Are you considering a trip to Genoa? This lesser-known Italian city is starting to get more attention from international travelers, and there are several reasons why you should check it out.
Genoa is worth visiting for its food, picturesque coastline, and historical architecture. Because the city is not as popular amongst tourists, it isn’t overrun by crowds and has maintained its local urban charm.
If you want to know more about Genoa, keep reading. This article explains what makes Genoa unique and why it should be on your radar.
10 Reasons Why Genoa Is Worth Visiting
Genoa is well connected to major cities and tourist destinations, making it an excellent stopover or base. However, it has much more to offer than simply location.
1. Take In the Ligurian Sea’s Fresh Air and Beauty
Extending off the Mediterranean, this lesser-known sea is beautiful and has a cooler climate than most coastal regions. Being by the sea provides the perfect backdrop to relax and listen to the waves crashing on the shore.
Or you can sit at one of the many seaside restaurants for a morning espresso or an afternoon aperitif.
If you’re an adventurous traveler, you may want to practice some water sports. Several beaches are suitable for swimming, and the nearby Varazze beach has a decent reputation among local surfers.
This city’s coastal location also brings the unexpected benefit of much fresher air. While clean air is typically a benefit associated with countryside locations, the breeze coming off the Ligurian sea is quite pleasant.
If you’re looking for a break from the stuffy city life, this seaside location provides the perfect escape. You can also reach Genoa from Milan in under two hours, with the option to drive or take the train.
2. Drive Along the Picturesque Coastline
In photographs, the first thing you’ll notice about Genoa is its stunning coastlines. Rock cliffs, pebble beaches, and a colorful display of buildings line the waterfront. Genoa also has some hills behind the coastline, adding to the terrain’s richness.
It’s a picturesque destination that will make you eager to dust off those rusty photography skills.
3. Visit the Historic Architecture
Genoa is full of grand palaces, cathedrals, and impressive buildings. Although modern architecture is dominant, you’ll also come across many examples of Baroque, Renaissance, medieval, and Gothic architecture.
The Genoese government does an excellent job of preserving old buildings and joining them with newer ones to expand infrastructure. The mixture of old and new provides a unique setting to wander the streets, visit notable buildings, and take in the melting pot of historical eras.
4. See the UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Several UNESCO Heritage Sites exist within the city’s borders.
The Strade Nuove is a stretch of palaces that holds some of the most glamorous UNESCO sites. These palaces housed Genoa’s royalty in the 1600s through the 1800s when the city benefited greatly from the thriving trade in the region.
From ornate entryways to chandeliers and paintings on ceilings, your eyes will be overwhelmed with the unique beauty on this street.
5. Dine On the Exquisite Local Food
If you’re a foodie, you’ll be happy to know Genoa is the birthplace of both pesto and focaccia bread. If you’re a fan of either, expect to find some of the best right here in town.
A fun fact about Genoa: Airport authorities make an exception for pesto. Although most liquids are restricted to 3 oz (85.04 g), travelers can take larger pesto jars if they make a charitable donation and put their jars through a special pesto scanner.
You won’t need to worry either, as security-scanned food is safe to consume.
You can also find other Italian foods here. While calamari isn’t exactly from Genoa, they sell cups full of tasty squid along the waterfront, and since the city is on the coast, you’ll find all kinds of delicious, freshly caught seafood.
6. It’s Dog Friendly
Italy, as a whole, is a dog-friendly country. Dogs are allowed on public transit and in many restaurants. It’s also common to see cafes offering dogs water or public water fountains for your little furry friends.
If you travel with a furry companion or just love dogs, you’ll feel right at home walking along Genoa’s streets.
7. Walk Through Molo – The Old Town
The old town, referred to as Molo, is one of the largest intact medieval old towns in the world.
Narrow streets and alleyways link quaint cafes, shops, and businesses at ground level. Above these are tall apartments with flower-filled balconies and laundry hanging to dry, creating a romantic European vibe.
Visit some of the art galleries in the area, such as the Palazzo Reale or National Gallery, as well as the surrounding gardens.
8. Visit the Exciting Museums
Italy is famous for its museums, and Genoa has a fair share. You can find history, culture, and art museums along with more novel ones.
The Palazzo Ducale is an ancient building that houses both modern and classical art. Or step into the church at the Basilica di Santo Maria di Costello for a peek into Genoa’s religious history.
The Galata Museo del Mare is a maritime museum on the water. Explore the history of sailing ships, experience a recreated transatlantic journey, or delve into the history of Genoa’s Christopher Columbus.
Take a look at this YouTube video that shows a walk-through of Genoa.
9. Escape Tourist Crowds
Everyone has heard of Milan, Florence, and Venice, and many people are dying to visit Cinque Terre. However, you don’t hear as much about Genoa, and this can be a very good thing. If you’re trying to avoid overpriced tourist locations and crowds, Genoa is a must-see. It has great museums, excellent food, and the beauty of Italy without all the tourists.
10. Enjoy the Urban Atmosphere
Genoa might not be packed with tourist destinations, but it has its own gritty Italian charm. It’s best for travelers who are slightly more adventurous and enjoy authentic, nonpretentious vibes.
It’s a city of contrasts. You’ll see beautiful architectural buildings and clean streets next to dark alleyways and rundown sidewalks. Genoa has an edge to it and will feel like a “real” city rather than a carefully curated tourist destination.