7 BEST Tourist Attraction & Things to Do in GENOA, ITALY

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Genoa is Italy's premier port today, with a long history of maritime strength dating back to the 10th century, when it beat rival Pisa. The city's most notable tourist attractions are the old noble houses, which are more spectacular here than anyplace else in Italy. The historic sailors' district is located along the coastline, amid the labyrinth of steep alleyways and lanes that branch out from the Porto Vecchio.

Here is our selection of the greatest tourist sites in Genoa.

Discover Genoa with the Most Recommended old town walking tour with aperitivo.

What are the Best Attractions & Things to Do in Genoa?

Here are our top places to visit and things to do in Genoa this year.

Before travel always check the Italian Government site here: www.salute.gov.it  www.viaggiaresicuri.it/home

If you want to explore the Best of the Cinque Terre on a Day Trip, check out article : The Best Things to Do in Cinque Terre Italy

  • Via Garibaldi Palaces
  • Acquario di Genova (Aquarium)
  • Cathedral of San Lorenzo
  • Santi Ambrogio e Andrea and Piazza Matteotti
  • Santa Maria di Castello
  • Via Balbi and Palazzo Reale
  • Piazza De Ferrari and Teatro Carlo Felice

1. Via Garibaldi Palaces

Via Garibaldi Palaces, Visit Genoa
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Via Garibaldi, a street built out in the 16th and 17th centuries as a backdrop for the palaces of Genoa's wealthiest and most powerful families, could be expected to be a majestic broad avenue, yet it is nothing more than a lane. The majestic façade of side-by-side palaces on both sides make it look even narrower.

Even if none of the palaces are accessible for visitors, this short street north of Piazza Ferrari and above the sailors' district is worth a trip along. Its facades are embellished with carved and painted ornamentation, frescoes, great arcades and loggias, balconies, courtyards, and entrances adorned with the crests of the aristocratic families whose dwellings these were.

Official site: www.museidigenova.it/en

2. Acquario di Genova (Aquarium)

Acquario di Genova (Aquarium)
Photo by Andrea Bertoni on Unsplash

The Aquarium of Genoa is the most famous tourist destination on the Ligurian Riviera. This unique Aquarium contains about 400 animal species and is the largest in Italy. We suggest booking your visit in advance since often it goes sold out. Even if the price of almost 30 euros may seen excessive, the value and the experience you get from this visit are incredible. At the entrance, you will be introduced to a welcome video which will prepare you to all the different things you will experience during your visit.

The main advantages of the tour we suggest you are:

  • Access to the Aquarium at the best price
  • The largest Aquarium in Italy with more than 400 species and 5000 different animals
  • Perfect experience for families
  • This is not a guided tour, you will be free to visit each hall at your own pace, getting the most from your visit!
  • Skip the line ad the entrance!

Book your tour in advance at the best price here!

3. Cathedral of San Lorenzo

Cathedral of San Lorenzo
Photo by Mario La Pergola on Unsplash

The busy Via San Lorenzo runs northwest from Piazza Matteotti to the harbor. The dramatic Cathedral of San Lorenzo, built in the 1100s as a Romanesque basilica, was remodeled in Gothic style in 1307, and finished with a Renaissance dome in 1557.

More architectural history can be found inside: the large 15th-century Cappella San Giovanni Battista is Genoa's first example of Renaissance architecture, built to house the remains of St. John the Baptist. The ashes of the saint, the platter on which Salome is said to have received his head, and a bowl long thought to be the Holy Grail are all housed in the Tesoro della Cattedrale (treasury) below.

4. Santi Ambrogio e Andrea and Piazza Matteotti

5. Santa Maria di Castello

There is evidence that early tribes traded with the Phoenicians and Etruscans on Castello Hill, making it one of Genoa's most ancient places. Between the 12th and 16th centuries, a series of churches and convents were erected here. The complex's main point is the 12th-century Romanesque church of Santa Maria, from which you may enter a three-story cloister created when the Dominicans transformed it into a convent in the 15th century. These loggias overlook the sea and feature lovely frescoed ceilings.

6. Via Balbi and Palazzo Reale

The start of Via Balbi, another early 17th century street surrounded with splendid mansions, lies west of the majestic church of Santissima Annunziata. It is broader than Via Garibaldi, but less spectacular and more densely packed with stores and people going about their everyday lives. It still has its fair number of palaces.

The Palazzo Balbi-Senarega is number four, while the Palazzo dell'Università, which boasts Genoa's best courtyard and gardens, is number five. 

7. Piazza De Ferrari and Teatro Carlo Felice

Piazza De Ferrari and Teatro Carlo Felice
Photo by Claudio on Unsplash

The center plaza of Genoa, with its splashing fountain surrounded by majestic buildings and the busiest streets extending from it in all directions, is the Piazza De Ferrari. Walking down Via XX Settembre, and nearby streets, one can view the spectacular Art Nouveau facades. The Accademia Lingustica di Belle Arti displays sculptures from Genoa and Liguria, as well as other art.

The Teatro Carlo Felice, established in 1828 and renovated during World War II, lies at the corner of Via Roma, from where you can enter the Galleria Mazzini retail arcade.

For other trips, visits, read our article on the Best Things To Do in North Italy.