Part of Italy’s Riviera, on the country’s northwest coast, Genoa offers visitors a glimpse of authentic Italian life. The city’s narrow streets are crammed with family-run restaurants in which you can sample fresh seafood and the region’s famous speciality: pesto. Follow the story of Genoa’s history as a rich and important trade center, and the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, as you wander through old buildings and world heritage-listed districts.
The region of Liguria has almost no flat terrain and that includes Genoa, its capital. The easiest way to explore the city is from the top down. The main shopping areas and public squares are found higher up on the hills. Make your way down through the city’s medieval old town, with its narrow, pedestrian-only alleys known as caruggi. You’ll reach one of the main thoroughfares, Via Garibaldi, which has three of Genoa’s important art museums housed in magnificent palaces: Palazzo Bianco, Palazzo Rosso and Palazzo Tursi.
Visit the Porto Antico (Old Harbor), the city’s former important shipping quarter. This area has been renovated and is now home to cafés, cinemas and museums. Stop by the Galata Sea Museum, where you can learn about the voyages of Christopher Columbus and other famed explorers. The Aquarium of Genoa, one of the largest aquariums in Europe, is also located at the Old Harbor. The newer dockside area is crowded with fishing boats alongside ferries and luxury yachts that often cruise in from nearby Portofino.
Luckily, you don’t have to be a mountaineer to enjoy the sights of this hilly city. Use the two cable car services to travel uphill as you enjoy sweeping views of the city and port. The public elevator from the Piazza del Portello will take you up to the charming Castelletto area, where the terminal is a beautiful art nouveau tower. Driving is not recommended in Genoa as parking is difficult to find. Public buses are also a good alternative if you need a break from exploring on foot.