight, work on cardio fitness, strengthen muscles and get endorphins boosted. The sense of accomplishment you feel as you complete the day’s adventure is intoxicating. All of these positive health aspects take place with Umbria as your backdrop – one of the most beautiful cycling destinations in Europe.
A Couple of the Best Umbria Walking & Cycling Tours
When it comes to planning a walking or cycling trip in Umbria, partnering with a reputable tour operator can enhance your experience and ensure a seamless journey. Meravigliosa Umbria is a renowned company that specializes in guided and self-guided walking and cycling tours, tailored to suit different interests and fitness levels. Here are a few of their top trips.
Two Wonderful Umbrian Towns: Assisi & Spoleto
This 7-day guided or self-guided walking tour takes you through the epic landscapes surrounding the birthplace of St. Francis. Explore the alleys of Assisi, visit Basilica di San Francesco and marvel at the ancient city of Spoleto – boasting cathedrals, Roman houses, aqueduct bridges and nestled by hills, olive groves and vineyards. You will be walking between 11 and 20 kms daily – up and down hills, on mountain tracks, forest trails, country roads and footpaths, traversing the Way of Saint Francis – so it’s ideal for experienced walkers who have a connection with Christianity.
Medieval Villages and a Fascinating Lake
A 5 or 7-day cycling tour featuring a complete overview of Umbria is the offering here. Valle Umbra will be explored on two wheels – famous for towns such as Spello and Bevagna. The tour kicks off in Assisi and then takes you to Spello. The path between these two is lovely as it boasts olive groves. Once at Spello, you can enjoy the Town of Flowers, before heading to Bevagna with its churches and the wine town of Torgiano. The next section is the Perugia-Lago Trasimeno en-route to Castiglione del Lago. The tour finishes at Passignano sul Trasimeno where you can admire lake views.
Tips to Enjoy a Walking or Cycling Trip in Umbria
- Pack Clothing Suitable for Outdoor Activities: Opt for lightweight and breathable fabrics in the summer, along with plenty of sunscreen and a sun hat – especially for the walking trips. If you are coming outside of summer, pack a rain jacket and some warmer clothes just in case it gets cold. Don’t forget to bring specific footwear for the long walks, such as hiking boots or trail shoes, and any specialty cycling gear to help you stay comfortable on the bike like Spandex, Lycra or elastane clothing.
- Stay Hydrated and Carry a Refillable Water Bottle: Navigating Umbria’s sunny climate and hilly terrain on foot or by bike can make you incredibly thirsty, so it’s important to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated as you go. Bringing a couple of refillable water bottles allows you to fill up for free when you take stops and not add to the plastic problem by buying dozens of single-use plastic water bottles. Cycling hydration packs are also highly recommended for anyone embarking on a lengthy cycling trip.
- Embrace the Local Culture by Learning a Few Basic Italian Phrases: The locals of Umbria, who aren’t accustomed to large swathes of tourists like in other parts of Italy, appreciate the efforts of visitors who try to speak a little bit of Italian. It can enrich your interactions and help build trust with the local residents. Even if it’s just enough to say hello and order food, this small amount can go a long way to forming genuine connections with the Umbrian people. The more Italian you learn, the better your experience.
- Capture the Memories by Bringing a Camera or GoPro: Umbria is a photographer’s paradise, so don’t miss the opportunity to photograph your trip. You might want to upgrade to the latest iPhone so you have a high quality camera at your disposal, or perhaps you could purchase a GoPro with a helmet mount to take videos of your cycling adventures.
- Take Breaks to Savor the Local Cuisine: As mentioned, the great thing about a walking or cycling trip through Umbria is the fact that you are burning off calories as you go. That means a greater appetite to gorge on finger-licking food. Whether it’s pecorino and caciotta cheeses or handmade chocolate, prepare for an eating extravaganza in Umbria.
- Be Mindful of the Weather and Plan Your Trip Accordingly: Consider the seasonal variations in Umbria, and how they will affect the overhead conditions and color of the landscapes. In general, Umbria experiences mild winters and hot summers – with the highest rainfall occurring in November and hottest temperatures in August. So check the weather trends before you go and book a trip when you feel most comfortable.