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Things to do in Genoa

Things to do in  Genoa

Welcome to Genoa

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.

Top 10 attractions in Genoa

#1

Genoa Cathedral (Cattedrale di San Lorenzo)

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Genoa's cathedral is dedicated to St. Lawrence – or San Lorenzo in Italian – and there are a few names you might see that all mean this same church. The Genoa Cathedral, St. Lawrence Cathedral, the Genoa Duomo, or the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo – all of those refer to the same place. Originally founded in the 5th or 6th century, the San Lorenzo Cathedral was built in the early 12th century. It was partly rebuilt in the early 14th century – including the completion of the facade – and there are internal features that have been added since then. Those with a keen eye for architectural styles will no doubt notice the different time periods represented both inside and out.More
#2

Piazza de Ferrari

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Most Italian cities have so many busy piazzas it's hard to tell which one is the main square. In Genoa, the Piazza de Ferrari is that main square – and once you're there, it's easy to understand why. The expansive Piazza de Ferrari sits right in the city center, between the historic district and the more modern part of downtown, and many important buildings face the piazza. Around the square you'll find the Palazzo Ducale (although the main entrance is on another piazza around the corner), the gorgeous former stock exchange building, and the Teatro Carlo Felice - Genoa's opera house. The Piazza de Ferrari is named for Raffaele de Ferrari, a 19th century Italian nobleman who once lived in a palazzo near the square. His wife was the one who bequeathed the Palazzao Rosso and Palazzo Bianco – once private homes owned by her family – to the city of Genoa upon her death to be used as public museums.More
#3

Genoa Via Garibaldi (Via Giuseppe Garibaldi)

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One of the most famous historic streets in the center of Genoa is the Via Garibaldi. This street has had a few names over the centuries, but it's always been a fashionable address. What we know today as Via Garibaldi was first built in the mid-1500s, when it was called Strada Maggiore – or “Great Street.” Later, it became known as “Strada Nuova,” or “New Street.” It was renamed in 1882 for Italy's great revolutionary leader, Giuseppe Garibaldi, and in 2006 the street and the historic palaces on it were added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites. From the time when the Via Garibaldi was first designed and built, it was intended to be a street upon which the wealthy families of Genoa would build their homes. The street was soon lined with palaces, each occupied by a noble family, and many passed down through generations and hundreds of years.More
#4

Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale)

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From the 14th through the 18th centuries, the rulers of Genoa were called doges, and they ruled from the Doge's Palace – the Palazzo Ducale in Italian – in the historic city center. Today, the palace is open to the public as a museum. The Palazzo Ducale was built starting in the 1250s, although the finishing touches on the building weren't complete until the 1530s. The palace once served as both the residence for the ruling doge and the offices from which he would govern the Republic of Genoa. The palace was added to at various points over the years, and partially rebuilt twice (once after a fire in the 1770s). There are two main entrances to the Palazzo Ducale. The main entrance is on the Piazza Matteotti, and a secondary entry is on the famous Piazza de Ferrari. Today, the palace serves various civil functions. There are regular exhibitions held in the palace, including visiting contemporary art shows, as well as a couple of large halls that are often used for events.More
#5

Spianata Castelletto

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The Castelletto neighborhood of Genoa gets its name from a small castle that once stood on the hill. The castle was destroyed in the late 19th century, but the view from the hill remains excellent – particularly if you're at the “Spianata.”More
#8

Bigo

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One of the most dominant features of Genoa's enormous port is something that looks a bit like a space probe sticking out of the water. That multi-pronged white structure that resembles a many-armed crane is called the “Bigo,” and it's Genoa's “panoramic elevator.” Bigo was designed by noted local architect Renzo Piano, the same man who designed Genoa's aquarium, in 1992 for the anniversary of Columbus' journey to the New World. From one of the arms, an elevator cabin can be raised, and then it rotates 360 degrees to give you a complete view overlooking the city. An audio-guide in the elevator cabin helps you make sense of what you're seeing. Not surprisingly, Bigo's design was influenced by the many huge cranes that seem to be always at work in Genoa's port, lifting goods on and off of the massive cargo ships in the harbor.More
#9

Boccadasse

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Genoa is a large Italian city with several individual neighborhoods that each have their own history and identity. One of those neighborhoods is the Boccadasse, located on the waterfront to the east of the Genoa city center. The Boccadasse neighborhood is at one end of the promenade called the Corso Italia, which makes it easy to visit from central Genoa – particularly on a nice day when you can walk all the way along the seafront. This neighborhood used to be its own small town, and was once primarily the home of working fishermen. There are various stories regarding the origin of the name Boccadasse. In the local dialect, the word is Bocadâze. Because the neighborhood sits on a small bay, one theory is that the name means “donkey's mouth.” Another stems from the name of a river that used to run through Boccadasse, called the Asse. In any case, the Italian word “bocca” means mouth, so either of those theories could be right.More
#10

Palazzi dei Rolli

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Genoa’s Palazzi dei Rolli are a group of 42 residences, built between the 16th and 18th centuries, that were listed on the city’s register. When notable guests came to visit Genoa on a state visit, a lottery was used to determine which palace would host the guest. Today, these palaces—out of 163 total homes—are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.More

Trip ideas

Top Palaces in Genoa

Top Palaces in Genoa

How to Spend 3 Days in Genoa

How to Spend 3 Days in Genoa

Ligurian Food in Genoa

Ligurian Food in Genoa

Recent reviews from experiences in Genoa

star-5
Excellent tour
Mobile619541, Jun 2019
Genoa Walking Tour: Discover Hidden Treasures and Street Food
Great with kids and generous.
star-5
Do eat better genoa
candi O, Oct 2018
Do Eat Better Experience - Food Tours in Genoa
We tasted some amazing local food and got to see the highlights of the city.
star-5
This was a great experience that...
Astrid D, Jan 2018
Genoa City Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
This was a great experience that allowed us to see Genoa and decide when to get off the bus to visit something in the city.
star-4
A perfect way to see the city if...
Janice W, Sep 2017
Genoa City Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
A perfect way to see the city if time is short.
star-5
Congratulations, you're going to have a food baby
erm4mail, Sep 2019
Do Eat Better Experience - Food Tours in Genoa
We would absolutely love to visit Genoa and when we do, we wouldn't hesitate to book another food tour through this company.
star-4
A fantastic way to see Genoa...
Cathy C, Aug 2017
Genoa City Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
Great attractions to see on the hop-on hop-off.
star-5
Informative, Fun filled day
Rod L, Jul 2018
Tour of Genoa and Day Trip to Portofino from Genoa
We found this to be the least expensive, yet it offered the most diverse activities.
star-4
Overall, we enjoyed our tour.Gave us...
Susan M, Oct 2017
Tour of Genoa and Day Trip to Portofino from Genoa
Gave us an opportunity to see more of the Liguria region.
star-5
An excellent way to see Genoa. Go...
Tracy S, Aug 2017
Genoa City Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
An excellent way to see Genoa.
star-5
Food + New Friends = Fun Times!
Jared W, Jun 2019
Do Eat Better Experience - Food Tours in Genoa
But we quickly learned that this was a really unique, delicious way to see the sights from a local's perspective.
star-4
The best way to see the city and its...
sol, Nov 2013
Genoa City Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
The best way to see the city and its places of interest in a short period of time, Columbos youth home, Genoa towers and walls and the famous genoa aquarium.

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