What is worth seeing and doing in Turin? Here is the guide we have written to let you discover the most beautiful places outside the city, activities, events and tastings of the best local specialities.
Turin is one of the most fascinating and visited Italian art cities for its architectural, artistic and cultural richness. A real one “workshop” of innovation, recognised by UNESCO in 2014 as “City of Creativity”.
But Turin is also history. A history that is written on its palaces and museums. Seat of the Savoy dynasty, capital of the Kingdom of Sardinia and first capital of the Kingdom of Italy (1865-1871), today Turin and Piedmont have several UNESCO World Heritage sites.
A more exclusive itinerary also includes places and monuments that echo mysterious and esoteric symbols. Known as the “magical city”, Turin is said to be animated by the polarity of positive and negative energies. Traditions and legends place it in the two magic triangles of white magic, together with Prague and Lyon, and black magic, with London and San Francisco.
Turin is also the city of “gianduiotto” and of two of the world’s most important museums: the world’s oldest Egyptian Museum and the National Museum of Cinema. Some of the city’s locations have been used as the backdrop for films such as “Cabiria”, written by Gabriele D’Annunzio in 1914; “Profondo Rosso” by Dario Argento; “Santa Maradona”, directed by Marco Ponti; “Mio fratello è figlio unico”, directed by Daniele Luchetti; “Il Divo”, directed by Paolo Sorrentino… Just to name a few.
As intense and full of life as it is, it is not only Turin the focus of our attention. Throughout Piedmont you can visit and explore enchanting villages, medieval castles, abbeys and breathtaking landscapes.
That’s why in this guide we want to accompany you to discover what to see in and do around Turin, with itineraries of one or more days, to explore the most beautiful places by car in about an hour and a half. 👇
What to see in and do around Turin
The places to see near Turin are very interesting from a historical, artistic, landscape and culinary point of view. Is there anything missing?!
Let’s take a closer look at what Piedmontese wonders we recommend not to miss, for a holiday to remember.
Before going into detail, let’s share this short list of UNESCO World Heritage sites, so you can visit what really matters:
- The Savoy Residences
- The Sacred Mountains of Piedmont and Lombardy – Belmonte, Crea, Domodossola, Ghiffa, Oropa, Orta and Varallo – together with the two Lombardy Sacred Mountains of Ossuccio and Varese
- The Prehistoric Pile-Dwelling Sites of the Alpine Arc (from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age): an archaeological area comprising pile dwellings, platforms, wooden huts in various locations in Piedmont, including Ivrea, Verbania and in the province of Vercelli
- The wine-growing landscapes of the Langhe, Roero and Monferrato.
Royal Palace of Venaria Reale
The Reggia di Venaria Reale (17th century), one of the residences of the Savoy family and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located in Venaria Reale, just outside Turin, about 13 km away. A visit you cannot miss for the beauty of the palace, a Baroque jewel where you can also enjoy exhibitions, cultural events and concerts…
Consider 2-3 hours to complete the tour to visit the rooms with furniture, tapestries, collections, sculptures and paintings by great artists such as Veronese, van Dyck, Rubens, to mention a few.
Don’t miss the Great Gallery, the Hall of Diana, the Chapel of St Hubert, the Juvarra Stables and the wonderful gardens surrounding the Royal Palace.
Among the top places to visit near Turin, we recommend the historic Mandria Castle (18th century), in the Mandria Regional Park, a few minutes from the Reggia di Venaria Reale.
Built by King Victor Emmanuel II of Savoy during the Kingdom of Sardinia as a country residence to practice hunting, nowadays the castle is a public museum where you can visit the marvellous royal flats, furnished with 19th century furniture and artefacts which have remained untouched by time.
Stupinigi Hunting Lodge
Another UNESCO World Heritage site near Turin worth visiting is the Palazzina di Caccia designed by Filippo Juvarra and built in the 18th century for the Savoy family, at Stupinigi, in the municipality of Nichelino, about 26.7 km from Turin.
Another fine example of Piedmontese Baroque architecture belonging to the group of Savoy residences, the Palazzina was the Savoy’s residence for social events and hunting. Nowadays it is open to visit the splendid rooms decorated with frescoes and stuccoes, and the wonderful surrounding park. The visit takes about an hour.
Juvarra’s project also gave rise to Rivoli Castle, which is located about 18 km from Turin. Built on the remains of an earlier medieval castle at the behest of Victor Amadeus II of Savoy, nowadays the Castle is a Museum of Contemporary Art with 38 rooms and more than 3000 works by international artists. The former royal residence, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, hosts temporary exhibitions and cultural events.
Lakes of Avigliana
Near Turin you can visit the Avigliana Lakes, two ancient lakes located in the lower Susa Valley, at the foot of Mount Pirchiriano, in the Nature Reserve of Lago Grande and Lago Piccolo, about 18 km from Turin.
The two lakes, one smaller and the other larger, are an attraction especially in spring and in summer. Those who venture here can appreciate their natural landscape, the animal and plant species, and the water activities, from fishing to boating to birdwatching. Excursions along the trails and historical and cultural sites are also interesting, among them the village of Avigliana, the medieval castle, the Clock Tower and the Gothic-style church of San Pietro.
Langhe and Roero
You may have heard of “Langhe and Roero”. Well, they are two regions at the foot of the Alps, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for their hilly landscapes, vineyards and events that take place throughout the year, especially at harvest time, and then… for their unique food and wine experiences. Here there is a whirlwind of events, festivals and fairs dedicated to the tasting of local specialities appreciated all over the world.
The Langhe, famous for the production of Barolo, Barbera and Barbaresco wines, as well as truffles and hazelnuts, are located in the province of Cuneo and include a number of towns known for their wines and historical sites, including:
- Alba, where Alba DOC wine is produced, one of the best white wines in Italy, and the famous white truffle to which is dedicated the International Alba White Truffle Fair.
- Barolo, known for the production of Barolo wine and for its charming medieval castle.
- Barbaresco, also known for its wine and its charming historic centre. And then, Bra and Monforte d’Alba, with their famous production of food and wine specialities.
A curiosity: if you have never heard of the giant benches in the Langhe, here you can visit some of them and be amazed by their enormous size.
The gigantic colourful benches made by local artists can be found in some symbolic spots among the vineyards and castles. The project is an initiative of the Big Bench Community, a non-profit organization that works to promote the territory through art and creativity.
The Roero is famous for its wines obtained from the Arneis grape variety and includes the municipalities of Canale, where Roero, a DOCG red wine, is produced, and where there is a delightful historic centre to visit in a short time.
Guarene, not to be missed for its ancient castle. Vezza d’Alba, a jewel of picturesque streets where you can stop here and there for a taste of Roero and a few plates of mature cheeses.
Another popular region in the south-western part of Piedmont, between the provinces of Alessandria and Asti, is Monferrato, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014.
The Monferrato area is also characterized by beautiful landscapes, hills and vineyards, villages and castles. It is famous for the production of DOCG wines such as Barbera d’Asti, Moscato and Grignolino, as well as for its cuisine based on meat, homemade pasta and local cheeses.
In Monferrato, there are also very special villages where you can see things that are different from the usual. Among these, the following are worth a visit:
- Casale Monferrato, famous for its many churches and palaces, including the Cathedral of Sant’Evasio and the Church of Santa Maria di Castello, and for its local specialities (such as “risotto alla Monferrina” and Barbera wine).
- Asti, where there is the ancient Cistercian abbey of Vezzolano (1142), in Romanesque style, with its wonderful 12th century frescoes.
- Coazzolo, a small village of pre-Roman origin in the province of Asti, known for its curious little coloured church (Chiesetta della Beata Vergine del Carmine), surrounded by vineyards, painted by the English artist David Tremlett. A few metres from the church is a giant bench and the Vigna dei Pastelli, a coloured vineyard with an installation of giant pastels.
- Canelli, where you can visit the “Cattedrali Sotterranee”, cellars dug into the rock beneath the city in the 19th century to store and age wine. The Underground Cathedrals were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014, and are now open to the public for guided tours and wine tastings.
In the Monferrato area, crossed by the Po cycle path along the Po river valley, you can also do many outdoor activities, from hiking to cycling.
Lake Maggiore and Borromean Islands
Not to be missed for a trip outside Turin is Lake Maggiore, Italy’s second largest lake, shared with the Swiss territory, and its Borromean Islands in the areas of Verbania, Stresa and Baveno.
Lake Maggiore is famous for its landscapes and the 3 small Borromean Islands that can be reached by sea: Isola Bella, Isola dei Pescatori and Isola Madre, with their gardens, villas and palaces.
A tour on Isola Bella takes you to the 17th century Palazzo Borromeo. Isola dei Pescatori is a picturesque fishing village, while Isola Madre is popular for its wonderful botanical garden.
Close to Lake Maggiore is Lake Orta, one of the smaller of the large pre-alpine lakes.
On the lake is the Island of San Giulio, a small medieval village where you can still breathe in the atmosphere of a fishing village of bygone days. It is home to the 4th century Basilica of San Giulio, built in honour of the patron saint, and the 12th century Benedictine monastery. You can enjoy the hikes on the trails in the surrounding hills and, of course, the local cuisine.
For those who would like to organize an itinerary to visit Turin and its surroundings, about 1 and 30 minutes from the Piedmontese capital is the Oasi Zegna, a nature reserve in the Biellese Alps owned by the Ermenegildo Zegna company.
The reserve is the favourite destination for visitors who appreciate its landscapes, hiking trails, ski and mountaineering activities. The reserve is also worth a visit by those who appreciate the particularity of plants and animal species such as the ibex and the golden eagle.
Susa Valley and the Sacra di San Michele
The Susa Valley is another destination you can include in your itinerary to visit Turin and its surroundings. The valley is surrounded by mountains, including the Alpi Cozie and Alpi Graie, and is crossed by the Dora Riparia river.
In the valley, on top of a mountain, you can reach the Sacra di San Michele, also known as the Abbey of San Michele, one of the most important medieval monasteries, an example of Romanesque architecture in Italy and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Sestriere is a ski and tourist resort in the Val di Susa, at the border with France, famous for its winter sports and activities such as snowshoeing and ice skating. If you are one of these enthusiasts, this is the perfect destination for you to enjoy a holiday in and around Turin, amidst history, culture, art and sport. The apotheosis, the best you can choose, for your psychophysical well-being.
Fenestrelle Fort and the village of Usseaux
Dating back to the 18th century, the Fortress of Fenestrelle, one of the largest fortresses in Europe, stands on a slope in the Susa Valley, surrounded by walls and towers built to protect the border between the Kingdom of Sardinia and the Duchy of Savoy.
Nowaday, the fortress is open to visitors who can explore its tunnels and underground chambers, as well as enjoying lovely picnics and excursions.
Usseaux is a small village in the Val di Susa region, surrounded by a marvellous mountain landscape and with a very evocative, typical Alpine scenery. A tourist destination for the skiing and hiking activities and for its proximity to the ski resorts of Sestriere and Pragelato. The village has few inhabitants but a very intense social and commercial life.
About 50 km from Turin you can reach Ivrea, another destination not to be missed for a trip out of town that will impress you. And what’s the inner meaning of a holiday, if not that to leave you something that will remain in time and return like a caress?
Have you ever heard of the famous Ivrea Carnival with the historic Battle of the Oranges? If you happen to be in the area around that time, don’t miss the show!
Ivrea is also popular for its ancient history, for the settlements dating back to prehistoric times, and for its historical centre (which has retained all its medieval flavour)… and the Ivrea Castle (12th century) is an excellent testimony to this.
Trips from Turin lead to one of Piedmont’s most important cities, Vercelli, with its rice paddies and traditional farmsteads, now converted into agritourisms where you can experience nature while tasting local food and wine. Rice cultivation has been the main economic activity for centuries throughout the area, and nowadays there are still many rice fields open to visitors who want to taste local dishes cooked with rice.
There is something for everyone to do in these parts, starting with hiking and cycling in the countryside surrounding Vercelli, rich in paths and nature trails, tours dedicated to history and art, with the Basilica of Sant’Andrea, the Palazzo del Podestà and the Church of San Cristoforo, events that take place throughout the year, including:
- “Vercelli in fiore” in May to celebrate the arrival of spring with shows, concerts, exhibitions and a market exhibition of plants and flowers.
- “Fiera di Sant’Eusebio / Fiera di San Giovanni” in June: traditional agricultural fair with an exhibition of local products, shows, cultural and gastronomic events.
- “Vercelli Jazz Festival” in July: musical event with performances by national and international jazz artists.
- “Vercelli in Jazz” in September: a festival showcasing various musical genres, from jazz to classical music, world music and songwriting.
Outside Turin, just over an hour away you can visit Novara, an important centre for rice and wine production. If you happen to be around here, you will appreciate its historical centre with its most important monuments: the Duomo, the Basilica of San Gaudenzio with its imposing Baroque-style dome, the Palazzo del Broletto, seat of the City Hall, and the historical Teatro Coccia. Novara is also renowned for its traditional cuisine. Don’t miss the classic “risotto alla novarese”, just to name one of its memorable dishes.
There are also fairs and events in Novara that may be of your interestt, among them:
- “Fiera della Moda e dell’Artigianato” in February.
- “Fiera di San Gaudenzio” in May: a traditional agricultural fair with local products, shows, cultural and gastronomic events.
- “Novara Jazz Festival” in July: music festival with Italian and foreign jazz artists.
- “Fiera dell’Agricoltura” in September.
- “Fiera di Santa Lucia” in December.
Gran Paradiso Park
Stealing its name from Italy’s highest peak, it promises alpine scenery of exclusive and unparalleled beauty. The Gran Paradiso National Park is a protected natural area in the Piedmont and Aosta Valley regions, where you can meet rare and endangered animal species. These include ibex, which are often spotted in the park’s meadows.
There are also many opportunities here for outdoor activities such as walking, hiking, climbing and skiing, and for those who wish to do so, there are also refuges in the park where they can spend the night. The paths lose themselves in the mountain landscapes and it is nice to “get lost” a few afternoons away from it all.
Among the places to visit outside Turin, Saluzzo is about 50 km away, in the province of Cuneo, at the foot of the Alps. The town is worth a visit for its medieval historical centre that has preserved its ancient atmosphere.
There are several palaces and historical monuments to visit here, but the most important is certainly its Castle (12th century), a fine example of medieval architecture. In Saluzzo, you should also visit the Gothic-style Church of Santa Maria (14th century) and the Renaissance-style Palazzo Comunale, which now houses the town hall. Excursions on foot and by bicycle along the country paths that cross the hills of the Po Valley are also worthwhile.
Now that you know what to see in and around Turin, we wish you a pleasant trip to Piedmont! Remember that Italia Delight allows you to book tailor-made food and wine experiences and trips, with Italy’s best Food Experts. 🧳😋
Cover photo: pixabay, ClaudioF74
Featured photo: pixabay, SplitShire