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15 things to see in Genoa: the best attractions and things to do

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Martí Micolau
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Nestled between the sea and the mountains of Liguria, Genoa offers those who visit it breathtaking views and unforgettable moments. City of art full of noble palaces, museums, churches, but also of more "modern" attractions such as the famous Aquarium, Genoa absolutely deserves to be visited at least once. Famous for its "Rolli", which today are part of the World Heritage Site, it is a city to be experienced in all its facets ... and there are so many facets.

So let's find out together what they are things to see in Genoa, with the best attractions and things to do!



Index

  1. Historic center and caruggi
  2. Aquarium
  3. Galata, Museum of the Sea
  4. Porto Antico, Bigo and Biosphere
  5. The Rolli Palaces
  6. Cathedral of San Lorenzo
  7. Via Garibaldi and its museums
  8. The Lantern
  9. Porta Soprana and House of Christopher Columbus
  10. Royal Palace
  11. Nervi Park
  12. Staglieno Monumental Cemetery
  13. Museum of World Cultures of Castello D'Albertis
  14. Piazza De Ferrari
  15. Prince's Palace
  16. Other attractions to visit
  17. 10 things to do in Genoa
  18. User questions and comments

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1 - Historic center and caruggi

The heart of the city consists of the characteristic "caruggi", those narrow alleys that date back to the medieval period, creuze and squares. The caruggi are one of the many elements of Genoa to have been included in the Unesco World Heritage Site. Rich in noble palaces, churches and monuments, the historic center of Genoa is the testimony of how different styles, eras and cultures have come into contact in this city, leaving a tangible imprint in the style of most of the buildings present.

You can admire some of the most fascinating alleys starting from Piazza Loading and walking towards via al Ponte Reale. After about 100 meters you reach Piazza Banchi where the Loggia della Mercanzia is located, a medieval building that housed the trading of merchants and bankers.



Let yourself be guided: at first glance, the center may seem like a labyrinth and give the sensation of disorientation. But it deserves to be explored far and wide, for its beauty and wonderful buildings. So for a first approach, the advice is to take a walking tour with a local guide, which will take you to discover all its secrets

2 - Aquarius

The Aquarium of Genoa is undoubtedly the most famous place in the city. Opened in 1992 in the Porto Antico area, it is the second largest in Europe, after that of Valencia. Inside there are 12.000 specimens of 600 different species.

Among these they are particularly successful sharks, seals, penguins and turtles. The aquarium is structured in such a way that visitors can literally "stroll" in the tanks, which number 70. Recently the structure has been further enlarged thanks to a new pavilion designed by Renzo Piano, called the "Cetacean Pavilion".

Watch out for queues: it is the number 1 attraction in the city, which is why it is always crowded! Do not risk wasting precious time in the queue, better reach the aquarium when it opens and get a priority ticket to avoid long queues.

  • on Ponte Spinola. 1,3 km from Genova-Piazza Principe station (16 min) and 2,4 km from Genova-Brignole (26 min). Darsena metro station (600 m, 7 min walk). From the old port / croceret terminal 200 m (3 min) - Get directions
  • January and February Mon-Fri 9: 30-19: 30, Sat, Sun and holidays 9: 30-20: 30; from March to June Mon-Fri 9: 30-19: 30, Sat, Sun and holidays 8: 45-20: 30; July every day 8: 30-22: 00; August every day 8: 30-22: 30; September and October Mon-Fri 9: 00-20: 00, Sat, Sun and holidays 8: 45-21: 00; November Mon-Fri 9: 30-20: 00, Sat, Sun and holidays 9: 30-21: 00
  • Full aquarium € 27,00, reduced € 23,00 / Aquarium + Galata Museo del Mare + Nazario Sauro submarine full € 42,00, reduced € 37,00

3 - Galata, Museum of the Sea

After the Genoa Aquarium, it is the largest maritime museum in the Mediterranean dedicated to the history of navigation. Through the reproduction and display of boats of all sizes and types, nautical instruments and charts, multimedia and interactive stations. Developed over 3 floors, the museum is arranged chronologically: starting from the age of rowing ships up to the journey to America.

An integral part of the museum is the Nazario Sauro submarine, which is located in the same bay, right in front of the entrance to the Galata. It is a unique experience, as it will give you the opportunity to know and experience firsthand the living conditions of sailors aboard a real submarine! An experience that especially children will love.



Go up to the Mirador: after visiting the museum, we recommend that you go up to the top floor, where the Mirador panoramic terrace is located. From here you can enjoy one of the most beautiful views of the city, ranging from the port to the historic center

  • in Calata Ansaldo De Mari 1. 800 m from the Genova-Piazza Principe station (7 min on foot) and 3 km from Genova-Brignole (31 min on foot). Nearest underground station Darsena. It is 1km from the old port, cruise terminal (9 min) - Get directions
  • every day 11: 00-19: 00
  • full € 13,00, reduced € 8,00 / Aquarium + Galata Museo del Mare + Nazario Sauro submarine full € 42,00, reduced € 37,00

4 - Porto Antico, Bigo and Biosphere

Ancient trade center of Genoa, this area now represents one of the cultural centers of the city since, in 1992, on the occasion of the Expo and the 500th anniversary of the Discovery of America, it was "modernized" by Renzo Piano. The area of ​​the Porto Antico (230.000 m) it is the backdrop to some of the major attractions of the city, such as the Aquarium of Genoa, the Galata and the Biosphere, a glass and steel bubble that floats on water and contains within it a tropical environment with some animals such as butterflies and birds.
In addition to these important attractions there are shops, galleries, restaurants, bars and cinemas, without forgetting the ice rink in the winter and the outdoor swimming pool in the summer months. In short, Porto Antico is the ideal place to spend a couple of hours in absolute relaxation between an aperitif and a visit to some typical shop.

One of the must-see attractions here is definitely the Bigo, the panoramic lift from which you can admire all of Genoa. This too was designed by Renzo Piano and is usually combined with a visit to the nearby Aquarium. You get to a height of about 40 m in about 10 minutes and from the top you can enjoy a 360 ° view.



Leave for the surroundings: cruise ships and tourist boats dock here. If you have enough time, the advice is to explore the surroundings of Genoa with day trips, to visit places like Portofino, Camogli and San Fruttuoso.

  • 1 km from the Genova-Piazza Principe station (14 min on foot) and 2,3 km from Genova-Brignole (25 min on foot). Closest underground station S. Giorgio. All the main cruise terminals are located on the ancient port (Ponte dei Mille and Ponte Andrea Doria) - Get directions
  • Porto Antico always accessible / Bigo variable according to the season. From November to February only Sat-Sun 10: 00-17: 00, from March to October every day 10: 00-18: 00, closed Mon morning
  • Porto Antico free / Full Bigo € 4,00, reduced € 3,00

5 - The Rolli Palaces

The beautiful residences of the Genoese nobility which, at the turn of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, offered hospitality to illustrious people passing through the city. The residences, which in total are over 100, were included in special lists (Rolli degli Alloggiamenti public) drawn up by the Republic of Genoa and periodically updated. Based on their architectural value and their sumptuousness, the Palaces were divided into three categories, so-called bussoli, each of which was associated with a certain category of guest: first bussolo for cardinals, princes and viceroys; second bussolo for feudal lords and governors; third for princes and ambassadors.

Since 2006, 42 of these prestigious buildings "arranged in sequence atrium, courtyard, staircase, garden and rich in interior decorations", have been recognized by UNESCO as "World Heritage Site"as" the expression of a singular social and economic identity that inaugurates the urban architecture of the modern age in Europe. "They are located in various parts of the city and open on specific days of the year, the so-called" Giornate dei Rolli ".

  • in the historic center, in via Balbi, via Garibaldi, via Lomellini and via San Luca. Easily accessible on foot from any point in the historic center - Get directions
  • the Rolli Days are held one weekend in May and one weekend in October. Consult the official website
  • based on events and guided tours, consult the official website

6 - Cathedral of San Lorenzo

The Cathedral of the city presents itself with its own beautiful gothic facade in Genoese style, with French influences as evidenced by the arrangement of the portals and the central rose window. Throughout the Middle Ages it was also the fulcrum of civil and political life, since Genoa, for centuries, did not have squares and other locations where to exercise secular power.

Funded with proceeds from the Crusades, the interior is divided into three naves and contains countless sculptures and paintings. Inside of you enter the Cathedral Treasure Museum which houses masterpieces of sacred art including the Sacro Catino that legend identifies with the Holy Grail, the Ark of the Ashes of San Giovanni Battista and other objects related to the cult of the patron saint of the city.

  • in Piazza S. Lorenzo. 1,8 km from Genova Piazza-Principe station (18 min on foot) and 1,5 km from Genova-Brignole (20 min on foot. Closest metro station S. Giorgio. 400 m from the old port (5 min) - Get directions
  • church every day 8: 00-12: 00 and 15: 00-19: 00 / Museum Mon-Sat 9: 00-12: 00 and 15: 00-18: 00
  • Free Church / Museum € 6,00

7 - Via Garibaldi and its museums

Better known as "Strada Nuova", Via Garibaldi is also often referred to as the "golden road" of Genoa due to the exorbitant amount of noble palaces that overlook it. Among these stand out three palaces which today are known as the "Museums of Strada Nuova": Palazzo Rosso, Palazzo Bianco and Palazzo Doria Tursi.

The first, which was the home of the Brignole-Sale, collects the private collection of the family, which tells more than two centuries of history, and also includes works by Van Dyck and Veronese. The second instead is the seat of an important collection of paintings of the Italian, Flemish, French, Dutch and Spanish tradition, ranging from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. Finally, the third contains exhibitions of ceramics and tapestries, as well as being the place where "il Cannone" is kept, the famous Paganini violin built in 1734.

  • in the historic center, 1,3 km from the Genova-Piazza Principe railway station (15 min walk) and 1,5 km from Genova-Brignole (17 min walk). Closest underground station S. Giorgio. It is 500m from the ancient port, cruise terminal (7 min) - Get directions
  • museums Tue-Thu 10: 00-14: 00, Fri-Sun 10: 00-18: 00
  • for all three museums full price € 9,00, reduced price € 7,00

8 - The Lantern

The symbol of Genoa is the ancient lighthouse of the city. To see it, the lantern is truly spectacular: the tower in fact stands on the top of a hill 40 meters high, which makes it 177 meters high above the sea level. The affection that the Genoese feel towards the "Lanterna" cannot be explained by referring only to its public utility; the lighthouse of Genoa, in fact, is comparable to a totem that sums up the millennial history of the city.

In ancient times, they came to the top of the tower large bundles of heather and broom were burned to signal the presence of the port to ships in transit in city waters. Obviously, the structure also had a sighting function to ward off the lightning attacks of piracy that for centuries has infested the waters of the Mediterranean.

At sunset: the lighthouse of Genoa is the highest in the Mediterranean, as well as one of the oldest in Europe among those still in activity. We advise you to arrive here towards sunset, when the sky is completely tinged with red giving a unique spectacle! If you are driving, we recommend that you use your own vehicle to arrive and park in the nearby public car park.

  • in Rampa della Lanterna. 2,4 km from Genova-Piazza Principe station (32 min walk). Dinegro nearest metro station. It is 3km from the old port, cruise terminal (40 min) - Get directions
  • from October to May, Tue-Fri 10: 00-17: 00, Sat-Sun and holidays 10: 00-18: 00. From June to September Tue-Fri 10: 00-18.00, Sat-Sun and holidays 10: 00-19: 00. Closed Mon
  • single € 6,00, up to 6 years free

9 - Porta Soprana and the House of Christopher Columbus

Porta Soprana is the only one left of the city gates, dating back to the IX-X century. Built in stone, it is an imposing structure of medieval origin. Crossing the borders leads to the historic center.

Just below Porta Soprana, before going through the arch, right at the point where the access walk begins, is the house of Christopher Columbus. A real house-museum dedicated to the discoverer of the Americas, rebuilt in the 2th century on the remains of the original one. It is said that Columbus spent the years of his youth here. The building is on floors; the ground floor was used as his father's workshop, who was involved in wool weaving and trade.

  • in Via di Porta Soprana. 1,8 km from Genova-Piazza Principe railway station (21 min on foot) and 1,1 km from Genova-Brignole (13 min on foot). Closest underground station De Ferrari. It is 950m from the old port, cruise terminal (11 mins) - Get directions
  • Tue-Sun 10 am-00pm, closed Mon
  • full € 5,00, reduced € 3,00

10 - Royal Palace

The Museo di Palazzo Reale in Genoa is located inside what was commonly called Palazzo Stefano Balbi, one of the 42 "Rolli" of Genoa. In addition to the Balbi's "house", the museum is also composed one of the most important art galleries in the city, which contains works by Van Dyke and Tintoretto. In addition to this, there is no shortage of sculptures, frescoes and Genoese furniture dating back to the th-th centuries.

The Teatro del Falcone is part of the residence, which since 2004 has only hosted temporary exhibitions. This is the older than the historical Genoese theaters and its origins seem to go back to the inn "ad signum Falconis", where from the end of the sixteenth century it was possible to stay and watch shows staged by traveling companies before heading to the city center. To seal it all, the hanging garden, designed by Carlo Fontana and built in the second decade of the eighteenth century.

  • in Via Balbi 10. 400 m from the Genova-Piazza Principe station (5 min on foot). Nearest underground station Darsena. It is 600m from the old port, cruise terminal (10 min) - Get directions
  • Thu-Fri 10: 00-19: 00, Sat-Sun 13: 30-19: 00, Mon-Wed closed
  • full € 4,00, reduced € 2,00

11 - Nervi Park

A few kilometers from the center of Genoa is the village of Nervi. In addition to the characteristic marina and the promenade, the flagship of the area is the splendid: una large green area made up of several gardens, which formerly belonged to the villas Gropallo, Saluzzo Serra, Grimaldi Fassio and Luxoro, now home to valuable museums of modern and contemporary art.

With English lawns, palm trees and other rare and precious trees, fountains, rose gardens, the park recalls the refined life of the aristocratic owners of the past. It is an ideal place to walk and admire the sea, to visit even with children!

Watch the sunset from the Anita Garibaldi Promenade: together with the Lanterna, the park is one of the best places to admire the sunset, especially from the Anita Garibaldi promenade, over a kilometer of terrace overlooking the sea. If you arrive here by car, you can count on the many parking lots nearby

  • 9,5 km from the city center. Reachable by regional train from Genova-Brignole to Genova-Nervi (15 min) - Get directions
  • every day 8: 00-19: 30
  • free

12 - Staglieno Monumental Cemetery

More than a cemetery, the Staglieno Cemetery is one gigantic work of art, an open-air museum considered among the most fascinating in Europe. What leaves you astonished is the majesty of hers monumental chapels ranging from Gothic to Art Nouveau, passing through the Byzantine and Neoclassical. The place fascinated Nietzsche, Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway.
There are buried bourgeois and citizens of Genoa, as well as illustrious foreigners who have stayed in the Ligurian capital. Among the many important names, we remember Fabrizio De Andrè and the writer Fernanda Pivano.
Designed in 1835 by the architect Carlo Barabino, the Staglieno Cemetery is a representation of nineteenth-century Genoa.

Features a Pantheon (or Cappella dei Suffragi), galleries and arcades with hundreds of monuments that testify to the extraordinary art of the Ligurian nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the Irregular Grove, inspired by the schemes of the romantic gardens, in which the tombs of the Thousand and other heroes of the Risorgimento are located.

Thematic itineraries: inside it is possible to take part in various thematic itineraries, such as the one on the Protagonists of the Renaissance or the Religions and Traditions one. Find all the info on the official website.

  • in Piazzale Giovanni Battista Resasco. From Genoa center, direct bus line 14 from Genova-Brignole to Piacenza 2 / RESASCO stop (13 min), then 10 min on foot - Get directions
  • every day 7: 30-17: 00. Christmas and Easter 7: 30-13: 00. Closed on 1st January, 6th January, Easter Monday, 24th June, 15th August and 26th December
  • free

13 - Museum of World Cultures of Castello D'Albertis

Museum house set up in the residence of Captain Enrico Alberto D'Albertis, its creator. Traveling by sea and by land, between the 800th and 900th centuries, the Captain has enclosed his world in his home, in a romantic setting between "chambers of wonders" and colonial trophies.

His castle testifies to the fascination that the distant worlds he visited have exercised on his spirit. But not only that, inside there is also a second tour in which the archaeological and ethnographic material are revealed through dialogue and exchange with the populations from which it comes.

  • in Corso Dogali 18. It can be reached with the Montegalletto lift. For the lift, reference stop Principe FS / Capolinea (lines 3, 20, 34, 35, 36 and 38) - Get directions
  • from October to March Tue-Fri 10: 00-17: 00, Sat-Sun 10: 00-18: 00. From April to September Tue-Fri 10: 00-18: 00, Sat-Sun 10: 00-19: 00. Mon always closed
  • full € 6,00, reduced € 4,50

14 - Piazza De Ferrari

The main square of Genoa, a meeting place and meeting place for important city events, is dedicated to Raffaele De Ferrari, Duke of Galliera, generous benefactor who in 1875 donated a considerable sum of money for the expansion of the port.

In the center we find the monumental bronze fountain, which offers magnificent water games. Work of the architect Cesare Crosa di Vergagni, it dates back to 1936. Important buildings overlook the square such as the Carlo Felice Theater and the Palazzo dell'Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti, jointly designed by Carlo Barbino. The square is also bounded by the side façade of Palazzo Ducale, the Palazzo della Regione Liguria and the Palazzo della Nuova Borsa, one of the greatest examples of Genoese Liberty style.

In the historic center. From Genova Piazza Principe station take bus lines 20, 35, 618, 635 or 641 or the metro. In both cases, get off at the De Ferrari / Metrò stop - Get directions

15 - Prince's Palace

Prince's Palace is an ancient residence, the largest in the whole city. Outside the city walls, it was commissioned by Andrea Doria in 1521. The interiors, recently restored by the owners Doria Pamphili, are rich in frescoes, tapestries and wooden furnishings. Noteworthy is the hall with the fresco representing the Giants struck by Jupiter and the tapestries dedicated to the battle of Lepanto in 1571.

Witness of the influences of Roman culture in the Renaissance structure, the building marks the passage of Genoese architecture from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance and from the city palace to the suburban villa. The gardens extend all around, which reached the sea on one side and the hill on the other. In the center, the magnificent fountain of Neptune symbolizing Admiral Doria (still visible today).

  • in Piazza del Principe 4. From the Genova Piazza Principe station, bus 3, 20, 32, 38, 618 and get off at the San Benedetto / Amba Alagi stop, then continue for about 150 meters on foot - Get directions
  • every day 10: 00-18: 00
  • full € 9,00, reduced € 7,00

Other attractions to visit

Corso Italia is the promenade of Genoa: over 2 kilometers of coastline that connect the Foce district and the seaside village of Boccadasse. The latter represents one of the testimonies of Mediterranean architecture.

Genoa is an uphill city made of narrow streets, paved slopes ("creuze") and buildings built in a hilly area. Hence the need to equip the city with a series of public elevators in addition to the historic Zecca-Righi funicular. Among these the most famous is undoubtedly the Castelletto Levante lift, which leads to Belvedere Montaldo, a real panoramic balcony overlooking the city with a 360 degree view of the entire historic center.

A few meters from the Duomo is located Ducal Palace (5,00th century), now used as an exhibition space for exhibitions. Don't miss a visit to the prisons (€ ). About the middle of via XX Settembre, however, is the Eastern Market (free), a place to find many culinary specialties and more.

10 things to do in Genoa

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  1. Tour by tourist bus: if you have little time, or for a panoramic view of the city, take advantage of the tourist bus, which stops at the main attractions of the city
  2. Binge on local food: from the typical focaccia with trofie to pesto, from pansotti to the top of the Genoese, you certainly cannot fail to taste all the tasty local recipes
  3. Tour of the places of De Andrè: retrace the places of Deandreian memory, such as Via del Campo, and discover the local musical traditions. Furthermore, the famous artist is buried in the Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno
  4. Little train of Casella: from Piazza Manin, in the Castelletto district, the Casella train departs, leading to the countryside and the heart of the Alta Valle Scrivia, where you can taste typical dishes in one of the many trattorias. Perfect activity to do with children too
  5. Romantic photo at the Villa Durazzo Pallavicini: for its beauty and the adjoining park, this place has been declared the most beautiful park in the city, with very romantic pastures and paths among the greenery to go hand in hand with your sweetheart
  6. Visit to the Borgo di Boccadasse: the characteristic village just outside the center of Genoa is one of the best places to enjoy an aperitif, perhaps at sunset, overlooking the sea
  7. Back in time to the Quarto dei Mille rock: this is one of the most immortalized historical places in the city! In fact, Garibaldi set out from here with his expedition of the thousand, with the aim of unifying Italy
  8. Sunset from the Eataly lift: in Porto Vecchio, beyond the Bigo, there is the Eataly lift, where you can also stop to eat and buy Italian products. From the lift you can admire a wonderful view over the entire Porto Antico and it is free
  9. Discover the Santa Brigida district: color lovers, this is the right neighborhood for you! Here, in fact, the houses are all colored, the clothes hanging on the windows and the narrow streets are not too wide, a real step back into the past
  10. Magic at the Antica Farmacia Sant'Anna: a step back in time in one of the most magical places in Genoa, where the herbal pharmacy of the Carmelite Friars has been active for almost 400 years! Unmissable and, above all, little known

Plan your stay in Genoa: flights and hotels

Getting to Genoa is really simple: the city is served by the Cristoforo Colombo Airport (compare flights - from € 19,00) to Sestri Ponente, connected to the center by public transport. The maritime stations connect Genoa and the main ports of the Mediterranean. The railway lines then represent a convenient and effective solution not only to reach the Ligurian capital, but also to move around it. Finally, there are four the motorways that allow you to reach Genoa by car: A12, A10, A26 and A7. Getting to the city by car is the best solution if you live in the North and Center. Italy

Genoa has a particular conformation: a lower part (the most touristic one) and the highest one where there are not many attractions, but you can enjoy a spectacular view of the city and the sea. A hotel in this second area costs less, but forces you to travel up to 1 hour, better then to stay in the lower area (Compare accommodations on Booking.com from € 43,00). Staying here, the historic center and the Porto Vecchio area lend themselves perfectly to being explored on foot. However, the use of public transport is essential to reach other areas (bus, subway, funiculars, lifts, regional train). The historic center is also the hub of nightlife, together with the Porto Antico.

Broadly speaking, Genoa is a city that can be visited at any time of the year. April to June and September-October are the mildest months. Keep in mind that in July and August, in addition to being quite hot, the coast can be very crowded and uncomfortable to go around. In September there is the Salone Nautico fair, in May and October the Rolli Days.

If you are traveling with children, we advise you to stay in the center, close to the main attractions and with all services at hand, or in the eastern appendix, from Boccadasse to Nervi, full of greenery, parks and beaches. Definitely do not miss a visit to the Aquarium and the Sea Museum!
Finally, if you travel low cost, the cost of living in Genoa is equal to that of other Italian cities, but squares, caruggi and viewpoints are beautiful and characteristic attractions at no cost.

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