“Italy’s largest sea port is indefatigably contradictory, full at once of grandeur, squalor, sparkling light and deep shade. It’s a gateway to the Riviera for many travellers today, but a weighty architectural heritage speaks of its former glory – the Most Serene Republic of Genoa ruled over the Mediterranean waves during the 12th to the 13th centuries – and history feels alive in Genoa. No more is this true than in its extensive old city, an often confronting reminder of premodern life with its twisting maze of caruggi (narrow streets), largely intact. Emerge blinking from this thrillingly dank heart to Via Garibaldi and the splendid Enlightenment-era gold-leaf halls of the Unesco-listed Palazzi dei Rolli.” – Lonely Planet
I called Genova home for only four months, but it feels like I have known it forever. Often overlooked on the tourist trail, if you stop and take a chance on it you will not be disappointed. Italians might scoff about the cheap Genovese folk or how it can take some time to crack through their hard exterior, but when you get to know both the people and the place you will find their hearts just as big as their stomachs. The warm focaccia, the rich and creamy walnut sauce and the zesty pesto are just a few Ligurian delights that will change your taste buds forever. Hikers, climbers and cyclists are in paradise as the coastline views of mountains meeting the sea sprinkled with colorful houses render you speechless. A place where grit and class live seamlessly intertwined – Genova just might surprise you with all it has to offer.
If you’re flying in, you’ll arrive at the unfortunately named Christopher Columbus Airport (GOA). It’s an easy 30 minute bus ride to the city center on Volabus that will drop you at the central train station. The website appears to be down, but buses leave regularly from 5:50 am to 12:20 am and you can buy your ticket straight from the driver. You will be dropped at either Brignole or Principe train station, the latter being the main station.
Check where your accommodation is located but from either, most of the downtown is walkable if you don’t have a lot of luggage.
As mentioned previously, there are two main train stations and many smaller ones for the suburbs. If coming from nearby France or northern Italy the train is usually the best option.
Flixbus also travels regularly from surrounding areas so check timetables and prices to compare.
It is also possible to arrive by sea via cruise ship or ferry. Arrivals and departures include Palermo (Sicily), Barcelona, Tunis, Tangier, Bastia, Olbia and Porto Torres.
Genova offers a free walking tour through the accommodations mentioned above. You will not find a better walking tour anywhere. Spyros is engaging, knowledgeable and hilarious.
If you can help it I would not day trip Cinque Terre and spend a little more time there.
There are amazing day trips to hike, climb and cycle as well as beaches in the summer time.
2 -3 minimum but there is plenty to keep you busy for even a week