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Porto Antico of Genoa: what to do and what to see


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Porto Antico of Genoa is a former port area restored in 1992 to a design by the Genoese architect Renzo Piano to mark the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America.

At the Porto Antico you can spend from a couple of hours simply strolling around and eating an ice cream or a cone of fritters, with an obligatory stop at the playground if you have children in tow, to a whole day visiting the museums and the many attractions it offers.

It can also be the starting point to explore the historical centre of Genoa by entering one of the many caruggi (alleys) that run inland.

Below you will find a complete list of what to see and do in Genoa’s Porto Antico, as well as our suggestions on where to park your car, what to eat and where to sleep.

Complete list of what to do and see in Genoa’s Porto Antico

Aquarium of Genoa

porto antico genoa
Dolphin tank

With its 70 tanks housing some 10,000 animals of 200 different species, the Aquarium of Genoa is the largest in Europe. The visit will take you about 2-3 hours.

▶ If you would like more information about the Aquarium of Genoa, click here.

The Children’s City

children's city
Children’s City at the Old Port

Children’s City is the first Experience Museum dedicated to the 5 senses.

There are four rooms (taste and smell, touch, sight, hearing plus the construction room and the one dedicated to 2-4 year olds), where children and teenagers (0-12 years old) can use their 5 senses to take a journey of discovery of themselves and the world around them through direct experience.

There is no time limit for the visit, so keep a couple of hours to wander around and the ticket price is €12.00/adult, €7.00/children aged 2-3 years, free/0-1 year.

Access is through theAquarium building, the entrance is directly opposite the Biosphere.

▶ If you would like more information about the City of Children and Young People, click here.

The Bigo

Bigo at Porto Antico genoa
Bigo at the Old Port

The Bigo is a panoramic lift designed by architect Renzo Piano and located in the Porto Antico area, more precisely in Calata Cattaneo (opposite Eataly).

From the Bigo you have a 360° view of the city of Genoa and its port; your gaze reaches as far as the hills surrounding the city where the Genova Forts complex stands.

The cabin arrives from a height of 40 metres and, once at the top, starts rotating on itself.

A voice-guide meanwhile explains all the sights that are visible from above: from the various attractions inside the Porto Antico such as the Aquarium, the Biosphere, the Galata Museo del Mare, the Vascello Neptune, Palazzo San Giorgio, the folkloristic Sottoripa, the old town, the Lanterna di Genova in the distance, and finally arriving at the Genoa Forts on the heights.

The tour takes about fifteen minutes in all.

Tickets – 4.00 euro/adult, 3.00 euro/4-12 years, free/0-3 years.

Single tickets can only be bought at the ticket office , while if you plan to visit other attractions in the Old Port (such as the Aquarium and Biosphere), you can buy the cumulative ticket , which allows you to save a lot of money, directly on the official website.


Biosfera Genova
Biosphere at the Porto Antico of Genoa
Porto Antico genova al tramonto
Porto Antico at sunset

This is the spherical glass and steel structure, designed by architect Renzo Piano, located opposite the Genoa Aquarium.

Here more than 150 species of tropical plants can be observed thanks to a computerised conditioning system.

In addition to plants, one can observe various animal species such as turtles, fish, insects and birds like the scarlet ibis, the mandarin diamond or the rare weaver bird.

Finally, you can learn to recognise plants used by man in the kitchen such as vanilla, coffee, chewing gum and many exotic fruit trees.

Address – Ponte Spinola, 16128 Genova.

▶ There is a Family ticket that includes admission to the Biosphere, Aquarium, The Children’s City, and on the City Sightseeing bus – Click here.

Galata Sea Museum

Porto Antico Genoa

The Galata Museo del Mare is the largest maritime museum dedicated to navigation, telling the story of the relationship between Genoa and the sea, from the Middle Ages to the contemporary age.

There are 1200 square metres of exhibition space on four floors where you can view nautical charts, shipboard instruments, paintings and even climb aboard ship reconstructions.

There is also a pavilion dedicated to the history of migrations, a permanent exhibition on the Andrea Doria, Genoa’s most famous ship, and finally a visit to the Nazario Sauro, a submarine-museum, the only one in Italy that can be visited at sea (ticket included).

▶ If you would like more information about the Galata Museo del Mare, click here.

Ferris Wheel

ferris wheel ay Porto Antico
Ferris wheel at the Old Port

Also in the Old Port area, in Calata Gadda, at the end of the Magazzini del Cotone (Cotton Warehouses), is the Giant Ferris Wheel, which is 45 metres high and offers a magnificent view over the city of Genoa.

Opening hours: 2.00 p.m.-11.00 p.m. on weekdays, 10.00 a.m.-24.00 p.m. on public holidays and feast days.

Tickets: 9.00 euros/adult, 5 euros/2-12 years old, free/0-2 years old.

Family rate: 4 people € 24.00 – 5 people € 28.00 – 6 people € 32.00.

Genoese Wednesday: 50% discount.

Vascello Neptune: the pirate ship

Galeone Neptune
Vascello Neptune moored at the Porto Antico

The Galleon Neptune, moored at Genoa’s Porto Antico, was designed and built in 1986 by a Tunisian shipyard for the film ‘Pirates’ directed by Roman Polanski.

Although it was designed for the filming of one movie (which was followed by others), it is equipped with an engine capable of making it sail at a speed of 3 knots.

It is 63 metres long and the interior is a faithful reproduction of a 17th century galleon; you can go on board and browse around. It is great fun for children.

The visit lasts about fifteen minutes and costs 6.00 euro/adult, 4.00 euro/child.

Tickets can be purchased at the ticket office near the Galleon (the pos is often broken).

Playground: Betty’s Garden

betty'g garden at Porto Antico genoa
Porto Antico Playground

Betty’s Garden is located in Piazzale Mandraccio and is the Porto Antico’s playground where children can enjoy themselves for a couple of hours.

The peculiarity of this playground is that it has soft flooring made of recycled materials.

Thanks to an extensive campaign promoted by the City of Genoa in 2010 to which the Porto Antico adhered, it was possible to give life to this 250-square-metre space, thanks to a careful process of recycling the old trainers of the Genoese people into granular rubber material.

Moreover, the play area can also be enjoyed by children with disabilities thanks to easily accessible play stations.

The Porto Antico play area was created by F.I.S.H. Federazione Italiana per il Superamento dell’Handicap and Enel Cuore Onlus, as part of the “Giochiamo tutti!” project

The ecological paving is instead an initiative realised in collaboration with Amiu, Associazione GOGREEN – Onlus and ESO Società Benefit arl.

Edmondo De Amicis Library

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Soft space for children aged 0-6 years
reading room
Reading room for children aged 6-11

The Edmondo De Amicis Library is the largest space dedicated to children’s and young people’s literature in Genoa, with over 70,000 book titles, 180 places for reading, large spaces for meetings, in-depth activities and games.

In the library you will find a soft space for children 0-6 years old and, next door, a reading room for children 6-11 years old.

Access is free, you can pick up a book and read it while sitting on the cushions or at the table, and if you want to continue reading at home, you have to sign up for a card (free of charge).

The library rooms are spacious and bright and from the large windows you have a beautiful view of the harbour and the city. Free wifi.

Address – Magazzini del Cotone, Module 1, 2nd floor – Porto Antico Area 16128 Genova.

Opening hours – Monday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday closed.



FantaCinema is an exhibition displaying memorabilia, statues, posters of the most famous international films, through which it explains how fantasy cinema was born and developed.

The FantaCinema is the brainchild of Cine Ciak, one of Europe’s largest film collections.

Thanks to hundreds of items, memorabilia from the history of cinema, Cine Ciak tells the story of fantasy cinema, from its beginnings to the present day, through the evolution of techniques, equipment and costumes.

Part of this collection is on display at FantaCinema in Genoa, inside the Magazzini del Cotone.

The FantaCinema exhibition is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Monday to Sunday. Tickets can be purchased directly from the ticket office at the entrance.

The price is € 5.00 for a full ticket, free admission up to 12 years of age. You can also purchase it HERE.

Porto Antico of Genoa: boat tour

Porto Antico – Pegli

porto antico tour

One of the most fascinating activities you can do in Genoa’s Porto Antico is definitely to plan a boat tour.

Right from the pier in front of the Aquarium (Ponte Spinola), the boat leaves for the Pegli district in 1 hour and 10 minutes.

During the navigation, you can admire the city of Genoa from the sea. Very suggestive.

Boat tour to the Cetacean Sanctuary: whale watching

If you are a nature lover, you could plan a boat trip to the Cetacean Sanctuary in search of the large mammals – dolphins, sperm whales, minke whales – that swim in the Ligurian Sea.

An expert marine biologist accompanies Genoese and tourists to discover the underwater world, through a tour of about 4 hours, suitable for adults and children.

The tour is proposed by the Golfo Paradiso and Liguria Via Mare companies.

If you want to learn more, you can read this article.

Porto Antico – Portofino

A different way to reach the most fascinating towns of the Ligurian Riviera, such as Camogli, Rapallo, Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino, is by boat.

The departure point is Piazzale Mandraccio at the Porto Antico in Genoa. HERE is the ticket.

Genoa’s Porto Antico: Palazzo San Giorgio

palazzo san giorgio

Opposite the Aquarium, in Piazza Caricamento, is Palazzo San Giorgio or Palazzo delle Compere di San Giorgio, the oldest bank in the world.

It currently houses the headquarters of the Port Authority of the Western Ligurian Sea, but was originally the seat of the municipality.

For several years, it housed the prisons where Marco Polo was also imprisoned.

It was during this period that the Venetian merchant and writer dictated his travel memoirs to fellow prisoner Rustichello da Pisa, which were published in Il Milione.

The Palazzo San Giorgio was later converted into the seat of the customs and then the Banco di San Giorgio.

The Banco di San Giorgio managed taxation and administered the public debt. It performed this role until the fall of the Republic in 1797.

Palazzo San Giorgio opens its doors one Sunday a month and on special occasions such as Rolly days.

To participate in the guided tours (free of charge) it is necessary to write to the e-mail address [email protected] at least 3 days in advance, and wait for confirmation of booking.

In case of an orange or red weather alert, the event is cancelled.



Sottoripa is the porticoed pedestrian street behind the Old Port, on the alley side.

These arcades were built between 1125 and 1133.

The name Sottoripa derives from ripa, which indicated the main quay of theancient port of Genoa.

At one time, the sea reached Piazza Caricamento as far as the arcades, whose foundations were below sea level (‘sotto la ripa’).

That is why the arcades were raised ‘below the shore’, Sottoripa, to be precise.

Here, there were the warehouses (fondaci) where the dockers (camalli) stored goods that had just been landed or were still to be embarked.

Today, in Sottoripa you can find fried-food shops and historic shops, alternating with multi-ethnic shops.

It is very characteristic and, in my opinion, a must-see if you are in the area.

From Sottoripa, by the way, numerous caruggi ( alleys) lead to the famous historical centre of Genoa.

Porto Antico restaurants in Genoa

The Porto Antico area is very touristy and there are plenty of options to get something to eat, from street food to Genoese trattorias to slightly more upmarket restaurants.

With the increase in tourism, over the years we have unfortunately witnessed a sharp rise in prices with a deterioration in the quality of the food but, fortunately, there remain a few noteworthy places that I recommend.

Cavour modo21 and Osteria di Vico Palla are my favourite trattorias.

The former is a little cheaper, the latter has a slightly higher final bill, but in both cases you can be sure of tasting real Genoese cuisine. based on gnocchi or trofie al pesto, pansoti with walnut sauce, minestrone, ravioli al tocco, cappon magro, tripe, stockfish, etc.

For typical street food, I recommend the Antica Friggitoria Carega in Sottoripa, in business since 1890, where you can find cuculli, fried fish, farinata, octopus salad, and other delicacies.

For a gourmet fish sandwich, you can go to Panino Marino.

Finally, from the cotton warehouses, you can find classic burger chains such as Old Wild West or Roadhouse, not very typical but with a nice dehor on Calata Molo Vecchio.

How to get there and where to park in Genoa’s Porto Antico

To find out how to get to Genoa’s Porto Antico and where to park your car, you can have a look at this article where I give all the information in detail.

Where to stay in Genoa’s Porto Antico

nh collection
Nh Collection at the Porto Antico

Nh Collection – It is located right next to the Aquarium, in a spectacular position overlooking the harbour.

Family rooms are available and the child, if sleeping in the same room as the parents, up to 12 years of age is free. Book here.

La casa sul molo – Apartment always located in the Porto Antico area, very functional if you are travelling with children.

The manager also provides toys and a cot on request at a price of €5.00 per night. Book here.

Continue reading:

1. The Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno

2. The historical centre of Genoa

3. What to see in Genoa in a day

4. Portofino

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