Italy is a beautiful country and the Northeast of the country shouldn’t be missed. A Dolomites road trip is the ultimate vacation, especially when you add Trieste to it. We drove this route as part of our longer 6 week European road trip. We love going on road trips and Italy is perfect for this.
Trieste Dolomites Road Trip
Day 1: Arrive at Trieste
Day 2: Drive from Trieste to Sistiana (19 kilometers/12 miles, about half an hour)
Day 3: Drive from Sistiana to Bolzano (283 kilometers/176 miles, about 5.5 hours)
Day 4: Going home
Day to Day Itinerary
This 4 day Italian road trip covers a beautiful area of Italy. Trieste is a magnificent city and the Dolomites simply is a gorgeous area.
Day 1: Trieste
Arrive early in Trieste and take the whole day to explore the city. Trieste has a lot of grand squares. It was the first time for our son in Italy and he loved the large squares, they were perfect for running around on. Like the Piazza Unità d’Italia or the Piazza Venezia. Trieste is a port city, so explore the seafront. There’s a beautiful promenade to stroll along.
Trieste is known as the coffee capital of Italy, so visit the historical Caffè San Marco. The brand Illy has its origins in this city. Wander around the Città Vecchia (Old city), with typical medieval houses on narrow and crooked streets. Don’t forget to visit the beautiful Castello di San Giusto, a 15th century castle and fort, which is now a museum.
Day 2: Beach Day
On your way out of the city visit the Faro della Vittoria (lighthouse). Follow the road along the coast and stop at Castello Miramare, a beautiful castle on the waterfront.
Spend the afternoon at the Caravella beach near Sistiana.
Day 3: Dolomites
Cross the Dolomites from East to West, you’ll have breathtaking views all day long. The Dolomites has many cute towns worth your time. Hiking in the mountains is also possible, with even more breathtaking views. We loved the views at the Passo di Mauria. The town of San Vito di Cadore is beautiful with the high rising mountains in the background. This applies to the village of Canazei as well. End your day in the city of Bolzano.
Day 4: Bolzano & Stelvio Pass
This is also the day you go home, but if you still have most of the day available, drive the Stelvio Pass. It has stunning views all the way and 46 hairpin bends.
In Bolzano visit the Museo Archeologico Alto Adige, with the famous ice cave man Ötzi. Go on the funivia del Renon (a funicular), that takes you to the top of Soprabolzano. Here you’ll have incredible views.
Where to Stay
We opted to drive to Sistiana on day 1 already and stayed for 2 nights at campground Mare Pineta, which has a swimming pool, restaurant and a view on the beach and sea.
The last night we slept in our car in Trafoi, near the Stelvio Pass. Everything was fully booked, so book ahead, so that you don’t find yourself in our situation.
Where to Eat
Visit Caffè San Marco in Trieste to sample the Illy coffee. Eat Italian gelato at Gelato Marco. Their crema carsolina is so far one of the best flavors of ice cream we tasted. We loved the coffee, tea and small cakes at Illy Caffè. Paul loves the Illy coffee, so he was in heaven in Trieste. The cakes came from Pasticceria Maritani and were simply delicious.
We had dinner with pizza and pasta at Camping Village Mare Pineta Bar Restaurant. You simply can’t visit Italy and not have pizza and pasta.
We had dinner at Centrale JoePiada in Pera, Trento in the Dolomites with delicious panini’s.
When to Visit
We visited in August and had beautiful weather all 4 days. This trip can be done almost the whole year. However the Dolomites do receive snow in the Winter time. It’s a popular ski area. Not all the passes will be open in Winter time. So you won’t be able to drive the route with the Passo di Mauria and the Stelvio Pass.
In Summer everything books up fast in the Dolomites, Winter is also a busy season for the Dolomites.
Hiring a Car and Airports
We drove the route with our own car. For this road trip we didn’t rent a car, but we have excellent experiences with Hertz and Alamo. We came from Slovenia before Trieste and continued with 4 days in Switzerland after the Stelvio Pass.
When arriving by plane before embarking on this road trip: Trieste has an international airport, namely Trieste-Friuli Venezia Giuli Airport, located 50 kilometers/31 miles from the city. The closest airport to Bolzano is Bolzano Airport, just 8 kilometers/5 miles away from the city. The nearest international airport is Innsbruck Airport in Austria, 85 kilometers/53 miles from Bolzano.
- Dinner in Italy is later than we are used to, they typically start between 8pm and 10pm.
- Book your accommodation in the Dolomites early, it was all fully booked when we visited in August.
- Bring some small coins for toll roads, most in Italy can be paid with credit card or a prepaid card (Viacard).
That Concludes a Beautiful Dolomites Road Trip
Hope you enjoy(ed) it as much as we did.
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