From tucking into incredible food and drink (including truffles and Barolo), to enjoying stunning orange-roofed cityscapes, and exploring historic palaces and museums, there are plenty of things to do in Turin, Italy.
Fanfare please! Lonely Planet has just announced Italy’s Piedmont region as its No.1 Best In Travel region for 2019!
Just before the big announcement was made, I headed off on a top-secret trip to the principal city of Turin to find out what makes this part of Italy so special.
Despite Italy being one of my favourite countries, I’ve never been to this region.
Where Is Turin?
Turin, or Torino to the natives, is in a unique location, at the base of the Alps in the northwestern corner of Italy. The Swiss and French borders are close by, and it’s a few hours from the coast at Genoa. Being so close to the borders, Turin has experienced some interesting relationships with its neighbours, as well as its southern Italian counterparts. On this map I’ve marked all the spots I’d recommend visiting, so save this link and treat me as your personal tour guide once you arrive in the city!
So come with me as I show all the exciting things to do in Turin!
Enjoy The Best View Of Turin At Mont Des Capucins
Before visiting Turin I’d seen beautiful photos of the city with the snowy Alps in the background. While many travel guides will suggest you take the lift up Mole Antonelliana, I’d recommend heading to Mont Des Capucins. Just the other side of the River Po, this is THE spot to get the view of the entire city (Mole Antonelliana included) with that stunning mountain backdrop.
Tuck Into The Local Pasta
There are plenty of Piedmontese delicacies to sample, but you absolutely HAVE to try the city’s fresh pasta. On my first night I enjoyed a delicious bowl of agnolotti – a Piedmontese style of ravioli filled with roasted meat and served in a sauce called sugo d’arrosto (similar to a tasty gravy).
You’ll also see ‘plin’ on menus across Turin, which is a smaller type of ravioli, in a pinched shape. Plus there’s tajarin – delicate ribbons of fresh egg pasta, similar to tagliatelle.
Try it at Casa Broglia, Via Torquato Tasso, 13, 10122 Torino.
Sample Black And White Truffles In Truffle Season
The Piedmont region is famous for this delicacy! Not far away is Alba, a town synonymous with truffles. In fact there’s a whole festival dedicated to the indulgent delicacy every October and November. I was desperate to squeeze some truffle eating into my Turin trip, but I knew that this would come at a price. Solferino, one of the city’s top restaurants, serves a tasty ravioli del plin topped with grated black truffle for 15 EUR. For those visiting during white truffle season, you can order off their special menu, with dishes starting at 30 EUR that include a generous table side grating of white truffle!
Try it at Risorante Solferino, Piazza Solferino, 3/B, 10121 Torino.
Learn About Egyptian History At Museo Egezio
This museum is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Turin, and showcases the largest collection of Egyptian artefacts outside of Cairo. With 24 human mummies, an important statue of Ramses II and the intact tomb of Kha and Merit, it’s a fascinating place to learn about ancient civilisations.
Address: Museo Egizio, Via Accademia delle Scienze, 6, 10123 Torino
Try Bicerin – Turin’s Most Famous Drink
Looking for a sweet pick me up after a busy day of exploring? Then head to Turin’s oldest cafe, Caffe Al Bicerin, and order the drink of the same name. Bicerin is a combination of espresso, chocolate and cream or whole milk. While you’ll find the drink on menus across Turin, they’ve been serving them here since the 18th Century. Stepping foot in the gorgeously traditional café is just like going back in time, with flicking candles on the tables and wood panelling adorning the walls. One glass will set you back over 6 EUR but you have to try it so you know what the fuss is about!
Try it at Caffe Al Bicerin, Piazza della Consolata, 5, 10122 Torino.
Admire The Baroque Architecture Of Palazzo Real And Palazzo Madama
I loved wandering through Turin’s beautiful skinny streets, getting lost in the maze of archways, tiny restaurants and boutiques. Every now and then I emerged at a beautiful piazza. One of the most striking was Piazza Castello, home to some of the city’s most impressive and important historic buildings. Palazzo Reale is the former royal palace, constructed in the 16th Century, and now preserved as a museum and gallery of ancient art. Meanwhile, moments away is Palazzo Madama where you’ll find Turin City Museum of Ancient Art.
Explore Italy’s Liberty Architecture
As a total contrast, around twenty minutes away from Piazza Castello you’ll reach a part of the city with some incredible Art Nouveau architecture (known as The Liberty Style in Italy). I discovered this part of the city on a free Turin walking tour with local Daniele, who was full of interesting information.
Eat Like A King For Under 10 Euros
What to do in Turin on a budget? Well it turns out this is a city that LOVES a set lunch! Most restaurants offer a set menu for 10 EUR, or single courses for 5-6 EUR. It was amazing value, and a great opportunity to try items I might not have thought of ordering otherwise. So what does 10 EUR get you? A pasta dish, a main course plus bread, water and a coffee.
Try it at Fiori e Caffe, Via Milano, 16, 10122 Torino and Trattoria Caprese, Via del Carmine, 2, 10122 Torino
Shop For Fresh Produce At Porta Palazzo Market
Turin’s main market happens to also be the biggest open-air market in the whole of Europe. I LOVED it! It was so much fun weaving in and out of the stalls and looking at the local produce, which included everything from fennel and colourful tomatoes, to herbs, green veg and citrus fruits straight from Sicily. There was also cheese, ham, raw meat, clothes, flowers, and a whole heap of random things too! It was a really fun place to spend the morning, and it’s definitely one of my top free things to do in Turin.
Address: Porta Palazzo Market , Piazza della Repubblica, 10152 Torino. Open til 2pm.
Marvel At Mole Antonelliana
What an incredible building! The tower of Mole Antonelliana is visible all over Turin, and has become the landmark of the city. It was initially designed as a synagogue, but was later updated as a monument to national unity. For a small fee you can take the lift up to the 85m platform for views of the city,
Address: Mole Antonelliana, 10124 Turin, Torino
Enjoy Turin’s Modern Art Scene
Turin is a really arty, cultural city, so I’d definitely add a gallery or two to your list if you have time. GAM is the modern and contemporary art gallery in the city. There were a few exhibitions on when we visited, one showing Turin’s artists over the decades, while another highlighted artists throughout the last few hundred years, with some of the most fun pieces by Andy Warhol and Lichtenstein.
Address: Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Via Magenta, 31, 10128 Torino
Experience Turin’s Aperitivo Scene
In Turin, an aperitivo isn’t just a drink, it’s a social occasion! As with Milan, ‘appy hour’ is big in Turin, with many bars offering a drink plus buffet access for a set price. Some are better than others, so it’s definitely worth having a look around until you find one serving things you fancy. One of the best we found was at Caffe Lobelix where we paid 12 EUR for a cocktail and unlimited access to an enormous constantly-replenishing buffet, that included tasty meatballs, broccoli, roast aubergine, cod with peppers, fried potatoes, mozzarella and tomato salad and plenty more.
Try it at Caffe Lobelix, Piazza Savoia, 4, 10122 Torino
Enjoy Turin’s Shopping Scene
In terms of shopping in Turin, the city has a mix of everything. Wander along pedestrianised Via Garibaldi (the city’s most famous shopping street) and you’ll find brands you know and love. Then there are the picturesque gallerias – elegant covered shopping streets, generally housing high-end brands. Personally I loved venturing off the beaten track and exploring the independent boutiques on Turin’s tiny side streets. That was when I discovered Muta – a jewellery store run by two talented jewellery makers, who use interesting materials and geometric shapes in their work.
Address: Muta, Via San Domenico, 18/e, 10122 Torino
Indulge Your Sweet Tooth
Chocolate and Turin go way back! Along with bicerin, the city has made a name for itself with its delicious hazelnut chocolates called gianduja. You’ll see the chocolates for sale across the city, but THE place to go is Guido Gobino.
That choc-hazelnut combo might sound more familiar in its form as the spread, Nutella, and interestingly the history of Nutella also starts nearby. Invented in nearby Alba by Pietro Ferrero, it started off with the name Giandujot, before being renamed Nutella by the mid-1960s. I’ve heard you can still visit the original factory, and some of the surrounding area smells like Nutella too – sounds like a reason to take a day trip from Turin!
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, add GROM to your list too. It’s where you’ll find the best gelato in the city, and with several branches across Turin, you’re never far away from your next ice cream.
Eat Pizza Where The Locals Eat
Well, you can’t come to Italy and not have a pizza! I booked a lovely little apartment in the centre of Turin and the owner recommended Ristorante Sicomoro, saying it’s where she goes every Sunday for a big family lunch. Well, when a local recommends a pizza place, you know it must be the real deal. I enjoyed lunch there on my final day in Turin, and can confirm that the pizza was absolutely incredible!! I can’t say whether it’s the best pizza in Turin as I didn’t try any others… but I’d return in a heartbeat to eat it again!
Address: Ristorante Sicomoro, Via Stampatori, 6, 10122 Torino
Check out what happened when I went to Seville – Lonely Planet’s Best In Travel No.1 City for 2018.
Where To Stay In Turin
There are plenty of Turin hotels, but personally I preferred the charm and character of the city’s apartments.
I stayed at Suite Bellezia, a beautifully decorated one-bedroom apartment in a historic building, right in the heart of the city. It was moments from all the main Turin attractions, and was a really comfortable base for my time in the city. Plus, host Carlotta gave me lots of recommendations for the best things to do in Turin, places to eat and plenty of real local tips!
A big thanks to Lonely Planet for introducing me to the gorgeous region of Piedmont. Check out the brand new release of Best In Travel. As always, all opinions are my own.
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