Trieste in 36 hours
Updated: Apr 26
The city of Trieste is the perfect destination to combine with a road trip through Slovenia or Croatia, as it is situated only 15km (9.3mi) from the Slovenian border and 30km (19mi) from the Croatian border. Trieste is especially famous for Illy Coffee, the Miramare Castle, Vienna-style buildings and the Irish novelist James Joyce to name a few. As it is situated on the Gulf of Trieste, which is part of the Adriatic Sea, it has a wonderful mediterranean climate.
We have started our city trip at the prestigious central square of Trieste, the Piazza dell’Unita d’Italia which faces the Gulf of Trieste. It is surrounded by remarkable buildings like the Government Building and the City Hall. Here you will also find the Tourist Office (Turismo FVG) where I picked up our FVG-cards which allowed us to visit some museums for free. FVG stands for Friuli, Venezia and Giulia, the area where Trieste belongs to. As the V stands for Venice, it means that the city is not that far. In fact, you can visit it by train within 2 hours as the distance is 150km.
If you walk from the square towards the sea there will be two girls sitting on the docks, immortalized in bronze. The statue is called ‘Le Ragazze di Trieste’ which means ‘The girls from Trieste’ in Italian. They are sewing the Italian flag as a symbol to celebrate the return of Trieste to Italy in 1954.
After our first stroll we took a short break with Illy Coffee and local sweets.
Nice to know: Illy Coffee was founded in 1933 by the Hungarian born Francesco Illy in the city of Trieste. So in many restaurants and cafes they will serve the world famous Illy brand. Trieste even has got 'The University of Coffee'.
Miramare Castle was perfect to visit late in the afternoon when the sunlight was not that bright anymore and trees casted long shadows in the park. The castle is open until 7pm, so make sure you are there in time to see the exuberantly decorated interior. If you are not interested in visiting the castle itself, it’s also possible to enter the large English/Italian-style park of 22 hectares for free. There is a bus stop at the small yacht harbour, so you can leave your car behind at the hotel.
The Miramare Castle was built between 1856 and 1860 by Archduke Maximilian of Habsburg (Austria) and has 20 rooms. Each floor shows a different era with beautiful original furniture. My favourite were the Chinese and Japanese rooms with oriental furniture.
After visiting the castle we walked along the beach towards Trieste. The distance is 8km (5mi), so we decided to walk halfway and to take the bus for the last part because we started to get hungry. By chance we stumbled upon the cosy and family run restaurant 'La Champagneria & Vineria' where they serve amazing homemade pastas and pairing local wine.
The next morning we first went to visit the other castle of Trieste. But this one is roughly 300 years older than the castle of Miramare. From the top of the San Giusto Castle walls you will have a wide view over the city, the Adriatic Sea and the surrounding mountains.
The San Spiridione Church close to the Canal Grande is worth a visit. This Serbian Orthodox church is not only from the outside a beautiful building, but especially on the inside because of its frescos and impressive ceiling.
After 536 years of being under Habsburger rule (from 1382 until 18918), Trieste looks a lot like Vienna. There are many majestic buildings in bright colours.
I don’t visit cities to go shopping, but when I see a creative store with local handmade products, I always like to take a look. Just like the beautiful store called Combiné where two ladies, Lodovica and Nika, create beautiful handmade jewellery and photography art.
Another true gem is être Concept Store. It is situated in an old building with a vaulted ceiling (in the old days it was used for stocking salt). The lovely energetic lady told us passionate about the items in the shop, but as well about the go-to-places in Trieste for lunch and dinner. These personal encounters with locals makes me love travelling so much!
Want to discover more creative 'Made in Trieste' shops? Check out this website.
Drinking coffee at Torrefazione is a nice experience because it feels like little has changed since the day they opened in 1948. It is as well a coffee and tea shop where you can buy (in-house roasted) whole beans, which they are happy to grind for you if you like. We all know the saying ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’, well… we weren’t in Rome, so I will adjust it to ‘When in Italy, do as the Italians do’.
Which means in this case: drink your coffee while standing at the bar. There are no chairs or tables in sight, only a long bar where you will stand, drink your coffee, chat a bit with the person next to you and leave. As simple as that :) I like it because it is much more dynamic and social than all sitting at different tables, so I think we should also introduce this in Belgium!
The Roman Theatre is built in the 1st century AD and is located in the heart of the city with a road passing it on the front side and houses built on the back side. I found it nice to see how the city has wrapped herself around it. It is only possible to enter with a pre-booked guide, but don’t worry, from the sidewalk you will be able to see most of it.
Close to the Roman Theatre we bumped into this lovely small second hand book market…
Viezzoli is nowhere to be found on Internet so you just have to go and check it out for yourself on 'Via della Cassa di Risparmio 7'. During lunch break it's a bustling and energetic place where Triestes office workers come together to drink a cup of coffee and have a quick bite for lunch. As we didn't have to go back to work after lunch we decided to drink an Italian Aperol Spritz along with our pizza ;)
Piazza della Borsa is one of the main squares of Trieste. The greek temple-style building was formerly the Stock Exchange and operates now as the Chamber of Commerce.
The Canal Grande has got a tiny bit of the look and feel of Venice with beautiful old buildings aside. The Canal is not very long, but it is always nice to see water flow through a city.
At the Ponte Rosso (Red Bridge) over the Canal Grande you will find the statue of James Joyce, the famous Irish novelist who has lived in Trieste for 16 years.
Here he wrote the first chapters of his most famous novel: Ulysses.
Café James Joyce is a historic café named after the man who came here often during his residency in Trieste. The interior looks like it has been left untouched for a while and is very cozy and inviting.
Here we've met a very friendly couple from Trieste and they advised us to go to Gelateria Zampoli to taste THE best ice-cream in Trieste, and maybe the best in the world… And I have to admit, I have barely had better ice-cream than this before. Especially the flavour nr.1 (there are 3 flavours without a name) was a winner for sure!
We were there at 9pm on a very rainy and chilly moment, but the shop was literally packed with locals, so that’s always a good sign. I took this picture very rushed, because I didn’t want it to melt and because I couldn’t wait to dig in of course... :)
The next morning we had to continue our road trip to Slovenia. I am glad we took the chance to see this colourful, stylish and diverse city which is sometimes a little bit rough around the edges, but that gives it some extra character in my opinion. So if you are in the neighbourhood of Trieste, don't drive past it, but make sure to pay it a visit!
I hope it will surprise you as much as it positively surprised me.
Save it for later!
Please note: this post is not sponsored.