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Day trip from Ljubljana: Things to Do in Trieste in 1 Day

one day in Trieste

The way I travel in Europe is not too different from the way I travel around my home country the Philippines and my second home Vietnam. I check Google Maps. And if there is something in the satellite image that piques my interest, I simply check it out. That’s how I found out that Trieste, Italy is just an hour away from Ljubljana, which makes a perfect day trip from Ljubljana. I’ve only been to Venice and Jesolo, so experiencing another Italian city is always welcome, a coastal one at that. Trieste, a small city, nestled at Italy’s northeastern edge, is a poetic confluence of Europe and the Mediterranean. Its piazzas resonate with history, mirroring the waves of empires that once washed its shores. Strolling the seafront and savoring coffee in grand cafes, one finds a unique Italian city with a distinctive soul. So here are some things to do in Trieste in one day.

Quick Trieste travel guide

Recommended tours from and in Trieste

Trieste Bus Tour with Audio Guide
From Trieste: Lake Bled and Ljubljana Tour
From Trieste: Postojna Cave & Predjama Castle
Piran and Slovenia Coast Tour from Trieste
Trieste: 2-Hour Private Walking Tour

day trip from Ljubljana: Trieste

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Is Trieste worth visiting?

Absolutely, Trieste is unquestionably worth visiting, even if just for one day. The city’s charm lies in its lesser-known status, offering a unique and unspoiled experience on the Italian coast. It’s a hidden gem, where you can savor the serenity of seafront promenades, explore historic sites like Miramare Castle, and indulge in local seafood delights.

Is trieste worth visiting?
Miramare Castle alone makes Trieste worth the visit

Trieste’s blend of history, culture, and coastal beauty makes it a perfect destination for travelers seeking an off-the-beaten-path adventure. It’s a city that rewards the curious with its delightful little gems and an ambiance that lingers in memory.

Piazza Unità d’Italia in Trieste

Right after I arrived by bus from Ljubljana, I walked towards Piazza Unità d’Italia in Trieste, which is just a few steps away from Trieste’s bus terminal. It is a grand and spacious seafront square that’s not only impressive but also a fantastic spot for people-watching. As one of the largest squares by the sea in Europe, it offers a unique blend of architectural beauty and a lively atmosphere.

one day in Trieste starts at Piazza Unità d'Italia in Trieste

Stroll along the vast open space, framed by elegant buildings, and grab a seat at one of the surrounding cafes. Tip: Come in the late afternoon to catch the beautiful sunset over the Adriatic. And don’t forget to have your camera ready; this is one of those places where you’ll want to snap a few photos to remember the moment.

Have brunch by the coast

From Piazza Unità d’Italia in Trieste, I checked the bus heading to Miramare Castle, but I got off when I reached the coastal area and walked by the beach since there was a nice boardwalk outlining the coast and was on the lookout for a cafe overlooking the Gulf of Trieste.

  • Il Pane Quotidiano – Lungomare: Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at Il Pane Quotidiano for delicious pastries and coffee with a view of the sea, the perfect way to start your day before heading to Miramare Castle.
  • Ceda Beach: Ceda Beach is a charming spot for a refreshing drink by the sea, offering a relaxed atmosphere and beautiful coastal scenery.
  • Old Wild West: If you’re craving a taste of American cuisine in an Italian setting, Old Wild West on the way to Miramare Castle offers hearty burgers and a welcoming ambiance.
Coffee at Il Pane Quotidiano – Lungomare
  • Pipolo – Barcola: Pipolo by Barcola is a great choice for seafood lovers, with a variety of fresh catches and local dishes, all while overlooking the Adriatic waters.
  • Blue Boat: Blue Boat offers a delightful setting for sipping cocktails with a maritime vibe, making it an ideal spot for a relaxing drink and taking in the coastal atmosphere.
  • Bivio Inn 1948: Bivio Inn 1948 is a historic and cozy inn perfect for a traditional Italian meal, where you can savor local flavors and hospitality after exploring Miramare Castle.

Stroll your way to Miramare Castle

After my brunch, I just continued walking towards Miramare Castle. It was here that I really thought that I am pregnant. And indeed I was right.

Traveling in late April, I had a leisurely and cool stroll along the coastline, a soothing balm for the worried soul. As you amble, the gentle sea breeze caresses your skin, and the rhythmic sound of the waves becomes a meditative backdrop. The stunning views of the Adriatic Sea and the distant horizon create a perfect escape from the hustle of daily life.

Me awkwardly taking self-timed portrait on the way to Miramare Castle

Tip: Consider an early morning or late afternoon walk for softer lighting and fewer crowds. And, if you spot a gelato stand along the way, treat yourself to a scoop of the local delicacy to make the experience even sweeter.

The Miramare Biosphere Reserve

The Miramare Biosphere Reserve, nestled along the picturesque Adriatic coast near Trieste, is a natural haven of exceptional beauty and ecological significance. You will literally pass by the famous beach of the reserve on your way to Miramare Castle.

This coastal sanctuary seamlessly combines the azure waters of the Adriatic with lush greenery, creating a harmonious environment for a rich diversity of flora and fauna. You can see this on the way to Miramare Castle. The beach, beautiful it may seem, is closed to the public.

The beach in The Miramare Biosphere Reserve is not accessible to the public

The reserve’s pristine beaches, rocky cliffs, and dense forests provide a refuge for numerous plant and animal species, making it a paradise for nature enthusiasts and conservationists. Visitors can explore its well-preserved ecosystems, hiking along trails or simply basking in the serenity while taking in breathtaking coastal vistas. The Miramare Biosphere Reserve offers a chance to connect with nature and appreciate its delicate balance.

Explore Miramare Castle

This is the main attraction in Trieste. Well aside from the beaches in summer I would say.

Nestled on the sun-kissed Trieste seafront, Miramare Castle is a must-visit gem that blends history with natural beauty. As you step into this enchanting castle, you’re transported to a bygone era of opulence and elegance. Roam the well-preserved chambers, which whisper tales of the Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian and Empress Charlotte.

Miramare castle is one of the top things to do in Trieste in one day
Miramare castle is one of the top things to do in Trieste in one day

Don’t forget to stroll through the meticulously manicured gardens that surround the castle. The panoramic views of the Adriatic Sea will steal your breath away, so bring your camera for postcard-perfect snapshots.

Tip: Arrive early to avoid crowds and savor the tranquility, and be sure to explore the charming nearby village of Grignano.

A quick dip before lunch

Late April in Trieste may not be the peak of summer, but the allure of the Adriatic Sea is hard to resist. Locals and adventurous travelers alike take advantage of the milder temperatures to embrace the coastline’s topolinos – small coves and hidden beach spots. The brisk, refreshing dip in the sea invigorates the soul, while the sunbathing on the available sun lounges warms the skin.

things to do in trieste in summer? Swim of course
Well, I was one of the very few brave souls that went for a dip despite the chilly spring water. I cannot not!

It’s a chance to experience Trieste like a true local, reveling in the coastal magic and savoring the sea’s embrace. The combination of crisp sea air and the soothing sun creates a memorable and authentic Adriatic experience.

Have a Late Seafood Lunch

Walking around Miramare Castle and its garden would require at least two to three hours. And you should be famished by then. Well, I was.

Trieste’s claim to fame is its mouthwatering seafood, and a late lunch by the sea is an absolute must. Head to a local seafood joint or trattoria for an authentic taste of the Adriatic.

Dive into regional specialties like “Scampi alla Busara,” featuring succulent scampi in a tomato-based sauce, or “Jota,” a hearty soup with beans and sauerkraut, often adorned with seafood. Here are five fantastic seafood restaurants for your late lunch:

  • Osteria da Marino: A local favorite known for fresh seafood and a welcoming atmosphere.
  • Trattoria da Giovanni: Charming, family-run spot with a focus on traditional seafood dishes.
where to eat in Trieste
Photo from Osteria da Marino’s IG
  • Al Granzo: A hidden gem offering an array of seafood delights.
  • Ristorante Antico Panada: Located on the seafront, it boasts stunning views and an excellent seafood menu.
  • Ristorante Al Bagatto: A cozy spot with a diverse seafood selection, perfect for indulging your taste buds.

Cattedrale di San Giusto

After a delicious seafood lunch, have some downtime checking out historical and cultural treasure in Trieste. In the heart of Trieste’s historic center, the Trieste Cathedral, also known as Cattedrale di San Giusto, stands as a testament to centuries of history.

Explore its magnificent interior before climbing to the hilltop Castle of San Giusto, where you’ll be rewarded with sweeping panoramic views of the city and the shimmering Adriatic Sea.

One day in Trieste itinerary
These seagulls are nesting on one of the rocks in the reserve <3

Roman Theatre

Just a ten-minute walk from Cattedrale di San Giusto and down in the heart of the city, don’t miss the well-preserved Roman Theatre, dating back to the 1st century AD. Stroll among the ancient stone seats and imagine the performances that once graced this historic stage.

Both sites offer a captivating glimpse into Trieste’s rich past, and they’re a must-visit for history enthusiasts and curious explorers.

Shopping and Coffee or Beer

Well, I was surprised how Asian Trieste shops are. And they are way more affordable! So of course, I bought some stuff. Okay more than stuff. But noone could blame if the prices are not too far off the prices I’m used to in Vietnam.

I dropped by at HopnRocks to grab some craft beer for my husband. He didn’t like the selection the staff picked. And he said Italy is not really known for beer. They love their wine. 🙁

Trieste’s old town beckons with its charming streets, perfect for a leisurely shopping spree. Explore boutiques, markets, and specialty shops, where you can find unique souvenirs and local delights. After a bit of retail therapy, make a pit stop at one of the city’s historic coffee houses. Sip on a rich Italian espresso or savor a delightful aperitivo, a local tradition of pre-dinner drinks and snacks.

These moments of relaxation in cozy cafes not only recharge your energy but also allow you to soak in the vibrant atmosphere of Trieste’s bustling streets, making your visit all the more enjoyable.

Catch the bus back to Ljubljana

It was about 8 in the even and it’s time to catch the bus back to Ljubljana. With cherished memories of seafront promenades, historic sites, and delicious seafood lunches, the journey back offers a reflective moment to relive the day’s adventures. Be sure to check the bus schedule and station location in advance to ensure a smooth transition.

As you settle into your seat, you can relax, watch the scenery pass by, and plan your next adventure in these picturesque and culturally rich neighboring regions. You don’t have to, but I certainly did that.

Jona of Backpacking with a Book

Hi there, I’m Jona, originally from Cebu, Philippines, had live in Hanoi, Vietnam, and now currently based in Munich, Germany. This blog used to house thoughts on life and books, but eventually it morphed into a travel blog. For collaborations, projects, and other things, please email me at backpackingwithabook@gmail.com. For essays, creative nonfiction, and others, find me elsewhere.

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