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What to see in Genoa: the 10 most famous sights

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Nestled between the sea and the mountains, Genoa offers much to both those who live there and those who visit.

I am in love with my city and I would tell you about it for hours.

But if you are visiting Genoa for a day or two, you will need to know in particular what the most famous attractions are.

That is why, below I am going to point out the 10 biggest sights that you absolutely cannot miss if you are visiting my city.

Let’s get started!

What to see in Genoa: the 10 most famous attractions

1. The alleys (carruggi) of the historic centre

carruggi

Genoa’s historic centre is definitely the city’s most characteristic and most representative area.

It is made up of a dense network of alleys (carruggi in Genoese) branching out from Piazza de Ferrari, the city’s symbolic square with its bronze fountain and the Carlo Felice Theatre, to the Porto Antico area.

Within the carruggi, you can find elegant streets alternating with mean streets within walking distance of each other, historic shops, ethnic shops, and any culinary whim you feel like satisfying.

There is a lot to tell about the old town.

For this reason, I have created an itinerary that is as complete as possible and that will take you on a discovery of the most characteristic alleys of the historical centre.

You can read it in this article.

2. Genoa’s Old Port

porto antico genova

The Porto Antico of Genoa is an old port area, redesigned in 1992 by the Genoese architect Renzo Piano on the occasion of the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the discovery ofAmerica.

The Porto Antico area is home to some of Genoa’s most important attractions such as theAquarium, the Galata Museo del Mare, the Città dei Bambini e dei Ragazzi, the Bigo, the Biosfera, etc.

Ferries to the most famous resorts of the Ligurian Riviera such as Camogli and Portofino also depart from here.

We Genoese love to have an aperitif around sunset time or, if there are children in tow, an ice cream in the afternoon with a stop at the playground.

The area also hosts various fairs and events throughout the year.

If you would like to know more about the Porto Antico’s attractions in detail , you can read this article.

3. What to see in Genoa: the view from Spianata Castelleto

Spianata Castelletto

Spianata Castelleto is the belvedere over the city of Genoa.

From Spianata, you can admire the roofs of the houses in the historic centre, the imposing Carlo Felice Theatre, and the entire Porto Antico area.

The view is magnificent at any time of day , but if you can, go there at sunset time, which is even more impressive.

Getting to Spianata Castelletto is easy.

You can take the creuza you find in Piazza della Meridiana (it is 300 metres uphill, about a 10-minute walk).

Or take the free lift in Piazza Portello.

You can find all the information in this article.

4. The city centre: via XX Settembre, piazza della Vittoria, Brignole Station, Mercato Orientale

By city centre we mean the area from Genova Brignole station to Piazza de Ferrari.

It therefore includes the main shopping streets such as via XX Settembre, via San Vincenzo and all neighbouring streets.

In itself, the city centre is less characteristic than the historic centre but there are a couple of attractions worth visiting.

via xx settembre
Via XX Settembre

What to see in Genoa: the Ponte Monumentale

ponte monumentale

One of these is the Ponte Monumentale that crosses Via XX Settembre lengthwise.

You will find this imposing marble construction, built in 1895, approximately halfway down the street.

On its sides, the Ponte Monumentale bears the names of the fallen of the Second World War, the award of the Gold Medal to the city of Genoa and a marble plaque, a document of surrender of the German troops.

Piazza della Vittoria and Genoa Brignole Station

what to see in genoa

The other monument worth visiting in the city centre is the Triumphal Arch in Piazza della Vittoria, dedicated to the Genoese who fell during the First World War.

Behind the Arch is the Scalinata del Milite Ignoto or Scalinata delle tre Caravelle or Stairway of the Three Caravels.

The staircase takes its name from the flowerbed, sloping and cultivated with English lawn, on which stand the three caravels with which Christopher Columbus went to discover America.

The caravels are made with floral decorations; the whole thing is very scenic.

Genova Brignole Station

stazione brignole

While you’re in the area, take a look at the Genova Brignole station.

The imposing façade is decorated with stucco and stone from the Montorfano quarries.

You can make out the city coat of arms, surmounted by a crown on which is placed Janus, the two-faced god.

Also take a look at the station’s interior rooms, whose walls are decorated with beautiful frescoes.

What to see in Genoa: the Mercato Orientale

market

The last stop in the area that I recommend you make is the Mercato Orientale, the entrance to which you can find about halfway down Via XX Settembre.

The Mercato Orientale is a large indoor market that sells a bit of everything.

Fruit and vegetable stalls alternate with butcher shops, poultry shops, fishmongers, dried fruit and exotic fruit stalls.

When you want to cook something special, you know that at the Oriental Market you can find all the ingredients you need.

Inside, you will also find the MOG, a space with bars and restaurants where you can sample many culinary specialities.

5. Palazzi dei Rolli

The Palazzi dei Rolli were the residences of the Genoese nobility, with late Renaissance and Baroque architecture.

The Senate of the Republic, towards the end of the 16th century, considered these residences to be up to the task of hosting illustrious personages visiting the city of Genoa.

They are sumptuous palaces characterised by richly decorated rooms, wide staircases and inner courtyards.

In 2006, 42 of the original 100 mansions were declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The Palazzi dei Rolli are located in various parts of the city (Via Garibaldi, Via San Luca, Via Balbi, etc.) and can be visited on specific days of the year, the so-called Rolli Days. Continue reading

▶ You can also visit them on an interesting 2-hour guided tour, offered by GetYourGuide – click here.

6. What to see in Genoa: Piazza Corvetto and Villetta Di Negro

piazza corvetto

Piazza Corvetto

Piazza Corvetto is one of the most elegant squares in the city of Genoa.

It is named after Luigi Emanuele Corvetto, a Genoese politician of the Napoleonic era.

In the centre, you can admire the equestrian statue dedicated to Victor Emmanuel II of Savoy, Duke of Genoa and first king of Italy.

The square is a meeting point of several streets: on one side, Via Roma, the luxury shopping street leading to Piazza de Ferrari.

On the other side, Via Assarotti, a residential street leading to Piazza Manin, where the characteristic Trenino di casella train departs.

To the right of Via Assarotti, Via Santi Giacomo e Filippo leading to Piazza Brignole.

And again, the Acquasola esplanade that stretches from piazza Corvetto to the Carignano district.

what to see in genoa
The Acquasola Park

On the Acquasola esplanade, you will find one of the city’s largest public gardens, the Acquasola Park, inside which there is a small café and a nice play area for children.

What to see in Genoa: Villetta Di Negro

Opposite the park, on the opposite side from Piazza Corvetto, is the historic Villetta Di Negro, home to the Edoardo Chiossone Museum of Oriental Art.

I recommend a visit to Villetta Di Negro because it is a truly scenic park, unknown to most people.

It houses a waterfall, several caves, busts of illustrious Genoese, and important botanical species such as two monumental plane trees and three sequoias.

what to see in genoa
what to see in genoa
cave

7. Staglieno Monumental Cemetery

staglieno
what to see in genoa

The Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno is one of the main cemeteries in Europe, a true open-air museum.

Designed in 1835 by the Genoese architect Carlo Barabino, Staglieno Cemetery is a representation of 19th-century Genoa.

I recommend a visit to the cemetery both for its natural setting and for the majesty of the monumental chapels and tombs where illustrious Genoese and foreigners who stayed in the Ligurian capital are buried.

Getting to Staglieno is simple.

From piazza Corvetto, take bus no. 34 (it takes 15 minutes), from piazza Brignole take bus no. 13 or 14 (it takes about 30 minutes).

If you want to learn more about the Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno, you can read this article.

8. What to see in Genoa: Boccadasse

boccadasse

Boccadasse is a picturesque fishing village located a half-hour bus ride from the centre of Genoa.

Boccadasse is a small oasis of peace where time seems to stand still.

In the village, you can admire the characteristic colourful houses that frame the small beach with its moored gozzi.

You can sit in more or less elegant restaurants where you can taste mainly fish dishes or buy a cone of fried food, focaccia or ice cream and enjoy them sitting on the rocks.

To get to Boccadasse, you can take bus number 31 that leaves from Piazza Brignole.

If you want more information on Boccadasse, you can read this article.

9. The Nervi promenade and parks

nervi

The Nervi district is located on the outskirts of Genoa and you will need half a day to visit it, counting the travel time.

Noteworthy is the small harbour, with its typical coloured houses, and the promenade along the sea, called Passeggiata Anita Garibaldi.

The promenade, entirely pedestrianised, is about 2 km long and ends at the Capolungo public beach.

Along the way, there are benches to sit and admire the view, steps leading down to the cliff (in some places, you can swim), and plenty of places to have an aperitif or an ice cream.

About two-thirds of the way down the promenade, there is access to the wonderful Nervi Parks: 92,000 square metres with more than 100 botanical species.

Inside the park, there are several museums, a beautiful children’s playground, and a fantastic rose garden.

what to see in genoa

If you want more information about Nervi, you can read this article.

10. What to see in Genoa: the Lantern

what to see in genoa

I conclude my list of the 10 most famous attractions with the undisputed symbol of Genoa, the Lantern.

The Lantern is the city’s ancient lighthouse.

It is one of the oldest lighthouses in Europe (among those still in operation) and, at 77 metres, the tallest in the Mediterranean.

Built on a 40-metre high cliff , the Lanterna towers 117 metres above sea level.

Its function was to signal the presence of the harbour to passing ships , which is why, in ancient times, large bundles of heather were burned on its summit.

Thanks to the beam of light that illuminated up to 50 kilometres away, the lantern also served as a warning of possible pirate attacks.

I recommend arriving, if possible, at sunset time, when the sky is tinged with red , providing a truly impressive spectacle!

The Lanterna entrance ticket also includes admission to the Lanterna Museum, which tells the story of the city’s architectural and urban evolution you can buy it here.

There is also a cumulative ticket with the Acquario di Genova. Continue reading

Read more

1. Where to stay in Genoa

2. What to see in Genoa in a day

3. The Casella Train

4. The Village of Portofino

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