Is Turin worth visiting?
Turin was NOT on our travel bucket list. I knew very little about the city apart from the fact it has hosted the Winter Olympics and the Eurovision Song Contest!
We only travelled to Turin after finding last minute cheap flights from the U.K. However, before we travelled, a couple of people asked why we were going to Turin as there ‘is nothing there’ and I was left wondering: is Turin worth visiting?
That is why Turin turned out to be such a surprise; we knew little about it and had low expectations of our trip. But upon arriving in the city, we quickly realised that Turin (and Piedmont) is a hugely underrated tourist destination.
There were so many fantastic things to do in Turin and around Turin. The city proved to be a fun and fascinating place to visit with many advantages over other Italian cities.
Is Turin worth visiting?
There are lots of things to do in Turin
Turin museums are amongst the best in the world
Turin is known for its museums and there are a lot of them to visit!
Two Turin museums, Museo Egizio (the Egyptian museum) and MAUTO (National Car Museum) feature on the prestigious ‘50 Best Museums in the World’ list collated by The Times newspaper.
You could spend your entire visit to Turin visiting museums. Museo Egizio and MAUTO require at least half a day each.
Then there is the ornate Royal Palace and the eclectic Cinema Museum, which is housed in Turin’s most famous building, The Mole. Fans of ‘The Italian Job’ movie should visit The Pista 500, the old rooftop Fiat test track which is now Europe’s largest wildlife roof garden.
There is also the Museum of Oriental Art (MAO), National Museum of the Italian Risorgimento, Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, Museum of the Holy Shroud or you can learn how coffee is made at Museo Lavazza.
The list is endless!
Churches and cathedrals
There seems to be a church or cathedral every few metres in Turin, with each one more beautiful than the last.
A must see is the Duomo, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, next to the Royal Palace. ‘The Italian Job’ fans will recognise the famous steps in front of Chiesa di San Salvario.
On a hilltop on the edge of Turin is the stunning Basilica di Superga with fantastic views over the city. Closer to the city centre, you can also get a great view of Turin from the observation platform in front of the Church of Santa Maria del Monte dei Cappuccini.
My favourite church in Turin was the Chiesa di San Lorenzo inside the Royal Palace which is the original home of the Shroud of Turin. If, like me, you love architecture, the multi layered stone cupola is really something to behold.
Other things to do in Turin
Take a tour of a historic house such as Villa della Regina, go kayaking on the River Po or tour Juventus Stadium.
Hire a bike, join a wine tasting tour, take a cooking class, go shopping in designer boutiques on Via Roma, browse the book stalls on Via Po or stuff your face in Eataly.
You will not be bored in Turin!
If you are on a family trip, get Turin itinerary ideas from our Turin with kids article here.
Turin has pretty parks and piazzas
Turin is known as an industrial city so it may surprise you that there are lots of parks, green spaces and attractive plazas in Turin. It surprised us!
Take a walk in Valentino Park alongside the River Po. Dangle your feet in the parks’ streams and ponds, visit the playground or hire a family bike. You can also explore the recreated medieval village, Borgo Medievale, which was built in 1884.
Go for a wander in the gardens of the Royal Palace to see its fountains and eclectic collection of sculptures. The giant pink snails were a hit with our kids.
We stumbled across lots of small and large plazas whilst exploring Turin, but our favourites were Piazza San Carlo and Piazza Castello.
Piazza San Carlo is enclosed by historic porticoed buildings including the twin churches Chiesa di San Carlo Borromeo and Chiesa di Santa Cristina. The piazza is lined with cafes and is a good place to grab a coffee and people watch.
Piazza Castello in front of the Royal Palace is the hub of the city. You will find the largest tourist office here.
Our kids cooled off in the fountains and the cafes surrounding the piazza are cheap for takeaway food. We visited the same shop on Piazza Castello every day of our stay. Their enormous €2 slabs of focaccia were delicious.
Turin has fantastic architecture
I love ornate, quirky and interesting architecture and Turin has it in bucket loads.
From impressive cathedrals and royal palaces to carved stone facades on historic buildings through to modern industrial architecture such as the old Fiat Factory: there is something for everyone in Turin.
Turin is affordable
We found Turin to be surprisingly more affordable than other European cities.
A light breakfast in Turin cost around €3 each and we could pick up a huge slice of pizza for lunch for just $2.
There were some pricey restaurants (Barrett di Milano was worth the splurge!) but there are also city centre grocery shops (including a large Lidl) for cheap self-catering options, cold drinks or takeaways.
Turin attractions are very reasonable especially for families. Some museums have free entry for children (thank you Royal Palace) whilst other attractions offer significant discounts. The excellent Pista 500 only cost us €2 each.
Accommodation in Turin was reasonable (accommodation for five is never ‘cheap’, especially not in Europe). We stayed in a two-bed self-catering apartment in the heart of the old town for around €140 a night.
Getting around Turin is easy
Turin’s historic old town is easily covered on foot. Several streets are pedestrianised whilst others have traffic restrictions so walking around Turin is more pleasurable than many other European cities.
Two main city thoroughfares – Via Po and Via Roma – are wide, porticoed boulevards that are pleasant (and easy) to walk.
Turin has an efficient and cheap metro, bus and tram system. Single tickets across the entire city and suburban network cost €1.70 and are valid for 90 minutes from validation.
There is also a sightseeing bus which can take you to further away attractions. Always opt for a 24-hour ticket on a sightseeing bus. It is spread over 2 days, so it gives you more time at the individual attractions.
There are two major rail stations in Turin; Porta Susa and Porta Nuova. You can catch trains to regional towns around Turin for as little as €6 (depending on distance) or further afield around Italy. Milan to Turin is just over 1 hour by fast train.
There are airports in Turin
You can fly directly into Turin; you do not need to fly into a neighbouring Italian city. Turin airport (Aeroporto di Torino-Caselle) is 16 kilometres or a half hour drive from the city centre.
Catch a transfer, taxi or take the public bus to Porta Susa station which leaves the airport every 15 minutes.
Torinos are friendly and welcoming to visitors
We found that Torinos were friendly and welcoming, particularly to our children, and patient with our poor attempts at speaking Italian. We received help with directions, tickets and transfers.
Is Turin worth visiting for its food?
Yes! If you like great food, Turin is for you.
Apart from the usual amazing pizza, wine and pasta choices you get in Italy, Turin is specifically known for two things: ‘aperitvio Torino’ and the famous Turin chocolate, Gianduia.
Turin is the home of aperitivo, the pre-dinner drinks and nibbles beloved by Italians. Aperitvo Torino is big business in the city with bars and cafes everywhere offering tempting deals.
We stopped for coffee and cake at Barrett i Milano and didn’t realise that it was aperitivo time. My husband’s modest beer was accompanied with two plates of tasty nibbles.
Turin’s rich, nutty, Gianduia chocolate is made locally but is loved throughout Italy. In addition to chocolates and chocolate bars you will find Gianduia in soft and alcoholic drinks, desserts, ice cream and cakes all over Turin.
Discover the best food and drink to enjoy in Turin here.
Turin is less crowded than other Italian cities
We visited Turin in August before Italian children returned to school and it was striking how few tourists there were in the city, particularly British or American tourists.
We did not have to queue for buses, attractions or restaurants. The streets were pleasant to wander, and we had lots of space to ourselves in museums.
Why visit Italy to spend your time queuing for attractions or jostling for space at viewpoints? Get a taste of Italy without the crowds and visit Turin!
There is a wide choice of easy day trips from Turin
There are lots of things to do around Turin so you will find a day trip to enjoy no matter what your interest.
Wine lovers can visit the Barolo vineyards around Asti (one hour by car from Turin) or truffle hunters should head to Alba (75 minutes away by car).
If you like visiting historic sites, visit the Roman ruins in Susa at the head of the Val di Susa (one hour by train from Turin). Visitors who enjoy swimming in warm lakes surrounded by woodland shoould visit Avigliana Lakes, just 30 minutes by train from Turin.
Alternatively, one of the most visited locations in Piedmont, Sacra di San Michele near Sant D’Ambrogio, is a 40 minute train ride from Turin.
The weather in Turin is seasonal. Summers are hot and dry but Turin is not as hot as other Italian cities so sightseeing is less of an ordeal in summer months. We visited Turin in August and temperatures averaged 30 degrees celsius; much cooler than Rome or Venice experienced at the same time.
Turin weather in winter averages a manageable 7 degrees celsius.
So, to answer the question ‘is Turin worth visiting?’ I would say a great big yes. Ok, so it doesn’t have the history of Rome, the romance of Florence or the uniqueness of Venice but the city is undeniably Italian.
Turin has great food, beautiful architecture, interesting sights and fascinating museums. And visitors to Turin get all of this without the cost, crowds or heat of other Italian tourist hotspots.