TURIN CITY GUIDE: Must do in Turin
Turin is probably one of the most underrated cities in Italy. Most visitors head straight for the nearby cities of Milan and Genoa, but missing out on this beautiful and historical town will be a mistake. If you’re planning a trip to Italy, this Turin city guide and tips will come in handy. Find out the best time to visit, how to get around Turin, the best things to do in Turin, the best museums in Turin, and more.
Why visit Turin
Why should you visit Turin? Surrounded by mountains and lakes, Turin was the first capital of the country.
A former industrial city but now an important location for arts and gastronomy, here you can enjoy incredible food and some of the best wine in the world. Elegant squares, contemporary art, and romantic boulevards make Turin one of the best cities to visit in Italy. Therefore, if you are looking for a more secluded location, then use this Turin city guide to plan your perfect trip.
Essential Turin travel tips
LANGUAGE: Italian is the most spoken language.
MONEY/ATM: ATMs are widely available but it’s important to carry some cash for small transactions.
ELECTRONIC APPLIANCES: Bring a universal adapter with surge protection. All the plugs are Type C, F, and L with a standard voltage of 230V and a frequency of 50Hz.
VISA: All EU passport holders will only need to present an identification document to enter Italy. If you are a non-EU traveler you will need to present a valid visa. For more information visit here
Best time to visit Turin
The most popular time to visit Turin is between June and August, but keep in mind prices will be higher due to the high season.
However, the best time to visit Turin is between April and May. Spring has high temperatures, sunny days, and small crowds, perfect for wandering around the city.
The low season is between November and February, as the average temperature in winter is between -5 and +5 degrees Celsius. However, this is the perfect time to visit Turin if you are planning to travel up to the Italian Alps for some skiing and snowboarding.
Finally, if you are looking for a culinary experience then you should consider visiting Turin between September and October. The weather is still pretty much summery and you can enjoy many food-related events, such as the famous Salone del Gusto, a big international event dedicated to the food, the environment, and food politics. On top of that, If you are willing to travel a few hours from Turin, you will find other famous events such as cheese and the international white truffle fair. September is also the wine harvest season! For more information read this Piedmont culinary travel guide
How much is a trip to Turin?
Turin on a budget is totally possible if you know where to look. Luckily, this Turin City Guide will help you organize your finances. These prices are rough and can change.
Hotels can be expensive, starting from 40 to 100 euros a night. Booking an Airbnb can be a great option for budget travelers and it will allow you to meet some locals. Hostels are also available with a shared dorm for 20 euros or a private room for 50 euros.
Traditional Piedmont cuisine is very sophisticated with rich flavors, full-bodied wines, and incredible desserts. A meal in a mid-range restaurant is around 20 euros, street food is also available and often the cheapest option.
Turin is a large city with beautiful architecture and rich history. Most museums are around 10 euros. Food tours and classes go from 50 to 90 euros. However, you can buy the Turin + Piedmont card for free admission to the most important museums and exhibitions in Turin, as well as discounted tickets in other cultural cities.
How to get around Turin
One of the best ways to get around the center of Turin is by bicycle. The city offers an incredible bike-sharing scheme with more than 100 stations. You can subscribe online or on the phone app, but remember it might take a couple of days before you receive the actual card. Click here for more information.
Turin has a good network of buses, trams, and a metro system all run by the Gruppo Torinese Trasporti (www.gtt.to.it/en). You can download the app GTT Mobile, where you can purchase online credits/tickets and find out the latest updates. Otherwise, you can buy tickets from tobacconists, newsagents or bars.
Best historical things to do and see in Turin
Like most of Italy, Turin was under the Roman empire for many years, once collapsed the city was occupied by many different nations. Consequently, the city has a unique history to explore.
This Turin City Guide lists some of the best historical things to see and do in Turin.
Piazza Castello: The Royal Palace and Madama Palace
In the heart of Turin lies Piazza Castello with two major historical buildings: The Royal Palace and Madama Palace.
The first one was built in the 16th century and holds a central position in Turin as a symbol of power. The palace was the former residences of the House of Savoy, which ruled Turin until the 19th century. It was converted to a museum in 1946 and recently joined the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Madama Palace is a part-medieval and part-baroque building names after Royal Madam Maria Cristina. It’s one of the most ancient buildings in Turin and played a leading role throughout history. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. Today it hosts a large collection of ancient arts.
Porta Palantina is a low-key and not very well known spot. Nevertheless, this is one of the best-preserved Roman gateways in the world. It’s built on a square base, with two towers higher than 30 meters. This roman gates, together with its beautiful park, offers visitors a unique and priceless archaeological experience.
Basilica of Superga
The Basilica of Superga was built in 1706 as a sign of gratitude to the Virgin Mary, for the defeat of the French troops in Italy.
This colorful church is 75 meters high and lies on top of a hill, therefore it’s visible from all over Turin and offers great panoramic views of the city.
The Basilicata of Superga is the final resting place of the Savoy family, these tombs make it an interesting place to visit. However, the Basilicata is mainly known for the tragedy of 1949, when an airplane with the entire Turin football team crushed into the back of the church. There were 31 casualties.
Church Santa Maria del monte dei Cappuccini
Not far from the center of Turin you can find the Church Santa Maria, a late-Renaissance-style church built in 1584 and consecrated in 1656.
This is located on a hill, called Monte Dei Cappuccini, overlooking the River Po and Piazza Vittorio Veneto. Here you can enjoy incredible views of the city, the alps, and colorful sunsets. Therefore, Monte Dei Cappuccini and its church have earned a spot as one of the best things to see and do in Turin.
Church Gran Madre di Dio
This neoclassic-style church was built in 1818 to celebrate the return of the Savoys after the fall of the Napoleonic empire. The outside of the church is very simple and elegant, this might not be one of the most eye-catching buildings in Turin but it represents an important part of history.
The Valentino Castle is one of Turin’s most noteworthy landmarks. It has a horseshoe shape, with four towers and it stands in the heart of one of the biggest parks in Turin.
The castle had various uses over the centuries, it was a former residence of the house of Savoy. Renovations were carried out in 1860 when the castle was more or less abandoned. Today, it’s considered a UNESCO world heritage site and it’s used by the University Politecnico di Torino.
This palace was built by Guarino Guarini in 1679 and it was used as an occasional home by Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy’s first king.
It’s a symbolic place for the Savoy dynasty and a good representation of the Piedmont Baroque architectural style. The outside is simple but effective, while the interiors are decorated with beautiful frescoes.
Today Carignano Palace houses the National Museum of the Risorgimento.
Piazza San Carlo
San Carlo piazza is one of Turin’s most popular locations. It preserves a peaceful and historical look, and it’s often considered one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. In the center stands a monument to Emanuele Filiberto I, and just south of the piazza there are two very similar, but not identical, churches.
The square is surrounded by elegant baroque buildings, cafes, and restaurants. Today this area hosts many historical and social events, including concerts and live music.
Piazza Carlo Alberto
This is considered one of Turin’s most elegant squares. It’s entirely pedestrian and showcases a statue of Carlo Alberto of Savoy in the middle. Around the piazza there are plenty of traditional restaurants and cafes, therefore this is a great place to relax and enjoy some Italian food and wine or aperitif.
Piazza Vittorio Veneto
Piazza Vittorio Veneto is the largest square in Turin and one of the biggest in Europe. It’s located in the city center, and it connects, via a bridge, the church Gran Madre di Dio and the Monte Dei Cappuccini. The square is surrounded by beautiful historical building and it’s often used as a meeting point for locals and tourists.
16 km from Turin City Centre
The Venaria Reale, or Royal game reserve, is a monumental historical complex, 16 km away from Turin city center. This is truly one of the most incredible sightseeing in Turin, and it’s one of the largest royal residences in the world.
After a 10-year-long restoration project, the Venaria Reale is now welcoming visitors from all over the world.
Next to this baroque Palace, there is a vast garden complex, where the city hosts exhibitions and regular live concerts throughout the summer. Because of its size, you will need most of your day to explore this Royal Residence.
Palazzina di Caccia di Stupinigi
27 km from Turin City Centre
The Palazzina di Caccia of Stupinigi was built in 1729 and lies 27 km away from Turin city centre.
The palace was the Savoy’s hunting lodge, as well as a place where the royal family celebrated weddings and parties. There are no words to describe the beauty of this building, no wonder why it is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today you can visit the inside, 137 rooms, and 17 galleries, all with totally different themes, fantastic furniture as exposed art.
Best museums in Turin
As previously mentioned, most of Turin’s historical buildings now host museums. The Royal Palace, Madama Palace, and Carignano Palace remain some of the most important collections you can visit.
Nevertheless, Turin has a lot more than just history…
Cars, contemporary art, cinema..and much more. Use this Turin city guide to find the best museums and galleries the city has to offer.
This museum is known globally for its vast collection of Egyptian antiquities. Amongst the most important is the intact tomb of Kha and Merit. After many years of renovation, the museum now displays objects that were previously kept in storage and offer interactive displays.
The Egyptian museum attracts between 500,000 and 600,000 visitors each year. Therefore, It’s one of the most popular museums in Turin.
Turin has always been an important city for the history of Italian cinema. For this reason, the city hosts the largest and most popular cinema museum in Italy. This offers a unique and interactive experience with entire sections dedicated to the early years of cinema and photography. On top of that, the Cinema Museum is situated in the Mole Antonelliana. An iconic building originally created to serve as a synagogue.
Turin has a long history of car manufacturing, it was the birthplace of FIAT, one of the world’s leading car companies.
This museum showcases many original vehicles and explores the future of the automobile industry. The displays are very interactive, therefore this is a great activity for car fanatics as well as families. Finally, the building hosting the museum is from 1960 and architecturally very impressive.
Best Markets in Turin
Turin feels like an open-air market every day of the year. You can come across the occasional stall, that sells traditional food or antiques while walking around the city.
Use this Turin City Guide to help you organize your trip. Discover items from the past, enjoy colorful stalls, and learn about the city’s history. Here are two of the best markets in Turin.
Porta Palazzo Market
This is the city’s biggest market and the largest open-air market in Europe. it’s definitely a once in a lifetime kind of experience. Here you can find a farmer’s maker, fish, meat, and high-quality products. There is also a good selection of footwear, clothes, housewares, and toys.
Right next to the open-air market there is a glass building called Mercato Generale, a collection of artisans’ shops. Here you can find real gourmet food in many different shades and forms while enjoying a modern and stylish setting.
Balon and Gran Balon Market
This is a famous flea market behind Porta Palazzo. Here a hot air balloon rises 150 meters every day, giving its visitors an incredible view of the city.
Every Sunday the streets are packed with antique dealers, old furniture, and unique items. But, the best time to visit is the second Sunday of each month when the Gran Balon Market takes place. This time dealers display the best they have to offer, making this an incredible attraction.
Don’t miss out on this beautiful and historical city. Use this Turin City Guide and Tips to plan your perfect vacation. If you found this article helpful please let me know in the comments below.