Autumn city break: things to do in Genoa in 2 days
To help you decide among the many things to see and things to do in Genoa in 2 days, we have organized a guide in 5 “tastings” of the Ligurian city, each requiring between 4 and 6 hours to visit. The choice is yours on which to taste first!
Tastings of Genoa: discover the wonders of the capital of Liguria:
Discover all the things to do in Genoa in a weekend: also in autumn you will find many attractions for all ages and tastes, must-see monuments and a full calendar of events and cultural activities. Considering also the mild climate and the delicious Ligurian cuisine, you will have all the ingredients for a memorable city break, whether it’s a trip with the family, alone or with your partner.
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Dolphins at the Genoa Aquarium
First Tasting: things to do in Genoa with children
During your weekend in Genoa, especially if you are traveling with your family, you cannot miss the Porto Antico, the city’s square on the Mediterranean: its attractions will give your children unique experiences.
The more than 70 tanks of the Genoa Aquarium, the largest in Italy, host dolphins, penguins, jellyfish, fluorescent corals and other 400 marine species. You can visit it in complete safety by following a few simple rules and, only on weekends, discover many curiosities with a “Behind the Scenes” tour, accompanied by the official guides of the Dafne Cooperative.
“At the Genoa Aquarium you will discover that the manatees, funny marine mammals, spend a good part of the day devouring salads, while the fearsome sharks are satisfied with a few meals a week.”
Just outside the Aquarium you will find the tropical rainforest reproduced within the Biosphere, designed by architect Renzo Piano, the pirate galleon “Neptune” docked at the pier, the technological and scientific games of the Città dei bambini e dei ragazzi, the Bigo panoramic lift, the Mandraccio playground: at least 6 hours of fun are guaranteed for children … and also for adults!
If the time at your disposal in Genoa is running out, we suggest you to get on board of “Pippo”, a nice tourist train on rubber that leaves right in front of the ticket offices of the Aquarium and goes through the main monuments of the city: just enough to entice you to come back soon.
Don Andrea Gallo in a tile of the genoese street artist Tiler – Credits: Ralf Steinberger from Northern Italy and Berlin / CC BY
Second Tasting: street art, in downtown museums and open-air in the suburbs
Until the end of November, in the Porto Antico as well as in various squares in Genoa you can admire the open-air installations with sinuous shapes by Jiménez Deredia, a Costa Rican sculptor who has long been living in Liguria.
Until November 1st Palazzo Ducale hosts the exhibition “Obey fidelity: the art of Shepard Fairey”, dedicated to the famous American street artist, author of “Hope” and many other works on the themes of the environment, peace, culture and gender rights.
“Make art instead of war. Make love instead of war. Celebrate Beauty instead of violence. Denigrate Evil with high doses of moral awareness”
When you are at Palazzo Ducale, do not miss the opportunity to climb its fourteenth-century Torre Grimaldina, which was a prison for celebrities such as Nicolò Paganini and Jacopo Ruffini: from here the view over the roofs of the historic center is spectacular.
If you love street art, you could continue your itinerary by taking the city subway to the Brin terminus to explore the Certosa district, in Valpolcevera: after the tragedy of the Morandi Bridge it became the stage for the urban regeneration project “Street art on the wall”.
To move freely by public transport, you can buy the Genoa Museums Card, lasting 24 or 48 hours, which includes free access to buses, lifts, metro and over 20 city museums, whose proposals are able to satisfy every interest, from contemporary and oriental art to natural history passing through the cultures of the world.
Piazza De Ferrari
Third Tasting: the most “superb” Genoa
The heart of the city, where the Genoese meet at aperitif time as well as to assert their rights, is historically Piazza De Ferrari, with the large bronze fountain by Giuseppe Crosa di Vergagni in the center. Here stand the Palazzo Ducale, that of the Region, that of the Stock Exchange and the Carlo Felice Theater, one of the most technologically advanced in Europe.
In case of rain, behind the theater you can find shelter in Galleria Mazzini, where poets, artists and intellectuals stop for a coffee since the nineteenth century.
At the end of the Gallery, after the Palazzo Doria-Spinola seat of the Prefecture, the spectacular Piazza Fontana Marose awaits you, surrounded by elegant noble residences that mark the beginning of the Palazzi dei Rolli system, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2006.
You will see a royal city, perched into an alpine hill, superb for men and walls, whose very aspect indicates it as Lady of the sea
Francesco Petrarca, 1358
In Via Garibaldi you will meet the Palaces Rosso, Bianco and Tursi, which make up the museum complex of Strada Nuova, which house paintings by artists likes of Guercino, Rubens, Caravaggio, Van Dyck and Strozzi, as well as numerous testimonies of the splendors of the ancient Republic .
If you plan a trip in the second weekend of October, among the things to do in Genoa there are the “Rolli Days“: on 9, 10 and 11 October you will have the opportunity to enter in person in many residences otherwise not open to the public. You can admire cycles of frescoes, pictorial collections and amazing sculptures made between the late Renaissance and the full Baroque period: watch a preview and book your visit now.
Genoa by the sea
Fourth Tasting: sea trip to Pegli or by bike to Boccadasse and the Lanterna
From the docks of the Porto Antico the Navebus boats leave for Pegli with urban transport frequency, allowing you to admire from a unique perspective the city of the Lanterna, squeezed between the sea and the hills that surround it.
Pegli was once a holiday resort for the Genoese nobility, as evidenced by the numerous elegant sixteenth-century palaces and villas. Here you can walk in the shade of palm trees on the promenade along the beach
Among the things to do in Genoa Pegli stands out the visit of Villa Durazzo Pallavicini, chosen in 2017 as one of the most beautiful parks in Italy thanks to its lakes rich in aquatic flowers, rare camellias, old trees and its romantic kiosks. Inside the Villa Durazzo Pallavicini there is also the Ligurian Archeology Museum, while the Naval Museum of Pegli is housed inside another sixteenth-century noble residence, Villa Doria Centurione.
Whoever looks at Genoa should know that Genoa can only be seen from the sea
Ivano Fossati, Italian songwriter
Lovers of life at sea can daydream by visiting the Salone Nautico, international boat show hosted at the Genoa Fair in the first week of October 2020.
However, if you prefer those on two wheels to boat trips, rent a bicycle and follow the cycle paths that lead to the ancient seaside village of Boccadasse, along the charming seaside promenade of Corso Italia, or to the Lanterna, the undisputed symbol of the city: with its 77 meters it is the highest lighthouse in the Mediterranean. Inside, installations and films will tell you the stories of the port and, on weekends, you can climb the 172 steps that lead to the panoramic terrace, to appreciate the whole city at work.
The sky above the Old Town
Fifth tasting: Genoa, the city of perfect love
The carruggi of the historic center of Genoa, one of the largest in Europe, are squeezed between ancient buildings often adorned with elegant marble portals and valuable shrines with sacred images, once used to illuminate the streets at night: walking with your nose up you will discover authentic treasures! Along the alleys you will find both traditional shops, where you can buy tasty typical products, and shops of various kinds, expression of the different cultures that animate this part of the city.
The intricate maze of alleys opens here and there in suggestive squares such as Piazza San Matteo, surrounded by the buildings that belonged to the Doria family and by the characteristic black and white banded church, Piazza di Pellicceria, whose Palazzo Spinola houses a National Gallery with works of great value, Piazza Banchi, with the polychrome Church of San Pietro and its large Loggia which was the first goods exchange in Italy, and Piazza Embriaci, on which stands the highest medieval tower in the city.
After visiting the Romanesque church of Santa Maria di Castello, dating back to the eleventh century, head towards Piazza Sarzano: Campo Pisano behind it, with the typical tall and narrow Ligurian houses with colored plaster and the pavement of white and black sea pebbles, is one of the most scenic corners of the city.
Do your children still have energy to spend? Reach the Luzzati Gardens, a playground managed by the Il Ce.Sto social cooperative just upstream from Piazza delle Erbe, where you can see them jumping between slides and swings while you sip an aperitif.
Genoa. Steps and teeming alleys, the sea that suddenly enters your eyes, the notes of De André, smiles and real hands, and many unexpected colors.
Fabrizio Caramagna, writer
Continue forward, accompanied by our playlist, among these alleys that exude notes, curiosities and stories full of music, such as those sung by Fabrizio De André in his Via del Campo: here there is today an Emporio-Museum dedicated to the Genoese songwriting, with records, books, musical instruments and memorabilia of the artists who made it great.
All around you will cross alleys whose names recall the crafts and passions of the past: Vico delle Pietre Preziose, Via degli Orefici, Vico degli Indoratori, Salita Pollaiuoli, Vico della Neve. Piazza dell’Amor perfetto, Vico Biscotti, Vico della Rosa, Piazza delle Oche, Vico della Lepre. Your children will feel like they are entering a fairy world, as if they were Alice in Wonderland. The fifth tasting will show you how deep the soul of Genoa is and will reveal you its hidden charm.
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