12 Must-Do Experiences in Genoa

Fascinating museums, a bite of classic chocolate, and steep hikes that reward with amazing vistas...

Piazza di Sarzano, 35/R, 16128 Genova GE, Italy
Through the end of June, the Museo di Sant’Agostino hosts a fascinating exhibit on the Machines of Leonardo DaVinci - including his bicycle, the air screw, and a massive interpretation of one of his earliest gliders. Housing in a converted monastery, the building itself is also a lovely space to visit the 16th and 17th century paintings and sculptures on permanent display.
Campetto, 8, 16123 Genova GE, Italy
Cocktails are not a huge part of the Italian culture, especially not those involving tequila. But at Bar Les Rouges, the three brothers who own the bar mix up one amazing margarita (They even come to your table asking you to sample which salt you want on the rim. Go for the smoked one, it’s perfection!). Housed in a dimly lit and slightly crumbling 16th-century palace, this is one of the most romantic spots in town—a perfect date night out.
via Boccadasse
If you have a gorgeously sunny afternoon, walk the Corso Italia to the small fishing village of Boccadasse, still considered to be part of Genoa. About an hour’s walk from central town, this seaside stroll will take you past black stone beaches, children’s parks, and countless bars and restaurants enjoying the beautiful sea views. When you arrive, make sure to roll up your pants and step in the water, as the sea spray alone is said to have healing properties.
1 Piazza di Pellicceria
Tucked deep in the heart of the ancient city, this is an easy Palazzo to miss—but don’t miss it. My favorite of the Genovese museums, five floors of this massive palace are dedicated to the history and splendor of Genoa—the first three being the restored palace of the Spinola family, and the top two serving as the National Gallery. Explore beautiful frescoes, ceramics from the 1700s, actual clothing from the 15th century, and a massive original Rubens, among the many other varied treasures.
Via S. Siro, 4, 16124 Genova GE, Italy
If you visit the National Gallery in Palazzo Spinola (the home of Ansaldo Pallavicino), you can see three small sketches that were given as ‘mock-ups’ to Sr Pallavicino by the artist who would eventually go on to paint these frescoes in this beautiful church, La Chiesa di San Siro. One of the wealthiest aristocratic families of the time, Sr Pallavicino pulled many strings in this stunning space, including choosing the artistic embellishments. Originally dating back to the Benedictines of the 6th century, this is one of the largest churches today in Genoa, and certainly one of the most ornate (being rebuilt and redecorated in the Baroque style of the 16th and 17th centuries).
16032 San Rocco GE, Italy
Grabbing the trail at the very end of the public parking lot on the east side of the little town of Camogli, begin the very steep 900-stair ascent up to the Church of San Rocco. After a break to enjoy the gorgeous view, head back down the other side of the mountain en route to San Fruttuoso. You have two trail choices at this point—the inland route is the easier option, but the coastal trail offers truly amazing views, plus the chance to explore the remains of WWII bunkers. Whatever you choose, the trails are very well marked, so you should have no problems getting there. Just remember to bring water, as sometimes it is quite far from one pump to the next. When you reach San Fruttuoso you have three options: hike back the way you came, catch the boat back to Camogli, or continue around the peninsula all the way to Portofino, and then bring the bus/train back into town from there.
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