Almost completely surrounded by Slovenia and isolated from most of Italy, Trieste is Italian in name but multicultural at heart. This elegant coastal city has had a number of rulers since the Romans and today shows vestiges of Italian, Slavic, Jewish, Germanic, and even Greek influence. Here’s how to take in the city in one day.
Morning: Trieste’s Old Town
The best introduction to Trieste’s captivating blend of cultures is a walking or bus tour through its historic heart. Roman ruins like the Arch of Riccardo sit shoulder to shoulder with elegant Hapsburgian palaces; the Serbian Orthodox San Spiridione, the Catholic San Giusto Cathedral, and the Jewish synagogue—the second largest in Europe—all lie within a half-mile radius. Most tours stop at the main Piazza Unità d'Italia, which faces the sea, and the Borgo Teresiano neighborhood, which boasts the Grand Canal and the city’s belle époque cafes, testaments to Trieste’s historic coffee culture.
Afternoon: Miramare Castle
After lunch, make a quick jaunt north of the city to tour the Miramare Castle on the Grignano promontory, above the Gulf of Trieste. Stroll through this extravagant 19th-century confection, which was home to the Habsburg family; the sumptuous interiors are filled with original original furniture, tapestries, and decor. Then take in Miramare Park, 54 acres of grounds and botanical gardens that offer impressive views of the Adriatic Sea and are dotted with sculptures, ponds, and fountains. The castle is one of Trieste’s most popular attractions, so purchase skip-the-line tickets in advance or choose a tour with priority entry to avoid waiting outside.
Night: Unique Cuisine
End your day in Trieste by exploring the city’s singular cuisine, a reflection of its multiculturalism. Join a hands-on cooking class led by a local chef to learn how to make traditional dishes like Trieste-style goulash—a version of the classic beef stew flavored with onion, paprika, and herbs, served with polenta—or enjoy an evening cooking demonstration and 4-course dinner with wine in a local home. Finish with a nightcap in one of the city’s historic cafés: Caffè degli Specchi in Piazza Unità d'Italia is the oldest in Trieste and was frequented by writers like Joyce and Kafka; Caffè San Marco on Via Battisti has also been a local favorite since it opened in 1914.