What to see in Genoa
What to see in Genoa: the complete selection for your stay in the Superba.
Nestled between the sea and the mountains and between the two Riviera di Liguria, Genoa offers visitors a lot of entertainment , breathtaking views and unforgettable moments.
In fact, it is also the only real big city that is talked about in the many pages of this site.
Writing the tourist guides for the other villages of Liguria we have found all the smaller and hidden wonders to make you live a complete travel experience.
In the case of Genoa we had to do exactly the opposite.
With its vast offer of historical monuments and more modern attractions, we had to make a rigorous selection of the truly unmissable and unique things to see during your stay.
So here are the things to see in Genoa , with the best attractions and things to do!
The Old Port
The ancient port was the nerve center of the commercial and economic activities of the city of Genoa in past centuries.
On the occasion of the Colombiadi, the celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America, this area of the city was completely renovated according to the project of Renzo Piano, the famous Genoese architect.
This port area of 230,000 square meters is now the most loved point of the city by Genoese and visitors. Full of attractions and entertainment.
Here, in addition to a nice walk or an aperitif in the sun, you can also visit many interesting things.
- The Aquarium of Genoa
- Galata museum of the sea
- The biosphere, a wonderful glass and steel bubble that recreates a tropical environment with butterflies and birds inside.
At the old port you can also go up to 40 meters high with Bigo, the panoramic lift. The top will give you a beautiful 360 degree view over the city of Genoa.
If you have visited all these interesting attractions, you can do some shopping in the shops or take a break in the nearby bars and restaurants.
The genoa aquarium is undoubtedly the number one attraction of the city and if you are in Genoa it is a place to visit at least once in a lifetime.
27,000 square meters, 39 tanks, 15,000 specimens and over 400 species.
With its fish, marine mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, it is the largest and most spectacular aquarium in Europe.
The aquarium is the result of the major redevelopment project in 1992 by Renzo Piano.
Today it is a modern structure where you can admire sharks, dolphins, penguins, sea turtles, seals, jellyfish, tropical fish, and many other marine species of unparalleled beauty.
In 2003 the structure was further enlarged with the ” Pavilion of the Cetaceans “, consisting of 4 open-air tanks. The tour is structured on two levels to allow you to admire the animals from above and from an underwater perspective.
In addition to visiting the aquarium, it is also possible to participate in events, educational moments and shows.
The visit usually lasts about two and a half hours.More information
Galata museum of the sea
The second unmissable attraction in the Porto Antico area of Genoa, dedicated to the marine world, is Galata museo del mare .
The museum is organized in 10,000 square meters on 5 floors of exhibition inside a modern glass and steel building next to an ancient arsenal.
Here 6 centuries of sea life are told through life-size boats, relics and equipment. The Maritime Republic of Genoa, Christopher Columbus, distant lands explored by sea and much more.
Don’t miss the interactive experiences that the museum offers.
The truly unique attraction of the museum, for those who do not suffer from claustrophobia, is the visit to the submarine S518 Nazario Sauro, moored right in front of the entrance.
In case you suffer from claustrophobia, however, a faithful reproduction of the working life conditions inside the submarine has been set up.
Five exhibition floors that tell the story of Genoa, the Maritime Republic and Christopher Columbus, equipment and arsenals, but which also tell of distant places and overseas.
Overlooking the entire exhibition space, a splendid terrace overlooking the city .More information
The Biosphere is that huge sphere of steel and glass that can be seen in the most famous photographs of the area of the ancient port of Genoa.
This scenographic structure contains within it a real tropical forest.
This too was designed by the Genoese architect Renzo Piano, inaugurated in 2001 on the occasion of the G8 summit.
Thanks to a very modern air conditioning system, the inside of the sphere has a particular microclimate. Over 150 plant species and other animal species can grow here, including turtles, colorful and wonderful fish, insects and birds.
It is truly an extraordinary attraction, unique in terms of location and structure. It will allow you to experience the atmosphere of a distant tropical forest a stone’s throw from the city center.
For information: acquariodigenova.it/biosfera/
The Palazzi dei Rolli
Another unmissable visit of the center of Genoa is via Garibaldi also known as “Strada Nuova” , even though it actually has over five centuries of history.
It is also called “via Aurea” because in these five centuries of history it has collected and collected architectural and artistic masterpieces of incredible value.
In fact, this area of the city contains the most beautiful and prestigious buildings in Genoa called “i Rolli” .
These magnificent buildings were the residences of the Genoese nobility, between 1500 and 1600. They were used, in the absence of a royal palace, to give hospitality to illustrious and high-ranking people who stayed in the city.
They are called with this name because the most prestigious residences were included in special lists, “the Rolli of public housing” , drawn up and kept up to date by the Republic of Genoa.
Within this register the palaces were divided into three categories, each of which was associated with a certain category of guest.
- the first category: cardinals, princes and viceroys;
- the second category: feudal lords and governors
- the third category: princes and ambassadors.
Today some of these buildings are private residences, others are municipal offices, offices or banks.
Three of these are museums that can be visited, the Strada Nuova museums are:
- Palazzo Rosso , where the art collection of the Brignole family is exhibited (a visit to the terrace is recommended);
- Palazzo Bianco , where Italian and European paintings from the 16th to the 18th century are exhibited;
- Palazzo Tursi , town hall and other exhibition halls.
Breathtaking atriums, wonderful stairways, large internal courtyards and wonderful lounges await you.
The Municipality of Genoa organizes the Rolli Days three times a year, weekends in which the buildings are open to the public and can be visited entirely.
For information: palazzideirolli.it
Piazza De Ferrari
Piazza De Ferrari is the main square in Genoa, a meeting place and meeting place for important city events.
At the center of this large square is the spectacular bronze fountain that enchants with its water games. Important buildings overlook it: the Carlo Felice Theater, the Palazzo dell’Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti, Palazzo Ducale, Palazzo della Regione Liguria and Palazzo della Nuova Borsa.
A few meters from the basilica of San Lorenzo you can admire the Doge’s Palace.
This elegant and majestic palace dates back to the 13th century and historically had different functions. Today it is an exhibition space for exhibitions, conferences and where cultural events are organized.
It is also home to various associations and the foundation that takes its name, whose purpose is cultural and social promotion.
For information: palazzoducale.genova.it
Porta soprana dates back to the 9th – 10th century and is the only ancient entrance door to the city that has remained intact. This medieval stone building is truly impressive and is the real symbolic entrance to the historic center.
House of Christopher Columbus
A stone’s throw from Porta Soprana is the house of Christopher Columbus, a very popular monument for both Italian and foreign visitors.
It is a house-museum, dedicated to the traveler who discovered America. It was rebuilt in the eighteenth century on the remains of the original house, where the explorer spent his youth.
Cathedral of San Lorenzo
The most important church in Genoa dates back to the 12th century: the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, the cathedral of the Genoese.
You have to take via San Lorenzo, in the historic center of the city, and you will find it in front of you. The facade with the three Gothic portals, the bell towers (one remained incomplete), dominated by high relief bas-reliefs and on the sides two magnificent stone lions.
Inside it is wonderful and different artistic styles, legacy of centuries of history, and many frescoes and works of art mix, creating a wonderful atmosphere.
Here are kept the relics of San Lorenzo , which arrived in the city after the Crusades. It is worth visiting the Museum of the Treasure which is located in the basement of the Cathedral.
There are two curiosities related to the cathedral of San Lorenzo:
Inside the church on the right is an English World War II grenade , which fell inside the cathedral but miraculously exploded.
Outside, however, you can go in search of the miniature of a small dog carved in marble . It seems that at the time of construction this little dog always wandered around the workers and sculptors. When the little dog disappeared and was never found, the sculptors dedicated this small sculpture to him on the facade of the cathedral.
Both the bomb inside and the dog outside can be touched and they seem to bring good luck!
The Caruggi, the alleys of Genoa
The historic center of Genoa is the largest in all of Europe. It is a labyrinth of shady alleys, bordered by colorful houses that develop vertically, which in Liguria they call “carruggi”.
During a visit to Genoa it is recommended to go inside the alleys of the historic center. It is undoubtedly the best way to breathe the authentic atmosphere of the city, learn its secrets and admire its architectural and artistic treasures.
The Carruggi are hundreds and the risk of getting lost without admiring the most beautiful is very frequent. Here are the most famous:
- From Piazza Loading go up in via al Ponte Reale. From here, after 100 meters, admire Piazza Banchi and the “Loggia della Mercanzia”.
- Head to via San Luca, one of the most charming and picturesque alleys in Genoa.
- Continue to via del Campo, where Fabrizio de Andrè lived and wrote the famous song about it.
Exploring these and other Carruggi you will encounter noble residences, ancient churches, characteristic squares, artisan shops and the historic cafes narrated by Genoese songwriters. (Look for the bar “La bad strada” from the song by De Andrè)
Among these alleys there are also the best focaccerie in Genoa.
Via del campo 29 red
When in Italy we talk about songwriters, the city par excellence is undoubtedly Genoa.
If you are a lover of Genoese songwriters you should definitely visit this museum which takes its name from the famous song by Fabrizio de André.
Via del campo 29 rosso is a small but really well-kept museum: the theme of the exhibition is the Genoese school, which made the history of Italian music.
If you ask around, many know it simply as “De André museum”.
It is precisely the space that was once the “Musica Gianni Tassio” shop, a historic place for musicians and enthusiasts, to host the exhibition.
When Fabrizio De André disappeared, this museum became a place of memory for his admirers, but the museum is also dedicated to other exponents of the Genoese school including Lauzi, Tenco and Gino Paoli.
Here you can admire original vinyls, photographs, books, periodicals and many interesting memorabilia.
The highlight of the museum is Fabrizio de Andrè’s historic guitar, the “Esteve ’97”.
For information: viadelcampo29rosso.com
Church of the Annunziata
Girovagando per i vicoli un capolavoro a cui bisogna assolutamente fare visita è la Basilica della Santissima Annunziata del Vastato.
Da via del Campo tirate a destra e raggiungere piazza dell’Annunziata. È proprio nel cuore della zona universitaria e dei carruggi.
Questa bellissima chiesa edificata nel 16° secolo è un bell’esempio di arte genovese in stile barocco. Durante i secoli ha subito diverse trasformazioni e restauri.
Anche se non siete particolarmente amanti dell’architettura sacra e delle chiese in generale, fate comunque una visita. Esternamente sembra una normale chiesa ma all’interno è un luogo davvero meraviglioso.
Esplanade of Castelletto
Genoa is full of panoramic points but one of the most beautiful is definitely Spianata Castelletto.
In this place once stood the fortress of Castelletto which was, in fact, leveled in 1849. This explains the origin of the name.
This square in the historic center can be reached via a wonderful Liberty-style lift, which can be taken from Piazza Portello, or alternatively with a beautiful panoramic road. (The exact address is Belvedere Montaldo)
From here you can enjoy a breathtaking view of Genoa: from above, with the roofs, domes and towers of the historic center and with the ancient port as a backdrop.
This quiet place is ideal for taking wonderful photographs and for resting on the benches in the shade of the trees, after traveling the length and breadth of the city.
Castello d’Albertis domina la città da una collina nel quartiere di Castelletto a quindici minuti a piedi dal porto antico. È una dimora storica di Genova molto particolare che mescola stile architettonici molto lontani.
Questo edificio fu di proprietà del Capitano Enrico Alberto D’Albertis e ne rispecchia la sua eclettica personalità.
È una dimora neogotica costruita nell’ottocento su sulla base di fortificazioni cinquecentesche e arricchita con elementi decorativi che rimandano a viaggi in paesi esotici e atmosfere coloniali.
Oggi il castello è sede di eventi, congressi e di ben due musei: quello delle Culture del Mondo e quello delle Musiche de Popoli.
Potrete ammirare la collezione raccolta dal capitano durante i suoi viaggi per mare completata con successive donazioni da Africa, America e Oceania.
Per informazioni: museidigenova.it
The Lantern is the first of all the symbols of Genoa. It could only be so for a city that has such a strong seafaring tradition.
It was built in 1353 and this impressive lighthouse 117 meters high and built on a 40 meter high rock is the tallest in the Mediterranean. (Remember, it’s the “Lantern”, not the lighthouse!)
Today it is possible to visit it by climbing a rather steep staircase of 172 steps, reaching the first terrace.
The view from the Lanterna is truly exceptional and is a unique point of view over the city and the Ligurian Sea.
Also visit the Museum of the Lantern which narrates the architectural and urban evolution of the city.
To reach the Lanterna, take the pedestrian street that starts west of the ancient port or take a taxi.
For information: lanternadigenova.it
Boccadasse is an ancient fishing village of the city of Genoa, which is part of the Albaro district and is located at the end of Corso Italia.
The name derives from the shape of the bay: Boccadasse would mean donkey mouth (mouth d’azë).
This wonderful village has remained unchanged over time despite the great urban development of the city context. During your visit you can admire its pastel-colored houses leaning against each other.
In this enchanted place you can simply take a walk, stop for a coffee, an aperitif or maybe a nice fish lunch in the sun.More information
Parks of Nervi
A few kilometers from the center of Genoa you will find Nervi. In this small village overlooking the sea as well as its characteristic marina and the promenade, you can visit the Parks of Nervi.
It is the largest urban park on the sea in the whole Mediterranean.
A botanical garden of over 90,000 square meters obtained from a set of villas belonging to private individuals and now home to museums and other historical-cultural initiatives.
This park is wonderful, especially in spring when most of the botanicals are in full bloom.
The walk, about two kilometers long, offers lots of greenery (pines, cypresses, palm trees, etc.) and also a wonderful sea view over the sea.
Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno
Perhaps it may seem a bit strange as travel advice to suggest a visit to a cemetery.
However, in the case of the Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno it is a huge open-air work of art. A modern art museum that fascinated Friedrich Nietzsche, Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway, among others.
This impressive work was built between 1844 and 1851 after the Napoleonic edict which imposed a ban on burial in churches and inhabited centers.
Therefore, an area was needed, far from the center, where to set up a monumental cemetery that would tell the rise of the city bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie to which he belonged, Giuseppe Mazzini, the main interpreter of the unification of Italy.
What really leaves you speechless about the cemetery is the majesty of its monumental chapels. They range from Gothic to Art Nouveau passing through Byzantine and Neoclassical.
For information: staglieno.comune.genova.it
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