GenoaSandwiched between the sea and the Ligurian hills, Genoa is a city that leaves a lasting impression. Its history is a fascinating tapestry of triumphs and setbacks, as reflected in the city's rich architecture. As the European Capital of Culture in 2004, Genoa boasts an impressive collection of museums and galleries, as well as a renowned theatre and the largest aquarium in Europe. The city has also good shopping, the best nightlife in the region, and excellent restaurants. And for those looking to explore beyond the city limits, day trips along the picturesque Ligurian coast come highly recommended.
The CityGenoa (Genova in Italian), known as the birthplace of both Christopher Columbus and Paganini, boasts Italy's largest port and was famously described by Charles Dickens in 1844 as "a city of the strangest contrasts." Genoa's landscape is a fascinating mix of Renaissance palaces, grand 19th-century boulevards, and gilded Baroque churches that coexist alongside a labyrinth of steep medieval streets. Amidst the narrow alleys, visitors can stumble upon fine restaurants and chic bars. Exploring and getting lost in the medieval quarter, which is one of Europe's largest, is an essential part of the Genoa experience. With one of the biggest universities in Italy, Genoa’s student population guarantees a buzzing nightlife.
Do & See
Being one of the best-kept travel destinations secrets, Genoa for sure offers many beautiful and interesting tourist attractions. There are over a dozen museums and galleries, a prestigious theatre, the largest aquarium in Europe and many renowned landmarks to visit, providing visitors with a range of options to explore. Most of the popular tourist spots are located near Piazza de Ferrari, the city's main square, or by the old Port of Genoa. Other notable sights include Palazzo Ducale, Palazzi dei Rolli, and the Medieval Quarter. To gain a deeper understanding of the town's geography and history, a boat tour is widely recommended, with a variety of boat trips departing from Genoa harbour.
Genoa and Liguria are famous for pesto, the delicious pasta sauce made from basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and parmesan. However, if you think you know pesto just because you buy it in a jar, think again! There is nothing quite like the taste of freshly made, vivid-green pesto served with the local pasta, such as the little twists of troffie or spaghetti-like trenette. Other specialities include farinata, a bread-like snack made from chickpeas, a must-try, and the local focaccia. The region's fish dishes, particularly salt cod-baccalà, are also highly recommended, as are mushroom dishes and stuffed meat dishes. If you're planning to eat out in Genoa, be sure to note that many restaurants close on Sunday and Saturday at lunchtime, so, plan accordingly.
Renowned for their scrumptious cuisine, gelato, and charming cafes, Italians have an unparalleled reputation for culinary excellence. In Genoa, you'll discover numerous delightful cafés where you can rest your feet after a day of sightseeing and shopping. Take a break and savour a robust espresso alongside a delectable regional speciality like "pandolce".
Bars & Nightlife
Genoa has a lively nightlife, thanks to the vast number of students who attend the city’s university. During the week, bars, wine bars and pubs are popular — many of these are quite small and people tend to hop from one to another as the evening progresses. Typically, bars open at around 6 pm for Italian aperitivo and remain open until approximately 1 am. On weekends, closing time is extended to 2 am, and many places offer DJ sets on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. Nightclubs are generally located outside of the city centre, along the magical Ligurian Riviera.
Genoa offers a diverse range of shopping options, catering to different budgets and preferences. The heart of the city, Via XX Settembre, boasts a long, wide boulevard with high-quality chain stores, designer boutiques, and some excellent shoe shops. For designer fashion, Via Roma is an excellent bet, while Galleria Giuseppe Mazzini, an elegant 19th-century walkway parallel to it, has small fashion and accessory stores, as well as cafés. If you're looking for affordable shopping, head to Maddalena, a maze of narrow streets in Genoa's historic centre. Here, one can find numerous small shops selling clothing, jewellery, shoes, and accessories, as well as food stores and bakeries. For contemporary high-street Italian fashion, check out Via San Luca. However, if you're in search of designer outlet stores and bargain deals, head straight to Via Caffa.