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
Where to Stay
Whilst there are not all that many traditional
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
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