If you're looking for free things to do in Genoa, you've come to the right place. This historic city is packed with free attractions, from world-famous museums to charming public squares. Strolling along the narrow streets and enjoying the historic buildings of Genoa Old Town, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is fun enough by itself. But this beautiful city, famous as the home of Christopher Columbus and as the capital of a maritime empire during the Middle Ages, has much more to offer than just historic charm - even if that does seem to be around every corner.
Drop off your bags with a Bounce luggage storage, and you can save some money by exploring all the great free things to do in Genoa there are. From beautiful piazzas and public squares to stunning churches to gorgeous palaces, you're guaranteed to find something worth doing here that won't cost you a penny. And it's a good thing, too, because you'll need to save as much money as you can for the delicious food there is to try here.
Piazza de Ferrari
Piazza de Ferrari is the city's main square, and it's a great place to start your exploration of Genoa. In the center of the piazza is a beautiful fountain, and all around it are some of the city's most important buildings, including the Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace), the Teatro Carlo Felice (the city's opera house), and the Palazzo Rosso and Palazzo Bianco (two museums that house collections of art from Genoa and beyond).
If you're interested in art, be sure to visit at least one of Genoa's many excellent museums. The Palazzo Rosso is home to an impressive collection of paintings by Italian artists from the 16th and 17th centuries, while the Palazzo Bianco houses works by artists like Rubens, Van Dyck, and Raphael.
But you don't need to visit any of the incredible museums or art galleries to experience the atmosphere of the area. Just hanging out in this gorgeous piazza is a great way to get a sense of the atmosphere of the city. Piazza de Ferrari is a great place to explore by day or by night, and there are few better ways to kickoff your visit to Genoa, Italy, than by visiting what amounts to the city's outdoor living room.
The Palazzo Ducale, or Doge's Palace, is one of the most iconic buildings in Genoa. This massive palace on Piazza de Ferrari was once the home of the city's rulers, the Doges, and it now houses a museum that tells the story of the city's history. Visitors can explore the lavish rooms of the palace, including the Doge's private chambers, and see exhibits on topics like the city's maritime trade and its role in European politics.
Best of all, admission to the museum is free on the first Sunday of every month. So if you're lucky enough to be visiting Genoa at the right time, you can see one of the city's most important historic buildings absolutely free.
If you're interested in Genoa's maritime history, make your way to the city's Old Port, or Porto Antico. This is where Columbus set sail on his famous voyage to the Americas, and it's still an active port today. You can stroll along the waterfront, admiring the boats and getting a sense of the city's maritime past, or you can take a ride on one of the ferries that depart from here for destinations around Italy and beyond.
This is also the part of town where you'll find some of the best things to do with kids in Genoa. It's here you'll find the Galata Museo del Mare, Genoa's Maritime Museum and its always popular real submarine docked outside. There's also a replica pirate ship made for a 1986 movie on the docks. And Genoa Aquarium is also right in the port area, making Porto Antico one of the best places in the Old Town to explore, whether you're traveling with the family or not.
Of course, many of these attractions will cost you money to visit for yourself. But the Old Port, like Piazza de Ferrari, is also a great place to just hang out and take in the atmosphere. Combining fascinating history with vibrant modern culture, this is a great free thing to do in Genoa.
San Lorenzo Cathedral
The Cathedral of San Lorenzo is one of the city's most important religious buildings, and it's free to enter. Known as the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo in Italian, Genoa Cathedral has been the spiritual heart of the city since it was built in 1098. And it's also an excellent place to get some tranquility amid the chaos of the sometimes busy city and recharge your batteries.
Be sure to admire the stunning exterior - it's a mix of Romanesque and Gothic styles - before heading inside to see the beautiful interior, which includes the remains of St. Lawrence, the city's patron saint. Don't forget to check out the armor-piercing shell fired by a British warship during World War II that failed to go off, leaving the church intact. There is also a treasury full of priceless objects dating back as far as the eighth century, testifying to the long history of the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo as a place of worship in Genoa.
Santa Maria di Castello
Another religious site worth exploring in the city is Santa Maria di Castello. This massive church complex includes a church, a convent, and a museum, making it one of the most important cultural sites in Genoa. The church itself is impressive, with its beautiful exterior and ornate interior. But the real highlight here is the museum, which houses an incredible collection of religious art and artifacts. The medieval altarpieces and paintings displayed in the museum are like a glimpse into a vanished world.
The best part is that admission to the museum is free on the first Sunday of every month, just like at the Palazzo Ducale. So if you're visiting Genoa at the right time, you can explore two of the city's most important museums absolutely free.
Speaking of free museums, if you can time your visit so you're in town on the first Sunday of the month, you'll find that many of Genoa's best museums can be visited for free. Not only the Palazzo Ducale and Santa Maria di Castello, but also the Palazzo Rosso, Palazzo Bianco, and the MUSINF - Museo di Storia e Informatica della Navigazione are all free to visit on this day. In fact, you'll need to be selective, since there's more to see than you can visit in a single day, and lines tend to be long. Then again, the tourist attractions you don't get to visit give you an excuse to return to the city on another first Sunday of the month.
Even if you can't make it on a free day, all of these museums are worth visiting, and they offer a great way to escape the heat or the rain if the weather isn't cooperating during your stay in Genoa.
Cimitero Monumentale di Staglieno
Visiting a cemetery on your vacation may not be everybody's idea of a good time. But the monumental cemetery of Staglieno is well worth a visit, and won't cost you a thing. Laid out in the mid-19th century, the cemetery is only a short walk from the city center in this vertical city, and is the ideal place to escape the crowds and the heat of the old city.
In the cemetery, you'll find amazing statues and ornate tombs, some of which were designed by famous artists like Augusto Rivalta and Carlo Barabino. Many of the tombs are works of art in and of themselves, and it's well worth taking the time to explore the cemetery and see them all.
And if you're interested in Genoa's history, the cemetery is also a great place to learn about the city's past. There are tombstones and memorials here for many of the city's most famous residents, including politician and writer Giovanni Ruffini, composer Giacomo Puccini, and explorer Christopher Columbus. Wandering the well-tended paths of the cemetery, you'll get a sense of the long history of this fascinating city. And since this is the largest historical cemetery in Europe, you won't run out of places to explore here.
Museo D'Arte Orientale
Free for EU citizens and only five euros for everyone else, the Museum of Oriental Art holds one of Europe's largest collections of Asian art. If you're looking for a break from all the Italian and European art Genoa has on display, this is the perfect place to get it. The Museo d'Arte Orientale has a wide range of exhibits, from ancient Chinese bronzes to Japanese woodblock prints.
The museum is located in the Palazzo Ducale, which is worth visiting even if you're not interested in the art inside. But if you are, you'll find that this is a great place to learn about and appreciate the cultures of Asia. With its extensive collection and knowledgeable staff, the Museo d'Arte Orientale is one of the best places to experience Asian culture in Europe.
OK, this next destination isn't exactly free unless you're comfortable doing some hitchhiking. But the beautiful coastal villages of the Cinque Terre, about an hour and a half outside Genoa on the Ligurian coast, are too iconic a destination not to visit while you're in the area. The ride to the stunning villages from Genoa train station can cost as little as five euros, and since this is the kind of destination that pops up on most people's travel bucket lists, it's money well worth spending.
The Cinque Terre are five villages, each built into the cliffside overlooking the Mediterranean. The villages are connected by a network of some of the best hiking trails in Genoa and in Italy, which are great for a day hike or even just a short walk to take in the stunning views. You can also take a boat trip between the villages if you're not up for the hike, but be warned that the lines can be long and the prices high during peak season.
No matter how you choose to get there, visiting the Cinque Terre is an experience you won't soon forget. So if you find yourself in Genoa with some time to spare, make sure to add this destination to your list.
Genoa is unquestionably a beautiful city, and with the Italian Riviera so close by, you can see even more stunning locations in and around Genoa during your trip. But all that great food and all those noble palaces and stunning historic attractions don't come cheap. At least, not without some planning they don't.
Luckily, if you time your visit right, you can see some of Genoa's top tourist attractions without spending anything. And really, no matter when you visit the city, you'll find great things to do that are always free, such as San Lorenzo Cathedral and Piazza de Ferrari. In fact, there are so many free things to do in Genoa that you could very easily have a low-budget visit and still get to see most of what makes the city so special.
To maximize your time when you visit Genoa, don't forget to drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in the city. Bounce provides convenient and affordable luggage storage in hundreds of cities around the world, including Genoa, so you'll always have a place to leave your things. Enjoying the many free attractions of Genoa has never been easier than it is with Bounce.