Genoa (Italian: Genóva), a vast port city overlooking the Ligurian Sea, is one of the most important economic hubs in Italy. With many narrow streets and shady alleys, this charming place is mostly known as the birthplace of Christopher Columbus.
Called the vertical city because of its soaring mountains that plunge straight into the water, Genoa was left with a small area of appropriate ground for settlement. Despite its commanding position on top of a mountain, the entire city boasts many UNESCO world heritage sites. It features sumptuous palaces, the streets of Old Town with breathtaking panoramic views, gracious piazzas, and magnificent churches.
With that in mind, let’s go through our hand-picked list of the best things to do in Genoa!
Explore The Best Things To Do In Genoa, Italy
Roam Around Piazza De Ferrari
Named after a politician and banker Raffaele De Ferrari, The Piazza De Ferrari is the primary gathering spot and focal point of the most significant events in the city’s life. It is also a commercial, financial, and economic hub.
Situated in the city center in the Portoria neighborhood, it represents one of the areas that made up the ancient city of Genoa. Today, this historic center is like a maze of streets and tiny squares that descend toward the sea. Youngsters love to go here to soak up the cozy ambiance and chat late into the night.
However, there’s more to Piazza de Ferrari – it’s a place where the old meets the new. It symbolically represents the old city seamlessly blending with the new Art Nouveau of Via XX Settembre. The real centerpiece of the square is the majestic circular bronze fountain from 1936. It’s pretty clear why Piazza de Ferrari is a must-see when visiting Genoa!
Visit The Cathedral Of San Lorenzo
Next on our list of things to do in Genoa is visiting the outstanding San Lorenzo cathedral built in 1098. Located close to the Royal Palace Museum, the most important church in the area is famous for only having one instead of two bell towers as the second one remained incomplete.
The exterior attracts visitors’ eyes with its striped black and white façade while the interior draws in history buffs. Inside the cathedral of San Lorenzo, lies an exact replica of the unexploded World War II grenade shot by the British Royal Fleet in 1941. Furthermore, many artistic treasures contribute to the serene Cattedrale di San Lorenzo atmosphere.
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Stop By The Former Doge’s Palace – Palazzo Ducale
Since its construction in the 13th century, this incredibly beautiful building has been used for different purposes – a fortress incorporated into the city walls, local government headquarters, and the court. Only a short walk from the Piazza Matteotti, today it serves as a venue for conferences, exhibitions, and other cultural events.
Throughout its history, it suffered severe damage but still kept getting refurbished, especially in the 19th and 20th centuries. To get its full ancient spark back in 1992, the palace was undergoing a lengthy repair which was the biggest restoration ever carried out on a 300.000 square meter structure in Europe. If you’re planning to visit Genoa, make sure this gorgeous palace finds a spot on your Genoa itinerary!
Learn About Maritime Life At Genoa Aquarium
The famous Genoa aquarium is a fantastic attraction for the whole family. Numerous species of fish, sharks, dolphins, turtles, and jellyfish are among the sea life that can be found inside this complex. The fauna of the Ligurian Sea and the ecosystem of the North Atlantic Ocean are two major themes prevalent in one of Europe’s largest aquariums.
Fortunately, the animal’s habitats have been properly replicated to provide them with exactly what they require in terms of climate and lifestyle. Plus, all of the displays and tanks are well taken care of and spacious. The entire visit takes roughly three hours and you have access to a special tank area where it’s allowed to pet stingrays – a highlight for the kids!
Address: Ponte Spinola, 16128 Genova GE, Italy
See The Largest Square In The Mediterranean – Porto Antico
Genoa’s ancient port is the largest square in the Mediterranean, the core of the city, and an important part of the historic center. It’s a constantly open area where fairs, performances, boating, dining, and shopping all come together.
Apart from many activities, Porto Antico boasts a panoramic lift called the Bigo, a bubble-shaped Biosfera building on the water, and an amusement center for kids Città dei Bambini. In wintertime, Arena del Mare and Piazza delle Feste are transformed into artificial ice rinks as this old port continues to attract international festivals and shows.
What are the best things to do in Genoa, Italy?
If you want to visit Genoa, you have to see important sights like:
- Genoa Cathedral
- City’s Palazzi dei Rolli (open-air museum)
- The Opera House (Carlo Felice Theatre)
- Palazzo Reale with its art collection
- Del Campo
- Palazzo Ducale
- Old Port
What else should you visit in Genoa, Italy?
Genoa has a lot to offer to visitors, a long list of attractions includes:
- Galata Museo del Mare (Maritime Museum)
- The ancient fishing village of Boccadasse (near the Italian Riviera)
- Monumental Cemetery
- UNESCO World Heritage Site: Palazzo Tursi, Palazzo Rosso, Palazzo Bianco
- Iglesia de Santa Maria del Castillo, Igreja de San Matteo
- Villetta di Negro Park with the Museum of Oriental art – one of Europe’s largest collections
What must-see places are near Genoa, Italy?
- Santa Margherita Ligure
- Cinque Terre
Is Genoa worth visiting?
Featuring sumptuous palaces, a history-filled Old Town with breathtaking panoramic views, gracious piazzas, and magnificent churches, Genoa is definitely worth visiting.
How much time do you need in Genoa?
3 to 4 days make it the perfect amount of time to explore the attraction-filled Genoa.
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