Do you want to visit Turin like a local? Then check the 7 things to do to live the city like a true Turinese.
Turin is an elegant and sophisticated city, embraced by the course of the Po river and surrounded by hills and mountains.
But don't be fooled by its apparent calm: Turin is lively and versatile, a jewel of a city offering culture, fun and a pinch of adventure in the streets of the city centre and in the green hills surrounding it.
Apart from the most popular places for tourists, such as the Mole Antonelliana, the Egyptian Museum and the Cinema Museum, Turin boasts many activities to do and places to explore off the beaten track.
Turin should be discovered little by little, ideally following the tips of the locals.
We have therefore created a list with our suggestions to let you experience the city like a real Turinese. You can discover those little gems that will make your visit a special one.
Here below you can read the 7 things to do in Turin to enjoy the city like a local: from the best neighbourhood for an aperitif to traditional dishes not to be missed, passing through the best panoramic views of the city.
7. Explore the city on an historic tram
What do Turin, San Francisco, Porto and Stockholm have in common?
It's simple, they can all be explored by traveling on a historic tram.
For Turin, this is the famous historic line 7 which uses cars from the 1930s and allows you to go around the city centre on a proper moving museum.
The ticket for this journey through time will cost you a mere € 1.70. Regular public transport tickets are valid for the historical line.
The trams have been wonderfully refurbished and you can often meet volunteers who offer free guided tours (an offer is appreciated though), telling stories about Turin as the city unfolds before your eyes.
The route is circular, crossing Turin's boulevards in about an hour.
It starts from the Piazza Castello terminal, in front of the Teatro Regio, and continues along Via Vittorio Emanuele II (with a view of the monument dedicated to him), then passing through Via Cernaia and Corso Regina Margherita (in front of the Citadel and the Duomo).
This tram line is the oldest in Italy and still today the tram is one of the main means of transportation used by locals. The historical line 7 is not only useful for getting around the city centre, but it is also a truly original way to visit Turin from the wooden benches of this special tram.
The historic line is in service on Sundays, on festive days and in periods of greater tourist turnout (on some occasions it's also active on Saturdays).
6. Eat traditional dishes in local tavernas
The culinary offer in Turin is rich and varied, a mix of peasant roots and nobility. This combination generated one of the most popular cuisines in Italy.
Turin cuisine has been influenced by the style of French cuisine and by the typical products of the Piedmontese area (rice, truffles, wine, peppers) and the nearby Liguria (anchovies, oil). The most typical expression of the city culinary art can be found in the "piole" (the taverns in local dialect).
In the piole you can enjoy traditional dishes at a great price and in a very local atmosphere.
A dinner in a tavern has to begin with typical appetisers, washed down with the renowned Piedmontese wines. Try the raw Fassona meat, the vitello tonnato ("veal in tuna sauce") or the platters of salami and local cheeses, such as the exquisite tomini in green sauce.
The main first courses in Turin are the agnolotti (try the “del plin” ones, smaller and typical of the Langhe area), the tajarin and risotto (a must-try with sausage or truffle).
The taverns also offer excellent meat dishes, such as Piedmontese boiled meat, Fassona braised meats or the classic “Svizzera” (the local hamburgers made with quality Piedmontese meat).
Winter is the ideal time to enjoy a hearty portion of polenta, perhaps seasoned with cheese or boscaiola sauce (with mushrooms).
Another absolutely must-try is the bagna cauda, the "collective dish" par excellence, much loved by the Turinese: it's a garlic and anchovy sauce made with milk and oil, served boiling in a terracotta pot. Bagna cauda is served with seasonal vegetable, both raw and cooked, that you can dip in it. You cannot leave Turin without trying it!
To close the dinner, enjoy the bonèt, a Piedmontese pudding of ancient tradition made with eggs, sugar, milk, cocoa, amaretti and rum: a sensational explosion of taste. Other desserts worth sampling are the delicious pears or peaches in wine (only in certain seasons), but also the great classics such as tiramisu, panna cotta or zabaione.
The historical district of San Salvario is very popular with young Turinese and is the perfect place to have an aperitif side by side with the locals.
The San Salvario area is famous for the Parco del Valentino and for the narrow streets that are home to a young and multi-ethnic population.
If you are looking for an area to have an aperitif, or to listen to live music in a very local atmosphere, you are in the right place.
In between via Madama Cristina and via Nizza visitors can enjoy Turin's brilliant nightlife with plenty of places for a buffet aperitif with quality cocktails.
Sit at the tables of "Affini" for a classic aperitif, or drink a Negroni accompanied by gourmet sandwiches of "Mollica". If you prefer bubbles, there is the "Casa Proseccheria" (guess the house specialty? Prosecco of course!) Or if you want something ethnic, try the original "Beena" (which mixes Indian cuisine and aperitifs).
If you prefer to stay close to the river, don't miss the quiet "Imbarchino", a bar inside Parco del Valentino offering cocktails and creative cuisine, open until late at night. This is the perfect spot to get together with friends off the beaten track.
The alternatives for a night out in San Salvario are the Quadrilatero area, very central and with a more mature clientele, and Vanchiglia, more lively and alternative thanks to the presence of numerous students.
4. Celebrate the Patron Saint in June
The crowd around the bonfire in honour of San Giovanni on June 23. (by redazione web - www.comune.torino.it)
June 23 and 24 are two excellent days to be in Turin.
In fact, on June 24 there's the celebration of San Giovanni ("Saint John"), the patron saint of the city, and Turin gives its best among cultural events, extraordinary openings and fireworks.
In honour of the saint, June 23 sees the city take on the medieval costumes of the historical procession that crosses the streets of the center. In the late afternoon a bonfire is lit (called farò in dialect) in Piazza Castello, on top of which the silhouette of a bull is hoisted.
The party is deeply felt by the Turinese who pour into the square to witness the collapse of the pile, which for the locals has an important superstitious role: if it falls towards Porta Nuova it will be a good year for the city, while the fall in the opposite direction is a bad omen.
Join the Turinese surrounding the blazing bonfire and enjoy the party atmosphere throughout the city.
On June 24, the day opens with the morning celebration of the Solemn Mass in the Cathedral and closes late in the evening with fireworks.
The fires are usually shot from the hill opposite Piazza Vittorio Veneto.
Piazza Vittorio Veneto is the best place to see the fires, a little crowded but really close to the fireworks display. If you prefer a quieter and less crowded place, head to Lungo Po Armando Diaz and Murazzi. If, on the other hand, you want to experience a romantic moment and have a wonderful overview of the city from above, choose the Monte dei Cappuccini or the Basilica of Superga.
In the days leading up to June 24, the city comes alive thanks to the many events organised by the municipality: from beach volleyball tournaments and rowing competitions to book markets and musical events. Keep an eye on the rich program and enjoy!
3. Discover the best gelato and patisserie
Turin is the city of biscuits and chocolate, a true paradise for gourmands.
Follow the Turinese into the traditional pastry shops ("pasticcerie") and enjoy the view of the delights displayed on the counter.
The varied list of delicacies is endless.
It starts with the typical biscuits of the city, such as baci di dama, krumiri and canestrelli, to finish with marron glacé and the most classic small pastries, served in almost all artisan workshops in Turin.
Gianduiotti deserve a separate mention: this creamy chocolate praline with its iconic prism shape is made with the Piedmontese Tonda Gentile hazelnut and is really a must-try, maybe while sipping a strong espresso coffee.
To stock up on various chocolates and pralines, take a look at the pastry shop of "Guido Castagna", while if you want to sip one of the best hot chocolates in the city try "Ghigo" (also famous for the Nuvola, an incredible pandoro covered with butter cream).
If you love cakes, knock on the door of the "Torteria Berlicabarbis" and you will be surprised by the variety (and quality) of the delicacies on display.
Turin is also full of artisan gelato shops where you can enjoy top quality ice cream.
The tradition of ice cream is well established in the city. The flavours of ice creams and sorbets vary according to the seasons: try the historic "Caffe Florio", the "La Romana" franchise or, if you are in the Balon market area, be surprised by the originality of the flavours of the "Gelato Popolare".
In short, whether you prefer the cold of ice cream or the warmth and fragrance of hot chocolate and biscuits, in Turin you will never be too far from a delicacy to eat while walking around the city.
2. Enjoy the panorama from the hills
There are two perfect places to mingle with the Turinese and admire Turin from above: the viewpoint of Monte dei Cappuccini and the lawn of the Europa Park.
The belvedere is located in the square in front of the Church of Santa Maria del Monte dei Cappuccini, on a hill on the right bank of the Po. It's about 30 minutes on foot from the city centre.
You can walk along Piazza Vittorio Veneto, take the Vittorio Emanuele I bridge and the tree-lined road going up around the mountain until the church.
The view is simply wonderful. You can also visit the church and the Mountain Museum, dedicated to mountaineering and mountain culture with an exhibition of photos and mountaineering equipment.
The Monte dei Cappuccini viewpoint is ideal for enjoying the sunset over Turin.
The Europa Park is located a little further south, in the Cavoretto area.
It's a beautiful terraced park frequented almost exclusively by the Turinese on a walk in the greenery at an altitude of about 315 metres. The park boasts an olive grove and a children area. Certain areas of the park are kept in a semi-natural state, while others are more organised, featuring fountains with gushing water.
The view of Turin is spectacular, even if slightly more distant than Monte dei Cappuccini. The best way to reach the Europa Park is by car.
1. Walk up to the Superga Basilica
The Basilica of Superga is one of the symbols of Turin.
This marvellous basilica was built on the Superga hill in 1731. King Vittorio Amedeo II wanted it to thank the Virgin Mary for her help in the war against the French.
The structure of the Basilica is unique, with its elegant Baroque dome, built by Filippo Juvarra, and the symmetrical bell towers.
The Basilica deservers a visit and the best part is that you can also climb the dome. From the top you can appreciate a wide panoramic view of Turin.
You can reach the Basilica using the historic Sassi-Superga tramway or by walking from the Sassi tram stop.
To combine the two experiences, the nature walk and the funicular, we recommend making the outward journey on foot and back by rail.
It takes about 2 hours to climb up to the Basilica: starting from Piazza Modena, in front of the Sassi tramway station, you have to take one of the two CAI paths (number 27 or 28) taking you up into the woods. The route is suitable for all types of hikers and the difference in height is about 450 meters. When it rains the area gets quite muddy. If you love walking in nature, don't miss the opportunity to explore this area of Turin!
Superga is much loved by the Turinese, also because of a tragedy that occurred here and that deeply scarred the city. On May 4, 1949, the plane of the Turin football team, the best team of the time, crashed into the side of the hill, instantly killing all the players.
Every May 4, Turin's fans and current football players go on a pilgrimage to Superga. They commemorate the "Grande Torino" in front of the plaque remembering the old glories: a touching experience also for non-football lovers.