Northern Italy: 48 Hours in Turin
Turin is an important city in Northern Italy and it is an open-air museum, every corner of the city is a place to discover. The capital of Piedmont is one of Italy’s most charming, unique cities in Italy, a refined and elegant city of great historical interest and cosmopolitan buzz.
Some say you can feel a whiff of Paris while walking the streets, along with a taste of Vienna: chic cafés, stylish boulevards, marvellous museums, this is Turin—one of Italy’s most sophisticated (and under-the-radar) cities.
Turin is the Royal city of Italy, it was the seat of the royal Savoy family starting in the 1500s and because of that, it’s practically bursting with royal residences.
The grandeur of Turin can be witnessed all over the city: in the Royal Palace, Madama Palace, in the large, majestic boulevards and the arcaded shopping streets, and, of course, in La Venaria, Turin’s equivalent of Versailles.
With its world-class museums such as the Egyptian Museum and National Automobile Museums, royal residences, magnificent squares and churches you will find in Turin everything that makes Northern Italy charming.
Just like other more visited cities in Northern Italy such as Milan or Venice, Turin clearly deserves to be visited for a weekend or a few more days.
In order to help you plan your stay, let’s discover together the most interesting things to see in Turin in 48 hours.
Visit the Royal Palace and Piazza Castello
When visiting Turin, Piazza Castello (Castle square) is undoubtedly one of the best places to start a walking tour and take in the sights of the fantastic architecture and historical buildings found here.
This square houses many iconic buildings: here you can find both the Palazzo Reale and the Palazzo Madama together with the Royal Armoury and the Royal Theatre.
Certainly, one of the first Turin sights to visit is the Royal Palace, the main residence of the Savoy family, declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1997. You will visit the elegant apartments hidden behind the simple facade of the Royal Palace, it will be a trip back in time in the life of the King of Italy, also known as the King of Sardinia before 1861.
The Palace accounted, for the dynasty and the Kingdom, the symbol of their power and the place of the great court events: lunches, dances and diplomatic meetings that have marked both Italian and International history.
As you will go through the palace, you’ll be able to see how lavishly-decorated each of the rooms is. Most walls are either painted, wallpapered, or hung with paintings. There are huge chandeliers throughout and displays of armour and swords, one of the richest collections of arms and armor in the world.
Entrance fee to Turin’s Palazzo Reale: 12 € the full ticket
Don’t miss: In summer, Piazza Castello is also popular for its refreshing water jets or as a great place to enjoy a good Italian ice cream.
Explore Palazzo Madama
Turin is packed full of extravagant palaces and historical buildings and the Palazzo Madama is the second palace to be located in the Piazza Castello.
Used in the 17th and 18th centuries as a residence for the ladies of the Savoy royal family, Palazzo Madama is actually much older. Created as a Roman gate, it was turned into a fortress in the Middle Ages and then became the castle of the Acaia rulers.
Today each floor of Palazzo Madama represents an era. Inside the palace you can walk up the richly decorated stairways and admire the sublime decadence of the various rooms and hallways.
You will travel through the Baroque opulence of the queens apartments on the first floor, admire the sculptures and paintings from the Gothic period and the Renaissance on the ground floor and visit the medieval remains on the underground level.
Entrance fee to Palazzo Madama: 10 € for the full ticket
See the Holy Shroud at the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist
The Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista is the main church of Turin, the only Renaissance church in Turin, famous for housing the holy shroud, that is said to have enveloped the body of Christ. Its authenticity is of course questioned, but this does not prevent visitors from rushing into the cathedral.
The actual Shroud of Turin is locked in a silver casket within an iron box, inside a marble case so, so don’t be disappointed (you will see an exact replica of the Shroud). Because of its extremely fragile state, the shroud is not viewable to the public except during very rare public viewings. Free entrance.
Porta Palatina -the best preserved Roman Gateway in the world
The Porta Palatina and ruins are a great piece of history to explore and one of Turin’s oldest monuments.
Just to the north of the Cathedral, lie the remains of a 1st-century Roman amphitheatre, while a little further to the northwest lies Porta Palatina, the best preserved Roman Gateway in the world of the 1st century.
Originally, this immense gateway would have served as an access point to the inner city centre through the city walls that once surrounded ancient Turin.
Two large circular towers flank the gateway and are adorned with crenellations and a central wall section contains many individual arches.According to legend, Charlemagne camped below the gate in 773. Beside the cathedral are the remains of a Roman theatre, also from the first century AD. Only part of it is visible, the rest of it was covered over by the royal palace buildings.
Did you know? Turin traces its geometrical layout to its foundation as a Roman city, the streets still follow the same grid pattern, for that reason is really hard to get lost in Turin.
Palazzo Carignano and the stunning Carlo Alberto Square
The Carignano Palace is the third palace-museum to visit, after the Palazzo Reale and the Palazzo Madama.
It houses the Italian Risorgimento Museum and presents the history of Italy through numerous texts, documents, films and superb paintings.
Don’t miss the hall where the first Italian parliament met.
Just behind the Carignano Palace, at the entrance of the Risorgimento museum, you can also see the Carlo Alberto square, with the equestrian statue of Charles Albert of Sardinia.
This square is arguably the most elegant piazza in Turin, completely pedestrianized and fringed by perfect examples of the city’s world class Baroque architecture. Don’t miss the square by night: It is beautifully illuminated in the evenings, and a nighttime visit evokes a special atmosphere that typifies the elegance of Turin.
Discover the Egyptian Museum- a must-do
Among the top things to do in Turin and in all Northern Italy, you must absolutely include the Egyptian Museum, founded in 1824 by King Carlo Felice.
Not far from the Carignano Palace, with its 4 floors and numerous exposition rooms, this recently renovated Egyptian museum is the second largest in the world, after the one in Cairo! Dedicated to ancient Egyptian archaeology and history, this museum is a history buffs dream and contains a huge amount of artefacts and displays.
The collection includes statues, sarcophagi and mummies, so you can immerse yourself in ancient Egypt for at least 2 hours. As you enter, you are given the audio guide and a map to help you follow the chronological path. Among the Turin sights, this is a real gem. If it’s your first time in Turin, we highly recommend it.
Entrance fee to Museo Egizio: 15 € the full ticket
Walk around Piazza San Carlo
Often nicknamed ‘Turin’s drawing Room’, the San Carlo square is populated with coffee shops and was first built in the 16th and 17th-centuries.
Constructed in the Baroque style, highlights of the square include the twin churches of Santa Cristina and San Carlo Borromeo, as well as a statue of one of the Dukes of Savoy.
The square is framed by a series of archways and marble faced buildings that give it a beautiful symmetry.
Its beautiful layout makes it a perfect setting for concerts, political meetings, and all sorts of events. But to make this square important socially and historically is not just its beauty.
The café lined around its perimeter, among which the most famous are Caffè Torino and Caffè San Carlo, have been for centuries the meeting point for intellectuals, researchers, aristocrats and even members of the royal family.
If you are looking for a quite place to enjoy a royal coffee or a meal, this square offers the perfect choice due to its historical cafes and restaurants that nestle under the archways.
Enjoy the view from the Mole Antonelliana
A trip to Turin, Northern Italy, is no complete without viewing the Antonelliana, possibly the most distinct building in the whole of Turin, the Mole Antonelliana towers above the surrounding skyline and its huge pointed basilica is an icon of the city.
Originally a Jewish Synagogue, the building now houses the National Cinema Museum and is actually the tallest museum in the world.
For any film and cinema buff, this is a brilliant venue to visit and will provide hours of fun and exploration.
Spread across five different floors, this gigantic collection includes historical, cinematic devices such as magic lanterns to a large stock of film posters, movie reels, books and cinematic props and objects.
But if so many people visit the museum, it’s above all, for its unique attraction: the panoramic elevator with transparent walls that will take you to the Mole platform. The perfect place to enjoy a 360° view of Turin!
Entrance fee to the Mole Antonelliana: 10 € is the full ticket for the museum, 7 € for the panoramic elevator.
The National Museum of the Automobile -A journey of a century in the history of motoring
The Automobile Museum is the other famous museum in Turin and in all Northern Italy. According to The Times magazine, it’s one of the 50 best museums in the world.
With nearly 200 cars from 80 different brands ranging from steam cars with the latest models, the museum presents one of the world’s finest collections of rare vehicles.
Among the cars you’ll see here are multiple models of FIAT and Alfa Romeo, plus Italian makers Ferrari, Lancia and Maserati. But you’ll also find examples of Jaguar, Rolls Royce, Mercedes Benz, even a Packard Super 8 and a BMW Isetta.
Its three floors, walk visitors through the automotive history of not just Italy, but the world, with a collection including some of the first cars made in Italy, as well as racing cars made by Ferrari and Alfa Romeo. There are cars from eight different countries on display, plus an extensive library on automotive history.
A stop at the Museum of the Automobile is a must for car buffs, and the museum can be visited during a hop-on-hop-off tour of Turin along with other city sights like Piazza Castello, the Mole Antonelliana and the Duomo. The Museum is also well-served by a number of city bus lines and the Lingotto metro stop.
Admission Ticket: € 12 per adult
The Valentino Park -Turin’s largest green space
Spreading over 42 hectares, the Valentino Park is a popular picnic or stroll spot for Turinese families. For you it will be an opportunity for a nice walk in the shades, or along the Po river. Perfect to enjoy a bit of freshness!
Inside the park you can find a magnificent Botanical garden, the Valentino Castle, and a replica of a medieval village.
Don’t miss to visit the medieval village! Built between 1882 and 1884 for the Esposizione Generale Italiana, fair promoted by the Italian industrial society, this medieval quarter was planned by a team of artists and researchers who carefully recreated buildings, shops, and interiors as close to medieval times as possible, even using the same materials.
In 1884, real workshops of carpenters, pottery artisans, textile craftsmen, and more, were opened to show daily life back in the day. Although it was supposed to be destroyed at the end of the exhibition, in 1942 it became a museum and now it’s one of the favourite places to visit in Turin, Northern Italy.
Stroll along the Covered Galleries – a royal walk!
One of the highlights of Turin’s architecture has to be the covered passages of Turin. These historic royal passages can be easily seen while walking around Turin’s historic city!
The architecture is majestic and roads and buildings were built in the most comfortable way so that also the elite could enjoy the city and walk around without giving up on their luxury and amenities.
Often in Turin’s city centre, you will see the walkways between buildings are covered, and this was aimed at easing the members of the upper class.
Today, it’s a lovely tourist attraction and they are part of the soul of the city. Among the best you can visit today are 19th-century Galleria Subalpina between Piazza Castello and Via Cesare Battisti, Galleria Umberto I between Piazza della Repubblica and Via della Basilica, and Galleria San Federico, built in the first half of the 20th century where you can access from Via Roma or Via Bertola.
Galleria San Federico is one of the largest covered passages in Turin and in all Northern Italy. This stunning passage is a bit more crowded as it’s home to a few Turin chocolatiers, one of Turin’s oldest cinemas that is still active today, and a few cafes. WE recommend stopping here to just enjoy the stunning atmosphere!
Basilica of Superga – the best panoramic spot of the city
Situated in what the locals call “Turin hills“, Basilica of Superga is one of the most important touristic attractions in town, for both the breathtaking views of the city and the fact that it houses the Savoia Family’s Royal Tombs.
To get there, we advise you to go by car or by funicular for a more typical experience. Once on the top, don’t forget to take a look at the breathtaking views down into Turin and the surrounding countryside.
One of the best views of Turin can be found on the Itineraria Panoramico (the clue is in the name!) Located a fifteen-minute walk from the Basilica, the panorama along the Itinerario Superga offers one of the very best views onto the Basilica and over the mountains that surround Turin,Northern Italy.
The basilica is also sadly famous for the tragedy that took place there in 1949. The plane that carried the Turin football team (Torino football club), crashed on the hill, demolishing a part of the convent.
Since then, a funerary monument has been erected and Turinese people come to visit it every year on the anniversary of the tragedy.
A gorgeous day trip to the Royal Palace of Venaria- the Italian Versailles
Don’t end your Turin sightseeing without visiting at least one of the royal residences in the outskirts of the city.
Venaria Palace is one of the must-see attractions, not only in Turin, but in all Northern Italy. It is rated by most experts as more impressive than the Palace of Versailles.
Indeed, The Royal Palace of Venaria is one of the largest and most extravagant palaces in the world. Surrounded by rolling countryside and perfectly manicured gardens, it’s a grandiose spectacle of Baroque architecture and UNESCO levels of beauty.
Visiting La Venaria Reale you will travel in time across the history of the House of Savoy, the evolution of their supremacy and the architecture as a demonstration of power and grandeur. Built as the hunting lodge of Duke of Savoy, Carlo Emanuele II, the famous Reggia di Venaria is a huge complex where luxury and opulence are key.
Everything in this location will make you feel as a movie set. Across the different floors, you will visit the royal apartments, the hunting lodge, the galleries, the never-missing chapels, the grand stables, a design by architect Filippo Juvarra, and obviously the wonderful gardens.
Just after the King’s apartment, the highlight of the visit will certainly be the Galleria Grande: a corridor connecting the King’s apartment with the other block of the Palace which stands out for its imposing size and impressive and symmetric decorations.
The Gardens of the Palace cover an area of about 150 acres and include grottoes, magnificent rose pergolas, fountains, modern sculptures, ponds where you can enjoy a gondola ride.
How to get there from Turin,Northern Italy:
You can get the Venaria Express shuttle bus from Piazza Vittorio or Piazza Castello and it will drop you near the entrance to Reggia Venaria station.
Entrance fee to Venaria Reale: 25 € the full ticket
Did you know? Turin is a magical city, literally!
While this can be read as a generic compliment, in Turin’s case it applies pretty literally.
Considered the crossing point between black and white magic, if you are wondering what to see in Turin away from the usual tourist path, you can look for the holy grail, research the occult, explore where good and evil meet, and capture the energy of unlikely spiritual places.
Being Turin part of both white and black magic triangles, it’s only normal to expect that some places hide negative energies. Apparently, Piazza Statuto is the heart of all evil, so if you are into esoteric and mysteries, stepping over this cobbled piazza is one of your top things to do in Turin.
In the middle of the piazza stands tall the statue of the Fontana del Frejus, the fountain of Frejus road tunnel. Many, believe this is the black heart of Turin, the point of the black magic triangle, and the gates to Hell.
The link to the Darkness, however, is not recent. Piazza Statuto is located west, where the sun sets and the dark starts, the reason why the Romans chose this area for capital executions and bury the dead.
Turin Travel Tips: Things to know before you go!
- Turin is an easy city to navigate and you can easily get to all of the main tourist attractions on foot. However, as with many European cities and other cities in Northern Italy, there are plenty of uneven roads and cobbled stones. Comfortable shoes are an absolute must!
- If you’re thinking of visiting lots of the main sights in Turin, I’d recommend ordering a Torino Card before you arrive. It’s great value and gives you access to the city’s highlights, including museums, monuments, exhibitions, fortresses, castles and royal residences.
- There are often long queues at the Egyptian Museum, so we recommend booking a skip-the-line ticket in advance.
- Try the Bicerin! Turin’s most famous drink: Bicerin is a combination of espresso, chocolate and cream or whole milk.
- Torino introduced the modern chocolate bar and hot chocolate in the world! 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.
- Via Roma: If you fancy a spot of shopping while in Torino, then you need to look no further than this expansive street.
- Head down to the Piazza Bodoni where local people gather to talk and enjoy the sunset. It’s a great way to sample some authentic Turinese street life.
- Porta Palazzo Market: The market is located close to the Porta Palatina and occupies almost all the piazza della Repubblica, which is almost 50,000 square meters. It’s the largest open-air market in Europe.< and in all Northern Italy. With about 1,000 stalls, you can find everything: fruit and vegetable, deli meats, cheese, but also clothes, pots, pans and all sorts of household items. And all this at very attractive prices, especially for food!
- If you are wondering what to do in Turin(Northern Italy) after your meal, there are plenty of options. You could book tickets at the Teatro Regio and see the city’s prestigious opera company perform. The Cinema Museum is a great place to see art house classics, while during the football season there may be an evening fixture featuring Torino or Juventus
- The Juventus Stadium: If you are visiting Turin and happen to be a football fan, you should not pass up to visit the home of the iconic Juventus Football club.Soccer fans can enjoy a guided tour of the stadium here—including the locker rooms, facilities and the Juventus Museum (J-Museum). With advance notice, it’s also possible to view a home game here.
- Find the best alpine Skiing: Turin, which was the venue for the 2006 Winter Olympics, is a good base for skiers and winter sports enthusiasts. Several of Italy’s best-known ski mountains are close to the city.
- Beyond its lush parks and regal palazzi, Turin is the perfect jumping-off point for exploring the nearby wine country (Le Langhe, Monferrato, Alba) or for a leisurely day by picture-perfect Lake Orta
Best time to visit Turin:
The best months for travelling in Turin are from April to July and mid-September to October: Temperatures are usually comfortable,and the crowds aren’t too intense. Summer, from June till September, remains hot and humid with the average high temperature of 28 ºC. July is the hottest and sunniest month of the year.
Winter in Turin,Northern Italy, remains chilly. During this period, from November till early March, the average high temperature stands 8°C while the low stands -2 ºC.
Turin Hotels – Where to Stay
Best luxury hotel: Royal Palace Hotel & Spa 5*
Situated in the heart of Turin, the Royal Palace Hotel & Spa features accommodation with a restaurant, private parking, a fitness centre and a bar. The rooms are fitted with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a kettle, a bidet, a hairdryer and a desk. The units will provide guests with a wardrobe and a coffee machine.Guests at Royal Palace Hotel & Spa can enjoy a continental breakfast.The accommodation has a wellness area which includes a sauna.
Rooms from € 290/night
Best mid-range hotel: NH Torino Santo Stefano 4*
NH Torino Santo Stefano is in central Turin, just 150 m from Turin’s Cathedral. The hotel’s rooftop terrace offers panoramic city views. Located in Quadrilatero Romano, a fashionable neighbourhood full of bars and restaurants, the hotel is near open-air markets. The restaurant serves a buffet breakfast and a choice of Piedmont specialities and international dishes at dinner.
Rooms from € 140/night
Best budget hotel: B&B Terres d’Aventure Suite
Set in a 17th-century building, Terres D’Aventure Suites features contemporary-style accommodation with free W-Fi access. Guests will find several shops and cafes nearby.With parquet floors, the air-conditioned rooms all come with a flat-screen TV. An Italian breakfast is offered daily. It consists of hot drinks, juice and pastries. The Terres D’Aventure is located in Turin’s centre and close to its main sights.
Rooms from € 98/night
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