A historic Italian port

Comprising verdant terraces along northern Italy’s hilly coastline, Genoa is the capital of the Italian Riviera and the country’s best-kept secret. The largest city along the scenic Ligurian coastline, it’s a place that truly deserves its nickname ‘La Superba’.

Genoa holidays are a wonderful opportunity to explore this pretty port. Its sunset-hued pink, orange and red buildings stretch for 15 miles along the waterfront, where photogenic boats bob about in the harbour. There are also some magnificent palaces (some of which are listed as Unesco World Heritage Sites), domed cathedrals, grand piazzas and baroque mansions to visit. Genoa was hugely significant as a trading port during the Middle Ages, and has Italy’s largest and best-preserved medieval town centre, where atmospheric lanes wind up and down the hills.

Besides its many attractions, holidays to Genoa can act as a springboard for day trips to smaller towns along the coast. One of the best is a boat tour to pastel-painted Portofino, where you’ll be rewarded with magnificent vistas of coastal villages and stately villas. Offering the romance of the Italian Riviera, a hefty dose of fascinating history and an easy gateway to explore the rest of Liguria, Genoa is perhaps the ultimate Italian city break.

All resorts in Genoa

Three tips for a top trip

Ride a funicular

Genoa’s medieval centre is largely walkable, but taking a trundling trip uphill on one of the city’s historic funiculars is a charming way to enjoy the view.

Catch the fort train

For some of the best views of Genoa’s fortifications, hop on the historic narrow-gauge railway from Genoa to the village of Casella. Some of the train’s carriages date back to 1929.

Travel by boat

It’s well worth taking a relaxing, scenic boat trip to the one of the picture-perfect towns nearby – Rapallo or Portofino are good choices.

Best attractions to see in Genoa

Impressive architecture

Genoa’s fabulous Cathedral of San Lorenzo is clad in black-and-white marble, flanked by carved lions and houses an unexploded World War II bomb, which fell here in 1941.

Magical streets of Genoa

Take a stroll through the streets of Via Garibaldi and discover the charm of its Unesco-listed palaces. With 42 to choose from, the historic beauty of this area is enchanting.

Renzo Piano’s work

At the port you’ll see the Biosfera, a globe-shaped greenhouse, and Il Bigo, a suspended cabin, both masterminded by the acclaimed Italian architect Renzo Piano.

Your Genoa questions, answered

Genoa is ideal for a weekend break, but it also has more than enough to fill a longer trip if you combine it with Rapallo, Portofino or the coastal villages of Cinque Terre.
While the main draws are Genoa’s monument-packed medieval city filled with fine architecture, there are also beaches nearby and boat trips that run whale-watching tours.
The best time to visit Genoa is spring. At this time, temperatures can reach highs of 25℃ in the day, though rainfall is still quite common, so don’t forget to pack a raincoat. This period also sees several festivals, including the Feast of the Palio Marinaro and Focaccia di Recco Festival. The summer months can also be a good time to go. Temperatures can often reach highs of 28℃ while the sea’s cool breeze helps prevent the city from becoming too hot. However, do expect larger crowds and the occasional thunderstorm.
Genoa has several good beaches along its over 20 miles of coastline. The pebble beach at Boccadasse, a charming fishing village, is only a 15-minute drive from the city centre. Site of a 10th-century abbey, the beach at San Fruttuoso is famous with locals for its crystal-clear waters. A 40-minute drive away, the stone beach at Camogli is a popular summer spot, while its overlooking multi-coloured pastel houses make the perfect backdrop for your holiday photographs.
Eating is practically a sport here – expect plates piled high with seafood and pizza, as well as the world’s best pesto (it originated here), cheese-topped focaccia and ‘farinata’ (chickpea pancakes).
Genoa is perhaps most famous for being the birthplace of explorer Christopher Columbus who was born here in 1451. The city is also known for its rich history, with many buildings displaying baroque, medieval and gothic architecture. There are also several recognisable buildings in Genoa, including the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo, Piazza De Ferrari and Via Garibaldi. However, the Lighthouse of Genoa is perhaps the best-known landmark. The stone structure is 76 metres tall and still in use nearly 1000 years after it was first built.
Genoa is well known for its variety of popular Italian foods. A blend of basil, garlic, pine nuts and hard cheese, pesto sauce originated here and is often enjoyed with pasta or spread on fresh bruschetta. Originating from the northern Italy region, focaccia, an oven-baked flatbread, is a favourite of many a local in Genoa. Often eaten as a sandwich or as a snack, focaccia is so popular that the city hosts an annual event, the Focaccia di Recco Festival, to celebrate.
Travel around Genoa is easy as the city has both metro and bus. The metro has eight stations and runs from Brin in the northwest through the city centre to the Brignole Train Station. There is also a good bus network across the city. Genoa also has the Zecca–Righi Funicular that covers the steeper areas of the city.
Typically, a long weekend of two to three days should be enough to see Genoa’s most popular spots. However, to get a real taste of the beautiful port, a week is probably much better. This allows you to explore the city’s many historical landmarks and cultural destinations, as well as leaving enough time to enjoy the region’s many restaurants and beaches.