Italy Heaven

Udine: Tourist and Travel Guide from Italy Heaven

Discover this appealing historic town in Friuli, with its Venetian architecture, cheap wine and interesting museums

udine tourist map

Udine (pronounced Oodinay) is a provincial capital in the north-eastern Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia . With a population of 100,000, it is one of the most important towns in this corner of Italy, although it is not much known to tourists.

Udine has a long and interesting history, and – like much of Italy’s far north-east – it isn’t wholly Italian. Close to the borders with Austria and Slovenia, and between the Alps and the Adriatic Sea, Udine is a town with many flavours. It has been Venetian, and Austrian, and as well as Italian you will also find signs written in Slovenian and a local language, Friulano. Udine has a well-ordered feel that is un-Italian. Two small medieval canals flow through the town centre, sometimes hidden underground and other times making attractive additions to the townscape. You can still see steps and sloping stones by the water which were designed as places for clothes-washing.

udine tourist map

Although it has been damaged several times by earthquakes and wars, Udine still retains an atmospheric historic centre, a grand piazza for admiring and another, ancient but less grand, for relaxing, and a lot of charm. The more modern streets surrounding the historic nucleus are well-laid-out, and dotted with trees and pretty, well-maintained little parks.

This attractive university town makes a good base for exploring Friuli, or for spending a day or two during a tour of north-eastern Italy. Food and drink is good, plentiful, and affordable, there are cultural and architectural sights, and the town has a pleasant, enjoyable atmosphere.

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Udine tourist sights

udine tourist map

If you are interested in seeing several of the town’s attractions, it’s worth considering a combined ticket. At the time of writing there is a useful tourist ticket called the Friuli-Venezia Giulia (FVG) Card which includes admission to scores of museums in the region as well as other perks. This can be bought for different time periods. Udine urban bus travel is free to cardholders, as is travel on the Udine-Cividale del Friuli railway line. All the principal museums in Udine are included in the scheme, and you also get a free audioguide as part of the deal, so it is well worth buying. You can buy the card at selected Udine hotels, and at the tourist information office. There are also combined tickets for Udine’s museums.

Located in Piazza 1 Maggio, under the castle hill, Udine’s tourist information office is a good place to begin your tour of the town, picking up maps, information, audioguides or even free bike hire. You can collect a list of opening times, which is essential as the town’s attractions have varying opening hours, and some close for a long lunch break. The office also has information on the other towns and tourist sights in the region. It is located around ten-fifteen minutes’ walk from the railway station (see below for directions).

From Piazza 1 Maggio, visitors can head through an old town gateway and along Via Manin to the heart of town. Alternatively, a zig-zag route up the castle hill will bring you, via the back door, to Udine’s most dramatic and panoramic spot. After climbing the slope, you emerge by Udine’s ‘castle’, the Castello . Crowning this steep and solitary hill, the actual building is an anti-climax, but the setting isn’t. Rather than a fortified castle, the Castello is a large sixteenth century palazzo which now holds several of the town’s museums. The gateway alongside gives access to a large panoramic area, with far-reaching views from the Alps to (on a clear day) the Adriatic Sea. The popular story is that Attila the Hun ordered his men to build this hill, carrying earth in their Hunnish helmets, so that he could stand on the summit and watch the burning of Roman Aquileia . The obvious potential of this hill as both a viewpoint and a defensive base explains at once the location of Udine and its longlasting significance. Nowadays, with benches and a grassy lawn, the castle grounds are simply a nice spot for relaxation and admiring the views.

Housed in the Castello, Udine’s Musei Civici (town museums) are an important stop on a sightseeing tour. The principal museum is the Galleria d’Arte Antica , a good art gallery. Situated on the building’s piano nobile , the collection includes some fine paintings, such as Carpaccio’s Christ , with a pretty floral foreground and animals in the background. This painting, and others in the same room, are reminders that once upon a time angels had brightly multi-coloured wings. Look out for some lovingly-depicted dogs in the next room, and a rather doubtfully-attributed Caravaggio further on in the itinerary. Some strong artistic contenders from this part of Italy are featured, including Antonio Carneo, represented by fine works such as the portrait of an old wanderer, Il Giramondo . After passing through the grand Parliament Hall, the gallery finishes with an interesting mixed collection of nineteenth-century work, including some nice portraits and family groups, and a painting of the the Flood by Filippo Giuseppini that is rather reminiscent of Saddam Hussein’s taste in artworks. I liked the portraits by local artist Oderico Politi, and his portrayal of Socrates and his circle as recognisably nineteenth-century gentlemen.

udine tourist map

Upstairs from the art gallery is a museum of historic prints and a photography museum , all included in the entrance fee. There is also an archaeological museum in the building, though this was closed at the time of my visit. I’d recommend a quick tour of these, if you have time. The photography collection, in particular, paints a vivid picture of life in Udine and the nearby mountains over a century ago, and includes fascinating photographs of both rural and urban scenes: a dirigible over Udine; the aftermath of an earthquake in 1928; young female porters carrying heavy loads on their backs, with the surly secretive challenge in their eyes that you see in their modern day teenage counterparts as they loaf on station platforms, sending text messages and listening to MP3 players.

Next to the castle is the church of Santa Maria del Castello (St. Mary of the Castle), remodelled several times since a devastating earthquake in 1511, but still containing some fourteenth-century frescoes. On top of the belltower is a large bronze angel weather vane.After visiting the castle, the route down to the heart of Udine descends through an elegant arcade and beneath a large stone gateway, the Arco Bollani, which was designed by Andrea Palladio.

Udine was ruled by Venice for many centuries, and the Venetian influence is particularly evident in the theatrical square below the castle, Piazza della Libertà . Here is Udine’s town hall, the Palazzo del Comune, a pink and white version of Venice’s Doge’s Palace. Also called the Loggia del Lionello, Udine’s version dates to the fifteenth century, though it was partially rebuilt after a fire in 1876, and it is a lovely example of the Venetian Gothic style. Opposite the Loggia del Lionello is another arcade, the Loggia di San Giovanni, centred around a clocktower topped with bronze statues that, again, is a close relative to the one in Venice’s Piazza San Marco. The square is also decorated with a mismatched assortment of statues, including the Venetian Lion of St. Mark.

Udine’s main shopping and promenading streets are in the area around Piazza Libertà and the town’s other principal square, called Piazza Matteotti . This old market square is surrounded by picturesque old buildings, and lined with cafes and bars. It’s a prime spot for meeting up with friends, and sitting and relaxing at an open air table with a cheap glass of local wine while watching Udinese life go by. The square’s artistic highlight is the Renaissance façade of the Chiesa di San Giacomo. Making a loop north of the piazza, you’ll pass along some of Udine’s prettiest streets and palaces, including Palazzo Antonini, designed by Palladio. There are several good places to eat and drink in this area, many of them popular with the local university crowd. As well as attractive architecture, you’ll also pass picturesque stretches of a swift-flowing little roggia , one of Udine’s characteristic waterways.

udine tourist map

Back on the tourist trail, Udine’s cathedral, the Duomo , is worth a quick visit, although the interior isn’t particularly interesting (do look out, though, for some 3D trompe l’oeil angels). You can see works by Tiepolo here and also in a chapel across the street to the right of the Duomo, the Oratorio della Purità (ask in the Duomo, as the chapel is kept locked). Note the charming ancient stone carvings over the doorway of the Duomo. Don’t miss the Museo del Duomo , situated in the baptistery behind the cathedral (round to the left), where you can admire some charming early frescoes and also a wonderful fourteenth-century sarcophagus supported by exquisitely elegant statues of saints; one of the loveliest things you’ll see in Udine.

One of Udine’s proudest boasts is that it is the ‘City of Tiepolo.’ Venetian artist Giambattista Tiepolo (1696-1770) came to Udine early in his career to carry out important commissions, and has left an extensive legacy in the town. His work can be seen in the Castello, the Duomo and adjacent Oratorio, and it covers the walls of the old Patriarchal Palace, now the Museo Diocesano , or Gallerie del Tiepolo (on Piazza Patriarcato).

If folk-history interests you, pay a visit to the town’s smart new Ethnographic Museum ( Museo Etnografico di Friuli ). A short walk from the heart of town, on Borgo Grazzano, this is a museum covering the history and traditions of the people of the Friuli area. There’s a video-guide in English, though many of the exhibits – lanterns, ceramics, postcards from America – don’t need much explanation. Interesting items include naïve family portraits, traditional costumes, amulets and ex-voto paintings illustrating dreadful mishaps and thanks ‘for grace given’. This is a fascinating museum and frequently charming, which, combined with the historic photos in the Castello’s photography museum, really brings to life the human history of the area, and traditional ways of life which continued well into the twentieth century.

If you liked the ex-votos displayed in the Ethnographic museum, you might wish to pay a visit to the Santuario di Santa Maria delle Grazie on Piazza 1 Maggio, where the church’s entrance contains many more tokens of thanks to Jesus and saints. Many are metal badges; the most unusual by far is the ‘Maschera del Diavolo,’ a suit of armour with devil’s horns, worn into the church by an impious reveller who later repented. In the entrance to the cloister to the right of the church there are more quaint painted ex-votos on display, leaving the viewer to reflect on the dangers of horse-drawn travel, and open windows.

Another important Udine museum is GAMUD , a long-established modern art gallery. At the time of writing this is situated just north of the centre of town (walk, or take bus number 2). It also has a more central outpost on Via Savorgnana where as well as local architecture archives and a pleasant courtyard garden, a gallery called Il Progetto hosts exhibitions on architecture and design themes.

Food and drink

udine tourist map

The local traditional aperitivo is called a tajut , and one of the best places to enjoy this is Piazza Matteotti. Around this square, and up the neighbouring Via Sarpi and Via Zanon you’ll find a good choice of hostelries for anything from a glass of local Friulano wine to a full meal. Just between the piazza and Via Zanon, I found the unpretentious Osteria Alla Ghiacciaia to be a nice spot with a charming canalside terrace, cheap house wine and traditional dishes on the menu. For a drink or meal in smart surroundings, try the 1920s elegance of Caffè Contarena , alongside the Loggia del Lionello.

Travel and transport

Udine is on a regional train line from Venice, less than two hours away. Tickets are very cheap although the commuter trains aren’t particularly fast or comfortable. There are also trains to Trieste and Gorizia. Udine’s railway station and bus station are close together to the south of the town centre, about a ten-fifteen minute walk away. To reach the centre, cross the road outside the station and walk straight up Via Roma, continuing straight along Via Dante which then becomes Via Savorgnana. Udine’s city buses are run by SAF, although since the centre is visitable on foot, tourists may not bother with these.

The nearest airport is Friuli-Venezia Giulia (Trieste) Airport , 25 miles away. There’s a direct bus from the airport, number 51, operated by APT Gorizia.

Some of the surrounding area, including Grado and Aquileia , can be visited by public transport, using SAF buses or the private little Udine-Cividale railway line, which runs to the picturesque Lombard town of Cividale del Friuli, a great day out from Udine.

I stayed right opposite the station in the convenient and friendly three-star Hotel Principe . For a smarter option near the historic centre, try the Astoria Hotel Italia . Between the two is the Ambassador Palace , a popular four-star hotel a few minutes’ walk from the station, on the route into the heart of town.

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Map of Udine — Best attractions, restaurants, and transportation info

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Top 20 attractions in Udine

Oratory of purità, piazza san giacomo.

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Loggia del Lionello

Museo diocesano e gallerie del tiepolo, udine castle.

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Udine Cathedral

Stadio friuli, museum of modern and contemporary house cavazzini, ethnographic museum of friuli, parish of san nicolò vescovo at the ossuary temple, parrocchia della beata vergine del carmine, via mercatovecchio, sanctuary of the blessed virgin of graces, casa della contadinanza, le officine vintage.

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Church of San Giacomo

Piazza della libertà, ippovia valle del cormor, parco del cormor, loggia e tempietto di san giovanni, top 10 restaurants in udine, osteria alla ghiacciaia, hostaria alla tavernetta, shi's japanese restaurant udine, osteria al vecchio stallo, trattoria antica maddalena, pizzeria alle due palme, trattoria ai frati, aquila nera ristorante, ristorante pizzeria concordia, transportation in udine, nearby airports, trieste airport, venice marco polo airport, highways and major roads.

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  • Malborghetto-Valbruna
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  • Colloredo di Monte Albano

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While reluctantly ceding its premier status to Trieste in the 1950s, this confident, wealthy provincial city remains the spiritual and gastronomic capital of Friuli. Udine gives little away in its sprawling semi-rural suburbs, but encased inside the peripheral ring road lies an infinitely grander medieval centre: a dramatic melange of Venetian arches, Grecian statues and Roman columns. The old town is pristine, but also very lively. Bars here are not just for posing; for the Udinese, kicking on is the norm.

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Must-see attractions.

Casa Cavazzini, seat of the Museum of modern and contemporary art of Udine.

Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art

Udine’s modern and contemporary hub brings together a number of bequests, creating a substantial collection of 20th-century Italian artists, including De…

The fresco entitled "Assunta" (Our Lady Assumption) by Giovan Battista Tiepolo on the ceiling of the Oratorio della Purità church.

Oratorio della Purità

This intimate oratory has a dramatic ceiling painting of the Assumption by Giambattista Tiepolo, with a glowing Madonna framed by tumbling, rather…

Clock tower, Torre dell'Orologio, in Loggia di San Giovanni located in Piazza della Libertà in Udine.

Piazza della Libertà

A shimmering Renaissance epiphany materialising from the surrounding maze of medieval streets, Piazza della Libertà is dubbed the most beautiful Venetian…


Rebuilt in the mid-16th century after an earthquake in 1511, Udine's castle affords rare views of the city and snowy peaks beyond. It houses a number of…

Galleria d'Arte Antica

Galleria d'Arte Antica

This 13-room gallery showcases the work of local and Venetian artists from the end of the 14th- to the early 19th-century. There are a handful of…

Arco Bollani

Arco Bollani

The Arco Bollani, next to the Loggia di San Giovanni, was designed by Andrea Palladio in 1556 and leads up to the castle used by the Venetian governors…

Palazzo del Comune

Palazzo del Comune

Udine's Renaissance heart beats in Piazza della Libertà. The 15th-century Palazzo del Comune, also known as the Loggia del Lionello after its architect (a…

Loggia di San Giovanni

Loggia di San Giovanni

A clear reminder of Venetian influence is the Loggia di San Giovanni, which features a clock tower modelled, albeit in squatter format, on the one gracing…

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Home » Travel Guides » Italy » 15 Best Things to Do in Udine (Italy)

15 Best Things to Do in Udine (Italy)

Udine is a commune in the north eastern region of Italy that sits in close proximity to the Slovenian border. It lies in-between the Adriatic Sea and the Alps and has a current population of approximately 99,000. This city has an ancient history and has influences from Attila the Hun, the Republic of Venice and the Kings of Lombard.

Udine rose to prominence during the 1700’s and was eventually integrated into the Kingdom of Italy in 1866. The economy of Udine centres on commerce, and mechanical and iron manufacturing industries. For the intrepid tourist, Udine has a wide range of interesting historical sites such as the Duomo, Castle and beautiful Loggia del Lionello. Furthermore, several stunning Piazzas were created during the Venetian reign such as the Piazza Matteotti. Udine also has several beautiful parks and a handful of intriguing museums.

Let’s explore the best things to do in Udine :

1. Udine Castle

Udine Castle

In the centre of the historic old town is the wonderful Castle of Udine.

This beautiful structure was created in 1517 but wasn’t completed until 50 years after.

With a front façade that features some stunning arches, a central tower and a series of windows, the castle is one of the premier buildings in the city.

At the rear of the castle is a gorgeous portico lined with a long row of ornate arches – this is a delightful place to walk through on a summer’s day.

Within the main building of the castle is the interesting Art and History museum that contains a plethora of artefacts and artworks from the city and surrounding region.

2. Udine Cathedral

Udine Cathedral

This delightful cathedral is the central religious structure of Udine and is an impressive church.

Located in the self-titled Piazza del Duomo, the cathedral is easily accessible.

The front façade of this huge structure features several beautiful rose windows, arched designs and a beautiful carved wooden door.

Inside the cathedral is a plethora of fantastic decoration including frescos from Giovanni Tiepolo and Maffeo Verona.

Furthermore, there are several ornate sculptures and the ceilings are packed full for gorgeous artwork depicting various religious scenes.

Although this cathedral was constructed in the 13th century, it still retains its original beauty and splendour.

3. Loggia del Lionello

Loggia del Lionello

This structure is one of the most important buildings in Udine and is considered to be a symbol of the city.

Created in a Venetian Gothic style, this building is a fine example of this type of architecture and is one of the best preserved examples in this region of Italy.

The front façade of this structure is composed of two levels – the first of which has a portico lined with a series of Venetian arches.

Above this is the second level that is finely decorated with alternating levels of white and pink marble.

Within the portico, the floor is covered with a fantastic tile pattern featuring red, pink and white colours.

This truly is an amazing structure and the architecture will leave you breathless.

4. Piazza Liberta

Piazza Liberta

Not far from the Piazza Matteotti is the Piazza Liberta.

This is another delightful square that lies in close proximity to Udine Castle.

As the oldest square in Udine, this public place has held an important place in the history of the city for hundreds of years.

Contained within this square is a plethora of fantastic structures including the Loggia del Lionello, the Torre dell’Orologio and the Arco Bollani.

Furthermore, within the square itself are several ornate monuments, marble statues and fountains.

This is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful areas of Udine and is a great place to see some historical architecture.

5. Piazza Matteotti

Piazza Matteotti

The Piazza Matteotti is one of the main open public spaces in Udine and has some fantastic architecture and a bright atmosphere.

Located in the centre of the historic old town, this square was originally built during the 13th century when the town was given market rights.

At the western side of the square there is an ornate column that depicts the Virgin Mary with child.

Furthermore, the Chiesa di San Giacomo has a stunning white façade and is a central structure in the square.

There is also an opulent fountain and the other structures are painted in a variety of colours.

If you are looking for a place to relax, do a little sight-seeing and have a coffee, Piazza Matteotti is the perfect place.

6. Giardin Grande

Giardin Grande

Just to the right of the historic town centre is the beautiful Giardin Grande.

This circular garden is framed by a row of gorgeous trees and has 6 symmetrical paths that lead towards the central fountain.

In-between the paths are 6 finely manicured lawns that are perfect to relax on and sunbathe.

At the northern end of the garden is the smaller Giardino Loris Fortuna – this small area is shaded by trees and is surrounded by some beautiful architecture.

Surrounding these two public gardens is a series of restaurants and cafes – this is just a charming place to walk through and enjoy.

7. Museo Diocesano e Gallerie del Tiepolo

Biblioteca del Museo Diocesano

Located in a decadent structure next to the charming church of San Antonio Abate, the Diocesano Museum is an important cultural and historical building.

The aim of this museum is to preserve the cultural heritage of the religious orders of Udine and does so by maintaining a huge amount of artefacts and relics.

Displays within this museum date back as far as the Roman period, including a fine stone statue of Pluto.

Furthermore, there is a collection of wooden sculptures and polychrome carvings.

Additionally there is an impressive library collection which contains over 10,000 volumes and manuscripts.

You can also find altar pieces, Renaissance decoration and a series of richly decorated rooms.

This museum is a great place to visit to learn about the religious past of Udine.

8. Parco del Cormor

Parco del Cormor, Udine

Located next to the Friuli Stadium is the fantastic Parco del Cormor.

This park stretches over a large area and is a great place to explore and enjoy some walking.

In the northern end of the park there is a large wooded area that is abundant in wildlife and has some trails to walk through.

The southern part on the other hand has some open pastures and footpaths lined with trees and bushes, plus some interesting water features and fountains.

If you are looking for refreshment there is a café in the grounds.

Furthermore there is also a children’s playground and plenty of space for sunbathing, ball games and recreational sports.

9. Chiesa di San Giacomo

Chiesa di San Giacomo

Another brilliant church in the centre of Udine, the Chiesa di San Giacomo is located in the Piazza Matteotti.

Created in the 16th century, the church has a baroque style and features a white-washed front façade with a central bell tower.

The top of the bell tower is decorated with some shell reliefs and a bronze clock-face.

Inside the church, the Baroque design continues and there are a series of frescos, sculptures and paintings.

Notable works include the Virgin with the Holy Apollina bv Griffoni, and the Virgin Surrounded by Saints by Carneo.

This church is truly beautiful and is a fine example of Renaissance architecture.

10. Enjoy a cocktail or fine wine at the Liberty Bar

Liberty Bar

Udine has some amazing nightlife destinations, and one of the more well-known establishments is the Liberty Bar.

Only a short walk from the historic town centre and the Parco Moretti, this bar has a great location and is a fantastic place to enjoy a drink or three.

This American themed bar has a great atmosphere and a wonderful selection of drinks.

Why not try one of the perfectly made cocktails or maybe one of the myriad of spirits on sale? Alternatively you can choose from a selection of ales, wines and beers.

On certain evenings the bar features live Jazz music and there is a large grand piano that is often in use.

11. Enjoy a delicious meal at the La Nicchia Restaurant

La Nicchia

Located on the Via Gemona, the La Nicchia restaurant is one of the prime spots in Udine to enjoy a fantastic home-cooked meal.

Service is key here and the staff will ensure your experience is a memorable one – they are attentive and friendly.

If you are looking for an authentic pasta dish, the La Nicchia menu will have something to satiate your appetite – they create a range of pasta dishes and the taste and presentation is amazing.

Furthermore, you can choose from some quality starters including a selection of cold meats and salads.

What more could you want than great prices, quality food and a pleasing atmosphere?

12. Take a trip to the beach at Lignano Sabbiadoro

Lignano Sabbiadoro

If you want to relax, escape the city and enjoy some sunshine at the beach, consider heading to Lignano Sabbiadoro.

You can reach this fantastic coastal town from Udine in less than an hour.

The main feature of this town is the long stretch of golden beach – the sands stretch for approximately 7km along the coast until reaching the Punta Faro Marina.

On this stretch of beach is a plethora of sun loungers, bear bars, and public areas for recreation.

Behind the beach are an aqua park and a theme park, and also a series of hotels and restaurants.

Further up the coast are another amusement park and the gorgeous Terrazza a Mare which is a large pier that juts out into the sea.

Lignano really is a great place to visit and is one of the premier beach resorts in the region.

13. Museo del Duomo

Museo del Duomo

Located within the Baptistery of the Cathedral, the Duomo Museum regales the history of the structure and contains a plethora of relics and artefacts.

This is a great place to visit if you wish to learn more about the impressive Cathedral of Udine.

Within the museum is a plethora of frescos, religious relics and vestments.

Some of these artefacts date back to medieval times and have been kept in impeccable condition despite their old age.

14. Take a trip to Trieste


Whilst Udine has a great deal to offer in terms of tourist attractions, a neighbouring city that is also packed full of delights is the coastal town of Trieste.

This wonderful city can be reached in an hour by car along the coastal E70 route, but there are also regular trains that take approximately 1 hour 10 minutes.

Trieste has numerous attractions including the epic Piazza Unita d’Italia, Trieste Cathedral, the Canal Grande, the Roman Theatre and the Castello di San Giusto.

Furthermore, Trieste has an extensive harbour full of commercial and recreational boats of all sizes.

You could literally spend hours admiring the well maintained ports and the quaint quays full of fishing boats.

15. Watch an event at the Friuli Stadium

Friuli Stadium

Udine has a history of competitive sport and one of its most successful teams is the Serie A football club Udinese.

The Friuli Stadium is home of this football club and has a capacity of just over 25,000. This stadium is a true feat of modern engineering and has one covered stand with the other three open to the elements.

Udinese have had varying success in the Italian Serie A and have reached several European finals and have competed in the Champions League.

Located in the north western region of Udine, the stadium is a great place to come to witness a football match – the atmosphere is fantastic and the locals come to life.

15 Best Things to Do in Udine (Italy):

  • Udine Castle
  • Udine Cathedral
  • Loggia del Lionello
  • Piazza Liberta
  • Piazza Matteotti
  • Giardin Grande
  • Museo Diocesano e Gallerie del Tiepolo
  • Parco del Cormor
  • Chiesa di San Giacomo
  • Enjoy a cocktail or fine wine at the Liberty Bar
  • Enjoy a delicious meal at the La Nicchia Restaurant
  • Take a trip to the beach at Lignano Sabbiadoro
  • Museo del Duomo
  • Take a trip to Trieste
  • Watch an event at the Friuli Stadium

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Udine, 71km northwest of Trieste, is the provincial capital and radically different to its larger sister city. Framed by mountains and hemmed in by sombre suburbs, the oval-shaped historic centre retains much of its Venetian charm. In many ways Udine harks back to the Venetian Republic, for which it was one of the most important cities, though, its canals, called roggie, are little more than rivulets compared to those in Venice. In addition to grand architecture, the churches and galleries here also boast scores of fine works by Giambattista Tiepolo, whose airy brilliance evokes the city’s easy-going atmosphere. Two days is enough time to experience Udine's charms, though you may also want to factor in a visit to nearby San Daniele del Friuli to sample some of Italy's best prosciutto in its hometown.

Udine brief history

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Along with Cividale, Udine was one of the frontier towns of imperial Rome but it was not until the thirteenth century that it started to become a regional centre. Patriarch Bertoldo di Andechs (1218–51) can be seen as the father of Udine – he established two markets (the old market in Via Mercatovecchio, and the new one in Piazza Matteotti, still a marketplace), moved the patriarchate from Cividale to the castle of Udine and set up a city council. In 1362 the dukes of Austria acquired the place by treaty, but not for long: Venice, now hungry for territory, captured Udine in 1420 after several assaults and sieges. The city was ruled by Venetian governors for almost four hundred years – until 1797, when the Venetian Republic surrendered to Napoleon. These days it’s a centre of Friulian nationalism.

The place to start any exploration of Udine is at the foot of the hill, in the gorgeous Piazza della Libertà, a square whose architectural ensemble is matched by few cities in Italy. Here, the fifteenth-century Palazzo del Comune is a homage to the Palazzo Ducale in Venice, and the clock tower facing the palazzo, built in 1527, similarly has a Venetian model – the lion on the facade and the bronze Moors who strike the hours on top of the tower are references to the Torre dell’Orologio in Piazza San Marco. All Udine’s points of interest are about a fifteen-minute stroll from the piazza.

Just over 20km northwest of Udine, the picturesque town of San Daniele del Friuli produces some of the world’s finest prosciutto thanks to the local microclimate that assists with the ham’s ageing process. You can visit one of the town’s many prosciuttifici for a tour round the processing plant and to sample some ham, or enjoy delicious cold cuts at one of the many prosciutterie in town; the Osteria Ai Bintars , at Via Trento Trieste 6, is one of the best. The four-day culinary festival Aria di Festa (last weekend of June) celebrates the highly prized prosciutto as well as other regional sweet and savoury products. Prosciutto aside, the deconsecrated Chiesa di Sant’Antonio Abate, Via Garibaldi 12/A, is home to a stunning cycle of Renaissance frescoes, considered to be the most beautiful of the region.

Top image: Udine, Square Liberty (La Piazza Liberta) and the clock tower and a column topped by the Lion of Saint Mark, Italy © Pecold/Shutterstock

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Italy’s best-kept secret is the pint-sized university city of Udine, with its regal architecture and unique way of life. One of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region’s two main cities, Udine prides itself on its stunning surroundings, Slavic-inspired culture, and warm, welcoming locals. If you’re looking to break away from Italy’s better-known tourist traps, then Udine should be your first port of call.

Located mere kilometers from the Slovenian border, and only short car journeys away from both Austria and Croatia, this town is a melting pot of diversity, drawing influences from the range of European countries which surround it.

With its own language – its roots more Slavic than Romantic – and cuisine as varied as its changeable landscape, this is not Italy as you know it. Being in the very heart of the region makes Udine a perfect stopping point for anyone passing through, and is almost equidistant from the Adriatic Sea and the Dolomite mountains.

We’ve crafted the perfect itinerary of the best way to spend 3 days in Udine, from local watering holes to traditional dinner spots!


This wide, open square forms the heart of Udine’s city centre. Framed by colourful, Venetian-style buildings, with rustic cobbles and a crisp, white church, Piazza San Giacomo is the perfect place to kick off your tour around town.

Often home to a number of events and community gatherings, you’ll always find life in this square. Settle yourself at any one of the numerous cafes which face onto the square and order a coffee and a pastry – anyone with a sweet tooth should make sure to try a jam-filled croissant (or ‘ brioche alla marmellata ’).


From Piazza San Giacomo, the delicate castle turret is visible, and only a short walk away. Climbing up towards the castle – which is perched on a hilltop above the city – is beautiful in itself; as you walk through the archway, you’ll follow the gentle curve of the elegant Porticato del Lippomano.

The lawn in front of the castle will give you a 360-degree view of Udine, with the hazy, almost pastel-coloured mountains lurking in the background on a clear day. Entry to the castle’s 5 museums is €5, or €2.50 for 14-18-year-olds and university students, and includes sections about the Italian unification, ancient art, photography and archaeology.


Don’t be intimidated by the fancy name; a piadina is actually just a warm wrap. But at Piazza San Giacomo’s Italian Secret , they’re the perfect lunchtime snack.

Choose from a range of fillings, such as mozzarella, rocket and cotto (ham). These delicious sandwiches are served with crisps and ‘ salsa rossa ’, which is essentially a sweet mayonnaise-style dipping sauce. You’ve never had a wrap quite like it!


The most jaw-droppingly beautiful part of the city, the Piazza della Libertà is composed of two extremely unique and wonderfully elegant buildings: the Loggia del Lionello, and the Porticato di San Giovanni.

Both heavily influenced by the city’s Venetian roots, the blue and white clock tower of the Porticato is said to reflect that of the San Marco cathedral in Venice itself. The two buildings are architecturally astounding from every angle; particularly the Loggia del Lionello, whose marble columns cast light and shadow across the glittering tiles, framing the looming castle perfectly.

Fun Fact:  The square was also one of the main filming locations for a Mika music video.


Infamous among locals for its delicious, fluffy Neapolitan pizzas, no trip to Udine is complete without a visit to Peperino .

With a huge range of toppings, and its modern, friendly atmosphere, you’ll never be disappointed by a meal in Peperino. If your appetite is particularly ample, then try their ‘Würstel e patatine’ pizza – a pizza with sausage and French fries on top, particular to this area of Italy.


Whilst the coffee at absolutely any bar is guaranteed to be creamy, strong and downright delicious, Adoro Caffè is one of the best.

With an outside seating area looking out over Udine’s rustic cathedral, this café is the perfect spot to enjoy a quick breakfast. If you choose to sit inside, the interior is sleek, white, and inviting, with a large glass cabinet encasing their mouth-watering pastry selection.


This tiny yet modern shopping centre wouldn’t look out of place in the fashion capital of Milan. Galleria Bardelli is one of few malls within the city centre and is home to a number of high-street stores, including Flying Tiger, Zara, H&M, and everyone’s most sought-after European make-up store, Sephora. There is also a bookstore for any avid readers.

Walking through the shopping centre, and out towards Via Poscolle will lead you across a tiny stream and onto a shaded square. Browse the overflowing flower stall, or simply grab a coffee at one of the many cafes.


If you’re an adventurous foodie, then you can’t miss out on sampling some of the unique Friulian cuisine. In Udine, the best place to do this is at Osteria Al Vecchio Stallo .Tucked away in a cobbled side street, this locally-recommended restaurant is known city-wide for its extremely traditional dishes, and its cosy, chalet-inspired interior. With red and white checked tablecloths and an extensive wine list, too, this is the perfect place to fuel up for the day ahead.

Renowned for its hearty cuisine, no trip to Friuli is complete until you’ve tried some of their infamous frico : fried Montasio cheese with potatoes. Originally created to keep you warm during the harsh winter months, this dish is a speciality here. Try also their pumpkin gnocchi, or their orzotto .


Approaching this modern, well-kept green space, you will be greeted first by Udine’s imposing Parrocchia di San Nicolò: an enormous church built to honour the fallen soldiers of WWI. But behind this is Parco Moretti , a large expanse of greenery loved by Udine residents.

This park is the perfect place to relax or to go for a run. With children’s play areas, winding pathways to follow, and even a bar, you can easily while away hours in the tranquillity of this place.


Let’s face it: after a huge, traditional lunch, you probably won’t be hungry come dinner time. The best solution? Snacks and Spritz at Caffè dei Libri.

By day, this is a popular place for students to study, surrounded by shelves and shelves of books from all genres; but, by night, the place livens up, offering also live music sessions and an outside seating area. With everything from antipasti platters to full-blown meals, the Caffè dei Libri is the best place to start an evening in Udine.


Another well-loved student hangout is Glass: a cocktail bar renowned for its vast outdoor seating area and detailed cocktail menu. This is the ideal place to try a refreshing Spritz Hugo – a North-Italian cocktail, made from elderflower syrup, prosecco, soda water, and mint. Glass also hosts regular DJ sets.


In keeping with the city’s reputation of being the ‘England of Italy’, it’s likely to rain at least once while you’re in Udine. So where better to wait out the downpour than an old-fashioned cinema?

With regular showings in English, the Visionario is a unique cinematic experience. Check out their weekly viewing list , which also includes movies at their sister cinema, the Cinema Centrale.


Being so close to the home of San Daniele ham, it is no wonder that this tiny osteria ‘ Pierimortadele ‘ specialises in fresh prosciutto sandwiches.

A typically Friulian bar, which proudly displays its history and heritage through a series of old photographs on the wall, a glass of wine here will only set you back €1. If you’re feeling daring, try ordering a ‘ taj di neri’ at the bar – a glass of red wine, in the local language, ‘ friulano’ !


Recognised by its elegant pastel houses and marble, pillar-clad walkways, Via Mercatovecchio is one of the most picturesque in the city.

Leading you towards the beautiful Piazza della Libertà, punctuated by the Loggia del Lionello, this street is known mainly for its range of high-end shops and swanky bars. Whether you’re looking for jewelry and watches or shoes and bags, Via Mercatovecchio will have you covered.


Although more famous for its prosciutto, Friuli produces also a huge variety of delicious wines and cheeses. One of the best places in town to sample these locally-sourced antipasti is Enoteca Ars Bibendi .

Located in the quiet, quaint Via Paolo Sarpi, this wine bar offers a range of mouth-watering antipasti boards to suit all tastes. Settle yourself at the barrel-turned-table in the street outside, and choose from one of their many wines to accompany your final meal in Udine.


To the untrained eye, the passageway between the buildings next to the enoteca seemingly leads nowhere. But, for locals, the Borgo Mercatovecchio actually leads to one of the city’s best bars: the aptly-named Cantinetta del Borgo .

Another student favourite, this bar will have you dancing until the early hours, and is the perfect place to meet new people. With its reasonably-priced drinks and large outdoor area, this bar makes a wonderful swansong to your time in Udine.


Getting to Udine is actually easier than it may initially seem. If you’re flying, there are three main airports nearby: Trieste Airport , Venice Treviso , and Venice Marco-Polo (although the only international flights that operate in and out of Trieste Airport go to London, Munich and Valencia). From each of these, there are easy train and bus routes to Udine.

From Venice Marco-Polo, take the shuttle bus to Venezia Mestre station, where there is a direct 1h30 train to Udine. From Venice Treviso, take the bus to Treviso Centrale station, where you can catch another direct train to Udine, which lasts roughly 1h20.

Being relatively close to both Venice and Trieste, it is fairly straightforward to get to Udine by train from a number of different European countries, including Munich, Vienna, and Ljubljana.

Udine is a wonderful Italian city off the beaten track, and I hope this 3 day itinerary has given you some ideas of how to spend your time visiting the city!

We hope that this article has helped inspire you to visit Udine, Italy. If you have any questions about the destination or have your own travel tips to share please leave these in the comments below.

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Udine is the capital of the Province of Udine in the Italian Region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia . Friuli is known as a region of wines, prosciutto di San Daniele and Montasio cheese. Udine is an excellent location to taste these products and to start a visit to this less traveled part of Italy.

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Udine is a quiet and stately provincial capital - and also the unofficial capital of Friuli (Forum Iulii- Cividale del Friuli ), which comprises the largest part of the Region of Friuli-Venezia-Giuli. While the once-great seaport of Trieste is the regional capital and reigns over the coast, Udine presides over the region's inland plains and its Alpine peaks. For centuries Udine was a Venetian city - in contrast to Trieste, which was part of the Austrian Empire.

Get in [ edit ]


By plane [ edit ]

Udine is 40 km from Trieste Airport, which has daily flights to London Stansted, Milan, Munich and Rome, and less regular flights to Birmingham, Brussels, Valencia and other locations in Europe. Other popular nearby airports include Venice Marco Polo , Treviso (Venice) - both about an hour away by car or train - and Ljubljana, Slovenia less than two hours drive from Udine.

By train [ edit ]

From rest of Italy. The train from Venice / Mestre takes just over an hour and a half (unless you catch one of the locals that makes all the stops for a two-hour ride). Trieste is just over an hour away. Trains to Venice and Trieste run almost every hour. One train a day goes direct to Milan , and another to Rome (otherwise, change in Venice/Mestre).

From Austria : Venice-bound daytime (2 per day) and night trains from Vienna have a stop at Udine. There also exist two regional trains per day from Villach , and buses from Villach and Klagenfurt .

From Slovenia : The most convenient and frequent method may be to take a train to Nova Gorica , walk across the border to Gorizia and onwards to the city's train station and take one of the frequent trains coming from Trieste to Udine. Also, you can take a train from Ljubljana to Udine for €15.6 one way. The train leaves Ljubljana just before 06:00 and arrives after almost four hours to Udine. You can return on the same day from Udine at 17:54 and be in Ljubljana before 22:00. This way you have 8 hours of sightseeing in Udine, perfect for a day trip. Of course you can stop in Trieste instead on the way.

By car [ edit ]

By highway (A4/A55), Udine is about an hour from Trieste, an hour and a half from Venice and from Villach, Austria, and under two hours from Ljubljana, Slovenia.

By bus [ edit ]

Get around [ edit ], see [ edit ].

udine tourist map

  • Castello di Udine . From the monumental staircase of Udine's Castle, which rises on a low hill about the city, you can admire the Julian Alps rising above the Friuli Plains. The Castle hosts the City Museums of art and archeology. In the map rooms on the top floor, you can see how Udine and surrounding Friuli shifted from being part of the medieval Patriarch of Aquilea to the Venetian Republic, then the Austrian Empire and finally, Italy.  
  • Santa Maria di Castello . A church next to the Castle coloured by beautiful frescoes.  

udine tourist map

  • Piazza Liberta' . At the foot of the Castle hill is Piazza Liberta', which the tourist office calls the "most beautiful square in Venetian style on earth". Here you find the Loggia del Lionello, built in the 1400s, and across the street, the Tower of the Two Moors, giant statues (similar to those in St Mark's Square in Venice) on either side of a huge bell. They ring the hours.  
  • Cathedral ( Duomo ) ( down Via Vittorio Veneto from Piazza Liberta' ). Dates from the 1200s, and contains works by Tiepolo and others.  
  • Udine also has two photographic collections.
  • Ethnographic Museum , on Borgo Grazzano . It has a fascinating collection that illustrate rural life in Friuli. (Here and elsewhere, however, few captions are in English.  
  • Museo Diocesano e Gallerie del Tiepolo . M W-Su 10:00-13:00, 15:00-18:00; closed on Tu . The museum is in the former residence of the Patriarchs of Aquileia. It contains frescoes by the artist Giambattista Tiepolo.  

Do [ edit ]

  • Un tajut . Udine lies in the centre of a rich plain, known for its wine, prosciutto (from San Daniele) and cheese (Montasio and more). Piazza San Giacomo is a beautiful square and the ideal place for a glass of wine ( un tajut , in Furlan, the language of Friuli) or a coffee. The Piazza lies at the centre of the pedestrian area of town - which has become the sort of open-air shopping centre common in northern Italy.
  • Football: Udinese play soccer in Serie A, Italy's top tier. Their home ground Stadio Friuli or Dacia Arena (capacity 25,000) is 2 km northwest of city centre.

Buy [ edit ]

Eat [ edit ], drink [ edit ].

  • Caffè Contarena , Via Cavour, 1 . A nice cafe with wonderful Art Nouveau interior close to Piazza Libertà. ( updated Jun 2017 )

Sleep [ edit ]

Budget [ edit ].

  • B&B ElmAgos Udine , via Lauzacco 78 ( From the train station take bus no. 6; from the motorway exit at 'Udine Sud' ), ☏ +39 0432523888 . Check-in: 14:30 , check-out: 10:00 . Independent B&B or self-catering holiday apartment not far from city centre but in quiet area. Accommodation with separate entrance and private bathroom, perfect for couples, families, groups. double room €50-80 .  

Mid-range [ edit ]

  • Art Hotel Udine ( Art Hotel Udine ), Via Paparotti, 11 , ☏ +39 0432 600061 , fax : +39 0432 522432 . 3-star business hotel a short distance from Udine city centre. The hotel provides a capable meeting room (up to 60 persons) and private parking. €70-180 .  
  • Albergo Al Vecchio Tram , Via Brenari, 28 , ☏ +39 0432 507164 , [email protected] . Nice, family managed hotel in perfect location to explore down town. Clean, very modern rooms. Rich breakfast, which you can also enjoy in the small garden. Perfect service. ( updated Jun 2017 )

Splurge [ edit ]

Connect [ edit ].

As of June 2022, Udine has 4G from Iliad, Tim and Vodafone, and 5G from Wind Tre.

Stay safe [ edit ]

Go next [ edit ].

  • Trieste - the multicultural and multi-heritage capital of Friuli-Venezia Giulia region (1-1½ hours by train)
  • Venice and the venetian coast - about 1½-2 hours by train
  • Cividale del Friuli with its Lombard Temple (UNESCO heritage site)
  • Villach (2-2½ hours by train) and Klagenfurt in Austria's Carinthia - the region of many lakes
  • Other FVG UNESCO places: Aquileia, Palmanova, Palù di Livenza and the Friulan Dolomites
  • Gorizia, Pordenone
  • The FVG sea resorts: Lignano, Grado, Monfalcone, Trieste riviera
  • The FVG international ski resorts : Piancavallo, Tarvisio, Sella Nevea, Ravascletto-Zoncolan, Forni di Sopra.
  • The Slovenian coast.

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Udine Old Town Map

Udine Old Town Map

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Udine piazza libertà

A local’s guide to Udine, Italy: modern art and film in an ancient former capital

Sabrina Baracetti, president of the Far East Film Festival, shares tips on the northeastern city’s unique cuisine and arts scenes, leafy piazzas and €1 aperitifs

We are spoilt for eating out in Udine. Prices are reasonable, and Friulano cuisine is totally delicious. Don’t miss Al Vecchio Stallo , where I love the contrast of the two grizzled owners cracking jokes and speaking only Friulano with the cooks, who are two bubbly West African women well-versed in local cuisine. The food is totally traditional – frico (fried cheese), salami cooked with vinegar and brovada (fermented greens, similar to sauerkraut) and delicate cjarsons (sweet/savoury stuffed pasta). Two restaurants with outstanding wine lists are Hostaria alla Tavernetta and Osteria da Michele . Check out Sunday’s Mercato del Cormor, where farmers sell their vegetables, cheese and home-cured salami. For a morning treat, sip a wicked hot chocolate in the sumptuous art nouveau Caffè Contarena , with the perfect view of the 15th-century Torre dell’Orologio across the square.


Piazza della Liberta square in Udine, Italy.

As a woman, I was delighted when the town’s ancient covered fish market was converted into Galleria Tina Modotti , after an inspiring artist and pioneering photographer who was born in Udine and blazed a trail as far away as Mexico and Moscow in the 1920s. I also love the Sala Rossa of the Diocesan Museum , where Tiepolo’s frescoes create an unbelievable, almost fantasy perspective. Our new Museum of Modern Art , in 16th-century Casa Cavazzini , also leads you into a world of frescoes, this time painted in the 1930s by Udine’s Basaldella brothers. On a personal note, I am proud that Visionario , the arthouse cinema we created in 2004, is also an arts centre, with exhibitions, concerts, video installations, poetry and literature as well as five cinema screens.


ride at Fiera della Santa Caterina

Piazza Primo Maggio is also called the Giardin Grande, which legend has it was created in the hole left when Attila the Hun’s soldiers were building the imposing fortress hill, now topped by the city’s castle. This vast green space is surrounded by dramatic buildings, including the Madonna delle Grazie church, and the Udine Conservatoire, whse students gather in Bar Beethoven on its south side. Cobbled, tree-lined streets off the square include Via Verdi, which runs along a tiny canal, and Via Porta Nuova, home to the best pizza in town, at Concordia . The piazza is also the venue for markets, concerts, open-air cinema and our most famous festival, the Fiera della Santa Caterina, held every November since 1485. It’s two weeks of partying with food stalls, souvenirs and giostre , old-fashioned carousels and funfair rides.

Green space

The old canal between houses in the city centre, Udine, Italy.

Although Udine is a small, compact city, we have many gardens, leafy piazzas and parks. My favourite for a quiet passeggiata is the intimate, elegant Giardino Ricasoli . With ancient shady trees, statues and fountains, the 19th-century garden can feel like your own private fairytale. The Roggia di Palma, one of Udine’s two canals, runs through it, and walking or cycling enthusiasts can follow a path along its banks out into the countryside.

Although there is a big student population here, it is the locals that make the nightlife scene buzz, with bars filled from 6pm, aperitivo time. In most places a glass of wine, a tajut in Friulano, only costs €1. The biggest choice of bars is in the triangle between Via Mercatovecchio, Via Paolo Sarpi and Largo del Pecile. Start drinking here and you never know what time you will get home. Two traditional osterie not to be missed are Al Cappello and the raucous Pierimortadele . The Taverna dell’Angelo , back towards the Ricasoli, is apub-like whisk yteca , but a new generation of cocktail bars is opening up too. Gatti e Re , on Via Jacopo Marinoni, has lots of unusual drinks recipes.

The grand Astoria Hotel (doubles €109 B&B) is the top address, right in the centre. The festival’s Asian movie stars love staying there, especially Jackie Chan!

Sabrina Baracetti is president of Udine’s Far East film festival (22-30 April), which she founded 22 years ago in the historical capital of Italy’s Friuli region, to promote Asian cinema

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udine tourist map

48 Hours in Udine – The Historical Capital of Friuli


Udine , the historical capital and second largest city in the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia , is an overlooked gem.

With its Renaissance squares, Venetian villas and Tiepolo frescos, the city has an impressive artistic heritage, along with a vibrant contemporary edge thanks to its large student population and world class modern art museum. 

Its distinct Friulian culture – a wondrous mishmash of Italian, Austrian and Slovene influences – gives the city a unique ambience, best experienced in its cuisine, where world famous treats – San Daniele prosciutto, Bastianich wines – go plate in plate with the city’s more unusual offerings – frico and cjalsons – which are virtually unheard of outside the region.

In contrast to many Italian cities, which can often feel like theme parks for tourists, Udine is refreshingly workaday, and offers the rare thrill of feeling like you’ve truly discovered somewhere in Italy which is completely off the tourist trail.

Panoramic view of Udine

All trips to Udine must begin in Piazza della Libertà, the city’s ravishing central square which boasts a dizzying architectural ensemble to rival most Italian cities. The Gothic town hall is a homage to the Palazzo Ducale in Venice , and the former empire’s prints are everywhere, including in the majestic Loggia di San Giovanni ; its striking white, gold and blue clocktower with two young boys cradling a bell, is the symbol of the city.

Square with statue

The streets which radiate outwards are filled with quirky and often beautiful surprises. Grand buildings, in styles ranging from Renaissance to Art Nouveau, seem to materialise out of nowhere. Udine’s canals, mostly entombed, occasionally re-emerge as beautiful ornamentations to the small squares dotted around town. Several small parks are scattered across the city, down inauspicious alleys and inside crumbling Gothic courtyards.

A view of the medieval Manin tower city gate

A series of sinuous passages will lead you to Piazza Matteotti . Though not as beguiling as Piazza della Libertà, it’s still incredibly beautiful, with its towering Renaissance houses and Baroque Church of San Giacomo. During the day, it’s a frequent location for events and festivals, while in the evening, the square comes alive with people of all ages drinking and laughing the night away.

Piazza Matteotti Udine

Again you ask yourself: how is this city not more well-known?

Continue your journey by climbing Udine’s lone hill, reached by passing under Palladio’s Arco Bollani . The views from the top allow you to take in the city’s unusual skyline - a hodgepodge of Venetian spires, tiled roofs and modern glass and steel structures. Pivot north and you are struck by the sudden appearance of the Alps, which seem to emerge fully formed out of nothingness.

On the hill lies Udine’s castello – really more of a palazzo – host of the city’s art gallery featuring works by Carpaccio, Caravaggio and Tiepolo as well as local Friulian artists. There’s also a risorgimento and photography museum inside.

View of Udine

Udine prides itself on the being the second home of the great Venetian painter Tiepolo, who adorned the city with some of his most celebrated work. His instantly recognisable style – fresh, ebullient frescos with an almost trompe-l'œil quality – can be seen  in situ  at the Palazzo Patriarcale and in the city’s marvellous Romanesque duomo. It’s also worth checking out the nearby Oratorio della Purità to see Tiepolo’s last ever fresco in Italy. Titled  Assunta , it’s a vibrant depiction of the Virgin Mary’s ascension into heaven, and is a fitting Italian swansong for this Venetian-born master.

For a more voguish experience, head to Udine’s Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art , which displays the city’s cutting-edge ambitions. Here, substantial twentieth century Italian artists such as De Chirico, Morandi and Carrà sit alongside a cavalcade of international celebrities – Picasso, Braque and Chagall - and modern American artists such as de Kooning, Lichtenstein and Judd. The latter group donated art works to Udine after the devastating 1976 Friuli earthquake. They were intended to be sold at auction to raise money for the city’s reconstruction, but the canny mayor at the time decided to hold onto them, feeling they would be more valuable in the long term as exhibits in a prospective modern art museum.

Where to stay:

Most of Udine’s accommodation caters to business travellers. For a bit of Belle Epoque glamour, try the  Ambassador Hotel  near the station.  Hotel Suite Inn  in the north of the city has rooms that get the right balance between rustic and sleek. The women who run it are super friendly and can help you rent bikes and plan cycling tours in the region. There are also plentiful  agriturismi  options in the surrounding countryside. Ask the tourist office for recommendations.

Where to eat and drink: 

Udine’s culture bending identity is best experienced in its food. Osteria all Ghiacciaia  is an Udine institution and the best place to sample some of the region’s more eccentric offerings, such as frico (a kind of cheese and potato fritter) and cjalsons (gnocchi stuffed with berries and dusted with cinnamon) alongside platters of more conventional fare, such as Montasio cheese and San Daniele prosciutto , which connoisseurs consider to be the finest ham in Italy.  Ai Frati  is another local favourite: try their spin on tagliatelle al ragù, which here is made with rabbit meat.

udine tourist map

If there’s one thing Friuli is famous for, it’s their wines - Pignolo, Picolit and Refosco being the most renowned. Birra Moretti, ubiquitous throughout Italy, was actually founded here in Udine. Students and locals can be found drinking in and around Piazza Matteotti until the early hours.

Like this? Don't miss "Discovering The Traditional Food of Friuli and Where To Taste It"

Aquileia and Grado

Aquileia , an extraordinary archaeological site roughly an hour’s bus ride south of Udine, was founded by the Romans in 181BC, and grew to become the fourth largest city in Italy. The excellent archaeological museum charts the potted history of the city, from its pagan roots and growth as a Roman trading power, to its destruction by Germanic tribes and later re-emergence as the capital of the Patriarchate of Friuli. The city’s Basilica, which dates from the fourteenth century, has its entire floor given over to the largest Paleo-Christian Mosaic in the world.

Square and church in Aquileia

A further ten-minute bus ride from Aquileia takes you to Grado , a colourful fishing town with a beautiful Venetian core and some long sandy beaches. The town sits on a picturesque lagoon, which is fun to explore by bike or boat, both readily available in town. Both Aquileia and Grado can be done in one easy day trip from Udine.

Cividale del Friuli

Cividale del Friuli is arguably the most beautiful town in Friuli. Founded by Julius Caesar (whose statue now stands outside the town hall), it later saw invasions by the Lombards, rule by Venice, annexation by Austria and finally incorporation into Italy. These days it’s a centre of Friulian culture and has a strong Slovene influence, being just ten kilometres from the border. The Tempietto Lombardo, a unique religious building dating from 760 with some evocative frescos, is the most striking historical site.

Cividale del Friuli devil's bridge and Natisone river canyon panoramic view

But the greatest pleasure in Cividale is just strolling the streets, with their beautiful squares and churches, and taking in the mesmerising Ponte del Diavolo (Devil’s Bridge) - a remarkable engineering feat which connects the town over the steep gorge of the Natisone river. Cividale del Friuli is just a 25-minute train ride from Udine.

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Ten things to see in Udine – Travel summary

Piazza del Duomo, 33100 Udine UD, Italy

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Friuli Venezia Giulia Region Map & Travel Guide

How to enjoy the "land of contrasts" bordering slovenia and austria.

The Friuli Venezia Giulia region is a border region bounded by spectacular mountain ranges and the sea. Influences from around the Mediterranean are found in the traditions and cuisine. To add to the jumble, the "Venezia" in the region's name has little to do with Venice. Yet Venice is an influencer; the mainland's most beautiful Venetian square just might be the Venetian influenced Piazza della Libertà in Udine. Tourist favorites Lignano Sabbadoro and Grado bookend a very compelling lagoon. Fishermen's houses called casoni dot the little islands. Many of them have been turned into rural accommodations.

The region borders the Adriatic and the countries of Austria and Slovenia. To the north are the craggy Dolomite Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage site added in 2009. Some of Italy's best white wines come from the region.

Let's take a look at the map and the top cities. The stars indicate the provincial capitals.

Map of Friuli Venezia Giulia

friuli venezia giulia map

Getting Your Bearings in Friuli Venezia Giulia Region

The four cities marked by red stars are the provincial capitals: Pordenone, Udine, Gorizia, and Trieste. The region's capital is Trieste.

The region, with an area of 7,858 square kilometers, is Italy's fifth smallest.

Ancient and important: the Roman city of Aquileia was founded in 181 BC, and served then as capital of the region. It is a popular place for tourists to visit, an easy drive from Grado , once Aquileia's sea port. Aquileia's population rose to over 100,000 by the 2nd century AD, but now has fallen to around 3,000. The site has UNESCO World Heritage status. There are two museums and a very early Christian Basilica as well as scattered Roman excavations. To the north of the city is Monastero , which hosts the Museo Paleocristiano. To the south is the very fine Museo Archaeologico Nazionale .

Read More About Aquileia

Select Cities in Friuli Venezia Giulia

Trieste is the capital of Friuli Venezia Giulia. It's a fascinatingly "different" seaport city on the Adriatic, at the "end of its Italian umbilical" as described by Jan Morris, author of Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere . It was the Austro-Hungarian Empires only port, and thus became quite the industrial and financial center. Today it's a city of ex-pats and writers rather than tourists. You'll find the tourist office at the edge of Piazza Unità d'Italia.

Associazione Italo Americana del Friuli Venezia Giulia is located in Piazza San Antonio, 6 and provides Italian language classes as well as film events.

The covered market, Mercato Coperto is on Via Giosuè Carducci 36. Food is on the ground floor, which also includes a bar. You'll find inedible stuff like clothing, antiques and books on the upper floor.

A 10km bus ride from Trieste is the tourist favorite Miramare Castle , a gleaming white aristocratic residence immersed in a botanical garden with panoramic sea views. The 14th century Castello Di Duino is 12 km from Trieste. The Castello di San Giusto in Piazza della Cattedrale 3 was constructed on the ruins of the Roman town of Tergeste and now contains the Civic Museum. Strolling the ramparts gifts the walker with a panorama of the city of Trieste, its hills and the sea.

Like Venice's Piazza San Marco, the city's Piazza Dell'Unita d'Ialia is open to the sea. Always changing, it now consists of architecture from the late 19 through early 20 century, as well as many sidewalk cafés. The balcony of the Palazzo Comunale is notable for its use by Mussolini in 1983 to declare laws depriving Italian Jews of most of their rights.

Eat! Up in the old city, Antipastoteca di Mare takes the less inexpensive fish and accompanies them with salad, polenta and the house wine for cheap. Try the fish soup. Meat lovers might try a "buffet" like Buffet da Pepi on Via Cassa di Risparmio 3, an Austro-Hungarian tradition, a hole in the wall that is dedicated to pork dishes with sauerkraut and a mug of beer.

Trieste as well as Pordenone are notable for their Christmas Markets .

Trieste Travel Guide Trieste Tours, tickets & Things to Do Trieste Lodging

Around the turn of the 20th century Austro-Hungarian aristocrats started building elegant mansions in Gorizia. Around the same time they developed the port of Grado as a spa resort. It's all so serene these days that it's hard to imagine that some of the most bitter battles of WWI took place here (you can check it out by visiting the Museo della Grade Guerra , the museum of the big war in Borgo Castello, 13, free on the first Sunday of the month).

Transalpina Square divides Gorizia and the town of Nova Gorica in Slovenia. You can walk across it without producing a passport.

The changing border has created a unique Friulian-Slovenian cuisine in Gorizia. Local fine wines are designated DOC Collio and DOC Isonzo. The very scenic wine road stretches from Gorizia to Dolegna.

Gorizia Castle is an Italian fort dating from 1146 that dominates the hill overlooking the city. Today the castle hosts the Museum of the Middle Ages of Gorizia . The castle is shown in the picture below.

goriza castle/

Gorizia Lodging Top Rated Agriturismo: Azienda Agricola Baronesse Tacco

The province of Udine is the largest in Friuli Venezia Giulia. The capital, Udine, offers the wanderer its Piazza Libertà, considered "the most beautiful Venetian square on the mainland". It's like an open-air lounge in some respects. For views, head up the hill to the castle. For wine, head to any of the many osterie serving the local vino by the goblet. You'll notice many folks sitting down for un taj di chel bon , a good glass of wine with friends.

Evidence of culture past and present isn't hidden in Udine. Here are a few museums and exhibits you can visit:

  • The Castle Museums
  • Ethnographic Museum
  • Casa Cavazzini
  • Gallerie del Progetto di Pallazzo Morpurgo--Project Galleries (in Palazzo Morpurgo)
  • Friulian Museum of Natural History
  • L'Offensiva di Carta (The Paper Offensive by the Propaganda Office in WWI) in the Castle

Of these, perhaps the last one on the list needs some explanation. L'Offensiva di Carta documents "The Great War: an illustrated journey through time, from the Luxardo Collection to modern-day comics".

Throughout the blood soaked, muddy war of 1914 -1918, a parallel war was being waged, a war of words and powerful images. This exhibition documents that war, drawing on the unique heritage of the Luxardo Collection, which owes its name to the doctor from San Daniele del Friuli who, in the immediate aftermath of the war, gathered over 5600 files of magazines and monographs from the period. ~ L'OFFENSIVA DI CARTA (The Paper Offensive)

Information on events and exhibitions going on can be found in the excellent website of the Civic Museum Udine .

Udine Lodging

The Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of Castelmonte

25 miles east of Udine is Castelmonte and the Santuario Beata Vergine di Castelmonte,  a mountaintop sanctuary that's one of the oldest in Italy. "A tenacious tradition traced it back to the fifth century, that is, to the period immediately following the Council of Ephesus in 431, at which Mary's Divine Motherhood was solemnly defined." Built upon the remains of a Roman fort, the church is a pilgrimage destination today. 

The Sanctuary was passed by riders on the 19th stage of the 2022 Giro d'Italia. 

The official website is only in Italian, but you can use Google Translate or my favorite DeepL Translator to get a translation.

There is a Casa del Pelegrino for pilgrims on site. It has a bar and restaurant.

loggia del lionello 1441

Piazza Libertà, Loggia del Lionello, 1441, Udine

San Daniele del Friuli

San Daniele is known for a prosciutto, Prosciutto San Daniele and celebrates ham in a festival held on the last weekend in June. The town is not shy about telling you how to cook with their prosciutto, they run an online magazine in English with a heap of ideas and recipes .

Susan Van Allen, author of 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go , says about San Daniele:

This elegant town, set amidst gently rolling hills, is the birthplace of the best prosciutto in Italy, thus, best prosciutto on earth! Get there the last weekend in June for the Aria di Festa, when prosciutto is celebrated, with tours to meet culinary artisans, feasting, music, and activities for the kiddies. Highlights of the historical center are the awe-inspiring Renaissance chapel inside the Chiesa di San Antonio Abate, (aka The Sistine Chapel of Friuli), and the Cathedral of San Michele Arcangelo.

Grado is technically an island in a lagoon; the name derives from "gradus" meaning a port of call. It was once a sleepy fishing port featuring a small and interesting Venetian-style medieval center with many churches, a few of them palaeo-Christian with excellent mosaics. Today the little port city has blossomed into a prime beach destination in summer.

Restaurants and bars are numerous in Grado--and all we've tried have served excellent seafood. Boreto is the traditional seafood dish here, various fish served with polenta in a vinegar and garlic sauce.

Feeling a bit run down? You might visit the health spa called Grado Marine Spa which has been marinating folks in the healing waters since the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg Empire.

An interesting boat trip takes you through the lagoon to the Barbana Sanctuary. The original church was erected in 582. During the season there's a restaurant as part of the complex. Buy your round-trip ticket from the kiosk in Grado where you'll see the ferry.

barbana sanctuary

Barbana Sanctuary as you aproach by boat

Grado Travel Guide Find the Perfect Grado Lodging

Time must have a stop, too

If you like to think of the evolution of time keeping devices or you're just into sundials and clocks, you will have to make a stop at Italy's "sundial city" of Aiello del Friuli near Palmanova on the map, north of Grado. A short drive away is the village of Pesariis, called Il paese degli Orologi , the town of clocks.

Airports and Transportation

The airport shown on the map is Aeroporto FVG (Friuli Venezia Giulia) or Trieste Airport . In the past has been called Ronchi dei-Legionari. It is located 40 km from Trieste and Udine, 15 km from Gorizia, 50 km from Pordenone. The closest lodging to the airport is at Ronchi dei Legionari (3 km from the airport) or in Monfalcone (5 km from the airport).

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