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Backpacking Turin


Travelling Turin on a Budget

Beneath its modern façade as an industrial giant, the city of Turin is packed with history and picturesque baroque architecture. And since it hosted the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, it has seen significant redevelopment and a corresponding growth in tourism.

Yet Turin remains less famous and popular than its glamorous neighbour Milan, despite its wealth of entertainment – meaning that it has less crowds and cheaper prices… which is great news for backpackers and independent travellers on a budget.

Where to Stay

Whilst there are not all that many traditional hostels in Turin, budget travellers will find that there is still plenty of cheap accommodation. There is a range of small hotels and B&Bs across the city centre offering cheap private rooms and a great base for backpackers exploring the city.

Culture on a Budget

The most famous attraction in the city is undoubtedly the Sacra Sindone or Holy Shroud of Turin. Today, it’s housed in the impressive 15th century Duomo di San Giovanni that is free to enter (although only open when mass is not taking place).

The shroud itself, however, is locked away except for very special occasions (the next scheduled appearance is 2025) but a copy is on display at the altar. As controversial today as it has been since its discovery, it nevertheless remains both an important historic relic and an intriguing part of Turin’s heritage.

Another significant part of the city’s culture revolves around cars, and as the home of Fiat, it’s been nicknamed the ‘car capital of Italy’. The Museo dell Automobile provides an insight into this aspect of Turin’s industry and (more good news for budget travellers) admission - as with the Duomo – is free.

Although the city is dotted with designer boutiques, it is possible to find a few shopping bargains in Turin. The Balon flea market, held every Saturday at Piazza della Repubblica, is a great place for cheap second-hand clothes and books, as well as local food such as gianduiotti.

Eating and Drinking

With its elegant shops and grand baroque streets, it may seem that dining out in Turin would be as expensive as nearby fashion-capital Milan. However, it’s actually possible to sample both some Italian staples and local specialities at an affordable price.

The city’s cuisine has a heavy French influence thanks to its proximity to the border and is famed for chocolate and patisseries. In fact, it’s even said that Turin introduced chocolate to France when they began to export it in the 17th century, even though it is arguably better known as a French product today.

Travellers can find a delicious – and inexpensive – taste of this tradition at many cafés across the centre of Turin. At this point it should be probably be pointed out that, just like the rest of Italy, it’s cheaper still to eat at the bar rather than at a table.

A great way to fill up on a budget is to look for fixed price menus at lunchtime. These are often very reasonable, even at the city’s most expensive restaurants where much more can be charged for similar dishes in the evening.


Turin has a thriving nightlife that’s influenced by its large student population. Perhaps the best night out in the city for a budget traveller is Thursday – often classed as ‘student nights’ – when the crowd is typically loud and youthful, and drinks and cover charges are cheap.

In summer, the city becomes even livelier, as large numbers of tables are set up in the piazzas and around Via Carlo Alberto, Via San Quintino and Parco San Valentino.

However, there’s guaranteed to be a crowd at the Docks Dora at any time of the year – this complex of warehouses has been transformed into an area of bars, studios and discos that are kept busy till the early hours with live performances and plentiful dance music.

All in all, Turin is a great Italian city for backpackers and budget travellers, offering inviting nightlife, unique culture and comfortable accommodation – all for surprisingly affordable prices.


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