From travel on the cheap to the best meal deals available, our tips for visiting Turin on a budget can help you save money © Massimo Usai / Getty Images
Elegant and sophisticated, Turin looks every inch the royal capital it once was, but you don’t have to spend a queen’s ransom to enjoy it.
The city’s food and accommodation offerings cater to every budget and while hotel prices spike during business fairs and cultural events, they rarely reach the levels of Italy’s better-known destinations, even during the peak spring and autumn months. Here's how to experience Turin without breaking the bank.
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Cheapest way of getting to Turin
If you’re flying from Europe, you should be able to get a decent fare to Turin. Low-cost carriers serve Turin’s Caselle airport from cities across the continent as well as other Italian airports. From Caselle, a shuttle bus (€7) runs into the city center.
Alternatively, you could fly into Bergamo’s Orio al Serio airport or Milan’s Malpensa, both of which are about a two-hour bus ride away.
Turin is also 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 the historic center.
Best neighborhoods for a budget stay
The lively Salvario district is a good bet for budget travelers. Within striking distance of the center, it’s a vibrant, multicultural area packed with affordable bars, clubs and accommodation options. One such is 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 choice of wallet-friendly accommodation such as the welcoming, family-run San Giors.
Many sights are within easy walking distance of each other in the center of Turin © AleksandarGeorgiev / Getty Images
Save on public transportation, explore the center on foot
You don’t need to fork out on transport if you stay in the center. You’ll have the main sights on your doorstep and plenty 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 want to explore further afield. Single tickets for buses and trams cost €1.70 or there is a selection of travel passes, costing €4/€7.50/€10 for 24/48/72 hours.
Tour the city for the price of a tram ticket
If time is short and you want a quick overview of the city, jump on tram number 7. This weekend-and-holiday service takes in several of the city’s top sights, including the Cattedrale di San Giovanni Battisti and Piazza Castello, as it rattles around a route through the center. Best of all, it only costs €1.70, the price of a regular public transport ticket. Service is currently suspended due to COVID-19 restrictions but is expected to resume soon.
Check out the churches for free
Feast on fine art in Turin’s churches. Most are free to enter and many boast epic art and architecture. Chief among them are the baroque Real Chiesa di San Lorenzo and the Cattedrale di San Giovanni Battisti, the city’s Renaissance cathedral and last resting place of the Turin Shroud.
Italy's museums are free to visit on the first Sunday of the month © Tara Van Der Linden Photo / Shutterstock
Visit museums gratis on the first Sunday of the month
Time your visit well and you won’t have to spend a cent to tour Palazzo Reale and the Musei Reali. The museums are gratis on the first Sunday of the month as part of the Domenica al Museo (Sunday at the Museum) initiative. But while admission is free you’ll still have 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 dedicated to 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 through the tourist office – either online or in person – this provides free and discounted admission to a number of high-profile museums, including Palazzo Reale, the Museo Egizio, and the enjoyable Museo Nazionale del Cinema. Bank on €29/38 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 a favorite city haunt. Locals flock here to stroll, jog and cycle its riverside paths and hang out on its grassy banks. At its southeastern end, you’ll find the Castello del Valentino, once a Savoy royal residence, and the kid-pleasing Borgo Medievale, a replica 15th-century village.
Buy a budget lunch in Turin's fresh food market and then picnic in the park © CatwalkPhotos / Shutterstock
Stock up on picnic staples at the market
To shop for provisions, make a beeline for Porta Palazzo market. You’ll be spoiled for choice at the plentiful food stalls, but for a classic picnic staple, buy yourself a panino (bread roll) and have it stuffed with some sliced meat and/or a generous hunk of cheese. Fresh, seasonal fruit then provides 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 €10–15, 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 evening and you can save by having an apericena. This souped-up aperitif-dinner (cena) is served in cafes across the city from around 6pm to 8 or 9pm. For about €8–15 you’ll get your choice of drink and a selection of dishes from a buffet or specially designated menu.
Drink coffee like a local, standing at the bar
A quick coffee at a cafe is part and parcel of Italian life. To do it like a pro, have your espresso – which is what you’ll get if you ask for un caffè (a coffee) – standing at the bar. That way you’ll look like a veteran and save money – the moment you sit at a table, the price of the coffee rises exponentially.
Fill up on water for free
Sate your thirst by filling up on acqua at one of the hundreds of green water fountains dotted across town. These city features, all capped by a distinctive bull’s head, are known locally as torèt, or "little bulls" in the Piedmontese dialect.
A guide to daily costs in Turin
Hostel room: €25–30
Basic room for two: €50–70
Public transport ticket: €1.70
Museum admission: €5–15
Bicerin (classic Turin hot chocolate drink): €3.50–7.50
Dinner for two: €25–30
Cocktail at a bar: €5–15