One Day in Assisi, Italy: Walking Tour of the Historic City Center
With one day in Assisi, you have just enough time to visit the highlights of this beautiful city. In this guide, we provide an Assisi walking tour that covers the main sites within the historic city center.
On this walking tour, visit the churches and important religious sites in Assisi, wander through picturesque streets, and learn where to get some of the best views of Assisi.
Table of Contents
Overview of Assisi
Assisi is located in Umbria. It sits on the slopes of Monte Subasio and it is a wonderful maze of narrow city streets. Spread throughout town are many churches, some of which are tied to St. Francis, a patron saint of Italy.
For many, Assisi is a pilgrimage site, drawing visitors from around the world.
The list of things to do in Assisi can be divided into two geographical areas: those within the city center and those just outside of city center.
This one-day walking tour of Assisi covers those sites within the city center.
For a full list of things to do in Assisi, don’t miss our guide to the Best Things to Do in Assisi.
About this Assisi Walking Tour
This walking tour is done as a loop, so you can start it anywhere, depending on where you find parking (if you will be arriving by car). For the starting point, we chose Piazza del Comune, the main square in town. There are a lot of restaurants in and around this square, perfect to grab a bite to eat before and/or after this Assisi walking tour.
On average, this walking tour will take 5 hours and you will walk 4 km (2.5 miles). This includes time for lunch or dinner, depending on the time of day that you will follow this tour.
Before your visit, I recommend double checking the entrance hours of the churches and historical sites in this walking tour. Some sites close for several hours midday so it’s good to know this before you go.
Finally, all of the times in the itinerary are rough estimates, just to give you an idea about timing throughout the day. Your times may differ, based on queues and how much time you decide to spend at each place.
I do my best to keep the hours of operation and pricing up to date for each attraction, however, these can change at any time. I recommend getting updated hours and pricing for your dates of travel. The link to the official website is provided for each site.
Assisi Walking Tour
Map of the Assisi Walking Tour
Below is a map of our walking tour through Assisi. It lists the sites to visit along the tour plus the walking route.
How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers (points of interest and the walking route). You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.
If you click the star next to the title of the map, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.
9 am: Piazza del Comune
Piazza del Comune is the main square in Assisi. Sitting around the periphery of the square are some of the most important buildings in town: the town hall, the Temple of Minerva, and Torre de Popolo.
Piazza del Comune | One Day in Assisi Walking Tour
If you are here in the morning, this square is relatively quiet. By 10 am it really gets busy, so take a moment to take a few photos and enjoy this spot. Our walking tour will finish up here, and that’s when we recommend visiting the sites in Piazza del Comune.
9:15 am: Via San Francesco
Via San Francesco is the road that connects Piazza Del Comune with the Basilica di San Francesco. It is lined with small stone buildings, housing boutique shops that sell food, souvenirs, and religious artifacts.
It takes about 15 minutes to walk from Piazza del Comune to Basilica di San Francesco along this street and it is a slightly downhill walk the entire way.
Via San Francesco | One Day in Assisi Walking Tour
Shopping along Via San Francesco
9:30 am: Breakfast
At the view end of Via San Francesco, with a view of the St. Francis Basilica, is a small café called Ristorante Bar San Francesco. We had breakfast here, dining on pastries and coffee. You can visit the café now or after your visit to the basilica.
10:00 am: Basilica di San Francesco
The St. Francis Basilica, also called the Basilica di San Francesco, is one of the most important places to visit in Assisi. This basilica was built in 1228 and two churches are built at this site, one on top of the other. On top sits an enormous Gothic cathedral and below it is a much smaller Romanesque church. The lower church preserves the remains of St. Francis.
Basilica di San Francesco | One Day in Assisi Walking Tour
From Via San Francesco, take a moment to enjoy the view of this basilica. Then walk the wide walkway to the upper church. Step inside and be prepared to be amazed.
The walls are covered with brightly colored frescoes and stained-glass windows. Along the nave, the frescoes tell the Stories from the Life of Saint Francis (painted by Giotto) on the lower walls and Stories from the Old and New Testament along the upper walls. The ceiling is painted a vibrant blue color and is a gorgeous sight to see.
Exit the upper church and take the stairs down to the lower church. This church is much smaller and more solemn than the upper church. It is here that you can enter the crypt of St. Francis. The frescoes on the walls of the lower church were painted by artists Cimabue, Giotto, Lorenzetti, and Martini.
Visiting St. Francis Basilica
Hours: Get updated hours on the official website.
Cost: The basilica is free to enter.
Dress Code: Shoulders and knees must be covered to enter the basilica.
Photography: Photography inside of both churches is not permitted.
10:45 am: Chiesa di Santa Stefano
From the St. Francis Basilica, it’s an uphill walk to the Church of Santa Stefano, but you get to explore some quieter, picturesque streets of Assisi. To get to the church, walk back up Via San Francesco, turn left onto Via Aluigi, and then turn right onto Vicolo Santo Stefano, a lovely street lined with flowers and potted plants.
Vicolo Santo Stefano | One Day in Assisi Walking Tour
Chiesa di Santa Stefano is a very small church dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries. Legend has it that the bells kept tolling, on their own, after the death of St. Francis.
Chiesa di Santo Stefano | One Day in Assisi Walking Tour
Bells of Chiesa Santo Stefano
11:00 am: Rocca Maggiore
Rocca Maggiore is the fortress that sits on the hill, overlooking Assisi. From this spot, you are treated to one of the best views of this city.
From Chiesa di Santa Stefano, it is an uphill walk to the fortress and it will be steep at times. Along the way, feel free to take detours to cute alleyways or viewpoints that interest you…this is a beautiful part of Assisi to explore. From the church, it will take about 15 minutes to walk to the fortress.
Once at the fortress, there are two viewpoints that we recommend (both are marked on our Assisi walking route map). The first one overlooks the city of Assisi. Here is the view.
The second viewpoint is located on the opposite side of piazza, or the open area that sits next to Rocca Maggiore. This viewpoint overlooks the St. Francis Basilica.
As you walk downhill, back into town, there are several more viewpoints along the way.
During our visit, the fortress was closed for renovations. I imagine that the views from the tower are quite impressive and well worth it, once it reopens. A visit to Rocca Maggiore only lasts about 15 minutes, if you visit the viewpoints without going inside of the fortress. If you plan to visit the fortress, add another 30 to 45 minutes onto the visit.
For updates on when the fortress will reopen, visit the official website.
11:30 am: Snacks or Coffee with a View
Walk downhill, back into town. At the intersection of Vicolo San Lorenzo and Via Giovanni Jorgensen, you get a nice view of the top of the Cathedral of San Rufino.
Overlooking the Cathedral of San Rufino | One Day in Assisi Walking Tour
As you walk down Vicolo San Lorenzo, keep a look out for Bar Giardino San Lorenzo, which will be on the right. This lovely café has a garden-like setting and beautiful views of Assisi. We stopped here for coffee and a quick break.
Bar Giardino San Lorenzo | One Day in Assisi Walking Tour
11:45 am: Cathedral of San Rufino
From Bar Giardino San Lorenzo, walk downhill on the narrow, hilly street named Vicolo San Lorenzo. You don’t have to go far for a wonderful view of the Cathedral of San Rufino. Continue the downhill walk to the cathedral.
Walking down Vicolo San Lorenzo and a view of the Cathedral of San Rufino.
The cathedral as we see it today was built in the 12th century (there are several older versions of this church) in Umbrian Romanesque style. This cathedral is important in that this is where St. Francis and St. Clare were baptized.
Cathedral of San Rufino | One Day in Assisi Walking Tour
12:00 pm: Basilica di Santa Chiara
From the Cathedral of San Rufino, continue the downhill walk towards the Basilica di Santa Chiara. As you walk along Via Sermei, you have a great view of the bell tower of Basilica di Santa Chiara.
Sitting on Piazza Santa Chiara is another important church in Assisi, the Basilica of St. Clare (Basilica di Santa Chiara).
Basilica di Santa Chiara | One Day in Assisi Walking Tour
Built in the 13th century in a Gothic style, this church holds the remains of St. Clare, one of the first followers of St. Francis. She founded the Order of Poor Ladies, which was a religious order for women in the Franciscan tradition.
Inside the chapel of San Giorgio is the Crucifix that is said to have spoken to St. Francis.
Visiting the Basilica di Santa Chiara
The basilica is free to visit. Photography is not allowed inside of the basilica. For hours of operation, visit the official website.
Before moving on, walk to the edge of Piazza Santa Chiara for a view of the nearby countryside.
View from Piazza Santa Chiara | One Day in Assisi Walking Tour
12:30 pm: Birthplace of St. Francis
From Piazza Santa Chiara, walk towards Corso Giuseppe Mazzini. Just before turning onto Corso Giuseppe Mazzini, you have another nice photography spot, where you can capture the thin building that sits in between two city streets.
Corso Giuseppe Mazzini is the street to the right and Via Sant’Agnese is the street to the left. After taking this photo, stay to the right.
About halfway up Corso Giuseppe Mazzini, mixed in with the souvenir shops and small cafes, is a passageway that leads to the Oratory of San Francesco Piccolino. The entrance sits next to Bar Sensei.
The passageway is on the left side of the street and looks like this (it’s also marked on our Assisi walking tour map):
At the bottom of the staircase, look for the oratory on the left. The oratory is the location of the birthplace of St. Francis. It was once the location of a stable, where St. Francis’ mother gave birth to him. Later, it was turned into an oratory.
Entrance into the oratory.
Oratory of San Francesco Piccolino | One Day in Assisi Walking Tour
12:45 pm: Chiesa Nuova
From the oratory, walk on Vicolo S di S. Antonio to Chiesa Nuova. It is less than a one-minute walk.
This church was built over the site where St. Francis’ home once stood. Even today, you can still see the doorway into the house and the cell where St. Francis was imprisoned by his father.
Chiesa Nuova | One Day in Assisi Walking Tour
1:00 pm: Lunch
From Chiesa Nuova, it takes just a few minutes to walk to Piazza del Comune. There are numerous restaurants that sit on and near the piazza.
We recommend Taverna dei Consoli. This restaurant sits on Piazza del Comune and from the upper, outdoor terrace, you have a fantastic view of the square. The food is also very good and the service was fast. We tried three different pasta dishes (we were very hungry) and the cacio e pepe (pasta with cheese and pepper) was our favorite.
Taverna dei Consoli
Just off the piazza is Bibenda Assisi. It gets wonderful reviews and is located just one minute away from Piazza del Comune. This was #1 on our list, both for lunch and a wine tasting, but unfortunately, it was closed during our visit.
2:00 pm: Optional Sights on Piazza del Comune
Temple of Minerva
Built in the 1st century BC, this temple is dedicated to the goddess Minerva. Inside of the temple is the Santa Maria sopra Minerva church, which was built in 1539. A visit here just takes a few minutes.
Santa Maria sopra Minerva church
Torre del Popolo
Torre del Popolo is the tower that looms over Piazza del Comune.
It is possible to climb this tower if you make a reservation in advance. We had no idea that a reservation was necessary during our visit, and tickets were sold out until the afternoon of the following day. If you like the idea of climbing the tower (I bet the view is awesome!), learn from our mistake and book your ticket in advance. We were told that only 20 people per hour are permitted to climb the tower.
Roman Forum and Archaeological Museum
Located just a few steps from Piazza del Comune, descend below the city streets to the excavations of the ancient Roman Forum. A walkway leads to the remains of a temple, a cistern, and podium.
A visit here is relatively quick, taking anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how much interest you have in archaeological sites. It is open from 10 am to 6 pm and tickets cost €5.
This concludes the Assisi walking tour. With the remainder of your time, you can either explore the side streets in Assisi, go shopping, or visit the sites that sit outside of town.
One Day in Assisi Itinerary
With one day in Assisi, you have enough time to visit the sites inside the historic city center (following our Assisi walking tour) and tour the religious sites that sit outside of town.
There are four important places to visit on the outskirts of Assisi: the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, the church of St. Damian, the Sanctuary di Rivotorto, and the Carceri Hermitage. The best way to visit these four sites is to drive to each of them. If you don’t have a car, you can get to them using public transportation or taxis. With a car, it takes 2 to 3 hours to visit all four sites and this includes the driving time to each of them.
For more information about these sites, read our article Best Things to Do in Assisi.
There are two ways to plan your time if you have one day in Assisi.
Option #1 is to follow our walking tour in the morning and visit the sites outside of the city center in the afternoon. The advantage of doing it in this order is to have quieter city streets in the morning.
Option #2 is to visit the sites outside of Assisi in the morning. Go first to the Carceri Hermitage. In the morning, very few people are here, so you get to experience the tranquility and solitude of this lovely place. Start the walking tour at lunchtime, first having lunch at Piazza del Comune, and then follow the walking tour in the afternoon.
I don’t think one option is better than another. The best way to do it depends on when you arrive to Assisi and whether or not you will be spending the night in the city.
If you can spend a night here, do it. The city is very quiet in the evening and morning and it is a beautiful place to be, especially at sunset. Assisi sparkles in the early evening and to watch the sun set behind Basilica di San Francesco is an amazing sight to see.
Basilica of Saint Francis at sunset
Assisi at Night | One Day in Assisi Walking Tour
What We Did
We had two nights and one day in Assisi. We arrived in the evening, after touring Arezzo and Cortona in Tuscany. On our full day in Assisi, we explored the historic city center of Assisi and came up with this walking tour.
On day two, we visited the sights that sit outside of town in the morning. Midday, we headed south towards Puglia, for the next part of our road trip through Italy.
We visited Assisi the first few days of October in 2022. Unfortunately, we just missed being here for the Feast of St. Francis, although the first of the festivities were starting during our visit. On October 3 and 4, oil lanterns are lit along the streets of Assisi for the holiday and I imagine it is a beautiful sight to see.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at CheriHomeAssisi Apartment. This two-bedroom apartment has a fantastic location in Assisi, less than a 5-minute walk from Piazza del Comune. We had lots of space to spread out and the apartment was clean and quiet. We parked in a small, private lot and from here, it was about a 5-minute walk to the apartment, not too bad for carrying luggage into town. It’s one of the top reviewed accommodations on Booking.com.
Alter Ego B&B gets good reviews and is located just steps away from Piazza del Comune. If you want a room with a view, check out Assisi Panoramic Rooms.
More Information about Assisi
For more information about what to do in Assisi, plus important practical information, such as when to visit and how to get here, don’t miss our guide to the Best Things to Do in Assisi.
Tours of Assisi
If you prefer to take a walking tour of Assisi with an experienced guide, you have several options, including private tours and small group tours.
If you have any questions about how to spend one day in Assisi or this Assisi walking tour, or if you have any recommendations, let us know in the comment section below.
More Information for Your Trip to Italy
ORVIETO: Orvieto is another wonderful town to visit in Umbria. Plan your visit with our article about the Best Things to Do in Orvieto.
TUSCAN HILL TOWNS: Check out our detailed guides to Siena, Montepulciano, Pienza, Montalcino, San Gimignano, Monteriggioni, Lucca, Volterra, Arezzo, and Cortona. For a full list of things to do, read our article Best Things to Do in Tuscany.
ROME: For a list of the top experiences in Rome, read our article Best Things to Do in Rome. Learn how to put these together in our 2 Day Rome Itinerary and 3 day Rome Itinerary. And don’t miss our guides to the Best Views of Rome, best Rooftop Bars in Rome, and our Rome Restaurant Guide.
SAN MARINO: San Marino is a tiny country located entirely within Italy. It is gorgeous to explore and one of the most underrated places to visit in Europe.
PUGLIA: Read about 15 beautiful places to visit in Puglia and the best things to do in Alberobello. We also have a guide to the best things to do on the Gargano Peninsula, how to spend one day in Vieste, and about how to take a boat tour to visit the Gargano sea caves.
BASILICATA: Basilicata is a region in southern Italy. Read our guide on the best things to do in Matera and how to visit Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa and do the Angel’s Flight zipline.
We have TONS more information about Italy in our Italy Travel Guide, including Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscany, the Dolomites, the Amalfi Coast, the Cinque Terre, and Puglia.
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