“You will see a regal city, leaning against an alpine hill, superb for men and walls, whose appearance alone indicates that it is the lady of the sea“
Genoa, as declared as early as 1358 by the poet Francesco Petrarca, is Superb for its cultural and artistic richness, for its geographical position, and for its wide gastronomic offer.
The architecture, the carruggi that make up Europe’s oldest historic centre, the sumptuous palaces and the breathtaking views of the sea make it truly unique.
It is a little difficult to see the city of Genoa in just one day, but if that is the time you have available, this article contains an itinerary that will allow you to admire its highlights.
Let’s get going!
▶ If you need a customised itinerary, contact me and I will be able to suggest the best solution for you.
What to see in Genoa in one day on foot: itinerary map
The itinerary I have designed for you, who only have one day to visit Genoa, will take you through the streets of the Old Town and the Porto Antico, because these are the most characteristic areas of the city.
I will also explain how to get to Spianata Castelletto, the belvedere over Genoa, by making a short diversions, and how to take a stroll through the streets of the city centre if you are interested in shopping.
Things to see in Genoa in a day: walking itinerary
Our itinerary starts in Piazza de Ferrari, Genoa’s main square.
The square is overlooked by the Palazzo della Regione Liguria, the Palazzo della Nuova Borsa, the Palazzo Ducale, which houses the museum, and the Carlo Felice Theatre, which was destroyed during World War II and completely rebuilt after the war.
Impossible not to notice at the centre of the square, the bronze fountain, one of the symbols of the city.
From Piazza de Ferrari, we enter the heart of Genoa, the historic centre.
Genoa’s historical centre: from Piazza de Ferrari to Piazza Fontane Marose
With an extension of 113 hectares and a dense network of alleys (caruggi in Genoese), the historical centre of Genoa is the most densely populated in Italy.
Take the characteristic vico della Casana and continue until you reach the Cremeria Buonafede, famous for its Pànera, a semifreddo made with cream and coffee.
From here, continue along Via Luccoli, full of small shops and cafés, ending in Piazza Fontane Marose.
Genoa Old Town: Piazza Fontane Marose – Porto Antico
From Piazza Fontane Marose, turn left and take Via Garibaldi with its ‘Musei di Strada Nuova’, a Unesco World Heritage Site since 2006.
Along the way, you can admire 12 elegant and opulent palaces (6 on each side) that belonged to the ancient Genoese seigniory.
Periodically, the City of Genoa organises the Rolli Days, days when the interiors of the palaces are open to the public and can be visited. Go to the article
Arrive in Piazza della Meridiana, named after the 18th-century sundial on the façade of Palazzo della Meridiana, and turn into Via ai Quattro Canti di San Francesco, on the left-hand side.
You are in the heart of the Maddalena district, very characteristic for the presence of votive shrines on the corners of the buildings.
Continue downhill, past the Basilica delle Vigne, until you cross Via degli Orefici.
Continue along the street until you reach Piazza Banchi, a crossroads of carruggi.
Piazza Banchi has a lively soul.
Take a minute to admire the Church of San Pietro in Banchi, curiously located in an elevated position.
At this point, take Via al Ponte Reale, which will soon lead you to the Porto Antico area.
Here, a stroll through Sottoripa is a must, as is a visit to the famous Aquarium of Genoa.
I also really like the Galata Museo del Mare, but you have to allow at least a couple of hours for the visit.
▶ The Porto Antico area is very large. If you want detailed information on what to do and where to eat, you can read this article.
Visit Genoa in one day: Porto Antico – Porta Soprana
From the Porto Antico, return to the historic centre, taking Via San Lorenzo, a wide street dotted with ice-cream parlours, bakeries and aperitif bars.
Along the way you will find, on the left, the imposing Cathedral with its black and white striped façade and two large lions positioned on either side of the entrance.
St Laurence Cathedral was built between 1100 and the end of 1300, and was bombed by the British fleet during World War II.
Interestingly, the bomb broke through the ceiling but did not explode, and you can still see it inside the cathedral today.
Continue onto Piazza Matteotti and turn into vico delle Erbe, on the right, which will lead you to Piazza delle Erbe, which is very characteristic, especially on Friday evenings when young people gather to chat with friends and drink outside.
Take salita del Prione until you reach Porta Soprana and the Casa di Colombo.
You have now arrived in the city centre.
Genoa in a day: the shopping streets
Via XX Settembre – Piazza della Vittoria
From Porta Soprana, go down to Piazza Dante and take one of the cross streets on the left that lead to Via XX Settembre, the shopping street.
Via XX Settembre connects Piazza De Ferrari with Piazza della Vittoria and, along the way, you will find large clothing chains, shops and pastry bars.
Halfway along, you can admire the famous Ponte Monumentale, an imposing marble construction built in 1895.
The Monumental Bridge crosses Via XX Settembre lengthwise and is 21 metres high.
On its various sides, it bears the engravings of the names of the fallen of World War II, the award of the Gold Medal to the city of Genoa and a marble plaque, testimony to the surrender of the German troops.
Arriving at the end of Via XX Settembre, turn right and head towards the Triumphal Arch in Piazza della Vittoria, dedicated to the Genoese who fell during World War I.
Admire, in the background, the Scalinata delle Caravelle (Stairway of the Caravels), in which the three Caravels of Christopher Columbus are depicted through a floral decoration.
Piazza della Vittoria – Brignole Station – via San Vincenzo
At this point, start your return to Piazza de Ferrari.
Don’t retrace your route on the way out, but stretch to Brignole to admire the railway station, one of the city’s two main stations.
The other station is Genova Principe.
Admire the Roman-style façade, decorated with stucco and stone from the Montorfano quarries.
You can also see the city coat of arms surmounted by a crown on which is placed Janus, the two-faced Roman god.
Inside the station, the walls of the rooms are decorated with beautiful frescoes.
From the station, continue along Via San Vincenzo, another shopping street that connects to Via XX Settembre.
What to see in Genoa in a day: Via XX Settembre – Via XII Ottobre – Via Roma – Piazza de Ferrari
From Via XX Settembre, continue uphill until you turn into Via Sofia Lomellini (at the corner with the McDonald’s) which soon becomes Via XII Ottobre.
At the top of the street, turn left onto Largo San Giuseppe and go down Via Roma, the street of luxury shops.
Eventually, you will find yourself in Piazza de Ferrari, near the Carlo Felice Theatre.
What to see in Genoa in a day: Spianata Castelletto
It is definitely worth making the small diversions to Spianata Castelletto to admire the city of Genoa from above.
You can get there on foot, walking along a creuza from Piazza della Meridiana, or taking thepanoramic lift from Piazza Portello.
From the Spianata, you will enjoy a spectacular view of Genoa’s historic centre and the Old Port.
▶ If you want more information about Spianata Castelletto, you can read this article.
▶ If you are interested in a city tour with a local tour guide, which will allow you to optimise the time you have available, you can look at those offered by GetYourGuide.
What to see in Genoa in one day: conclusions
With this itinerary, you will get just the right idea about Genoa.
If you are not interested in shopping, you can take the walk through the streets of the centre off the itinerary and concentrate on the historical centre, which is definitely the most representative area of Genoa.
Right here, you can admire historical palazzi, old shops, wonderful churches, and find the most typical Genoese trattorias.
▶ Find a detailed itinerary of the carruggi in the historic centre in this article.
What to see in Genoa in two days
If, on the other hand, you have decided to stay in Genoa for two days, you could add a visit to the wonderful fishing village of Boccadasse to your itinerary.
It will take you just under half a day and leave you more time to take your time visiting all the attractions of the Porto Antico.
What to see in Genoa in 3 days
If you have three days to spend in the Ligurian capital, you could add a visit to the Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno to your itinerary in the historic centre, the Porto Antico and the village of Boccadasse, which will take just under half a day.
On the other half day, you could explore the Nervi district, with its scenic seaside promenade and well-kept parks.
3. The Old Port