The beautiful port city of Genoa is located in northern Italy, the capital of the province of Liguria. The birthplace of Christopher Columbus, composer and violin virtuoso and composer Niccolò Paganini and (let’s not forget) pesto sauce, the city has countless claims to fame. Steeped in cultural and maritime history, Genoa boasts one of the finest old towns in Europe, not to mention world-class museums, galleries and other cultural riches.
Why cruise Genoa
Located on the Gulf of Genoa at the heart of the Ligurian Sea, Genoa is one of the Med’s most important ports and the busiest cruise terminal in Italy. The eclectic city is home to countless architectural marvels and cultural wonders, from the San Lorenzo Cathedral to historic squares like Piazza de Ferrari. Some of the most common itineraries to and from Genoa include seven-day round-trip Med cruises, one-way itineraries leaving from the Italian city, as well as round-trips to Canary Islands out of Genoa during the winter. It is the homeport for MSC Cruises from Genoa.
What to see and do in Genoa
Cathedral of San Lorenzo
Situated close by to Piazza de Ferrari and the Palazzo Ducale in the medieval quarter, this Genoese cathedral was built between the 12th and 14th centuries and its facade features a mix of architectural styles, including Romanesque and Gothic. Meanwhile, the interior of the medieval church features mainly Baroque and Mannerist design elements. Excavations under the pavement and in the area in front of today's west front have unearthed Roman ruins, as well as pre-Christian sarcophagi, suggesting the existence of a burial ground. Under the cathedral lies the Museum of the Treasury, which has on display a collection of jewellery and silverware from 9 AD up to the present.
Via Giuseppe Garibaldi
Wander down this historic street, also known as the Strade Nuove (Italian for ‘new streets’), which was built by the Genoese aristocracy during the Renaissance period. Unesco-listed since 2006, it is filled with ornate palaces dating from the 16th and 17 centuries – including the Palazzo Doria, Palazzo Bianco and Palazzo Rosso – complete with stone balconies, marble pillars, dungeon-like arches and vaulted chambers.
Aquarium of Genoa
A popular day out for the whole family is a trip to Genoa’s immense aquarium. The largest aquarium in Italy, it is located in the city’s old harbour area and was originally built for Genoa Expo ’92 to celebrate 500 years since the Genoese sailor Christopher Columbus discovered the new world. The building, which word has it looks like a ship ready to sail out to see, was designed by Genoese architect Renzo Piano and inside houses 70 tanks, home to 12,000 animals belonging to 400 species. The unique aquarium is the only one in Europe with Antarctic fish species.
Piazza De Ferrari
Situated in the heart of the city, Piazza De Ferrari is Genoa’s main square. The centrepiece is the beautiful fountain, which was recently restored at the same time as the square was given a major facelift. Nearby to the piazza are several historical buildings of note, including the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace), which was once the seat of the city’s rulers from the 14th century. Today, it is a museum and centre for cultural events and arts exhibitions. Also home to restaurants, cafés and souvenir shops, the square is the perfect spot for lunch after a morning of sightseeing or just some good old people-watching.
This major palace in Genoa has been owned by several aristocratic families. Originally built for the Balbi family in the 17th century, it was sold to the Durazzo family in 1677, who enlarged the palace under the designs of Carlo Fontana, before it again changed hands and sold to the Royal House of Savoy in 1823. Today it retains many of its original furnishings and decorations, with rooms displaying paintings by many renowned Italian artists of the Baroque and Rococo periods.
The old mariners’ neighbourhood is located at the eastern side of the Corso Italia, Genoa’s main promenade, at the feet of Via Aurora, a traditional Ligurian narrow street. The picturesque area is popular among locals and tourists alike, featuring a small cobblestoned beach and colourful fishing boats.
Need to know when travelling to Genoa
Getting around in Genoa
Most cruise ships dock at the Ponte dei Mille, though a few use the nearby Ponte Andrea Doria. You can easily reach the city’s main attractions from either, being a five-minute walk to the Maritime Museum, or 10 minutes to the aquarium and the historic centre. The main railway station is also a short walk, and city buses stop nearby.
When to go to Genoa
The best months to visit Genoa are May and June. The city comes alive in May for the much-loved Focaccia Festival, while June sees the feast day of St John. Paying tribute to another Genoese delicacy, October is when the Pesto e Dintorni Festival is held.
Genoa uses the euro.
Any UK citizen who holds either a full UK passport or a BOTC, BOC, BPP or BS passport can travel to Italy visa-free.
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