If Austria has a coastal city, it would be Trieste! Here’s everything you need for a weekend in Trieste.
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Tucked into the far northeast of Italy, Trieste is one of those Italian cities that may not be on your radar.
Trieste has changed nationalities a ton in its two-thousand-year history. While Roman during the Roman empire, it transitioned into the Byzantine empire and then was Austro-Hungarian until after WWI. You’ll see that Austrian influence reflected in the architecture and food, making Trieste unique within Italy.
One random fun thing in this area in general: many road signs in this area are trilingual. They include place names in Italian, Slovenian, and Friulian – a regional language similar to Italian, but more distinct than a dialect.
Getting to Trieste
Trieste is a day trip option from Venice or Aviano AB. It’s on the longer side of what I’d recommend if you’re traveling by train for a day trip, but it’s still doable if you’re short on time! If you have access to a car it’s a very easy day trip. If you have time, spend a weekend in Trieste and add in a day trip to a nearby spot or give yourself time to sunbathe and swim!
My recommendation is to go by train. There are options almost every hour, and they can get you there quickly and easily. It’s around a 2.5-hour train ride, so long for a day trip but easy for a 1-2 night overnight.
If you’d rather, driving is a good option. It’s 1 hour 45 minutes from Venice and just over an hour from Aviano. Having a car makes it easy to do things like see Miramare Castle, add on a day trip, or build it into a larger road trip including Slovenia and Croatia!
If you drive, know that parking can be tough on weekends. So check what your accommodation offers if you stay overnight, and start with parking options near the port rather than downtown if you’re there for the day!
One of the biggest lots in the city is near the port, so I would start there if you’re on the hunt.
Things to do in Trieste
Miramare Castle is the most famous thing to see in Trieste! It’s cool enough that I’ve already shared a whole post on it. Note that it’s not within walking distance from the city center – you’ll need to drive, take a bus, or catch the train. If you’re spending a weekend in Trieste, you can easily spend an entire afternoon here.
Walk the Harbor
The molo, or harbor/dock, is a beautiful place to soak in the views and watch the boats go by. Known for it’s sailing, there are always boats to watch in this cove of the Mediterranean. You can also catch the ferry from here to several other parts of this area of Italy!
In some parts you’ll see people sunbathing or swimming! This part of Italy doesn’t really have sand beaches, so people sunbathe and swim right off the docks or boardwalks. If you want a quieter place to enjoy the water, I’d recommend catching the ferry to Muggia or Grado.
Trieste is built around the marina, so it’s no surprise that the coast offers several canals into the city itself. It’s not like Venice where they cross the city, but nowadays you can find plenty of bars along the canals to enjoy a sunset spritz!
Piazza Unita d’Italia
The Piazza Unita d’Italia is the massive city plaza. It’s ringed by government buildings and has become the classic image representing Trieste. Make sure to pass through at least once!
Orthodox Church of Saint Spyridon
The Orthodox Church of Saint Spyridon is one of my favorite spots in the city! Its beauty is classic for orthodox churches, even though it was built relatively recently, in the 19th century. The ornate mosaic ceiling and gold decor are captivating – it’s my favorite church in Trieste! It’s free to enter but keep in mind you’ll need to come back later if a service is in session.
Sant’Antonio Nuovo Church
Sant’Antonio Nuovo Church sits at the end of the Grand Canal and looks pretty stately in its simplicity. The interior continues the simple style, but it’s worth sticking your head as a comparison to the Orthodox Church around the corner!
The ruins of an ancient Roman-era theater are tucked behind some buildings! Built into a hill, they’re free to see from the street or you can buy a ticket to go inside. Try to also walk by at night; they’re lit up and pretty striking.
Remember the Holocaust in Italy
Did you know there were Nazi concentration camps in Italy? Originally built as a rice husking mill, Risiera di San Sabbia was the only extermination camp. It was also used as a holding place to send Jewish people and resistance fighters on to further concentration camps. Now it’s a monument and museum to remember the atrocities committed there.
I’ve also put together a restaurant guide for your weekend in Trieste to make sure you eat and drink the best of the city. Or if you can’t wait and also want to snag some great add-on day trips from Trieste, grab my Trieste masterlist on Thatch now!