Lying in the heart of the Italian Riviera, Genova offers the perfect break where the hustle and bustle of the city meets the serene settings of coastal life. Everywhere you go in Genova you will find water, good food and a great view – something for everyone to enjoy!
From the picturesque streets of the old town to local delicacies that will tickle all taste buds, here are our top five ‘must-do’s’ for 48 hours in Genova that won’t break the bank:
1. Walk through history
With trading links dating back to the Middle Ages, Genova’s medieval old town is a maze of alleyways and quaint side streets that are home to numerous hidden cafes, bookshops, and galleries. Although it may feel like navigating your way through a labyrinth, every street has a story to tell. A trip back in time wouldn’t be complete without a visit to its UNESCO World Heritage sites; stroll down Giuseppe Garibaldi street or the Strade Nuove, home to 10 ancient Palace, and spend a day in the life of the Genovese aristocracy from the Renaissance period, Genova’s ‘golden age of trade’.
What the locals say: Start your walk through the old town at the 12th century city gates in Porta Soprana and follow the cobbled streets all the way to the Piazza de Ferrari and Cattedrale di San Lorenzo.
2. Sample local delights
Possibly best known for introducing pesto to the world, Genova is quickly working its way up the foodie list of places to visit in Italy. Pesto pasta and pesto salads are available in most restaurants in Genova. The city is also home to shops and supermarkets dedicated to an array of homemade pesto pots for visitors to taste – perfect for collecting and making your own ‘a la carte’ pesto pasta at the hostel!
What the locals say: Spend a day doing your own foodie tour of the old town backstreets to try a variety of local delights, including Focaccia with cheese and seafood. Avoiding the main square means it will be cheaper to try and buy to your heart’s content!
Cost: Average meal prices range from 12-15 Euros in Genova.
3. Take to the water
Genova is home to the second largest harbour in Italy and covers around 22km of coastline. With origins dating back to 500 BC, Porto Antico welcomes cruise ships and vessels, as well as watersports and boat trips galore! If you want to enjoy a few hours of peace and quiet somewhere that’s within easy reach of the city, the harbour offers return ferry trips to Portofino, playground of the rich and famous with its stunning streets and colourful buildings – it’s the ideal way to see the Ligurian coastline.
What the locals say: To see the city of Genova from a whole new dimension, hire a kayak and take to the water. This way you’ll avoid busy city centre crowds and can take it at your own pace or with a group!
Cost: A half day return to Portofino starts from 24 Euros, or 27 Euros for a full day, with the Golfo Paradiso ferry company.
4. Reach new heights
Take in Genova’s skyline and see the city below by venturing up to the hillside. Take one of the old-school funicular routes up to the top for panoramic views of the city and discover the old ruins at the top after just a 12-minute journey time. For those who fancy the funicular but still want the view, head up to the Spianata Castelletto platform which offers a 360-degree view of the city below. The walk is steep, but the views are worth it!
What the locals say: The Zecca-Righi funicular route, which starts at the tip of Via Cairoli, provides transport to the Parco Urbano delle Mura at the top, where you’ll also find the ruins of the Castellaccio and Sperone military forts.
Cost: Funicular is 2,50 Euros on the day but is cheaper if tickets are bought in advance.
5. Catch the famous Genova sunset
Wherever you head in Genova you’ll always get a good view of the sunset. The main promenade, Corso Italia, offers plenty of stylish bars and restaurants to watch the sun go down. For the ultimate tranquil setting, head a little further out of town to Boccadasse Beach where you can reflect on your day exploring Genova – it’s only a 15-minute taxi or 30-minute bus ride away.
What the locals say: Once voted the most beautiful square in the world, the Piazza Delle Erbe offers an ideal spot to enjoy a sundowner – it’s a quaint square that is off the beaten track so avoids hefty tourist prices.
Cost: Free for sunset watching
Our very own Ostello Bello Genova is located just a 20-minute walk from the city’s main square – we have a bar that is open 24/7, kitchen to cook your very own Italisn feast, live music and events as well as hammocks to chill out after a busy day exploring the city.
Genova’s main train station, Genova Piazza Principe, is also only a two-minute walk across the street, making it the ideal base to pitch up before continuing onward travel. Ah bellissimo!