Things to Do in Turin
In Turin’s Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista, the faithful and curious from across the globe gather to view the Holy Shroud of Turin (Sacra Sindone), one of most famous and controversial religious relics in Italy. This linen cloth is said to have been laid over Jesus’ body after his crucifixion, though its authenticity remains debated.
With over 26,000 ancient Egyptian artifacts gathered between the 18th and 20th century, Turin's Egyptian Museum (Museo Egizio) houses one of the largest collections of Egyptian antiquities in the world. The galleries were extensively enlarged, renovated, and reorganized, reopening in 2015, and the result is both spectacular and engaging.
Elegant Turin, which was the seat of the Duchy of Savoy before briefly becoming the first capital of unified Italy, is home to a number of sumptuous historic palaces and castles. The Royal Palace of Turin (Palazzo Reale di Torino) is among the most opulent, and today it houses the Royal Museums, with an extensive art collection, armory, and gardens.
Turin is headquarters to Fiat and Alfa Romeo, so it's only fitting that the city is home to the National Museum of the Automobile (Museo Nazionale dell'Automobile), as well. With one of the largest collections of cars on display in Europe, this museum is a mecca for antique car enthusiasts as well as those interested in prototypes for cars of the future.
To stroll through Turin’s Piazza Castello is to walk through the city’s history, as this vast square is home to sumptuous buildings like the Savoy Royal Palace and Palazzo Madama, the first seat of the Italian parliament. Lined with elegant porticoes, shops, and cafés, the square is a highlight of this vibrant city.
Turin’s most recognizable landmark—and home to the National Museum of Cinema—the Mole Antonelliana dates to 1889. This soaring tower, with its pyramidal dome and 551-foot (168-meter) spire rises above the Turin skyline, and its viewing platform offers top-notch city vistas.
Of Turin’s many baroque squares, Piazza San Carlo is a standout. Lined with porticoed palaces housing historic cafés, and the twin churches of Santa Cristina and San Carlo Borromeo, this square on Via Roma between Piazza Castello and Piazza Carlo Felice is one of the liveliest in the city.
Home to the Museo di Arte Contemporanea (Museum of Contemporary Art) since 1984, this restored royal Savoy residence outside Turin is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tour the sumptuous castle interiors, visit contemporary exhibitions, and view the remarkable Cerruti Collection of art spanning seven centuries, set to be unveiled in 2019.
The soaring square dome and spire of the Mole Antonelliana is Turin’s most recognizable landmark and home to the National Cinema Museum, where the vast collection of silver-screen memorabilia draws film buffs from around the world. Take the glass elevator to the top of the dome for sweeping views across the city.
Among the most striking buildings on Turin’s Piazza Castello, Palazzo Madama is half fortified medieval castle and half sumptuous baroque palace. The building now houses the city’s Civic Museum of Ancient Art (Museo Civico di Arte Antica), with a sprawling collection spanning from the Roman era to the 18th century.
More Things to Do in Turin
Though it may not have the star power of Versailles, this baroque palace just north of Turin is one of the largest royal residences in the world. Built as a lavish hunting lodge, the building and its sweeping grounds have been completely restored and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular excursion from Turin.
The Carignano Palace (Palazzo Carignano) is one of Turin’s most majestic squares and is overlooked by the equally handsome, redbrick and white alabaster palace of the same name. Built between 1679 and 1685 by Baroque maestro Guarino Guarini as one of the royal homes of the ruling Savoy dukes, the Palazzo Carignano gained huge national significance when in 1861 it became the occasional home of Italy’s first king, Vittorio Emanuele II, following the Unification struggles that began in 1848. The palazzo now houses the Museo Nazionale del Risorgimento as well as the elaborate, circular meeting rooms that were briefly the location of Italy’s first united government, which was formed in 1861 and lasted four years.
Palazzo Carignano first became a museum in 1908; it was originally housed in the Mole Antonelliana – now the city’s film museum – but moved to its present site in 1938. After a period of closure for the revamping of the collections, it reopened in 2011 and now showcases the events that brought about the Risorgimento (literally ‘resurgence’ in English), with a series of 30 ornately decorated apartments leading chronologically through the various military and political battles as the country headed towards unification. Displays of uniforms, dramatic equine portraits of war heroes, weapons, flags, maps, and correspondence reveal feats of bravery as visitors discover the disjointed, disillusioned Italy of the 19th century, accompanied by informative multi-lingual films giving the background to each stage of the campaign.
Turin’s oldest public park, theValentine Park (Parco del Valentino) is also one of the city’s prettiest green spaces. Measuring nearly 125 acres (50.5 hectares), the landmark made its debut in 1852 and hugs the River Po. In addition to prime picnicking turf, the park also contains attractions ranging from a replica medieval village to the grand Castello del Valentino.
Ringed by neoclassical buildings, flanked by busy roads, and crowned with a statue that commemorates the workers who built the trans-Alpine Fréjus Rail Tunnel, the Piazza Statuto is one of Turin’s most prominent public squares. Completed in 1865, it was built while Turin was the newly formed Kingdom of Italy’s first capital city.
The longest river in Italy, the Po River (Fiume Po) flows down from the Alps near the French border for more than 400 miles (644 kilometers), winding its way east through Turin, Piacenza, and Ferrara and connecting to Milan via a network of canals before emptying into the Adriatic Sea. The Po Valley is one of Italy’s most fertile and lush regions.
The monumental Basilica of Superga (Basilica di Superga), built in 1731, is one of the most unique churches in Turin and an excellent example of the baroque classical style. A must for architecture aficionados, the basilica is also fascinating for history buffs, as its Royal Crypt holds the tombs of the House of Savoy.
Get a taste of Savoy wealth and power by visiting the Royal Church of San Lorenzo (Real Chiesa di San Lorenzo), adjacent to the Royal Palace in Turin. Dating from the 17th century, this baroque jewel has ornate interiors covered in art, gilt, and marble—all topped by a soaring dome. The high altar is considered among the most exquisite in Italy.
Via Po is one of the most important and stately thoroughfares in the center of Turin, running in a wide, straight line from Piazza Castello to Piazza Vittorio Veneto. Its soaring pedestrian porticoes along both sides adorn some of the city’s most elegant boutiques, prestigious book shops, and historic cafés.
Home to one of Italy’s most popular and decorated soccer teams, Juventus Stadium is a must-visit Turin attraction for sports fans. Opened in 2011 following the demolition of the team’s previous Stadio delle Alpi, Juventus Stadium—also known as Allianz Stadium—also hosts the Juventus Museum and companion shopping center.
Colloquially known as “La Consla,” the Sanctuary of the Consolata (Santuario della Consolata) is an important site of Catholic worship, an architectural feat, and a key Turin landmark whose history dates back millennia. Rebuilt, remodeled, and expanded throughout the centuries, the Santuario della Consolata is unlike any other local basilica.
A dramatic hilltop perch and imposing watchtowers make this 13th-century fortress one of the most remarkable sights in the UNESCO-listed Le Langhe-Roero countryside. Just outside the town of Alba, the castle is home to the Enoteca Regionale, a shop stocked with local specialties, including the region’s prestigious wines.
Turin is known as a fast-paced hub of industrial and financial business. Slow down and unwind within this bustling metropolis at QC Termetorino, an indulgent spa where you’ll find thermal and steam baths, relaxation rooms, massages, and other spa treatments.
In a country as storied as Italy, it comes as no surprise that there are important historic sites buried beneath its modern metropolises. Almost every major Italian city has hidden underground attractions; Turin’s is the Pietro Micca Museum (Museo Pietro Micca), with a network of tunnels that ultimately saved the city from the French in 1706.
Inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, Valentino Castle (Castello del Valentino) is one of Turin’s most noteworthy landmarks. Situated in the Parco del Valentino and a former House of Savoy royal residence, the castle is today used by the local university and is occasionally open to the public.
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