Turin is a stunning Italian city at the foot of the Alps. Here are the best things to do in Turin, Italy if you’re heading there soon!
After three days in Italy’s fashion capital, I was more than ready to escape the big city. I couldn’t have been more excited to attend Italy’s premiere contemporary art fair, Artissima, to be held in a mid-sized city called Torino at the foot of the Italian Alps.
I headed to the Milan train station around midday, hopped on a train, and sat back to enjoy my one-hour ride west. Shortly after boarding, a couple asked if I could change seats with them so that they could sit together. I didn’t understand at first, so I responded in English, and then they translated. I said yes once I understood, and we changed seats. We started talking and they told me they were from Texas, on a religious tour of Italy.
When I told them I was from New York, they laughed, saying, “We thought you were Italian and were surprised at how good your English was!” I laughed and admitted I thought the same thing, that they were Italian, even though they actually spoke Spanish to me the first time. (The languages sound so similar to me!) I assumed they first spoke in Italian. We both laughed off the silly misunderstanding.
I headed straight to my apartment upon arrival in the city. Turin is known for its beautiful view of the Alps which you can see at a distance on a clear day – and sure enough, I could see them just over the orange rooftops from my balcony! That afternoon, I discovered the tiny cobblestone streets are wonderfully easy to get lost in and as in all of Italy, the food was absolutely delicious!
Turin Royal Palace
The Turin Royal Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, represents the opulence and grandeur of the House of Savoy. Visitors can explore lavishly decorated rooms, the Royal Armoury, the Royal Library, and the stunning Royal Gardens. The palace’s central location and its connection to Italy’s monarchy make it a significant historical and cultural site in Turin.
Museo Carceri Le Nuove
Museo Carceri Le Nuove is a 19th-century prison that was converted into a torcher chamber by the Nazis and later used as an air raid shelter. Despite all this, there’s a beautiful chapel to see inside.
The prison, which operated from 1870 to 2003, now serves as a historical and cultural site, providing insight into the Italian penal system’s evolution. You can explore the original cells, and solitary confinement areas, and learn about the lives of the people who were imprisoned here. Guided tours often include personal anecdotes from former inmates, making it a deeply moving experience.
Piazza San Carlo
I came across the beautiful Chiesa di Santa Cristina church by chance while walking through the stunning plaza Piazza San Carlo. Designed in the Baroque style and completed in 1639, the twin structures of this church are stunning to see in person with their cool blue tones and intricate façades.
Piazza San Carlo is one of Turin’s most elegant squares, often referred to as the “drawing room” of the city. Flanked by historic buildings with Baroque architecture and twin churches, the square is a hub for social gatherings and outdoor cafés. At its center stands the equestrian statue of Emanuele Filiberto, celebrating the Duke of Savoy. A visit to Piazza San Carlo provides a glimpse into Turin’s rich cultural heritage and vibrant modern life.
The Mole Antonelliana is a grandiose 19th-century building with a 120-meter tall dome where you can see over all of Torino. The Mole Antonelliana is one of Turin’s most iconic landmarks. Originally intended as a synagogue, this tower now hosts the National Cinema Museum. Its unique design and towering spire are visible from many parts of the city. Visitors can take a panoramic lift to the top, where they are rewarded with stunning views of Turin and the surrounding mountains. Its role as a symbol of the city makes it a must-visit attraction.
Shroud of Turin
The Shroud of Turin, housed in Turin Cathedral, is one of Christianity’s most venerated relics. Believed by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, the shroud bears the faint image of a man’s face and body. While its authenticity continues to be a subject of debate and research, the shroud attracts pilgrims and tourists from around the world. Occasional public exhibitions allow visitors to see the shroud, while replicas and informative displays are typically available.
National Cinema Museum
Italy’s National Cinema Museum is found in Turin! The Museo Nazionale del Cinema lets you learn all about Italy’s illustrious filmmaking past. Located inside the Mole Antonelliana, the National Cinema Museum is dedicated to the history and art of cinema. The museum’s engaging exhibits cover everything from early motion picture technologies to modern filmmaking. Visitors can explore interactive displays, watch clips from iconic films, and even enjoy full-length screenings in a spectacular subterranean theater. The museum’s unique architecture and comprehensive collections make it a must for film buffs.
National Automobile Museum
The National Automobile Museum in Turin is a tribute to Italy’s rich automotive history, particularly its connection to the city, home to Fiat. With over 200 vehicles, the museum showcases the evolution of the automobile, including vintage cars, racing models, and futuristic prototypes. Interactive displays, detailed descriptions, and themed areas provide an engaging experience for visitors of all ages.
Contemporary Art Museum Castello di Rivoli
The Contemporary Art Museum, located in the Castello di Rivoli, blends historical architecture with cutting-edge art. Housed in a restored 17th-century castle, the museum features rotating exhibitions from international artists, as well as a permanent collection of contemporary works. The juxtaposition of the ancient setting with modern art creates a unique visual experience, and the museum’s hilltop location offers panoramic views of the surrounding region.
Turin’s Egyptian Museum boasts one of the largest and most important collections of Egyptian artifacts outside Egypt. With over 30,000 items, including mummies, sculptures, jewelry, and papyrus texts, the museum offers a comprehensive view of ancient Egyptian civilization. Engaging displays and well-curated exhibitions make it a fascinating destination for history buffs and casual visitors alike.
Valentino Park, located along the Po River, is Turin’s largest public park and a favorite spot for relaxation and recreation. Visitors can explore beautiful gardens, including the medieval-inspired Valentino Castle and the Borgo Medievale, a replica medieval village. Walking paths, bike trails, and scenic views of the river provide a peaceful escape from the urban hustle.
Basilica of Superga
Situated on a hill overlooking Turin, the Basilica of Superga offers breathtaking views of the city and the Alps. Designed by Filippo Juvarra, this grand church is a masterpiece of Baroque architecture. Inside, visitors can admire the royal tombs of the House of Savoy and enjoy the artwork and intricate details. A short funicular ride or a scenic drive leads to the basilica, making it a rewarding excursion from the city center.
Turin is full of amazing Italian food restaurants. Try dishes like “bollito misto” or “agnolotti,” and don’t miss the local chocolate and coffee culture.
I actually didn’t make a reservation that Saturday night for dinner and unfortunately, every restaurant was at capacity, so be sure to reserve ahead of time if you go to Turin on a weekend. Any other night, I was able to walk into a restaurant without a reservation.
- Da Michele 1922 is a classic Piedmontese restaurant for traditional dishes.
- La Taverna Dei Mercanti is a home-cooking style restaurant with a rustic stone interior and warm atmosphere.
- Tre Galline is a traditional Turin restaurant serving veal dishes and specialty Italian meats. Go here for classic Piedmontese food.
- L’Enoteca is a Turin wine bar.
Stay in a Local Turin Apartment
For the feeling of being an actual Turin resident, stay in a local apartment rental during your time in town!
I really loved my visit to Turin! What made the trip special was how the city streets were adorned with beautiful decorative lights between the buildings in early November! Colorful words and constellation outlines beautifully lit up the buildings at night for the holiday season.