The capital of Liguria is a fascinating city, rich in history and wonderful views, squeezed between the sea and the mountains. Unfortunately, in the past it was often visited by most people just passing through before reaching the wonderful Cinque Terre (discover here the best ways to reach them from Genoa).
Today, however, the Ligurian capital is a city with a tourist vocation and definitely deserves at least a couple of days to be appreciated and visited.
This is why we have decided to tell you what to do and see in Genoa in two days!
However, if you only have one day available, here are some tips on what to see in Genoa in one day.
Our advice is to spend the first day visiting the city, letting yourself be charmed by its majestic and intricate alleyways, letting yourself be inebriated by its smells and flavours and discovering the city centre with its small shops and boutiques, visiting the main museums and city buildings, and then spend the next day visiting the Aquarium and visiting Boccadasse, a real fishing village in the city.
As mentioned, we dedicate the first day to discovering the old town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There are numerous historic buildings and streets in the old town centre that are worth a visit, including:
Villa del Principe: this is the former private residence of Prince Admiral Andrea Doria. The interior of this marvellous villa can be visited through a museum itinerary among the private rooms that once belonged to Andrea Doria. Admission is charged, while entry to the gardens is free.
Via Balbi: today it is also the location of some of the main universities of the city, it was built together with his residence (which today takes the name of Palazzo Reale) by Stefano Balbi (between 1643 and 1650), a rich banker from Genoa. The Palazzo Reale was included in 2006 among the 42 palaces inscribed in the “Rolli di Genova” and one of the city’s most beautiful museums is located within it.
Via Garibaldi and the Palazzi dei Rolli: also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Via Garibaldi is also known as ‘Strada Nuova’ and was built in the second half of the 16th century. During the same period, some of the most important aristocratic palaces (the Palazzi dei Rolli, buildings that could host popes, kings, consuls and princes) were also built on the same street, including Palazzo Rosso, Palazzo Bianco and Palazzo Doria Tursi. Inside these majestic noble palaces, it is possible to visit a fascinating museum itinerary, the Strada Nuova Museums, where amongst others, works by Rubens, Caravaggio, Strozzi and Van Dyck are preserved.
The St Lawrence Cathedral: this is the most important church in Genoa and is located in the historic centre, between the busy Via San Lorenzo and the alleys. It was built around 1098 and contains the ashes of St. John the Baptist, the city’s patron saint. The subject of numerous interventions, it owes its current appearance to a late 19th century restoration, which enhanced the medieval parts. It became the city’s cathedral in the 9th century, replacing the basilica of the Twelve Apostles.
Palazzo Ducale: located just a few minutes from the Cathedral, overlooking Piazza Matteotti on one side and Piazza De Ferrari (the city’s main square, whose alleys determine the start of the city’s shopping centre, consisting of Via XX Settembre and neighbouring streets) on the other, it represents the city’s main centre of cultural production and is now the venue for numerous important conferences and exhibitions.
At lunchtime (or dinnertime) it is definitely worth discovering the caruggi, its authentic flavours and colours by taking part in our food tour, to experience the city in an authentic way and to discover its essence together with a local person.
Our tours, in fact, allow you to explore the historic centre by visiting some of the best eateries and tasting the best traditional specialities of Ligurian cuisine in places known and experienced only by the Genoese themselves, from the classic focaccia, to the famous Genoese pesto, passing by the focaccia al formaggio and the farinata.
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During your 48 hours in Genoa, we suggest that you dedicate the morning of the second day to discovering the Porto Antico (Old Port) and the Aquarium area, and then move out of the city centre after lunch to spend a few hours in the ancient fishing village of Boccadasse.
The Porto Antico (Old Port) and the Aquarium of Genoa: this area is certainly worth a visit, as it was completely renovated and revalued in 1992 thanks to the project of the famous Genoese architect Renzo Piano, on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America. This area was once the main area of the port’s mercantile activities and is now a popular place for both locals and tourists.
One of the area’s attractions is the Aquarium, one of the largest in Europe, with around 12,000 specimens of 600 different species. A full visit takes a couple of hours, but we’re sure you’ll be satisfied! You can also buy tickets online at the official website.
Apart from the Aquarium, other attractions in the Porto Antico include:
– the Bigo, the panoramic lift that allows you to admire the city panorama from a unique perspective;
– the Città dei Bambini (Children’s City), suitable especially on rainy days, a workshop for children up to 12 years of age;
– the Galata Museum, where you can discover the strong link between Genoa and the sea.
Boccadasse: 10 minutes from the city centre, it is located at the end of Genoa’s seafront. Despite the fact that the city has changed appearance and developed over time, the Borgo has remained unchanged over time and has retained its original charm. Characterised by pastel-coloured houses overlooking the small bay, it is still a centre of activity for many local fishermen.
These are our suggestions for visiting Genoa in 2 days, we hope they will be useful for your 48-hour stay in the Ligurian capital and we look forward to seeing you discovering the local cuisine together!