Ultimate Travel guide to visit Turin/Torino (Italy)

This article first appeared in My Travelogue by Bhushavali

Italy is either charming Rome or the countryside of Florence or fashion of Milan or the beaches of Naples & Amalfi or the canals of Venice. Turin is not really on the primary tourist radar of Italy, but there are so many things to do in Turin, that a weekend isn't enough! Turin is the quiet yet amazing one in Italy! I was in Turin for 2 days and how I wish I had more time!!!

TURIN OR TORINO?
The local language of Turin is Italian, so the name of the city in its own language is Torino! Its anglicized name is Turin!

WHAT IS TURIN FAMOUS FOR? TURIN'S GOLDEN AGE FOR ART & ARCHITECTURE. 
Turin gained importance after 1553 when duke Emanuele Filiberto of the House of Savoy ascended the throne. In 1557 CE, duke Emanuele Filiberto led the Spanish invasion of northern France and beat the French Army at Saint Quintin. He was the one who moved the political capital from ChambĂ©ry to Turin. He was also the one who brought the Turin Shroud here! A bit later, in 1714-1734, under architect Filippo Juvarra, who was brought to Turin by duke Victor Amadeus II of the House of Savoy, most of the masterpieces of the era were built incl. Palazzo Madama, Basilica Superga, Palace of Stupinigi, and many of the churches here. Much much later, Turin gained prominence after hosting the Winter Olympics in 2006!


Roman Gates of Turin Porta Palatina Augusta Taurinorum

TOP 5 PLACES TO VISIT & THINGS TO DO IN TURIN

Royal Palace of Turin UNESCO World Heritage Site in Piedmont
Throne Room at the Royal Palace of Turin

Roman Gates of Turin Porta Palatina Augusta Taurinorum

Roman Gates of Turin Porta Palatina Augusta Taurinorum

Roman Gates of Turin Porta Palatina Augusta Taurinorum

RESIDENCES OF THE ROYAL HOUSE OF SAVOY (ROYAL PALACE OF TURIN) & HOLY SHROUD - UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN PIEDMONT, ITALY
Turin is one of the top pilgrimage sites for Christians in Italy, thanks to the presence of the Holy Shroud (the cloth which was wrapped around Jesus Christ after he was brought down from the crucifix). The original Chapel of the Holy Shroud is a part of Musei Reali, however, the Holy Shroud is currently preserved in the Cathedral of John the Baptist located just beside Musei Reali. 
Musei Reali houses not just the Royal Palace of Turin (Palazzo Reale) & the Chapel of Holy Shroud, but also the Royal armory, Royal gardens, and Gallery Sabauda (fine arts museum). Just beside Musei Reali are the Palazzo Madama, Royal Library, etc. 

All about the Royal Palace of Turin & the Holy Shroud - Location, tickets, timings, etc: Refer to my earlier article on the Ultimate Guide to visit Royal Palace of Turin - a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

PORTA PALATINA (PALATINE GATE) - ANCIENT ROMAN REMAINS
While the Royal Palace of Turin (Residences of the Royal House of Savoy) is one of the top places to visit in Turin, for a history buff something might be more interesting, but much simpler - the Roman Gate. Yes, Turin was an Ancient Roman settlement several centuries ago. It was then called Augusta Taurinorum from which the current name Turin appeared. 
Being a Roman settlement, of course, there was a City wall around the city with gates and an amphitheater and more. Today ruins of the amphitheater can still be seen just behind Musei Reali. Further behind is the only thing left of the ancient city walls of the 1st C BCE - just, one of its gates, called today, the Palatine Gate. It reminded much of the Porta Nigra in Trier. Porta Palatina is indeed one of the best-preserved ancient Roman Gates in the world! There's a sculpture of Augustus Ceaser in front of it, but this isn't a historic one. Sadly, it isn't allowed to climb Porta Palatina or to even see its interiors...

Where is Porta Palatina (Palatine Gate) in Turin (On Google Maps)? Porta Palatina
How to reach Porta Palatina (Palatine Gate) in Turin? It is located about 1.5km from Turin Railway Station and just behind the Royal Palace of Turin (Musei Reali)
Porta Palatina (Palatine Gate) tickets: Free
Porta Palatina (Palatine Gate) timings: 24x7

Mole Antonelliana (National Museum of Museum) Turin

Mole Antonelliana (National Museum of Museum) Turin

Mole Antonelliana (National Museum of Museum) Turin

Mole Antonelliana (National Museum of Museum) Turin

Mole Antonelliana (National Museum of Museum) Turin

MOLE ANTONELLIANA (& NATIONAL MUSEUM OF CINEMA) - TALLEST MUSEUM IN THE WORLD
Mole Antonelliana (National Museum of Museum) is the icon of Turin. It is the most visible building in the cityscape of Turin. While the Mole Antonelliana can be climbed for the perfect panorama view of the city, it is also important because it houses the National Museum of Cinema! It is 167m tall which makes it the tallest museum in the world and the 3rd tallest building in Turin!
The first thing we did was to just get atop Mole Antonelliana to enjoy the brilliant view. Though the building is 167m tall, this panoramic desk is at the 85th m. From atop here, not only is the entire city including the dome of the Chapel of the Holy Shroud visible but also far away till the mountains around Turin and the iconic buildings over the mountains including Villa della Regina, which is one of the residences of the Royal House of Savoy as well as Basilica of Superga which is the burial place of the Savoy family. There is an elevator to go to the panoramic tower and it is possible to just go here alone & not to the National Museum of Cinema.
We did head down to visit the museum as well. The self-guided tour of the National Museum of Cinema begins on the ground floor with the history of visual entertainment right from puppetry. There were galleries that explained optical illusions, pin-hole cameras, zoetropes, flipbooks, praxinoscopes, and much more! Historic cameras, film rolls, etc were also on display. The next floor was majestic. It is called the Temple of Cinema with 2 large screens and comfortable lounge chairs. There are 'chapels' here each dedicated to various topics from silent movies to VR movies to Cinema theater cafes! Right here, a ramp walk begins swirling up, to walk up to the panoramic desk! The next floor is called Cinema Machine dedicated to modern filmmaking and its various people & tools. There were many clips of the first few videos ever shot beginning with the famous 'Horse in Motion' and 'Jumping Man'! There were, of course, examples of early motion pictures, the silent movies. There's also a poster gallery along this ramp walk.

Where is Mole Antonelliana (National Museum of Cinema) (On Google Maps)Mole Antonelliana
How to reach Mole Antonelliana (National Museum of Cinema)? It is located about 1.5km from Turin Railway Station and about 1km from the Royal Palace of Turin (Musei Reali)
Only National Museum of Cinema tickets: €12 (free with Torino+Piemonte Card)
Only Panoramic Tower elevator tickets: €9 (€7 with Torino+Piemonte Card)
Panoramic Tower elevator + National Museum of Cinema tickets: €17
Mole Antonelliana (National Museum of Cinema) timings: Wed-Mon: 9:00AM to 07:00PM

Churches of Turin Chiesa di San Carlo Borromeo, and Chiesa di Santa Cristina

Real Chiesa di San Lorenzo (Royal Church of Saint Lawrence) Turin

Real Chiesa di San Lorenzo (Royal Church of Saint Lawrence) Turin

Real Chiesa di San Lorenzo (Royal Church of Saint Lawrence) Turin

Real Chiesa di San Lorenzo (Royal Church of Saint Lawrence) Turin

WALK AROUND THE CITY OF TURIN THROUGH CHURCHES & PORTICOS
One of the best things to do in Turin is to just walk around the city. As I walked through the town, I realized 3 things - 1. It is easy to walk because almost the entire city centre is covered with porticos; 2. Street art is almost absent except for a few sculptures; 3. There are many historic churches for a city this size! 
Whether it rains or shines, Turin is good to walk because of its porticos presence all over the city of Turin. The Turin porticos cover a length of 18km of which 12km is continuous! These porticoes came into existence in the 17th C CE first in Piazza Castello. In the 18th & 19th C CE, they were further extended to what is present today! Originally, the Turin Porticos were built for the nobles to take a stroll around the city no matter what the weather was, which is why the first area to have porticos.  
Two of the very few pieces of public art I noticed were the personified sculptures of river Po and river Dora. These two are also water streams that fall in front of these sculptures. Another very interesting sculpture is a huge, larger-than-life-sized, upside-down, head of David! Apart from these, I didn't find many street arts or public murals or sculptures.
Apart from the 2 churches associated with the Holy Shroud, there are 3 major Turin churches to visit - Real Chiesa di San Lorenzo, Chiesa di San Carlo Borromeo, and Chiesa di Santa Cristina. Chiesa di San Carlo Borromeo, and Chiesa di Santa Cristina are located in Piazza CLN on either side of Via Roma. While Santa Cristina Church has detailed decoration, baroque features, gilded relief sculptures, frescoes as well as a belfry and was meant for the royals & nobles; the San Carlo Borromeo Church is relatively plain and is meant for the general public. The facade of Santa Cristina was designed by Filippo Juvarra.
Real Chiesa di San Lorenzo (Royal Church of Saint Lawrence) is located just beside the Royal Palace of Turin and is absolutely a must-visit. This is the most beautiful church in Turin. This is perhaps the church I loved the most in Turin, even more than the Chapel of the Holy Shroud, thanks to being covered extensively with frescoes! The frescoes of the Royal Church of Saint Lawrence are mind-blowing. The history of the church begins in 1177 CE when it was a tiny Church of St.Mary. However, much later, in 1557 CE, just before the battle at Saint Quentin, duke Emanuele Filiberto had vowed to Saint Lawrence that he'll restore this church & dedicate it to the Saint, after winning the battle. So, after winning the battle, in 1634 CE he assigned the Theatines order of Christianity, to rebuild it. It was only 1696 CE, under Guarino Guarini (who also designed Palazzo Carignano) most of the church was completed with frescoes, statues, plaster decorations, etc. Much later, only by 1829 CE, the dome and the chapels were decorated with frescoes. 

Where is the sculpture of River Po (On Google Maps)Fontana del Po
Where is the sculpture of River Dora (On Google Maps)? La Dora
Where is the sculpture of David's Head (On Google Maps)? Go in through Piazza San Carlo 161
Where is Chiesa di San Carlo Borromeo (On Google Maps)Chiesa di San Carlo Borromeo
Chiesa di San Carlo Borromeo timings: Weekdays: 8:30AM to 12:00 Noon & 4:00PM to 7:00PM; Weekends: 9:00AM to 12:00 Noon & 4:00PM to 7:00PM;
Where is Chiesa di Santa Cristina (On Google Maps)Chiesa di Santa Cristina
Chiesa di Santa Cristina timings: Weekdays: 8:30AM to 1:30PM & 3:00PM to 5:30PM; Weekends: 9:00AM to 12:00Noon & 04:00PM to 07:30PM
Where is the Real Chiesa di San Lorenzo (On Google Maps)Real Chiesa di San Lorenzo
Real Chiesa di San Lorenzo timings: Mon-Sat: 9:00AM to 12:00 Noon & 3:30PM to 6:00PM; Sundays: 3:30PM to 6:00PM
All these sites mentioned above are free to visit.

Turin City Guide | Free Things to do in Turin

Turin City Guide | Free Things to do in Turin

Turin City Guide | Free Things to do in Turin

Turin City Guide | Free Things to do in Turin

Turin City Guide | Free Things to do in Turin

FOOD TOUR OF TURIN (and it's good for vegetarians too!)
When you're in the middle of a city that had invented Guindoitto (hazelnut chocolate) and Bicerin (chocolate coffee), you ought to go on a food tour of the city. Apart from the city's own specialties, you're already in the middle of Italy - the country that gave the world Pizza, Pasta, and Risotto! So yes, going on a food tour in Turin is mandatory! While being gluten-free in Turin could be a bit restricting, being a vegetarian in Turin is very easy! From authentic sourdough pizza to artistic focaccia to vermouth experience, to tasting local cheese varieties, let me say, if you miss it, you'll regret it!

Click to read my other article the Ultimate food guide for vegetarians in Turin

OTHER THINGS TO DO IN TURIN
Turin is home to many interesting museums and factories! The Egyptian Museum in Turin is the largest Egyptian Museum in the world outside of Egypt! The collections here were originally possessed by the Savoy family and over time, the collection grew!  
Did you know Turin is where the Automible brand FIAT was born? The term FIAT is an abbreviation that literally stands for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili di Torino which translates to Italian Automobile Factory of Turin! Today, the original factory of Fiat is called the Lingotto building and it houses not only the administrative head office of Fiat but also a multipurpose center that includes concert halls, a theatre, a convention center, shopping arcades, a hotel, and more. Today very close to here is Museo Nazionale dell'Automobile (National Museum of Automobile), which is a must-visit for every car enthusiast. It has cars from the earliest of times to now, on display. The concept reminded me much of Autoworld in Brussels
Did you know Turin is also the birthplace of Lavazza coffee and Ferrero! There's a Coffee Museum of Lavazza here as well. The good old Giandiotti chocolate (hazelnut paste + cocoa) is what later became the word famous Nutella which was born in Alba, located 63km from here!!! 
As I mentioned earlier, unfortunately, I didn't have much time in Turin which means I did not get to visit these places!

Best Western Plus Hotel Genova Turin Review

Best Western Plus Hotel Genova Turin Review

Best Western Plus Hotel Genova Turin Review

Best Western Plus Hotel Genova Turin Review

Hotel Turin Palace

BEST TURIN HOTELS

There are many Turin Hotels at many price points. If you're on a budget trip there are many Turin hostels to choose from. There are 2 particular Luxury Turin Hotels that I'd like to share with you. The first is Turin Palace Hotel and another is Best Western Hotel Genova, Turin.

BEST WESTERN HOTEL GENOVA, TURIN - A REVIEW
I got to stay at the Best Western Hotel Genova in Turin, located just a 2-mins walk from Turin Railway Station. This is a no-brainer if you take the train to visit Turin. BW Hotel Genova in Turin is one of the most historic hotels in Turin. The building that houses Best Western Hotel Genova was built around 1880. It began initially as a small inn, in 1920, with just 20 rooms for travelers on the way to/from Genova which is why, it was called, Hotel Stazione e Genova. The time period is apt for the heavy presence of Art Nouveau elements all over the hotel. In 1968, the hotel was majorly renovated and expanded to accommodate 40 rooms. In 1980 'Best Western' acquired it and further expanded it to 92 rooms today. 
Best Western Hotel Genova is the best Art Nouveau-style hotel in Turin. It is absolutely charming with Art Nouveau details in everything from the ceiling paintings to the decor, furniture & lights, and more. The hotel has all modern amenities from toiletries, a hair dryer, high-speed Wifi, buffet breakfast, and more. Since the hotel was expanded bit by bit, the rooms aren't exactly the same. Like most historic hotels, there's an inherent difference between the rooms - the room sizes vs bathroom size, the facilities in the bathroom - jacuzzi vs bathtub, whether or not a high ceiling or balcony is present, etc. My room had a nice balcony with a view of Chiesa Parrocchiale di San Secondo Martire on one side and the mighty Alps on the other!

Where is Best Western Hotel Genova, Turin (on Google Maps): Best Western Hotel Genova, Turin
Best Western Hotel Genova, Turin phone no: +39 (0) 11 56 29 400
Best Western Hotel Genova, Turin room rates: Room rates begin at €116 for double occupancy in a standard room.

TURIN PALACE HOTEL
Turin Palace Hotel is located just beside the Best Western Hotel Genova in Turin. Turin Palace Hotel is also one of the most historic hotels in Turin. It has been in existence since 1872! The hotel has hosted a number of historically significant events like balls & masquerades. Turin Palace Hotel has hosted all the nobles and royalties worldwide who have passed via Turin incl. King Carl Gustav of Sweden and Queen Elizabeth of England. It was closed in 2007 for renovation and was opened recently in 2015. I managed to quickly peep into the hotel and walk through its common areas (with permission, of course!). There is a heavy Art Deco inspiration throughout the hotel's decor. The grand staircase of the hotel needs a special mention; it is just spectacular! 

Aerial View of Turin from Mole Antolliana
View from atop Mole Antonelliana

Aerial View of Turin from Mole Antolliana
View from atop Mole Antonelliana

Best places to eat in Turin
Inner courtyard at Baratti & Milano

Best Vegetarian Restaurants in Turin

Restorante Circolo Eridano

BEST TURIN RESTAURANTS

If you're in Turin on a budget (and more so, if you're a vegetarian), have a look at my list of the best places to eat in Turin for Vegetarians/Budget travelers. If you're not on a budget-friendly trip here are some more of the best restaurants in Turin. 

Baratti & Milano: Being one of the oldest restaurants in Turin (Torino) founded in 1858, the interiors of Baratti & Milano is absolutely charming. Accompanied by the authentic local wines and Bicerin drink, lunch at Baratti & Milano is a must. The best dining experience at Baratti & Milano would be to sit in the inner courtyard.

Restorante Circolo Eridano: Overlooking the river Po, Circolo Eridano is a Rowing club and there's a very exclusive restaurant inside this club. Reservation here is possible only if you are or if you're accompanied by a member of the club! I was lucky enough to be accompanied by a member of the club. It would be best to visit this restaurant on a warm, sunny day (or night), so you can have lunch or dinner in the outdoor seating area overlooking river Po! 

TURIN ITINERARIES

1 day Turin Itinerary (One day in Turin): Musei Reali (a quick visit), Palazzo Madama, Porta Palatine, National Museum of Cinema, and walk around the city.
2 days Turin Itinerary (Two days in Turin): 
Day 1 - Musei Reali (half day visit), Palazzo Madama, Porta Palatine
Day 2 - National Museum of Automobile or Egyptian Museum, then National Museum of Cinema, and walk around the city.



TORINO PIEMONTE CARD
Musei Reali, Palazzo Madama, Museum of the Risorgimento, and many more museums, castles, palaces, abbeys, and more are included in the Torino Piemonte Card. 

What's the price of Torino Piemonte Card? 5 types are available from €29.00 for 24 hours to €49.00 for 120 hours (5 days)
Where to buy Torino Piemonte Card? Via Get Your Guide links above or Turismo Torino Official website
Is it worth buying Torino Piemonte Card? Totally worth it for adults, even if it is for 1 day! Visiting Musei Reali, Palazzo Madama & National Museum of Cinema alone would cost €36 separately, which costs only €29 with the Torino Piemonte Card. However, if you're under the age of 18 it may not be worth it as most museums provide free/reduced admission.

IS TURIN WORTH VISITING?
A big, resounding yes! Just like how I'd say that Ghent is the non-touristy version of Brugge in Belgium, or Rotterdam is the non-touristy version of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, or Fontainebleau Palace is the non-touristy version of Versailles Palace in France, here in Italy, Turin is the non-touristy version of Rome! It looks like Rome from many angles. In fact, there are movies like The Bourne Ultimatum where some scenes in Rome in the movie, were actually shot in Turin! While Turin may not be your ideal destination if you're looking for a nature holiday, but for a cultural holiday in Italy or a gastronomic holiday in Italy, Turin is definitely the best choice, more so than Rome, because it is much less-crowded & cheaper in Turin than Rome!

HOW TO REACH TURIN
The nearest airport to Turin is Turin itself! Turin Airport (TRN - Aeroporto di Torino-Caselle) is well connected by low-cost airlines like Ryan Air, Wizz Air, EasyJet, Air Dolomiti, etc as well as some mainstream airlines like Air France, British Airways, etc as well. 
The nearest major airport to Turin is Milan Malpensa (MXP) which is about 150km from Turin. Torino (Turin) to Milan Malpensa Airport shuttle buses are operated by Autostradale and Flixbus. Another option would be to take a train to Milan (Milano Centrale Railway Station) and another train to Torino (Turin). In either case, shuttle bus or train from Milan to Turin, takes about 2:00 to 2:15 hours from Milan Airport to reach Turin City Centre.

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Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 85 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of June 2022. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands

9 comments:

  1. Turin has never been on my wish list until now. Wow what a city. The tallest museum is a spectacle in its own right but of course the Turin Shroud would be the pull for me. You say it is preserved now, can you still view it? And who would have expected the largest Egyptian collection outside of Egypt would be in Italy! I also love your choice of hotel, it looks perfect for some r&r after a day sightseeing.

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  2. What a coincidence - we also visited Turin last summer and like you, we had only a very limited amount of time. We want to go back soon and explore more. We loved the Palazzo Madama and strolling through the town. And of course the shroud! I was not aware that the shroud and the veil of Veronica are actually two diffrent things, but both are kept in Turin.

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  3. Turin would certainly be another destination in Italy that I would love to visit going by what I see. Art & Architecture has always interested me and this seems a perfect place to experience that. The Throne room with all golden looks is quite impressive. And would love to visit the Mole Antonelliana Museum and the gardens for some fresh air. Food tour would also a pick being a foodie. Best Western looks gorgeous for a perfect stay

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  4. This sounds like an amazing city. I didn't know hazelnut coffee was invented here. I would love a museum tour. I would also like to viist the National Museum of Cinema and see the Temple of Cinema. It sounds really unusual. If I remember correctly, you had mentioned that one can't actually see the Holy Shroud, but the churches have grand interiors.

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  5. Visits to Turin are always fascinating. I am constantly in awe of Italian architecture, particularly the beautiful old cathedrals. The hotel's interiors are likewise exquisitely gorgeous! Also, I'd want to wander the streets and take in the architecture. In addition, if I ever visit Turin, I must join the food tour since I love eating.

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  6. Turin is such an amazing place to visit in Italy besides it's other iconic spots like Rome, Florence, Amalfi coast. I would love to visit the royal palace of Turin and the chapel of holy shroud. Also it's great to learn that Turin is the birth place of so many things like the hazelnut chocolate, and chocolate coffee.And not to forget the birth place of the iconic FIAT car, thanks for the abbreviation! I would definitely love to enjoy the panoramic view atop the Mole Antonelliana and the guided tour of the national museum of cinema. And nice to know Turin houses some vegetarian options of authentic Italian food.The hotels in Turin look luxurious with all the amenities to stay.

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  7. We have done a lot of travel in Italy and Turin really was not on our radar. We will have to rectify that on our next visit to Italy. It looks like we will need to plan to spend a few days. The architecture is always a big draw for us - and amazing ceilings are one of my weaknesses. As coffee and chocolate snobs we would not miss a tour to learn more about the origins of hazelnut chocolate and chocolate coffee!

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  8. Despite several visits to Italy, I have not been to Turin yet; I have avoided this city until now. But after reading your excellent guide with the list of attractions that Turin offers, I already know that the next time I visit Italy, Turin will be on my itinerary. I would love to see Musei Reali with the Royal Palace of Turin, Royal gardens, and Gallery Sabauda. I'm impressed by Mole Antonelliana, as it's the tallest museum in the world. I would love to take some pictures there. It's great that it houses the National Museum of Cinema. As I love the cinema, I have to visit this place. It's great to know that the building is 167m tall. And I had no idea that the automobile brand FIAT was also born in Turin. For sure, I will visit Museo Nazionale dell'Automobile.It's great that you give ready itinerary how to spend time in Turin.

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  9. I had to miss turin off my last trip to Italy, I wish I had managed to fit it in now. Your post has inspired me to head back, particularly to ancient Turin to see the history and Architecture

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