Genoa sights: what to see in one or two days
Weekend in Genoa

Genoa sights: what to see in one or two days

Genoa, the capital of the small Italian region of Liguria, was once the great Republic of Genoa, where Christopher Columbus grew up and the first bank opened. Genoa definitely has something to show you.

Sights of the Old Port (Porto Antico)

The old port is not hard to find: all roads lead to the sea. In the Middle Ages, it was one of the greatest ports in Europe. Ships from all over the world brought here spices, clothes and jewelry. Today, the old port has become a large entertainment complex.

Old Port (Porto Antico)
Old Port (Porto Antico)

The Biosphere Tropical Garden (la Biosfera)

The first thing that catches your eye on the waterfront is the glass ball, the Biosphere. This is a botanical garden. The ball-shaped building with parrots, reptiles and exotic plant species mimics our planet. This engineering marvel was invented and realized by architect Renzo Piano in honor of the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus, the great land discoverer.

  • Opening hours: Mon-Fri from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Admission: adults — 5 €, children 4—12 years old — 4 €, children under 3 years old — free of charge.
  • Website
View from the pier at the Biosphere and Aquarium of Genoa
View from the pier at the Biosphere and Aquarium of Genoa

Panoramic elevator «il Bigo» (il Bigo)

The huge white spider is a 40-meter-high elevator, another engineering creation by Renzo Piano. Inside, it is equipped with an audio system and information about the sights in English, Italian, French and German. The panoramic view of the city from the elevator cabin is not the best, but you can see the old city in the palm of your hand.

  • Hours of operation: vary, check the schedule on the website.
  • Admission: adults — 5 €, children under 12 — 4 €, children under 3 — free of charge.
  • Website
Part of the construction of the il Bigo elevator
Part of the construction of the il Bigo elevator

Aquarium of Genoa (Acquario di Genova)

The Genoa Aquarium is the second largest in Europe, with a total volume of 6 million liters. It is worth a visit, especially if you are with children.

  • Website
  • Opening hours: daily, from 9.30 to 21.00, entrance until 19.00
  • Admission: adults — 18 €, children 4—12 years old — 12 €, children under 3 years old — free of charge.

Galata Museo del Mare (Galata Museo del Mare)

A substantial part of the maritime museum’s exposition is dedicated to Columbus' expeditions, which he undertook at the expense of the Spanish crown. The collection includes ship parts, bow pieces, maps, portholes and the Nazzario Sauro S 518, the largest submarine of the Italian Navy. Until recently she was in service and then became an attraction. You can learn about her construction from the inside, and from the roof you have a good view of Genoa, the port and the harbor.

  • Website
  • Opening hours: depends on the month
  • Admission: adults — 12 € or 17 € with a visit to the submarine, children 4—12 years old — 7 € or 12 €, children under 3 years old — free of charge.

If you plan to visit several attractions in the Old Port, you can save on single admission tickets. A visit to the entire AcquarioVillage museum complex will cost 42 € for adults and 29 € for children. This ticket includes admission to the Genoa Aquarium, the Galata Museum with a submarine visit, the Biosphere and the Bigo panoramic elevator.

View of the Genoa Aquarium from the waterfront
View of the Genoa Aquarium from the waterfront

The galleon Neptune (Vascello Neptune).

The pirate ship moored in the harbor of the Old Port can be seen from afar. It was built in 1985 for the filming of Roman Polanski’s The Pirates. The ship stayed in Cannes for 16 years after the film festival, and then moved to Genoa. It copies the Spanish galleons of the 17th century down to the smallest details and is ready to sail again.

  • Admission for an adult costs €6.
The galleon Neptune
The galleon Neptune

What else is there to do in the Old Port area?

  1. From the port it is easy to explore the coast of Genoa: ferries to Cinque Terre and Portofino depart from the pier.
  2. On the harbor promenade is the store of the famous Eataly chain, where you can buy (and eat) delicacies and souvenirs from all over Italy. On the top floor is a restaurant with panoramic views.
  3. There are many cafes in the Old Port area that serve delicious coffee with fresh pastries. It costs a few euros less at a bar than at a table.
Genoa sights: what to see in one or two days

Attractions of the Old Town of Genoa

This part of the city is rich in historical and architectural monuments and narrow streets where it is easy to get lost. Genoese merchants, fishermen and traders once lived here, and strolling among the close-knit houses, you can see old trading shops.

Genoa Street
Genoa Street

Casa di Cristoforo Colombo (House of Columbus)

In Genoa’s historic Centro dei Liguri is the house where Christopher Columbus grew up. This inconspicuous building is easy to miss in the shade of the trees. You can only go inside by special appointment or on World Columbus Day, October 12.

Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus' house

Porta Soprana Gate (Porta Soprana)

The Columbus House stands at the foot of the Sopranos Gate. It once served as the entrance to the city. Since then, Genoa has expanded considerably, and the gate is almost in the center.

Genoa sights: what to see in one or two days

Piazza de Ferrari (Ferrari Square)

From the Soprano Gate it’s a short walk to Piazza Ferrari, the border between old and new Genoa. Around the fountain in the center are the Doge’s Palace, the Carlo Felice Theatre and the former stock exchange building (now the Palace of the Academy of Fine Arts of Liguria)

Palazzo Liguria and the fountain in Piazza Ferrari
Palazzo Liguria and the fountain in Piazza Ferrari

San Lorenzo Cathedral (San Lorenzo)

The main church of San Lorenzo, near Piazza Ferrari, is easily recognizable by its distinctive Romanesque striped facade. Inside, the cathedral is decorated in the same black and white stripes. The walls are painted with Byzantine frescoes from the 14th century. A German shell from World War II is still stored in the right nave.

  • Opening hours: 08:00 — 12:00, 15:00 — 19:00.
  • Admission is free.
San Lorenzo Cathedral
San Lorenzo Cathedral
Inside San Lorenzo Cathedral
Inside San Lorenzo Cathedral

Via Garibaldi (Via Garibaldi)

To the north of San Lorenzo stretches Via Garibaldi, the oldest street in Genoa, where the richest families of the Republic lived in the Middle Ages. Since 2006 it has been protected by UNESCO. This luxurious old street was admired by Stendhal and Dickens. Its main attractions are the three palazzos: Bianco, Rosso and Tursi, which now function as art museums.

Courtyard of one of the Palazzos on Via Garibaldi
Courtyard of one of the Palazzos on Via Garibaldi
Via Garibaldi
Via Garibaldi

Belvedere Casteletto observation deck

In the Casteletto district you can reach one of the best viewing platforms in Genoa, the Belvedere Casteletto. The elevator to the site is almost in the center, next to Garibaldi Street. And downstairs I recommend walking down a cozy green street between the houses.

View from the observation deck
View from the observation deck

A couple of days are enough for a quick acquaintance with Genoa, and after that you can relax on the beaches of Liguria, go to the national park Cinque Terre or touch luxury in Monaco.

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