7 Things to do in Genoa, Italy: Explore Awe-Inspiring Architecture, Museums, and Cuisine

Updated On: November 10, 2021

My friend told me last month that she was planning a vacation to Italy. I praised her for making the best decision of her life. But when we talked about cities to visit, she answered, “Roma, Venice, Florence, maybe Milan.” And yes, that’s it.

I told her she had forgotten to mention one of Italy’s most gorgeous cities, and it’s Genoa.

We debated for a while. After much research into Genoa, I persuaded her to include this city in her itinerary in the end.

After a few days, I received the following message: “Thank you soooo much for recommending Genoa to me. Super!”

It was my friend, and I was overjoyed.

Genoa, Italy
An amazing view over Genoa, Italy, Pixabay

And, because I want you to have the same experience, I’ll show you what I found out during my research and why Genoa is worth a visit. This post will provide you with exciting and heart-racing activities as well as lovely things to do in Genoa, Italy.

I will answer all of your questions to head to the city without gathering your guts that could be disappointing. And, of course, it doesn’t.

Here we go.

Is Genoa worth visiting?

Genoa is one of Italy’s hidden treasures; unlike other Italian cities, it is not rammed with tourists, which we like best about it.

Suppose you want to start this conversation on how deserving Genoa is. Okay, Genoa has impressive historical attractions, magnificent monuments, many adventure spots, and delectable Italian cuisines that you won’t find anywhere else.

Genoa is also known for having one of the most important and bustling ports in the Mediterranean, equipped with this stunning spherical glass structure.

Furthermore, it is the ideal location for lively nightlife while remaining completely safe to walk around. Based on the reviews of many tourists, including my friend, the price is slightly lower than in other Italian towns.

All of the preceding factors make it worthwhile to visit Genoa.

Top Things to Do in Genoa, Italy

1- Prancing Around Piazza de Ferrari

Location: Piazza De Ferrari sequre
Price: Free access
How to get there: A 1 minute walk from De Ferrari subway station.
In the heart of the city, Piazza de Ferrari has signalized the connection between the old town and the city’s modern and stylish commercial and other existing utilities.

This place is the meeting point of all locales and from where every story begins.

Piazza De Ferrari
Most popular square in Genoa, Italy, Piazza De Ferrari, Pexhere
Why should you visit Piazza de Ferrari?

So, take into account to pass through this square for your future plans to visit Genoa.

Piazza De Ferrari square offers a vast area for pedestrians to chat, snap away, or bring their coffee and prance around the place.

 A magnificent, fascinating bronze fountain, the main feature of Piazza de Ferrari stands proudly in the heart of the square, an ideal place to chill out whatever in the morning or at night.

 You can just sit here and admire the beauty on all sides since spectacularly well-detailed old buildings surround you. One of these is the Doge’s Palace equipped to host major cultural events and festivals.

 The area also has a number of restaurants that serve a variety of cuisines. You can also buy all keepsakes for your friends from the shops strewn around Piazza de Ferrari. Don’t worry, as we already stated; the prices are reasonable.

 You’re not hungry, and you don’t intend to buy anything right now?

 Then, you can select one of the fashionable coffees to sip coffee while taking in the view from the outdoor setting.

 

Things to Do:
  • Visit Palazzo Ducale, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and see stunning paintings and an astonishing interior fitted with masterfully carved statues and ornamentations to make your experience worth every penny.
  • If you need a free activity, you may simply sit on the edge of the fountain and have a lot of fun.
  • At night, the fountain sparkles with beautiful illuminations, and the ambiance becomes serene, making it ideal for couples to spend a romantic moment.
  • Shop at adjacent gift shops to find something special for your family.
  • Take beautiful images to share on your social media accounts.
Things not to do:
  • Check the temperature before leaving your lodging if you are visiting in the summer. The sun could be scorching, making it difficult to enjoy exploring the alleyways or simply taking a seat by the fountain.
  • Keep out of Piazza de Ferrari in the afternoon because it is Genoa’s central square. The streets may be clogged.
  • Please do not toss coins into the fountain; keep it clean.

Pro Tip: It’s an excellent spot for a family outing because they can walk around, run, or even ride their hoverboards down the plaza.

 

 2- Shopping is Always a Good Idea: Via XX Settembre

Location: The center of Genoa
Price: Free access
How to get there: A 11 minutes’ walk from Genova Brignole railway, or take a taxi ride for only 2 minutes.
It’s the time for the best activity ever, yeah, SHOPPING!

Expanding to 1 km, Via XX Settembre offers a perfect experience for shopping lovers. Because the street is slightly slanted, keep an eye on your steps when exploring the neighborhood. You’ll discover the most up-to-date cafes and boutiques here, catering to a wide range of tastes.

Genoa, Italy
Lovely beach of Genoa, Italy, Unsplash
Why should you visit Via XX Settembre?

Here, you will often see many people carrying shopping bags and their coffee to get warm in winter or good ice cream to stay hydrated in the summer.

Not only is this a business street, but every corner has its own unique design, such as crypts painted in black and white. It has an antique architecture that is a magnificent feast for the eyes.

The incredible feature of this tour is that, despite the fact that the street is lined with beautiful facades and the most prestigious brands, it is not as crowded as other shopping areas.

All of your senses are fascinated, yet not to the point of being stressed. 

Do you have a feeling it’s about to rain?

Don’t freak out; walking in the rain here is another fantastic way to immerse yourself in the experience of being in Genoa.

In addition, along with adults and youth venturers, even children can enjoy playing at several restaurants with a kid’s area, such as Giocolandia and Viale Dei Bambini.

Things to Do:
  • After reading all of this about the street, the most important thing to do is go shopping.
  • Small businesses are selling traditional costumes and antiquities alongside high-end stores. Don’t miss out on the chance to see them.
  • Resting in one of the restaurants that serve a variety of cuisines while listening to good music.
  • Keep a lookout for historic arcades and the stunning floor mosaic when visiting Via XX Settembre.
  • Don’t miss out on Gelato cafes, which are among the best in Italy.
Things not to Do:
  • Keep yourself away from XX Settembre on the weekdays; it could be more crowded than usual.
  • Wearing slippers or high-heeled shoes is not recommended. It will be a walking tour, so wear something that makes you comfortable.
  • Don’t go there if you’ve had a long day. You’d be exhausted and lack the energy to explore the area. The best thing to do is leave early in the morning for Via XX Settembre.

Pro Tip: If you’re looking for Italian designers to create your one-of-a-kind dress or fantastic suit so you can come back home with a bespoke outfit made in Italy at an affordable price, go no further than Via XX Settembre.

3- Visit Gonea’s must-see sight: San Lorenzo

Location: Piazza san lorenzo
Price: Free access
How to get there: A 5 minutes’ walk from Corso Aurelio Saffi bus stop.

To have a Genoian historical experience, The Cathedral of San Lorenzo should be on your list while visiting Genoa. This place brings out the authenticity of visiting this metropolis. After a busy day of touring Piazza de Ferrari square, shopping on Via XX Settembre, or even living the Italian lifestyle, eating pizza, and hanging out in coffee shops, you’ll need to head to this worship home.

Genoa, Italy
Amazing Genoa, Italy, Pexhere
Why should you visit the Cathedral of San Lorenzo?

One of the best things to do in Genoa, Italy, is to explore the city’s other side, the religious and historical side.

The Cathedral of San Lorenzo will offer you interesting facts, or maybe just gossip, like detecting a bomb within the church. Why the structure of the cathedral is so different from any other church in Italy, aside from a slow and soothing walk, you will take after experiencing Genoa’s hustle.

 The cathedral’s architecture is a combination of styles. The first thing you’ll notice is the saddest lion lying down in front of the gate. (Weird. But cute!)

The exterior resembles a clock tower, while the interior reflects the style of Romanian culture.

Most notably, You can see the gorgeous black and white stripes with Gothic Style throughout Genoa’s architecture, which shines brightly inside the cathedral.

Things to Do:
  • Explore one of Italy’s most fascinating cathedrals and pay attention to the tour guide to learn more about the attraction’s history.
  • Ascend to the top of the tower and take a deep breath before opening your eyes to a breathtaking aerial panorama of Genoa. (It will set you back USD 6)
  • Enjoy the sunlight seeping through the stained glass and dimly lighting up the church for a beautiful and tranquil experience. (Wow)
  • Staring at the magnificent murals and altarpieces that adorn the ceiling. They are going to tell you a story.
  • Taking images of anything you wish to remember. It is legal to do so here.

 

Things not to Do:
  • Don’t leave the church without visiting the museum. It has a variety of attractive, precious artifacts that reflect the grandeur of the Catholic church during this period, such as the Sacred Bowl and gold crucifixes and crowns.
  • Avoid visiting the Cathedral of San Lorenzo throughout rush hour, usually in the afternoon during the summer. It may be stuffy.
  • Inside the church, don’t get too close to the main altar. Visitors are sometimes barred from entering this sacred area by a fence but stay away from it in any case.

Pro Tip: Please keep in mind that the church closes every day from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., and the church museum closes on Sunday.

4- Be Royal… Be Real: Head to Via Garibaldi Palaces

Location: Piccapietra
Price: Around USD 8 
How to get there: A 5 minutes’ walk from Via Giuseppe Garibaldi subway station.
Feeling like a king or queen isn’t something you get to experience every day. But why not try it if you have the possibility?

With each unique journey you are about to embark on; you will ultimately make a brilliant memory throughout these holidays.

Genoa, Italy
An aerial view over Genoa, Italy, Pixabay
Why should you visit Via Garibaldi Palaces?

Besides its timeless gleaming beauty, Geno was much affluent and sophisticated during the 15th century. All such influential and wealthy figures and families chose to make this magnificent metropolis their residence.

And it was a reasonable choice. Built on a bluff above the sea, Genoa offers excellent viewing possibilities, and the weather is nearly perfect virtually every year, owing to the importance of its port.

That’s why you can check out a collection of palaces or palazzo, as the Italians call them. You shouldn’t simply go anywhere without visiting and exploring its fascinating interior and outside. This collection stands in the Via Garibaldi, another UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site.

You can either take a stroll down the street, appreciating the incredible architecture along the way, or go into places that we highly recommend if you have enough time. Trust me when I say there’s a treasure inside.

But forget about wide avenues hosting extensive gardens or other utilities, and it’s just a long narrow lane.

Things to Do:
  • Visit Palazzo Rosso, one of Italy’s most beautiful palaces, with its vivid red facade decoded with ornaments. With stunning artwork, antiques, and colorful ceiling frescoes, the palace offers a very exceptional tour.
  • Walk around the arcades of the other palaces, like Palazzo Della Meridiana, Palazzo Bianco, and Palazzo Tursi.
  • Ask about an English-speaking tour guide to discover more about the fascinating stories surrounding the royal family who once resided here.
  • Take your camera or make sure your phone is fully charged because the images here will be stunning.
  • Come back in the evening when the illuminations are turned on to highlight the architectural elements. It will provide you with a unique perspective on the structure.
Things not to Do:
  • Don’t go there until you’ve confirmed that you’ll be able to visit palaces. On Saturdays, Palazzo Della Meridiana is open.
  • These palaces are situated on Via XX Settembre but don’t bring your shopping bags there. It would be inconvenient to stroll about with your hands full of things.
  • Don’t spend all of your time in one palace. There are numerous options available to you.

Pro Tip: Before visiting the Via Garibaldi palaces, make sure to check the opening hours and days, as they may be closed for restoration. The busiest tourist season is on weekday mornings, especially in the summer.

5- Drifting on the Gulf of Genoa: Porto Antico

Location: Calata Molo Vecchio 15 Magazzini del Cotone
Price: Free Access 
How to get there: A 1-minute walk from the Porto Antico bus stop.
Once you know it’s a port city, it doesn’t make much sense to leave Genoa without heading for Proto Antico or the Old Port. This spot is a bustling tourist destination where you can do more than just drifting on the Gulf of Genoa.

Porto Antico
Spend a night at Porto Antico, Genoa, Italy, Pexels
Why should you visit Porto Antico?

This plaza, located in the heart of Genoa, glows all day, giving not just ships, merchant activity, and industrial characteristics of the city but also a complete picture of what it’s like to be in a tourist hotspot.

Porto Antico is significant because it connects Genoa to the world’s other capital seaboard cities. You’ll see several distinctive structures here. Such as the Bigo, a circular hanging hut that will take you up to 40 meters, La Biosfera, a spherical glass edifice that draws everyone’s attention once they arrive at the harbor, that will get you access to enjoyable activities while visiting Porto Antico.

The general guideline is to get your bearings before heading to the aquarium, where you and your family will have a terrific time seeing sharks, dolphins, coral reefs, manatees, penguins, and other species. If you want to take a break from the basins, there are plenty of benches to get some rest.

Things to Do:
  • Explore the former arena’s boats, which are still in fine shape.
  • Surf the Gulf of Genoa on a yacht to get close to all of the antique maritime architecture.
  • Visit La Biosfera, especially if you’re taking a family tour since they can be fascinated by the birds and turtles living inside. (about USD 5)
  • Pay $5 for a ticket to the Bigo, which offers spectacular views of Genoa.
  • If you have time, don’t miss the Genoa Aquarium, one of Europe’s best aquariums, and is located on the port’s left side. (around USD 32)
Things not to Do:
  • It is important not to visit the Genoa Aquarium without first purchasing a ticket online. You can waste a lot of time waiting for the admission charge to be paid.
  • Don’t forget to take your kids to Children’s City for some fun activities.
  • Don’t be in a rush while visiting Porto Antico. It’s a good idea to set up a whole day to see all the attractions in this area.

Pro Tip: The Galata Museum, also located in the marina, is highly recommended. The museum is the largest maritime one in the Mediterranean area. Book a single ticket online for the museum, the aquarium, and La Biosfera.

You can also enjoy a delicious seafood supper to complete the marine experience.

6- Let the Waves Hit Your Feet: Boccadasse

Location: Piccapietra
Price: Free Access
How to get there: A 5 minutes’ walk from Genoa Sturla subway station.
The alternative presented here is so unique in nature if you would like to catch your breath from historical tours.

First, through your walking to the Boccadasse beach, you’ll immediately notice how thrilling it is as orange falling leaves brush against your feet, especially if you head to Genoa in September, which is the best time to hit up the city.

Boccadasse, Genoa, Italy
Explore the gems of Boccadasse, Genoa, Italy, Unsplash
Why should you visit Boccadasse?

There is a walking lane right on the beach that leads to Boccadasse before you get closer to the beach. A vibrant building with vivid paintings begins to appear. On the left side, you can buy some drinks or snacks from bars and restaurants before going down to enjoy eating while spending your day on the beach.

Getting lost in the frantic fishing village via cobbled stairways will add incredible value to your visit. It’s a peaceful neighborhood where you can easily feel a strong bond from the first moment you arrive here.

The fun part, if you come here in summer, rent a fishing boat with your friends and ride the Mediterranean waves. It will give you an inescapable sight of the village from the sea.

Not to mention that Boccadasse comes as the first of top things to do in Genoa, Italy on TripAdvisor. And most of the comments are along the lines of, “What a lovely fisherman’s village. Packed with history, culture and one one the prettiest hamlets I’ve ever seen.”

Enjoy!

Things not to Do:
  • Come to Boccadasse as early as you can, particularly in the summer. At dusk, a large number of families arrive to claim a spot with an excellent view of the sea.
  • Climb up the meandering pathways to a vantage point with magnificent views of the Mediterranean.
  • Spend your time like a Genoese by eating ice cream from Antica Gelateria Amedeo on the beach, or try an Italian yogurt, which is a popular snack here. Everything can be managed here, which makes choosing a way to enjoy something slightly tricky.
  • Relax and unwind on the beach, or bring your favorite book and a refreshing beverage. (Cozy!)
Things not to Do:
  • Going to the beach without checking the weather forecast, sometimes it turns to be windy and cloudy even in the summertime.
  • Avoid heading to Boccadasse on weekdays; the traffic volume could be frustrating, and you might not be able to find a place on the beach to chill out.
  • Don’t raise your expectations that it’s not a wide beach, yet, it is worthwhile. It’s enough that you’re sitting here, taking in the gorgeous sunset.

Pro Tip: Boccadasse is a stony, rather than a sandy, beach. Keep shoes or something appropriate to the nature of it in your bag.

7- Take me to the River.. Or Sea: Passeggiata Anita Garibaldi a Nervi

Location: Nervi
Price: Free Access  
How to get there: A 1-minute walk from the Nervi train station.
You don’t want to miss this stunning scene towards the end of your Genoa tour. I feel better just looking at the photos from Passeggiata Anita Garibaldi a Nervi. Even though I live thousands of miles distant from the sea, I have the sensation that I can smell it from my room. It’s all about wonderful ambiance, magical sunsets. And the best part is that it’s a budget-friendly excursion; even if you want to spoil yourself with a beautiful meal, the rates are fair.

Genoa, Italy
Check the amazing beach of Genoa, Italy with its luxurious boats, Pexhere

Why should you visit Passeggiata Anita Garibaldi a Nervi?

I know its name is a bit complicated. Trust me; I tried my hardest to spell it correctly. But don’t let its name fool you; the place here is a corner of heaven.

Let’s just say Passeggiata Anita Garibaldi a Nervi offers a rather relaxing, smooth, and cheap city sightseeing tour. Located just 10 kilometers away from the center of Genoa, the train is the best and affordable option. One of the best recreational parks in Italy, this spot is an ideal trip for a family or couples.

Hanging out, relaxing, eating local cuisine, resting on the beach, even swimming, or trying fruity ice cream is what you will experience while being in Passeggiata Anita Garibaldi a Nervi. And I think it’s satisfying. I bet you will be entirely at peace while you near the day’s end.

 

Things to Do:
  •  Try scream-inducing joy rides by scooters or bikes along the roadway right over the seaside. (hilarious).
  • You can get into the sea, but watch your foot here, there are some stones and sea reefs.
  • Watch the sunset from the hill town, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
  • Sit in one of the cozy cafes to have a drink or launch, offering another spectacular view.
  • Roam around Passeggiata Anita Garibaldi a Nervi and walk along the beach, and when you get tired, rest on the beach.

 

Things to not Do:
  • It is not a good idea to wear anything other than sports shoes because you will be walking for a long time and it is necessary to be comfortable.
  • Don’t forget to keep the sunscreens in your bag; the sun could be tremendously hot in the morning.
  • Keep your eyes on the time of trains schedule or buses that will bring you back to Genoa to spend your time wisely there.

Pro tip: Because you are not one of those who prefer to be near the sea on hot days, this place is choked with visitors throughout the summer. However, it is preferable to come here in the afternoon when people begin to go.

Don’t look any further; instead, read our guide to the best holiday in Italy.  You’ve ever had one; you’ll need to know this information before travelling anywhere.