Traveling from Grado to Trieste should only take an hour or two, depending on your mode of transportation. Plan some extra time, though, because the 35-mile (56 km) trip takes you through one of Italy's most fascinating and underrated regions, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia.
There are several ways to get from Grado to Trieste, and all have their advantages. Traveling by car, taxi, or private driver is efficient and offers the opportunity to stop wherever you like. Buses and seasonal ferries are good options, too, because the two cities are so close together. Grado doesn't have a train station; if you want to travel to Trieste by train, you will have to take a bus from Grado to Cevignano del Friuli's Cervignano-Aquileia-Grado station. For maximum flexibility, however, renting a car or hiring a private driver is your best option.
There are many unique and interesting things to see and do between Grado and Trieste. Detour to Aquileia to see the 10th-century basilica, which was built over an early Christian church. The original fourth-century mosaic floors, which depict Old Testament themes, are in excellent condition. Aquileia's museums display treasures and artifacts from ancient Roman and early Christian times.
If you prefer outdoor activities, head to Duino's rocky beaches or to the karst plateau, Carso Triestino, above Trieste. The Carso Triestino area is perfect for hiking and walking. Plan to stop at Grotta Gigante, a cave so enormous that the dome of Saint Peter's Basilica could fit inside.
Miramare Castle on the Adriatic coast is also a worthwhile stop. This castle dates from the time when Trieste and the surrounding cities were part of the Habsburg Empire. Miramare Castle is surrounded by a lovely park with splendid seaside views.
By Private Driver, Rental Car, or Taxi
Duration: 1 hour, more with stops
Driving from Grado to Trieste is not difficult, but there are some special considerations to keep in mind. As in many Italian cities, both Grado and Trieste have a Zona a Traffico Limitado, or ZTL. These areas are restricted to permitted vehicles only. If you drive into a ZTL, you will be fined. In addition, there are fixed speed cameras along the roadways.
The fastest way to get from Grado to Trieste is to take Strada Provinciale 19 (SP19) from Grado to the A4/E70 toll highway in the direction of Trieste. If you plan to visit Duino and Miramare Castle, take the coast road, Strada Statale 14 (SS14), from Prosecco to Trieste. Alternatively, continuing on the A4/E70 takes you past Grotta Gigante and the Carso Triestino.
Many visitors to Trieste cross the border into Slovenia during their trip. If you plan to visit Slovenia in your rental car, contact your car rental company before your trip begins to be sure you have the right type of insurance to drive there. When you cross into Slovenia, stop to buy a vignette (toll sticker) for your car. You will be fined if you do not display the vignette.
Duration: 2 hours
APT Gorizia's E 21 bus connects Grado and Trieste. Buses leave Grado five times daily for downtown Trieste. Departure times vary by season and by day of the week.
By Ferry (seasonal)
Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes
During the summer months, APT Gorizia ferries travel between Grado and Trieste three times each day, except Mondays, when ferry service is not available. You may bring a bicycle with you on the ferry. If the weather is poor and the ferry crossing is canceled, APT Gorizia transports ferry passengers via a bus with a bicycle rack.