2 days in Turin, Italy was another trip I never expected to take. Like my trip to nearby Aosta, this little excursion to Turin was entirely unexpected and unplanned.
In fact, I had never even heard of Turin until the day before I headed out in its direction. It was like that time I brushed off a guy at a bar and my friend was like, “You know that’s Channing Tatum, right?” Me: “Umm who?” (I’m now quite familiar with both.)
And just like my one day in Aosta, my friend and I chose to visit Turin based on the fact that its font size was bigger on the map than all surrounding town names. Did this make me a trailblazer? Was I bravely heading out into Italian lands unknown?
“Oh, so Turin has a population of 2.2 million, used to be the capital of Italy, is the country’s third richest city behind Rome and Milan, and somewhat recently hosted the Olympics?” Trailblazer I am not.
Why visit Turin, Italy?
Well, my friend and I decided to visit Turin after completely blowing off a separate 2-week trip after just three days. This left us to wander the Alps region aimlessly—not unlike the Cliffhanger on The Price is Right. Just strolling through the mountains, trying to avoid the edges, and hoping to come out the other side with A BRAND NEW CARRRRR!
But you should visit Turin because it’s a massive and interesting city that is somehow still a total secret. Oh, and because it’s the city that brought us Nutella. We’re not worthy!
What is Turin famous for?
So yes, Turin, Italy is the home of something called gianduja—a chocolate/hazelnut spread invented in the early 1800s that over time evolved into the Nutella we all know, love, and have written into our wills.
Turin is also the home of such auto manufacturers as Alfa Romeo and a little thing called Fiat (hehe).
Is Turin worth a visit?
Absolutely. Now, while Turin is not one of my favorite cities in Italy (I still haven’t decided exactly how I feel about it), I can’t deny that it is one of the most interesting.
Turin is unlike any other city I’ve visited in Italy. Sure, Turin’s ginormous package contains aspects of other Italian cities all rolled into one, but it also feels like its very own country in many ways.
There’s plenty to do during 2 days in Turin, but a visit would also be great for a long weekend or even just a day trip from Milan. And if you’re a chocolate lover, there will be someone to show you around your new apartment.
Where is Turin, Italy?
Turin (known as Torino in Italy) is up in the northwest corner of Italy, just over the Alps from Switzerland and France. It’s actually the capital of Italy’s Piedmont region which you’ve probably heard of if you’re a wine drinker. I am a beer drinker. So when you want to discuss the Hallertau region of Germany—the world’s premier hop-growing region—let me know.
Turin is just a couple hours’ drive from the Alps in one direction and Milan in the other. But, with a top speed of 214 mph, the 2019 Alfa Romeo C38 Quadrifoglio can you get there in under the time it takes to eat one Nutella & Go.
How to get to Turin, Italy
If you’ve got a 2019 Alfa Romeo, by all means drive that sucker! For those of us who can barely afford the washer fluid it’ll take to clean off the obliterated insect carcasses you amassed by driving 219 mph, there are other ways to arrive in Turin.
Turin is served by its own international airport (TRN) but is close enough to Milan (MXP) if you’re planning to spend some time there first.
In my case, I was already in the city of Aosta which is just an hour and a half away. My friend and I booked seats on the Flixbus for around 10 euros. After our 2 days in Turin we took the Flixbus back to Aosta and then on to Chamonix, France.
Taking the Flixbus to Turin
Look, the Flixbus is cheap, it showed up on time every time, and it got us there in one piece. You can’t really ask for much more than that… in Italy.
Did the driver’s co-pilot have to get out the bus user manual to figure out why the bus kept flashing a giant red warning that blinked STOP! STOP! STOP! for the entire bus ride? Yes. Did I think that was going to be my last bus ride ever? Also yes.
On my second Flixbus ride, did the driver have to pull off at a gas station to ask for directions? Yes.
Again, and I can’t stress this enough, this. is. Italy. The fact that the bus showed up on time (nay, showed up at all) and got us to our destination and all for under 10 euros is huge. Material for the next Three Stooges reboot aside, I would take the Flixbus a hundred times over.
Where to stay during your 2 days in Turin
Seeing the absolutely enormous size of Turin, I wanted a hotel in a central location—somewhere within a decent walking distance to everything I wanted to see. Look, if I’m going to completely ditch a 2-week hiking trip in favor of… whatever you wanna call the adventures that followed, I’m still going to get my steps in.
NH Torino Santo Stefano
So during my 2 days in Turin I stayed at the NH Torino Santo Stefano and I didn’t set foot inside a vehicle the entire time.
This hotel is in the perfect location—centrally located near all the top things to see and do in Turin. It’s just a block over from the main plaza and the royal palace, a few blocks from Mercato Centrale (a huge food market that will play an important role in my 2 days in Turin), and sandwiched in between some casual ancient ruins.
It’s also just a 40-minute walk from the bus station! Yeah okay, I’m trying to make that sound better than it is, but when visiting the town Nutella built, you may need to burn a few extra calories. You’ll see.
The NH Torino Santo Stefano is a beautiful (and huge) building with really nice rooms and some incredibly indulgent air conditioning (about as rare in Italy as not getting shoved out of the way by an old woman). It’s rated a 9/10 overall on Booking.com with a 9.7/10 for it’s location!
How to spend 2 days in Turin
During my 2 days in Turin I learned a valuable lesson about European travel. One I’d only ever heard about but never actually witnessed firsthand. I call it: the August Exodus.
The month of August (yes, the whole damn month, have you ever been more jealous than you are right now?) is when Europeans typically take their vacations. What that meant for my 2 days in Turin was:
- Many places we wanted to go shut down for the month.
- The city was all but abandoned.
- It was hard to find a place to eat.
Now, this wasn’t all bad. Because the city was mostly empty, we were able to see the city’s biggest sights (they don’t close) with no crowds and almost zero time spent waiting in line.
However, because the city was all but abandoned, it did give off a creepy, somewhat post-apocalyptic vibe. When you see a city as incredibly enormous as this one virtually empty… it definitely has a science fiction-y feel. And not in a good, Baby Yoda kinda way.
Also, Italy in August is hot AF—AF meaning as a fever because it was, indeed, 101°F.
2 days in Turin itinerary
If you’re on a time budget, you really only need 2 days in Turin to see the biggest sights. Many people visit Turin on a day trip from Milan, but you really do need more time. You probably also need a much fancier wardrobe than you brought with you to Milan, but you’ve already figured that out huh?
To get the most out of your 2 days in Turin, pick up the Torino+Piemonte card. This card is a money-saving sightseeing pass that gets you free admission into all the top things to do in Turin (+ some other perks).
It comes in 1, 2, 3, and 5-day options and can be picked up when you get there. You can purchase the Torino+Piemonte card at Turin’s main tourism office or pre-purchase it if you’d rather just have it and not have to worry about it when you get there.
Don’t worry, you’ll have many others things to worry about like, “I’m sweating so much I just had to wring out my bra in a public restroom.”
2 days in Turin: day 1
After arriving in Turin we made the 40-minute trek from the bus station. We changed clothes in the hotel lobby restroom, ditched our bags at reception, then headed out into the city in search of much-needed food.
Unexplainable name, delicious food. One of my favorite things to eat in Italy is zucchini street pizza and Focacceria Blob has it… and plenty more.
This place was always packed when we walked by. Plus, they have outdoor and indoor seating and the food and service are great. It was the perfect place to replenish the 8 days worth of calories we just burned walking from the bus station.
Turin Tourism Office
After lunch we walked over to Piazza Castello (Turin’s main square) to the Turin tourist information center. (Just a minute or so from Focacceria Blob–seriously that name.)
In here, we purchased our Torino+Piemonte cards and picked up a map of the city and some helpful advice. Now, there are multiple “tourist information centers” around Turin, but this is the main one. The others are little more than randomly placed trailers.
The websites do little in helping you find them, so I’ve put the location of this one on at the map above.
After the tourism office, spend some time checking out Turin’s main square. I imagine this plaza is more crowded every other month of the year, but in August it was delightfully devoid.
Gorgeous architecture and important buildings line this huge plaza on all sides. One of those being the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Royal Palaces. Others include another former palace turned fancy art museum, shops, restaurants, churches, a park, monuments, and more.
Monte dei Cappuccini
Funny name, amazing views. From Piazza Castello, Monte dei Cappuccini is a 30-minute walk through beautiful piazzas, along the Po River, and up a winding hill road.
At the top, you’ll find the Church of Santa Maria al Monte dei Cappuccini and the Convent of the Capuchin Friars—completed in 1656. While the church is beautiful and all, you’re really up here for the panoramic views of Turin.
From the church’s front porch (if you will) you can see the entirety of this expansive city and all the way to the Alps. (On a clear day that is. Not on the sweltering day in August when I was there.)
This awesome view is free and very easy to get to.
National Cinema Museum
From Monte dei Cappuccini, Turin’s National Museum of Cinema is an easy, breezy 20-minute walk (downhill this time!). The Museo Nazionale del Cinema is Italy’s 13th most-visited museum, so that’s something.
The museum is dedicated to all things cinema-related. In it you’ll see:
- Early cinematographic equipment
- Memorabilia from famous movies (mostly in Italian cinema)
- Exhibits on different parts of film-production
- A variety of rooms dedicated to many film genres
- A massive movie screen with recliners so you can chill
All of this is found inside the Mole Antonelliana Tower—a beautiful and historic building once intended to be a synagogue.
The National Cinema Museum is one of Turin’s main tourist attractions and, because of this, I had higher expectations for this place than what it delivered. Maybe if I was a movie buff? Maybe if I was Italian? I’m not sure.
Regardless, visiting the Museo Nazionale del Cinema is definitely a unique experience.
Mole Antonelliana Observation Deck
Inside the National Museum of Cinema, you can take the completely glass-enclosed panoramic lift up to the rooftop observation deck.
This elevator travels from the floor of the museum, through the completely open space and to the top in under a minute, completely supported by wires. Acrophobes, shield your eyes! It’s cool, but it’s also super freaky. And why they didn’t call this the Wonkavator in a nod to classic cinema is beyond me.
Even in the dead of August, the only (relatively short) line we had to wait in led to this elevator. However, neither the museum admission nor the Torino+Piemonte Card cover the cost of visiting the observation deck.
Architecture and dinner
After the Cinema Museum, take some time to just wander around the city. Turin’s architecture is a mix of that from many other Italian cities, but still uniquely its own.
Turin offers a mix of Renaissance, Art Nouveau, Rococo, Baroque, and Neo-classical architecture that seemingly stretches on into infinity. It also has over 11 miles of porticos—the product of a King who wanted to take his daily stroll around the city without having to carry an umbrella.
If you visit in August, chances are you’ll get trapped in a multitude of torrential downpours yourself and be turned away from the few restaurants that are actually open that month. Probably not what the King had intended, but here we are.
Because the majority of their seating is outside, we were unable to find a seat at the many restaurants we tried. We ended up eating dinner at Mei Shi Mei Ke. And even though “Chinese raviolis” were not the Italian dinner we had planned, this place did not disappoint. I highly recommend!
2 days in Turin: day 2
Depending on what time of year you visit, Day 2 of your 2 days in Turin may start out a little differently.
Start at one of Turin’s historic cafés
Café culture in Turin is serious business. The city is full of over-the-top fancy cafés serving over-the-top drinks. It’s a land of crystal chandeliers, tuxedo-ed baristos, and lap dogs with your lattes. Unlike you’ve donned a mink stole for breakfast, you will feel underdressed.
Some of Turin’s most famous cafés are:
- Caffé Mulassano
- Caffé San Carlo
- The Caffé Fiorio
- Caffé Torino
- And Caffé al Bicerin
Try a bicerin
And in these cafés, you must try a Bicerin. Bicerin is a morning drink native to Turin that’s part espresso, part milk, and part thick hot chocolate. This drink has been around since the 18th century and 300 years is about how long it took me to drink mine.
If you’re a chocolate lover, you will totally dig the bicerin. Being indifferent to chocolate the way I am, this was wayyy too much for me. Needless to say, my friend drank two bicerins that day.
Where to get bicerin
Being as famous as it is, you can find bicerin at any of Turin’s fancy cafés. Be prepared for prices that coincide with how large and excessive the chandelier at your chosen café.
The most famous spot to grab a bicerin is the aptly named Caffe al Bicerin… which was obviously closed for the entire month of August.
Instead, my friend and I went to our second choice, the beautiful Caffé San Carlo. (Followed by a visit to a normal Italian café for a normal cappuccino at the counter. Ashley needs a little more caffeine and a little less melted Hershey bar to start her day.)
After whichever morning beverage you choose to start the second of your 2 days in Turin, head over to Turin’s Egyptian Museum.
The Museo Egizio is the world’s oldest museum entirely dedicated to Egyptian culture. It houses one of the largest collections of Egyptian antiquities in the world (the 2nd largest, just behind the museum in Cairo).
This museum is the crown jewel of Turin tourism and will take up a good chunk of your 48 hours in Turin if you let it. It showcases an awesome collection of artifacts and is, indeed, large.
Some of the museum’s highlights include:
- A vast collection of papyrus – including a piece believed to be the world’s oldest painted fabric
- The oldest copy of the Egyptian Book of the Dead
- An entire Egyptian temple
- And like a million other things
The Turin Cathedral was built during the last years of the 1400s and is located just off Piazza Castello next to the Royal Palaces. While it is a large and beautiful cathedral, the real reason for stopping in here is to…
View the famous Shroud of Turin
Located in a small chapel inside the Turin Cathedral is the Shroud of Turin, a piece of cloth bearing the image of a man. Some believe this man to be Jesus Christ and the piece of cloth to be his burial shroud. This cloth and its significance are the cause of both extreme celebration and much controversy.
Royal Palace of Turin
Directly beside the Turin Cathedral is the city’s Royal Palace—a historic palace of the House of Savoy. It was originally built in the 1500s and is now a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Inside you can tour a relatively large number of rooms including:
- Numerous apartments, halls, and ballrooms
- The grand staircase
- The dining rooms
- The incredible throne room
- The Royal Gardens
- My favorite, the Royal Armory
- The Royal Library
- An Art gallery and antiquity museum
- And the Chapel of the Holy Shroud (yes, that one again)
Before arriving, I had pretty low expectations for this place. If you’ve seen one European royal palace, you’ve seen them all, no? Well, actually no. This place blows them all away! The number of rooms you can visit here far exceeds any other palace I’ve visited. Plus, the sheer opulence in this place is simply shocking.
It was awesome visiting this place in August which meant we were two of only a few people in the entire palace that day.
Chapel of the Holy Shroud
So, they keep the Shroud of Turin in a small chapel inside the Turin Cathedral, yes. But between the years of 1611-1694, they built a massive and stunning chapel into the Royal Palace to house this famous relic.
The Shroud was kept there from 1694 until April 1997 when a devastating fire struck the Chapel. The Shroud has been in the Cathedral ever since, awaiting the reopening of the Chapel of the Holy Shroud. Any day now…
Climb the bell tower
Back over by the entrance to the Turin Cathedral you’ll see the cathedral’s bell tower. While most people talk about the views from Monte dei Cappuccini or the observation deck of the Mole, the views from the cathedral’s bell tower were my favorite.
From here you can see some of the surrounding buildings up close including the ancient Roman ruins and the rooftop of the Chapel of the Holy Shroud.
This bell tower was built between 1468 and 1470 and it sure as hell looks like it inside. You can climb the 210 steps up to the observation deck for great views and even greater air flow, and to see the bells close up.
Admission into the bell tower is only a few euros but is included in the Torino+Piemonte Card anyway. With the other observation spots being so popular, this one felt like a complete secret. Click here for visitor information.
Day 2 of our 2 days in Turin turned out to be just as tough as the first to find a place for dinner. The large majority of places we looked for were closed for August. The rest were already full.
So… my friend and I ended up eating dinner at Mercato Centrale, a giant food market a few blocks behind our hotel.
Mercato Centrale is akin to a Time Out Market or similar where food vendors of all varieties set up shop. These kinds of markets are my favorite—you can try a little of many things and each person in your party can eat what they want.
And being Italy, the options in here are incredible. You can’t go wrong anywhere you choose.
Optional Turin tours
Had I known ahead of time I was going to be spending 2 days in Turin, I would’ve made plans to take some tours to get as much out of this mysterious city as I could. Here are some great examples I’ve chosen for you:
Street Food Tour Deluxe
The main thing I wish I could’ve experienced during my 2 days in Turin was the city’s incredible food scene. Turin is known for so many significant culinary aspects: gianduja for one, but also aperitivo, Barolo wine, and white truffles.
This 3.5-hour food tour includes:
- 20+ food tastings
- Wine and coffee tastings
- You very own “food ambassador”
- And is completely immersive into Turin culture
This tour has all 5-star ratings and is sure to be your favorite Turin experience. Click here for booking information.
Highlights of Turin Small Group Walking Tour
This 2-hour walking tour of Turin puts you with a local guide to learn all about the city of Turin. You’ll walk through many of the city’s famous squares, learn about the history and food of Turin, and much more. Another tour drowning in 5-star reviews. Click here for booking information.
There’s no denying the appeal of a wine shuttle, right? (Coming from the girl who took a wine bus around Chile.)
This full-day tour takes you from Turin to the Barolo wine region on the only shuttle that’ll get you there. On this tour you will:
- visit a couple of wine cellars complete with wine tastings
- explore the charming city of Alba with free time for lunch
- visit an ancient village to learn more about wine
- get to see the awesome vineyards and villages of the Barolo region
- and all with a knowledgable private guide.
If you’re a wine lover planning a trip to the capital of the Piedmont region, you most definitely should take this tour! Click here for booking information.
What I learned during my 2 days in Turin
My 2 days in Turin wasn’t perfect but I’m still so glad I got to experience it. And if anything, I learned a lot.
On visiting in August
Visiting Turin (and anywhere in Italy for that matter) during the month of August is both great and terrible.
It was nice to visit the city’s top attractions with virtually no crowds and no lines. However, there were still a handful of top sites we didn’t get to see because they were temporarily closed. One of those: the famous Basilica of Superga.
Getting meals was also difficult as restaurants were either closed for the month or completely and unapologetically full. But that’s not to say that everything I ate in Turin wasn’t still amazing.
I’d be interested to visit this city during a more popular time–but after seeing the size of this city, I can only imagine the pure chaos of a high tourist season.
Is Turin expensive to visit?
As far as Italian metropolises go, I didn’t feel Turin was all that expensive. Bicerin aside, everything else–hotel room, sightseeing, food–seemed to be reasonably priced. (A glass of bicerin will run you around 7 euros–the cappuccino I got to wash it all down was 1.40€.)
Making dinner reservations
If you’re planning to spend 2 days in Turin, I definitely recommend making dinner reservations if there’s a specific place you have in mind. And doing so well in advance, especially if you’re visiting in August.
Given that our whole time in Turin was improvised, we didn’t have much of a choice. And this is what happens when you choose destinations based on font size.