How to spend a day in Genova – What To Do in Genoa

what to do in genova in a day

You might be wondering whether Genova is worth a visit. The answer is yes. If you are looking for your next travel destination in Italy which includes beaches, picturesque views, and a whole bunch of history combined with good food (the original pesto Genovese), Genoa is the one for you. Let’s talk about what to do in Genoa.

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🏡 Overall best stay in Genoa: Meliá Genova, 0.6km from the city center

🐬 The most popular attraction: Aquarium of Genoa

📷 The most Instagrammable spot: Boccadasse Beach

🍝 A must-try dish: pesto genovese

💸 How to save on exchange rates: Use Revolut to save on exchange rates and pay everywhere in Europe with ease



Spring or autumn days are perfect to travel to Genova if you are only looking to explore and not spend days on the beach. The weather is warm and you can enjoy the city and beaches without the summer crowd. Here is the list of things of what to do in Genoa.

1. Porto Antico di Genoa

Genova is a port city and the capital of Liguria, therefore it is only right to start the tour with a tour of the port. Porto Antico is a bustling old harbour and a neighbourhood full of attractions, such as outdoor events, live music festivals, outdoor markets, and by-the-sea bars and restaurants. For the best view walk down to Arena del Mare.

Porto Antico di Genoa
Porto Antico di Genoa

Porto Antico di Genoa

2. Aquarium of Genoa

Google Reviews Rate: 4.5/5.0 ⭐️

Aquarium of Genoa, located in the old harbour, is Italy’s and Europe’s largest aquarium (another large aquarium is for instance in Tenerife). The aquarium is also Genoa’s largest attraction, yearly welcoming over 1.2 million visitors. The aquarium is spread above and below the sea level, making the experience truly unique.

Tickets cost 29eur per person and come with free cancelation, making the experience stress-free if you are not able to visit the aquarium on the selected day and time.

Find the opening hours of Aquarium of Genoa here.

Aquarium of Genoa

3. Genoa’s Old City Center

Explore the narrow streets, lively squares, and the most important architectural pieces of Genoa. What to do in Genoa’s city center:

  • Piazza Raffaele de Ferrari
  • Cattedrale di San Lorenzo (black and white striped cathedral)
  • Palazzo Ducale and the outdoor market of antiquities
  • Via Garibaldi (UNESCO-listed street known for its 16th-century residences, museums and palaces)
  • Opera Carlo Felice Genova
  • Via XX Settembre (one of the main streets of Genoa)
Piazza Raffaele de Ferrari genoa
Cattedrale di San Lorenzo genoa

Piazza Raffaele de Ferrari (left) and Cattedrale di San Lorenzo (right)

4. Belvedere Castelletto

The next on the list of what to do in Genoa is a secret elevator to Belvedere Castelletto, a panoramic viewpoint and park above Genoa. This was one of my favourite spots in the city and I wish to come back here one day for the sunset. The elevator is in public use and completely free, running each day between 6.40 a.m. and 12 a.m.


Belvedere Castelletto
Belvedere Castelletto

Belvedere Castelletto

5. Boccadasse Beach

Imagine everything you always see in photos from north Italian coastal cities: pastel houses, people with gelato and aperitivo spots, a black pebble beach, and the smell of fish from nearby trattorias preparing typical Genoese dishes.

Boccadasse is an old fishermen’s village just east of Genoa, easily reachable by bus or on foot. It is a must-see attraction when in Genoa and a perfect spot to take a swim if you’re in Genoa in the warmer months. We stopped by for aperitivo and climbed up the two panoramic points left and right of the beach.


💎 Holiday Home Baiàn Casa Vacanze 💎

💎 Il Rifugio sul Mare 💎

Boccadasse Beach
Boccadasse Beach aperitivo

Boccadasse Beach

7. Taste Pesto Genovese

One of the must-do things when in Genoa is to try the world-famous Pesto sauce. Mind that the original pesto Genovese is super heavy; I can eat a lot but I barely managed a plate of mandilli al pesto genovese

Below is the list of recommended restaurants by a local friend:

  • La Locanda del Molo (we had our lunch here)
  • Cavour modo21, is specifically famous for its pesto. The restaurant works without bookings so there is often a long line outside (recommended by a local friend)
  • Il Tondin, a cosy restaurant on one of the narrow streets in the city center
pesto genovese

Mandilli al pesto genovese


Hi, it's Neja

I am an expat from Slovenia,
 living in Milan since 2021 and writing a travel blog for all of you who are curious about life in Italy or traveling in Europe.

Follow me on my journey and learn everything about Italy and the European destinations.

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