I first visited Turin, Italy in 2005, and ever since then this city in Northern Italy has held a special place in my heart.
To me, Turin is the real Italy.
Sure, you can relax in the sun on the beaches of the Amalfi Coast, or wonder at the works of the Old Masters at the Uffizi Gallery, but the crowds of tourists surrounding you will always serve as a reminder that you’re just another tourist on holiday in Italy.
Turin is completely different.
Although Turin briefly rose to popularity after hosting the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, there’s no sign of Olympic fever today.
Instead, Turin retains its original charm: an economically successful, hard-working former capital city, with thousands of years of culture and a modest approach to sharing that history with visitors.
With easy transportation connections through Turin’s own Caselle International Airport, plus a direct bus to Milan’s Malpensa International Airport, it is easier than ever to visit Turin for a weekend getaway (and it’s even better if you can stay for a long weekend!).
I’ll walk you through everything I share with my friends and family when they join me for a weekend in Turin, Italy, including the most spectacular tourist attractions, the most affordable central hotels in the city and the very best restaurants at every price point.
(That’s Italian for “Let’s go!”)
Things to Do in Turin, Italy
Your First Evening in Turin
When you arrive in Turin, your first stop should be your hotel room. I recommend staying at Hotel Roma, which has a fantastic location across from Porta Nuova train station in the city’s historic center. Keep reading for full details about why I love Hotel Roma. Drop off your bags and then head back outside to explore the city center by dusk.
Follow the covered arches (called portici) in front of your hotel. Turin is famous for its arches (they were featured prominently in the original film version of The Italian Job) and walking underneath them is one of the most memorable things to do in Turin.
The portici will lead you along Turin’s upscale shopping street, Via Roma, in the direction of Piazza CLN. Here, you’ll find two moody statues, representing the Po River (the male statue) and the Dora River (the female statue). These statues featured prominently in Dario Argento’s classic horror film Profondo Rosso, which I consider to be a must-watch before any trip to Turin!
From Piazza CLN, it’s less than five minutes to Piazza San Carlo and its equestrian statue of Emanuele Filiberto. Some of the city’s most expensive boutiques are here (I once ran into Georgio Armani in his boutique in this piazza!) and the cafes here are considered some of the city’s most opulent.
In more four blocks you will arrive at Piazza Castello, the city’s most important square and the home of Turin’s two most important castles: Palazzo Reale and Palazzo Madama. These beautiful buildings date back to Turin’s days as the capital of the Savoy Empire. This is also an important pedestrian intersection, as you can now follow Via Po east towards the river and the busy Piazza Vittorio Veneto, or follow Via Garibaldi (Europe’s longest pedestrian street) west, through the Roman Quarter (Quadrilatero Romano) towards Piazza Statuto and Porta Susa.
Both directions will take you toward some excellent restaurants and wine bars (especially if you turn off the main roads and explore the smaller side streets), so go for a wander and find some dinner. For specific restaurant recommendations, keep reading!
Day One – Turin Itinerary
Start your day with breakfast in your hotel. Italians typically enjoy a light breakfast, including a pastry and a cup of coffee. If you like a cappuccino or a cafe latte, now’s the time to order one… Italians don’t think highly of people ordering milky coffee drinks in the afternoon!
The Mole Antonelliana and the National Museum of Cinema
From your hotel, begin your morning by once again walking under the portici, this time turning right at Piazza Castello and following Via Po to Via Montebello, where you’ll find Turin’s famous Mole Antonelliana and the National Museum of Cinema. Maybe you’ve seen the building on the two-cent euro coin? Visiting the Cinema Museum is one of my favorite things to do in Turin.
While you’re checking out the exterior of the museum, if you happen to notice a queue to get inside then you can use your phone to purchase tickets online. There is a small surcharge (less than two euros) but it allows you to skip any queues for both museum entrance and your ride in the museum’s glass elevator. When I visited the museum, we were allowed to ride the elevator any time after the time noted on the ticket – we didn’t have to be at the elevator right at that moment.
Your journey through the National Museum of Cinema begins in an exhibit called Archaeology of Cinema, where you trace the history of photography and movie-making from shadow puppets all the way through to CGI special effects. The exhibits are hands-on, and place more emphasis on seeing and experiencing than reading. Budget at least one hour for this part of the museum.
Next, you’ll enter the Temple Hall (shown above). Sit back and relax while you watch famous films playing on the overhead screens, or visit the ten “temples” around the perimeter of the viewing area, each dedicated to a particular genre of film (I love sitting in the room that resembles a typical Torinese cafe, where you can watch clips from films that were filmed in Turin). Again, you’ll want at least one more hour in this part of the museum.
Temporary exhibits spiral along the stairways in the Temple Hall. During my visit there was a special exhibit about the history of music in cinema, where each visitor was given a complimentary headset that automatically tuned in to the nearest screen as they walked along the panoramic route.
End your visit to the Cinema Museum with a ride up the glass elevator that passes through the center of Temple Hall. It whisks you up to an exterior viewing platform, from which you can see all of Turin and much of the surrounding areas. Keep your eyes peeled for the Basilica of Superga, a beautiful domed church in the hills to the city’s northeast.
* The Cinema Museum is closed on Tuesdays.
Lunch Near the Mole Antonelliana
By the time you’re finished in Turin’s Cinema Museum, you’ll probably be ready for lunch. There are a few good options nearby, including Tre da Tre (a Neopolitan-style pizzeria) and 100 Montaditos (a Spanish sandwich shop serving bite-sized sandwiches and other tapas). If you’re not ready for a sit-down meal, you can grab a slice of foccacia or farinata (a Ligurian flatbread made from chickpea flour) from one of the take-away windows on Via Po.
After lunch, walk ten minutes west to Via XX Settembre, one of the key streets running through Turin’s historic center. Turn right (north) and follow the streets to Porta Palatina, a recently restored Roman gate (one of the best-preserved on the entire continent!) dating back to the 1st century.
The Duomo & The Shroud of Turin
Across the street from Porta Palatina is the Duomo di Torino, a church that holds a special place in both Turin’s history and the Christian faith. Although this little white church doesn’t look particularly special from the outside, it actually the permanent home of The Shroud of Turin – a piece of linen cloth that is believed to be the cloth Jesus was wrapped in after his crucifixion, and which supposedly retains his image in its fibers to this day.
The original Shroud of Turin is kept in a highly-secure location, inside an airtight case behind bulletproof glass. Most of the time, visitors to the Duomo di Torino can only see a replica of the shroud. However, every few years the church puts the original shroud on display. When this happens it can be helpful to book admission in advance, as thousands of faithful Christians (including the Pope himself!) will descend upon the city to view the artifact.
The Duomo’s bell tower (campanile) is occasionally open as a viewing platform, but you’ll get much better views from the top of the Mole Antonelliana.
Turin’s Covered Galleries – Galleria Subalpina & Galleria San Federico
While most tourists are familiar with Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, few visitors know that Turin, Italy is also home to several stunning covered shopping arcades. As you wrap up your first day of sightseeing, swing by the city’s two most spectacular galleries for a photo… and perhaps an aperitivo?
Galleria Supalpina (shown above) is just one block southeast of Piazza Castello. Built in the 1870s, the gallery suffered significant damage during World War II but was very recently reconstructed. Today, it is still home to Baratti & Milano cafe (see my restaurant notes below), antique shops, bookshops and a beautiful indoor garden.
My favorite covered shopping arcade in Turin is the Galleria San Federico, which is easily accessible from underneath the portici on Via Roma. The graphic black-and-white marble floor, the towering columns, the Art Nouveau Lux Cinema… it just feels like you’ve been breezed back in time to the glittering pre-war 1930s. If you’re looking for a relaxing evening activity (and you speak a little Italian…) come back after dinner to take in a film in the historic cinema.
Dinner & Drinks in Turin
You’re probably exhausted after all of that sightseeing, so take it easy on your first evening in Turin. Retreat to your hotel and freshen up, then venture out on the town for a hearty Italian dinner. If you’re short on time, money or energy, head over to Brek for a sort-of self-service meal. Otherwise, venture back up to one of the restaurants on Piazza Emanuele Filiberto (I recommend the Filiberti wine bar in my notes below, but Tre Galli is also extremely popular), where you can share a bottle of Piemontese red wine over a delicious dinner.
Day Two – Turin Itinerary
Breakfast in Turin
Good morning! Start your day with your hotel’s breakfast, or check out one of the city’s historic cafes (I’ve noted my favorites below). If you’re on a budget, Caffe Mokita is located on elegant Piazza San Carlo (yes, by the Armani boutique!) but doesn’t charge hefty prices for simple pastries and coffees. For example, a cappuccino at a table at Caffe Torino (on the other side of the piazza) is about €6, but it’s half that price at Caffe Mokita.
Turin’s Egyptian Museum / Museo Egizio
Turin’s second most important museum (after the National Museum of Cinema) is the Egyptian Museum, located on Piazza Carignano in the historic center. Featuring more than 30,000 artifacts carefully “removed” from Egypt, this is considered the second-best collection of Egyptian artifacts in the world (after the Egyptian Museum in Cairo). The Egyptian Museum in Turin often tops experts’ lists of things to see in the city, though I’ve always preferred the Cinema Museum.
The Egyptian Museum in Turin has some truly spectacular pieces, including the oldest-known copy of The Book of the Dead, the complete Temple of Ellesyia (carved, in its entirety, right out of the rocks), the golden Tomb of Kha and Merit, and the Turin King List (the most best-preserved and most-complete original list of Egyptian kings). Even better, the museum offers daily guided tours in both English and Italian, which will help you understand the significance of the artifacts that you’re seeing. At publication time, there is a daily English tour at 11:00 am, and a second at 4:00 pm (except on Mondays).
If you’d prefer to explore the museum on your own, there are several suggested walking routes. You can see the highlights in as little as one hour, though it’s worth budgeting a full two and a half hours for the more thorough self-guided tour option. The museum has free WiFi and a cafe, so you can take a break in the middle of your visit if you’re getting a little bit overwhelmed!
* The Egyptian Museum is open daily, but closes at 14:00 on Mondays.
Lunch Near the Egyptian Museum in Turin
Since you’re in the area, I recommend stopping for lunch at Pizzeria La Fila, right around the corner from the Egyptian Museum. I talk a little bit about pizza in Turin later in this post, but the short version is that La Fila makes excellent thin-crust pizza that strikes the perfect balance between crust, sauce, cheese and toppings. Choose one of their outdoor tables or cozy up on their ground floor (I can’t recommend the basement seating).
When you’re finished, choose one of the following options for your afternoon in Turin.
Option #1 – Explore Piazza Castello
The highlight of Turin’s Piazza Castello is the Royal Palace of Turin, more commonly referred to by its Italian name of Palazzo Reale. With a sparkling white facade behind a decorative green and gold gate, Palazzo Reale was the jewel of the Savoy Dynasty. One ticket gets you entrance into main palace, as well as many of the surrounding royal buildings (including the Royal Armoury, the Galleria Saubada art collection and the Museum of Antiquities.
Construction on Palazzo Reale began in the late 1500s, and it was more than one hundred years later when the finishing touches were put on many of the palace’s interior rooms. A tour through the Royal Palace will reveal opulent furnishings, stunning frescoes, marvelous sculptures and an unparalleled glimpse into royal life during the Savoy Dynasty. Most visitors spend about two hours in Palazzo Reale, plus any visits to the related museums and galleries.
Budget travelers can tour the Royal Gardens (behind the palace) free of charge, and it’s also possible to enter the palace’s Reading Rooms without purchasing a ticket (though hours are limited). On the first Sunday of every month, admission is free.
* Palazzo Reale is closed on Mondays, and the Royal Library is closed on Sundays.
Option #2 – Stroll Through Parco del Valentino
If you’ve had your fill of museums, head a few blocks south of the city center to Parco del Valentino. Running along the northwestern banks of the Po River, from the end of Corso Emanuele II south to Corso Dante, Parco del Valentino is the preferred urban park for Turin’s residents who want a breath of fresh air. Wandering along the pathways Parco del Valentino is one of the best free things to do in Turin.
Inside the park you’ll find another Savoy palace, Castello di Valentino, which is now home to the University of Torino’s Faculty of Architecture and a traditional botanical garden. A little bit further south you’ll find Promotrice Delle Belle Arti, an art gallery and museum that hosts temporary art expositions.
Walk along the river for another ten minutes and you’ll stumble across Turin’s Borgo Medievale (Medieval Village). Utterly inauthentic, this replica of a fifteenth-century Italian medieval village was actually constructed in the late 1800s (okay, so it’s still pretty old!) to teach the local citizens about the region’s history. It’s free to enter the village, look around its courtyards and wander along its narrow streets, but you do need to purchase a ticket to go inside the replica castle and to explore the medieval gardens. This is one of the most popular activities for families who are traveling with children.
At the very southern end of the park, the Fountain of 12 Months was built for the 1898 Italian Exposition, and consists of twelve female statues, each representing one month of the year, plus four more groups of statues, each representing one of the region’s four main rivers.
Afternoon Shopping on Via Roma in Turin
Spend the last hour or two before dinner in the city center, shopping on Via Roma. In addition to the high-end luxury boutiques, there are a number of mid-range Italian designers and inexpensive fast fashion shops where you can freshen your wardrobe before your trip home. Most shops on Via Roma stay open until at least 20:00 every evening, so you’ve even got time to pick out a new dress to wear for dinner!
The side streets around Via Roma also have some interesting shops, including La Rinascente, an Italian department store, and Kasanova, a modern home decor store.
Your Last Supper in Turin
For your final dinner in Turin, consider eating at one of the city’s two Eataly locations: the original, massive marketplace and dining hall near Lingotto, or the more central restaurant and food market on Via Lagrange. Here, you can find reasonably-priced Italian food made fresh using seasonal and local ingredients, and after dinner you can buy some non-perishable gourmet food items to take home to friends and family (okay… and to your own pantry!).
If you’d prefer a more upscale dining experience, the Michelin-starred Del Cambio restaurant is located beside the Egyptian Museum. In operation since 1757, Del Cambio has both a la carte and prix-fixe options with prices starting around €125 for dinner (excluding wine). Unfortunately, Del Cambio is not vegetarian-friendly, so I had to skip it…
… which was serendipitous, because it meant that I stumbled across Soul Kitchen, an upscale vegan restaurant just a few blocks behind Palazzo Reale. Reservations are essential at this Turin favorite, which fills quickly with locals who come to enjoy its flavorful, plant-based cuisine. As an upscale restaurant, prices at Soul Kitchen are slightly high, but they’re nothing compared to Del Cambio. When I visited, I started with a “fifteen-flavor” salad, made with a creamy cashew dressing, then sampled the crispy seitan served with curry sauce, roasted fruits and roasted vegetables. Highly recommended, especially for special occasions!
Day Three (Make It a Long Weekend in Turin!)
Take a Day Trip to Rivoli, Italy
If you’re in Turin for three days, it’s worth spending at least half a day in the nearby town of Rivoli, Italy. Rivoli is really close to Turin (it’s connected to Turin’s regular public transit network by bus #36) but it has a completely different vibe. The historic center of Rivoli feels like a medieval wonderland, with narrow, cobblestone streets winding their way up to a stunning hilltop Savoy palace that offers views all the way to France! Inside the palace, Castello di Rivoli is a contemporary art museum featuring world-class exhibits set inside the perfectly-preserved ballrooms, bedrooms and hallways of the palace. Because the palace and museum are closed on Mondays, you should fit this into your itinerary between Tuesday and Sunday.
Interested? Read my complete guide to visiting Rivoli, Italy, including transportation, tourist attractions and dining options.
Other Turin Day Trip Possibilities
Turin is surrounded by Savoy palaces. Although my favorite is Castello di Rivoli, it’s not your only option for a little excursion out of the city center. If you’re looking for more things to do in Turin, consider checking out one of the other palaces in the suburbs around the city.
The Stupinigi Hunting Residences
Stupinigi is another Savoy palace connected to Turin’s public transportation network. South of the city center, it is accessible from Porta Nuova by Tram #4 and then Bus #41. Serving as one of the Savoy’s preferred hunting palaces, Stupinigi is surrounded by stunning gardens and now houses the region’s Furniture Museum, plus occasional rotating exhibits.
* Stupinigi is closed on Monday.
Reggia di Veneria Reale & Castello de la Mandria
Although it’s possible to visit Venaria Reale, with its two palaces – Reggio di Venaria and Castello de la Mandria – by public transportation, this is one Turin day trip that is a lot easier with a private vehicle. Venaria Reale is about eight kilometers northwest of central Turin. You can drive there in about fifteen minutes, but it takes more than an hour on public transportation (and then it’s a long walk from the bus stop to the park entrance). In the center of Venaria, Reggia di Venaria Reale is another Renaissace palace built for the Savoy family. It has an opulent interior and a recently reconstructed Italian garden. At the edge of town, La Mandria Regional Park is another former Savoy hunting ground, and is now the second-largest enclosed park in Europe. You can rent a bicycle at the entrance, then cycle around the park’s red brick castle, across the Ceronda River and around the park’s numerous lakes. Keep your eyes peeled for wild boars – they will do anything to protect their little ones!
Where to Stay in Turin, Italy
Hotel Roma, Turin
I have stayed at Hotel Roma in the past, and I can highly recommend this hotel in Turin. Sometimes advertised as Hotel Roma e Rocca Cavour, Hotel Roma is located under the covered archways of Piazza Carlo Felice, directly opposite the Porta Nuova train station. This is the perfect location for exploring the city by foot, and the archways mean you can walk home late at night along a well-lit, covered route. The interior of the hotel retains a lot of classic, elegant features, including intricate tile floors, brick archways and vaulted ceilings, yet the low price (especially on weekends) keeps this old favorite firmly planted in the budget travel category.
Hotel Crimea, Turin
If you’re looking for something rather different, consider booking a room at the Best Western Hotel Crimea in Turin, Italy. Crimea is a quiet neighborhood on the opposite side of the Po River from Turin’s city center (you can walk to the center in about twenty minutes, or hop on a bus every fifteen minutes or so). I’ve always been enchanted by Crimea – its tree-lined streets meander into the hills behind the city, and its Art Nouveau houses (including the stunning Villa Scott) have featured in some of Italy’s most famous classic horror films. Hotel Crimea is one of only two accommodation options in this exclusive neighborhood, and offers guests spacious rooms, a delicious continental breakfast and affordable on-street parking.
Apartment Rentals in Turin
On my most recent visit to Turin, I decided to rent a studio apartment in the city center. I was coming from Chernobyl, Ukraine (really!) and wanted a place where I could wash my clothes again (and again…) without paying through the roof. I found a studio attic apartment (often advertised as a mansarda) that offered everything I needed for the fraction of the price of a hotel room. For a solo traveler, or a couple who don’t need a lot of space, an attic apartment rental is a great budget option. The apartment that I booked (shown above) is currently occupied by its owner, but the one that I’ve linked to is a fantastic alternative that is only two minutes by foot from the place where I stayed.
More Hotels in Turin, Italy
I have stayed at several other hotels in Turin. Last summer, I spent one night at Hotel Concord, a business hotel in the city center. Their cheapest rooms are nothing to write home about, but apparently their renovated rooms are comfortable for business and family travelers. The room rate includes a fairly large buffet breakfast (by Italian standards) with hot and cold dishes. Unless you’re booking two rooms, it’s best to specifically request non-adjoining rooms.
I have also stayed at Hotel Bologna two times. There’s something charming about Hotel Bologna, which is located right across the street from the Porta Nuova train station. Although it only has two stars, it is clean, comfortable and partially renovated. Rooms on the top floor have stunning frescoes on their high ceilings and some original furnishings. The problem with Hotel Bologna is that it is a family-run hotel that closes when the owners take holidays, so sometimes it can be hard to find availability.
Unfortunately, Turin has never had good hostels. Current options include Bamboo Eco Hostel and Open011, both of which I strongly advise against booking due to their locations far from the city center, in an area where (personally) I would avoid walking alone at night. Attic Hostel has a good location in the city center, but the price of one bed in a dorm room is higher than what I paid for my studio apartment. Turin isn’t really a backpacker-friendly city, unfortunately.
Where to Eat in Turin, Italy
The Best Pizza in Turin
I have eaten a lot of pizza in Turin.
On my last trip to Turin, I had a singular mission: to find the best margarita pizza with buffalo mozzarella in the city. This journey took me to three very different Turin restaurants…
First, I met up with an old friend for drinks and dinner. Unfortunately, drinks ran so late that most of the pizzerias in the city were closed when we set out to find food. We ended up at Pizze e Cozze (Pizza and Mussels), which was conveniently open very late, but inconveniently mixed buffalo mozzarella with regular fresh mozzarella (as shown in Pizza #1).
Next, I visited the top-rated pizzeria on TripAdvisor: Bricks. It has since dropped in the ratings, and I’m not surprised. As you can see from the photo of Pizza #2, my buffalo mozzarella pizza was swimming in sauce (it was almost one centimeter deep in some parts!).
Finally, I snagged a coveted table at La Fila, one of the oldest pizzerias in the city. Since it was a beautiful summer evening I enjoyed my pizza (#3, above) on their outdoor terrace, and finally found the perfect buffalo mozzarella margarita pizza. This place is super-busy, so make a reservation or show up right when they open for dinner.
There are several other pizzerias that I can recommend. As I mentioned above, Tre da Tre is a great pizzeria right in the shadow of the Mole Antonelliana. I recommend their Ortolana pizza (with grilled veggies) or their buffalo mozzarella margarita (obviously…). For take-out pizza that you can bring back to your hotel room, Pizzeria San Secondo is about six blocks south of Hotel Roma and is undoubtedly one of the best inexpensive pizza takeaway joints in town.
The Best Gelato in Turin
Turin is full of amazing gelaterias, including some old favorites and some new additions to the Italian ice cream scene. I usually indulge in one gelato each day when I’m in Italy, and I don’t feel guilty at all since I typically get more than 20,000 steps every day! My favorite combinations are dark chocolate and pistachio, or dark chocolate with pear (which is infinitely more difficult to find). I’m also not opposed to a little salted caramel or tiramisu.
Niva is a relatively-new gelateria in central Turin, close to Hotel Roma and Porta Nuova. They have a second location in Cannes, France. The flavor selection is relatively small, but every flavor is well-made from local and seasonal ingredients. Alberto Marchetti is another small-scale gelato chain, with three shops in Turin and two more elsewhere in Italy. They heavily promote their traditional recipes and methods, but I was disappointed by the two flavors I ordered – in fact, I couldn’t tell which one was which (and that’s a bit crazy, since one was supposed to be white chocolate with salted caramel and the other was tiramisu…). I’d suggest skipping Alberto Marchetti.
For something a little less… frou-frou… I will always have a special place in my heart for Siculo, a family-run, Sicilian-inspired gelateria that is sort of midway between Porta Nuova and Porta Susa, surrounded by office buildings. The gelato here is all homemade, and they don’t hold back when it comes to flavors like celery and lavender. In my opinion, though, it’s their Sicilian granite that really shine here. I keep going back for the toasted almond flavor… and I love how they also have a regular almond variety for people who want their almonds less toasty! Siculo also has a good selection of vegan gelato and sorbets, made from soy milk or simply frozen fruit puree.
The winner for Best Location has to go to Grom, a Turin-based gelato company that has now expanded internationally. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve sat on Grom’s singular bench, enjoying an ice cream cone (ask for a cono biscoto, or what we would call a sugar cone) or a cup of their almond granita. Grom is only seventy-five meters from Hotel Roma, so you can stop by for a treat on your way back each evening.
Fast Food and Cheap Eats in Turin
Eating out in Italy can actually get to be quite expensive, which is why I’m always looking for inexpensive dining options. In particular, I like to save money on lunch so that I can enjoy a nice dinner later in the evening. There are quite a few Turin restaurants that offer good food at a reasonable price, including three of my favorites: 100 Montaditos, Exki and Brek.
Originally a Spanish chain, 100 Montaditos is a fast-casual restaurant offering more than 100 varieties of little sandwiches (known as montaditos) and typical Spanish tapas. It takes anywhere from three to five sandwiches to make a full meal, and with such an expansive menu (including more than a dozen vegetarian options) the hardest part is narrowing down your selection! Fortunately, you can take all the time you need to mark your choice on a paper menu… when you’re ready, bring the paper to the register and pay. They’ll bring your food (shown in #1 above) out to your table when it’s ready.
A lot of Italian restaurants close in the mid-afternoon, which makes it hard to find something decent to eat if you’re jet-lagged or just on a weird schedule. I’ve always appreciated Exki, a lunch-centric self-service restaurant in the city center that stays open all afternoon. Stop by for a simple meal of soup, salad, quiche or baked goods, which you can reheat in the provided microwaves or simply enjoy at room temperature. In Photo #2 I’ve ordered their couscous salad with roasted vegetables and ricotta salata, plus a slice of zucchini tart with a black rice crust.
Perhaps Turin’s best (affordable) crowd-pleaser, Brek is an upscale buffet restaurant combining self-service with counter service. I like to make a little salad bowl and grab a plate of their daily pasta or risotto, as there’s always a vegetarian option (like the lemon risotto shown in #3 above). They also have some pre-made salad plates, including prosciutto and melon, or grilled vegetables with fresh mozzarella. Brek is just a few doors down from Hotel Roma, across the street from Porta Nuova, under the portici at Piazza Carlo Felice.
Eataly at Torino Lingotto
Although it’s now possible to dine at shop at Eataly locations across the globe, the original Eataly dining hall and marketplace is located in Turin, near the Lingotto train station. I think there’s something to be said for visiting the place where the Slow Food shopping and dining movement began, although my experience was that Eataly was better for shopping than it was for dining.
During my visit the pizza and pasta restaurant (which, admittedly is just one of several restaurants inside the complex) was experiencing sporadic power outages, and they could only serve one kind of pasta: casarecchi alla Norma, or flute-shaped pasta tossed in a sauce of tomato and fried eggplant, then garnished with ricotta salata. It was actually delicious, but I wish I’d been able to order from the full menu. I did take the opportunity to do a little shopping – I picked up pistachio cream, almond cream, truffle butter, smoked salt and gianduja (the local, upscale predecessor of Nutella).
There is a smaller Eataly in central Turin, on Via Lagrange. While it isn’t the all-encompassing experience of Eataly Torino Lingotto, it’s easy to access on foot from all of my recommended hotels.
Wine Bars in Turin
Turin is in the heart of Italy’s Piemonte wine region, from which the world gets favorites like Barbaresco, Barolo and Moscato d’Asti. Turin is packed with fantastic wine bars that offer carefully curated wine lists along with food ranging from tiny nibbles to full, multi-course meals.
I think my favorite wine bar in Turin is Filiberti, which is located on Piazza Emanuele Filiberto. I spent an entire afternoon here once, when I got caught in a never-ending afternoon rainstorm. The two guys working here were hilarious and so welcoming, and they had an amazing wine list (minus the ridiculous mark-ups) to keep us entertained (and happy!) for hours.
Another solid option is Le Baudelaire Wine & Gin Bar in the Quadrilatero Romano. Le Beaudelaire is furnished like a comfortable, intimate living room, with lots of sofas and armchairs clustered away from other drinkers. Grab a table and chairs by the window, a bottle of Barbero and their cheese plate, and spend an hour watching Turin pass by right before your eyes.
The Grand Cafes of Turin
As if all that wine wasn’t enough, Turin is also famous for its cafe culture – complete with cream-filled pastries, steaming little cups of espresso and interiors so opulent you’ll wonder why they even let you inside! There are many beautiful cafes all around the city, but the most historic are along Via Roma and Via Po.
One of my favorite cafes in Turin is Cafe Fiorio, which is close to the Mole Antonelliana under the portici on Via Po. That’s where I met my soul mate: a croissant filled with pistachio cream. Although most Italians like to stand at the bar while they quickly down their espresso and chat with the bartender, I prefer to take a seat at one of the tables and enjoy a little people-watching with my pastry. In good weather you can sit on the covered sidewalk, but if it’s cold outside you can sit in the velvet-and-gold interior (sadly, the toilets seem to be as original as the decor!). Take note: You usually have to pay a little bit extra to sit at a table! This applies at all of Turin’s classic cafes, not just Cafe Fiorio.
Other popular cafes include intimate Al Bicerin (where Turin’s most famous beverage was invented – a bicerin is a a tiny glass of espresso, dark chocolate and whipped cream), Baratti & Milano (offering the city’s best assortment of luxury sweets to go with that coffee), Caffe San Carlo and Caffe Torino (both of which were popular with statesmen, film stars, artists and writers in the city’s heyday) and Caffe Mulassano (with a stunning Art Nouveau interior).
How to Get to Turin, Italy
Train Travel to Turin, Italy
Turin, Italy has three main train stations: Porta Nuova (shown above), Porta Susa and Lingotto.
Whenever possible, I like to choose trains that arrive at Porta Nuova, which is the most central of the three train stations. Porta Nuova has shops, restaurants and services for travelers on primarily domestic routes, including the high-speed train between Turin to Milan train, along with routes traveling east (to Venice) and south (to Naples). It is the northwestern terminus for most of these routes. Porta Nuova is less than five minutes by foot to both Hotel Roma and Hotel Bologna, via a convenient pedestrian underpass that crosses below Corso Vittorio Emanuele II.
Porta Susa is on the opposite side of the city center from Porta Nuova. Most east-west domestic trains continue from here to Porta Nuova, but this is the only stop in the city for trains traveling to and from France (including TGV service between Paris and Milan). You can use Turin’s underground metro system to travel between this station and Porta Nuova.
On the southern edge of the city center, Lingotto train station is on the main line between Turin and Genoa, and most trains traveling between Turin and southern cities like Rome and Naples will make a quick stop here. It is also connected to Porta Nuova by underground subway.
|Top 10 Trains from Turin, Italy|
|Turin to Asti Trains (Porta Nuova)||0:35||€5|
|Turin to Milan Trains (Porta Nuova)||1:00||€17|
|Turin to Genoa Trains (Porta Nuova)||2:00||€13|
|Turin to Venice Trains (Porta Nuova)||3:30||€38|
|Turin to Florence Trains (Porta Nuova)||3:00||€36|
|Turin to Rome Trains (Porta Nuova)||4:00||€49|
|Turin to Naples Trains (Porta Nuova)||5:35||€57|
|Turin to Lyon Trains (Porta Susa)||4:20||€45|
|Turin to Paris Trains (Porta Susa)||5:45||€55|
The Turin Airport – Caselle International Airport
Personally, I have never flown into the Turin Airport, officially known as Caselle International Airport, which is situated about ten miles northwest of central Turin. However, Caselle is well-served by many budget airlines, with inexpensive fares to Paris (Air France and Blue Air), London Luton (Blue Air), Stockholm (Blue Air), Berlin Schonefeld (easyJet), Madrid (Iberia Regional), Frankfurt and Munich (Lufthansa) and Barcelona (RyanAir and Veuling), along with many other domestic, smaller and seasonal destinations.
A regional commuter train runs between the Turin Airport and Turin’s Dora train station. From here, an express bus travels to Porta Susa train station in fifteen minutes. Alternately, SADEM buses travel between the Turin airport, Porta Susa train station and Porta Nuova train station at a cost of €7.50.
Complete information about traveling between Caselle International Aiport and Turin is available on the airport’s website.
If you’ve got an early morning flight, you may want to consider staying at a Turin airport hotel.
I would highly recommend Jet Hotel, which is the closest hotel to the airport entrance. Not your typical airport hotel, Jet Hotel is located in a heritage building – the hotel restaurant is more than 300 years old! To accommodate travelers, the hotel starts serving breakfast at 5:00 am from Monday to Thursday, and an airport shuttle is available (although a taxi will be cheap, since the hotel is only one kilometer from the airport!).
If Jet Hotel is fully booked, another good Turin airport hotel is Hotel Caccia Reale – it is a family-run hotel in an old, ivy-covered farmhouse that has been converted into comfortable guestrooms.
Bus Travel to Turin, Italy (Including Milan Malpensa Connections!)
As I mentioned, on my most recent trip to Turin I was coming from Chernobyl. The easiest way to travel between Kiev and Turin was by flying to Milan’s Malpensa International Airport and then taking one of the direct buses between Milan Malpensa and Turin. Every day there are ten departures in each direction, with the trip taking approximately two hours. In Turin, the bus terminal is on street level at Porta Susa railway station, and in Milan it stops at both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. Tickets cost €22 and purchasing options are noted at the link above. Taking the bus from Malpensa Airport to Turin is significantly faster, cheaper and easier than making the same journey by rail.
Unfortunately, there are no direct buses between Turin and Milan Linate Airport or Bergamo Orio al Serio Airport.
Turin is also well-served by long-distance buses traveling around Italy and across international borders. Italy has a large number of immigrants from Eastern Europe, and inexpensive buses accommodate their travel schedules with stops across countries like Slovenia, Hungary and Romania. Buses also travel north into Switzerland and Germany, and west into France and Spain. While international trains tend to be more comfortable, long-distance buses are usually much less expensive (and more likely to offer WiFi!). My preferred European bus operator is FlixBus – click through to see their most popular routes to Turin, Italy.
In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I absolutely love Turin, Italy.
The city will always feel like a second home to me, and I always try to visit Turin when I pass through Western Europe. Whether I can stay for a weekend, a week, a month or even two years (yes, that happened!), I always feel a tiny bit more Italian after my stay in this Piemontese gem.
In fact, I’m already planning my next trip!
Have you ever visited Turin, Italy? What is your favorite thing to do in Turin? Let me know in the comments!
While you’re nearby, consider a trip to Milan. I love spending an afternoon at QC Termemilano, a luxurious day spa built around the ruins of the ancient Roman baths.