Things to do in Trieste, Italy
Trieste is located on the Aegean sea, close to the Slovenian border. Things to do in Trieste include;
- Piazza Unità d’Italia
- Trieste Cathedral
- San Giusto Castle (and view of the city)
- Trieste Centro
- Roman Theater
- Grand Canal
- Miramare Castle
- Concentration camp
- James Joyce and Hotel Vittoria Letterario
- Day trip to Ljubljana, Venice or Piran
To see all the points of interest of Trieste I recommend you stay 2-3 nights. I stayed at Victoria Hotel Letterario, alternatively you can check out booking Trieste. Trieste accommodation is also available on Airbnb.
Where is Trieste
Trieste is located in north eastern Italy and is part of Istria. The Istrian peninsula is shared by Italy, Slovenia and Croatia. Many people think Trieste is in Slovenia but it’s over the border in Italy. You can take the Trieste to Venice train which takes 2 hours making a day trip possible. Alternatively you can take the Flixbus to Venice which takes a little over 2 hours and is considerably cheaper. Other cities close by are Ljubljana in Slovenia, as well as the medieval town of Piran. It’s worth checking flights which serve Trieste airport as well as overland options.
Piazza Unita d’Italia
When people ask what to do in Trieste, usually the top answer is to visit the Piazza Unità d’Italia. The plaza is a top location in Trieste to make your Instagram photos, in addition to Miramare castle. Additionally it’s claimed to be the largest plaza in Europe – which is by the sea. For me, this is one of the most beautiful plazas in the world. In comparison with St Mark’s Square in Venice, it’s more beautiful because it’s quieter! The best time to visit the plaza is late evening when the buildings are lit up beautifully. If you’re lucky enough to visit at Christmas there’ll be Christmas trees as well as the Trieste Christmas market. The centerpiece of the square is Trieste town hall, as well as palaces (including Government Palace).
Trieste centro is often referred to as Trieste old town. Most point of interest of Trieste are located in the historic center so you’ll be able to see Trieste on foot. In the center there are traditional colorful houses, plazas, palaces, historic bridges, Roman buildings, Medieval buildings, restaurants, cafes as well as a main shopping street. In addition there is the Port of Trieste and a lovely promenade walk.
Trieste Roman Theater
Amongst all the modern buildings of Trieste is the Trieste Roman Theater. The theater dates back to the 1st century and had a capacity of around 6000. As with many Roman theaters around the world such as nearby Pula Arena, it’s built on a slope. Something else this theater has in common with Pula is the fact it had a sea view. Although in the case of Trieste, the sea has receded since the first century and several tall buildings are now blocking the view. The Trieste Roman Theater is not as impressive as the Colosseum in Rome or Verona Arena but it’s definitely worth viewing. Viewing the Roman Theater is complimentary and you can view it 24 hours a day.
Trieste Cathedral is located on San Giusto hill and dates back to the 6th century. As well as being called Trieste cathedral, it’s also called San Giusto Cathedral. It’s not the most beautiful cathedral in the world, especially in comparison to those of Milan and Florence. What is significant about Trieste Cathedral is the tombs that lie within it. Several tombs of Spanish royalty are located within the cathedral, most significantly, the tomb of Carlos V. Carlos V was son of former Spanish king Carlos IV. He should have been king of Spain but was ousted. Eventually he moved to the Austrian Empire, where he died in Trieste. You can now view the tomb of Carlos V and those of his former wives in the cathedral. In addition there are several pieces of art from the former Italian state of Veneto.
San Giusto Castle
Next door to Trieste cathedral is the Medieval San Giusto Castle. As with the cathedral, the castle is not as beautiful as others in nearby Miramare or Naples. What is special about San Giusto castle is the view. From the castle walls you’ll witness a beautiful panoramic view over the city of Trieste, as well as the bay of Trieste. Additionally you can visit the San Giusto castle museum. In the museum you can visit Medieval rooms as well as see art from this period.
Grand Canal Trieste
Venice is the city famous for its grand canal but Trieste has its own grand canal. The Trieste grand canal is much more peaceful. It’s lined with restaurants and colorful houses. The grand canal leads up to an Instagrammable Serbian orthodox church. Additionally there’s a bridge crossing the canal with a statue a famous historic resident of Trieste, James Joyce. If you enjoy reflection photography, then you must visit the grand canal of Trieste.
Miramare Castle was built in the 19th century for Austrian Archduke, Ferdinand Maximilia. Today, it’s a well maintained and Instagrammable castle by the sea. The photogenic castle is best viewed from the promenade (above) or from the park. Today, the interior of the castle is a museum, showcasing the royal rooms built for an Archduke. As well as visiting the castle you can take a stroll through the park. The castle park has a few points of interest of its own including various fountains in addition to a smaller castle.
How to get from Trieste to Miramare Castle
Miramare Castle is located in Grignano which is a short drive from Trieste. It’s easy to take the local bus from Trieste to Grignano. Bus number 6 regularly passes through Trieste centro on the way to Grignano. I got on the number 6 at this location but check the bus stops closer to your location to see if the number 6 passes. You must buy the bus ticket ticket from a local new agent before getting on the bus. I recommend buying 2 tickets, the additional ticket for your return journey. When you enter the bus you must validate your ticket in the machine. If you sit on the left hand side, you’ll have a sea view as you travel to the castle. I also recommend you get off a little before the castle as it’s a beautiful promenade walk. In addition you can take Instagrammable photos from the promenade (above). The bus stop closest to Miramare castle is located here.
Risiera di San Sabba is a 5 storey, eerie looking building which was used as a concentration camp during world war 2. In addition it was a transit camp for jews on their way to Auschwitz. It’s possible to visit the interior as it’s now a museum.
James Joyce is an Irish poet, his most famous novel is Ulysses. James Joyce lived in Trieste for 10 years at the start of the 20th century. In his honor, there is a statue of him crossing the Trieste grand canal. This is selfie territory for James Joyce fans. In addition to the James Joyce statue, you may visit his residence in Trieste, even to stay in his room overnight, as it’s now a hotel. There’s also a James Joyce museum in Trieste centro.
Victoria Hotel Letterario has an official plaque on the building stating James Joyce resided there. The actual room where James Joyce stayed is now a hotel room decorated in his honor (above). In fact the hotel has a library theme full of James Joyce books in his honor. In the James Joyce library you can find James Joyce novels as well as other Trieste related books. Even if you don’t plan to stay in the hotel, you’ll be made welcome to stop by for a coffee and enjoy the James Joyce theme. Read my Victoria Hotel Letterario review to view the James Joyce library and cafe.
Il Piccolo Trieste is the local newspaper of Trieste. It’s in Italian but definitely worth looking through to see what’s going on in the city. You can pick up a copy in any newsagent, as well as any public transport tickets. A local newspaper also makes a good souvenir from Trieste.
Trieste Italy Map
How to get from Trieste to Portoroz, Slovenia by bus
Trieste bus station is located adjacent to the train station. The direct bus journey from Trieste to Portoroz takes less than an hour with Flixbus. Additionally the bus stops in the Medieval port city of Koper on the way. You may also take the Flixbus from Trieste to Ljubljana which takes less than 2 hours.