Trieste is a coastal city that is sophisticated, literary, and has ancient cafés that have formerly played home to well-known authors from throughout the world. The Friulian village is an amazing border location located only a short distance from Slovenia. In this article, you'll learn about all the best things to do in Trieste, a wonderful city that's a genuine bridge between Western and Central-Southern Europe.
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- Where is Trieste?
- Map of Trieste
- How to Get to Trieste
- 🇮🇹 All You Need for Italy 🇮🇹
- Where to Stay in Trieste
- Where to Eat in Trieste
- A Brief History of Trieste
- 23 Things to Do in Trieste
- 1) Spend a Day in Osmiza
- 2) Explore Piazza Unità d'Italia
- 3) Taste the Cuisine of Trieste
- 4) Walking on the Molo Audace
- 5) Stop in One of the Historic Cafés
- 6) Walking Along the Grand Canal
- 7) Drink a "Capo in B”
- 8) Climb the San Giusto Hill
- 9) Barcola Beach
- 10) Visit the Roman Theater of Trieste
- 11) Watch the Barcolana
- 12) Admire the Statues of Joyce, Svevo, Saba and D'Annunzio
- 13) Climb the Victory Lighthouse
- 14) Visiting Trieste During the Bora Wind
- 15) The Narodni Dom
- 16) Visit the Revoltella Museum
- 17) Go shopping at the Covered Market in Trieste (Mercato Coperto)
- 18) Visit the Synagogue of Trieste
- 19) Shopping in Viale XX Settembre
- 20) Serbian Orthodox Church of St. Spyridon
- Trips outside of Trieste
- 23) Giant Cave Grotta Gigante
- Is Trieste Worth Visiting?
- Are You Ready for More Italy-Related Articles?
The crowds of Venice and Florence are absent, as are the lines for the museums. You can visit several cathedrals, museums, literary cafés, Art Nouveau buildings, and artisan crafts in peace and quiet.
Basically, it's one of the most significant ports in the Mediterranean linking Western, Eastern, and Southern Europe, as a kind of European Bridge City. And ultimately, there are absolutely plenty of things to see and do. There are no "tourist traps". In summary, Trieste is especially intriguing from a traveler's perspective since it lacks all of the usual hassles associated with big Italian cities.
Where is Trieste?
Trieste is a seaport and city in northeastern Italy. It is the capital of the Friuli Venezia Giulia autonomous region. Trieste is located at the head of the Gulf of Trieste, between the Adriatic Sea and Slovenia, with Slovenia being around 8 kilometers east and 10-15 kilometers southeast of the city. Croatia is also nearby, some 30 kilometers south of Trieste.
Map of Trieste
How to Get to Trieste
In the mood to visit Trieste, Italy? The skinny is as follows:
Arriving by Air: Trieste (TRS) Airport is the nearest airfield. However, a lot of people choose Venice (VCE), which is around 113 miles distant. Take an approximately one and a half hour bus travel from Venice to Trieste.
Train Route: From the airport in Trieste, you can take a direct train to Trieste Centrale. It's just a 28-minute trip.
Bus Option: Every few hours, FlixBus departs Venice and travels to Trieste. It's a popular choice and rather simple.
Driving There: Operating a car? Take the freeways A4 Torino - Trieste or A23 Tarvisio - Udine - Palmanova, and then merge onto the A4.
🇮🇹 All You Need for Italy 🇮🇹
At Savoring Italy, I've handpicked a selection of vital services for your Italian trip. This list, featuring accommodations to local transport, includes trusted businesses I've personally vetted for a hassle-free and delightful experience.
Where to Stay in Trieste
I discovered these locations when looking for a place to live in Trieste, Italy:
Savior Palace Savoia, Trieste - Starhotels Collezione: Situated on the Bay of Trieste, this hotel offers chic accommodations with views of the sea and luxurious bathrooms.
Comfortable contemporary rooms housed in a historic palace, DoubleTree by Hilton Trieste is located near Lanterna Beach.
The NH Trieste is all about location and comfort; it's only a short walk from the waterfront and train station.
Nuovo Albergo Centro: Simple, modern rooms near Grand Canal, city center, with free Wi-Fi.
The Modernist Hotel offers a tribute to contemporary style and boasts a breakfast to die for, right in the heart of Trieste.
Located just in front of the train station in a Neo-classical structure, the B&B Hotel Trieste is your best bet for good value.
Situated close to Slovenia and the Val Rosandra Nature Reserve, Hotel Sonia has free WiFi, a meeting center, and other amenities.
Near Trieste Station in Piazza Oberdan, Albergo Alla Posta is a well-known lodging option with comfortable mattresses and an excellent breakfast.
The hotel Solun has a great position in the heart of the city with accommodations that will entice you to stay longer.
Where to Eat in Trieste
Traveling to Trieste, Italy, and looking for some delicious food? Check out these restaurants:
Mediterranean and Italian cuisine are combined in a delicious way at Ristorante Buca 19 in Trieste.
Home Sapore di Casa: This little restaurant serves you delicious French and café fare.
Enjoy their delicious Italian and seafood meals at Osteria El Cassettin; they're really exceptional.
Buffet Clai: This restaurant, which specializes in Italian and seafood, has a mean culinary touch.
Al Porton: The theme here is seafood, and how about the vibe? Perfectly pertinent.
NOVO Foraperfora: This is Italian and beer pub fare with a distinctive spin.
Gostilna Godina: Another restaurant that excels in seafood and Italian cuisine.
Bracerie Venete: This is the place to go if you're craving Mediterranean, Italian, or steakhouse cuisine.
Italian and Mediterranean fusion is the specialty of Bistrò 51 - Restaurant & Lounge, and they do it quite well.
Ristorante Navigando: This is the place to go when seafood and pizza are calling your name.
A Brief History of Trieste
Based on archaeological discoveries and the subsequent Roman legacies, we know that Trieste and its environs were inhabited as early as the second millennium BC. Romans conquered Trieste around 178 BC, built walls and a theater still visible at San Giusto hill's base.
Following the collapse of the Roman Empire, the city was ruled by the Byzantine Empire, the Franks starting in 787, and finally, in the 12th century, it became a Free Municipality with a history of dispute with Venice, a Republic that sought to gain dominance.
Trieste and the Austrian Empire
In the late 14th century, to maintain some autonomy amid wars with the Serenissima, Trieste sought protection under the Austrian Empire.
Since Trieste was the only port of entry to the sea for the vast and powerful Habsburg Empire, its history has alternated between periods of great rebirths and declines, like the eighteenth century. This was made possible by Emperor Charles VI of Habsburg's decision to declare Trieste a free port.
Borgo Teresiano in Trieste, built to honor Empress Maria Theresa Habsburg, expanded city limits, establishing it as Austria's main economic center.
With the Treaty of Rapallo in 1920, which formally approved the expansion of the Italian borders to include Trieste and its surroundings, the phenomenon of irredentism—the desire of a portion of the city's residents to be Italian—came to pass, despite the ongoing unrest from minority groups opposed to this decision. The end of the nineteenth century was marked by this phenomenon.
After being taken over by German forces in 1943 and bombarded by the Allies, Trieste's history was dramatically affected by the Second World War.
Redesigned by the Nazis as a sorting camp for deportees to Germany and Poland and a prison camp for Italians and Slavs, the San Sabba Rice Mill stands as one of the most powerful witnesses to the period.
23 Things to Do in Trieste
As you might know, the border with Slovenia is just a few kilometers from Trieste's center. This border connects the two cities and has, throughout the ages, established a harmonious relationship that remains one of the city's strongest features.
Not just Slovenia, however; Trieste has close ties to Austria as well. Trieste, once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, borders the small Central European state and Friuli Venezia Giulia region.
It is astounding to consider that Trieste became formally Italian just in November 1920, just slightly more than a century ago! As a result, you will sense the Austrian and Slovenian influences as soon as you arrive there.
Trieste is a unique city that stands out from the rest due to its amazing melting pot of cultures. Many visitors claim to have just "discovered" Trieste while traveling to other, more popular, foreign locations like Ljubljana, Vienna, or Zagreb.
But Trieste is a really interesting city! To the extent that we advise you to plan a vacation specifically to explore this city. A few days in Trieste's ambiance, easily reachable by car or train, can de-stress and offer a break from your daily life
So what's our recommendation? Don't just drive through Trieste on your way to somewhere else. Come to Trieste, settle in, explore the city, and let its allure enchant you.
1) Spend a Day in Osmiza
Visits to osmiza are another excellent method to learn about the Trieste region's wine and food traditions. You just cannot not miss this experience! What is an osmiza? Back in the days of Austria's Maria Theresa, farmers were allowed to sell wines and other goods they made right from their houses. The Slovenian word "osem," which means "eight," is the source of the term "osmiza." The sales permit actually covered eight days in a row throughout the year to sell their homegrown products.
You can sample regional wines, such as Teran or Malvasia, as well as traditional fare like sausages and cheeses at these establishments. In the province of Trieste, particularly in the Karst region, there are around fifty osmize that are open year-round. Summer is ideal for outdoor events, but it's also great for dining and socializing even in bad weather.
2) Explore Piazza Unità d'Italia
Piazza Unità d'Italia, the biggest piazza in Europe that is exposed to the sea, is one of the numerous sights in Trieste that you just must visit. Last but not least are the Grand Hotel Duchi d'Aosta, the Palazzo Model, the Art Nouveau-style Palazzo Stratta (currently the prefecture's headquarters), the Palazzo Pitteri, the town council building, and the Palace of the Austrian Lieutenancy.
The Fountain of the Four Continents, a creation by Giovanni Battista Mazzoleni, is located in the middle of the plaza. Constructed between 1751 and 1754, it symbolizes the four continents recognized at that era: Europe, Asia, Africa, and America.
3) Taste the Cuisine of Trieste
If you are visiting Trieste, you should definitely stop by the well-known Buffet da Pepi for some delicious food. You can sample traditional delicacies like porzina and cotechin, or luganighe and capuzi, here, along with Terrano, a delicious wine from the Karst.
4) Walking on the Molo Audace
A few feet from Piazza Unità d'Italia sits the Molo Audace, one of Trieste's most popular tourist attractions. Its 200 meters long stone pier was named after the first ship of the Italian Navy, the "Audace," which moored at Trieste.
It's a wonderful area to wander at any time of day or season and be taken in by the sunsets over the sea, while the façade of the buildings are tinted with crimson. If you're craving a little more thrill, go to the pier on a Bora day and feels the winds that sometimes blow at over 100 km/h!
5) Stop in One of the Historic Cafés
The ancient cafés of Trieste are undoubtedly among the primary points of attraction that you should not miss visiting. Caffè degli Specchi, Caffè Tommaseo, Caffè Torinese, Caffè San Marco, and Caffè Tergesteo are the most well-known. Enter one of these establishments with a fin de siècle vibe and imagine Joyce, Svevo, or Saba having tea or coffee with you.
For serious coffee enthusiasts, there's also the Coffee Museum, where grinders, cups from ancient cafés, and many other things are on exhibit.
6) Walking Along the Grand Canal
In Trieste, don't skip the Grand Canal – it's a standout spot. Originally built to let ships get their goods in and out right by the city center. Fun fact: it used to have three bridges, dubbed White, Red, and Green. Now, only the Red Bridge stands with a 2004 tribute to James Joyce, marking a century since his time in Trieste.
7) Drink a "Capo in B”
The coffee capital of the world is Trieste. After being declared a free port at the start of the 18th century, the city rose to prominence as one of Europe's principal commercial ports. Every day, ships moored there, bringing millions of tons of coffee that would be sold across Italy.
In Trieste, getting coffee might be difficult! You won't be able to ask for "A coffee!" at a bar without first being asked "How do you want it?" In actuality, coffee in Trieste is quite different, and there is a standard vocabulary that can be used to arrange its many varieties. Here are some pointers to help prevent miscommunications: In Trieste, a cappuccino is just a latte; if you request a cappuccino, you are essentially asking for a latte. If you want an espresso, say "un nero." In Trieste, 'capo in B,' a macchiato in a small glass, is the local coffee choice. Got it?
8) Climb the San Giusto Hill
Ascending Colle di San Giusto places you squarely in the center of Trieste's past. The San Giusto Cathedral, the Castle, and the Roman Basilica serve as the final reminders of the former Tergeste. You're treated to some amazing mosaics within the church, which are well worth seeing. Next door is the Treasure Museum, which houses the essence of the city. And this hill's vantage point? Great spot with views over Trieste and its Gulf.
9) Barcola Beach
Discover why locals love Barcola, the best beach in Trieste. Along the beachfront in July, people are lounging about in groups. It is a year-round hub, however, not simply a summertime attraction. Swimming, tanning, and lounging under the shade of the pines are the best ways to spend a summer afternoon. In the winter, lengthy walks are essential, particularly in the evening. Moreover, the sunsets here are quite amazing. Among the greatest in the city, to be sure.
10) Visit the Roman Theater of Trieste
At San Giusto Hill's base, see Tergeste's ancient Roman city remains, like the Roman Theater. Its construction dates back to the 2nd century AD and could accommodate up to 3,500 spectators. Events and performances still take place in the theater today, especially in summer.
11) Watch the Barcolana
Every year on the second Sunday in October, the Gulf of Trieste hosts the Barcolana, a sailing competition. With almost 3000 boats registered, it officially became the biggest regatta in the world in 2018 and was included in the Guinness Book of Records.
Each year, the Barcolana draws thousands of visitors, and over that weekend, the city takes on a distinct charm. For sea and sailing fans, this unique global event in Trieste is a must-see. During Barcolana, make sure you book your Trieste accommodations early due to high traveler volume.
12) Admire the Statues of Joyce, Svevo, Saba and D'Annunzio
No other city has had such a concentration of literary genius; authors and intellectuals especially like it. In actuality, Trieste has ties with four literary titans: Gabriele D'Annunzio, Italo Svevo, Umberto Saba, and James Joyce.
You can follow a "literary" route around the historic center made up of the sculptures dedicated to these four individuals. You can check out Joyce while you're strolling over the Red Bridge, Saba using a cane to go to the bookstore he established on via San Nicolò, Svevo at piazza Hortis, and D'Annunzio next to the Stock Exchange offices.
Visit the Svevian Museum and the Joyce Museum to learn more about Svevo and Joyce's relationship. The former has an extensive collection of materials on the Irish writer's 11-year stay in the city, while the latter showcases manuscripts, photos, and different editions of the author's works.
13) Climb the Victory Lighthouse
Climb Colle Gretta to the Vittoria Lighthouse, another of the city's symbols. It is 70 meters high and dominated by a dome on which the statue of Winged Victory stands. In addition to illuminating the Gulf of Trieste, this lighthouse is also a memorial monument dedicated to the fallen at sea during the First World War. If you're lucky, you can check out breathtaking panoramic views during Barcolana.
14) Visiting Trieste During the Bora Wind
Bora and Trieste are an unbreakable pair. The wind known as the "bora" blows in the Gulf of Trieste in an E-NE direction. It can reach speeds of over 188 km/h, which are on record! In the past, the city had ropes at the corners of the windiest streets so that travelers might, if they were strong enough, hang on and make it through the rest of their voyage.
The bora is referred to as "clear" under clear skies and "dark" in overcast, rainy, or snowy conditions. Traveling to Trieste for the arrival of the Bora is an incredible event! Visit the Bora Museum to learn more about this fabled wind.
15) The Narodni Dom
The Slovenian community of Trieste's economic and cultural revival was symbolized by the Narodni Dom, also known as the people's house or national house in Slovenian.
Currently housed at the Narodni Dom is the University of Trieste's school for interpreters and translators. Visit the permanent display located in the building's atrium to learn more. Through the textual and photographic materials, you'll be able to get a close-up understanding of the building's history.
16) Visit the Revoltella Museum
When visiting Trieste, if you are a contemporary art enthusiast, you will not miss the Revoltella Museum. This museum was formerly Baron Pasquale Revoltella's home, which he bequeathed to the city after his death. You can see the extensive art collection as well as the original furniture and décor inside and a gallery with art spanning over two centuries by De Chirico, Dudovich, Morandi. Moreover, the museum balcony offers a breathtaking view of the city's harbor.
17) Go shopping at the Covered Market in Trieste (Mercato Coperto)
The Covered Market is a well-loved spot in Trieste where you can experience a very vintage ambiance. Constructed in the start of the 1900s, it was based on the inheritance of Sara Davis, an affluent English merchant's daughter who was inspired to build it after seeing how difficult outside vendors' lives were in the heat of the summer and during the Bora wind.
18) Visit the Synagogue of Trieste
One of the most impressive synagogues in Europe and a representation of Trieste's multi-religious community. Its establishment at the start of the 20th century is proof of the impact the Jewish community had attained on the city's cultural and economic life at the time.
Three streets—the via Donizetti, the via San Francesco, and the via Zanetti—offer views of the building's exterior façade and distinctive rose windows. Inside, the naves' grandeur and golden mosaic apse will astound you.
19) Shopping in Viale XX Settembre
Viale XX Settembre is one of the several pedestrian zones in Trieste that are devoted to retail. Its name derives from the September 20, 1870, breach of Porta Pia. You can stroll under the trees' shade, browse the clothes and souvenir stores, and, when you need a break, stop at one of the numerous ice cream shops along the route to have a delicious gelato.
20) Serbian Orthodox Church of St. Spyridon
The Greek Orthodox Church of San Spiridione, located near the Canal in Piazza di Sant'Antonio, is another testament to Trieste's multi-religious character.
The structure is designed in the Byzantine style, with a taller dome in the middle and four bell towers, while the inside is embellished with beautiful mosaics, an iconostasis, and a great silver candelabra. The building's stone is from Caso and Istria, and the red columns are Carrara and Verona marble.
Trips outside of Trieste
Step out of Trieste's urban heartbeat and into its mesmerizing outskirts.
21) Take the Napoleonic Road
Enjoy views of Trieste and its Gulf while cycling or walking this trail. Napoleonic is a reference to a myth that says Napoleon's soldiers walked along this promenade.
Surrounded by verdant surroundings, Opicina and Prosecco are about five kilometers away and can be reached by foot or bicycle. There are sheer granite cliffs at the end of the road where thrill-seekers can go free-climbing.
22) Visit Miramare Castle
Situated a short distance from the city center, the Miramare Castle is an absolutely stunning location that is not to be missed. It's the first thing you'll see as you drive up one of Italy's most breathtaking vistas to reach Trieste. The former home of Archduke Maximilian of Habsburg and his wife Charlotte of Belgium, this white gem with a view of the sea has come to represent Trieste.
You can immerse yourself in more than 20 luxuriously furnished original chambers and halls inside the castle, which is now a museum, or stroll around the vast park outside, which has ponds, sculptures, and flora.
23) Giant Cave Grotta Gigante
Whether you're a spelunking aficionado or not, this is the place for you! If you're looking for a different kind of day or want to take a journey outside of town, Grotta Gigante is the perfect destination.
The Grotta has the biggest natural chamber in the world and a superb example of an underground karst cave. Furthermore, it is the only one of this size that can be investigated without specialized gear. In any event, if you do want to visit, make sure you are well covered and wear comfortable shoes since you will be traveling down to a depth of 100 meters with a temperature at a steady 11°C.
Is Trieste Worth Visiting?
Yes, Trieste, the regional capital of Friuli Venezia Giulia, is absolutely worth visiting. It's an elegant, lively and multicultural city on the border with Slovenia which maintains strong links with its past as a thriving commercial and port city. Moreover, by walking through the magnificent historic center of Trieste which has as its epicenter Piazza Unità d'Italia, Piazza della Borsa, the magnificent Grand Canal and the Contrada di Cavana, you'll find elegant bourgeois buildings, magnificent churches, amazing museums and many historic shops, some of which have been opened for more than 100 years.
Are You Ready for More Italy-Related Articles?
I bet the thrill of Trieste has you motived to travel to Italy; if that adventure ignited your excitement, you'll be amazed by our other Italian journeys. Buon Viaggio!
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