One of Italy’s most historic ports, Genoa has been a powerhouse of trade and commerce on the Mediterranean for thousands of years… and has the culture, architecture, and culinary scene to back it up. Voted the European Capital of Culture in 2004, this medieval city holds many delights for the curious traveller.
Things to Do In Genoa
What to See
The old town of Genoa is a sight to behold with the most significant medieval centre in Europe, due to its history as a key Mediterranean port of the Middle Ages.
Wander through the city’s picturesque Caruggi, ancient streets and alleyways that criss-cross the city center. Look for the Palazzi Dei Rolli and the Strade Nuove, a series of palaces and streets located right in the center of Genoa. Built in the 17th century at the height of Genoa’s naval power, several of these palaces and their surrounding streets have been named a UNESCO World Heritage site.
While browsing the old city, be sure to visit the Lanterna, the oldest lighthouse in Europe and a symbol of the city itself. For more than 350 years the Lanterna was the tallest lighthouse in the world.
Don’t forget to stop by the Acquario di Genova, the Genoa aquarium, and the biggest in all of Italy. Built to look like a ship going out to sea, it features one of the best collections of undersea life in all of Europe.
What to eat in Genoa
Genoa has lovely street food, terrific tucked away restaurants, and some fantastic public markets where you can pick up a picnic before heading out on your next adventure.
Genoan food is known the world over; but the world doesn’t necessarily know its favorite Italian foods come from Genoa. Two of Genoa’s most famous foods, pesto and focaccia, are known throughout the world as quintessentially Italian. Pesto Alla Genovese is always fresh, with an intense green you don’t often see on pasta. A meal in Genoa featuring pesto will likely be simple, with pesto drizzled over a bit of pasta or perhaps potatoes and green beans.
Focaccia is another not-to-miss treat. Not only is its quality and freshness superb, focaccerias (focaccia bakeries) are everywhere, offering a tremendous on-the-go meal at a bargain price. Expect a nicely-topped focaccia, tastier and cheaper than your everyday street pizza.
Where to stay in Genoa
Like most cities with medieval centres, Genoa is very much a walking city. If you can, stay in the city center, where you can easily head out for a stroll to see the sights
You might try the Hotel Nuovo Nord, a completely renovated hotel facing the Porta Principe train station. Here you’ll find reasonably priced, centrally located accommodation within walking distance of all the major sites.
Looking for a romantic getaway or to step it up a notch? Consider booking at the Melia Genova, a beautifully renovated five-star boutique hotel with all the amenities.
Relaxing in Genoa
A holiday should not be constant sightseeing; sometimes you need to take a well-deserved break. Genoa has a more laid-back pace than many of Italy’s more famously touristy destinations, which makes rest and relaxation a lot easier to find.