Discover the elegant and multicultural heart of Trieste, with its historic cafés, sweeping main square, and mix of historic influences. This Italian city sits just across the border from Slovenia, which also makes it a convenient base for day trips across the border. Here are some ideas for how to spend two days in Trieste.
Day 1: Trieste
Morning: Explore the historic center of Trieste with a walking or bus tour that hits the highlights, including Roman ruins and 19th-century Hapsburgian palaces. Stroll through the immense Piazza Unità d'Italia, which looks out over the harbor; visit the Serbian Orthodox San Spiridione, the Catholic San Giusto Cathedral, and the Jewish synagogue; and sip an espresso in the city’s belle époque cafes.
Afternoon: Make a short trip north of the city to tour Miramare Castle, a lavish 19th-century Hapsburg residence surrounded by acres of grounds and botanical gardens. Book skip-the-line tickets in advance or join a guided tour to admire the ornate castle interiors and the magnificent Miramare Park, which dominates the Grignano promontory above the Gulf of Trieste.
Night: Discover Trieste’s unique local cuisine with a cooking class focused on preparing Trieste-style goulash—a twist on the classic beef stew, featuring onion, paprika, and herbs, served with polenta. Alternatively, enjoy classic local dishes by joining an evening cooking demonstration in a local home followed by a 4-course traditional dinner.
Day 2: Day Trips to Slovenia
Morning: Lake Bled is one of the most scenic spots in Slovenia and an easy day trip from Trieste. This glacial lake, set against a background of pristine mountain peaks, has a postcard-perfect island, a 12th-century castle, and scenic walking paths. Day trips generally include a stop in Slovenia’s capital city, Ljubljana, to view the unique local architecture.
Afternoon: For a geographically closer—but equally scenic—Slovenian excursion, take a tour of Predjama Castle, just an hour from Trieste. The 13th-century castle is one of the most striking attractions in Slovenia, built directly into a cave on the side of a vertical cliff. Also stop at the nearby Postojna Cave, which is one of the largest karst caverns in the world and can be toured on an electric train.
Night: Trieste is one of Europe’s most important ports for coffee imports, and the city has a proud coffee culture. End your two days by relaxing at one of the historic cafés in the city center. Two favorites are Caffè degli Specchi in Piazza Unità d'Italia, the oldest in the city and a favorite haunt of Joyce and Kafka, and Caffè San Marco on Via Battisti, which has been serving since 1914.