Overview of the stages of the circuit around Trieste

  • The view of Trieste accompanies us on two of the total of five stages

Start and end point of the circular walk is Trieste, a very attractive and anything but crowded port city at the easternmost tip of the Italian Adriatic.

From here it goes in five daily stages through the karst landscape to Slovenia and back to Trieste:

StageDurationRouteIncreaseDescentStage destinationOvernight stay
Stage 16:45h18,5 km290 m555 mSistianaHotel Eden in Sistiana
Stage 25:00h13,6 km345 m135 mSales o. SgonicoB&B Sgonico
Stage 36:00h16,9 km340 m395 mOpicinaHotel Valeria
Stage 47:30h21,5 km375 m265 mLokev (Slovenia)Casa Krasna Guest House
Stage 56:00h14,5 km425 m800 mBagnoli Superiore (from there bus ride to Trieste)Trieste hotels
Total31:15h85,0 km1.775 m2.150 m

Notes on the routing

The route documented on this website runs for the most part along the path of the Alpe-Adria-Trails (AAT)which, coming from the Alps, ends in Trieste. In order to be able to make a varied circular walk, we have combined the AAT with the Via Alpina, as well as some small ones, regional trails combined.

Actually Circular hike for our route even the wrong term. Because strictly speaking we do not hike around but in the form of a lying eight! The fact that we pass the starting point of the starting stage again at the beginning of stage 4 is on the one hand due to the topography and on the other hand due to the fact that Opicina is a really nice place for an overnight stop. Besides, this also has quite practical advantages: The long-distance hike can be interrupted or shortened very well at this point.

Overview of all stages: Map

Elevation profile of the 5-day hike around Trieste

Stage 1: Map

Stage 1: Directions

Starting point: Obelisk of Opicina

The starting point of stage 1 is about 3 km as the crow flies from the city center at an altitude of almost 350 meters above Trieste at the Obelisks from Opicina. Here is a stop of the historic tramway line 2. The tramway, known as the Streetcar de Opcina known streetcar is a rarity among historical streetcars, as it is pushed by a funicular on the steepest part of the route. Unfortunately, the operation of the streetcar is suspended since 2016 due to an accident, so the route is served by buses.

Therefore, we take the bus to the starting point of the hike. Bus line 2 runs almost exactly the same route as streetcar line no. 2. Current departure times and a route overview can be found e.g. at moovit.com. More info about public transport in and around Trieste we have here compiled.

The historic streetcar is unfortunately currently out of service

Facts about stage 1

Route: 18,5km
Altitude meters: 290 m ascent / 555 m descent
Duration: 6:45h (without breaks)
See also Elevation profile

GPS route download for stage 1 (GPX format)

Refreshment stops along the way

Supermarket and restaurants in Santa Croce

View of the lighthouse Faro della Vittoria

On the Strada Napoleonica to Prosecco/Contovello

We start our hike on the Strada Napoleonica, a very popular panoramic walk that begins directly in front of the obelisk of Opicina and from here leads north towards Prosecco/Contovello. The walk is very well developed for the first kilometers, level to slightly sloping and very panoramic! After about 3.5 km we reach a prominent point where the trail joins an asphalt road that has been partially cut through the rock. Shortly after this point, it is a good idea to leave the wide path for a detour to the left to the scenic ledge (waypoint 1). Continuing along the path, we pass a very conspicuous old people's home and cross the village and reach our first intermediate destination, the village of Contovello (waypoint 2, from the start about 1:15h).

The starting point of the hike is the Opicina obelisk

From Contovello to Santa Croce

In Contovello we meet the thoroughfare, turn right here, crossing the road in the process and leaving it again to the left after a few meters. At this point (Waypoint 2) we leave the Alpe Adria Trail and turn right into a narrow alley that shortly becomes a hiking trail and leads to the small pond of Contovello. This offers itself with table and bench for a short rest. We now follow the asphalt road downhill, but shortly after we leave it to the right (waypoint 3), then we take the steps uphill (waypoint 4) and weave our way past vineyards (waypoint 5) through the varied landscape. Below us we recognize the white Castello di Miramare and the small port of Grignano.

At waypoint 6 we climb the first steps of a striking rock staircase and at the upper landing (waypoint 7), pay attention to the easily overlooked path that turns left here and leads us uphill into the forest (waypoint 8). In the forest we meet the Alpe-Adria-Trail again (waypoint 9), which we follow to the left for a short distance. At the following trail T-junction (waypoint 10), however, we turn left onto Via Alpina, since the Alpe-Adria-Trail leads here to the right inland, but we always want to go north along the karst edge.

At waypoint 11 we reach a viewing platform, which reminds us somewhat of a 5-meter diving board in an outdoor swimming pool. Shortly later we reach Santa Croce (Waypoint 12), a small town with a supermarket and several places to stop (about 2:00h walking time from Contovello).

View of the Miramare Castle and the Grignano sports harbor

Cairn landscape and a view almost to Venice

From Santa Croce to Sistiana

After a lunch break in Santa Croce, the route first runs for several kilometers through the Bosco Babiza, the wooded area between Santa Croce and Aurisina. There, after about 2.5 km, we meet a watchtower (Vedetta Liburnia), which offers a beautiful view of the Gulf of Trieste.

The Via Alpina then leads us north parallel to the railroad line until we pass the railroad line at waypoint 13 and then walk along the edge of the karst. Just before Sistiana we then descend to the coastal road. Here there is the possibility to make a short detour to the beach (waypoint 14). The entrance to the path to the pebble cove is somewhat hidden and you have to climb over the balustrade to get there.

The last two kilometers to the finish of stage 1 we walk along the coastal road. The walking time from Santa Croce to Sistiana is about 3:30h (without a break in the bay).


Detour: path to the beach

The pebble bay just before Sistiana

Stage 1: Accommodation in Sistiana

Hotel Eden in Sistiana is a well kept 3 star hotel with very good breakfast

Hotel Eden in Sistiana

In Sistiana we can visit the Hotel Eden recommend: The rooms may seem a bit sterile at first glance, but the reception at the hotel was very warm and the breakfast buffet very varied and delicious. This is probably not least due to the fact that the hotel also operates a restaurant on the first floor, which is dedicated to upscale cuisine.

The rooms of the 3-star hotel are clean and well-kept, the bathrooms almost like new. A special accent is created by the eye-catching bedside lamps and the wallpaper, which is either striped lengthwise or checkered, depending on the room. Only the location on the main road may be a disadvantage. If you like to sleep with an open window at night and get a room facing the main road, you might want to leave the window closed and turn the air conditioning up a bit. The air conditioning works perfectly in the Hotel Eden.

beautiful and spacious bathrooms in Hotel Eden in Sistiana

Restaurant Vanilija belongs to the hotel. When the weather is nice, an outdoor bar is set up on the terrace.

Room with longitudinal striped wallpaper at Hotel Eden in Sistiana

Stage 2: Map

Stage 2: Directions

From Sistiana to Prepotto

Today's stage takes us through the rural part of the Triestine Karst and several small villages up to the hilly border area with Slovenia. To do this, we leave the coastal road from Sistiana at the Osteria Tre Noci (waypoint 1) inland and cross the highway. Immediately afterwards, a road branches off to the right (waypoint 2), which after a while leads to a gravelled path (waypoint 3). We walk through sparse deciduous forest, cross the railroad line and arrive at Slivia, a village of about 130 inhabitants with a lot of agriculture. At the pretty church of Slivia (waypoint 4) we continue straight on and follow the paved path towards San Pelagio and Prepotto. These two villages merge almost seamlessly into one another and are heavily influenced by viticulture. Although we are still in Italy, Slovenian is already predominantly spoken in this area!


The Alpe Adria Trail also passes through the small town of Slivia

From Prepotto to Sales

At Prepotto we turn left at waypoint 5 and walk through the woods for a short distance before we meet the SP6 highway and cross it (waypoint 6). At this point, by the way, is the highly recommended Trattoria Suban with a surprisingly metropolitan ambience for this location and very good cuisine.

From the expressway we walk in the direction of Ternova Piccola, where we keep slightly to the left twice in succession (waypoint 7 and 8). The trail continues uphill into the hills of the Italian-Slovenian borderland, always following the Alpe Adria Trail. In a large loop (therefore at waypoint 9 turn left and immediately right again) we hike through the deciduous forest, on Italian territory but with Slovenia in sight. At waypoint 10 the Alpe-Adria-Trail turns right and takes us downhill to Sales. There is a place to stay at waypoint 11 (e.g. in case there is nothing left at the stage destination in Sgonico).

In rural karst many paths are lined with stone walls

From Sales to Sgonico

The 3 remaining kilometers of today's stage lead us through Sales through (turn left at waypoint 12 and right at waypoint 13) and through the vineyards of Colludrozza until after Sgonico.

View from the hills in the Italian-Slovenian borderland

Sgonico is located in the middle of the rural karst

Facts about stage 2

Route: 13,6 km
Altitude meters: 345 m ascent / 135 m descent
Duration: 5:00h (without breaks)
See also Elevation profile

GPS route download for stage 2 (GPX format)

Refreshment stops along the way

Highly recommended: Trattoria Suban between Prepotto and Ternova Piccola

The terrace of Trattoria Suban surprises with its casual ambience

Modern country house ambience at Trattoria Suban

Hiking through wonderful deciduous forest

Stage 2: Accommodation in Sales or Sgonico

The two-story mini-apartments of B&B Sgonico have a shared pool and a large garden area

Overnight stay at B&B Sgonico or at Agriturismo Bajta Fattoria Carsica

The end of stage 2 is in the rural part of the Karst, which is quite sparsely populated. Overnight accommodations are available in one of the two villages located about 3 km from each other Sales (Slovenian: Salež) or Sgonico (Zgonik) to find. Both towns are located in Italy, but the Slovenian influence is unmistakable and audible here.

On our hike we decided to spend the night in one of the three apartments of the B&B Sgonico decided: The apartments, each with two floors, are located next to each other by a swimming pool with a wooden terrace and are surrounded by a large, very well-kept garden. Breakfast is brought by the owners in the morning at the agreed time, so you can have breakfast on your own terrace. Coffee and tea can be prepared in the apartment itself.

For those who would like to spend the night on a farm, the Agriturismo Bajta Fattoria Carsica in Sales might be interesting. Stage 2 is then shortened by about 3 km (stage 3 is extended accordingly).

Tip: In any case, the planning should take into account that Sales and Sgonico are really very rural. There are no supermarkets or other shopping facilities there and only a few restaurants. Therefore, it is useful to inquire in advance about the opening hours of local restaurants. In Sales and Sgonico there are the following restaurants (as of July 2018):

The nearest shopping opportunity along the hike described here is in Repen, in hiking direction about 5 km from Sgonico. Here is located with the Hotel Krizman also another overnight accommodation in the rural karst area. However, stage 2 is then extended accordingly by 5 km.

The bedrooms are each on the upper floor

The two-story apartments at B&B Sgonico have beautiful bathrooms