Genova: The Complete Guide

Visitng Genova
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Andreasspot

Genoa, known as Genova in Italian, is a significant port city located in the north-western part of Italy. Serving as the regional capital of Liguria, it occupies a central position within this extensive coastal region at the upper portion of Italy’s geographical “boot.” With a history steeped in maritime importance spanning centuries, Genoa’s legacy as a potent republic endures. Presently, it remains a bustling commercial port, retaining certain facets of the characteristic bustling atmosphere associated with major maritime hubs.

However, Genoa has also embraced a cultural renaissance, notably earning the title of European Capital of Culture in 2004. The city has harmoniously blended its rich historical heritage with an eye toward the future, showcased through contemporary architectural marvels and the redevelopment of its harbor precinct. A visit to Genoa offers a tapestry of experiences – from marveling at contemporary, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture to admiring ornate palaces and exploring numerous museums and galleries. The city features trendy art cafes, invigorating boat excursions, and a prominent aquarium, thus offering an extensive range of activities suitable for a vacation or a brief getaway.

For those seeking a weekend escape, Genoa proves an ideal destination, teeming with attractions and easily accessible via budget-friendly flights to Genoa Airport. The airport is conveniently connected to the city center by a 20-minute bus journey. Additionally, Genoa serves as a strategic starting point or layover on a tour of the enchanting Italian Riviera. Travelers enjoying the charms of the area’s delightful seaside resorts might consider adding Genoa to their itinerary, either on the way to or from the airport. An efficient railway network links Genoa to most coastal destinations within the region, encompassing villages like those comprising the Cinque Terre.

Positioned dramatically within its landscape, Genoa’s commanding presence in the Mediterranean can be attributed in part to its captivating setting. The city’s sweeping waterfront finds shelter nestled amid protective hills that encircle it. The name of the Doria family echoes throughout Genoa, recalling their dominion over the city, naval authority, and commissioning of many grand palaces. Another illustrious local name is that of Christopher Columbus (Cristoforo Colombo), the famed explorer, whose purported birthplace is a highlight in the city’s historic town center.

Visiting Genova for the first time and wondering what are the top places to see in the city? In this complete guide, I share the best things to do in Genova on the first visit. To help you plan your trip, I have also included an interactive map and practical tips for visiting!

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21 Best places to See in Genova

This complete guide to Genova not only tells you about the very best sights and tourist attractions for first-time visitors to the city but also provide insights into a few of our personal favorite things to do.

This is a practical guide to visiting the best places to see in Genova and is filled with tips and info that should answer all your questions!

Christopher Columbus House

Christopher Columbus House
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Graziella taibi
The so-called “Columbus’ House” finds its location in proximity to the Porta Soprana gate, positioned just outside the bounds of the medieval walls. This structure, thought to be a reconstruction from the 18th century, stands as a representation of the original medieval edifice, which bore witness to the formative years of the explorer Christopher Columbus. […]
Location: Christopher Columbus' House, Via di Porta Soprana, Genoa, Metropolitan City of Genoa, Italy | Website | Distance: 0.90km
Visiting Christopher Columbus House

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Porta Soprana City Gate

Porta Soprana City Gate
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Remo olandesi
This grandiose entranceway, adorned with twin towers, served as the primary passage into the ancient city from the East, specifically the Levant region. In the years spanning from 1155 to 1158, in response to the looming threat of an assault by the army of Frederick Barbarossa, the people of Genoa engaged in the construction of […]
Location: Porta Soprana, di Soprana, Via San Pietro della Porta, Genoa, Metropolitan City of Genoa, Italy | Distance: 0.90km
Visiting Porta Soprana City Gate

Explore Genova yourself with our self-guided walking tour!

Museo d'Arte Orientale (Oriental Art Museum) Genoa

Oriental Art Museum E. Chiossone
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Marcolepriph
Situated within the heart of the city centre, in the 19th-century Villetta Di Negro park that overlooks the sophisticated expanse of Piazza Corvetto, an enclave is dedicated to the Far East. Gazing seaward, an edifice characterized by pristine rationalist architecture takes its stance—a structure ingeniously conceptualized by Mario Labò to provide a haven for the […]
Location: Edoardo Chiossone Museum of Oriental Art, Piazzale Giuseppe Mazzini, Genoa, Metropolitan City of Genoa, Italy | Website | Distance: 1.00km
Visiting Museo d'Arte Orientale (Oriental Art Museum) Genoa

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Piazza De Ferrari

Fontana Di Piazza De Ferrari
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Maurizio Beatrici
Piazza De Ferrari stands as the quintessential heart of Genoa, a place of convergence for both locals and visitors alike. As the city’s bustling commercial, financial, and economic nucleus, it serves as the central meeting point and backdrop for significant events that unfold in Genoa. Situated within the Portoria district, one of the “sestieri” or […]
Location: Piazza De Ferrari, Piazza Raffaele de Ferrari, Genoa, Metropolitan City of Genoa, Italy | Hours: 24 Hours | Price: Free | Distance: 1.00km
Visiting Piazza De Ferrari

Click here to read our blog about Cinque Terre in One Day (With Maps!)

Piazza Matteotti in Genoa

Piazza Matteotti In Genoa
CC BY-SA 2.5 / Alessio Sbarbaro
Piazza Matteotti stands as one of the principal squares in Genoa, positioned within the pier district at the periphery of the city’s historic center. The square takes on a T-shaped layout, with its northern boundary encompassed by the flanking wings of the Doge’s Palace, whose primary entrance faces the square. To the northwest, adjoining the […]
Location: Piazza Giacomo Matteotti, Genoa, Metropolitan City of Genoa, Italy | Hours: 24 Hours | Price: Free | Distance: 1.10km
Visiting Piazza Matteotti in Genoa

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Jesuit church of Santi Ambrogio e Andreaw

Jesuit Church Of Santi Ambrogio E Andreaw
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Davide Papalini
The Church of Jesus and the Saints Ambrogio and Andrea stands as a representation of Baroque architecture in Genoa, situated within Piazza Matteotti, in close proximity to the Palazzo Ducale and Piazza De Ferrari. Originally under the jurisdiction of the Jesuits from the 16th century, this church houses artistic creations by renowned figures such as […]
Location: Chiesa del Gesù e dei Santi Ambrogio e Andrea, Via di Porta Soprana, Genoa, Metropolitan City of Genoa, Italy | Distance: 1.10km
Visiting Jesuit church of Santi Ambrogio e Andreaw

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Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) in Genoa

Palazzo Ducale Genoa
Public Domain / Jensens
The roots of the original structure can be traced back to 1291, when the Spinola and Doria families undertook its construction. However, it wasn’t until 1339, under the leadership of Simon Boccanegra, the inaugural Doge of Genoa, that it earned the title of Palazzo Ducale and embarked on a phase of extensive expansion in various […]
Location: Doge's Palace, Piazza Giacomo Matteotti, Genoa, Metropolitan City of Genoa, Italy | Hours: Visits to the tower and prison 10:00 - 13:00, 15:00 - 18:00. Mon closed. | Price: Tower and prison €5 | Website | Distance: 1.10km
Visiting Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) in Genoa

We recommend to rent a car in Italy through Discover Cars, they compare prices and review multiple car rental agencies. Book your rental car here.

Cathedral of San Lorenzo

Cathedral Of San Lorenzo
CC BY-SA 2.0 / VillageHero
The Cathedral of San Lorenzo, the most significant church in Genoa, possesses an irresistible charm, emanating from its facade adorned with alternating black and white bands, the commanding bell tower that overlooks the historic center, and the intricate details that collectively shape this structure into an authentic architectural gem. Its origins trace back to around […]
Location: Cathedral of San Lorenzo, Piazza San Lorenzo, Genoa, Metropolitan City of Genoa, Italy | Distance: 1.20km
Visiting Cathedral of San Lorenzo

Explore Genova yourself with our self-guided walking tour!

Via Garibaldi Palaces

Doria Tursi Interno
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Maurizio Beatrici
Originally Strada Maggiore, then Strada Nuova but known until the nineteenth century as Via Aurea (the Golden Street). During the 15th century, the city of Genoa was steadily growing in both influence and affluence. By the early 16th century, the city reached its zenith, a point that will become evident as we delve further. The […]
Location: Palazzo Doria Tursi, Via Garibaldi, Genoa, Metropolitan City of Genoa, Italy | Hours: From 1st Novemeber From Tuesday to Friday 9 am - 6.30 pm Saturday and Sunday 9.30 am - 6.30 pm Closed: MondayFrom 18 April from Tuesday to Friday 9 am - 7 pm Saturday and Sunday 10 am - 7,30 pm Closed on non-holiday Mondays Last admission one hour before closing | Price: The Genova Museum Card is a single ticket, valid for 24 hours , which allows you to access only once the 28 city museums, 19 civic museums and 9 non-civic museums, for the price of 15 euro inclusive of AMT public transport | Website | Distance: 1.30km
Visiting Via Garibaldi Palaces

Soianata Castelletto

Belvedere Castelletto
CC BY-SA 4.0 / EvelinaRibarova
Perched high above the city, the magnificent Soianata Castelletto platform offers an impressive vantage point, granting a panoramic 360-degree view of the historic cityscape. From this elevated perch, one can gaze upon the old city’s intricate layout and absorb the bustling maritime scene that unfolds before the eyes. The expansive view stretches to encompass the […]
Location: Spianata Castelletto, Spianata di Castelletto, Genoa, Metropolitan City of Genoa, Italy | Distance: 1.30km
Visiting Soianata Castelletto

Santa Maria di Castello

Santa Maria Di Castello
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Davide Papalini
Santa Maria di Castello stands as one of the most captivating churches in Genoa, situated within the ancient heart of the city. Comprising a Romanesque basilica, an accompanying convent, and a museum, this monumental complex holds extraordinary significance. While the Romanesque architectural style and the invaluable artworks lend an air of splendor to this site, […]
Location: Santa Maria di Castello, Salita di Santa Maria di Castello, Genoa, Metropolitan City of Genoa, Italy | Distance: 1.40km
Visiting Santa Maria di Castello

National Gallery in Palazzo Spinola

National Gallery In Palazzo Spinola
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Sailko
The 16th-century palace commissioned by Francesco Grimaldi has become the home of the National Gallery of Palazzo Spinola since 1958, thanks to a generous donation by brothers Franco and Paolo Spinola to the Italian State. The ownership of the palace had passed down through various families, from Grimaldi to Pallavicino, Doria, and finally Spinola. Initially […]
Location: Palazzo Spinola National Gallery, Piazza di Pellicceria, Genoa, Metropolitan City of Genoa, Italy | Hours: Monday Closed Tuesday 13.30 – 19.00 Wednesday 9.00 – 19.00 Thursday 9.00 – 19.00 Friday 9.00 – 19.00 Saturday 9.00 – 19.00 Sundays and holidays Closed * | Price: € 11 | Website | Distance: 1.40km
Visiting National Gallery in Palazzo Spinola

Palazzo San Giorgio

Palazzo San Giorgio
Public Domain / Jensens
While Palazzo San Giorgio, also known as the Palace of Saint George, might not occupy the top tier of Genoa’s tourist attractions, its historical significance is unquestionably noteworthy. Beyond its walls lies the site where Marco Polo penned his renowned memoirs, and it harbored one of history’s oldest banks. Constructed originally in 1260 by Guglielmo […]
Location: Palazzo San Giorgio, Palazzo San Giorgio, Genoa, Metropolitan City of Genoa, Italy | Hours: Open every day except Sundays, from 9: 00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Only open from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 pm on Mondays. | Distance: 1.50km
Visiting Palazzo San Giorgio

Acquario di Genova (Aquarium)

Genoa Aquarium With Biosphere
CC BY-SA 2.0 / VillageHero
Genoa is home to Italy’s largest aquarium, ranking among the largest in Europe. It is a pivotal component of an expansive waterfront “Edutainment” complex that holds the potential to occupy days of exploration. This aquarium was established in 1992 as a tribute to the 500th anniversary of the renowned expedition led by the city’s native, […]
Location: Acquario di Genova, Ponte Spinola, Genoa, Metropolitan City of Genoa, Italy | Hours: Monday to Friday from 10:00am to 6:00pm, with last entry at 4:00 pm - Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 9:00am to 8:00pm, with last entry at 6:00pm | Price: Adults from €22 | Website | Skip the Line Tickets Available! | Distance: 1.60km
Visiting Acquario di Genova (Aquarium)

Porto Antico di Genova

Porto Antico Genova
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Stefano15
The Porto Antico, as its name implies, was originally the historical harbour, and it has now transformed into a sprawling contemporary waterfront zone. Following a series of significant revitalizations, and with the creative input of the internationally acclaimed Genoese architect Renzo Piano, it has blossomed into the focal point of numerous prominent city attractions. After […]
Location: Porto Antico di Genova, Italy | Distance: 1.60km
Visiting Porto Antico di Genova

Basilica of the Santissima Annunziata del Vastato

Basilica Of The Santissima Annunziata Del Vastato
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Zairon
The basilica of the Santissima Annunziata del Vastato in Genoa is widely acclaimed as the city’s most beautiful church, renowned for its opulent gilded interiors that have garnered praise even from notable figures like Montesquieu and Charles Dickens. Dickens likened the lavish use of gold within the church to that of a finely enameled snuffbox, […]
Location: Santissima Annunziata del Vastato, Piazza della Nunziata, Genoa, Metropolitan City of Genoa, Italy | Distance: 1.70km
Visiting Basilica of the Santissima Annunziata del Vastato

Palazzo Reale , Genoa

Genova Palazzo Reale Giardino
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Zairon
Genoa’s Royal Palace stands as one of Italy’s most exquisite architectural marvels. This remarkable edifice has managed to preserve its interiors in their original splendour, complete with authentic furniture, opulent décor, and an array of exceptional artworks. The house-museum’s collections offer glimpses into the lives of the noble families that conceived, constructed, and inhabited the […]
Location: Palazzo Reale, Via Balbi, Genoa, Metropolitan City of Genoa, Italy | Website | Distance: 1.90km
Visiting Palazzo Reale , Genoa

Galata Museo del Mare (Maritime Museum)

Galata Museo Del Mare; Genova
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Christine Zenino
The Galata Maritime Museum is a key component of the Mu.MA – Maritime and Migrations Museums network, which also includes the monumental “Lanterna” Lighthouse Complex of Genoa, the Pegli Maritime Museum, and the Commenda di Prè (home to the National Museum of Italian Emigration). Nestled a short distance from Genoa’s Aquarium, the Galata Museum emerged […]
Location: Galata Museo del Mare, Calata Ansaldo De Mari, Genoa, Metropolitan City of Genoa, Italy | Website | Distance: 2.00km
Visiting Galata Museo del Mare (Maritime Museum)

D'Albertis Castle

Preziuso Castello DAlbertis
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Anton Preziuso
The D’Albertis Castle, an extraordinary museum-home nestled within a neo-Gothic castle, offers a unique glimpse into the life of Captain Enrico Alberto D’Albertis, its visionary creator. Following his passing in 1932, he generously bequeathed the castle and its contents to the city of Genoa. Captain D’Albertis, an intrepid traveler of the 19th and 20th centuries, […]
Location: D'Albertis Castle, Corso Dogali, Genoa, Metropolitan City of Genoa, Italy | Distance: 2.20km
Visiting D'Albertis Castle

Museum of the Lighthouse (La Lanterna)

La Lanterna
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Laura malfatto
The Museum of the Lighthouse of Genoa, known as “La Lanterna,” is a part of the Mu.MA – Maritime and Migration Museums, a collection of museums that also includes the Galata Maritime Museum, Pegli Maritime Museum, and the Commenda di Prè, home of the MEI National Museum of Italian Migration. The Lanterna of Genoa is […]
Location: Lighthouse of Genoa, Rampa della Lanterna, Genoa, Metropolitan City of Genoa, Italy | Website | Distance: 3.30km
Visiting Museum of the Lighthouse (La Lanterna)

Forte Diamante

Forte Diamante
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Bbruno
Forte Diamante, situated at an elevation of 667 meters above sea level, stands on the heights between Val Polcevera and Val Bisagno. Constructed between 1756 and 1758, it owes its name to the mountain upon which it was erected. The fort was proposed by engineer Jacques De Sicre and served to guard the terminal position […]
Location: Forte Diamante, Sant'Olcese, Metropolitan City of Genoa, Italy | Distance: 6.20km
Visiting Forte Diamante

Best Time to Visit Genova

Genoa, located in the Liguria region of Italy, is a vibrant port city known for its rich history, beautiful architecture, and delicious cuisine. Here’s a guide to the best time to visit Genoa:

  1. Spring (March to May): Spring is a lovely time to visit Genoa as the weather starts to warm up, and the city comes alive with blooming flowers and greenery. This season is ideal for exploring Genoa’s historic center, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and wandering through its narrow medieval streets. Spring also offers opportunities for outdoor activities such as walking along the seaside promenade, visiting the city’s parks and gardens, and taking boat trips along the Ligurian coast.
  2. Summer (June to August): Summer is peak tourist season in Genoa, with warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine. This is the best time to enjoy Genoa’s beautiful beaches, including the sandy shores of Boccadasse and the rocky coves of Nervi. Summer also brings a variety of cultural events and festivals to Genoa, including the Genoa International Boat Show and the Genoa Aquarium Festival. However, be prepared for larger crowds and higher prices during this time.
  3. Fall (September to November): Fall is another great time to visit Genoa, as the weather remains pleasant, and the summer crowds begin to dissipate. This season is ideal for exploring Genoa’s museums and galleries, such as the Palazzo Ducale and the Galata Maritime Museum, without the long lines. Fall also offers opportunities for food and wine tasting, as well as olive oil tours, in the surrounding countryside.
  4. Winter (December to February): Winter in Genoa is relatively mild, with cooler temperatures and fewer tourists. While the weather may be cooler, winter still offers opportunities for exploring the city’s historic landmarks, such as the Cathedral of San Lorenzo and the Doge’s Palace. Winter is also a great time to indulge in Genoa’s culinary delights, including its famous pesto sauce, fresh seafood, and delicious street food.

Ultimately, the best time to visit Genoa depends on your preferences for weather, crowds, and activities. Whether you’re interested in history and culture, beach relaxation, or culinary experiences, Genoa has something to offer for every traveler throughout the year.

Average Temperatures in Genova

  • January 11°C 8
  • February 13°C 10
  • March 17°C 11
  • April 20°C 10
  • May 24°C 10
  • June 29°C 7
  • July 32°C 6
  • August 31°C 7
  • September 27°C 8
  • October 22°C 13
  • November 16°C 21
  • December 13°C 10

How to get to Genova

Flying to Genoa

Genoa has its own airport, offering convenient access for travellers from the UK with flights operated by BA and Ryanair. The airport is situated just a few miles from the town, and there’s an hourly bus service connecting the airport to Piazza Acquaverde, right outside Genoa’s primary train station, Stazione Piazza Principe. This bus service, known as Volabus, offers a €4 ticket (which can be purchased from the driver) that remains valid for 24 hours of travel on Genoa’s public transport network. Additionally, you can find this special ticket available for purchase at select newsstands in town, allowing you to enjoy 24 hours of travel before your return journey. Sometimes, this ticket is sold with a useful brochure outlining tourist itineraries that utilize public transport.

Travelling within Genoa

Genoa’s public transport services are managed by AMT, and transport is included in the airline bus ticket and some combined museum tickets. You can also acquire cost-effective tickets valid for various durations from newsstands, tobacco shops, and ticket machines.

Genoa offers an exciting array of public transport options, and experiencing the town’s diverse modes of transportation can be an enjoyable adventure, especially if you’re traveling with children. In addition to buses, trains, and the underground Metro, you can take advantage of funiculars and lifts, including a unique lift that travels both horizontally and vertically through tunnels. The standard AMT ticket covers a half-hour boat journey from the Porto Antico to Pegli on the western coast of Genoa, where you can explore the gardens of Villa Durazzo Pallavicini, the regional archaeological museum, and a naval museum.