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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
have a bite of the real focaccia, maybe even topped with onion or Nutella.
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.
the House of Christopher Columbus (La Casa di Colombo). From up on the hill, you can admire the wonderful Ligurian Sea.
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.
visit the Spianata Castelletto, where you can enjoy a wonderful view over Genoa accompanied with an Italian gelato from Don Paolo.
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....More
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....More
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....More
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....More
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....More
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....More
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