Grado: Friuli Venezia Giulia’s Hidden Gem on the Adriatic Coast

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Grado, also known as the “Island of the Sun“, is a jewel of Friuli Venezia Giulia which boasts a thousand-year history, golden beaches and a pristine lagoon. Whether you are a lover of culture, relaxation or outdoor activities, Grado has something to offer everyone.

The Historic Center: Grado Vecchia

Grado has very ancient origins as it was part of the Patriarchate of Aquileia (read more about Aquileia) and Roman Castrum. The extraordinary basilicas of Sant’Eufemia and Santa Maria delle Grazie together with the octagonal baptistery are part of the early Christian Grado. Sant’Eufemia is a masterpiece of Romanesque and Byzantine art, with enchanting mosaics and a crypt that houses the relics of Sant’Eufemia. Santa Maria delle Grazie is a Romanesque church with a bell tower and a Black Madonna venerated by the faithful.

In Piazza Biagio Marin, via a glass-covered walkway, you can admire the mosaics dating back to the 4th century discovered during excavations in the early 1900s. It is also very suggestive in the evening when it is all lit up, perhaps enjoying a local aperitif such as Gintonego, produced right in Grado.

Grado Centro

Grado Centro is the main part of town where you will find all the services and conveniences you could possibly need from restaurants to shops to hotels. This “little Venice” is very characteristic and every visitor should allow time to simply wander through the alleys (calli) browsing the quaint shops, cafes and boutiques. This is also where you’ll find the famous marine spas and Sissi Beach, from the times of the Austro-Hungarian aristocracy.


Grado’s Beaches

Grado offers shores for all different types of beachgoers, from golden sand to the wildest coves.
The Costa Azzurra is a free beach with clear waters and golden sand near the historic center with a charming seafront and the Nazario Sauro Dam, built during the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Grado Pineta is located about 3 km from the center and is connected via a beautiful cycle path. This area offers many services, kiosks, entertainment and is also a favorite for kitesurfing.


Explore the Laguna

Anyone who comes to Grado should dedicate some time to the wonders of its lagoon. Motorboat excursions leave at all hours of the day taking visitors on a tour of the islets and their unique habitat. Casoni are wooden fishermen’s huts unique to Grado and a symbol of lagoon tradition.

Don’t miss the Sanctuary of Barbana, a holy place of Marian pilgrimage visited by devotees from all over Italy, located on the island of the same name.


Grado is a perfect destination for a holiday full of relaxation, culture and delicioius food. Whether you are traveling with your significant other, with family or with friends, you cannot help but fall in love with this enchanting island in Friuli Venezia Giulia.

Continue reading about the best destinations in Friuli Venezia Giulia.