10 Things to Do in Genoa, Italy (2023)

Sitting comfortably on the Gulf of Genoa on the Ligurian sea lies Italy’s largest port city; Genoa or ‘Genova’. Home to one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean, Genoa is renowned for its illustrious history. The city is full to the brim with ornate palaces, homely Piazzas, centuries-old churches, and a multitude of opportunities for fine dining and shopping.

The sea plays a vital role in the life of Genoa, and therefore many of the major tourist attractions are located at the city’s natural harbour. There is so much to see and do, yet the Italian port city often misses out on the attention it deserves. From breath-taking views to indescribably tasting gelato, here are this author’s top ten things to do in the capital of the Liguria Region.

Piazza de Ferrari

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Offering a homely sense of relaxation and a wide array of fascinating sites, the Piazza de Ferrari exists as one of the central locations in Genoa – and is, therefore, a great place to start! The main feature of the Piazza is the magnificent, large fountain decorating the centre of the square. A series of jets provide a calming cascade of water into the central basin, forming a visually pleasing display. Why not throw a coin in the fountain and make a wish? The gorgeous nineteenth-century buildings the Palace of the Doges, the Carlo Felice Theatre, the Genoa stock exchange, and the Palace of the Duke of Galleria surround the fountain.

The buildings themselves are a sight to behold and worth a visit in themselves. Accompanying these stunning pieces of architecture are a myriad of small cafes and small restaurants. Enjoy a bite to eat, admire your surroundings, or even simply sit and people-watch in one of the most beautiful Piazzas in all of Genoa!


Location: Piazza Raffaele de Ferrari, 16121 Genoa GE, Italy

Genoa Aquarium

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Italy’s largest port town would be incomplete without an aquarium! Located just by the Piazza Carciamento in the main harbour area, the Genoa Aquarium is a fantastic location for all the family to enjoy. Contained within the Genoa Aquarium is a vast amount of interesting marine life, ranging from varieties of turtles, fish, sharks, dolphins, jellyfish, and many, many more! The displays are well-maintained and wonderful to marvel at, with two incredible sections to choose from: ‘The Environment of the North Atlantic Ocean and the ‘Ligurian Sea’, which conveniently is the sea that the Genoa Harbour extends to.

The location is stunning and very central, the exhibits are kind to the animals in terms of habitation and climate, and the range of displays is overwhelming! Tickets are available at the front desk, though there is also the option to book online and avoid the queues. The Genoa Aquarium is a must-see and an experience you definitely won’t forget!


Location: Ponte Spinola, 16128 Genoa GE, Italy

Genoa Harbour

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Stretching twenty-two kilometres of coastline, the Genoa Harbour is an unmissable, iconic landscape residing in the city of Genoa. The harbour is home to a large number of ports and docks used for recreational, commercial, and leisure purposes. Populous with bars, restaurants, and cafes, the harbour is well-liked amongst visitors. There is so much to see and do, with various other tourist attractions located here including the Genoa Aquarium, Maritime Museum, and Lanterna di Genoa.

You will most likely find yourself returning to this central hub multiple times during your trip! Even if not partaking in an activity or visiting an attraction, the harbour is a beautiful location and therefore a lovely place to simply walk and admire the many ships lining the coast. The Genoa Harbour is a compulsory stop on your adventure to the largest port city in Italy!


Location: Palazzo San Giogio Via della Mercanzia 2, 16123 Genoa GE,Italy

San Lorenzo Cathedral

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More commonly referred to as the Genoa Cathedral, the San Lorenzo Cathedral is a sight to behold! It is a stunning building, that is unfortunately very often overlooked. The coloured striped marble and stone walls have stood for over one hundred years, boasting colours of greens, pinks, blacks, and whites. The interiors are breath-taking, the ceilings decorated with frescos and beautifully coloured artwork and the walls adorned with magnificent paintings – for instance, the Martyrdom of St. Lawrence by Lazzaro Tavarone.

There is more than just incredible artwork to behold: you can take a trip to the Cathedral Museum or even climb the Cathedral Tower. If you have an appreciation for stunning architecture, or even if you simply want to appreciate one of the most authentic buildings in the city, then a visit to the San Lorenzo Cathedral should definitely be on the cards!


Location: Piazza S. Lorenzo, 16123 Genova GE, Italy

Spianata Castelletto

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With just a short, but steep, walk up the eighty-metre high, vintage point, Spianata Castelletto tower you will have access to some of the best views of Genoa available! I’m talking 360-degree, panoramic views of one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. Feel on top of the world, with unparalleled views of the port residing below. During the day, gaze at the ships resting in the harbour, and at night, admire the adornment of lights decorating the populous city.

As well to the beautiful views, the courtyard on which the tower sits is a great location to sit and relax, with binoculars lining the ground to see the city closer up, and trees towering over you, providing shade. This is a personal favourite of mine and a tourist attraction that should not be missed! Do not miss the chance to admire Genoa in all its splendour!


Location: Salita della Torretta, 16124 Genoa GE, Italy

Strada Nuova Museums

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The Strada Nuova Museums on Via Garibaldi are some of the most ornate buildings in the city, existing as former Renaissance and Baroque palaces, for instance, the Palazzo Rosso and the Palazza Bianco. Whether you’re an art fanatic or a fan of architecture or not, you will definitely appreciate the beauty of the Strada Nuova Museums! The ex-palaces now exist as galleries containing extensive art collections, authentic interior halls and vibrant gardens.

The sites have earned themselves the title of a UNESCO World Heritage site, showing just how incredible these museums and galleries are! There are over seventy-five rooms to tour through, held at multiple levels and including courtyards, terraces, gardens, and loggias. Not only this, the Strada Nuova Museums boast beautiful views of the historic centre of Genoa. Make sure to keep a day free to fully experience all that the ex-palaces have to offer!


Location: Via Garibaldi, 18, 16124 Genova GE, Italy

Boccadasse Village

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If city life becomes a bit too overwhelming, why not take a trip to the picturesque, ancient fishing village of Boccadasse. The village has remained almost unchanged over time and is truly an authentic Italian landmark. Boccadasse Village is only a short train, bus, or taxi ride from the centre of Genoa. Scattered with multi-coloured, pastel houses and a quaint pebble beach, the village is the perfect place to watch the sunset and escape city life.

A slice of heaven! Feast on delicious gelato from Antica Gelateria Amedeo or grab some frozen yoghurt or a colourful ice lolly from the Gelateria’s Yoghurt Shop. There are ice cream parlours, restaurants, and small art galleries. Genoa can really do both; the village and the city. Why not venture to Boccadasse and experience all that Genoa has to offer?


Location: Via Alberto Liri, 9, 16145 Genoa GE, Italy

Cuisine

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You’re in Italy – you know what that means! Time to fill up on some of the world’s best cuisine! The food in Genoa is delicious. Have a taste of authentic Italian pizza and the mouth-watering pasta. The Genoa Harbour is a great spot for local restaurants, but there are fantastic food locations dotted all over the city. Make sure you try some pesto during your visit, as Genoa is believed to be the birthplace of the sauce! For some homemade pesto, try Trattoria San Carlo, a small restaurant tucked away on Via David Chiossone. You’d be a fool not to!


Location: Varies. Trattoria San Carlo, Via David Chiossone, 41, 16123 Genova GE, Italy

Lanterna di Genoa

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Erected in the twelfth century and standing seventy-six metres high in the centre of the Genoa harbour is the Lanterna di Genoa; a beautiful, ornate lighthouse. Over time the lighthouse has been reconstructed but remains in the style of its original creation. The Lanterna di Genoa stands as an iconic landmark and is the main lighthouse in the city of Genoa and the third oldest in the world. That is, behind the Tower of Hercules and the Kopu Lighthouse.

A stunning portrait of Genoa is cascaded on one side of the lighthouse walls and the top of the tower is crowned with a large, glass light. The Lanterna di Genoa can be seen from all over but is definitely a location you should visit up close!


Location: Rampa della Lanterna, 16126 Genova GE, Italy

Porta Soprana

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Genoa was once known for being home to the city with the longest walls in Italy. The once expansive city wall enclosed much of the city within it, but now the remnants of this wall exist as the grand Porta Soprana gatehouse and towers. The Porta Soprana was the best-known gate of the ancient walls of Genoa and was originally the main entrance gate into the city. The gatehouse and towers have experienced many reconstructions to maintain their incredible beauty.

Porta Soprana is located just a short walk from Piazza de Ferrari but is visible from many parts of the city due to its height and stature. The area is very picturesque and provides numerous wonderful photographic opportunities!


Location: di Soprana, Via S. Pietro della Porta, 16123 Genova GE,Italy

Boccadasse Beach

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If you’re wanting a relaxation day, an escape from city life, or even just a suntan top-up, take a trip to Boccadasse Beach! This stunning pebble beach is complete with crystal clear waters, and an array of iconic pastel-coloured houses perched just behind, overlooking the sea. The landscape is serene, and the atmosphere is enchanting. Boccadasse Beach is only a short trip from the centre of Genoa and, in this author’s opinion, is a vital stop during your visit!


Location: Via Alberto Liri, 9, 16145 Genova, Italy, Genoa

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