After our amazing week in Forte dei Marmi, we initially decided to visit the Dolomites. However and due to work obligation so we decided to head back to France but to stop twice on the way to Paris.
Looking at the map, Turin looked ideal as a first stop, and after research on blogs and asking our Italian friends about it, we settled on visiting Turin for a few days.
Surprisingly, we simply loved Turin! While we are usually not big fans of large towns and more sea-side lovers. Turin is 2 hours from the nearest sea and lost in the mountains. It gives the city a serious charm while walking around, with its gorgeous mountainous background.
We stayed in a gorgeous hotel, more confortable by far than our usual standards for city break. Even if it was a little expensive, we absolutely loved it. The Turin Palace Hotel is located right in the center and made our stay there perfect. We will detail a little more about the hotel itself later in this article.
Food. Believe it or not, food is always something we are frustrated with in Italy. To be honest, we are always having delicious Italian food in Paris (we know our city pretty well). It seems the last few times we went to Italy (and probably because we did not do enough research then, and we had no Italian friends at all), we always ended up having tasteless and expensive food. Probably some tourist traps falling behind our very high expectations. Turin has changed our mind on that! We tried few restaurants and we loved them all. We have some super specific suggestion on each of them, trust us, you will not be disappointed.
Finally, Turin is not a magnificent city to fall for at first sight, but you will find many wonders while walking around. Beautiful squares, gorgeous churches, splendid palaces… you have them all in Turin! Some great museums are well known in the city as well. Last (but not least), Turin is much less crowded by tourists than any other major cities of Italy. You will notice many people don’t even speak a word of English, even in fancy shops, restaurants and hotels!
Enough talking, let’s discover Turin together.
How to go to Turin ?
How to go to Turin by Train
The train station in Turin is called Torino Porta Susa and is located in the city center. If you come only for a week-end, it’s ideal as everything is walkable distance from there.
Turin is very easy, and accessible in 3 hours from Pisa Centro (Italy), and in 3h55 from Lyon (France).
Train tickets are not too expensive. From Lyon, direct train tickets for Turin starts from 29 euros with Oui SNCF, and about 30 euros from Pise. Do not forget to book in advance for cheaper rates because yes, it still applies for train tickets!
How to go to Turin by Plane
Turin Caselle Airport (TRN) is the main international airport serving Turin, northern Italy, located in Caselle Torinese, 16 km from Turin (about 30 minutes by car).
Reach the city center by taxi: A Taxi from Caselle central to Turin city center will cost approximatively 30 euros for 30 minutes.
Reach the city center by bus: Much cheaper option, the bus! Two companies operate the transfer to Porta Susa station, in Turin city center.
Find the timetable and prices for SADEM company here and for Terravision company here. Count about 6 euros per person, and 50 minutes to reach the center.
Reach the city center with a rented car: Definitely not something we would recommend, but still possible if needed. We always use RentalsCar when renting a car, the best prices we have found so far.
How to go to Turin by car
It is possible, but maybe not too recommended, unless it’s part of a road trip in Italy, as it was the case for us.
Turin has one issue: too many cars, and too much traffic. Driving there is definitely something we did not like. If you are coming by car, we advice you to park the car until the moment you leave, and to walk instead in the city, or to use the public transportation.
Make sure your hotel has a free private parking because finding a parking spot is almost impossible and public parkings are expensive. Count 16 euros per day to park at the Train station parking (quite a lot compared to a train ticket!)
Little history of Turin, the first Capital of Italy
Turin, originally known as Taurisia was a small city of the Roman empire. Some of the romans origins of Turin are still visible today, like the Palatine door, but its Roman legacy is little compared to other cities such as Rome or Syracuse.
After the fall of the Roman empire, Turin will belong to many of the barbare tribes: Goths, Lombards, Francs… Until it became part of the territory of a Royal familly: The House of Savoy. In 1536, Charles III from Savoy joins France, and Turin will be a French city until 1562. The city will be seized again once by Napoleon for a few years, and will afterwise remain Italian until today.
In 1861, Turin becomes the first Capital of the new unified Italy. In industrial revolution, it becomes one of the industrial center of Italy, with the mass production of automobile with Fiat. For that reason, in the second World War, Turin will be bombed massively by the allied and its historic legacy will be irremediably destroyed.
After the World War, Turin city will recover quickly and become of the largest European industrial center for automobile. It is only recently that Turin found a new vocation: tourism. With many famous festivals such as the Torino Movie Festival, newly opened museums, events, Turin popularity is growing and the once polluted and dark industrial town is turning into one of the gems of North Italy.
What to do in Turin ?
Visit the museum of Cinema and the Mole Antonelliana
Located in one of the most famous and highest building of Turin: The Mole Antonelliana, the museum of Cinema and its building are the icon of Turin city.
The construction of the Mole Antonelliana started in 1863 and was initially meant to be a Synagogue. In 1868, the project is bankrupted and the construction is paused until Turin decided to buy it back and finish it in 1877. The building will live many lives, until becoming what it is today: The National Museum of Cinema.
There is 2 main visits to do in the Mole Antonelliana, the panoramic view and the Museum of Cinema.
The Panoramic view
The Mole Antonelliana being one of the tallest building of Turin, it is also gifted with an impressive transparent lift, leading up to its summit. From there, you can enjoy one of the most impressive 360 degrees view over Turin. It is definitely worth the visit, but be ready to spend some time waiting in line – for us about 1 hour but we heard some people waiting up to 3 or 4 hours queuing for this visit! It is possible to buy fast-track ticket online, we warmly recommend it.
The National Museum of Cinema
Located in the Mole Antonelliana, the National Museum of Cinema of Turin is as impressive as its building. Starting by the invention of cinema, and the technology around it such as magic lantern and optic effects.
The museum is not all about Italian movies, and features objects and short extracts of very diverse movies, such as the mask of Star Wars or the MGM logo.
We definitely recommend this museum for family as well as adept of the the seventh art.
Prices and schedule for the National Museum of Cinema and Panoramic view can be found here. We recommend to book the pass Museum (11 euros) + Panoramic lift (8 euros) directly online.
Visit the museum of automobiles
Unfortunately, the museum was closed during our stay (it is currently closed from Tuesday to Thursday, and open Sunday-Monday from 10am to 2pm and Friday-Saturday from 10am to 7pm), but it was highly recommended to us. We have added to our bucket list for our next trip to Turin!
In 2014, The Times awarded the Museo Nazionale Dell’Automobile 35th place in the ranking of the 50 best museums in the world, emphasizing the interest of its educational and scientific content. The museum covers the history of the automobile, but also that of design, research and the great men who took part in it. The museum costs 12 euros per adult.
Wander in the historic city center
The piazza San Carlo, the Piazza Castello, the Palazzo Reale, the Palazzo Madama or even the Porta Palatina. Here is a short list of the main buildings you will see while wandering in the historic center in Turin. You will see most of the magnificent architecture of the city this way. If you are taking your time, you can count a full day to wander across the city.
Go to the Valentino park and walk along the Po
A beautiful walk along the banks of the Po, apparently pleasant in all seasons.
For us, it was stiflingly hot, and getting closer to the river brought us a little freshness. We had the same idea as many locals, who came with a few beers or a picnic in the grass, or with a guitar with their feet almost in the water. We really enjoyed this walk, along the river and lined with beautiful buildings such as the Valentino castle.
The walk must be magnificent in the fall, with the changing colors of the vegetation.
Visit the Borgo medieval village
Borgo Medieval village Access to the village is free (daily, from 9am to 7pm), access to the fortress, from Tuesday to Sunday 9am-7pm for 6 euros
Built for the Italian general exhibition in 1884, the Borgo village is the exact replication of a typical village with houses and workshops of medieval Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta, from the 15th century.
It’s a very nice recreation, not to be missed if you plan to visit the Valentino park and have some time to wander around Turin.
Don’t miss the Fontana dei 12 Mesi (1898), by César Biscarra, a local sculptor, just a few meters away in the park.
Go shopping at Via Roma
Definitely not a must in Turin, but if you are strolling in the streets, you may end up Via Roma, with its very characteristic arcades. Beautiful for shopping (from luxury to mainstream brands) or just for a walk.
Where to eat ?
Pizza at Cammafà
This was a friend’s recommandation and the pizzas were absolutely divine. Probably one of the best pizza we had in Italy, ever! If you are a pizza fan, you cannot miss it.
Cammafà Ristorante Tuesday-Friday 12am-2:30pm and 7:30pm-11pm and Saturday and Sunday 7:30pm-11pm – +39 011 276 3981 – Via Saluzzo, 35, B, 10125 Torino TO, Italy
Local gastronomic discoveries at la Ferramenta del Gusto Emiliano
If you wish to discover the Piedmont gastronomy, we have found the perfect place, for a decent price! Choose the first gastronomic menu to discover local charcuterie and cheese, a typical pasta dish and a dessert. We have chosen the Lasagna Emiliana and they were so tasty we still think about it! The couple owning the place is very kind and they speak French and English.
La Ferramenta del Gusto Emiliano – +39 011 060 7225 – Via Giuseppe Giacosa, 10A-Bis, 10125 Torino TO, Italy – Tuesday-Friday 7:30pm-11pm Saturday and Sunday 12:30am-2:30pm and 7:30pm-11pm.
Traditional Italian cuisine at Locanda TerraMare
Located less than 10 minutes walking from the train station, Locanda TerraMare offers a delicious traditional cuisine, with some inspiration from Sicily, Sardinia or even more local, Piedmont. We have tried Pasta alle Vongole and Pasta alla Norma, they were delectable, don’t hesitate to order the same!
From starter to dessert, no false notes. Very pleasant staff, who also speak a little French. Excellent advice on wine.
Locanda TerraMare 7:30pm-10pm Tuesday-Saturday 12:30am-2:30pm on Sunday – +39 011 1903 2953 – Via Silvio Pellico, 2/B, 10125 Turin, Piedmont, Italy.
Cheap lunch at Accademia del Panino
Looking for cheaper option while wandering around Turin? We have found the perfect panini place, with good products for a great price: the Accademia del Panino! Starting from 3 euros, panini are big enough for lunch, you will find multiple choices and lots of vegetarian options. Delicious and cheap. One more tip? Located only 2 minutes from the Museum of Cinema, that’s perfect to end your visit there.
Accademia del Panino, Via Sant’Ottavio, 27/A, 10124 Torino TO, Italy – Monday-Saturday 12am-3pm.
Budget meal at Fiori e Caffè
We found this café while walking around, and the atmosphere inside with all the books immediately attracted us. Looking at the menu, we found a great deal with the menu du jour: primo plato, secondo plato and one coffee for 10 euros ! We had some great ravioli there and would have loved to come back.
Fiori e Caffè +39 380 106 9806 – Via Milano, 16 d, 10122 Torino TO, Italy – Monday-Thursday 08:30am-3:30pm, Friday and Saturday 08:30-3:30pm and 7pm-11pm
Where to stay ?
Turin Palace Hotel
We went a little crazy when booking the Turin Palace Hotel, but we needed a nice and quiet place to be able to sleep well, but mostly to work efficiently with an excellent internet connection (and it has never been easy, anywhere we have stayed so far).
Eventually, it was a bit expensive but definitely worth it for the quality and the services we got. The staff was very kind and attentive and speaks good English and French.
Breakfast was included and was delicious! Always our favorite moment of the day, especially in a 4 stars hotel in Italy!
The hotel also has a great rooftop, perfect for a drink to watch the sunset and have a view over the city. If you are a cocktail fan, we recommend the Basil Smash.
The hotel also has a very beautiful spa and offers some massages (at extra cost). The spa access is charged 20 euros per person but the jacuzzi usage is free upon booking only, and limited to 5 people). It is an amazing place to relax after a day of visits.
Tips for your stay in Turin
- Learn some words in Italian. Many people there don’t speak English at all, sometimes only some words in French. So be ready to open your dictionary, especially if you have some specific requirements such as food allergy!
- During the day, don’t forget your sunscreen, your hat and your sunglasses, you will need them all!
- Practice to say no – Lots of sollicitation in the streets, while eating on terraces, to give money or to buy any kind of stuffs you don’t need.
- Don’t plan to drive in the city – everything is walkable distance and the traffic is terrible.
- Don’t use Waze in Italy! Waze is one of our favorite app while traveling, but Waze has been pretty useless, and sometimes clearly wrong while we were driving in Italy. Google Maps has been much more reliable and has led to way less u-turns.
- If you do not speak Italian, many good restaurants in Turin are available to book directly in the Fork app.
We hope you have enjoyed our article about Turin! Have you been to Turin or do you plan to? Do not hesitate to let us know about your best recommendations in comments! When you travel to Italy, you can also check out our 5 favourite cities in Italy!