When you think of Italy, you probably think of Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan. Turin is somewhat less unknown but has its own charm. Turin is the capital city of Piedmont in North Italy. In fact Turin has one of the oldest Royal History’s. It was the birth town of the first King of Italy; Vittoria Emanuelle II of Savoy. This place won’t disappoint, with its beautiful piazzas, cathedrals, historic cafes, museums, food and shopping. Here are my top 10 things to do in Turin.
1. Start with a tour of the city
We did a city tour with Angelo (with Free Tour Turin). It was one of the best tours we have done. Angelo was passionate and knowledgeable about his city. He is also an avid traveller (which is always a plus 😉). The tour is between 2-3 hours, there will be a short stop for a tea/coffee/juice. From Thursday to Monday at 10.30 AM from Porta Nuova metro station exit. Angelo will walk you through many areas including Via Roma, Piazza San Carlo, Piazza Carignano, Piazza Castello, Duomo Torino and Via Po. He can also give you good recommendations on where to eat and any other queries you may have. It is great to start with the tour because in the end you can always revisit the places that you want to see in more detail. Don’t hesitate to tip your guide if you liked the tour.
2. Turin is a city of Churches and Cathedrals
They really are magnificent. Just to name a few;
- Chieso Dello Spirito Sancto
- Santuario Basilica La Consolata
- Duomo di Torino, this is where the ‘Shroud of Turin’ is kept, the next scheduled time it will be displayed is for 2025. The shroud is kept in a temperature controlled box to avoid any exposure to light.
- Cappella dei Banchieri e dei Mercanti
- Basilica di Superga, You can take the ‘tranvia’, old tram up the steep hill (about 15 minutes) and then enjoy the beautiful view of the city and the river Po.
|Santa Cristina and Santa Carlo Borromeo|
3. Visit the Roman Palatine towers
An ancient Roman medieval structure in the middle of Turin. It is an example of a typical Roman gate. The angular towers are more than 98 ft. This towering structure was supposed to be destroyed in the 18th century but luckily the Duke was pursuaded to preserve this piece of history. The Palatine Towers are now part of the archaeological park that has been created in this area.
4. Visit the many Piazzas and Palazzo’s in Turin
One of the most notable; Piazza San Carlo in a typical baroque style. Here you will see the impressive twin churches of Santa Cristina and Santa Carlo Borromeo. Also present is the statue of Emanuele Filiberto, the duke of Savoy. Piazza Castello is at the heart of the city, the Palazzo Madama is located here, full of changing history it is now a museum that houses ancient art. There is also the city’s opera house. You will also see a sort of brick skycraper; which doesn’t seem to really fit in. The building is from the fascist era, Torre Littoria; it was supposed to be the headquaters of the Fascist party but was never the case, now it is used as a residential/commercial building. The Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace of Turin) is located nearby and connected to this building is the Chapel of the Holy Shroud. The Holy Shroud was bought to Turin by the Savoy family in 1578. Not too far is the Palazzo Carignano, with one side a typical red brick baroque style building and the rear a 19th century facade. This is now the National Museum of the Italian Risorgimento.
|Palazzo Carignano – The museum of the Italian Risorgimento|
|Piazza Castello and Palazzo Reale|
5. Visit a museum
You have a few great choices including the Museo Egizio, which houses over 30,000 Eqyptian artefacts. Mole Antonelliana, one of the tallest Museums in the world. It now houses the Museo Nazionale del Cinema; all about film and cinema culture. If you are a fan of automobiles, then you can also visit the Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile. For the history lovers you have the Royal Palace of Turin.
6. Aperitivo time
I am definitely the ‘Miss Aperitif’, my favourite time of the day and Turin has a great atmosphere for this. You will find some lovely historic cafes where you can have an aperitif dinner. All you can eat plus drink for 10-15 euros. There are many choices and you can always walk around and look at other peoples plate to see if it looks good for you.
7. For those with a sweet tooth
Don’t forget to try the famous ‘bicerin’ at the historic cafes. There are many lovely cafes to try but a recommended famous one (expect to pay a higher price) is at the Café Mulassano, Piazza Castello. For those who are wondering what a bicerin is? Bicerin is made from expresso, chocolate and whole milk or cream; served in layers in a small glass.
8. Another one for chocolate lovers
Go home with a box of Gianduiotto, a speciality of Turin since 1865. These individually wrapped chocolates look like an upside down boat and are made from sugar, chocolate and haselnut. You can buy these mouth watering, melting pralines in the historic cafes or specialised chocolate shops.
9. For a free beautiful view of Turin
Go to the Chiesa di Santa Maria del Monte dei Cappuccini especially during sunset or sunrise, you will have a magnificent view of the city overlooking the River Po.
Well you will not be disappointed with the shopping, there are over 18 km of beautiful archades. You will find all kinds of shops to suit your budget. Via Roma is where you will find luxury shopping. We also saw many second hand book stalls along the archades. There is als Via Garialdi
If you love markets then make a visit to Porta Palazzo market in Piazza della Republica, (we did not have enough time) but were recommended this one. We were also recommended to visit Eataly in Via Nizza 230 and the morning market in Crocetta, just off Corso Duca degli Abruzzi. So another excuse to go back to Turin. 😊
- We stayed in the Pacific Hotel Fortino, when we arrived to this hotel we didn’t get a good feeling of the location, the hotel was quite far from the city centre. Our advice would be to choose a hotel in the centre because this is where all the real action is.
- Avoid to travel in April/May as the big Automobile salon takes place and accomodation prices will rise.
- If you are a restaurant lover, maybe avoid August as a lot of restaurants may be closed.
- We did not get time on this trip but if you want to visit some nice places outside of Turin, we were recommended Aosta, Chianale, Garessio, Macugnaga, Mombaldone, Orta San Giulio (see Lake Orta), Ostana.
We would love to hear your comments and recommendations as well 😊