Traveling to Genoa Italy is traveling to one of the hidden gems of this beautiful country. Genoa is a city with a rich history but often overlooked while planning a trip to Italy. We think this city should definitely on your list of places to visit while in Italy. Let’s find out why!
What is Genoa Famous For? Genoa is the birthplace of Cristopher Columbus, the famous navigator, and explorer. For years Genoa has an important role in maritime trade. Today it still has the biggest seaport in Italy. The worldwide famous green pesto Pesto Alle Genovese is originated in Genoa. It is one of the gateways to visit the Cinque Terre region
There is a lot to discover while visiting Genoa, let’s find out what are things you can’t miss while visiting this hidden gem of Italy.
Things to do in Genoa
As a city that’s known for its role in maritime trade and as the birthplace of Christopher Colombus, one of the most famous navigators and explores all time, you’ll find many things to do that are related with the sea. You can easily spend a few days exploring this historical city.
Visit the house of Columbus
Let’s start with the obvious. Cristopher Columbus was born in Genoa and spend his early years in the city. You can still visit the house where he spent his time as a child. Was he already an explorer at this young age? You’ll definitely learn more about this famous historical legend.
The house is located in the city center. So you will definitely cross while strolling around the center. The exact address is Via di Porta Soprana16121 Genova
Although Genoa is a port city, it is also known for its many hills. The Castelletto Quarter is a neighborhood on top of a hill, overlooking the city center of Genoa. It is a great walk to go up for sightseeing. But when you’re not feeling up to it there’s also an elevator that takes you to the top.
Up to the hill, you’ll find a lot of 16th- and 17th-century buildings which give you a feeling that you’re walking back in time. When you decide to go walking up to hill you’ll cross an ancient bridge, that was used as an aqueduct in the 16th century.
You can’t miss it. Porto Antico is the place where it all happens in Genoa nowadays. You might think you’re visiting an old port, walking back in time and enjoying the history of this city. In a way you are, but this 1000-year-old square is completely renovated, so you don’t even notice it is that old.
Not much history to find here, but a vibrant life with restaurants, bars and many places to go shopping. A fun thing to do is go in the Panoramic Lift which goes up to 40 meters above the ground and offers you a panoramic view over the area.
La Strada Nuove and Palazzi dei Rolli
In the 16th century when Genoa was on its heights in economic growth the city council decided to expand the city. New streets and buildings were built and this area was named ‘La Stada Nuove‘, the new streets. Palazzi dei Rolli is actually a list of palaces that were also built in the same period. The palaces were public lodging and were used to host important guests of the republic.
In one of the museums, you’ll find Rolli di Genova. Several lists of all the public buildings and their owners, including the palaces, dating back to 1576!
Since 2007 this area is a Unesco World Heritage Site because it is seen as the start of modern age urban European architecture.
Lighthouse of Genoa
Dating back from 1128AD it is one of the most important landmarks of the city. The light can be seen 31 miles away and it is still an important way of navigation on the sea.
It is possible to visit the lighthouse, officially called Lanterna di Genova. It reaches 76meter above the ground and it is the fifth-largest lighthouse in the world.
Cathedral of San Lorenzo
The most important church of Genoa is worth your visit. It was built in 1098 and still today it is the most renowned building in Genoa.
Interesting fact; during the Second World War, the British Navy dropped a bomb at the church, which didn’t explode. An exact replica of this bomb is can still be seen within the Cathedral, remembers of the horrors of the war.
Spend a day on the beach
With over 18 miles of coastline, there are many beaches to find in Genoa. This area including the Cinque Terre region is often referred to as The Riviera of Italy. It is great to spend a relaxing day on one of the beaches and enjoy the local life in Genoa.
The most famous beach in Genoa is probably Bocadesse beach. This beach, which is part of the fisherman’s village Bocadesse is known for its great snorkeling spots and good local cuisine. We cover a list of the best beaches in Genoa in this article.
Gateway to Cinque Terre
Many people arrive at the portal city Genoa and use it as a stopover to their trip to the Cinque Terre region. Which is an easy thing to do because the region is only 55 miles away from the city.
Cinque Terre is a unique coastal region which consists of 5 villages that are all connected with each other. The villages are;
- Monterosso al Mare
The villages all have their own charm. You’ll find some of the best hiking trails, beautiful beaches and amazing viewpoints of all Italy in the Cinque Terre region. When your planning a trip to Cinque Terre make sure to read this article, where we tell you everything you’ll need to know about the region.
The easiest way to reach Cinque Terre is to travel by train. There is a local train departing several times a day from La Spezia and connecting all the Cinque Terre villages. When you’re traveling by car, we recommend finding a parking spot close to the train station of La Spezia and catch the local train from there.
Traveling by train is more convenient in the Cinque Terre region because parking in the villages is very difficult
The Famous Food of Genoa
Genoa is the place where Pesto Alle Genovese is originated. But the city is known for more delicious food. It’s time to get to know more about the traditional dishes of Genoa.
Pesto Alle Genovese
We need to start with this famous Pesto. It is worldwide known and most of the time used as a garnish or dip. This really simple dish is made of
- Fresh Basilico,
- Parmesan Cheese,
- Sardinian Cheese,
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil,
- Sea Salt,
- Pine Kernels and,
In the traditional way, all mixed in a marble mortar till there’s a smooth sauce. Here you can find the traditional recipe
This traditional Italian finger food dates back from the 14th century. And no, it is not a pizza! It is like a small freshly baked bread with holes in it where the ingredients come together and will give you a taste explosion!
There’s not one recipe that is the same, every Italian has their own way of making focaccia, but they’re all delicious!
Italian cuisine is one of the best known in the world. You can’t go wrong with eating authentic Italian food. When you’re in Genoa make sure to also try some of the local stuffed pies and ravioli. You are in for a treat!
How to Reach Genoa
There are many ways to reach Genoa. It is easy to drive to the city, but also very convenient to take a ferry which will stop at the port of Genoa.
Traveling by Car or Motorhome
When your traveling by car or motorhome you probably take the A7 from Milan to Genoa. Coming out of the direction of Florence you can take the E76, where you first cross the Cinque Terre region before entering Genoa.
Traveling on the road in Italy is very easy. Sometimes the road conditions are not that good and in the bigger cities it can be hard to drive around because the Italians are known as speed devils, but overall you’ll be fine. Just make sure to pay attention at all time. Driving along the countryside is actually very straightforward and an awesome thing to do!
The border of France is only 1,5-hours away. When you’re traveling from that direction just follow the A10/E10 to Genoa and you’ll reach the city in a few hours.
Also a very nice day trip from Genoa to drive to Monaco in France. Which you’ll reach in less than two hours!
Traveling by Ferry
There are 15 ferries arriving at Genoa every day. Coming from different countries and other Italian cities. You can take an international ferry to Genoa when you’re traveling from Barcelona (Spain), Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Domestic ferries connecting Sardinia and Sicily.
Timetables and prices can vary depending on the season. When we search for the latest ferry information, we use Direct Ferries. They have to most up to date information.
Flying to Genoa
Genoa does have an International Airport, but the flights that are arriving are mostly from other European countries. As far as we know it is not possible to fly directly intercontinental to Genoa. Flying directly into Milan or Florence is the nearest stop.
Traveling by Train
Traveling by train in Italy is very straightforward. There are many trains connecting the big cities. The smaller areas such as Cinque Terre are connected by local trains or buses.
So it is easy to get around with public transport, the only downside is that you miss out on a lot of countrysides where the trains aren’t stopping. But when you don’t have much time, traveling by train is an easy and smart way to get around.
Traveling around Italy can be done in many different ways. We cover the best ways to get around Italy, including some different road trip itineraries in this article.
Is Genoa and Genova the same city? Both are the same city. Genoa is the English way of pronouncing and Genova is the Italian way of pronouncing the cities name.
Where to stay in Genoa? Looking to stay within walking distance of the vibrant city life? Make sure to stay in the center of Genoa. When you’re looking for a quieter unique place to stay, try to find something in Bocadesse, just outside the center. You can use our recourse page to make your bookings.