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. 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 and the surrounding area and why Trieste is definitely worth visiting if you are in the neighborhood.
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.
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
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.
I also really liked the elegant lampposts lining the streets of Trieste. The frosted glass bulbs seemed to shine in the sun.
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.
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.
See Where Illy was Born in Trieste
Stand-up Espresso at a Classic Cafe in Trieste
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.
Trieste's World-Class GelatoSicily springs to mind), 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.
Italian Sweets at Pasticceria La Bomboniera
Hearty Northern Italian Lunches
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.
Wine and Snacks Al Fresco
Part of the fun of Trieste is just having a wander around and getting a little lost. You never know what you'll find. We discovered Bar Porta Marina at the corner of Via del Pesce and Via della Pescheria. Enjoy a glass of regional white wine from Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Bar Porta Marina serves wine with some of the spiciest olive oil crackers I've ever had. So good!
SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: There are so many amazing destinations to visit in Italy. Looking for ideas of where to go next? Have you considered:
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.
A No Fuss Dinner in Trieste at 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
Chocolate-Filled Krapfens for Breakfast
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.
Cozy Museums Like 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.
Walk in Joyce's Footsteps
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 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.
Sun Yourself 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.
Trieste's Seaside Square Day and Night
Watch the Sun Set Over the Gulf of Trieste on 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.
Dinner al Fresco at La Tecia
Browsing the restaurants with outdoor seating options near our hotel, we settled upon La Tecia for dinner. Once again, we chose 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
Take the Public Bus to 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.
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 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.
Explore Trieste's Roman Past
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.
Hike Up to Trieste's 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.
Stop in to the Museo del Castello di San Giusto
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.
Get Lost and Embrace the Surprises
Climb Scala 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.
Buy A Bag of 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.