Trieste lies in the furthest most eastern tip of Italy. It was my last stop on my 2 month trip through Italy. I came to Trieste kind of on a whim as I was planning to cross over into Slovenia after.
But I’m so glad I did! Trieste is an absolutely lovely seaside city. It’s beautiful, calm and clean (by Italian standards), vibrant and international. Near the border with Slovenia, Austria, and Hungary, Trieste has been pinged around between different nations during the ages. All those different nationalities have left their mark on the architecture, culture, and cuisine of Trieste, making it a truly unique place in Italy.
I had a great time exploring this wonderful city, so here are my tips on things to do in Trieste:
1. Walk around the Old Town
The historic city centre of Trieste is absolutely stunning. The mix of different styles of architecture makes for an interesting walk. You can clearly recognize Austrian, Italian and Eastern European elements in the narrow cobblestone streets, spacious piazzas and grand palaces. Everything is well maintained, clean and beautifully renovated. The city centre is also small, so you can just let yourself get lost in the maze of little streets. The long boulevard also offers a beautiful walk with views of the ocean on one hand and some of the most beautiful buildings in Trieste on the other.
Trieste tourist board has an audio guide walking tour and a hop-on hop-of bus. On weekends you can join the Trieste Free Walking Tour.
2. Climb up to the castle
Trieste is a port town that spilled onto the surrounding hills as it expanded. For a great view of the city and the port, climb up to the Castello di San Giusto. This Medieval castle lies on a hill in the middle of the historic centre. The Roman ruins in front of the castle make for an interesting juxtaposition of eras. A ticket to the castle is 3 euro’s and you can walk all along the castle walls for a 360 view.
Make sure to also visit the neighboring Cathedral of San Giusto. This beautiful church incorporates Roman, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and modern elements, which leads to a very visually interesting result.
3. Visit Miramare
When Trieste was part of the Hapsburg Austrian-Hungarian empire, Emperor Maximilian and his wife Charlotte built the Miramare castle here as a summer home. That is one nice vacation house 😉
The beautiful castle is now an art museum with special exhibitions during the summer. To reach the castle you take a bus from Trieste and walk through the stunning castle gardens up to the building. Because of its location, Miramare offers some beautiful views of the coast and Trieste.
4. Lounge on the beach
Even though Trieste lies on the coast, you’ll have to travel a bit to reach a beach. But if you visit the city in summer, it is certainly worth it to take a dip in the blue Adriatic waters. But don’t expect long stretches of fine white sand, beaches on this coast are rocks, cement or pebbles.
For some old-time glamour, visit Ausonia. This resort dates back to the 30’s and offers every luxury and facility you could need, but only a small patch of pebble beach.
The most famous beach in Trieste is Barcola. I use the word beach loosely here as well, as it’s really more a cement promenade. But that doesn’t stop the locals from laying here all day on their towels and sunbeds.
The international influences mean that there are tons of different foods that you can try in Trieste. From delicious fresh seafood and pizza to sausages and sauerkraut in a beer hall, there’s something for everyone. Truly local dishes include seafood, truffle pasta and the Trieste version of Hungarian goulash. For some incredible gelato, head over to Gelateria Zampolli.