1. Find the heart of the city at Piazza Castello
Surrounding the grand Palazzo Madama, the broad Piazza Castello has represented the buzzing centre of the city since the 1300s. If you’re just in town for a short city break, it makes a convenient starting point for a whirlwind tour of the big-name Turin attractions, with the Royal Palace, Church of San Lorenzo and Turin Cathedral all but a few strides away.
2. Get your bearings with the Turin Eye
This tethered balloon rises 150 metres from a small park in the city’s Borgo Dora area to offer you a birds eye view of the city, one of the best things to do when you arrive in Turin. As the grime and noise of the industrial heartland shrink away below, the wonderful symmetry of Juvarra’s Baroque city comes into focus, and its striking landmarks emerge from the grid and the surrounding hills. It’s so peaceful up there – enjoy an apertivo as you float above it all.
Opening times: (Feb to May) Wed to Fri 2pm – 4.55pm (last boarding Friday is 4.25pm); Sat & Sun 10am – 12.55 and 3pm – 5.25pm (last boarding). Flights are every 15 minutes, check the website for schedules later in the year.
Location: Piazza Borgo Dora 1.
Price: Adults €13.50, Under 14s €6.50. Discount flyers can often be found in hotels and tourist offices in the area.
3. Scale the Mole Antonelliana
This extraordinary confection has become a symbol of Turin, and it’s the undoubted star of the Museo Nazionale del Cinema housed within. A glass lift takes you to the foot of the spire for a 360-degree view of the city. The museum itself takes you on a fascinating journey through the history of cinema, offering many engaging exhibits as you wind your way up through the interior of this behemoth.
Opening times: Sun to Fri 9am – 8pm (closed Tuesdays); Sat 9am – 11pm. Guided tours of the Cupola on foot on Sat, Sun & public holidays 12pm and 4.30pm (request other times by booking).
Location: Via Montebello, 20.
Price: (National Museum of Cinema) Adults €10, Concessions €8. (Lift) Adults €7, Concessions €5. Joint museum & lift tickets €14/€11.
4. Enjoy the high life on Piazza San Carlo
With its famous cafes and luxury shops, it’s easy to understand why this elegant porticoed piazza is known as the parlour of Turin. Guarded over by the twin (but not identical) churches of San Carlo and Santa Christina, it’s a very civilised place to watch the monied world go by. You may want to turn your heel on the testicles (yes, really) of Il Toro Rampante, a magnificent brass bull set into the pavement outside Caffe Torino, in the hope that your luck will change and you can afford to sample the surrounding delights!
5. Hunt out the Palazzina di Caccia di Stupinigi
A journey through the bleaker suburbs of Mirafiori (which were built for Fiat workers) is rewarded with the opulent delights of this Savoy hunting lodge. It comes as no surprise that its architect, Juvarra, started out as a stage designer. Surrounded by the dizzying trompe l’oeil painting in its Salone Centrale, you won’t know where the real world ends and another dimension begins. There are many exquisitely decorated and furnished rooms featuring hand painted silks and papers, magnificently crafted cabinets and a sumptuous marble bath. It feels like Versailles but on a more human scale.
Opening times: Tues to Fri 10am – 5pm; Sat & Sun 10am – 6.30pm.
Location: Piazza Principe Amedeo 7 – Nichelino.
Price: Adults €12, Concession €8.
6. Visit Ancient Egypt at Museo Egizio
Turin’s Museo Egizio holds one of the largest and best collections of Egyptian antiquities outside Cairo. Renovated over recent years, the collections are beautifully presented and you can almost feel the heat, dust and excitement as these objects came to light again. It’s the everyday items that bring these antiquities to life – a pomegranate, someone’s sandal, castanets. The tomb of Kha and Mirit comes fully furnished for the afterlife with the tools of Kha’s trade and Mirit’s make-up, tweezers and wig.
Opening times: Mon 9am – 2pm; Tue to Sun 9am – 6.30pm.
Location: Via Accademia delle Scienze, 6.
Price: Adults €13, Concessions €3. (Online tickets + €2 reservation fee. Rates may vary during special exhibitions).
7. Root out the Romans at the Palatine Towers
Turin’s history goes back thousands of years, to a time when Hannibal’s invasion from across the sea was a not-too-distant memory and the Romans eventually colonised the city, then known as Julia Augusta Taurinorum. Relive this ancient age at the Palatine Gate with its stout pair of towers, the original point of entry and thought to have been built in the 1st century AD. There are a couple of other Turin points of interest close by this crumbling Roman ruin – Palazzo di Città and Casa del Senato.
Opening times: Open-air site.
Location: Piazza Cesare Augusto, 101.
8. Catch some opera at Teatro Regio
The Teatro Regio di Torino is the place in Turin to see the glorious dramas of Italian opera play out on stage. The season runs from October to June, so if you fancy seeing Puccini’s celebrated La Boheme in the place where it was first performed, as well as other classics of opera and ballet, take a look at the website for show times and ticket prices.
Opening times: Tues to Fri 10.30am – 6pm, Sat 10.30am – 4pm.
Location: Piazza Castello, 215
Price: Varies depending on show.
9. Devour some Turin chocolate
Chocolate comes in all forms and sizes in this city, where the very first chocolate house in the world opened by royal charter in 1678. You could start your day with a bicerin – a chocolate, cream and brandy coffee that packs a punch. Follow that up with a chocolate pastry or cake for elevenses, then maybe a hot chocolate or, on a warm day, a ‘cold chocolate’, and perhaps a gelato cioccolato in the afternoon. Round off a meal or sweeten a coffee with an exquisite chocolate hazelnut gianduiotto – chocolate heaven! With fierce competition, it’s hard to say for sure where you’ll find the best chocolate in Turin, but the chocolateria, cafe and shop Stratta on Piazza San Carlo is definitely up there.
10. Relive The Italian Job
Many of The Italian Job’s iconic scenes were shot in the city, so this one’s a must if you’re deciding what to see in Turin. Follow in the tyre tracks of those famous Minis by going around the test track on top of the Lingotto Fiat Factory (now a shopping centre, although the track is open to the public), through the lush shopping malls of Galleria dell’Industria Subalpina and the Galleria San Federico, into the heart of the Palazzo Carignano and down the steps of the Palazzo Madama, across the steps of the Chiesa della Gran Madre di Dio and over the weir at Via Murazzo del Po. It makes for a fantastic tour of the city, but don’t take the car – you know how bad the traffic is…
11. Visit the Holy Chapel of the Shroud (Capella di Sindone)
Ok, so you might not be able to actually see the famed Turin Shroud, located within Turin Cathedral, (unless you’re willing to plan ahead to 2025, the shroud’s next scheduled appearance!) but the audio tour of the Holy Chapel and Museum is full of intriguing information about this mysterious and controversial relic, said to be the garment that covered the body of Jesus Christ. You’ll see a life-size replica of the cloth itself, and learn about the scientific research used to try to date the shroud and prove where it comes from. A peek inside the Chapel with its beautiful cupola, is also worth the ticket price.
Opening times: Daily 8am – 12pm, 3 – 7pm.
Location: Piazza San Giovanni.
Price: €5.50, including an individual audio guide.
12. Go to Porta Palazzo market
It’s hard to miss the huge daily market at Porta Palazzo on Piazza della Repubblica, with its four covered indoor halls and acres of stalls. The range of fresh produce is mindblowing and mystifying and will set all your senses tingling, but that’s not all that’s on offer. Why not pick up a kitchen gadget to help winkle out those vongole (clams), buy yourself some sensible (or not) shoes, or purchase a metre or two of colourful African fabric. The whole world is reflected in the cafes and restaurants in this wonderfully multicultural part of town.
Opening times: Mon to Fri 7am – 1pm, Sat 7am – 7pm.
Location: Piazza della Repubblica
Price: Free to enter.
13. Join the Slow Food movement
The Torinese love their food, and you will too. Local delights include grissini (breadsticks), truffles, _bagna c_àuda (a sort of fondue made with garlic, anchovies, olive oil and butter), hearty stews and zabaglione – a dessert made with egg yolks, sugar and sweet wine that was purportedly invented by a priest in Turin, although many regions in Italy tell a similar story. And of course, no meal would be complete without a glass of the rich local wine. It’s no wonder that Turin is home to the Slow Food movement; this noble cause is celebrated in style at the Eataly food emporium in Lingotto, where you can sample fabulous gastronomic delights at the various shops and restaurants or buy the ingredients to make your own. Or you could chill out at one of the restaurants opening onto Largo IV Marzo in the ancient Quadrilatero Romano area. Serving copious quantities of local Torinese specialities at knock-down prices, you can enjoy live music in this Bohemian area.
14. Take the rack tramway to the Basilica di Superga
Much loved by the Torinese, the Basilica di Superga sits high on a hill south of the Po and commands a wonderful panorama of the city and the Alps beyond. You can reach it by taking the rack tramway, which climbs steeply for 3 kilometres from Sassi. The Basilica was built to give thanks to the Madonna for the relief of a four-month siege of Turin and is home to the tombs of the House of Savoy, but you’re more likely to see local fans visiting the tomb of the Torino FC football team, who were killed in a plane crash in 1949. There’s also a museum containing the Royal Apartment
Opening times: Basilica: (Mar to Oct) Mon to Fri 9am – 12pm & 3pm – 6pm. Sat & Sun 9am – 12pm & 3pm – 7pm. (Oct to Mar) Mon to Fri 9am – 12pm & 3pm – 5pm. Sat & Sun 9am – 12pm, 3pm – 6pm.
Museum: (Mar to Oct) Mon to Sun 10am – 7pm (closed Wednesdays). (Nov to Feb) Sat, Sun & public holidays 10am – 6pm.
Location: Strada della Basilica di Superga 73 – Superga
Price: (Royal Tombs and Royal Apartment) Adults €5, Concessions €4.
15. Take a Piedmont wine tour
This north-western corner of Italy is characterised by rolling green hills, vast shimmering lakes and a patchwork of vineyards known as the Langhe wine region. At around 50km from Turin, Barolo and other towns and villages in the area are well-visited by tour groups from the city, so you’re bound to find something to your taste, whether it’s a half-day tour round the wine cellars famous for Barolo, Nebbiolo and Barbaresco varieties, or a longer trip including the hills of Alba, famous for their white truffles. If you want to go it alone, hire a car or a bicycle in Alba to fully explore the area, as public transport is non-existent.
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How to get to Turin
Turin Airport is located about half an hour north of the city, linked by direct rail and bus services. You can fly to Turin from Manchester, Edinburgh, Bristol, Belfast and other UK airports, with the majority of UK flights leaving from London. Four airlines operate regular services from London Gatwick, including Thomson Airways and budget flights from easyJet.
Compare Turin flights below to get planning your next holiday!