13 things to see in Trieste: the best attractions and things to do

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Lluis Enric Mayans

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Trieste, the capital of Friuli Venezia Giulia, is a border town that has undergone various influences over the centuries. The Italian, Slovenian and Austrian influences are still present today, both in architecture and in the culinary tradition! Furthermore, Trieste it is a seaside town, with an important port and an important maritime history. Overlooking the Gulf of Trieste, this city has a lot to offer, and is an excellent base for visiting the surroundings.

So let's find out together what to see in Trieste: the best attractions and things to do.


  1. Piazza Unità d'Italia and Molo Audace
  2. Opicina tram
  3. Grand Canal, Red Bridge and James Joyce Statue
  4. Roman Theatre
  5. Castle of San Giusto
  6. Cathedral of San Giusto Martire
  7. Carso and Val Rosandra
  8. Muggia
  9. Risiera di San Sabba
  10. Promenade of Barcola and Faro della Vittoria
  11. Miramare Castle
  12. Giant Cave
  13. sistiana
  14. Other attractions to visit
  15. 5 things to do in Trieste
  16. User questions and comments

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1 - Piazza Unità d'Italia and Molo Audace

Piazza Unità d'Italia is without a doubt the heart of the city of Trieste. From Trieste it is called Piazza Grande and is a meeting point for a coffee with friends or an aperitif at sunset. It is also the largest square open to the sea in Europe!

Here are some of the most beautiful buildings in Trieste: the Fountain of the Four Continents, a beautiful work of art, the Art Nouveau Government Palace and the Town Hall. Here we advise you to sit at the outdoor tables of the famous Caffè degli Specchi and enjoy a good coffee while admiring the square.

In front of Piazza Unità d'Italia there is also the Molo Audace, one of the most popular places for locals! It is a walkway about 200 m long over the sea, from where you can admire incredible sunsets!

Watch out for the bora wind: visit the Molo Audace at sunset, the red colors of the sky will reflect on the water creating a unique panorama of its kind.But beware of the Bora, a strong wind that can reach 150 km / h, creating storms and various difficulties in the city. In this case, we advise you to follow the news carefully and not venture too close to the sea

2 - Opicina Tram

If you want to enjoy a panoramic tour of Trieste and admire a splendid view over the entire gulf, then we recommend that you take the Opicina Tram, also called Tram de Opcina in Trieste. This tram is a means much loved by tourists and is one of the symbols of Trieste. In operation since 1902, it connects the city center to the Opicina district, on the Triestine Karst.

Getting on this tram means follow a path between some of the most characteristic areas of the city, reaching Opicina, located in an elevated position compared to the rest of Trieste, thus offering one of the most beautiful views of the entire Gulf! The two terminus are Piazza Oberdan and Villa Opicina. The route is about 5 km long, with a difference in height of 329 m and a gradient of up to 26%.

  • you can take the tram at the terminus Piazza Oberdan, in the center, easily reachable on foot from Piazza Unità d'Italia (1 km, 13 min). The second terminus is at Villa Opicina - Get directions
  • active every day 7: 00-20: 00, runs every 20 min. The line may be suspended due to maintenance works, consult the official website before visiting
  • rates of normal public transport. Single journey 2 sections of 1 line € 1,65, full network timetable 75 in € 1,65, day ticket € 4,60

Once at the top, we recommend that you reach the Bunker of the Obelisk of Opicina, a bunker from the Second World War built by the Germans.

3 - Grand Canal, Ponte Rosso and Statue of James Joyce

Not far from Piazza Unità d'Italia it is located one of the most photographed and loved areas of Trieste. We are talking about the Grand Canal, born after the redevelopment of the Borgo Teresiano, the place where once the salt pans were located. After the reclamation of the area, the Grand Canal was the only canal that was built.

The canal was once crossed by 3 swing bridges, but nowadays only the Red Bridge remains, from which to admire the Parish Church of Sant'Antonio Taumaturgo which is the backdrop to the Grand Canal. On the deck you can also take a nice photo with the statue of James Joyce, the famous Irish writer who lived for over a decade in this city!

Come in September for the International Street Food Festival: usually in late September, it is the perfect opportunity to travel the world in one evening! In any case, we recommend that you visit this area around sunset, when the water reflects the red colors of the sky creating a unique show. There are also several places to have an aperitif or dine.

4 - Roman Theater

A few steps from Piazza Unità d'Italia and at the foot of Monte San Giusto, on which the Cathedral and the Castle of San Giusto are located, you can admire the ancient Roman Theater, testimony of the Roman past of the city. At the time, it could accommodate up to 3.500 people! It was brought to light during excavations and redevelopment works in 1938 and the statues that decorated it are currently in the Lapidary Garden.

It definitely represents the most important Roman archaeological rest of the city, although it is not the only one, and is absolutely worth a visit. You can admire it at any time from the outside. In fact, it is not possible to access the interior, except through prior reservation to the Superintendence of Archeology, Fine Arts and Landscape of Friuli Venezia Giulia, which takes care of the management and conservation of the site! More info on the official website.

5 - Castle of San Giusto

A few steps from the Cathedral is the Castle of San Giusto, one of the symbols of the city! At the point where the castle now stands, the first inhabited nucleus was born during the Bronze Age. Around the year 1000 BC the nucleus took the name of Tergeste. Later, the Romans founded their colony here.

We have said several times that Trieste is a city that has undergone various dominations and influences and the castle is its own linked to these perennial wars between Trieste, Venice and Austria! The Castle that we can see today was built between 1468 and 1636 at the behest of the Emperors of Austria.

Today is open to the public and its internal rooms can be visited! You can admire the Chapel of San Giorgio, the Sala Veneta and the Tergestino Lapidarium. You will also find a large collection of weapons and numerous temporary exhibitions. An obligatory stop to learn about the history of the city.

  • Piazza della Cattedrale, 3. On foot from Piazza Unità d'Italia (650 m, 11 min) or by bus line 24 (San Giusto stop, 10 min, € 1,65) - Get directions
  • every day 9: 00-19: 00
  • see official website

Walk along the patrol walkway: all around the Castle it is possible to walk along the patrol walkway, which runs along the top of the perimeter of the walls. The best vantage point is the Bastione Rotondo or Veneto, facing west, which offers a wonderful view over the entire Gulf of Trieste.

6 - Cathedral of San Giusto Martire

The Cathedral of San Giusto Martire is the main Catholic place of worship in the city, dedicated to the Patron of Trieste. The current church was built between 1302 and 1320 and was born from the union of two previous churches: the Church of Santa Maria and the Church of San Giusto.

It is located in a beautiful position, on the top of the homonymous hill, near the Castle of San Giusto, and from here you can admire a wonderful panorama over the whole city! But this is not the only reason why we advise you to visit it: inside you can admire the remains of mosaic flooring dating back to the th century in front of the presbytery, while in the apse there are modern mosaics. Finally, all the frescoes inside represent the life of San Giusto and date back to the th century.

  • Piazza della Cattedrale, 2. On foot from Piazza Unità d'Italia (650 m, 11 min) or by bus line 24 (San Giusto stop, 10 min, € 1,65) - Get directions
  • every day 8: 00-19: 00
  • free

7 - Karst and Val Rosandra

Another attraction near Trieste is the Trieste Karst, a historical region that includes Friuli Venezia Giulia, Slovenia and Croatia. Besides being a wonderful naturalistic destination, it also has an important historical past, as several battles were held here during the First World War.

If you are a nature lover, in addition to the Karst we recommend that you also dedicate a day to Val Rosandra, a reserve of uncontaminated nature which from Trieste reaches the Slovenian border. Here there are several activities to which you can dedicate yourself, from trekking to cycling routes, for the more sporty there are also climbing walls and for nature lovers caving routes!

They extend on the eastern side of Trieste, towards the border with Slovenia. Visible by car, the best and only way to move freely (10 km, 17 min) - Get directions

8 - Muggia

Muggia is a small town located south of Trieste, in the last strip of Italian land before entering Slovenia. It is in fact only 14 km from Koper and 30 km from Piran. Located in the bay of the same name, the municipality developed around the thirteenth century, but the first settlements date back to before the year 1.000.

In Muggia, in addition to a nice walk along the seafront and the historic center, it is a visit to the Castle is not to be missed, dating back to the fourteenth century and from which you can admire a beautiful view over the whole town! It is currently inhabited, but the owners open their doors during the FAI days. We also recommend a visit to the Archaeological Park of Muggia Vecchia, where you can visit the remains of the ancient village, abandoned over the years because the inhabitants moved towards the sea.

  • south of Trieste, overlooking the Adriatic Sea, in the bay of the same name. Reachable by car (16 min) or by direct bus line 40 (Piazza Oberdan-Muggia, 40 min, each way € 2,00) - Get directions
  • city ​​always accessible / Castle of Muggia guided tour of 1 h to be booked one week in advance or free visit during the FAI days / Muggia Vecchia Archaeological Park always accessible
  • city ​​for free / Castle of Muggia free / Archaeological Park of Muggia Vecchia for free

9 - Risiera di San Sabba

Trieste, due to its position, has been the scene of numerous wars, even the most recent, for centuries. Many battles were fought in the Trieste Karst during the First World War, but the city also has a black page linked to the Second World War. In fact, on the southern outskirts of the city there is the Risiera di San Sabba.

This factory, built since 1898, was involved in the processing of rice. Starting from 8 September 1943, following the Nazi occupation, it became the first and only Nazi concentration camp in southern Europe. Here the deportees for the camps of Germany and Poland were sorted, all stolen goods were deposited and it also became a place of detention and elimination of prisoners, not only Jews but also hostages, political prisoners and partisans. In 1944 a crematorium was also put into operation.

At the end of the war, the rice field was declared a National Monument and, in 1975 after renovations, it became the seat of the Civic Museum of the Risiera di San Sabba, open today. It is a must to get to know this side of the city's history as well.

  • in Via Giovanni Palatucci, 5. By car from Piazza Unità d'Italia by car (5,2 km, 10 min) or by direct bus line 10 (Risiera di San Sabba stop, 20 min, € 1,65) - Get indications
  • every day 9: 00-19: 00
  • free (audio guide € 2,00)

Visit the interiors: although sad, very sad, the inside of the rice mill conceals the testimonies of the terrible actions committed there. We recommend the € 2,00 audio guide. Immediately after the entrance on the left is the "death cell", the waiting room for the condemned. The executions were carried out by shooting, by gassing or with a blow with a club on the back of the head. A copy of the mace used for the executions is still present. The gassing instead took place with the exhaust gases of the vans, as there was no real gas chamber. Finally, despite the attempted concealment, the crematorium was indeed there, although it was blown up by the Nazis

10 - Lungomare di Barcola and Faro della Vittoria

We move a little from the historic center. Trieste is a city of the sea and the perfect neighborhood to relax under the rays of the sun is Barcola, with its wonderful promenade. In the summer here you will find locals and tourists intent on sunbathing and swimming. However, equip yourself with shoes for the rocks! The Barcola seafront is full of clubs and green areas and from here you can admire wonderful sunsets.

The main attraction in the area is certainly the Victory Lighthouse. This lighthouse was built between 1923 and 1927 and has a dual function: that of a real lighthouse and that of memorial to the fallen of the First World War. Just think that King Vittorio Emanuele III also took part in its inauguration in 1927. We advise you to climb to the top, from which you can admire a wonderful view over the entire Gulf of Trieste!
The statue on the top represents the Winged Victory, and below it is the anchor of the first Italian ship that arrived in the port of Trieste in the distant 3 November 1918.

  • Barcola district, Strada del Friuli, 141. From the central station take direct bus line 42 or 44 (Faro Vittoria stop, 10 min, € 1,65). Walk 2,9 km (35 min) - Get directions
  • Faro from May to November, generally 10: 00-13: 00 and 15: 00-17: 30/19: 00, depending on the days of the week and the month, consult the official website. Closed in case of unfavorable or dangerous weather conditions
  • free

11 - Miramare Castle

Miramare Castle is definitely one of the must see. Also, arriving in the city by car and along the panoramic coastal road, it will be the first thing you will see. It was built at the behest of Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Habsburg, with the intention of living there with his wife.

Today the Miramare Castle is a museum open to the public, inside which you can admire the ancient original rooms: you will visit the rooms of Massimiliano d'Asbugo, the guest rooms and the throne room.

But that's not all: the Castle is housed in the wonderful Miramare Castle Park, a large green area of ​​about 22 hectares with numerous plants, fountains and decorations. We advise you to take the Path of Maximilian, which will lead you to discover the whole park.

  • 8,5 km from the center of Trieste. Easily reachable by car (20 min, several parking spaces available, even free) or by direct train (Trieste Centrale-Miramare station, 9 min, each way € 1,65) - Get directions
  • Miramare Castle every day 9: 00-19: 00 / Park every day from 8:00 to 16:00 or 19:00 depending on the season
  • full € 12,00, reduced under € 254,00 / Free park / The cost may vary according to temporary exhibitions, consult the official website

Discover the Marine Reserve around: the stretch of water around the castle area is a protected marine area established in the 90s. In summer it is a truly unique place for diving and snorkeling.

12 - Giant Cave

If you are in Trieste there is a natural attraction just outside the city center that you absolutely must visit. We are talking about the Grotta Gigante, a karst cave and one of the most visited places in Friuli Venezia Giulia!

If you are not claustrophobic, we really recommend that you explore this cave, as it is the tourist cave containing the largest natural room in the world. You can admire the rock formations inside, which were formed between 100 and 30 million years ago!

  • Borgo Grotta Gigante, 42 / A, locality of Sgonico. From Central Station direct bus line 42 (Borgo Grotta Gigante stop, 30 min, € 1,65) - Get directions
  • 9: 00-17: 00 approximately, in winter 10: 00-16: 00. Closed on Mondays, December 25th and January 1st
  • Tourist Route 1 h limited number, full € 13,00, reduced € 10,00. Reservations are recommended on the official website to find available seats. Speleo Adventure Experience € 80,00 per person

Practical information for the visit: it can only be visited by guided tour for safety reasons, the visit lasts 1 hour and goes down to a depth of 100 m; the cave is 100 m high, 168 m long and 76 m wide, inside there is a constant temperature of 11 ° even in summer, so bring a sweatshirt. Possibility to participate in the Tourist Route, suitable for everyone, or in the Speleo Adventure, a 4-hour excursion with the Speleological Guides College of Friuli Venezia-Giulia.

13 - Sistiana

Sistiana, north of Trieste, is a small and characteristic locality in the municipality of Duino-Aurisina. It is about a seaside resort, located in a small bay with a wonderful view of the Adriatic Sea and was already a popular holiday resort during the Austro-Hungarian period.

Even today, when you think of Sistiana, you immediately think of relaxation! If you have several days available to visit Trieste, we recommend that you dedicate at least one relaxing afternoon here, even a day would be ideal! You will find a large and luxurious spa with a romantic charm, ideal for couples, and in summer there is also a terrace equipped with a swimming pool. There are also several stone beaches.

  • in the municipality of Duino-Aurisina, north of Trieste, overlooking the Adriatic Sea. Reachable by car (21,6 km, 28 min) or by direct train Trieste-Sistiana (25 min, € 2,95) - Get directions
  • always accessible / Spa Mon-Fri 8: 00-20: 00, Sat-Sun 10: 00-19: 00
  • free / Spa and swimming pool variable prices, consult the official website

Visit it in the afternoon: we recommend visiting the town in the afternoon, to enjoy a bit of sea and relaxation, and stay absolutely until sunset, to enjoy unique sunsets perhaps sipping a good aperitif

    Other attractions to visit

    These just seen are the attractions that we recommend to see to immerse yourself and understand the history and life of the city! Obviously, in addition to these, there are so many things to do!

    For example, the city is full of museums which may or may not be included in your itinerary according to your preferences and tastes! If you are a music lover, we recommend the Carlo Schimdl Civic Theater Museum (€ 4,00), with exhibitions on the life of theater and music from the eighteenth century. If you love oriental culture then you will find the Museum of Oriental Art (free), which tells the relationship between Trieste and the East, with the first floor dedicated to China, second and third floors to Japan. If you are traveling with children or love science, a visit to the Scientific Imaginary is not to be missed (from € 3,50 depending on the itineraries). If you are passionate about art in general, the Revoltella Civic Museum houses 350 works by the likes of De Chirico, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Francesco Hayez and many others. All within a historic building with rich rooms, period furnishings and a splendid historic library.

    The city is also full of wonderful historic squares, such as Piazza della Borsa, Piazza Venezia, Piazza Sant'Antonio and Piazza della Repubblica. Visits to the Synagogue of Trieste (€ 3,50) and to the Serbian Orthodox Temple of the Holy Trinity and San Spiridione (from the outside) are also recommended, demonstrating the multi-ethnic character of the city.

    5 things to do in Trieste

    1. Enjoy a drink in a historic café: the city is full of historic cafes, where the interior decor has not changed. Famous people such as Joyce, Svevo, Saba and Stendhal sat among these tables. To mention the Caffè degli Specchi, Caffè Tommaseo from 1830 and the Caffè San Marco
    2. Karst War Tour: as already mentioned, the city was the scene of violent battles during the Great War. You can discover the history and visit these places thanks to a guided excursion
    3. Learn about the history of the Habsburgs: the Habsburg dynasty had a great influence on Trieste, think of the Miramare Castle. If you are passionate about history, then we recommend the guided tour of the history of the Habsburgs
    4. Visit of an osmiza: osmiza is a place where local wines and typical products are sold and consumed. They are mainly located on the Karst, between Trieste and Slovenia. We recommend that you take part in an osmize tour to immerse yourself in the culinary tradition of the area
    5. Panoramic tour of the city: if you have little time available to visit Trieste, we recommend that you take a tour of the city by coach with audio guide that will take you to discover the most famous and well-known places

    Plan your stay in Trieste: flights and hotels

    Trieste is a city on a human scale and it is also ideal to visit with children! For the center, where most of the attractions are located, you can move easily on foot, for the more distant ones you can rely on the excellent public transport network.

    If you are coming from Northern Italy, we advise you to reach your destination by car, alternatively the city is served from Friuli Venezia Giulia Airport (40 km from Trieste, Trenitalia regional direct train, 30 min, each way € 4,25, compare flights). The alternative is to arrive at the Venice airport, and then reach Friuli Venezia Giulia with the train connection.

    To sleep, we advise you to opt for the central areas, especially the historic center (compare the best deals on Booking.com). The Barcola area is also ideal, especially if you are looking for relaxation or traveling with children. If you are looking for nightlife, we recommend that you stay especially in the Borgo Teresiano neighborhoods and around Piazza Venezia.

    Finally, if you are planning a low cost trip, there are several things that you can enjoy for free or at low cost: Piazza Unità d'Italia with the Molo Audace, the area of ​​the Grand Canal, the whole area of ​​Barcola, very popular in summer even by locals!

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