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Best Things to Do in Orvieto Italy: View of Town

16 Cool Things to Do in Orvieto, Italy

Italy

Honestly, we were surprised by the number of cool things to do in Orvieto.

We’ve had our eye on this adorable hilltop town for a while: with its long history dating back to the Etruscans and picture-perfect setting on a cliff in Umbria, we were eager to explore its back streets, check out its Duomo (because every Italian town needs a Duomo!), and sample its delicious food.

Beyond that, though, we really had no idea what we would actually do there until we booked some train tickets and started planning our trip.

And to our surprise, it turns out that there are plenty of fun things to do in Orvieto!

Orvieto was one of the most important cities in the region during Etruscan times, and (much) later served as a home for the pope–with a history like that, it should come as no surprise that the Orvieto of today is an engaging and multi-faceted place to visit.

Heading to this charming piece of Umbria soon? Here’s what to do in Orvieto.

What to Do in Orvieto Italy: Man at Bar

16 Best Things to Do in Orvieto

Marvel at the Orvieto Cathedral.

Orvieto’s Cathedral (usually known as the Duomo, as in most cities in Italy) has one of the most beautiful facades we have seen–the carvings and mosaics on the Duomo practically demand that you plop down in the Piazza del Duomo and properly admire it for a few minutes.

Once inside, be sure to check out the Cappella di San Brizio! While most of the interior of this Duomo is rather stark, this small chapel is absolutely magnificent–and disturbing. The depictions of hell on the ceiling, complete with flying demons, countless acts of violence, and streams of blood, are some of the creepiest we have come across.

Things to Do in Orvieto: Duomo

Check out the underground.

Did you know that there are 1200 caves under Orvieto?

Each one of them is man-made, some dating back as far as the Etruscans, and each has been put to good use.

Be sure to add a tour of the underground to your list of things to do in Orvieto–it’s amazing to get underneath the city and learn more about the many, many uses the caves have had over the years.

Unlike most things to do in Orvieto, this one does require scheduling (slightly) in advance–we recommend heading to the tourism office in the Piazza del Duomo when you arrive and signing up for a tour, and then structuring the rest of your time in Orvieto around that.

Things to Do in Orvieto Italy: Orvieto Underground

… And also the Pozo della Cava.

The Pozo della Cava is a privately owned cave in Orvieto, and gives you a great opportunity to learn more about the history (their detailed, multilingual signage was impressive!) and to get up-close-and-personal look at one of Orvieto’s many wells.

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Descend into St. Patrick’s Well.

While you can peer into the well at the Pozo della Cava, at St. Patrick’s Well, you can climb all the way down inside!

It’s beautiful and eerie to look up and see the perfectly cylindrical well reaching 175 feet above your head, and definitely an experience worth adding to your list of things to do in Orvieto.

Things to Do in Orvieto Italy: St. Patrick's Well

Give a pigeon dish a try.

Seemingly every small village in Italy has its own local dish or food associated with it, and in Orvieto, it’s pigeon.

Pigeons were originally farmed in the caves under Orvieto, though today they’re produced in more modern facilities.

For a truly local meal, order the pigeon (in Italian, “piccione”) for lunch!

Check out Etruscan artifacts at the Museo Claudio Faina.

Claudio Faina was a private collector of Etruscan artifacts, but his collection (and the stunning palazzo it is housed in) are now open to the public.

The museum is located right across from the Duomo, so be sure to duck in for a quick look at Etruscan history in Orvieto!

Best Things to Do in Orvieto Italy: Man Riding Bike on Street

View the ruins of an Etruscan necropolis.

It’s not every small town that can say they’re the home of a 2,500-year-old cemetery, but Orvieto can!

Several distinct graves–complete with inscribed family names–can still be seen at the necropolis.

… And also the ruins of the Temple of Belvedere.

This Etruscan temple was probably built to honor the god Tinia, the Etruscans highest god, and remains of the temple can still be seen to this day.

Certain artifacts that have been found there can also be seen in the Museo Claudio Faina.

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Soak in amazing views at the top of the Torre del Moro.

No trip to an Italian hilltop town could be complete without visiting an amazing viewpoint, which makes climbing the Torre del Moro one of the best things to do in Orvieto!

On a clear day, you can see all across Orvieto and beyond into the Umbrian countryside, and the views are absolutely breathtaking (as is the climb, and there is no elevator option).

Things to Do in Orvieto Italy: Torre del Moro View

Head to the Archaeological Museum.

It’s hard to imagine today, given Orvieto’s status as a charming yet tiny Italian town, but Orvieto was one of the most important cities in Etruscan culture.

In addition to the Etruscan archaeological sites in Orvieto, the Archaeological Museum offers a fantastic opportunity to view Etruscan artifacts and to learn more about Etruscan history and culture, which will give excellent context to your visit to Orvieto.

Stroll through the Albornoz Fortress.

Built in the Middle Ages, this castle-like fortress stands at the edge of Orvieto–if you arrive in town via the funicular, it’ll likely be the first thing you see in Orvieto!

Today, the fortress is mostly used as a public garden, complete with an amphitheater for performances and absolutely stunning views of the surrounding Umbrian countryside.

Things to Do in Orvieto Italy: Umbrian Countryside

Stop by the Piazza della Repubblica.

Long the center of public life in Orvieto, this small piazza may not be the most picturesque, but it’s an unmissable spot in Orvieto.

Home to the town hall to this day and once the center of the city’s religious life (until the Duomo was erected on the edge of town), it’s worth noting the Piazza della Repubblica on your list of things to see in Orvieto.

Best Things to Do in Orvieto Italy: Piazza della Repubblica

Step inside the Church of San Giovenale.

Standing proudly on the edge of Orvieto, this charming church boasts a long history: built in 1004 on the site of a former Etruscan temple, it has the feel of a weathered building that has seen many things come and go during its life.

The interior is still partially decorated with frescoes, so be sure to stop and take a peek inside!

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… And then enjoy the nearby views.

The Church of San Giovenale stands on the edge of town… which means the nearby views are absolutely stunning.

We spent a long time blissfully admiring the countryside from one of the benches situated at this vantage point, and other than the occasional meandering local with their baby or pup, we had the view all to ourselves!

Best Things to Do in Orvieto Italy: Views of Umbrian Countryside

Taste the Orvieto Classico wine.

In addition to being a town, Orvieto is also the name of the surrounding wine region!

Known primarily for its white Orvieto Classico wine, wine lovers should be sure to order a glass while exploring Orvieto–or even to visit a nearby vineyard to add a wine tasting to their list of things to do in Orvieto!

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Spend hours exploring the small streets of Orvieto.

One of the best things to do in Orvieto is quite simple: wander the streets.

It’s simply not possible to get too lost here–you’ll always be a short walk away from something familiar–but it’s lots of fun to simply turn down random streets and see what turns up.

Beautiful homes, charming small businesses, quiet corners, and plenty of adorable dogs are just waiting to be found.

We loved every moment of our visit to Orvieto, but if we had to pick just a few favorites, the quiet moments spent wandering streets at random would definitely be among them.

Best Things to Do in Orvieto Italy: Small Streets

The Orvieto Card

For 20 Euros, you can purchase the Orvieto Card, which covers nine of the most popular things to do in Orvieto (including the Duomo, the underground, St. Patrick’s Well, and the Torre del Moro), as well as round-trip public transportation to the old town from the train station via the funicular.

If you’re going to be doing quite a bit of sightseeing in Orvieto, we recommend picking up the Orvieto Card as soon as you get to town–preferably before you pay for the funicular up!

The cards are sold at all participating attractions, the train station, and the tourism office across the piazza from the Duomo.

If you’re so inclined, the card can also be used for small discounts at certain local restaurants and shops.

Girl in Orvieto, Italy

Getting to Orvieto

Orvieto is easily accessible via train from both Florence (about 2.5 hours travel time each way) and Rome (about 1.5 hours travel time each way) and is an easy day trip from both cities.

You can also drive to Orvieto, which is a great option if you’re hoping to see some smaller sights and attractions along the way. However, you’ll need to secure parking for your car before ascending into Orvieto’s old town–you can’t drive there without a permit!

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Getting Around Orvieto

Orvieto is tiny, and once you ride the funicular and/or escalators up into the old town, you won’t need to do anything other than walk to get around!

During our time in Orvieto, we walked directly from one side to the other in less than half an hour, and we weren’t moving particularly fast.

Best Things to Do in Orvieto Italy: Streets of Orvieto

How Long to Stay in Orvieto

One day in Orvieto is plenty of time to see all the major and some of the minor sights, and we recommend visiting as a day trip from either Florence or Rome.

Even though we loved discovering how many interesting things to do in Orvieto there are, unless you only want to relax in a beautiful setting, anything beyond a day is overkill for Orvieto.

If you would like to spend more time there, consider exploring Umbria beyond Orvieto, starting with the nearby wineries!

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The Best Things to Do in Orvieto, Italy: #orvieto #umbria #italy #travel #italytravel #hilltoptowns

14 Comments Write a comment

Kate has been traveling the world full-time for more than 3 years. She tries to keep a balance between going on new adventures and exploring favorite destinations (like Italy!) in depth, and is always on the lookout for the next beautiful overlook and delicious meal.

14 Comments

  • Riana Ang-Canning November 2, 2018

    Orvieto is so pretty! I have never heard of this place before but it looks so charming. I love little winding streets and that cathedral is BANANAS! Also bananas? That pigeon is eaten! I guess you can’t knock it until you try it! Thanks for the tips!

    • Kate Storm November 3, 2018

      Haha, right? It’s definitely not what I expected from a town in Italy, but then again, we’ve come to find there’s almost always a surprise in tiny towns like these. 😀

  • Terri April 16, 2019

    My husband, teenage son and I recently spent 6 days/5 nights in Orvieto. I completely agree with you that it is charming, beautiful and fascinating. The only point I would disagree with is that more than a day is overkill. After 6 days, none of us were ready to leave.

    • Kate Storm April 18, 2019

      I’m glad you had such a wonderful time! Orvieto is certainly beautiful.

  • Faye June 10, 2019

    My hubby & I are attending a wedding in Orvieto next year. It’s also our own 20th wedding anniversary therefore we are planning on taking 2-weeks and traveling through Italy in the surrounding areas 🙂 It’s going to be our first time in Italy. Any other tips or suggestions would be amazing Kate! Thank you.

    • Kate Storm June 11, 2019

      Congratulations on 20 years! That’s a wonderful accomplishment. 🙂

      There’s a search bar in the top-right corner of our blog that you can use to find our suggested 2 week Italy itinerary for a first visit–it covers Rome, Cinque Terre, Florence, and Venice, and would be very easy to adapt to a wedding in Orvieto! If you’d rather stick to a close geographic region, Tuscany and Umbria alone could easily fill a trip–Siena, Montepulciano, Cortona, Florence, Assisi, Perugia, San Gimignano, and Volterra are all very close by and worth looking into!

      Personally, though, I’d have to suggest broadening it a bit further and visiting at least Rome or Venice for a look at a different region of Italy.

      Whatever you choose, I have no doubt it’ll be an amazing trip for you guys!

  • Katy September 25, 2019

    Kate;
    One day in Orvieto? 🙈WRONG!!!, Kate this advice is misdirecting people. I live in Orvieto and can assure you that all tourists who visit Orvieto for one day, leave complaining that one day is not enough. The comment we hear -without exception, is “what a shame that we are staying here for one day only”. My advice to your readers and take it from someone living here for 7 years, is that if you are coming to Orvieto one day is NOT enough, make it 2 nights, arrive early so you get to enjoy a full 3 day visit. Unless your goal is to see everything and appreciate nothing then 1/2 a day will do it. Other than that, you have done a wonderful job at describing the lovely, peaceful atmosphere of Orvieto, matching its interesting sites with the history behind it, and one more thing a typical dish Orvietano is pasta with fresh truffle yum, yum

  • Dave Collins September 25, 2019

    I think you have to first asses what you like to do, if you like big cities or smaller villages, churches and basilicas, if you like mountains, or scenic vistas over water or outdoor trekking, wine country, foodie towns, etc. You cannot do it all in two weeks and you are better of picking say 3 places beyond Orvieto rather than be overly ambitious. If you are in Orvieto for the wedding than I’m assuming your flying into Rome so you could arrive early and see the Rome highlights, then Orvieto, then train up to Florence (another busy place) OR if you have a car you could drive into Tuscany and see Sienna or Lucca or Pisa, or other San or Multa towns. Santa Margherita / Portofino on the coast are more upscale than Cinque Terrae but if you love hiking choose the latter. To the south of Rome Sorrento, Capri, Positano are spectacular views. Good Luck !

  • Erin September 25, 2019

    I agree that Orvieto is wonderful, but I completely disagree that a single day is enough time there! I studied in Orvieto for 5 months and I still feel as though there was more to do and see. The theater has great shows, the food festivals (almost weekly in the summer!) bring the rest of Umbria to the Orvietan hilltop, and the religious holidays and historical reenactments truly demonstrate the history of the city beyond even hat all the wonderful museums have to offer.

    • Kate Storm September 26, 2019

      To each their own, Erin & Katy! I’m glad you love your adopted home, but most of our readers are lucky to have a couple of weeks to try to see large swaths of Italy and our advice is geared toward them.

      Orvieto is beautiful, but on a short trip to Italy as opposed to a long-term expat experience like yours, I definitely stand by my advice.

      Of course, for travelers looking for a quiet trip based in a small town in Italy, Orvieto sure is a lovely choice, though not my first one. 🙂

  • Dianne Longson September 29, 2019

    I’m in Orvieto right now. I think a day is far too short unless.ypu want to be running from place to place and your happy to only to be able to say you’ve been there. After a single day, I don’t think you can say anything else about it. I spent a full hour in the Duomo alone just soaking up the ambience and the amazing art. I think you could comfortably spend 3 or 4 days here and really enjoy what it has to offer rather than rushing through.

    • Kate Storm September 30, 2019

      Glad you had a great time! The Duomo is lovely, we particularly enjoyed the Cappella di San Brizio.

  • Sharon September 30, 2019

    My daughter & I just took a day trip here from Rome on your suggestion. Thank you for sharing! We had a great time & saw most of what you suggested here. Loved the Moro Tower. We agree one day was enough though & are glad that we got to head back to Rome. We both prefer the city in general & there’s just so much we still want to see there.

    • Kate Storm September 30, 2019

      So glad we could help! The Torre del Moro was one of our favorites too, love the views from up there. We were lucky enough to climb on a gorgeous fall day which also helped.

      I agree, you can never run out of things to do in Rome–it’s probably my favorite city in the world and I doubt I’ll ever tire of exploring its nooks and crannies.

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