Genoa Attractions Museums, and What to do Around this Famous Port City

There is so much more to this port city then pesto and focaccia, and while those two things are worth the visit alone, here is an extensive list of Genoa attractions that you should check out.

Genoa, Italy attractions have become, slowly but surely, more and more popular as a revitalization of the city has taken place over the recent years. Discover the city, read our guides: Genoa what to do; What to do in Genoa for a day (24 hours); What to see in Genoa in two days (48 hours); What to see in Genoa in three days; What to do near Genoa; Genoa Port what to do; Genoa Italy what to do for free and Genoa Guide Tours

Take a look below at the monuments, museums and sites that are must-sees (read more about  the complete guide to discover the city port of Genoa)

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Genoa what to do

Genoa is a city rich in art, history and beauty. So, when in Genoa what to do and see:

Genoa Monuments:

  • House of Christopher Columbus - rebuilt over the old location of the house that Christopher Columbus grew up in, here you can see how this famous explorer grew up.  
  • Monument of Christopher Columbus - located in Piazza Acquaverde you will find his monument erected just near the main train station.
  • Monument of Garibaldi - located in Piazza de Ferrari - see the man who helped unify Italy.

Genoa Museums:

Many of Genoa’s museums you will be able to find on the famous Via Garibaldi or “Strada Nuova” including:

  • Palazzo Bianco - a beautiful Genoese palace containing artwork from artists around Europe.
  • Palazzo Rosso - a noble home decorated with intricate furnishings and famous artwork collected over two centuries.
  • Palazzo Doria Tursi - home to famous items such as Paganini’s violin, collection of coins from the old republic of Genoa, and so much more.

Other notable Genoese museums:

  • Galata Maritime Museum - learn the history of sailors, passengers and of navigation in chronological order.
  • Palazzo Reale - or “Royal Palace,” was home to the Balbi family and is now a museum full of art, sculptures, and frescoes all displayed in an impressive mansion.

genoa attractions

Genoa Attractions:

  • Genoa Aquarium - visit the biggest aquarium in Europe and see everything from penguins and sharks to amphibians and birds.
  • Genoa Lighthouse - climb the world’s 5th tallest lighthouse (249 ft) and Genoa’s main symbol and landmark.
  • Bigo Elevator -  be elevated 131 ft. by this unique modern structure, for a panoramic view and history of Genoa.
  • San Lorenzo Cathedral - Genoa’s most important church and home of the Museo del Tesoro.

What to do in Genoa for a day (24 hours)

If you can stay in Genoa only one day, find a solution by reading our genoa city guide for 24 hours:

  • Visit Aquarium of Genoa

It is located in the ancient port of Genoa, which is well maintained and arranged. It is definitely one of the best areas of Genoa. The aquarium is among the largest in the world and has a wide variety of animal species. It is a unique experience, a path that guides you through biodiversity.

  • Porto Antico of Genoa

Porto Antico is a part of the port of Genoa currently used as a residential district, tourist, cultural and service centre divided into two areas - Porto Antico di Genova S.p.A. and Marina Porto Antico S.p.A. - and an area managed directly by the Municipality of Genoa. Its total restoration was completed in 1992, designed by architect Renzo Piano, on the occasion of the celebration of the five hundredth anniversary of the discovery of America.

  • Visit Genoa Cathedral

Gothic cathedral with imposing black and white banded facade, at the sides has two towers with two statues of lions at the feet. It houses the ashes of the city's patron saint, St. John the Baptist. In the underground rooms there is the Treasure Museum. Between the Cathedral and the nearby Ducal Palace there is the Diocesan Museum, rich in archaeological finds, sculptures, altarpieces and a textile section.

  • Piazza de Ferrari

Main square of the city, it's the symbol of Genoa and the reference point for important events of the city life such as concerts, shows, political meetings.
Piazza de Ferrari is surrounded by magnificent buildings and in front of the theatre you can admire the equestrian statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi.

  • Visit Christopher Columbus House

The house of Christopher Columbus is a current reconstruction of the ancient home of the famous Genoese navigator. It is a house museum. Not to be missed.

  • Palazzo Doria-Tursi

Palazzo Doria-Tursi (also called Palazzo Niccolò Grimaldi) is a building located in Via Garibaldi at number 9 in the historic centre of Genoa, included on 13 July 2006 in the list of 42 palaces inscribed in the Rolli di Genova, which on that date became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • Palazzo Rosso

Palazzo Rosso, built between 1671 and 1677, has a U-shaped plan with two wings joined together by loggias. The noble residence is decorated with frescoes by the major painters of the seventeenth century Liguria: between 1679 and 1694 Domenico Piola, Gregorio De Ferrari and Paolo Gerolamo Piola frescoed the east wing, while the west wing was the work of Andrea Carlone, Carlo Antonio Tavella and Bartolomeo Guidobono. In January 1874 the Duchess of Galliera donated Palazzo Rosso to her city.
After radical restoration work, it has been used as a museum since 1961.

  • Via Garibaldi

One of the most beautiful streets of Genoa with its historic buildings including Palazzo Tursi, the Town Hall and then Palazzo Bianco Palazzo Rosso and Palazzo Doria.

Galata Museo del Mare in Genoa is a great museum of maritime history and navigation located in the ancient port of the Ligurian city.

What to see in Genoa in two days (48 hours)

When in Genoa what do there, if can stay only for a weekend...

  • First Day

 

  • Piazza della Vittoria

Piazza della Vittoria is one of the most beautiful squares in the city of Genoa. In the middle you can see the amazing Arco dei Caduti (Arch of the Fallen in English).

  • Piazza de Ferrari

Piazza de Ferrari, the beating heart of Genoa,  is connected to Piazza della Vittoria through Via XX Settembre: a crucial junction between east and west. As suggestive at night as it is during the day, it is certainly worth a visit.

  • Palazzo Ducale

The Palazzo Ducale, a symbolic place in Genoa in ancient times, was the residence of the Doge. Today it is the cultural centre of the city with exhibitions, conferences and festivals on the main floor. The tower was once a prison for political prisoners and intellectuals. In the courtyard every 1st Sunday of the month there is an antiques market.

  • Genoa Cathedral

It is the cathedral of Genoa and in its interior is kept the treasure of St. John, the sacred basin source of many beliefs (in the past it was indicated as the grail from which Jesus ate during the Last Supper) as well as an unexploded bomb dating back to World War II. Both inside and outside you can see architectural elements of different styles as well as frescoes of high historical value.

  • Via Garibaldi

Via Garibaldi is the historic street of Genoa par excellence: it is full of noble palaces, museums and antique shops. Walking along via Garibaldi you can feel the spirit of the old city. A destination not to be missed if you spend a few days in this beautiful city.

  • Museum of Jazz

Inaugurated in 2000, the Museum of Jazz spreads the knowledge of the Jazz music genre in all its various nuances. It is a documentation and research centre unique in Italy, with a careful and involving calendar of cultural initiatives: concerts, video-conferences, music festivals organized in different and evocative city spaces.

  • Porto Antico of Genoa

Porto Antico is Genoa's seafront overlooking the sea. It is the historical heart of the City: a spectacular "square" on the Mediterranean Sea, easily reachable, in a pedestrian area covered by wi-fi; a place of history and charm, with museums and play spaces.

  • Aquarium of Genoa

Aquarium of Genoa is the largest representation of aquatic biodiversity in Europe with its 71 tanks, to which the 4 open-air tanks of the Cetacean Pavilion hosting 11 dolphins have been added since 2013.
It offers an exciting immersion in the seas of the world with its 15,000 animals of over 400 species.

  • Second Day

 

  • Bigo

Bigo is an architectural structure that you can find in the ancient port of Genoa. It was designed by Renzo Piano for Expo 1992, the name and design are inspired by "bigo", the crane used for loading and unloading in a naval environment.

  • Lighthouse of Genoa

The Lighthouse of Genoa (the symbol of  "La Superba"), for centuries, dominates the city and illuminates the sea and the port with the light of its lighthouse.

Galata Museo del Mare  is the largest museum dedicated to the sea in the Mediterranean Sea area and also one of the most modern in Italy.

  • Villa del Principe

Sixteenth-century villa built by Admiral Andrea Doria (1466-1560). Typical Renaissance residence with simple architectural lines, but majestic appearance, overlooking an Italian garden, in the center of which stands the splendid Fountain of Neptune.

  • D'Albertis Castle

Magnificent and richly decorated castle. It was built at the behest of Captain Enrico Alberto d'Albertis in the late nineteenth century. The captain of Albertis wanted for himself a construction that would remind everyone of the power of Genoa at the time of  "La Superba".

What to see in Genoa in three days

  • First Day

 

  • Porto Antico of Genoa

Since Expo 1992 Porto Antico of Genoa has been requalified until it became the jewel that it is today: ice skating rink, the largest aquarium in Europe, spaces for entertainment activities, multiplex cinema, children's city and much more.

  • Aquarium of Genoa

The largest Italian Aquarium, with different tanks for different types of habitat. It is perfect to accompany children. The visit lasts about 2 and a half hours. The aquarium is located in the ancient port of Genoa and can be reached by train from the station in Piazza Principe.

  • Bigo

Panoramic rotating lift with total view of Genoa: the view of the roofs of the city, the cathedral of San Lorenzo, the entire Porto Antico.

Museum dedicated to seafaring, modern and beautiful in many of its interactive parts.

  • Lighthouse of Genoa

Genoa is in fact known as the "city of Lantern" so the Lighthouse represents the symbol of the city in its own right. It is known that already in 1128 there was a luminous outpost, called the tower of Capo Faro. At sunset a fire was lit to mark the boundaries of the port of Genoa. Illuminated for centuries with metal or glass wick lamps, it needed guardians (Antonio Colombo, Cristoforo's uncle, served there) who had to live inside the lighthouse.

  • Genoa Cathedral 

Majestic  Cathedral in the heart of the city, its churchyard offers a stage of rare majesty and the small square in front of it contributes to enhance the purity of the forms highlighted and underlined by the alternation of black and white bands.

  • Second day

 

  • Piazza de Ferrari

The central fountain is the distinctive feature of Piazza de Ferrari, it can be reached both by car and on foot from both railway stations (Brignole and Piazza Principe). A few metres away there are the Ducal Palace,  Carlo Felice theatre and Via XX Settembre.

  • Christopher Columbus House

The most evident the link between Christopher Columbus  and Genoa is undoubtedly the house that is still located near Porta Soprana, the official residence according to the history of the navigator and his family. Today the building, organized on three levels, looks from the outside like a classic 18th century palace, probably built only in a second place above the remains of the original dwelling that belonged to Christopher Columbus.

  • Palazzo Ducale

Palazzo Ducale was the Government Palace at the time of the Republic of Genoa. It's in the heart of the city. It overlooks Piazza De Ferrari on one side and Piazza Matteotti on the other.

  • Chiostro Sant'Andrea

Beautiful adjacent cloister Porta Sovrana under the two Towers of Sant'Andrea. It is all that remains of an ancient convent and church dating back to the 12th century. The rest was demolished in 1900 following a renovation of the town and the cloister was reassembled where the structure itself stood. Very beautiful the columns of the cloister, different from each other with various symbologies. Next to the cloister stands the house of Christopher Columbus.

  • D'Albertis Castle

D'Albertis Castle dominates the city of Genoa overlooking the port from the hill of Montegalletto.
It was designed with a taste for architectural collage and neo-Gothic revival and built on the remains of sixteenth-century fortifications.

 

  • Third Day

 

  • Via Garibaldi

Historic street with several palaces to visit such as Palazzo Tursi, Bianco and Palazzo Rosso.
Also walking along Via Garibaldi you can admire the Palazzo della Meridiana and choose to go into the various alleys of the historic center.

  • Villa del Principe

16th century villa frescoed by Perin del Vaga on commission by Andrea Doria. The villa offers an interesting Italian garden and period furnished interiors.

  • Piazza della Vittoria

Piazza della Vittoria is one of the largest and most central squares in Genoa, located a few steps from the train station of Genova Brignole and the modern business center of Corte Lambruschini.
The square is characterized by an imposing triumphal arch: the Arch of Victory - a monument to the fallen of the First World War created in the 1930s, decorated with statues and bas-reliefs by various artists (including some by Eugenio Baroni).

  • Palazzo San Giorgio

Historical building that is currently the seat of the Port Authority of Genoa. It consists of two parts: a medieval one facing the portico of Sottoripa (designed by the architect and monk Friar Oliverio in the mid-thirteenth century) and one facing the sea that once lapped it (mid-1500) and was the seat of the Banco di San Giorgio from which it took its name. Here Marco Polo was also imprisoned.

What to do near Genoa

Genoa is a metropolis of the sea, and a city of glorious history: art, sea and food all in once. In the surroundings of Genoa, anyway, you can find other amazing places. Discover what to do near Genoa Italy, read our Genoa holiday guide make the best Genoa day trips:

  • Visit Parco Naturale regionale del Beigua

The nature of the Ligurian Apennines at its most beautiful: breathtaking landscapes, hiking trails for every level and, with the tangency of the Ligurian high mountain route, an endless possibility of possible routes to explore and beautiful places to see.

  • Camogli

Camogli is a typical fishing village, a tourist centre known for its small port and the colourful palaces along the seafront. It is also called the "Città dei mille bianchi velieri".

  • Get lost in Portofino

Portofino is one of the most characteristic and exclusive villages in the Mediterranean, not only in Liguria. Portofino and its promontory are protected areas since 1935: its uncontaminated nature among floral concentrations, variety of birds and invertebrates and important architectural constructions make Portofino one of the most famous landscapes in the world.

  • Cinque Terre Tour

The Cinque Terre is one of the most beautiful natural Mediterranean areas of Liguria in a coastal stretch of the east about 10 km long. This area is characterized by the presence of five ancient seafaring villages overlooking the sea. The villages of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore, well known in the world for their rare beauty, are considered one of the most attractive tourist destinations in Italy.

Genoa Port what to do

The Port is the beating heart of Genoa, the soul of the city. There are many Genoa things to do near Port, discover our Genoa port guide:

  • Admire Isola delle Chiatte (Isle of Barges)

Isola delle Chiatte,  located in the middle of "Porto Antico di Genova" (near the Aquarium), is a floating structure formed by old barges in use in the port, equipped with benches and lighting. The structure, designed by Renzo Piano and named after Luciano Berio, is a panoramic viewpoint of Genoa and its entire port.

It is located in the ancient port of Genoa and can be reached by train from the station in Piazza Principe. It is the largest Aquarium in Italy and offers two hours of travel among the various sea creatures.

Amazing maritime museum on five floors. It tells the history of navigation in Genoa since ancient times. Very interesting the part dedicated to the iconography of Christopher Columbus.

Genoa Italy what to do for free

  • Visit Santa Maria di Castello

Romanesque church, built during the 12th century by Magistri Antelami, is rich in works by Genoese painters, such as Piola and Grechetto. The convent of the Dominican friars was annexed to it in the 15th century. Competent volunteers guide you through the fascinating visit of the cloisters, the ancient Library and the frescoed galleries, as well as the Church, one of the most beautiful and important in Genoa.

  • Panoramic view from Spianata Castelletto

If you visit Genoa, you can't miss the breathtaking view that Spianata Castelletto offers. You can reach the place by elevator, bus and, if you feel like a nice walk, even on foot. Absolutely to see.

  • Visit Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno

The monumental cemetery of Staglieno is a huge open-air museum. Inside you can admire, surrounded by nature and lined up in galleries, arcades and funeral chapels, hundreds of statues made by famous sculptors ranging in different styles: from neo-Gothic and neo-Renaissance realism to Art Nouveau and symbolism.

  • Visit Piazza San Matteo

Piazza San Matteo, one of the main squares in the historic centre of Genoa, was the heart of the consortium of one of the most illustrious Genoese families, the Doria family. It is located a short distance from the central Piazza De Ferrari, to which it is connected by the short climb San Matteo.

Genoa Guide Tours

Genoa Tours:

  • For personalized private tours run by locals, check out Tours by Locals
  • For all other tour options, including buses, segways and bikes check out the tours and trips page on VisitGenoa.it

Want to find out what kind of Genoa exhibitions and fairs are happening while you're in town? Click here for an up-to-date calendar on all local events.  

Come to Genoa and create your own experience. You will be glad that you did! For more info read and download free Studentsville's Genoa travel guide pdf (here). Or take a look at the Guardian Genoa travel guide (here) and Genoa Rough guide (here).

For a Genoa visitors guide, click: here.