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The Best of Things to Do in Genoa, Italy

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Genoa is a port city on the coast of the north of Italy. With delicious food, beautiful architecture, and fun nightlife, it's definitely a place you should add to your Italian bucket list! Check out this guide for all of the best things to do Genoa, cool spots to see, and the best local foods to try.

Where is Genoa?

Genoa is a coastal city in the north west of Italy. It is part of the Liguria region, and is also the capital of it.

where is Genoa italy

Genoa is located off the northern coast of Italy.

Getting to Genoa, Italy

There are several ways that you can visit Genoa, Italy. Here are the different options.

Visiting Genoa by Air

Genoa has a small airport that is just outside the city, making it very accessible to get to. GOA has many domestic flights, as well as a few international. Some cities that fly directly to Genoa include Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Munich. 

Being that the airport is small, there is also another (sometimes cheaper) way to get to Genoa by flight. Milan is just 2 hours from Genoa, and there are three airports that service the Milan area, Bergamo, Linate, and Malpensa.

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Visiting Genoa by Train

Traveling by train in Italy is a very popular option, as it is fast and easy. The country is very well connected when it comes to train, so whether you're traveling from Milan, Rome, or the Amalfi Coast, there's a way to get to Genoa by train.

Tickets can be purchased online, or from a kiosk on the spot. We suggest doing this as it is the same price, and gives you more flexibility to choose your time.

Visiting Genoa by Sea

Did you know that Genoa is a very popular port for boats, yachts, and even cruise ships? They even have a huge ship yard, where I worked for two months setting up Virgin Voyage's first ship, the Scarlet Lady.

There are also tons of cruise ships that stop here for Mediterranean cruises, or have Genoa as their home port. You can find plenty of different companies coming here, the most popular being Costa and MSC (they are Italian companies).

Local Adjustments

When traveling there are things that you may forget about, that may be different from where you are coming from. Here are a few  local adjustments to keep in mind while traveling to Italy.


The official language in Italy is Italian. Being a popular city, there are definitely a lot of people who will speak a bit of English. However, Italians are quite proud, and it is better to try to pick up some of the basics while traveling there.


The currency used in Italy is the euro. Most things can now be paid with card, but we suggest bringing cash as well for the small vendors on the streets.


Italy uses the same plug types as the rest of Europe, which are types C, F, and L. The standard voltage throughout Italy is 320 V with a  standard frequency of 50 Hz.

Water Potability

When you go to restaurants in Italy you will never receive tap water. This isn't because the water isn't safe, but rather that it is customary to drink bottled water in restaurants. You can safely drink water from the tap and the fountains throughout Genoa.

Tipping Culture

The tipping culture in Italy is generally 10%. Many restaurants will actually add it to the bill, so you can check to see if it's already there. If it's not, a little cash is appreciated.

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Things to Do in Genoa: Places to See

First let's check out some of the best things to do in Genoa when it comes to landmarks. Here are some must-sees in the city.

1. Piazza di Ferrari

This place is the most iconic area of Genoa. Situated in the heart of the city between the historical and the modern center, Piazza De Ferrari is renowned for its beautiful fountain.

Piazza di Ferrari, Best things to do in Genoa

Piazza di Ferrari is the center of the city, and one of the main things to do in Genoa.

2. Cattedrale San Lorenzo

San Lorenzo is a Roman Catholic Cathedral in the heart of Genoa. Admire it's beauty from the outside, or climb to the top for great views of the city.

Catedrale San Lorenzo, Genova

Catedrale San Lorenzo, Genoa

3. Porta Soprana

Porta Soprana was the entrance to the city for whoever arrived in Genoa from the east. This arched gateway is located in the historic center, and is full of bars and restaurants, making it a very popular area to go out during the weekends.

Porta Soprana, things to do in Genoa

Porta Soprana is a great place to go out with plenty of bars.

4. Arco della Vittoria

The Arco della Vittoria, also known as Monumento ai Caduti or Arco dei Caduti, is a memorial arch located in Piazza della Vittoria. One of the main stations of the city of Genoa (Brignole) is also located right next to this arch, making it well connected with the rest of the city, and directly accessible from outside the city by train.

Arco della Vittoria, Genoa

Arco della Vittoria is a memorial arch in Piazza della Vittoria

5. Royale Palace Museum

Located in the heart of the historic center of the city, lies a colorful palace. Check out the beautiful ballroom, or just simply enjoy its fun and quirky architecture on the outside.

6. Castello D'Albertis

The Castello d'Albertis, or D'Albertis Castle is a historical residence in Genoa. It was the home of sea captain Enrico Alberto d'Albertis, and was donated to the city of Genoa on his death in 1932. It's located just up the hill from Piazza Principe, and you can enjoy the gardens and views from the castle for free of charge.

Castello D'Albertis, things to do in Genoa

Castello D'Albertis is free of charge to visit, and has beautiful views.

7. Castello della Dragonara

This 13th century castle is located in the area of Camogli. The small seaside fortress, is just a short hike up, with dramatic views of the blue waters surrounding it, making it a truly post card worthy moment.

8. Lighthouse of Genoa

The Lighthouse of Genoa, is the main lighthouse for the city's port. Besides being an important aid to night navigation in the vicinity, the tower serves as a symbol and a landmark for this northern port city. For just 6 euros, you can enter the museum, park, and lighthouse.

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Things to Do in Genoa: Activities

Now that you've seen the major sites, here are some of the best things to do in Genoa, Italy.


1. Visit the Seaside Area of Boccadasse

This beautiful area is located east of the center of Genoa, and is known for its pebble beach and pastel colored houses. Boccadasse is perfect for a stroll along the seaside, great seafood, or that post-card worthy shot.

Boccadasse, Things to do in Genoa

Boccadesse is a colorful seaside village near Genoa.

2. Admire the Views from Spianatta Castaletto

This is a beautiful area to walk around, and is high up in the city, giving dramatic views of the historic center of Genoa.

3. Stroll Through Via Garibaldi

Via Giuseppe Garibaldi is a street in the historical centre in Northwestern Genoa that is well known for its ancient palaces. This pedestrian street is great for shopping, and also admiring the beautiful architecture of the city.

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4. Check out the Giant Shipyard of Fincantieri

One of the biggest shipyards in the world, this is where many cruise ships are built. It is one of the most unique things to do in Genoa because it is currently home to the building of the brand new Virgin Voyages ships. Of course one can't enter the yard itself unless they are working there, but it's really something spectacular to see from the outside. 

Fincantieri ship yard

Genoa is home to one of the biggest ship yards.

Sestri Ponente. which is the neighborhood that the shipyard is located, is just a 15 minute ride from the center of Genoa. It has a long pedestrian street lined with shops, bars, and restaurants- our personal favorites being "Pizza & Pasta" and "Vicoli".

Sestri Ponente, things to do in Genoa

Sestri Ponente is a quaint and colorful neighborhood next to the shipyard.

5. Walk along Marina Porto Antico

One of the best things to do in Genoa is to enjoy the port area. The whole zone is really beautiful, and is full of all different styles of boats- small, large, and even cruise ships! Enjoy the salty air and take a stroll around this calming area.

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6. Enjoy the Gardens & Views of Giardini Francesco Coco

This garden has several levels, with a staircase leading to an area with some of the best views of Genoa, where you can see the city with the arco della Vittoria on one side, and the sea on the other.

viewpoint Genoa

These gardens offer stunning views of Genoa.

7. Go for Aperitivo in Piazza delle Erbe

One of our favorite things to do in Genoa is to eat our hearts out. Head to Piazza delle Erbe for an awesome aperitivo.

This plaza is in the heart of the historic center or Genoa, and is a small area with bars and restaurants. The patio is the perfect place to go for apertivo, which is the time between lunch and dinner (around 5/6:00) when Italians meet with friends for a drink.

Piazze delle Erbe, things to do in Genoa

Piazze delle Erbe is a great place for aperitivo.

In Northern Italy, just like Spanish tapas, there are snacks brought with the purchase of a drink. Have an Aperol Spritz or a local beer, and have a a sampling of finger sandwiches, meats & cheeses, or an assortment of nuts. Piazza delle Erbe has great outdoor seating, and restaurants that give generous portions.

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Things to Do in Genoa, Italy: Nightlife

One of our favorite things to do in Genoa is to enjoy the exciting nightlife that it has to offer. Here are a few of our top spots to check out.


Vicoli is the heart of the historic center, and is a great place to go bar hopping. Young people line the streets drinking outside, along with going from bar to bar for cheap drinks. 

Due Colpi

Located in the center of Genoa, is a bar that has over 50 different shots, each one of them having a provocative name.

Due Colpi, Genova

Due Colpi has dozens of different shots with provocative names.

Corso Italia

This seaside area that is just east of the city center, is one of the most popular areas to go out in Genoa. Sprinkled with bars, it is known for its great night clubs that stay open through the night on the weekends.

Al Baretto

This small bar is a great place to have a couple of drinks, or shots. Full of young people hanging out outside, it is definitely a fun bar to start in. The bartenders there made us the most interesting shots, had great energy, and the shots only costed 2.50 euros each.

Al Baretto, Genova

Al Barretto is a great bar to start your night with.


This night club is located in the popular area of Corso Italia, just east of the city center. The three-in-one venue has an elegant cocktail bar, restaurant and nightclub, staying open til late.


Also located in Corso Italia, lies this trendy beach club. With its many theme nights and parties, it is suitable for any type of audience, offering parties that embrace all types of music.

Best Things to Do in Genoa: For the Foodie in You

One of the things that we always look forward to in Italy, is without a doubt the food. Italian cuisine is one of the most popular in the world, and with good reason. Here are some great things to eat, and particular places that we enjoyed, while in Genoa.

What to Eat in Genoa

While we could go on and on about a million things to eat while here, we will focus primarily on what is typical of Genoa, or northern Italy in general. Here are some of our favorite local specialties.

Trofie al Pesto

If it's one thing that you need to try in Genoa, its pesto, which is their absolute specialty. Trofie, a  short, thin, twisted pasta, is paired with pesto, a green basil, pine nut, and garlic sauce. A dish usually costs around 8 euros, and is filling and delicious.

trofie al pesto

Trofie al pesto is the top dish to try in Genoa.


Farinata, socca, torta di ceci, or cecina is a type of thin, unleavened pancake or crêpe made from chickpea flour. As this originated in Genoa, it is an absolute must try, and great for an on-the-go snack.

Seafood Pasta

Located by the sea, it is no wonder that Genoa has some really great seafood. Match any pasta with seafood, and you will for sure be in heaven.

One of our personal favorites is Linguine alla Vongole, also known as linguine with clam sauce. Another great dish we had was this spicy tomato based sauce, served with fresh mussels and calamari- yum!

Pasta with mussels

The seafood in Genoa is great, and even better when paired with pasta.

Pesto Lasagna

Traditonal lasagna is (in our opinion), one of the best dishes in the world. But its Ligurian brother, pesto Lasagna is seriously another level of deliciousness.

pesto lasagna

Pesto Lasagna is one of the best dishes we tried in Genoa.


While this isn't particularly originated from Genoa itself, we couldn't help but add this, as it is one of our favorites.

An affogato is an Italian coffee-based dessert, which usually takes the form of a scoop of vanilla gelato, topped or "drowned" with a shot of hot espresso, and sometimes topped with whipped cream. Drooling yet?

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Where to Eat in Genoa

There are an endless amount of delicious restaurants in this city, but here are some of our personal favorites.

Bar Berto

Located in the heart of the historic center, in Piazza delle Erbbe, we found a place with a great outdoor atmosphere, and truly amazing pizza. We went there over and over to order a pizza with arugula, buffalo mozzarella, and prosciutto crudo. You can of course choose from many, but this was our personal favorite.

Ravioli House

Also located in the historic center, this restaurant offers all different types of raviolis, with all different sauce pairings. You can choose different sized portions, so you can try various types of these deliciously stuffed pastas. 

Ravioli House, Genova

Ravioli House serves tons of different variations of raviolis.

Ristorante Rustichello

Located right near the main train station "Stazione Brignoli", is one of the best restaurants we went to. The owner opened early for us, even bringing a table outside for us to enjoy the sunshine. Not only was his hospitality memorable, but his trofie al pesto is to die for.


Located right near Rustichello, is a place which specializes in Affogato. What better way to end your meal than to make a stop here after your delicious pasta lunch?

GROM genova

Grom is a chain that serves amazing affogato.


This restaurant isn't located in the center of Genoa, but a 15 minute ride from the center into Sestri Ponente, where the shipyard is. If you happen to visit this area, Vicoli is our favorite place over there.

The restaurant is large and has both great areas for indoor and covered outdoor seating, along with absolutely delicious food. They are open for lunch and dinner, and closed for the time in between.

eating in Genoa

Vicoli is one of our favorite restaurants in Genoa.

Getting Around Genoa

A lot of the best things to do in Genoa are located right in the  historical center. This zone is full of pedestrian streets, meaning the only way to get around is well, to walk. Personally, we think this is the best way to see a city anyway, as you can appreciate every corner.

When it comes to visiting areas outside of the center, the whole city is pretty well connected by train and buses at a very cheap price, usually just 1.50 euros per ride.

Going in and out of Genoa, there are a few main train stations, the majority going to/from Brignole and Piazza Principe. In total there are 26 different stations through Genova, and are run by Tren Italia.

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Best Things to Do in Genoa: Day Trips

The city of Genoa has a lot to offer, but there are also so many great places that are right around the corner! If you have a few extra days in the area, take a day trip to one of these beautiful cities nearby.


When people think of an Italian post card, Portofino is exactly that. Just a 40 minute train ride from the center, this place is a must see if you are visiting Genoa. Take the train to Santa Margherita, and then just a 5-10 minute bus ride away, you will arrive in this colorful seaside port.


Portofino is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy.


Just 40 minutes away from the center of Genoa lies a charming village by the seaside. With colorful buildings and crystal clear water, it makes for the perfect day trip from the city.

Golfo Paradiso

In the heart of Liguria, about 20 km east from Genoa, lies the charming area of Golfo Paradiso This is an authentic paradise on earth composed by many little colorful villages, such as Camogli, Recco, San Fruttuoso and Punta Chiappa, all overlooking the blue waters of the Ligurian sea.

With its famous Duomo Cathedral, this Italian city is one of the most popular in the country, and is also one of the fashion capitals of the world. Just two hours from Genoa, Milan is just a short train ride away.

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Milan Duomo

Milan is the perfect day trip from Genoa.

With so many great things to eat, and places to see, we suggest spending a full two days to explore the best things to do in Genoa, and a couple extra to enjoy the surrounding villages, or even the bigger cities such as Milan. Want to see more great cities in Europe? Click here.

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