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In depth walking tour of Genoa, Italy

Genoa, Italy - Piazza Caricamento across from Porto Antico (the old port)

Genova, Italy has a beautiful location on the Ligurian sea and an amazingly intricate history. The city has been built in layers over the course of history. This layering is especially visible from the old port area as it allows for a panoramic view of the surrounding hills. Unfortunately, we only stopped for a few good hours on our way to the French Riviera. Read on about our walking tour of Genoa, Italy.

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What to expect when visiting Genoa Italy

Genoa is a very large city…and a busy one as well. There are many tourists in the summer and lots of traffic. However, in the old town Genoa which is around the Porto Antico (old port) area there is not much car traffic since the most interesting streets have been turned into pedestrian only areas.

Via San Lorenzo will take you up the hill from the old port area all the way up to Piazza Ferrari and Christopher Columbus ‘s birth place. It is a nice walk through the old Genoa and you need to allow at least a couple of hours so that you can experience how the city feels.

Genoa, Italy – Piazza Caricamento across from Porto Antico (the old port)
Genoa, Italy - Piazza Caricamento across from Porto Antico (the old port)
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We arrived in Genova after more than two hour driving from Milan on our way to the French Riviera. After driving through some rough areas in Genova, looking for parking, we fumbled our way around Porto Antico until we found the right parking lot. We were happy to take a break from the car and stretch our legs.

My favorite tourist attractions in Genoa, Italy

Genova’s tourist attractions are all clustered together in the old town near Porto Antico (the old port) which makes it easy to walk everywhere.

See my photos from Genova, Italy

Stroll around the old port of Genoa, also called Porto Antico. The old port area of Genoa is a fun place to explore even for children.

Walk uphill on Via San Lorenzo to the Cathedral of San Lorenzo and further to Cristophor Columbus’s birthplace. Walk slowly along Via San Lorenzo as you make your way through the narrow street up the hill.

Make your way uphill to Piazza Ferrari. The beautiful fountain in front of the old palace is a great place to stop and admire the architecture. From here you can also walk on the arched Via XX Settembre which is filled with luxury shops.

Walk on Via Garibaldi and take in all the shops and very ornate buildings. This is the most touristy street in Genova, but for good reason. Take the elevator to Belvedere Casteletto and enjoy the best view of Genova.

Genoa, Italy – Walking tour map
Genoa, Italy - Walking tour map
See more photos from Genova, Italy

With our map of attractions in hand and our children in tow we started exploring Genoa, Italy.

Start in the Old Port of Genoa

The old port area is beautiful to walk through. You can see the colorful buildings spread all over the hills around the harbor area. Our kids have enjoyed walking through especially because there was a pirate ship anchor there is a museum in this ship has been in several pirate movies.

Genoa, Italy – The old port of Genoa (Porto Antico di Genoa) with a beautiful panorama of the colorful buildings spread on the hills in the background.
Genoa, Italy - The old port of Genoa (Porto Antico di Genoa) with a beautiful panorama of the colorful buildings spread on the hills in the background.
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Walk to the Cathedral of San Lorenzo

Making your way from the port area to words the general dome is a climb up the hill going through a very dense neighborhood of old buildings and apartments. Take your time to walk slowly and take in the narrowness of the walkway and the path. On the way to the cathedral you will find a couple more old churches and small piazzas.

Genoa, Italy – Cathedral San Lorenzo (or Il duomo di Genova) on Via di San Lorenzo. This is the residence of the Archbishop of Genova.
Genoa, Italy - Cathedral San Lorenzo (or Il duomo di Genova) on Via di San Lorenzo. This is the residence of the Archbishop of Genova.
See more photos from Genova, Italy

Make your way to Doge’s Palace and Piazza Ferrari

Right past the imposing cathedral building, you will find Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) which houses a couple of museums which you can visit. It is an imposing building worth taking some time to admire both from the outside and inside.

Genoa, Italy – Beautiful water fountain in Piazza de Ferrari.
Genoa, Italy - Beautiful water fountain in Piazza de Ferrari.
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Then, right around the corner through a narrow alley you can walk to Piazza Ferrari which boasts a beautiful water fountain. This is where we took a break and had some snacks since our kids were getting hungry. Piazza Ferrari is considered the center of Genoa, Italy.

From Piazza Ferrari, after a short walk, you can reach the famous old street called Via Garibaldi (or Strada Nuova). This street is a UNESCO World Heritage site because of the large concentration of castles and mansions built on it.

My best resources for planning your trip to Genoa, Italy

Whenever I plan a trip, I gather and read lots of resources. Some are more useful than others while some are completely useless. Below you will find my most helpful resources for planning your trip to Genova, Italy.

Is it worth visiting Genoa, Italy?

Genova is a large European city and as such it is a mix of beautiful architecture and ugly slums. Sticking with the old town and Strada Nuova, you will have a nice walk and enjoy the varied landscape in Genoa. The large port area with the hills and churches make Genoa an interesting tourist destination. Genoa is also a great place for exploring the Ligurian Coast with places like Portofino and Cinque Terre within easy reach.

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2 thoughts on “In depth walking tour of Genoa, Italy

  1. Arriving in Portofino for the day and would like to go to Genoa. Is Uber easily available or how would you recommend getting there. Do they have free walking tours.

    1. Elaine…unfortunately my trip to Genoa was by car. You should be able to find a boat that brings you from Portofino to the port of Genoa. Then in Piazza Caricamento you can take the sightseeing bus for a reasonable price. Click here to see more details. It stops at all the sights in Genoa.
      My advice though is not to try visiting both Portofino and Genoa in one day…it will be way too rushed. Allow at least two days.

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