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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 15 attractions in Genoa

#1
Spianata Castelletto

Spianata Castelletto

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The port city of Genoa (Genova may seem like an overwhelming monolith at first glance but it is actually a patchwork of distinct neighborhoods, each with a unique history and identity. One of the most scenic is hilltop Castelletto, home to the Spianata di Castelletto overlook, offering one of the most commanding views over the city.More
#2
Genoa Cathedral (Cattedrale di San Lorenzo)

Genoa Cathedral (Cattedrale di San Lorenzo)

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In the heart of Genoa’s old town, Genoa Cathedral (Cattedrale di San Lorenzo) is the most important church in the city. It’s a soaring Gothic and Romanesque masterpiece in alternating bands of black and white marble, where the magnificent art and architecture serve as reminders of this former maritime republic’s historic wealth and power.More
#3
Santa Margherita Ligure

Santa Margherita Ligure

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The resort town of Santa Margherita Ligure on the Italian Riviera is often outshined by its famous neighbor, Portofino, but deserves no less attention. The larger of the two, Santa Margherita Ligure feels less overrun with tourists while offering similarly quaint cafes and boutiques, pastel-painted buildings, and glorious views of the sea.More
#4
Aquarium of Genoa

Aquarium of Genoa

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The Aquarium of Genoa is not only the largest aquarium in Italy, but also the most extensive exhibition of marine biodiversity in Europe. Situated in Genoa’s Old Port, more than 70 different tanks hold 1.6 million gallons of water and 12,000 animals. Visitors can see sharks, dolphins, manatees, penguins, seals, jellyfish, and much more.More
#5
Piazza de Ferrari

Piazza de Ferrari

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Piazza de Ferrari is the expansive main square in Genoa, separating the historic district from the modern city center. Its large fountain is the square’s centerpiece and a central meeting point for tourists and locals alike. The piazza is named for Raffaele de Ferrari, who donated a lot of money to help expand Genoa’s port in the 1800s.More
#6
Genoa Via Garibaldi (Via Giuseppe Garibaldi)

Genoa Via Garibaldi (Via Giuseppe Garibaldi)

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One of the most important streets in Genoa’s historic center, Via Garibaldi was historically known as Strada Nuova, lined with palaces belonging to this former marina republic’s most powerful families. The street has changed names, but its UNESCO-listed Palazzi dei Rolli remain among the most spectacular attractions in Genoa.More
#7
Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale)

Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale)

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Built in 1298 to demonstrate Genoa’s wealth after it had become an important maritime trade center, the Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale) was the residence of the doge, ruler of Genoa. Today a cultural center, event space, and museum hosting rotating exhibits, the palace offers visitors a glimpse of the splendor of Genoa’s history.More
#8
Genoa Cruise Port

Genoa Cruise Port

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As the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, it's fitting that Genoa (Genova) is home to the second-largest port in Europe. A popular stop for cruise liners, Genoa Cruise Port serves as a jumping-off point for shore excursions to Liguria's pretty coastal villages, as well as offers easy access to historic Genoa proper.More
#9
Bigo

Bigo

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For one of the best views of Genoa and its Old Port, a trip on the Bigo panoramic elevator is a must. Climb aboard the out-of-this-world contraption, designed in the style of loading cranes by Renzo Piano in 1992 for the quincentennial of Columbus’ voyage to the New World, and learn about Genoa’s history as you take in panoramic views.More
#10
Palazzi dei Rolli

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
#11
Boccadasse

Boccadasse

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The sprawling port city of Genoa (Genova) is made up of a number of distinct neighborhoods, each with its own history and identity. One of these is Boccadasse, set on the waterfront to the east of the city center. Once a tiny fishing village, it is now a delightfully colorful and quaint quarter to explore on foot.More
#12
Royal Palace Museum (Museo di Palazzo Reale)

Royal Palace Museum (Museo di Palazzo Reale)

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The Royal Palace (Palazzo Reale) in Genoa (Genova) is one of the city’s Palazzi dei Rolli, magnificent residences built by the Genoese aristocracy during the Republic of Genoa’s height of wealth and power. Get a glimpse into the city’s opulent baroque period by touring the sumptuous interiors and art collection of this palace museum.More
#13
Lighthouse of Genoa (La Lanterna)

Lighthouse of Genoa (La Lanterna)

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La Lanterna, Genoa’s towering stone lighthouse, has been guiding ships into port since medieval times. It stands proudly at 250 feet (76 meters) in height, making it the second-tallest masonry lighthouse in the world. After admiring the stellar views, visit the adjacent Lantern Museum, which covers the history of Genoa and its Old Port.More
#14
Galata Maritime Museum (Galata Museo del Mare)

Galata Maritime Museum (Galata Museo del Mare)

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Genoa is a fitting location for the Galata Maritime Museum (Galata Museo del Mare), as the city has been a major maritime power for centuries. The Museum of the Sea’s four floors feature numerous exhibits on sailing ships and sea explorations—including an entire room dedicated to the famous Genoese explorer Christopher Columbus and his Transatlantic voyage.More
#15
Basilica of Santa Maria di Castello (Basilica di Santa Maria di Castello)

Basilica of Santa Maria di Castello (Basilica di Santa Maria di Castello)

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Set on a hilltop overlooking the Castello district, Genoa’s Basilica of Santa Maria di Castello (Basilica di Santa Maria di Castello) is one of the most important churches in this bustling port city. Part of a larger religious complex including a convent and museum, the Romanesque basilica is home to important works by many of Genoa’s best known artists.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

Top activities in Genoa

Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Recent reviews from experiences in Genoa

star-5
Fantastic way to see Genoa !
Gita_T, Jul 2022
Old Port bike Tour
Highly recommended way to see Genoa ( the old medieval part as well as along the water)!!
star-4
Terrific Walk
Peter_O, May 2022
Genoa Like a Local: Customized Private Tour
He led me to some places I would not have found on my own and gave me great suggestions on things to do and places to eat.
star-4
Really fun tour of a wonderful city with a colorful history
Matthew_P, Jul 2022
Segway Tour Caruggi
Note: be careful riding back along the acquarium towards the starting point - there is a hard to see drop there, we had an accident when a rider didn't see the step and fell off the Segway, spraining her ankle.
star-5
Unique Way to See and Eat Your Way Through Genoa
Lani_B, Jun 2022
Do Eat Better Experience - Food Tours in Genoa
Unique way to see the major sights in Genoa with a local guide.
star-5
Bring your appetite!
Buddy_G, Jun 2022
Do Eat Better Experience - Food Tours in Genoa
We were able to see different sites in the city as well, as we walked from restaurant to restaurant.
star-5
Excellent tour
Won_C, Jun 2019
Genoa Walking Tour: Discover Hidden Treasures and Street Food
Great with kids and generous.
star-4
A fantastic way to see Genoa...
Cathy C, Aug 2017
City Sightseeing Genoa Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
Great attractions to see on the hop-on hop-off.
star-5
This was a great experience that...
Astrid D, Jan 2018
City Sightseeing Genoa Hop-On Hop-Off Bus 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-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
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-4
A perfect way to see the city if...
Kent_W, Sep 2017
City Sightseeing Genoa Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
A perfect way to see the city if time is short.
star-5
An excellent way to see Genoa. Go...
Tracy S, Aug 2017
City Sightseeing Genoa Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
An excellent way to see Genoa.
star-5
Congratulations, you're going to have a food baby
Evangeline_R, 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
The best way to see the city and its...
sol, Nov 2013
City Sightseeing Genoa Hop-On Hop-Off Bus 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.
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.
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All about Genoa

When to visit

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.

Getting around

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.

Traveler tips

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.

A local’s pocket guide to Genoa

Francesco Marchi

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.

The first thing you should do in Genoa is...

have a bite of the real focaccia, maybe even topped with onion or Nutella.

A perfect Saturday in Genoa...

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.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

the House of Christopher Columbus (La Casa di Colombo). From up on the hill, you can admire the wonderful Ligurian Sea.

To discover the "real" Genoa...

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.

For the best view of the city...

visit the Spianata Castelletto, where you can enjoy a wonderful view over Genoa accompanied with an Italian gelato from Don Paolo.

One thing people get wrong...

is thinking Genoa is a rough city because of its history and port. In fact, Genoa is an elegant and wonderful place.

People Also Ask

What is Genoa known for?

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.

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Is there anything to do in Genoa?

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.

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How do I spend a day in Genoa?

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.

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Is Genoa worth visiting?

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.

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What is special about Genoa?

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.

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Is Genoa safe at night?

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.

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Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
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