Top attractions in Genoa
Rome, Venice, Florence, and Milan might share Italy's more famous landmarks, but Genoa's display of lesser-known treasures is simply breathtaking! Here's what to see in one of the Mediterranean's largest and most resplendent cities.
Though barely an alleyway, the Via Garibaldi is flanked by several grand palaces! The Palazzo Rosso, Palazzo Bianco, and Palazzo Tursi can all be toured on a single ticket.
Of the palaces on Via Garibaldi, this is the real must-see. Its Gallery of the White Palace offers a comprehensive run-down of European painting from the 12th to the 17th century.
Genoa Cathedral dates back to the 12th century, although it exhibits Gothic and Renaissance flashes too. Visit its Museum of the Treasury to see medieval jewellery and silverware.
The world-class "Acquario di Genova" is one of the largest aquariums in Europe. Spend an afternoon gazing at dolphins, sharks, sturgeon, stingrays and other beguiling sea creatures.
Having once provided ostentatious lodgings for royals on state visits, an incredible 46 of these 163 palaces are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites!
Surrounded by Baroque and Art Nouveau buildings, this piazza – and its magnificent fountain – provides the perfect jumping-off point for Genoa sightseeing tours!
Step inside this Mannerist church to see the contrasting Baroque interior. Its striking frescoes include the cupola masterpiece by Giovanni Andrea Ansaldo.
This hillside cemetery is famous for its huge sculptural monuments. The extravagant graves were a bourgeoisie fashion of the 19th-century and are simply fascinating to look at.
Genoa's Natural History Museum contains over four million specimens from across the world. Check out the huge woolly mammoth skeleton!
You'll want to explore the stunning Villetta di Negro on a sunny day, but we'd urge you to make time for the park's museum, which hosts an extraordinary collection of Asian art.
Yes! For the city's best free beaches, head to Quarto, Quinto, Nervi, or even take a boat to San Fruttuoso in Camogli Bay to sunbathe on the sands in front of a 10th-century monastery!
Tourists often mistake Genoa for a small place. Although you could have your sightseeing covered within two or three days, there's plenty to do across the city, and with the enchanting Cinque Terre just 2 hours away by train, you wouldn't regret booking closer to a week.
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- Best time to visit
- Genoa is in its prime late spring through early fall. High tourist season is in July and August, but in the case of this coastal town, the influx feels quite jubilant!
Things to Do in Genoa
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What people are saying about Genoa
Geneo or the vertical city as our guide described it. She spoke excellent English and was very enthusiastic in explaining the importance of Genoa as a Roman port and trading centre and the golden age of the Middle Ages. Via Garibaldi the residential street of palaces of the most powerful families at that time - the Rolli palaces now a designated UNESCO world Heritage Sites. It was fascinating to hear about the Crusades bringing back the relics of St John the Baptist in the 1100’s now kept in the cathedral San Lorenzo. Birthplace of Columbus and traces of his house. We learned about the origins of the first bank Banco do S Giorgio, it’s prison history and Marco Polo’s imprisonment. We visited the medieval city, historical centre, city gates and hidden squares of interest. All in all a very enjoyable explanation of the historical town
We had only a few hours to explore Genoa, and our tour of the city with a local was such a great experience that we would recommend it to anyone visiting the city. Our tour guide, Pier Paolo, was not only a wealth of knowledge on the history and architecture of Genoa, but spoke perfect English and had a great sense of humor and perspective that added very valuable insights to our visit. I would definitely suggest adding this activity to your itinerary, and would also suggest directly requesting Pier Paolo as your tour guide. You will be glad that you did!
Avoid weekends as the experience is ruined by the screaming children who bang on the aquarium glass and take pictures with flash. The dolphin show at 14.15 was fantastic however the MC spent more time asking kids to leave room for the trainer to walk around. Overall great setup. The animals seemed quite happy and my favorite has to be the coral reef, I could spend hours there if it weren't for the high pitched distractions!
Pier Paolo met us at our hotel and asked what we were interested in seeing. We said local history, importance of Genoa, older parts of the city, and other interesting sights. Some of the highlights were Knight Templar church and hospital, Roman road and Roman gates, old part of the city, old buildings' architecture compared to new, former palaces of wealthy families, and much more.
Visiting Genoa and Portofino were amazing but unfortunately our tour guide Eddie was not really interested or engaged in the tour. He was very snippy and hard to approach with questions. He made us feel uncomfortable. But all in all, these coastal cities were breathtaking and are a must see!