Things to do in Genoa

Things to do in  Genoa

History repeating

Bustling Genoa, with its commanding position on the Ligurian Sea, has long been one of the most important port cities in Europe. It's the capital of the Liguria region, a major transportation hub, and the gateway to the Italian Riviera. Board a hop-on hop-off tour to learn about the city’s port industrial structures and the ornately decorated buildings in old town (part of which is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site). Along Via Garibaldi, you’ll see a number of gorgeous palazzi built in the 16th and 17th centuries, some now housing museums. Other highlights worth a stop include one of Europe's largest aquariums, located right on the waterfront; the iconic fountain in Piazza De Ferrari; the Bigo, offering 360-degree views of the city; and the picturesque Lanterna lighthouse. Food tours are a popular option as well, including a visit to the oldest confectionery shop in Europe, family-run since its founding in 1780. For a full immersion into the city’s charms, check out a week-long Italian language and gourmet-food package. Side-trip options include the old fishing town of Boccadasse less than an hour away; the picturesque villages of the Cinque Terre, a 1.5-hour train ride from Genoa; and colorful Portofino, a little less than two hours away by a train-bus combination.

Top 15 attractions in Genoa

Santa Margherita Ligure

The resort town of Santa Margherita Ligure on the Italian Riviera is often outshined by its famous neighbor, Portofino, but deserves no less attention. The larger of the two, Santa Margherita Ligure feels less overrun with tourists while offering similarly quaint cafes and boutiques, pastel-painted buildings, and glorious views of the sea.More

Genoa Cathedral (Cattedrale di San Lorenzo)

In the heart of Genoa’s old town, Genoa Cathedral (Cattedrale di San Lorenzo) is the most important church in the city. It’s a soaring Gothic and Romanesque masterpiece in alternating bands of black and white marble, where the magnificent art and architecture serve as reminders of this former maritime republic’s historic wealth and power.More

Genoa Cruise Port

As the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, it's fitting that Genoa (Genova) is home to the second-largest port in Europe. A popular stop for cruise liners, Genoa Cruise Port serves as a jumping-off point for shore excursions to Liguria's pretty coastal villages, as well as offers easy access to historic Genoa proper.More

Piazza de Ferrari

Piazza de Ferrari is the expansive main square in Genoa, separating the historic district from the modern city center. Its large fountain is the square’s centerpiece and a central meeting point for tourists and locals alike. The piazza is named for Raffaele de Ferrari, who donated a lot of money to help expand Genoa’s port in the 1800s.More

Spianata Castelletto

The port city of Genoa (Genova may seem like an overwhelming monolith at first glance but it is actually a patchwork of distinct neighborhoods, each with a unique history and identity. One of the most scenic is hilltop Castelletto, home to the Spianata di Castelletto overlook, offering one of the most commanding views over the city.More

Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale)

Built in 1298 to demonstrate Genoa’s wealth after it had become an important maritime trade center, the Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale) was the residence of the doge, ruler of Genoa. Today a cultural center, event space, and museum hosting rotating exhibits, the palace offers visitors a glimpse of the splendor of Genoa’s history.More

Genoa Via Garibaldi (Via Giuseppe Garibaldi)

One of the most important streets in Genoa’s historic center, Via Garibaldi was historically known as Strada Nuova, lined with palaces belonging to this former marina republic’s most powerful families. The street has changed names, but its UNESCO-listed Palazzi dei Rolli remain among the most spectacular attractions in Genoa.More

Aquarium of Genoa

The Aquarium of Genoa is not only the largest aquarium in Italy, but also the most extensive exhibition of marine biodiversity in Europe. Situated in Genoa’s Old Port, more than 70 different tanks hold 1.6 million gallons of water and 12,000 animals. Visitors can see sharks, dolphins, manatees, penguins, seals, jellyfish, and much more.More

Palazzi dei Rolli

Genoa’s Palazzi dei Rolli are a group of 42 residences, built between the 16th and 18th centuries, that were listed on the city’s register. When notable guests came to visit Genoa on a state visit, a lottery was used to determine which palace would host the guest. Today, these palaces—out of 163 total homes—are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.More


The sprawling port city of Genoa (Genova) is made up of a number of distinct neighborhoods, each with its own history and identity. One of these is Boccadasse, set on the waterfront to the east of the city center. Once a tiny fishing village, it is now a delightfully colorful and quaint quarter to explore on foot.More


For one of the best views of Genoa and its Old Port, a trip on the Bigo panoramic elevator is a must. Climb aboard the out-of-this-world contraption, designed in the style of loading cranes by Renzo Piano in 1992 for the quincentennial of Columbus’ voyage to the New World, and learn about Genoa’s history as you take in panoramic views.More

Royal Palace Museum (Museo di Palazzo Reale)

The Royal Palace (Palazzo Reale) in Genoa (Genova) is one of the city’s Palazzi dei Rolli, magnificent residences built by the Genoese aristocracy during the Republic of Genoa’s height of wealth and power. Get a glimpse into the city’s opulent baroque period by touring the sumptuous interiors and art collection of this palace museum.More

Serravalle Designer Outlet

The largest outlet shopping center in Europe, the Serravalle Designer Outlet outside Milan has more than 200 designer shops. Many stores offer discounts of 30 to 70 percent off retail prices all year round on brands like Furla, Armani, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Salvatore Ferragamo, and many more.More

Madonna Verona Fountain (Fontana di Madonna Verona)

Piazza delle Erbe (Market Square) is the bustling heart of UNESCO World Heritage–listed Verona. Cafés and elegant buildings front the rectangular square, whose centerpiece is the 14th-century Madonna Verona Fountain (Fontana di Madonna Verona)—an allegory of the city topped by an ancient Roman statue of a female figure holding a scroll bearing the civic motto.More

San Fruttuoso

This tiny bay, named for the 10th-century abbey that sits at the water’s edge, is one of the most picturesque nooks on the Ligurian coast. Accessible only by boat or a steep trail, San Fruttuoso is famed for its crystalline water, dramatic cliffs, and relaxed atmosphere that seems worlds away from crowded Portofino.More

Top activities in Genoa

Do Eat Better Experience - Food Tours in Genoa
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Segway Tour Caruggi

Segway Tour Caruggi

E-bike tour in Genova

E-bike tour in Genova

2 Hours Private Historical Tour in Genoa

2 Hours Private Historical Tour in Genoa

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Homemade Pasta and Pesto Class with a Local Chef in Genoa
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Traditional Home Cooking Class in Genoa
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Rickshaw tour in Genova

Rickshaw tour in Genova

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Guided tour of Genoa

Guided tour of Genoa

per group
Cooking class in Genoa - Do Eat Better Experience
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Genoese cooking lesson in the garden with lunch
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All about Genoa

When to visit

Visiting Genoa in late spring or early fall is ideal—when it’s warm enough for beach days, but with fewer tourists storming the Italian Riviera. June kicks off the festival season, which includes the Theater Festival of the Aqueduct, Festival delle Periferie, and the Goa-Boa Music Festival. Although Genoa is relatively off the beaten path, it has plenty of museums, art galleries, churches, and palazzi. Avoid Easter and August, when the Genovesi vacation and parts of the city close down.

Getting around

The AMT public transport system has well-connected bus lines and an eight-stop, one-line metro that takes travelers to most top attractions. Genova’s public transport is also vertically inclined: two funicular lines (Sant’Anna and Zecca-Righi), 17 lifts, and a cog railway connects the city center with the hills above it—most are commuter lines but offer unparalleled views. Tickets and schedules are easiest to access with the AMT Genova mobile app.

Traveler tips

The Pasticceria Gelateria Mangini—known locally as simply Mangini—is one of Genoa’s most beloved cafés. Founded in 1846, the café is situated on Via Roma off Piazza Corvetto and has oak counters, opulent chandeliers, and checkerboard floors straight out of the 19th century. The old world atmosphere has drawn famous patrons—they no doubt come for the house-made pastries, sweets, and the sacripantina, a dome-shaped, layered sponge cake soaked in liqueur.

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A local’s pocket guide to Genoa

Francesco Marchi

Francesco lives in Milan, but spends as much time as he can in nearby Genoa. You’ll find him working his way through Via del Campo, eating focaccia, or road-tripping around Liguria.

The first thing you should do in Genoa is...

have a bite of the real focaccia, maybe even topped with onion or Nutella.

A perfect Saturday in Genoa...

involves a walk in the Old Port and a stop at the Ferris Wheel to admire the port from above. The Aquarium of Genoa, one of the biggest in Europe, is also a must.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

the House of Christopher Columbus (La Casa di Colombo). From up on the hill, you can admire the wonderful Ligurian Sea.

To discover the "real" Genoa...

get lost in the Old Town, where every corner seems to offer something new. You can also sample some of the best basil pesto in the world here, before visiting the area’s bars.

For the best view of the city...

visit the Spianata Castelletto, where you can enjoy a wonderful view over Genoa accompanied with an Italian gelato from Don Paolo.

One thing people get wrong...

is thinking Genoa is a rough city because of its history and port. In fact, Genoa is an elegant and wonderful place.

People Also Ask

What is Genoa known for?

Once a powerhouse maritime republic, Genoa is Italy’s largest seaport and gateway to the Riviera. The old city is a tangle of narrow paths called caruggi. Three palazzi along Via Garibaldi comprise the elegant Musei di Strada Nuova. Expect to eat the famous pesto alla Genovese on pasta, bread, and bruschetta.

Is there anything to do in Genoa?

Yes. Visitors head straight for medieval old town to explore the caruggi, cave-like pathways lined with bars, shops, and cafes. The revitalized port district is a must-see, as is Via Garibaldi and the Musei di Strada Nuova, three museums each housed in a palazzo more elegant than the other.

How do I spend a day in Genoa?

Start from Piazza Raffaele De Ferrari, straddling the old town and the new. Drift towards Via Garibaldi and choose one of three Musei di Strada Nuova to see—Palazzo Bianco is the Liguria region’s main art gallery and your best bet. Then, savor a sunset gelato at Boccadasse or Spianata Castelletto.

Is Genoa worth visiting?

Yes. Genoa has fewer tourists than Milan or Florence and offers singular architecture, intriguing regional cuisine (cheese focaccia and pesto alla Genovese), and a growing reputation thanks to its revitalized port district and the sprawling UNESCO-listed Palazzo dei Rolli. It’s also the key gateway to the Italian Riviera.

What is special about Genoa?

Genoa is home to the Palazzi dei Rolli—42 UNESCO-protected buildings comprising an open air museum. It also has two types of unusual pathways: the dank, medieval caruggi in the historic center and the creuze, connecting the sea with surrounding hills. These are found only in Liguria, and Genoa in particular.

Is Genoa safe at night?

Yes, for the most part. Genoa is shedding an uneven reputation but is fundamentally safe. Parts of the port district and historic center can seem unwelcoming late at night; stay alert near alleyways, dead ends, and the Genova Piazza Principe train station. Pickpocketing is common in Italy—keep belongings close.

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