I think Genoa might be one of the most underrated cities in Italy. It may not be as glamorous as the likes of Rome, Venice or Florence but that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked. If you’re looking to escape from hordes of tourists while enjoying delicious food, visiting historical palaces and museums, and admiring panoramic views then you definitely need to add Genoa to your bucket list.
Here are five highlights from my recent trip to this city:
1. Visiting the Museo di Palazzo Reale
This used to be the royal palace of the Durazzo family and is now open as a museum. The rooms inside the palace are breathtaking but the hall of mirrors was the highlight for me. It looked remarkably similar to the one in Versailles but I had this one all to myself! Stay tuned for a dedicated post on this palace as I have so many photos to share.
2. Taking in the views from Spianata Castelletto
If you want a 360 degree view over the city centre then this is the best place to go. I walked up from Via Garibaldi which was a little tough given the hot weather. Once I reached the top I found out that there was an elevator I could have taken! Nevertheless, the view was worth every step and the challenge made it even more rewarding. I visited in the mid-afternoon but I think it would be even better at sunset. It’s the perfect place to sit and enjoy a gelato whilst admiring the view.
3. Explore the UNESCO World Heritage site
The Strade Nuove (New Street) is a series of noble homes and palaces that were built between the 16th to 18th century, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are officially 42 completely restored palaces in this area. I’ve already mentioned one of these, Palazzo Reale, however I would also recommend a visit to Via Garibaldi to see some of the other prestigious palaces – 12 of the 42 are located on this street. Some of the palaces are now occupied by banks and other companies so they are not publicly accessible, but others are open to the public as museums. You can purchase a combination ticket to Palazzo Rosso, Palazzo Bianco and Palazzo Tursi for €9. They are not as grand as the Palazzo Reale but are host to some impressive art collections. Palazzo Rosso in particular has some beautiful rooms as well as beautiful views of the city from the rooftop.
4. Sampling the local cuisine
Pesto is a must-have when visiting Genoa. It originated in this city and the local version is greener and tastier than any you’ll find back home. I also got hooked on focaccia during my trip. The best one I had was from a tiny shop called Focaccia e Dintorni on Via di Canneto.
5. A day trip to Cinque Terre
Genoa is a perfect entry point when travelling to Italy to visit Cinque Terre. You have the option of taking a local train to one of the Cinque Terre villages, or taking an express train directly to La Spezia and then a local train back to your Cinque Terre destination. It’s close enough that you can do it as a day trip if you are short on time. Portofino is another popular day trip from Genoa and is a bit closer than Cinque Terre.
You can fly directly to Genoa from London with British Airways and Ryanair. The flight time is about 2 hours and 10 minutes. You can catch a shuttle bus (VOLABUS) from Genoa Airport to the city centre. Bus tickets can be purchased at the tourist information desk inside the terminal or from the bus driver when you board. The trip takes around 30 to 40 minutes and costs €6 each way.