I’ve finally made it! After all these years with a strong passion for Italy and its lovely little towns, I’ve managed to finally go and see the crown gems, the holy grail – the Cinque Terre. But since getting there is a journey and we landed in Milan, we decided to spend a night in another great city on the Italian coastline, heavily underrated in my point of view, with a lot of potential and history, where you can also stop by when making your way to the Cinque Terre: Genoa, Italy. Thus here are my tips on what to see in Genoa, Italy in one day (my Genova’s to go).
I’ve been here before, some 7 years ago, and spent a few days but somehow I didn’t really have any particularly strong memories about this harbor town. So maybe the one question you have in mind now: “is Genoa worth visiting?”
Well, apart from the amazing food (best fritto misto I’ve ever had, focaccia Genovese, pesto Genovese and the list could go on and on), beautiful little towns on the southern part of Genoa where you can go for a swim and catch the sun ( Camogli, the neighborhood of Boccadasse, Bogliasco, Pieve Ligure) or the best ice cream I’ve had in my life (and I had my share of Italian ice cream, but nothing compares to the one they sell at this place), I didn’t really remember much.
But after spending one night and discovering the town, I can fully say Genoa is worth visiting! And it can be easily done in not very much time, thus here is what to see in Genoa, Italy in one day!
Getting to Genoa, Italy
Making your way to Genoa is easy no matter where you are coming from because you will have a lot of great train connections. As I said before, we landed in Milano and took the train to Genoa (a quick 1h30 min ride), having booked the tickets beforehand online on Trenitalia. If you do that, take into consideration a bit more time to get from the airport to the train station (maybe 1h30 just to be sure), because in Italy you never know (we did a bit of cardio but managed to eventually catch the train).
If you want to skip the train ride and come directly in the city, you could try seeing whether there are any flights landing from your destination (most probably not since there are only very few) at Genoa’s airport.
What to see in Genoa, Italy in one day
Now that you’re there, what should you plan for? Genoa is an old city with a great history, by the water, on the hills. Need I say more?
I do, I know. And I will bear with me.
The first thing we noticed when we got there was the nice main train station – Genova Piazza Principe – with high white ceilings. I know, I must be funny, but we just couldn’t help but stop and take some pictures. Next thing, you step out into a small piazzetta very close to a whole lot of hotels being also walking distance from the harbor.
If you will be spending more days in this medium-sized Italian town, you will have some additional time for Genoa sightseeing and for exploring the beaches near Genoa. But in one day, that might be hard.
I recommend staying close to Genoa’s main train station because it will be easy for you to travel around and the best places will be within walking distance.
Genova’s to go and what to see in one day
- Start your day by going to the Palazzo del Principe. Mainly because you will have the beautiful gardens all to yourself and you won’t have to wait around after people in order to take beautiful pictures with the setting overlooking the harbor. Just note that if you want to visit the inside of the villa as well, the opening hours start at 10 AM.
- Next, head to another beautiful setting, part of the UNESCO World Heritage: the Palazzo Reale Genova. We spent most of the time here 😀 Also because we were lucky enough to catch a day when they offered free entrance, but either way on a normal day the ticket is only 6 EUR and it’s totally worth it in my view. Dating from the 1600s, the palace is impressive. From its 1st floor with its beautifully decorated rooms to its second floor with the Room of the mirrors (smaller than the one at Versailles but still impressive), and to its fantastic garden, there is nothing you won’t love about this place. And let’s not forget the terrace with the breathtaking view over the harbor. I loved everything about this place and could not help but imagine myself living here haha.
- Once you’ve had your share of royalty for one day, head to the Gulf of Genoa and if you have the time pay a visit to the Genova Aquarium. If you don’t have the time, just walk around the boats and admire the beautiful view. Maybe stop by for lunch in one of the many restaurants offering a large variety of fish and seafood.
- Another place you don’t have to miss is the Spianata Castelletto, this amazing balcony offering a 360 degrees view over Genoa’s city center and its port. I have to admit it was a bit hard finding the way here and we got a bit lost on the streets of the city center, but after asking around we finally managed to find the elevator, pay the 80 cents per person and got up. And man were we rewarded! There’s no wonder they say that when you want to go to heaven you take the elevator to the Spianata Castelletto. Sitting on a bench here, we couldn’t help but think of how lucky the people living in this city on the Mediterranean must be. Children playing in the sun, parents peacefully waiting for them while doing nothing much but gossip around and admire the view, the peaceful breeze and the wonderful houses with gardens filled with flowers, the clear blue sky and the little coffee shops with gelato artigianale. What else would you call Heaven?
- And while you make your way towards Genoa’s main train station you cannot leave town without allowing yourself to get lost nei vicoli – the narrow streets of the historic city center of Genoa. You might find some of them rather creepy but you don’t have to be afraid and trust me that not all streets are like that. When we were there we were surprised by some streets filled with colorful umbrellas. Only afterward did I learned that the city was decorated because of the 2018 Euroflora.
If like us, you only had a few hours to sped in the city, by visiting the above sights you have already run out of time and this would have been your perfect answer to the “what to see in Genoa, Italy in one day” question.
But if you still have time, you might want to tick also the below main Genoa attractions:
- Boccadasse – a beautiful neighborhood of Genoa where you will have the chance to taste a little bit of Cinque Terre flavor (if you don’t have the time to get to the 5 little perfect towns).
- The Durrazzo Pallavicini villa – with its beautiful and impressive gardens
- The Nervi Parks – with their romantic panoramic seaside promenade
And whatever you do, don’t leave the city without tasting a focaccia with pesto Genovese!