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Is Trieste Worth Visiting? 25 Reasons to Discover This Adriatic Jewel

Find out: Is Trieste Italy worth visiting? Learn about things to do in Trieste City and the surrounding area. Understand why visiting Trieste is an ideal add-on to a Slovenian vacation or a trip to Istria.
Is Trieste Italy worth visiting? That was the question running through our minds as we planned a 10 day trip starting in Ljubljana Slovenia and heading to Croatian Istria. 

We expected that Trieste would be an intriguing short diversion on our itinerary. In the end, we spent 3 days in Trieste. 

Read on to learn about things to do in Trieste city centre and the surrounding area and why Trieste is definitely worth visiting if you are in the neighborhood.

Canal Grande di Trieste

Getting to Trieste

Flixbus is a great way to get around Europe cheaply. The Flixbus from Ljubljana to Trieste runs several times a day and takes about an hour and forty minutes. The bus ticket can cost as little as 7.00 EUR one way depending on the day, time, and season.

You can also travel from Venice to Trieste Centrale Railway Station in less than two hours. Tickets start at about 6.00 EUR.

Where to Stay in Trieste

We stayed at Hotel Continentale Trieste. Since we were visiting in September and Trieste can be quite hot, we opted for a hotel with air conditioning. Hotel Continentale Trieste air conditions the rooms by running cold water behind the walls. 

It's an unusual system but reasonably effective. Hotel Continentale is about a 15 minute walk from the bus station and is centrally located in the heart of Trieste with plenty of shopping, bars and cafes nearby.

Day 1: Trieste's Architecture And Food

On our first day in Trieste we focused on exploring this Italian city's architecture and food.

1. Brilliant Architecture

What to see in Trieste: ornate facades and fountains
The thing that struck me the most when we first arrived in Trieste and took a walk around was the brilliant architecture. Noble fountains, ornate facades, and more will greet you. Get lost on the streets of Trieste and you're bound to find an interesting former palazzo or other structure.

2. Ornate Lampposts

What to see in Trieste: lampposts
I also really liked the elegant lampposts lining the streets of Trieste. The frosted glass bulbs seemed to shine in the sun.

3. Disturbing Edifices

The disturbing edifices of Trieste City
Looking closer, you might spot a disturbing edifice. Check for faces above the doorways in Trieste. Some are being devoured by wolves or a crocodile.

4. Jaunty Sculptures

Trieste points of interest: Neptune statue
There are plenty of cool statues and fountains on the streets of Trieste. You might even spot Neptune and his trident surveying a scene full of shops and residents having lunch al fresco.

5. See Where Illy was Born in Trieste

Things to do in Trieste: Visit Illy

Trieste is known for coffee culture. For over two centuries, Trieste has been the main Italian trading port for coffee beans. It's no surprise then that Trieste is the home of Illy Coffee, an Italian staple. Check out the Illy shop for a coffee or souvenir.

6. Stand-up Espresso at a Classic Cafe in Trieste

Things to do in Trieste City: Get a coffee at Antico Caffe Torinese
We prefer a more classic Italian coffee experience and ducked into Antico Caffè Torinese, a coffee bar that opened its doors in Trieste back in 1919. Drink an espresso standing up at the counter optionally paired with a small sweet treat.

7. Trieste's World-Class Gelato

What to eat in Trieste Italy: gelatoWhat to see in Trieste: fountain on Viale XX Settembre
As with many places in Italy, you can count on finding great gelato in Trieste. Along tree-lined Viale XX Settembre, you'll find a number of gelaterias. 

Pick up a couple scoops and eat your ice cream while exploring the neighborhood on foot.

8. Italian Sweets at Pasticceria La Bomboniera

Where to eat in Trieste: Pasticceria La Bomboniera
You'll also find plenty of historic bakeries in Trieste. We stumbled upon Pasticceria La Bomboniera and couldn't resist stopping in for a sweet treat. Entering the interior of the shop is like taking a step back in time with fading mirrors and dark wood paneling.
Where to eat in Trieste: Pasticceria La Bomboniera

9. Hearty Northern Italian Lunches

What to eat in Trieste: lunch at Caffe Walter 1907

In Trieste, you can enjoy a well-priced lunch al fresco at cafes like Caffe Walter 1907. Seek out the menu of the day which might include a plate of penne paste or Chicken Milanese washed down with a glass of local wine from Friuli Venezia Giulia.

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for some other amazing destination ideas in Italy? Why not:

10. Aperitivo Time in Trieste

What to do in Trieste: Aperitivo at Caffe Eppinger
As you can see, Trieste is all about great Italian food experiences. Before you know it, it's aperitivo time

Stake out a table at a local cafe around 6 pm and settle in for a Campari spritz or a negroni cocktail. The drinks typically cost in the 5 EUR range and come with an array of bar snacks. 

We enjoyed our aperitivo at Caffe Eppinger in the heart of Trieste's pedestrianized shopping core.

11. A No Fuss Dinner in Trieste at Osteria Da Marino

Where to eat in Trieste Italy: Osteria Da Marino
Stroll around Trieste and browse the menus at various cafes and bars. We noticed that Osteria Da Marino got excellent reviews and we managed to snag the last table for a late dinner (late by our standards, early by Italian standards) at about 9 pm. 

We enjoyed fresh ravioli, Steak Tagliata (tender sliced steak served over greens) and a large carafe of local red wine. Osteria Da Marino looks like a no-nonsense pub but the food is excellent.

Day 2: Trieste Museums, Piazzas and the Sea

On the second day of our Trieste itinerary, we focused on culture experiences, piazzas, walks along the sea, and more great food.

12. Chocolate-Filled Krapfens for Breakfast

What to eat in Trieste: chocolate-filled krapfen
Keep an eye out for krapfens in Trieste. Krapfens are chocolate-filled doughnuts dusted with dark chocolate powder. Hotel Continentale Trieste served krapfens on the breakfast buffet. I'd recommend the hotel on that basis alone. 

13. Cozy Museums Like Civico Museo Teatrale Carlo Schmidl

Things to do in Trieste City: Civico Museo Teatrale Carlo Schmidl
If you find yourself visiting Trieste for 3 days like we did, take some time to explore the city's unassuming museums. We chanced upon Civico Museo Teatrale Carlo Schmidl which is housed in a historic townhome and features historic musical instruments, sheet music, and costumes. 

Various Italian opera and theatre stars are profiled here. All the exhibits are labeled in Italian but it's fun to let your imagination run wild about the significance of each exhibit. 

14. Walk in Joyce's Footsteps

Trieste Points of Interest: James Joyce statue
Did you know that James Joyce, the world-famous Irish writer of Ulysses fame lived in Trieste for over 15 years? Seek out Joyce's statue on Ponte Rosso which spans Canal Grande di Trieste and look for historical plaques detailing the significance of various events in his life in Trieste throughout the city. 

We didn't have time to stop in but you can also check out Museo Joyce about a kilometer away from Joyce's distinctive statue.

From here, you can also catch a quick glimpse of Serbian Orthodox Church of Saint Spyridon.

15. Sun Yourself on Molo Audace Pier

Things to do in Trieste City: Walk on Molo Audace Pier

If the weather is nice in Trieste and it certainly was when we visited in early September, take a walk to the end of Molo Audace Pier and then look back toward the city. 

Watch the historic buildings shine in the sun and reflect in the water of the Gulf of Trieste on the Adriatic Sea. Molo Audace Pier is a great place to just relax and stock up on some vitamin D from the sun.

16. Trieste's Seaside Square Day and Night

Points of interest in Trieste City: Piazza Unita d'Italia
Trieste is unique among cities in Europe. Most cities have a historic square but Trieste boasts a historic square overlooking the sea. 

Piazza Unità d'Italia is worth a visit both day and night. Check out the historic Fontana dei Quattro Continenti (fountain), Palazzo del Governo and Trieste Town Hall. 

Pick a spot in the center of the square and turn around slowly to fully appreciate your surroundings.
Points of interest in Trieste City: Piazza Unita d'Italia at night

17. Watch the Sun Set Over the Gulf of Trieste on the Adriatic Sea

What to see in Trieste: the sunset over the Adriatic Sea

Because of its position facing west onto the Adriatic Sea, Trieste may give you a beautiful sunset. Grab a spot along Molo Audace Pier and watch the sun light up the sky in brilliant orange and pink hues as it dips below the horizon. 

18. Dinner al Fresco

Collage of dinner dishes at a restaurant in Trieste
Browse the restaurants with outdoor seating options near the hotel. Expect to find hearty local specialties including Steak Tagliata, gnocchi and pasta with shaved truffles. 

For dessert, we could resist sharing a tiramisu. Warning: bring your extra-loose pants to Trieste!

Day 3: Beyond Trieste City

We used the third day of our Trieste itinerary to look beyond Trieste City with a relaxing day trip.

19. Take the Public Bus to Castello di Miramare

What to see in Trieste: Castello di Miramare
On our third and final day in Trieste, we took public bus #6 from the center of Trieste City to Castello di Miramare.

Miramare Castle was built right on the sea in the mid 19th century for Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian and his wife, Charlotte of Belgium back when Trieste was part of the Austro Hungarian Empire.
What to see in Trieste: jellyfish at Castello di Miramare
Just having a stroll around the grounds of Castello di Miramare is a fun thing to do when visiting Trieste. Soak in the sun and look carefully at the crystal clear water. 

You may spot a jellyfish or two below the surface of the water like we did. I could have stood there watching these elegant creatures glide through the water all day.
Trieste points of interest: staircase inside Castello Miramare
Take the self-guided tour through the interior of the castle and then take a walk in the well-coiffed garden.
What to see in Trieste: The gardens at Castello di Miramare
Before you leave Castello di Miramare, definitely stop at Scuderie di Miramare (the Miramare Stables) where you can take an interactive tour of the museum highlighting the tragic life of Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian. 

Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian essentially came out of a planned retirement from his duties in the Austrian Empire in Trieste and became Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico at the request of Napoleon III and moved from Castello di Miramare to Mexico. His reign was short-lived and clocked in at just 3 years.

The empire collapsed when republican forces led by President Benito Juárez captured Maximilian and executed him thus restoring the Mexican Republic. We learned so much about this fascinating piece of history during our visit to the Miramare Stables.

20. Explore Trieste's Roman Past

Trieste City points of interest: Roman Amphitheatre
After returning from Castello di Miramare, seek out signs of Trieste's ancient past at the ruins of the Roman Amphitheatre. Climb the nearby steps and look down on the perfect half-circle of seating. 

21. Hike Up to Trieste's Cathedral

What to see in Trieste: Trieste Cathedral
The Roman Amphitheatre is en route uphill to Trieste's Cathedral. The hike up the hill is no joke but it's worth the climb for sweeping views over Trieste City. Look inside the understated church which features a few gold-trimmed mosaics.
Gold mosaics inside Trieste Cathedral

22. Stop in to the Museo del Castello di San Giusto

What to see in Trieste Italy: Museo del Castello di San Gusto

While you're on top of the hill in Trieste, stop in the courtyard of the Museo del Castello di San Giusto. The museum closes pretty early but you can walk in across the drawbridge and see a few of the exhibits for free without paying the extrance fee. 

23. Get Lost and Embrace the Surprises

Trieste points of interest: Arco di Riccardo
We wandered down the hill and decided to wing it without the help of Google Maps. We love doing this when we travel in Europe because you never know what you'll find. 

We headed steadily downhill turning left or right as the mood struck. Soon we chanced upon a historic Roman arch. I learned later that this is Arco di Riccardo and was built in about 33 B.C. 

Just beyond we heard a buzz of people and rounded the bend onto Piazza del Barbacan. It was just about aperitivo time so we nabbed a table at Zuf along Piazza Barbacan for a glass of white wine and a small snack.
Glass of white wine and snacks on Piazza del Barbacan in Trieste

24. Climb Scala Dei Giganti

Things to do in Trieste: Climb Scale Dei Giganti
We left Trieste the following morning to head back to Slovenia and the Istrian town of Piran on the Slovene Riviera. Before catching our bus, we chanced upon Scala Dei Giganti. Climb up the stairs for views of the bustling scene below.
View of Trieste City from Scala dei Giganti

25. Buy A Bag of Italian Candy

Shopping in Trieste: Italian candy
On the way to the Trieste bus station, take a moment to stop into one of the bakery/convenience stores in the neighborhood to buy a bag of delicious Italian fruit jellies for the onward journey. 

Trieste Map of Things to Do

Click on the image of the map below to open up an interactive version in Google Maps to help you plan your itinerary of things to do in Trieste.

Things to do in Trieste Map

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Is Trieste Worth Visiting on a Trip to Italy?Is Trieste Worth Visiting on a Trip to Italy?

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: Is Trieste Worth Visiting? 25 Reasons to Discover This Adriatic Jewel
Is Trieste Worth Visiting? 25 Reasons to Discover This Adriatic Jewel
Find out: Is Trieste Italy worth visiting? Learn about things to do in Trieste City and the surrounding area. Understand why visiting Trieste is an ideal add-on to a Slovenian vacation or a trip to Istria.
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog