10 Little-Known Day Trips from Turin (All Reachable by Train)

10 Little-Known Day Trips from Turin (All Reachable by Train)

Turin is a destination in and of itself but sometimes the bustling city gets old. While there are always tons of cultural events going on, performances in Piazza Castello, and enough restaurants and bars to visit a new one every day for years, it can be a bit overstimulating. 

There’s so much more to northwestern Italy than just Turin – and best of all, all of the following ten destinations can be easily reached by train, bus or even BlaBla car making it easy and affordable for travelers to get around. From paradisical sea escapes to tranquility in the mountaintops, to trips to neighboring cities, Turin’s convenient geographic position makes it easy for you to travel to a diverse range of places.

  • Susa
  • Bardonecchia
  • Milan
  • Alba
  • Genova
  • Savona
  • Aosta
  • Sant’Amrogio di Torino
  • Finale Ligure
  • Nice

1. Susa

Unwind with a vin-brulee as you take in the breathtaking view of the surrounding summits

The mesmerizing, ancient door to the old city of Susa: Porta Savoia.
The mesmerizing, ancient door to the old city of Susa: Porta Savoia.

What’s There to See? 

Not to be confused with Porta Susa, one of the train and metro stations located within the city of Turin, Susa is a small city located in a scenic valley in the heart of the Alps. Since Susa is the oldest and most important Roman settlement in the Val di Susa, you’ll have plenty of unique and well-preserved ancient constructions to see.

Susa was originally inhabited by Celtic people referred to as “Gauls” by the Romans. However, after the 1st century BC, the Gauls pledged allegiance to the Romans. Since then, many impressive Roman monuments have been created, including a Roman Amphitheater which may not be as big as the Colosseum, but is still impressive nonetheless. Often times, you’ll find there aren’t many tourists at the amphitheater, allowing you and your company to enjoy the historic monument all to yourselves.

Also from the Roman era, you can see the Arch of Augustus, which was erected in 8 BC to honor the Roman emperor and solidify its bond to the Romans. Before making your way up the slight hill to see the Arch, you’ll also see the Porta Savoia which was originally constructed in the Roman era but reconstructed in the Middle ages.

Are you a nature lover? You’ll have plenty to see and do in Susa. While it’s located in a valley, you’re still a stone’s throw away from the summit of many pristine mountains in the Alps which are full of snow in the winter. And if you’re not visiting in the winter, Susa still makes a great destination for hiking in the summer.

How to Get There

The train ride to get to Susa from Turin is just over an hour and is well worth the trip. Plus, it’ll only set you back about 10 euro roundtrip. If you go in the wintertime, the train ride will likely feel especially toasty – especially after having spent all day outside in the freezing cold. There is a bus, too, but the train is your most comfortable option.

2. Bardonecchia

Have fun in fresh powder in the heart of the Alps

Have fun gliding down the mountainside in this cozy, fun-filled mountain town. Alps Bardonecchia
Have fun gliding down the mountainside in this cozy, fun-filled mountain town.

What’s There to See?

Just like Susa, Bardonecchia is way up there in the Alps! When you visit Bardonecchia, you’ll be a stone’s throw away from France. The difference between Bardonecchia and Susa lies in the fact that Bardonecchia is actually in the mountains and not a valley. So what does that mean? Snow. And of course, when there’s snow there’s also snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing, sledding and more!

While Bardonecchia is mainly visited for its ski resorts, there are many attractions, too. Bardonecchia has a relaxed, small-town vibe with plenty of tourists from neighboring France and nearby Germany come to this enchanting ski resort town to shred on fresh powder, refresh after working hard, and sip on a delicious- and warm – vin brule (mulled wine).

Bardonecchia is rich in history, too. Starting with its Celtic origins, like Susa, the name of the city likely means ‘high ground’ or ‘wooded summit’ which correlates with similar words in Irish and Welsh with the same meaning. However, because of the snowy, cold winters, Bardonecchia wasn’t inhabited until modern times. 

How to Get There

If you want to visit this winter wonderland, all you need to do is hop on a train from Porta Nuova for a couple of hours. You’ll be taking a scenic local train, perfect for indulging in a nice book or talking with friends as you pass by scenic, quaint towns and views of the breathtaking, grandiose Alps.

3. Milan

Explore the city of fashionistas with tons of hidden historical gems tucked away in this metropolis

The stunning central plaza featuring the incredibly detailed Duomo (a must-see in person!)
The stunning central plaza featuring the incredibly detailed Duomo (a must-see in person!)

What’s There to See?

Who says architecture and museums are the only things to look at? One of the most striking things about Milan is the people and fashion. While Italy is known worldwide for its fashion, Milan is a bar above the rest of Italy – for better or for worse. Some are very neatly groomed and wear clothes that are tailored to hug their body’s every curve, while others can be seen wearing high-fashion garments that can seem more like Halloween costumes or fit for couture fashion shows.

Of course, when you’re in Milan you have to stop by the Duomo which was completed in 1965 and took six centuries to build. Oh, and it’s also the third-largest church in Europe and the fifth largest church in the world. Another religious masterpiece that draws large crowds in the Last Supper original painting which is displayed in the Basilica di Santa Maria delle Grazie.

If you’re into shopping there’s plenty to be done in Milan. From megastores down the city center to smaller, boutique-style shops, you’ll find anything and everything that exists in fashion. You can even visit Fondazione Prada which was founded and created by world-renowned designer Miuccia Prada.

How to Get There

Trains between Turin and Milan run frequently. Expect to pay 12 euro one way to get to Milan and board a local 2-hour train to get there. But, if you do a bit of planning and purchase your tickets a few days in advance, you can take the FrecciaRossa and get there in just one hour in a comfortable high-speed train. Alternatively, there’s BlaBlaCar which allows you to reach Milan in about 2 hours with prices below 12 euro.

4. Alba

The perfect place for luxuriously delicious eats and relaxing walks through picturesque Italian streets

Forget your worries as you indulge yourself in a fine glass of wine in Alba, Piedmont!
Forget your worries as you indulge yourself in a fine glass of wine in Alba, Piedmont!

What’s There to See?

If you’re looking for a picturesque, walkable town with plenty of high-quality, artisanal wine shops and rare white truffles, Alba is for you. You’ll be able to explore Alba entirely by foot from end to end of the city. The streets are lined with fascinating classically Italian architecture with a pace of life that’s a lot slower than Turin.

Alba is said to be the gourmet capital of Italy. If you’re a foodie, you need to go to Alba and see what’s on the menu! If you want to try the white truffles that Alba is famous for, get ready to spend quite a bit – some dishes costing hundreds of euros! Fortunately, you can find high-quality wines that are produced in the area like Dolcetto, Barbera, and Nebbiolo that aren’t too expensive.

As you stroll through the city, you’ll be amazed at how many churches are contained within its small walls. For a city of just 30,000 people, there are more than 10 churches within its city walls. This is especially beautiful to see during the Christmas season when many host incredibly ornate nativity scenes. 

One church, Chiesa di San Giussepe, offers a bell tower climb for just 1 euro – and it’s worth the climb! This hidden gem allows you to see all of Alba, though it’s not for the faint of heart. The steps are antique, narrow and made of incredibly thin cement slabs.

How to Get There

Since Northern Italy has a convenient railway system, you can board a train from Porta Susa and arrive to Alba in just an hour and a half. Alternatively, there are some BlaBla car users who publish their trips to Alba (though don’t bank on this method – there are far more BlaBla car users between the big cities i.e. Genova and Milan, rather than small towns like Alba).

5. Genova

Get lost in the winding streets of Genova’s old town and take in the moving seascape

Discover one of Italy's undiscovered cities: Genoa.
Discover one of Italy’s undiscovered cities: Genoa.

What’s There to See?

Genova is a fascinating – and highly undiscovered – hidden gem in Italy. Located on the Meditteranean sea, Genovese life is greatly influenced by the maritime climate. Everything from the fresh seafood to the warm winds that pass the city in the winter make this the perfect blend between modern metropolis and sea getaway. One of Genova’s great draws is it’s a warm winter destination. While you probably can’t strut the streets in a short sleeve, and there are cold days, the temperature is usually warmer than Turin in winter.

One of the most amusing things about Genoa is the winding streets. You’ll walk along tall buildings that overwhelm you in the old part of the city, often with quaint shops full of fresh food, clothes, and artisanal products to stop in for a browse. 

Since Genova hosts a natural harbor on the Mediterranean sea, you’ll be mesmerized by the many boats harbored in Genoa; many of which are luxury yachts. Genova serves as a great base point for exploring the Italian Riviera, like Cinque Terre (a collection of five characteristic Italian towns/ Surely when you think of Italy, images of these towns will appear in your head!).

Some other quintessential architectural feats to explore include the main plaza, Piazza de Ferrari. Between the fountain in the center and the magnificent, towering buildings, there’s a lot of architectural beauty to take in. Then, you can make your way to the Porta Soprana; the longest gate to surround a city in Italy.

One thing you’ll notice is that there are many monuments of Christopher Columbus. You’ll be amazed at the large sculpture dedicated to him right outside of the train station. One interesting thing to note: Cristopher Colombus was actually Jewish (he may have looked European and spoke a European tongue, but because his mother is Jewish, he is Jewish according to Judaism). Historians discovered his personal journal with texts written in Hebrew to his sons. Additionally, an article by CNN explains Christopher Columbus’s Jewish origins further:

“Recently, a number of Spanish scholars, such as Jose Erugo, Celso Garcia de la Riega, Otero Sanchez and Nicholas Dias Perez, have concluded that Columbus was a Marrano”

https://edition.cnn.com/2012/05/20/opinion/garcia-columbus-jewish/index.html

How to Get There

With the train, of course! The train runs frequently to Genova and should take just over an hour and a half. Alternatively, you can take the bus from Corso Vittorio Emanuele as they run frequently, too, and should cost just $5 each way. There’s also BlaBlaCar which commuters who commuters use between cities frequently (though, you may not have as much luck as you would going to busier Milan).

6. Savona

Get a real feel of an authentic ocean town with plenty of shopping and eateries to indulge in

The perfect town on the sea. Big city eateries and shopping with a small-town feel.
The perfect town on the sea. Big city eateries and shopping with a small-town feel.

What’s There to See?

This gem of a town is tucked away in the heart of the Italian Riviera. Savona will leave you wondering how this beach paradise is so close to Turin! While many venture off into the smaller beach towns scattered along the Italian Riviera, Savona is worth a visit, too.

If you’re into art, and more specifically art involving the church, the famous Madonna and Child by Toddeo di Bartolo, you need to pay a visit to the Museo d’Arte di Palazzo Gavotti. With tons of fabulous paintings – from a variety of centuries and settings.

Savona is the perfect blend between city and town with a population of just over 60,000 inhabitants. You’ll certainly feel less “hustle and bustle” as you stroll Savona’s balmy coastline, taking in the sights of dozens of medieval castles.

If you’re spending too much time in the small villages along the Italian Riviera and want to have access to more cafes, shops, and restaurants, Savona’s a great place to catch a break. There are plenty of delicious eateries and shopping in the center, which are revitalizing the core of the historic city center.

How to Get There

As always, you can get to Savona by train, However, it’s not as convenient as it is to get to neighboring Genova. You’ll need to connect after reaching Genova or at a smaller town called Fossano (though, there are some direct trains to Savona from Turin that take 2 hours and 11 minutes). One fantastic resource to use is Omio.com (formerly Goeuro.com) – you’ll see offers from various bus, train and plane companies.

7. Aosta

Breathe in the fresh air in this quaint, bilingual town that hugs the French border

A stunning view of Aosta and the mountains that surround the city.
A stunning view of Aosta and the mountains that surround the city.

What’s There to See?

A trip to Aosta is a sure way to refresh anyone’s batteries. The town is the largest in the Valle d’Aosta and consistently ranks high on Italy’s Quality of Life rankings, for good reason. Aosta is the type of town that’s small enough to know your neighbors and the owners of the cafes (called ‘bars’ in Italy) by name. 

But, it also gets enough tourism from Turin and neighboring France and Switzerland (in fact, this is a bilingual region in Italy with French being spoken in addition to Italian) as well as Germany, that you still see some fresh faces.

One of the biggest attractions in Aosta is winter sports, of course. Whether you want to ski, snowboard, or sled there are all types of tracks for you to try – from beginner to advanced. On top of skiing and snowboarding, you can also hike your way up to the summit of Mont Blanc – the tallest mountain in the Alps.

When you’re sore from shredding powder all day, you can take a break in the historic city center and explore ruins that date back to Neolithic times in the Saint-Martin-de-Corléans Megalithic area. Aosta, like Susa and Bardonecchia, was inhabited by the Salassi (a pre-Roman Celtic tribe that inhabited the lands). After the Romans moved in and sold or enslaved the Salassi, they built the city in classic Roman style – including an amphitheater built during Augustus’s reign.

How to Get There

You can reach Aosta by train, bus or BlaBla car. It’s a 10 euro ride one way and requires a change in Ivrea if you decide to go by train. The total time to travel one way should be just over 2 hours. However, I highly recommend taking a BlaBla car if you’re a budget traveler like me. Just be sure to check for trips a few days in advance and be flexible. Also, FlixBus does operate a service from Turin to Aosta for 8 euro (and only 1.5 hours) but the route only runs a couple of times per day.

8. Sant’Ambrogio di Torino

Pack some comfy shoes for the hike up to the Sacra Cuore di San Michele (trust me, the view is worth it!)

The stunning Sacra Cuore di San Michele on top of the hill.
The stunning Sacra Cuore di San Michele on top of the hill.

What’s There to See?

Want to see how most Italians live? Then a trip to Sant’Ambrogio di Torino is for you! Take a break from the city and see how many families live their day to day lives. Of all the small towns on the list, this one has the most authentic feel to it; there aren’t many tourist attractions except for the Sacra Cuore di San Michele. 

It’s not a skiing or hiking destination; it’s just a quaint town that people either don’t know exists, stumbles upon, or passes through as part of the Christian pilgrimage. The Sacra di San Michele is was originally constructed under Benedictine Rule but is now controlled by the Rosminians. Within the complex, you’ll find the Monks’ Sepulchre which is modeled after the Holy Sepulchre found in Jerusalem. As soon as you see the view of this amazing hilltop abbey, you’ll want to get off the train and explore!

But there’s more to Sant’Ambrogio di Torino than just the Sacra Cuore. When you roam the town center, you’ll notice plenty of medieval towers and the remains from the church of San Pietro, dating back to the 11th century.

How to Get There

Hop on a local train from Porta Nuova – you’ll get to Sant’Ambrogio di Torino in just 30 minutes for under 4 euros. The bus runs hourly every at every 45-minute mark on the clock. Alternatively, you can reach Sant’Ambrogio di Torino by bus, though it will be a bit slower and not as sightly as the train.

9. Finale Ligure

Relax, unwind and catch a tan at this Italian Riviera paradise

Get lost in paradise this summer in Finale Ligure. A quick ride from Turin!
Get lost in paradise this summer in Finale Ligure. A quick ride from Turin!

What’s There to See?

Another great place to visit along the Italian Riviera: Finale Ligure. Imagine yourself with a Spritz in one hand, a book in the other and the sound of gentle waves brushing along warm sand. That’s the kind of magic you’ll experience. While this beachside town does tend to get crowded in the summertime – especially by city-dwellers in Milan and Turin – there are still plenty of smaller, more private beaches worth visiting along the Riviera.

On top of the beach, there’s still plenty of historical and cultural attractions, too. We’re talking very historic: there are even caves with evidence of early human inhabitants as early as 12,000 years ago. Later on, a few thousand years later, the Gavone Castel was built in the 1180s. Unfortunately, most of it was destroyed during the battles with Genova, however, the castle was rebuilt in 1941-1942.

Finale Ligure got its name from Ad fines in Latin during Roman times, which means on the border. This isn’t because of the border with modern-day France, but rather Finale Ligure marked the border between two Ligurian Celtic tribes: the Sabatii and Intemelii.

Finale Ligure has plenty of places for you to sit back, grab a bite of food and enjoy the company you’re with. You’ll fall in love with the turquoise waters of Finale Ligue and the overall laid back vibe of the town.

How to Get There

Using Omio.com, you’ll see you can reach Finale Ligure within 3 hours for around 14 euro (which can be expensive for some travelers). If you’re looking for a cheaper option, you can always try BlaBlaCar (which can be hit or miss). In the summer, keep an eye out for promotions on Facebook – many bus companies offer direct buses from Turin to the Ligurian coast.

10. Nice

Since you’re just a few hours from France, why not cross the border and explore enchanting Nice?

Explore this French paradise near the Italian border and Turin.
Explore this French paradise near the Italian border and Turin.

What’s There to See?

Who says you can’t go international with your day trip? Nice is just around the corner, after all! All it takes is a quick 4-hour bus ride from Turin to reach Nice! Many people think of Nice as being a summer destination – which it is – but don’t let the other seasons scare you off! In fact, if you visit Nice in the wintertime, you’ll probably be surprised by warm coastal winds; a pleasant surprise from the bone-chilling cold of Turin. 

Since there are so many architectural treasures and museums, Nice has tons to do at any time of the year. And Nice’s history goes way back. In fact, it goes back 400,000 years when the first Hominid settlements were found surrounding Nice. As a modern city, it was founded in 35 BC by Greek Phoenicians. And after winning the battle against the Ligurians, the city was called Nikaia in honor of their victory.

Nowadays, modern Nice is not only a beach paradise but also features plenty of shopping opportunities with a healthy handful of shopping centers available in the city. Additionally, Nice has a sizable port which is used for both commercial interests and cruise ships as well.

How to Get There

Getting to Nice isn’t too difficult from Turin. I’d recommend taking a FlixBus since the price is reasonable at around 10 euro and is faster than the train, taking about 4 hours. If you’re more of a train type of person, it’ll take an hour longer than the bus (5 hours) and you’ll pay around 30 euro each way. Once in Nice, you can decide whether you want to carry on with your adventures in the rest of France or head back to Italy.

Get Out There and Explore Turin’s Surroundings!

If you want to take a break from the city and refresh with a slower pace of life, or perhaps discover a surrounding city with a different vibe, Turin puts you in the perfect geographic position to explore. With mountains that surround the entire city and the sea to the south, there’s something for everyone – and every season. 

Since Turin is part of the “Industrial Triangle” of Northern Italy (comprised of Turin, Milan, and Genova), you have plenty of neighboring cities that take an hour or two to reach by train. Piedmont, the region where Turin lies was named Best Region to Travel to in 2019 by Lonely Planet, so there’s plenty to see outside of Turin’s intriguing city walls.

Works Cited

Musée De Paléontologie Humaine De Terra Amata, web.archive.org/web/20090311090250/http://www.musee-terra-amata.org/francais/prehistoire/origine4.htm.

“15 Best Things to Do in Genoa (Italy).” The Crazy Tourist, 3 Jan. 2018, www.thecrazytourist.com/15-best-things-genoa-italy/.

“Home.” Italy This Way, www.italythisway.com/places/susa.php.

“NEWS Ed EVENTI.” Comune Di Bardonecchia, www.comune.bardonecchia.to.it/.

“The Susa Valley and Its Villages.” Italian Tourism Official Website, 23 Mar. 2015, www.italia.it/en/travel-ideas/the-mountains/the-susa-valley-and-its-villages.html.

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