Is Trieste Worth Visiting? 13 Best Reasons to Visit Trieste

Travels On Point Affiliate Disclosure Statement

Yes, Trieste is worth visiting! For the outstanding architecture on the Adriatic sea, unique mix of culture, welcoming locals and more.

I spent six days in Trieste on two trips. I liked it so much I came back a second time within two weeks!

In my many months of living and traveling in Europe, I feel Trieste is a standout hidden gem in northern Italy.

👉 Why Visit Trieste?

  • the unique and beautiful architecture on the Adriatic Sea
  • a unique  mix of cultures  (Slavic, Italian, Austrian)
  • the welcoming, non-touristy atmosphere
  • Roman ruins and castles 
  • local family-owned restaurants and businesses

NOTE: Trieste may not be worth visiting if you have never been to Italy and prefer to see the famous sights. In that case, I would skip Trieste unless you have extra time.

Statuary along the Grand Plaza in Trieste, Italy
Statuary along the Grand Plaza in Trieste, Italy

Locals often speak some English and are very willing to help you; several went out of their way to help me with buses and directions.

Why is Trieste Worth Visiting?

Trieste is an ideal destination for anyone wanting to explore Italy beyond the well-trodden path. 

Lovers of culture, architecture, local experiences, and a less-touristy environment will enjoy Trieste; there are many things to do in Trieste for a day or two visit.

Trieste was once considered the Vienna of Italy; it’s an old fishing port and was known for high arts and culture. This is still apparent in the chandeliered coffee houses, ornate architecture, and the mix of Italian, Austrian, and Eastern European cultures.

13 Reasons To Visit Trieste & Things To Do 

1. Grand Plaza – Piazza dell’Unità d’Italia 

Sunset on the Grand Plaza of Trieste is a main reason to visit.
Sunset on the Grand Plaza of Trieste is a main reason to visit.

Trieste’s Piazza dell’Unità d’Italia is a breathtaking plaza that proudly stands as Europe’s largest seaside square. It opens up to the  Gulf of Trieste framed by beautiful neoclassical buildings. 

You can sit in one of the many cafes, sip coffee, and take in the picturesque views of the Adriatic.

The grandeur of this square, often referred to as Europe’s “salon,” offers a perfect introduction to Trieste.

2.  Canal Grande   

The famous Grand Canal in Trieste, Italy

While Venice might have its famed Grand Canal, Trieste has a charming waterway of its own—the Canal Grande. Lined with majestic historic buildings, a stroll along this short canal is a delightful way to explore the city’s unique character and architectural beauty.  

You will pass by it many times in the course of a day of walking and see different reflections with the changing of the light.  

3. The Quality of the Coffee 

Traditional coffee of Trieste
Traiditional coffee of Trieste

Trieste’s love affair with coffee is well-known in Italy. As a seaport, the city has been the gateway for coffee imports to the rest of Europe for centuries. In Trieste, coffee isn’t just a beverage; it’s a way of life. 

The coffee culture of Italy is famous and in Trieste it is so strong that it brews inside of you.

It is said that James Joyce conceived the masterpiece Ulysses while sipping a cappuccino in Trieste.  

4. Friendly Locals

A  wonderful quality of Trieste is the warmth and friendliness of the locals.

When you’re browsing antiques, sampling local cuisine, or shopping for beautiful clothing, you’ll find the locals welcoming and eager to share their city’s treasures with you.

I had several wonderful conversations with shopkeepers of all ages, and I don’t speak Italian. Many people speak English.

5. Miramare Castle 

Castle Miramare, one of the reason to visit Trieste.

Perched on a hill overlooking the Adriatic, and a bit outside of the main town sits Miramare Castle. It is worth a visit for the views and castle museum.

View from Miramare Castle, Trieste

The castle and its meticulously maintained gardens offer panoramic views of the sea and the city. 

6. Roman ruins 

Trieste’s history is a tapestry woven with diverse threads, and among them are remarkable Roman ruins.

Image of the ruins of Roman theatre in Trieste, Italy, one things that makes it famous

You can easily explore the Roman Theatre near the city center, a well-preserved archaeological site that evokes the grandeur of ancient Rome. These ruins speak to Trieste’s long history as a crossroads of civilizations.

7. The Cathedral of San Giusto

Also known as Trieste Cathedral, The Cathedral San Giusto sits high on a hill overlooking Trieste. You will need good walking shoes and be in relatively good shape; the walk to it is short and steep.

This cathedral is interesting and unique as it is built on and around ancient Roman ruins.

Climb to the top of the tower for a wonderful view of the city and gulf.  Watch for the beautiful Byzantine mosaics inside. The museum is on-site. The bell tower is separate and worth it for the view of the gulf from the top.

8. Family-owned restaurants.

Many, if not most, of the restaurants in Trieste are family-owned, and thus they usually have an intimate and friendly atmosphere.

👉 Personal Story  One evening I found a tiny restaurant, Hostaria G. Strehler, that was full, but the owner, a grandmotherly lady, told me to wait a moment while she asked the diners if they would mind a new guest.  

A young Italian woman offered her table and I had a wonderful evening (over two hours) eating homemade polenta and making a new friend.

She spoke excellent English and was quite shy and it was her first ever trip away from her family alone. She asked to take a selfie to remember our meal. 😊

9. The Opera Museum 

vintage organ, triesteopera museum

Trieste was a center of high culture in the past, known as the Vienna of Italy.

The Opera Museum shows this cultural history with exhibits of vintage instruments, lavish costumes, and even suits of armor.  

The exhibits are dedicated to composers, musicians, and performances. 

I learned there that in past centuries, opera performers used their own clothing as costumes! Here is one of them:

Opera costume from the Opera Museum in Trieste,  Italy

10. The historic center

Pedestrian street in Triest at Christmas
Pedestrian street in the center of Trieste in December

The center of Trieste is excellent for walking and exploring. Many streets are pedestrian-only.

The Grand Plaza serves as a focal point for exploring in three directions. If you arrive at the train station, it is about a 15-minute walk to the plaza.

There are many small family shops of all kinds, cafes, restaurants, the old Roman ruins, and gorgeous architecture from several eras in the historic center.

11. The Iconic Caffè San Marco 

Caffè San Marco is more than just a coffeehouse; it’s a cultural institution.

Founded in 1914 and frequented by writers, artists, and intellectuals in the past and present, it’s a place to savor not only exceptional coffee but also the city’s historic soul. 

The café’s Art Nouveau interiors and rich history create an ambiance that transports you to a bygone era.

13. The Beaches in Summer 

When the sun is out in, which is often, locals head to one of the beaches in and near Trieste.

These are not the classic, sandy beaches, but rocky or pebbly beaches and promenades.

The sunbathing culture is old and strong in Trieste. Families, elders, young people, and workers all relax near the beautiful water in summer.

Both man-made and natural rocky beaches stretch along the Adriatic coast, providing a welcome escape for sunbathing, swimming, and embracing the beauty of Italy’s easternmost coastline.

💖Bonus Reason to Visit TriesteThe Bora 

What is the Bora? I experienced it without knowing what it was! The Bora is the famous north wind that blows from the mountain to the sea.  

I felt the Bora, not knowing anything about it, except that I loved it. Fresh, wild, strong wind one evening walking home. Later I read this from the Trieste tourism website: 

“Trieste and the Bora are inseparable. Trieste is the city of the Bora and the Bora is the wind of Trieste. 

Trieste residents love it and endure it, but cannot be without it; when it isn’t blowing, they hope for its return.

It is an essential element of this city, perhaps because it sparks real and intense emotions that few can ignore.”  

👉 For a history of the Bora in Trieste and some old photos go here

Where To Stay In Trieste

tireste canal
Grand Canal, Trieste

You can easily stay near the center of Trieste, walk most of the city center and be fairly close to the train station.  

Here are three good options for accommodations with a local, authentic feel. 

📍Budget Option:  B&B I Filoksenia My favorite place to stay in Trieste: friendly owners., old world charm gorgeous antiques. Near the train station and downtown.

📍Mid-Range Option: Addicted to Paradise B&B.  Large rooms with exposed beams, lovely decor and good breakfast. Near the town center and train station.

📍Luxury Option: Savoia Excelsior Palace Trieste. Historically known as the “Most important and luxurious hotel in the Austro-Hungarian Empire”. Right on the main square. Elegant and

Is Trieste Safe? 

Yes, Trieste is a generally safe city. I traveled there as a woman alone twice with no problems.

Visiting Trieste: FAQs 

How many days do you need in Trieste?

One to three days.  If you are new to Italy and/or on your way to other destinations, you can see much of the downtown and highlights in a day of walking.  

If you want to explore the region, there are many excellent day trips from Trieste into Slovenia and Croatia and the surrounding region in northern Italy.

Is Trieste a beautiful city?

Yes! Trieste is a hidden gem. The square and canal areas are stunning. The architecture is especially ornate, reflecting Trieste’s past as the “Vienna of Italy.”

When should I go to Trieste?

For warm weather and for visiting the Trieste beaches, summer is ideal. Spring and fall are also very good with relatively mild temperatures.  

Christmas is lovely, with a large and vibrant Christmas market and lights on the square and on the streets.   

January and February are the coldest months, with highs around 49, so not the best time, but still worth it for the culture and beauty if you dress warmly.

How long is the train journey from Trieste to Venice?

1.5 to 2 hours.

Final Thoughts on Visiting Trieste

grand plaza worth visiting in trieste

Trieste is a wonderful place to visit for lovers of local experiences and unique culture and architecture. And good coffee! I loved the buildings and feel of this city on the mountain and by the sea and there are a surprising number of things to do in Trieste, despite it’s modest size.

I had wonderful chats with local store owners; one local woman gave me a little poem written by her grandmother.

If those kinds of experiences sound good to you, Trieste should be on your travel agenda. You could stop in Trieste on the way from France, Austria, or Switzerland to Croatia or Ljubljana. It’s also an easy day trip from Venice.

More blog posts about travel to Trieste:

25 BEST Trieste Restaurants (Expert Guide 2024)

16 Great Day Trips from Trieste, Italy – Insider’s Guide

30 Things To Do In Trieste (By An Expert!)

Trieste Beach Guide: 7 Best Beaches In & Near Trieste, Italy (with Map)