Elegant and complicated, Turin looks every inch the royal capital it once was, however, you do not have to spend a queen's ransom to savor it.
The city's food and accommodation offerings focus on every budget and while hotel prices spike during business fairs and cultural events, they rarely get to the levels of Italy's better-known destinations, even throughout the peak spring and autumn months. Here's how you can experience Turin having to break the financial institution.
Cheapest way of getting to Turin
If you're flying from Europe, you should be capable of getting a decent fare to Turin. Low-cost carriers serve Turin's Caselle airport from cities over the continent as well as other Italian airports. From Caselle, a passenger bus (EUR7) runs into the town center.
Alternatively, you could fly into Bergamo's Orio al Serio airport or Milan's Malpensa, each of which are about a two-hour bus ride away.
Turin can also be well connected by rail, with trains running to/from Rome and cities across northern Italy, as well as destinations in France. The city's main rail station is Stazione Porta Nuova, a 10-minute walk from Piazza San Carlo and also the historic center.
Best neighborhoods for any budget stay
The lively Salvario district is a great bet for budget travelers. Within striking distance from the center, it is a vibrant, multicultural area packed with affordable bars, clubs and accommodation options. One particular may be the excellent Tomato Backpacker Hotel.
Other areas to try include Vanchiglia and Aurora. North of the historic center, these are up-coming areas with a hip, energetic vibe and a selection of wallet-friendly accommodation such as the welcoming, family-run San Giors.
Save on public transit, explore the center on foot
You don't have to spend on transport if you remain in the center. You'll have the primary sights in your doorstep and lots of bars, cafes, restaurants and trattorias within easy walking distance.
Public transport only really comes into play if you stay out of the center or wish to explore further afield. Single tickets for buses and trams cost EUR1.70 or there's a selection of travel passes, costing EUR4/EUR7.50/EUR10 for 24/48/72 hours.
Tour the town for the cost of a tram ticket
If time is brief and also you desire a quick overview of the city, hop on tram number 7. This weekend-and-holiday service takes in several of the city's top sights, such as the Cattedrale di San Giovanni Battisti and Piazza Castello, as it rattles around a route through the center. Best of all, it only costs EUR1.70, the price of a regular trains and buses ticket. Service is currently suspended because of COVID-19 restrictions but is anticipated to resume soon.
Check out the churches for free
Feast on art work in Turin's churches. Most are free to enter and lots of boast epic art and architecture. Chief among them are the baroque Real Chiesa di San Lorenzo and also the Cattedrale di San Giovanni Battisti, the city's Renaissance cathedral and last resting host to the Turin Shroud.
Visit museums gratis on the first Sunday from the month
Time your visit well and also you won't have to spend anything at all to tour Palazzo Reale and the Musei Reali. The museums are gratis around the first Sunday of the month as part of the Domenica al Museo (Sunday in the Museum) initiative. But while admission is free of charge you will still need to book your ticket online via each museum's website.
Also free is Palazzo Carignano, the seat of Italy's first-ever parliament and home to the Museo Nazionale Risorgimento Italiano, a museum focused on Italian unification.
Save on sightseeing with a city pass
If you want to take in Turin's headline sights, consider the Turin + Piemonte Card. Available with the tourist office – either online or in person – this provides free and discounted admittance to numerous high-profile museums, including Palazzo Reale, the Museo Egizio, and the enjoyable Museo Nazionale del Cinema. Bank on EUR29/38 for the 24-/48-hour versions.
Join the locals in the park
It doesn't cost a thing to enjoy Turin's green parks. On the west bank of the River Po, Parco Valentino is really a favorite city haunt. Locals flock here to stroll, jog and cycle its riverside paths and hang up out on its grassy banks. At its southeastern end, you will find the Castello del Valentino, when a Savoy royal residence, and the kid-pleasing Borgo Medievale, a replica 15th-century village.
Stock on picnic staples at the market
To shop for provisions, create a beeline for Porta Palazzo market. You will be spoiled for choice at the plentiful food stalls, however for a classic picnic staple, buy yourself a panino (bread roll) and have it full of some sliced meat and/or a generous hunk of cheese. Fresh, seasonal fruit then supplies a delicious, easy-to-carry dessert.
Find fixed-price lunch menus and money-saving dinner deals
Many of Turin's restaurants, cafes, and trattorias offer fixed-price lunch menus. Typically costing EUR10 -15, these generally include a choice of primo (a pasta or rice dish) and/or secondo (a meat or fish dish), plus water, and coffee.
Come the night and you can save by having an apericena. This souped-up aperitif-dinner (cena) is served in cafes over the city from around 6pm to eight or 9pm. For around EUR8 -15 you will get your choice of drink and a choice of dishes from a buffet or specially designated menu.
Drink coffee just like a local, standing at the bar
A quick coffee at a cafe is part and parcel of Italian life. To get it done just like a pro, have your espresso – which is what you'll get should you request un caffè (an espresso) – standing around the bar. That way you'll look like a veteran and save money – the moment you spend time at a table, the price of the coffee rises exponentially.
Fill on water for free
Sate your thirst by filling up on acqua at among the countless green water features dotted across town. These city features, all capped by a distinctive bull's head, are known locally as torèt, or "little bulls" within the Piedmontese dialect.
A help guide to daily costs in Turin
Hostel room: EUR25 -30
Basic room for 2: EUR50 -70
Public transport ticket: EUR1.70
Museum admission: EUR5 -15
Bicerin (classic Turin hot cocoa drink): EUR3.50 -7.50
Gelato: EUR2.50 -5
Apericena: EUR8 -15
Dinner for two: EUR25 -30
Cocktail in a bar: EUR5 -15