boccadasse, genova
photo by Xavi

Genoa (Italian, Genova) is an historical port city in northern Italy, the capital of the Region of Liguria. Genoa was the European Capital of Culture for 2004.


Venice, Rome, Milan, and Florence are of course the most known and admired towns in Italy. When moving to north-western Italy (Milan, Turin) it is nevertheless absolutely worth staying for a couple of days or a weekend in Genoa. The city is a good base to explore the Italian Riviera and world famous places like Portofino and the Cinque Terre.

Paolo Coelho wrote: "Among the marvels of Italy, it will take some digging to find the beauties of Genova, but it is worth visiting it. I remember walking there with a friend, when she suddenly said: “Let’s stop for a bit. I can’t stand this orange color!”". The fact is the more you stay the more you will enjoy and appreciate the town. A place where you discover daily new surprises, even if you stay for years.

The city may be less known by major tourist operators, but its splendor is often hidden inside the narrow streets of the historical center, called "vicoli".

Getting there

By plane

The Aeroporto di Genova - Cristoforo Colombo provides several daily flights from other major European cities such as Rome, London, Munich, Paris and Madrid. From the airport it is fairly easy to rent a car or take a shuttle (bus no. 100, also called Volabus) to the city center.

By train

Genoa can be easy travelled to by train from Milan, Turin, Rome, Tuscany (Pisa, Livorno and Florence (changing train in Pisa or Viareggio)) and France (There is a direct train connecting with Nice). There are two main train stations in Genoa, Brignole and Principe. Brignole serves most local routes and provides access to many bus lines. Principe serves local as well as long distance trains and many trains from Milan and beyond will only stop at this station.

By car

Coming from Milan you can reach Genoa via the A7-E62 (approx. 145 km). Mind though that the last part, from Serravalle to Genoa, is incredibly twisty, making you wonder if you’re still on the highway or accidentally have taken a wrong turn into a motordrome. It’s therefore advisable to take an alternative route, turning off the A7 at the deviation near Tortona and heading on the A26/A7, following Genova, Ventimiglia, Savona, Voltri; making it a longer (+20 km), but certainly safer and more comfortable trip, unless you want to spice up you journey and observe how (some) Italians drive. The same highway is less twisty northbound.

Coming from Turin you can either take the A6/E717 to Savona (137 km) and then go to Genoa following the beautiful, but twisty A10 coast highway (an other 45 km) or follow the Genova Piacenza indications you'll find on the ringroad heading south. This latter is the shorter alternative (170 km total), but offers fewer sightseeing opportunities.

Coming from the French Riviera just follow the highway A10 and enjoy the sight (approx 160 km from the French border). If you're tempted to avoid the toll roads, be aware that it will take you at least three or four times as long although you might get better views.

Coming from Tuscany you can take the A12 from Rosignano to Genoa; mind that you must have snow chains on board between the gates of Carrodano and Sestri Levante when travelling from November 1st to March 31st, even though snow is seldom a problem here.

By bus

Genoa can be reached via Eurolines coach from many European countries. Long distance buses also run from Nice.

By boat

Genoa is an important port, and has many ferry services. Grandi Navi Veloci crosses from Barcelona weekly, and takes about eighteen hours. It also offers a weekly crossing to Tangiers, which takes around forty-six.

Other direct ferry routes from Genoa are; Barcelona (Spain), Valletta (Malta), Bastia (Corsica), Olbia and Porto Torres (Sardinia), Palermo (Sicily), Tangier (Morocco) and Tunis (Tunisia).

Traveling around

There regular buses servicing the whole city, but the timetables one can see at stops are not always reliable. In addition to this there is a short tube railway connecting the city center with the train station of Principe and the peripheral district of Rivarolo. With the tube connection is also possible to cross the medieval center which usually has too narrow streets (called 'caruggi') for cars or busses.

Trains travel through the whole city in the east/west direction; this is probably the best way to travel if you plan to see some peripheral districts on the coastline, as no bus travels for the whole width of the city.

The historical center is serviced by bus only around some important squares and streets (Piazza Acquaverde for Stazione di Piazza Principe, Piazza della Nunziata, Largo Zecca, Piazza Corvetto, Piazza Caricamento); caruggi are best seen on foot.

You can take the boat from the Porto Antico to visit Pegli and the public park of Pallavicini or you can take other boats from the Old Harbour and travel along the coast to Camogli, San Fruttuoso, Portofino, Chiavari and the Cinqueterre.

For the most you can however explore within walking distance in the historical center of the old town, the largest middle age town of Europe



  • The Aquarium The biggest in Europe!

  • The Sea Museum and the Naval Museum

  • Ethnographical Museum

  • Museum of Modern Art - Wolfson

  • Museum of Modern Art - Villa Croce

  • Museums of Fine Arts - Strada Nuova - Palazzo Bianco (White Palace) and Palazzo Rosso (Red Palace)

  • Chiossone Museum of Oriental Art The biggest European collection of oriental art.

  • Doria Museum of Natural History

  • The Cathedral Museum

  • Museum of St. Augustine A convent displaying various medievil works of art.

  • Ligurian Archeological Museum

  • Luxoro Museum A private collection which houses various works of art and furniture.

  • Raccolte Frugone The Nervi's former private art collection.

  • Wolfsoniana A museum of modern applied arts.

  • Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace) Owns a historical picture gallery.

  • National Ligurian Gallery at the Spinola Palace

  • Museum of the Ligurian Art Academy

  • Museum at the Prince's Palace Another Genovese historical art collection.

  • Ippolito National Ligurian Museum

  • The Cathedral of San Lorenzo

  • The palazzi dei rolli present on World Heritage List of UNESCO

  • The historical centre:

  • Santa Maria di Castello , the cloister of the domenican order, the museum and the summer cathedral offer a lot of treasures and exploring them is free during the opening hours of the church

Genoa is known to have Europe’s biggest historical center. This is the heart of the old city. It’s made up of an incredible amount of tiny streets and alleys called Caruggi. Walking through it will plump you right back in ancient times when Genoa was the most important harbor of the Mediterranean sea. The city is generally safe, but caution is to be applied, especially at night time and in the more quiet zones toward Piazza Principe and the old harbor, due to presence of small criminality.

  • The natal house of Cristoforo Colombo. In piazza Dante you will find what is said to be the natal house of Columbus;

  • The impressive fortification belt built on the hills surrounding the city, originating in the 16th Century ;

  • There is a funicular railway servicing Monte Righi, where one can have pleasant walks on the surrounding hills and to the fortifications (see above), or just admire the spectacular view of the city and the Mediterranean Sea.

  • Spianata Castelletto is a nice belvedere where one can have a pleasant view of the city and of the seaport. It can be reached by public lift from Piazza della Nunziata or on foot from that very same square.

  • Via Garibaldi (also known as Via Aurea and Strada Nuova, Golden Street and New Street) with very impressive baroque buildings. Some similar buildings are also found in Via Balbi.

  • The Old Harbour (Porto Antico), next to the Aquarium, is an entertainment area with museums, cinemas, cafés and also a beautiful promenade along the sea.

  • The Lanterna - the oldest European lighthouse and a prominent Genovese symbol

  • A lot of beautiful churches, some of which date back to the Romanesque time (San Giovanni di Pre', San Donato, Santa Maria del Castello)

  • Corso Italia - Genoa's promenade

  • Boccadasse - a picturesque fishermen quarter

  • Castello d'Albertis

  • Palazzo Ducale Where the Dukes of Genoa used to live.

Things to do

There are plenty of things to do in Genoa. A lot of young kids spend their time playing with their friends in public pools and share ice-creams in the summer time. There are a lot of paintings in the town and on the brick floors which a lot of people admire. Fishing for catfish is also a hobby most people have.


The vast majority of places charges service for a fixed amount per person (called 'coperto'), as is custom in Italy. A trattoria, cafe or bar will not charge this fee for lunch, and this is often a good place to get pasta or a sandwich in the afternoon. Restaurants are open from approximately 12:30 - 3:00PM for lunch and 7:30 - 10:00PM for dinner.


  • Trattoria Da Maria, Vico Testadoro 14 - ph. +39 010 581080 - Close to Piazza de Ferrari, traditional regional cuisine and a practical and crowded atmosphere. Possible opening for lunch only, no reservation.

  • Osteria La Lanterna, Via San Siro 12R - ph. +39 010 2461608 - Close to Via San Luca and Museo del Risorgimento, this restaurant offers mainly fish dishes at a very reasonable price.

  • Trattoria Sa Pesta, Via Giustiniani 16r, tel. ++39 010 2468336 - In the old town, this restaurant offers traditional regional cuisine.


  • Le Colonne di San Bernardo , +39-010-2462646, 8PM - 10PM, Via San Bernardo 59r, Fish and meat specialities with limited choice, but high quality and a selection of excellent wines. All prepared with great care. Sweets represent a wonderful surprise, not to miss.

  • Ombre Rosse, 010 2757608 / 347 4280698, Lunch, Dinner, Vico Indoratori 20-22-24 r, Quality Genovese typical food, like pansotti, vegetable cakes, baccala, lepre, brasato.

  • La Berlocca, 010 4075555, Lunch, Dinner, via ai Macelli di Soziglia 45r, Fish & meat of great quality. Excellent choice of wines.


  • Grace Restaurant : the cuisine, linked to the territory, combines the flavours and aromas of Liguria with the pleasures of traditional international cuisine and is entrusted to the expert hands of Chef Salvatore Di Carlo.


  • Pesto sauce originates from the city of Genova. It is used in many dishes including pastas and pizzas. You can always order from the huge cariety of pastas and pizzas available here but trying the one which is based on Pesto is must to experience the traditional Genovese cuisine.

  • Another must try from the Genovese or Ligurian cuisine is the 'focaccia' which essentially is a flat oven-baked Italian bread, which may be topped with onions, herbs, or other foodstuffs. They are quite tasty and often cheaper than pizzas. There are many 'Focaccerias' scattered throughout Genova and its surroundings. These are basically take away places and easy on the wallet too. In many of the focaccerias you will find improvised varieties of focaccias but usually the best tasting ones come with only tomatoes or onions and a bit of olive oil.

  • Don't miss to try the Farinata a thiny crusty pie made with chick- peas flour, water salt and olive oil.


  • Piazza delle Erbe: small square in the old town, with nice bars (5 min. walking from Piazza De Ferrari and Palazzo Ducale) open until 1 AM. On Fridays and Saturays it is crowded of young people.


  • Apartment Vico della Rosa (Vico della Rosa) , +39-3483864636, Vico della Rosa, 60 sqm Apartment in the historical centre of Genova. Located in the area of Soziglia. Ideal for 2 people and minimum stay of 3 days. directly from the owner

  • Apartment Santa Maria di Castello (Santa Maria di Castello) , +39-34834864696, Salita Santa Maria di Castello 15, 100 sqm Apartment in the oldest part of the historical center of Genova. 2 bedrooms. Ideal for 4 people. Can be rented for minimum 1 week directly from the owner


  • Hotel Nuovo Nord , Via Balbi 155 Ph: +39 010 2464470.

  • Youth Hostel, via Costanzi 120, tel. (0039)0102422457, (to reach from the center by bus no. 40)

  • Columbus Village Accommodations , Via XX Settembre 26/5 16121 Genova, tel: +39 010 8692029. (From the US 011 39 010 8692029). An agency that rents local bed & breakfast accommodations in Genoa. They also rent accommodations in the surrounding area and short-let apartments.

  • Hotel Villa Bonera , Via Sarfatti, 8, tel: +39 010 3726164, fax: +39 010 3728565.

  • B&B Casa Aurora , Piazza San Giorgio 32/12, Tel: +39 010 2541677, +39 340 6107251. In the city center of the old town.


  • Hotel Cairoli, Via Cairoli 14, Ph. +39 010 2461454 (Fax +39 010 2467512), . Situated in the historical center of the city and close to Porto Antico. Single room from €55, double room from €75 (as of September 2006).

  • Hotel Minerva , +39 0185 286073, Via Maragliano 34D, Santa Margherita Ligure, The Hotel Minerva is located in Santa Margherita Ligure in a quiet area a short walk from the beaches


  • Locanda di Palazzo Cicala,. Locanda di Palazzo Cicala has all the magic of a "hotel de charme". It is in the very heart of the historic city centre, opposite S. Lorenzo Cathedral, just a short walk from the Old Harbour, the Cotone Congressi congress centre and the art exhibitions in Palazzo Ducale.

  • Hotel Bristol Palace, .

  • Best Western City, .

  • Hotel Savoia Majestic, .

  • Sheraton Genova, .

  • Hotel Romantik Pagoda.

  • AC Hotel Genova.


There is a large shopping center called Fiumara located near Genova Sampierdarena train station. To reach Fiumara, take a local train to Genova Sampierdarena station and exit the station. Turn left and go under a bridge, near which there is a sign to the left for Fiumara. The shopping center is visible from the other side of the bridge and is about 10 minutes walk. The mall can also be reached by car or bus routes 1, 2, 4 and 22. The mall is open from 9AM-9PM Monday - Sunday. Nearby there is a theater and activity center which includes a pool hall, bowling alley and restaurants. Downtown you can find shopping along Via XX Settembre, starting from Piazza Ferrari.


Streets in Genoa are usually quite safe, especially in the main tourist areas and residential areas. Downtown, Quarto dei Mille, Quinto del Mare and Nervi are all safe districts during the day as well as the evening. As in all large cities, pay special attention to your surroundings and do not carry large amounts of cash or valuables. When walking it is advisable to observe Italian custom which is to not stop at crosswalks, but instead to keep going. Cars and mopeds will slow down or drive around you when you cross. You should, however, observe lighted crosswalks. When visiting the beach be cautious of slippery areas and waves which can be unpredictable.


Italian language courses organised by Scuola Tricolore . Whether you are interested in group or individual courses, in the morning, afternoon or evening, Scuola Tricolore offers high quality tuition and for those interested accommodation and leisure activities. Courses available in the morning, afternoon and evening.

Italian Luanguage School A Door to Italy - the ideal school for foreigners who like to improve their language skills. You can ask for private teachers and personalized lessons even outside of the schoolfacilities.


Most men work at fishing farms and on the boats to raise money for their family. Cafe and restaurant work is very popular also.


It is not difficult to find someone who can help you with easy/touristic problems in English, Spanish or French, but the best is of course to speak a little bit of Italian.

Genoa makes a good base to explore Cinque Terre, Rapallo, Portofino, Portovenere, La Spezia, or Chiavari.

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The photos displayed on this page are the property of one of the following authors:

Xavi, Umberto Fistarol, ho visto nina volare, Serge Melki, Andrea Puggioni, Paolo Bertinetto

Some photos courtesy of: . The photos provided by Flickr are under the copyright of their owners.

This travel guide also includes text from Wikitravel articles, all available at WikitravelView full credits

Inas, Stefan Ertmann, Markus Wiedemeier, Ryan Holliday, David, Philipp Sch., Veneto, Colin Jensen, Stacy Hall, Stephen Barath, Michele Ann Jenkins, Max, Ernesto Valels, Ian Kirk and Patrick Wagstrom, Burmesedays, Jmk29, Tatatabot, Turkeyphant, Morph, Episteme, Kumaoni, Travelbubble, Johann.gambolputty, Jonboy, Sj, Nzpcmad, InterLangBot, Pz-engl and Pjamescowie

This travel guide also includes text from Wikipedia articles, all available at WikipediaView full credits

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