After the publication of the article What to See in Genoa in One Day, many people asked me to give them some advice on what to see in Genoa in two days, if they decide to stay for more time.
Since I was lucky enough to be born here, I got the chance to create a two-day-tour to visit Genoa 😉
I’m Andrea of Discover Genoa and I will come along with you on this quick trip to explore the city, even if you have two days available.
Before we start, look at this video to get an idea of the best attractions in Genoa!
Oh, I almost forgot! For those who arrive by plane: you can choose a car rental service at Genoa Airport and then enjoy the city in a comfortable way.
The article is really long and detailed, so I created a list of places to visit: you can click on what you have interest in, without reading the entire post!
What to see in Genoa in two days
Are you ready? Let’s go!
We start from Genova Brignole train station!
Day 1: first day in Genoa, Italy
Piazza della Vittoria
Our tour starts from Genova Brignole train station.
Right in front of the train station the beautiful Triumphal Arch stands out, built in memory of the Genoese who fell during the First World War.
Beyond the Arch, in the background you can see the Caravel’s Staircase where beautiful flower decorations represent the three Christopher Columbus’ caravels.
The shopping street (Via XX Settembre)
Visualizza questo post su Instagram
Turn right and proceed to via XX Settembre (the shopping street) that connect Piazza della Vittoria with Piazza de Ferrari (the heart of the city).
Walking up to via XX Settembre, you will see prestigious shops, elegant cafés and you will walk under the famous Ponte Monumentale (the monumental bridge).
Keep your eyes upwards while you walk through the covered walkway; you will notice wonderful ceilings and you will see the characteristic colours of the ancient Genoa nobility everywhere: black and white.
Piazza De Ferrari: the central square
Visualizza questo post su Instagram
Walk along via XX Settembre till the end of it. You have reached Piazza De Ferrari: the central square of Genoa, with a big bronze circular fountain located in the middle.
If you look up at the sky and turn your gaze to the right and to the left, you can enjoy four buildings with an eclectic style:
- Palazzo Ducale: the main centre of cultural production of Genoa with important art exhibitions, events and conferences
- Palazzo della Borsa: built in 1912 to be the offices of the new stock exchange of Genoa, the Palazzo della Borsa is now a meeting point and exposition area during events
- Palazzo della Regione: office of Liguria Region
- Teatro Carlo Felice: the main opera house of Genova and one of the most famous in Italy destroyed during the Second World War and entirely rebuilt during the postwar period.
The cattedrale di San Lorenzo
From Piazza De Ferrari, enter via San Lorenzo, the long downhill street that will lead to the Porto Antico.
About halfway down the street, on your right, you will see the famous Cattedrale di San Lorenzo.
The history connected to the legend tells that, unlike the other churches that have two bell towers, San Lorenzo has just one.
Maybe it was the lack of capital to build the other one or because they ran out of the same material.
Where to have lunch in Genoa
If you want to eat something quickly before carrying on with your tour, I recommend a take away mixed fried fish at the historic and famous Carega, the favourite fried food shop of Fabrizio De Andrè and also one of the historic small shops still in business.
You can find it in Sottoripa, only a few steps away from the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo and the Aquarium.
It opens every day except on Sunday (from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.) and the average price for a “mixed fried fish paper cone” (obviously fresh) is 10€.
If you prefer a sandwich, next to the Friggitoria Carega you will find Gran Ristoro, the sandwich kingdom, that distinguishes itself by a long and non-stop queue in front of the entrance (this place is not even 3 square metres in size).
Here you can choose from more than 150 ingredients and numerous different combinations.
You can let your imagination run wild and create the sandwich you want. There is something for every taste.
If you want to know which are the 10 Genoese specialities, click here.
Are you ready to continue?
In front of the two restaurants I told you about before, you can admire the famous Porto Antico.
This area, that today is residential, is a part of the Port of Genoa.
The Porto Antico hosted the World Expo 1992 (for this reason it’s usually called Expo), when it was completely renovated following the project by the architect Renzo Piano for the occasion of the 500-year celebration of the discovery of America.
In the Porto Antico, you will find the well-known Acquario di Genova.
Now a symbol of the city, the Aquarium has 70 fish tanks and 4 open-air fish tanks in the Cetaceans Pavilion.
The fish tanks contain lots of animals from 400 different species of fish, marine mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibious animals and invertebrates and they all are in environments that reproduce the original ones and have clear educational purposes.
You can see dolphins, sharks, penguins and even touch rays.
It’s the perfect place to lose track of time and be amazed.
Believe me, you will be a kid again.
I suggest to buy tickets online, in order to skip the (long) queue at the ticket office.
The Old Town, the Alleys and Fabrizio De Andrè
Have you ever heard of caruggi?
Caruggi is the word in the Genoese dialect that describes the “peculiar and narrow covered walkways and shady alleys of lots of cities and little towns of the Italian Riviera“.
The Old Town of Genoa is made of hundreds of caruggi, but in this short guide I will suggest to you the ones I think are the most famous and fascinating.
From the Porto Antico (precisely from piazza Caricamento) enter via al Ponte Reale.
If you walk for 100 metres, you will reach the amazing piazza Banchi where you will see the famous Loggia della Mercanzia, a beautiful building built during the Middle Ages, where the negotiations of merchants and bankers took place.
Go ahead until you reach via del Campo, the famous paved street known for the song and where Fabrizio De Andrè lived (if you don’t know the song, you can click here to hear it).
If you love Faber, you will have the chance to visit the museum about his music and drink a coffee in La cattiva strada (a café in front of the museum called after one of his famous songs).
When you have arrived at the end of via del Campo, turn right.
Walk for about 200 metres and reach piazza dell’Annunziata where you will see a church. Well, whether you love churches or not, you should go in.
From the outside it seems like a normal cathedral, but I guarantee that the inside will leave you speechless.
Via Balbi and the Palazzo Reale
Exit the Chiesa dell’Annunziata and turn right.
You will find an uphill street, between two rows of buildings with sixteenth-century facades.
That is via Balbi and almost all of those elegant buildings are dedicated to the University of Genoa and libraries.
Go up via Balbi, go beyond the wonderful Palazzo Reale and turn left: the little street in front of you is the Hill of Santa Brigida that, in addition to the garish colours, has an interesting story: the one about the Augustinian nuns from Sarzano.
The legend tells about the cloistered nuns who came to this spot of Genoa in order to build a cloister dedicated to Santa Brigida.
The cloister, unlike all the others, was invented to cohabit with the friars (both cloistered).
This “forced” bonding was a temptation and it caused suspicion, so Pope Clement VIII sent all the friars away in 1600.
What was the outcome?
A lot of empty space was left, the nuns decided to sell the land and via Balbi was built two centuries later.
Via Garibaldi Genoa (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
Go down via Balbi and go towards via Cairoli.
Walk until the end of it, go beyond Piazza della Meridiana (where you can match/synchronize your watch with the sun) and enter via Garibaldi.
This is my favourite part of Genoa, that is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Via Garibaldi (also called Strada Maggiore, Strada Aurea or Strada Nuova, depending on the different periods) is the “strada dei re” (kings street), where 14 buildings in about 200 metres of street are located.
The most famous are Palazzo Bianco, Palazzo Rosso and Palazzo Tursi, but if you have time, I suggest to visit them all (or almost all, since some of them are partially open to the public).
If the sunset hasn’t started yet, go to Palazzo Rosso’s terrace: you will find yourself in the middle of the biggest old town of Europe and you will enjoy a “superb” view!
Genoa from above: Spianata Castelletto
Spianata Castelletto is an amazing “terrace” suspended above the Old Town where you can enjoy a view of the entire city and its port.
It will take you a second to get up here: exit via Garibaldi and turn right; reach Piazza Portello and take the Castelletto lift.
You will reach your destination in a few seconds and you can taste a granita (a semi-frozen dessert) or a coffee enjoying the view on the slate roofs, the characteristic balconies of the old houses in the old town, the port, the Lanterna and the sea.
What do I think about it? You absolutely shouldn’t miss it.
Where to have dinner in Genoa
If you still have time to eat something, I will suggest three of my favourite restaurants right in the Old Town.
Ostaia do Castello
The first one is called Ostaia do Castello: when you enter the restaurant, it will seem that you go back in time and explore the history of Genoa.
Stone walls, young staff and typical dishes. Reasonable prices. Good selection.
If you are looking for something less rustic and more sophisticated, I recommend Trattoria Rosmarino. Known as one of the best restaurants of Genoa, the perfect price/quality ratio.
Delicious and refined typical food and competitive prices. If I have convinced you to go, you should make a reservation, because it’s often really crowded (especially during weekends).
Do you love seafood?
Then you should go to Pesciolino: an inn run by very nice people, located right in the middle of the city centre. The menu changes almost every day. Look what it offers today: Locanda Pesciolino
Where to sleep in Genoa
If you are planning to visit Genoa, you must know that it’s basically impossible to find a free parking space in the central area.
So, if you are travelling by car, I suggest finding a B&B or a hotel that offers a parking service.
Day 2: second day in Genoa, Italy
A walk along the Corso Italia promenade
Visualizza questo post su Instagram
From wherever you are, catch a bus that brings you to Piazzale Kennedy, where the Fair of Genova and the prestigious Genoa International Boat Show take place.
Here starts Corso Italia, a promenade about 3 km long where you can enjoy the view on the East and West Riviera.
The promenade was built in the time between the two wars, altering the Genoese coast and demolishing a lot of churches.
Along the promenade you will see a lot of families with children, bikes and runners who want to enjoy the view of the sea.
At the end of it two rewards will wait for you: Boccadasse and the Gelateria Amedeo.
Boccadasse, a small hamlet of fishermen
Boccadasse is a little corner in Genoa where the citizens can touch the sea.
It is the same as 100 years ago: a hamlet of fishermen with a small beach surrounded by narrow buildings in front of the sea.
The sea is not always clear, but Boccadasse is the best place to relax on the small pebble beach or to wander along its streets tasting one of the best ice-creams in Genoa, the one you can eat at the Antica Gelateria Amedeo.
The name Boccadasse comes from the expression bocca d’aze (donkey mouth) that refers to the shape of the bay.
During the Italian overseas emigration period, a Genoese community from Boccadasse established itself in Buenos Aires, in Argentina, and created the neighbourhood La Boca, in tribute to the hamlet where they came from (it’s no coincidence that the website of the Argentinian team Boca Junior has been translated to Spanish, English and …Genoese!).
Boccadasse has been voted for best attraction in Genoa on TripAdvisor and in one of the latest comments, Fabio V says that “looking at the sunset from the rocks is a priceless experience“.
The most beautiful promenade in the world: Nervi
Catch a train or a bus and go to the East coast, you will end up in Nervi, a chic and aristocratic district where there is one of the most beautiful promenades in Italy (the website Turismo.it says it’s the most beautiful promenades in the world!).
Walk along the 2 km long panoramic promenade made of red bricks and enter Nervi Park.
Squirrels in Nervi Park
Nervi Park is a green space where you can lay down, play with a ball, have a picnic, run or enjoy watching the squirrels: they are not afraid of tourists anymore and they are often fed with nuts and dried fruits.
Before you leave, look at the Gigante del Cile, the Chilean wine palm in the middle of the park, about 10 metres tall and 150 years old.
Genoa is a stop-over, most of the people stay one day or two…and then leave.
That’s a pity because this city has a lot to offer.
If you have 3 or 4 days available, you will have the chance to see different thing every day.
Having said that, I have tried to sum up all you can see in Genoa in two days. If you follow the guide step by step, you will able to visit everything in 36 hours.
If you want to know more, read the article on what to see in Genoa in three days.