Genoa is a charming seaside city in Italy that has much to offer. While it might not be as well known as other Italian travel destinations, there are still many things to see and do in Genoa.
From its beautiful architecture and historical sites to its vibrant nightlife and delicious food, here are some of the best things to do in Genoa!
Most Popular Thing to Do In Genoa
Visit The Historic Palazzi Dei Rolli At Via Garibaldi
The Via Garibaldi is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a street in Genoa’s historic center that is lined with several grand palaces – The Palazzi Dei Rolli. These are a group of historic palaces in Genoa that were once the homes of the city’s noble families.
Some of the prominent ones include Palazzo Rosso, the Palazzo Doria Tursi, Palazzo Bianco, Palazzo Lomelino, and the Palazzo Pantaleo. The palaces are some of the finest examples of Genoese architecture from the 16th and 17th centuries. Today, they are home to museums, art galleries, and cultural institutions.
The Palazzi Dei Rolli in the city’s historic center are definitely worth a visit. If you want to learn more about Genoa’s history and architecture, then this is the place to go. With so much to see, a guided tour is a great way to gain some background about the area, which makes your visit more insightful and meaningful.
Popular Things To Do In Genoa
Check Out Marine Life At Genoa Aquarium (Acquario di Genova )
If you’re looking for things to do in Genoa with kids, this is a great option. The Acquario di Genova is one of the largest aquariums in Europe and is home to over 600 different species of marine life.
This will easily take up half a day as there is a lot to see here. Some of the main attractions are the tropical reef and the dolphin lagoon. There are also daily shows featuring these adorable dolphins which the kids will love.
However, this doesn’t mean that it ain’t popular among adults. The Genoa Aquarium is one of the most popular attractions for both locals and visitors.
Do note that you should purchase tickets online in advance as there are time slots for entry. This helps to manage the number of people in the aquarium at any one time.
Enjoy The Waters On A Boat Trip
One of the best things to do in Genoa is to enjoy the breathtaking coastline and crystal clear waters by going on a boat trip. There are many operators offering both private and group boat trips. These typically include stops at some of the most beautiful beaches, coves, and islands in the area.
Some of them even include meals and drinks if you are looking to spend more time on the waters and enjoy a more luxury experience. You can also find operators that offer water sports and activities like snorkeling, kayaking, and paddleboarding.
Boat trips are a great way to relax, feel the breeze, and just enjoy the scenery. They are also a great and convenient option if you don’t want to rent your own boat.
If wild marine life excites you, there are also open sea excursions with marine biologists and guides to spot marine mammals like the cetaceans.
Admire Art At Palazzo Ducale
Palazzo Ducale is one of the most iconic buildings in Genoa and a must-visit if you’re interested in learning about the history of Genoa. This grand palace is one of the most iconic landmarks in Genoa and was once the home of the Doges, the rulers of Genoa.
Nowadays, it is a museum that houses many art collections. The palace itself is also a work of art with its beautiful architecture and interior design.
If you’re interested in art, this is definitely one of the best things to do in Genoa. There are many different exhibitions to see and it is a great way to learn more about the history and culture of the city.
Local Things To Do In Genoa
Stroll Along The Genoa Harbor
Genoa Harbor is one of the largest in Italy and has been a significant trading hub since the days of the Roman Empire. Today, it’s still an important commercial port, but it’s also a popular spot for tourists.
A stroll along the harbor is a great way to take in the sights and sounds of Genoa. You’ll see a mix of old and new architecture, as the city attempts to both preserve the treasured historical structure, while also improving infrastructure to serve the related industries like shipping, commerce, and cruise tourism. That said, you will also see a variety of boats and ships from commercial to leisure vessels.
If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of some of the city’s famous dolphins!
Catch The Views At Spianata Castelletto
Spianata Castelletto is a hill located in the old part of Genoa. It’s a great spot to catch views of the city, especially the harbor area.
The best way to get there is by taking the elevator from Via Garibaldi which brings you right to the top. Alternatively, if you’re feeling more adventurous, you can take the stairs and paths that lead up to the hill.
Once you’re at the top, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Genoa. You can also see landmarks such as Il Bigo, a large crane used for loading and unloading ships, and the Aquarium from here.
If you’re visiting during summer, there is a bar at the top where you can enjoy a refreshing drink while taking in the views.
People Watching At Piazza De Ferrari
Piazza De Ferrari is one of the most popular squares in Genoa and a great place to people watch. It’s located in the city center and is often considered the heart of Genoa.
The square is named after Raffaele de Ferrari, Duke of Galliera, and is home to many important landmarks such as the Opera House, Palazzo Ducale, and the Teatro Carlo Felice.
It’s also a popular meeting place for locals and a great place to soak up the atmosphere of the city. If you’re visiting Genoa, this is definitely one of the things you shouldn’t miss.
Taste The Local Flavors At Mercato Orientale
Mercato Orientale is one of the best places in Genoa to try local food. It’s a covered market that sells a variety of things such as fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and seafood.
If you’re looking for a quick and tasty snack, there are also many stalls selling takeaway food. This is a great place to get a feel for the local cuisine and to try some of the traditional Italian dishes that Genoa is famous for.
You can see the place bustling with activity from both locals and visitors, particularly during peak hours. It is both a gastronomical and cultural experience.
Indoor Things To Do In Genoa
Visit The Genoa Maritime Museum (Galata Museo del Mare)
As a port city, Genoa has a significant maritime history and the Galata Museo del Mare is the place to learn more about it. The city was also a naval powerhouse in the 16th century.
This museum is spread over multiple floors and covers everything from ancient shipwrecks to modern naval technology. There are also interactive exhibits where you can learn about Genoa’s role in world exploration. There is even a submarine at the docks that you can tour.
You will find this naval museum in the historic Galata district, which is also worth exploring. This was once the city’s main trading area and is now home to a mix of shops, restaurants, and bars.
Get A Bird’s Eye View From Genoa Cathedral (Duomo di San Lorenzo)
This is one of the most significant religious buildings in Genoa and also one of the largest Romanesque cathedrals in Italy. The cathedral is massive, with beautiful exterior and interior features. It is worth visiting even if you are not religious.
There are many things to see inside the cathedral but one of the most popular things to do is to head up to the tower for a great view of the city. From here, you will be able to see the cityscape and also get a closer look at the intricate details of the exterior of the cathedral.
Explore The National Gallery in Palazzo Spinola
The National Gallery in Palazzo Spinola is one of the most important art museums in Genoa. It houses a large collection of paintings from the 16th to the 18th centuries.
This is a great place to learn about the history and culture of Genoa through its art. The museum is located in a beautiful palazzo and the paintings are displayed in a well-lit and spacious gallery.
Do note that the museum is closed from Sundays to Tuedays, so double-check before visiting.
Appreciate Cultural Art At Museo d’Arte Orientale (Oriental Art Museum)
If you’re looking for things to do in Genoa that are a little bit different, then head to the Museo d’Arte Orientale. This museum is dedicated to Oriental art and has a large collection of items on display from countries like China, Japan, and India.
The museum is located in an old palazzo and surrounded by a beautiful garden that’s worth a visit in itself. The museum also hosts regular events and exhibitions, so it’s worth checking the website in advance to see what’s on.
Discover Cultures At Castello d’Albertis
The Castello d’Albertis is a museum of world cultures located in an elegant 19th-century castle. The museum has a collection of ethnographic artifacts from all over the world, as well as a library with over 1,300 volumes.
This is one of the best things to do in Genoa for those interested in anthropology and world cultures. The castle itself is also well worth a visit with its Gothic Revival architecture. It was built by a sea captain, Enrico Alberto D’Albertis, and donated to the city when he passed.
From the castle’s position, you can also get great views of the coast and the city. There are many beautiful castles in Italy that you can visit.
Outdoor Things To Do In Genoa
Bask In The Sun At Boccadasse Beach
This is a small but picturesque beach located in the east of Genoa. It’s a great spot to relax and soak up the sun.
The beach is surrounded by colorful buildings, adding to the charming atmosphere. That is why this is also one of the most photogenic beaches in Genoa.
There are also a few restaurants and bars here if you need to refuel. Unsurprisingly, seafood is a popular food option when you are by the Italian coast. You can find some fresh and tasty seafood cuisine here.
If you’re looking for things to do in Genoa on a sunny day, checking out the beautiful beaches in and near Geona is a great option.
Take A Walk At The Cimitero di Staglieno (Staglieno Cemetery)
One of the best things to do in Genoa is to take a walk through the Cimitero di Staglieno, which is one of the largest and most beautiful cemeteries in Europe.
This cemetery is famous for its outdoor sculptures, many of which were created by famous Italian artists. It is also home to many mausoleums and tombs, which are incredibly ornate. There are also many monumental chapels here featuring styles from Art Nouveau to Byzantine and Gothic and are all stunningly beautiful.
This is also the resting place for the Italian hero, Giuseppe Mazzini, who played a significant role in Italy’s road to independence. The Cimitero di Staglieno is a peaceful and beautiful place to spend an afternoon, and it also offers a glimpse of Genoa’s history.
Cheap And Free Things To Do In Genoa
Stroll Along The Passeggiata Anita Garibaldi a Nervi (Anita Garibaldi Promenade)
The Passeggiata Anita Garibaldi is a beautiful promenade that stretches for about 2 kilometers along the coastline from Nervi to the old port of Capolungo.
This is a great place to come for a stroll, relax, and enjoy panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea. This part of the coast is filled with rocky cliffs but the pathway features a nice red brick path that is great for walking.
If you’re feeling active, this promenade is also a popular spot for runners. This is a great way to see the coastline and get some exercise at the same time.
The promenade is named after Anita Garibaldi, who was the wife of Giuseppe Garibaldi who played a significant role in the unification of Italy.
Explore The Old Town
The old town of Genoa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.
This is where you will find many of the historical landmarks and buildings in Genoa. The old town is also full of narrow streets and alleyways that are perfect for exploring.
There are many things to see and do in the old town but one of the best things to do is simply to wander around and get lost in the atmosphere.
This is a great way to experience the true character of Genoa and see things that you would not otherwise see.
Catch Some Views At Il Bigo (Bigo Panoramic Lift)
Il Bigo is a panoramic lift located in the old port area of Genoa. This lift takes you up to a height of about 40 meters and gives you stunning views of the city, port, and coastline. This standout structure within the old port is designed by famous Italian architect, Renzo Piano.
The striking architecture makes this one of the most popular things to see in Genoa. Although the ride isn’t particularly long it is worth it for the views. The cabin is also fitted with an audio system that provides you with a history of Genoa, the port, and old town as you soak in the views.
Retrace History At Porta Soprano And Casa di Colombo (Columbus’s House)
These two landmarks that are right next to each other are good for a quick pitstop.
Casa di Colombo is a restored house where Christopher Columbus spent his childhood. Today, it serves as a museum that tells the story of his life and his journey to America.
The museum is located in the old city center of Genoa and is a reconstructed stone house built in the 18th century on the remains of the initial structure. It has a collection of artifacts, documents, and maps relating to Columbus and his travels.
Porta Soprano is a medieval gate and towers in the old city walls of Genoa. The gate was built in the 12th century and is one of the oldest things in the city. You can find several plaques here that commemorate the glories of Genoa.
Things To Do At Night In Genoa
Marvel At The Lanterna di Genoa Lighthouse
The Lanterna di Genoa is a symbol of the city and is one of the tallest lighthouses in the world at 76m tall. It has been standing at the entrance to the harbor since the 12th century and is still functioning today.
The best time to visit the lighthouse is at night when it is lit up. It looks beautiful glowing in the darkest of the night. You can also explore the lighthouse interior and go up to the top by getting an entry ticket. From here, you will get a great view of the cityscape, harbor, and surrounding areas.
You can also get combo tickets that include both lighthouse and aquarium entry.
Watch A Performance At Teatro Carlo Felice
Another entertaining way to experience some of the city’s culture is to head to the Teatro Carlo Felice, one of Italy’s most important opera houses.
The theater hosts a variety of performances throughout the year including operas, ballets, and concerts. Check out the website to see what’s on during your stay.
Even if you’re not a big fan of classical music or opera, a visit to this grandiose theater is still worth it just to see the beautiful interior. However, if you are interested in attending a performance, then book your tickets in advance as they tend to sell out quickly, especially during the high season.
Things To Do Outside Genoa
Day Trip to Santa Margherita Ligure
If you’re looking for things to do outside of Genoa, then consider taking a day trip to Santa Margherita Ligure. This lovely town is located about 35 kilometers southeast of Genoa and makes for a great spot to relax by the Mediterranean Sea.
There are a number of things to see and do in Santa Margherita Ligure, including exploring the old town, visiting the seaside, and taking a dip in the crystal clear waters.
This is also a great place to enjoy some fresh seafood. There are several great restaurants here serving up traditional and local dishes like focaccia di recco and red shrimps.
Discover The Charm At Portofino
Portofino is a small fishing village located on the Italian Riviera. It’s about an hour’s drive from Genoa and makes for a great day trip. You can also take a boat cruise from Genoa.
The village is quite small, but there’s plenty to do. You can stroll around the narrow streets, check out Castello Brown, relax at one of the cafes or restaurants, or simply enjoy the views.
There’s also a small harbor where you can go for a swim or rent a boat. If you’re feeling active, there are hiking trails that lead up to the nearby hills for some great views of the village and surrounding coastline.
Portofino is one of the most picturesque villages in Italy and a popular trip for travelers visiting Genoa.
Getting Around Attractions In Genoa
Genoa is a large city, but most of the attractions are located in the old city center which is quite compact and easy to get around on foot. If you’re staying in this area, then you’ll find that most things are within walking distance.
However, if you want to venture further afield or explore some of the things to do outside of the city center, then you can make use of the public transportation system which includes the buses and trams.
You can also get tickets for the hop-on-hop-off bus that takes you to the various points of interest conveniently while enjoying city sights.
To get to other interesting towns and places near Genoa, like Camogli or Portofino, there are also boat tours that can take you there.
Discovering Things To Do In Genoa, Italy
These are just some of the best things to do in Genoa, Italy. This historic city has a lot to offer travelers, from its charming old town to its many great museums and attractions. Whether you’re looking for things to do in Genoa during the day or night, there is something for you to discover and enjoy. Genoa might not be the most popular destination in Italy but certainly worth a visit.