The northern Italian city of Turin may not be among the country’s most popular destinations, but it certainly charms those who decide to give it a visit. While some mistake it as more of a commercial and industrial city, Turin is actually a destination full of history and splendor that you won’t soon forget.
One of the benefits of adding Turin to your Italy itinerary is that it doesn’t take much time to experience the city’s highlights. In fact, you can comfortably cover the best places to visit in Turin in just one day with a little planning. By planning, of course, we mean following this Turin itinerary full of advice on what to see and what you need to know to make the most of your day in Turin.
Best Time to Visit Turin
Your experience in Turin is going to be influenced by a variety of factors, but one of the main ones is what time of year you go there. Things like the weather and number of other tourists are going to have a considerable effect on your visit, from the affordability and availability of accommodation to what it’s like visiting major tourist attractions.
Tourism in Turin tends to follow the same patterns as the rest of Italy, meaning that summer is generally the busiest time of year to visit. From June to August, you can expect attractions to be at their most crowded, although Turin certainly doesn’t get as busy as major tourist destinations like Florence or Venice. Still, with crowds plus hot and humid weather, summer isn’t the ideal time to visit the city.
Instead, the best time to visit Turin is typically in the shoulder season during spring and autumn. Visit the city from April to June or mid-September to October and you’ll find attractions more relaxed, hotel rates more reasonable, and the weather perfect for sightseeing outdoors.
The winter months of December through March comprise the low season and while it’s the quietest time to come, you can expect poor weather and reduced opening hours for attractions, making it far from ideal for a short visit.
How to Get Around Turin
Although Turin is quite a large city, the reality is that visitors will likely spend most of their time within the city’s Centro neighborhood. This means that, for the most part, you’ll be able to get around on foot while visiting Turin. Still, it’s useful to know what other options you have should you not feel like walking everywhere or decide to venture beyond the city center.
Turin is home to a public transport network made up of buses, trams, and a metro with a single transit line. The metro connects the western and southern edges of the city with the city center and will probably only be useful if you’re staying further out or plan on visiting Turin’s National Automobile Museum. Instead, trams and local buses are much more useful for getting around the inner city.
Tickets work across the entire urban network and start at €1.70 for a single ticket for the urban area, valid for 100 minutes once validated. There are also daily tickets and multitrip tickets. You can purchase tickets from news kiosks, tobacconists, and vending machines in metro stations.
If you’re arriving into Turin by plane, you’ll need to know how to get from Turin Airport to the city. There are two bus services that make this route: SADEM and Terravision. SADEM is potentially a little faster, taking roughly 50 minutes, but is more expensive at €6.50. Terravision takes approximately an hour to reach the city center and costs €5.50. There is a train station at the airport; however, construction of a new direct rail link from the airport to the city makes this option more complicated than it’s worth.
Where to Stay in Turin
Even if it’s only for one night, finding the right accommodation can have a profound impact on your enjoyment of your trip. That means that deciding where to stay in Turin is an activity worth spending a little time on. To help you out, we’ve put together a few recommendations of the best places to stay in Turin that should suit travelers of every budget. If you decide to look at other options, we recommend looking in the Centro area, as that will make sightseeing and finding places to eat a lot easier.
Treat yourself with a stay at Principi di Piemonte, a glamorous luxury hotel set in the heart of the city. Rooms in this five-star hotel offer vintage elegance and plenty of space, while the hotel provides a gourmet restaurant, wellness center, and a bar with breathtaking city views.
For the perfect combination of comfort, style, and cost, B&B Terres D’Aventure Suites is hard to beat. This chic bed and breakfast sits inside a 17th-century building that is an easy walk from the Madama Palace and boasts rooms with contemporary décor and a tasty complimentary breakfast.
Turin isn’t home to a lot of budget-friendly places to stay, but fortunately there’s Tomato Backpackers if you’re looking to save some money. This recently refurbished hostel is located close to the main train station and offers dorms and private rooms, two large common areas, and friendly service.
For more accommodation options in Turin, take a look at Booking.com. They continuously offer the best rates and their custom service is on point.
The Perfect 1-Day Turin Itinerary
One of the reasons why Turin is such a great inclusion to any trip through northern Italy is that it really only takes one day to experience the best of Turin. You can definitely spend longer in the city if you like, of course. However, since we know that many tourists are pressed for time, we’ve put together this itinerary that shows what to do in Turin in 1 day so that you don’t miss a thing.
However, before we get to our Turin itinerary, we just wanted to remind you to purchase travel insurance. You never know what will happen and, trust us, you do not want to get stuck with thousands of dollars in medical bills. As a wise man once said, “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.” So don’t leave home without it.
We personally use and recommend SafetyWing. For only around $10 a week, it’s really a no-brainer. You can get a quick, non-binding quote below:
Now that we’ve touched on that important subject, let’s get to our Turin travel itinerary. Read on to find out what the best things to do in Turin are and how you can experience them during your short visit.
Recommendation: Turin has two souls: one linked to white magic, the other to evil black magic. Explore them both with a guide during a magical mystery tour.
Piazza San Carlo and Historical Center
Before getting to the major attractions around Turin, it’s worth taking a little time to get a feel for the city. For that, there’s no better place to start than with the city’s historical center and the impressive square of Piazza San Carlo.
The center of Turin is home to many long streets lined with tall buildings, which helps make Piazza San Carlo feel very open and spacious when you first step into it. Like the surrounding streets, the square is bordered on two sides by shopping arcades; however, the facade of these arcades is far more photogenic, giving the piazza a stately look. Two churches, the Church of Santa Cristina and the Church of San Carlo Borromeo, can be found at the southern end of the square.
Royal Palace of Turin
Now that you’re starting to get a feel for Turin, it’s time to make your way to one of its most important landmarks, the Royal Palace of Turin. This magnificent building served as a royal residence for the House of Savoy for more than two centuries after its construction in 1646. One look at its imposing baroque facade and it’s clear that this is one of the most significant places in the city.
Visits to the Royal Palace include seeing various different sections of the palace complex, including the royal apartments, the Royal Library, the Galleria Sabauda, and, perhaps most impressively, the Royal Armory. The palace is also home to the Chapel of the Holy Shroud, in which the Holy Shroud of Turin is said to reside, but unfortunately visitors aren’t able to see the famous relic.
Madama Palace & Acaja Castle
It’s important to understand that the Royal Palace isn’t the only palace on Turin’s Piazza Castello. The square also houses the Madama Palace, a remarkable attraction in its own right. Part of what makes the Madama Palace so interesting is its mishmash of architectural styles, with a pretty baroque facade at the front and a more medieval-looking keep at the rear. Inside, you’ll see more elegant rooms, halls, and staircases, as well as the exhibits of the Turin City Museum of Ancient Art, which focuses on various forms of artwork from the Middle Ages.
Looping around behind the Royal Palace from Piazza Castello, you’ll find the Palatine Gate, one of the oldest landmarks in the city of Turin. This ruin, now found in a public park, was one of the four Roman entrances to Turin and is actually one of the best preserved gates of its era still standing. Attached to the Roman ruins are sections added in the Middle Ages, including two towers and the wall that joins them.
Turin may not be a place you necessarily expect to find a world-class collection of Egyptian artifacts, and yet the city is indeed home to one of the best museums in the world dedicated to Ancient Egypt. The Egyptian Museum is home to four stories of exhibits and displays and is widely considered to have the second most important collection of artifacts after the Egyptian Museum of Cairo. As you explore the museum, you’ll have the opportunity to see all sorts of statues, mummies, sarcophagi, papyrus scrolls, and more.
Last but not least, we have the Mole Antonelliana, a brilliant 19th-century tower that has since become a symbol of Turin. Named after its architect, the building was originally meant to be a synagogue, but issues during construction led to the city taking over control and finishing it in 1889.
Today, the Mole Antonelliana is home to the National Museum of Cinema, but it is mostly visited for the unbeatable panoramic views of Turin from the top of its tower. Reaching a height of 167.5 meters (550 feet), the tower offers visitors views right across the city out to the snow-capped Alps.
Have More Than 24 Hours in Turin?
Clearly, it’s easy enough to fill up a day in Turin with the city’s impressive cultural and historical attractions. But that doesn’t mean that you’re wasting your time if you choose to stay longer. Surrounding the city are a few amazing attractions that are well worth checking out if you have the time; there are also other major Italian cities that you can easily reach as a day trip. Below are our recommendations for what to do if you decide to stick around in Turin for more than one night.
1. Villa della Regina
For our first day trip idea, the Villa della Regina, you actually don’t even need to leave the city. This exquisite palace is found on a hill among vineyards just across the Po River from the Turin city center.
Villa della Regina was built by the House of Savoy in the early 17th century as a summer residence. Although the palace fell out of use and suffered damage during World War II, in recent years it’s received much-needed repairs and has even been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visits to the palace focus on the stately halls and elegant furnishings of the royal apartments, as well as on the formal palace gardens that feature grand staircases and fountains.
2. La Venaria Reale
Located just on the outskirts of Turin in the commune of Venaria, La Venaria Reale or the Reggia di Venaria Reale is another sublime former royal residence of the House of Savoy. While it’s surrounded by vast grounds, you’d never know that it was originally built as a hunting lodge for Duke Charles Emmanuel II.
War damage and neglect left the palace in a sad state until it was repaired in the early 2000s and made ready for visitors. Taking a tour through the palace, you’ll see rooms, halls, and galleries lined with frescoes and ornate stucco, while the grounds are split into the Upper Park and Lower Park, with each reflecting different eras in the palace’s history. In the Upper Park, you’ll find long alleys lined with hedges and peaceful groves, while the Lower Park offers grottoes, fountains, and the Great Pond.
3. Sacra di San Michele
Journeying further from Turin, we have the jaw-dropping beauty of the Sacra di San Michele to the city’s west. Perched on the edge of the Susa Valley, this historic mountaintop abbey makes an incredible first impression thanks to its lofty, mountainous surroundings.
The Sacra di San Michele dates from the late 10th century and also happens to have a connection to Savoy royalty, as it was King Charles Albert who saw to the restoration of this long-abandoned Benedictine monastery. Visits to the abbey not only offer sweeping views of this corner of the Piedmont region but also include seeing tombs for various members of the House of Savoy in its main church.
If you’re looking for somewhere a bit more well known for your day trip from Turin, then consider the cosmopolitan city of Milan. A major center of culture and fashion in Italy’s north, Milan is the kind of place you could easily spend several days exploring. But if you’re short on time, a day trip can easily allow you to experience a few of its highlights.
Start with a visit to the famous Duomo of Milan, the breathtaking Gothic cathedral that is really the city’s most prominent landmark. Make sure to head inside to be wowed by its grandeur and climb to the rooftop for superb city views. Nearby, you’ll find the luxurious Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping arcade that makes even window shopping feel special.
There are many different ways you can make use of the rest of your time in Milan. One option is to find your way to Sforzesco Castle, a fascinating medieval fortress surrounded by a sprawling park. Or perhaps you’d like to see The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci that graces the walls of the Santa Maria delle Grazie church. For more ideas of what to do in Milan, take a look at our dedicated Milan itinerary.
It should be clear now just how easy it can be to see Turin in a day if you have everything you need to know to plan your visit. More importantly, you’ll hopefully now see why Turin is not to be missed when exploring Italy.