Trieste in Italy, 6 places not to be missed

Share it on:

Trieste-cover-mobile

Trieste in Italy, 6 places not to be missed

Share it on:

Post also available in:

Cosmopolitan and aristocratic, the city of Trieste, in northeastern Italy and just a few steps from the Slovenian border, has been a cultural bridge between central and southern Europe for centuries. The city perfectly combines a Mediterranean soul with a Central European culture. Located in the center of the homonymous gulf, on the Adriatic Sea, Trieste offers many attractions not to be missed, as a result of its long history of peoples and ages.

Trieste

We love... Trieste!

Cosmopolitan and aristocratic, Trieste has a long and varied history that starts from its Roman origins and comes up to the glorious Habsburg legacy which characterized the years before the entering into the Kingdom of Italy and transformed it into the little Vienna on the sea. Due to its geographical position, the city has always been a cultural bridge between the mediterranean area and the central europe and a rich variety of peoples and cultures, still visible today, has contributed to build over the centuries its strongly cosmopolitan and modern soul.
The heart of the city is the beautiful Piazza Unità d’Italia, the largest seaside square in Europe. But the city offers much more: from the characteristic alleys to the historical remains of the ancient Roman city up to the great noble palaces of the nineteenth and early twentieth century.
However, Trieste is also the city of coffee! Free port for imports since the eighteenth century, even today the city port is an important commercial hub. Taking a break in one of its historic cafés, which over the centuries have inspired European artists and writers, is therefore an absolute must!
We visited the city over a long weekend in March, choosing to stay in the heart of the center at the Hotel Continentale*, just a few steps from Piazza Unità d’Italia and Borgo Teresiano. We absolutely recommend it! And for a first visit to the city, here are our tips and 6 places not to be missed!

How to get there

Arriving by train

Trieste Train Station

arriving-train

Trieste can be reached by train from the main cities of Switzerland and from the cities of Northern Italy. Fast trains will allow you to get to Milan or Venice and then continue from there to Trieste. However, direct trains are not available from Switzerland, so you will need to make at least a couple of changes. Travel times can vary between six and eight hours depending on the solution you choose. Train tickets can be purchased through the SBB website or through the SBB App and, as always, we suggest to check in advance the updated timetables and the different travel options.

Arriving by car

Trieste

arriving-car

Trieste can be reached by car from Switzerland and from the main cities of northern and central Italy. From the north-eastern part of Switzerland, it is advisable to reach the nearest exit of the A2 motorway, which will allow you to cross the national border and reach the area of Milan. From there, follow the A4 freeway and continue until you meet the signs for the A34/Trieste/Gorizia. On the other hand, from Western Switzerland it is advisable to cross the national border through Mont Blanc and drive towards Milan to continue on the above route.
The journey by car from Zurich and Geneva takes about 7 hours and a half.

Arriving by plane

Trieste Airport

arriving-plane

Trieste can also be reached by plane. However, Trieste’s airport, Ronchi dei Legionari, does not offer many travel options. On the contrary, many more options are available at the International airport of Venice or at the small Airport of Treviso, reached also by low cost airlines such as Ryanair or Wizzair. Both of those airports are about 150 km away from Trieste, so you will need to continue your journey by car or train. Therefore, the advice is to reach one of the airports and rent a car for your stay, maybe adding a short visit to the wonderful Istrian peninsula, just across the Italian border.

Piazza Unità d'Italia and Molo Audace

Piazza Unità d’Italia, the city’s icon, represents at best the soul of Trieste. The elegant historical buildings built between the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century are the main feature of this huge square, the largest sea-facing square in Europe. It is also adorned in its center by the “Fountain of the Four Continents”, built between 1751 and 1754. Why four continents and not five? It’s easy to say: at the time of its construction, Australia had not yet been discovered!
But as we said before, Trieste is also the city of coffee! And right here, in Piazza Unità d’Italia, there is the “Caffè degli specchi”, the oldest of the historic cafes of the city. During the spring and summer, this elegant square is transformed into a real city lounge, ideal for an aperitif with friends or for an afternoon break with delicious traditional Austro-Hungarian cakes. We suggest you to visit this place at sunset, when the square is at its best and everything is even more fascinating. We also suggest you to combine the visit with a walk along the Molo Audace, a pier that juts out into the sea for 246 meters and from which you can admire a fantastic view of the square, the entire coast of the city and the gulf.

Borgo Teresiano

One of the most famous historical districts of the city, not far from Piazza Unità d’Italia, Borgo Teresiano was built in the eighteenth century by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI and Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, from whom the district takes its name. The Borgo Teresiano rises in the area where the old city salt pans were located, specifically buried to allow the construction of a new district closer to the sea. In the project were also included several navigable channels to allow the delivery of goods arriving from the sea directly to the food stores and artisans of the district. However, the project to build the canals failed and only one was built, the charming Grand Canal which is still visible today and is the fascinating heart of the district.
In the neighborhood you can admire the Palazzo della Borsa Vecchia, whose shape recalls an elegant Greek temple and, a few steps away, the City Theater, built in the late eighteenth century and dedicated to the Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi.
But a walk here will also allow you to discover the multi-ethnic and cosmopolitan heart of the city, represented by a pleasant and unique mixture of tastes and architectural styles. Not to be missed is also the Serbian Orthodox Temple of the Holy Trinity and St. Spyridon, which overlooks the Grand Canal and whose domes will certainly fascinate you.

Cathedral of San Giusto

San Giusto Cathedral certainly represents the main catholic building of the city. It rises on the top of the homonymous hill, which dominates the city and is the ancient heart of Trieste. Here, in fact, was located the ancient city and, not surprisingly, the area around the cathedral is dotted with evidence and remains of the Roman Forum. The present church is the result of the merging of two pre-existing buildings, the church of Santa Maria and the church of San Giusto, incorporated into a single building at the beginning of 1300. The current building has an austere appearance and its facade is characterized by a huge rose window made of karst stone, while the interior is rich in decorations dating back to different historical periods of which the church is a testimony. A curiosity: the external facade of the building has been embellished over the centuries using the remains of ancient Roman buildings such as capitals, columns, portals and commemorative plaques.
Absolutely not to be missed is the ascent to the bell tower (90 steps), from which you can admire a magnificent view over the city and the gulf. The basilica and the bell tower can be visited free of charge every day but, in order to support the costs of maintenance and restoration, a free offer is appreciated.

Castle of San Giusto

Built on the hill of the same name, a few steps from the Cathedral and the park, the Castle of San Giusto was built at the end of 1300 for the will of the emperors of Austria, to which the city had relied for protection from invasions. Ironically, the fortified building has never been at the center of real war events of relevant importance, which is why it has been preserved until today in its integrity. Because of its strategic position, the place is today particularly appreciated by tourists visiting the city because from its walkways it is possible to enjoy extraordinary views of the city and the Gulf of Trieste. But the building itself is very interesting and definitely worth a visit. Not to be missed are also the museum areas inside the castle. For the visit, we suggest you to consider at least an hour and a half. The entrance to the castle is allowed after purchasing a ticket of € 5.00 / adult. At this link you will find all the information.
A little curiosity: at the entrance of the Castle you can admire the original statues of “Michez and Jachez”, two nineteenth-century automatons that marked the time on the bell tower of the Town Hall of Trieste (where today copies are exposed).

Castle of Miramare

Built in the mid-1800s as a residence for Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Habsburg and his wife Charlotte of Belgium, the Castle of Miramare is an absolutely fascinating building also because of its magnificent position overlooking the sea. Seeing it, in its white splendor, you will feel like you have entered a world of fairy tales and princesses! The historic building is surrounded by a beautiful park of 22 hectares well maintained and fully open to visitors. It is the result of the efforts of Maximilian of Habsburg on the rocky promontory of Grignano which, you will be surprised to know, was originally almost completely free of vegetation. On the contrary, today many varieties of plants chosen by the archduke himself during his travels around the world find their home here. The interior of the castle, on the other hand, is now a museum. Entering it, you will have the opportunity to visit the noble apartments complete with original furnishings. In the park there is also the Castelletto, a small building that was used as the residence of the archdukes during the construction of the castle.
The Park and the Castle of Miramare are easily reachable from the historical center of Trieste by public transport. While the park is open every day (except 25th December and 1st January), the Castle of Miramare is open from Monday to Sunday from 9am to 7pm (last entrance at 6.30pm). The entrance ticket to the Castle costs € 10.00 / adult, while the entrance to the park is obviously free. More informations are available at this link.

San Sabba rice mill

The last place we suggest for a first visit in Trieste is the Risiera di San Sabba. Located just outside the city center but easily accessible by public transport, the large complex of buildings of the plant for husking rice, built in 1898 in the homonymous district, is sadly known for being the only Nazi concentration camp on Italian territory. Initially intended for the sorting of deportees to Germany and Poland, it was unfortunately later widely used by the fascist and Nazi authorities for the detention and physical elimination of hostages, political opponents, Jews and other minorities. The rice mill, which is now open to the public and can be visited, allows visitors to immerse themselves in the sad reality of the detention camps by visiting the dormitories, the cramped prison cells, the work laboratories and other common areas. In the inner atrium, between high red brick walls, was located the crematorium, destroyed by the Nazis before the abandonment of the structure in an attempt to hide any trace of the genocide. Today the crematorium is remembered by a metal shape, placed there in perpetual memory.
In the structure there is also a small museum area that offers the possibility to read and listen to testimonies of prisoners and their families. A really touching and painful experience! A place to reflect, in short, about a time that seems so far away but that we should not forget. More informations are available at this link.

Tips

1

In order to save money on the entrance tickets to the city’s attractions, we recommend the purchase of the FVG Card, a nominative chip-card valid for 48 hours or 1 week from the first use and which allows, at a cost of Euro 25/adult, free entrance to the affiliated attractions or to take advantage of special discounts. For example, the Castle of Miramare and the Castle of San Giusto are included in the card! At this link you can find all the information about the card and the list of the affiliated structures.

2

The ancient city of Tergeste, the Roman heart of today’s Trieste, is still visible from time to time among the buildings of the modern city. For example, the foundations and some columns of the ancient Roman forum can be seen in a large open space between the San Giusto Cathedral and the San Giusto Castle. A little further down the city, towards the sea, you’ll find Richard’s Arch, a stone arch that seems to almost come out of nowhere, between the stones of an old building. Tradition has long considered it one of the city gates but according to more recent research it seems more likely that this ancient stone arch is the entrance to the ancient sanctuary of the Magna Mater. In conclusion, at the foot of the hill of San Giusto, in the center of the city, stands the ancient Roman Theater, brought to light in the thirties, restored and partially rebuilt. While the first two attractions can be visited for free, to access the theater you must pay a ticket. However, visits are currently allowed only by reservation due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic. At this link you can find all the informations.

3

If you visit the city between June and September, do not miss the opportunity to participate in one of the many cultural events of “Trieste Estate”: concerts, shows, exhibitions and other initiatives that take place in the heart of the city and in places of particular beauty and charm. At this link you will find all the information about the events and how to participate.

4

Are you planning a trip in Trieste and you have doubts or concerns? Leave us a comment below and we will give you a feedback as soon as possible!

* Advertising note: this article contains affiliate links from our partners. Through affiliations, we give you the opportunity to access promotions and offers, often in advance or exclusively, for the purchase of products and services. At the same time, if you choose to buy from one of our partners, you will support our blog and help us to keep it open. Our opinions about the recommended products or our purchase advices are not influenced by the partnerships. If you want to know more about the way we handle advertising on this blog, you can visit this page.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Keep in touch

By receiving our newsletter you will be informed about our travels and hikes and will receive our tips directly in your mailbox!

Isn’t it enough? Here you can discover 6 more good reasons for subscribing to our newsletter!