How to spend one day in beautiful Trieste, Italy

Trieste, often overlooked by many travelers visiting Italy, is a hidden coastal gem with a fascinating history and multicultural heritage.

One of the largest cities in the Friuli Venezia Region, Trieste has a distinct culture and style and is noticeably different from the rest of Italy.

Simply put, it is the meeting point of Central European culture and Italian tradition.

This once prosperous Mediterranean seaport belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire until it was transferred to Italy in 1918. Today, you will see the mixed architectural heritage of the city as you explore the old streets and unique shops.

Cruise lines such as MSC, TUI, Costa Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line all use Trieste port for cruises to the Mediterranean and the Greek Isles. This cosmopolitan city is well worth visiting for two or three nights before or after your cruise vacation. We love it and think you will too.

How to get from Trieste Airport to central Trieste

Train: The closest airport is Trieste International (TRS), 30 km from the city center. Both regional and high-speed trains take you directly from the airport to Trieste central station in 30 minutes. The regional trains are the cheapest for a one-way journey at just under 5 euros per person. Book your train tickets before you travel with Trenitalia, Italy’s primary train operator. Alternatively, visit the ticket office at the airport.

Bus: The blue and white buses at Trieste Airport Bus Station get you cheaply into central Trieste but take longer than the train. The journey time is almost one hour. Follow the signs and find the bus station easily from the arrival terminal. You can buy your ticket on board and wait for the next bus in a modern, covered waiting area.

Taxi: Plenty of taxis at the airport offer a door-to-door service with a journey time of 25 minutes. Expect to pay around 50-70 euros for your taxi journey.

How to get from Venice airport to Trieste by train

If you cannot book a flight to Trieste, Venice Airport Marco Polo is your next best choice. Located 113 km from Trieste, it takes about 2.5 hours to get to Trieste city center.

Taxis and private transfers are costly. Check the price of a transfer offered by your cruise line. Alternatively, you can travel by train. However, there is no train station at Venice airport. You must get to the central Venice station to take the train to Trieste.

Take the bus or a taxi to Venice’s central train station, called Venezia Mestre. There is a regional train and 6 “Frecce” high-speed trains to Trieste. The journey is a little under 2 hours and costs around 15 euros per person.

Book your train tickets with Trenitalia, Italy’s primary train operator.

Visiting Venice before transferring to Trieste

We offer expert advice about visiting Venice before your cruise here. If your cruise starts in Trieste, find out about the port of Trieste and how to get there here.

Luggage Storage at Trieste train station

If you are only in Trieste for one day without staying overnight at a hotel, use the luggage storage facilities near the train station. That way, you can explore the city without your suitcases weighing you down.

Perhaps you are taking an onward journey to the airport in Venice at the end of the day or getting on an evening train bound for Rome. Whatever your plans, use the luggage storage near the train station.

Parking options at the port

If you live in Europe and driving to the Trieste port is possible, parking is available at the Trieste passenger terminal. For more information, refer directly to Cruise Passenger Parking Information on their website.

Where to stay in Trieste – 6 of the best hotels

It’s easy to visit Trieste on a day trip, but we recommend you make the most of your time here by booking an overnight stay to enjoy the city and the friendly locals day and night.

NH Trieste

The hotel NH Trieste is a good standard, with a great morning breakfast. A 5-minute walk to the train station, the hotel rates are less than staying in the heart of historic Trieste. You can walk to Piazza Unità d’Italia in about 15 minutes. With English-speaking staff, an excellent breakfast buffet, and luggage storage facilities if your room is not quite ready when you check in, the NH Trieste is ideal for your stay.

Double Tree by Hilton Trieste

The stunning early 20th-century building of the Double Tree by Hilton hotel in Trieste compares to the beautiful interior. Many original features of the building are still visible in the decoration. Everything you want from a good Hilton hotel, including connecting rooms for families, be sure to join the Hilton Honors program to get perks and points.

Savoia Excelsior Palace Trieste

Close to Piazza Unità d’Italia with rooms overlooking the sea, Savoia Excelsior Palace is a hotel of the luxury brand Starhotels Collezione. The restaurant and bar are fabulous. If your budget stretches, book a room with a balcony for a view of the Gulf of Trieste.

Hotel Bristol Trieste

We include the Hotel Bristol Trieste in our recommendations as a 3-star alternative for a more affordable stay. The hotel is on a residential street close to the rail station and is fully refurnished for a comfortable, value-for-money stay.

Hotel Continentale

Nearly 150 years old, the Hotel Continentale is located in a stunning art nouveau building in the heart of Trieste. If you are looking for contemporary luxury, look no further.

Hotel Solun Trieste

The Solun Hotel is a new hotel with a comfortable and old vibe. Classically decorated with Italian furniture, this hotel of 34 rooms over four floors offers a luxury stay in the beautiful city center.

How to see Trieste in one day

Trieste is a coffee-lovers paradise. Dating back to the days of the Austro-Hungarian empire, when the city was declared a free port and no taxes were imposed on imports, coffee arrived from the Ottoman Empire, and soon Italy was a major supplier of coffee.

Order a capo in b, a small cappuccino served in a glass, or a nero, which is espresso. And if you want a cappuccino, ask for a cafe latte. Yes, coffee is taken seriously here, so learn the vocabulary and never get it to go.

The Italians like to sit in a cozy cafe and take their time with coffee. Try our favorite Caffe San Marco, and indulge in tradition. You’ll notice the city’s multicultural locals by the unusual Triestini dialect, a mixture of Italian, Austrian-German, and a little Greek and Croatian.

A waterfront view from Molo Audace

Start at the stone-paved pier for a stroll from Trieste’s waterfront. Turn around for a great view of the city from the water. You are walking on Molo Audace, and from this point, you see Piazza Unite spread out in front of you and the beautiful Castle of Miramare in the distance.

Audace pier is also the starting point of the annual Barcolana Regatta, a boat race held in October, celebrating its 54th year.

A 10-minute bus ride away is Barcola Beach. This paved area, rather than sand, allows you to swim and is an excellent spot for sunbathing. And a further 10 minutes north is the Castle of Miramare.

Miramare Castle – a Habsburg legacy

Crowned by the spectacular 19th-century Miramare Castle Castello di Miramare located on a rocky spur on the Gulf of Trieste, this grand house once owned by the Habsburg family is a must-see while visiting the city. The castle and surrounding park are open every day except Christmas and New Year.

The fantastic park is free of charge to enjoy and the 10 euros per person fee to enter the castle is well worth it.

Piazza dell’Unità d’Italia (Unity of Italy Square)

The breathtaking neoclassical expanse of Unity of Italy square is the heart of Trieste, leading you into the city from the Adriatic coast. Dominated by historic architecture, all white and grey with columns, statues, and swooping arches, the square is home to City Hall with its golden clock tower.

Along the edge of the piazza is the historic Caffè degli Specchi coffee house that beckons you to sit and enjoy the atmosphere.

On the second Sunday of each month, there is a traditional antique market in the square. Visit the tourist information office inside the city hall and pick up a city map while you’re here.

Mount Grisa and the Napoleonic Trail

At the top of Mount Grisa, you will have the best view of Trieste. The triangular-shaped Temple of Mount Grisa is a pilgrim’s church built in the 1960s to symbolize peace and unity in the city.

Directly below Mount Grisa is the Napoleonic Trail. A traffic-free 8-kilometer path ideal for strolling, walking, or biking with views over the Adriatic coast. To get there take bus number 2 or 4 from the city center.

Back in the city, enjoy the spectacular architecture of the merchant houses around the Canal Grande. A statue of James Joyce stands on the bridge Ponte Rosa which stretches over the canal. Joyce lived in Trieste for over 15 years. Around this area, there are many small restaurants and cafes, and a great place to eat in the evening.

Trieste Cathedral of San Giusto

The 14th-century cathedral of Trieste, Cattedrale di San Giusto Martire is next to an ancient Roman Forum. The entrance is free, but if you want to climb the bell tower for a view, it’s 1.5 euros per person.

Next to the cathedral is the Castel of San Giusto; walk the ramparts for a spectacular view. If you’d like to go to the castle and museum, it’s 5 euros per person.

Shopping in Trieste

Trieste is packed with great local art and craft shops, food markets, gelaterias, and Italian leather shops. You can start with the largest malls in the city, which are on Via Giulia and Via Svevo. And the Borgo Teresiano district is always packed with locals and tourists shopping for souvenirs of their visit.

After Trieste – continue your discovery of Italy

With good transportation links, Trieste offers numerous possibilities to combine your trip with buck list destinations such as Florence, Rome, and Venice.

Some of the most popular train routes booked by cruise guests are:

  • Trieste to Florence (Firenze Santa Maria Novella): Regional train and fast train “Frecciarossa”; the journey time is four and a half hours, often one change (in, for example, Venice). Prices start from about 50 euros per person.
  • Trieste to Rome (Roma Termini): Regional and fast train; the journey time is six hours with one change in Venice. The price is around 50 euros per person.
  • Trieste to Venice island (Venezia S Lucia): A direct fast train takes under four hours. Prices start at around 40 euros per person.

Further afield, good rail links make it possible to reach Genoa, Milano, and Turin in the north & Naples in the south. The name of Italy’s primary train operator is Trenitalia, and you can book train tickets around three months before your date of travel directly on their website here.

Meet the author: Sarah has created and booked hundreds of travel itineraries for thousands of customers during a career in the travel industry that spans 20 years. Having worked hand in hand with cruise lines, hotels, airlines and tour operators worldwide, she offers inspiring & detailed insights in the world of travel and tourism.