Many people come here for a day, maybe two, since it’s close to Milan and a good stepping stone for the French Riviera or Cinque Terre. But Genova may just surprise you with its charm and abundance of activities.
Fly- There is an airport, but it’s also very close to Milan so check prices at each, it might be cheaper to fly into Milan.
Train- The train system in Europe is excellent and one of the only things that runs on time in Italy. When you buy your ticket you STILL have to validate it at one of the machines before you board the train! Even if it says the time and date on your ticket!! You should see people sticking tickets into machines that will stamp the time and date on your ticket and you’ll see these scattered around the station. Check timetables HERE.
Bus- Flixbus is a cheap option to take the bus into town. It’ll drop you off at the main train station right near the historical center and the port.
Rideshare with BlaBlaCar: This is the couchsurfing of transportation. Split the costs of gas (and sometimes driving if it’s over a far distance) and get a ride with a local (or anyone with a car) who is headed in the same direction as you.
Unlike its neighbor France, hitchhiking is not very common in Italy and you may have a hard time flagging down a ride.
Once you’re here, the historical center is easily walkable. Rent a bike or take the bus or local trains along the coast if you want to get out of the city.
Sleeping: Manena Hostel– The best place in the whole wide world. Located in the historic city center, the location is unbeatable. It is clean and has a nice homey feel and good vibe. The owners are the BEST and the free walking tour they offer is the best you’ll find in the city.
Overall: 10/10 Price: €19 EUR ($22.53 USD) But price varies by season and by dorm size Average price for Genova
Eating: Pesto al trofie, focaccia. Eat pesto ON focaccia.
Pesto- This is where pesto comes from, folks. The basil is grown in soil in a specific art of the city and the pesto you get here is unlike any you’ll eat anywhere else in Italy and the world. Make sure to eat it on trofie, a twisted pasta that is traditional for pesto.
Focaccia- This is also the home of the awesome street food focaccia. Again, the focaccia here is unlike you’ll find anywhere else. They eat so much of it here it’s constantly being baked and you won’t have to work hard to find it fresh and warm. Eat it plain or find varieties with cheese, tomatoes, and other veggies.
Farinata- Another local street food that is a kid of pancake made with chickpeas. It’s not my fave as I don’t think they have a ton of flavor but others seem to enjoy it.
Doing: Visit the port, take the walking tour, go to the beach, take some day trips, hit the mountains
Port- The port is a must do in Genova. Over the weekend there is usually an event of some sort going on and at night Banao is a club where you can go dancing right on the water. During the day sit and people watch, stare at the mountains or marvel at the ships and boats.
Free Walking Tour- Get to know Genova better with the amazing free walking tour. You’ll learn a ton about the city as well as the culture in the area. Spyros, the guide, has been doing this for a while and really knows his stuff. It’s so much better to explore the city once you know more about it.
Beach- Because Genova is a port city, you’ll have to go a little farther out to hit the beach. Take a stroll or a bike down Corso Italia to reach Boccadasse or continue on your bike (or bus or train) to Nervi or Bogliasco (my personal fave).
Camogli: Just a 40 minute train ride away it’s an easy trip. Spend the day walking around the town, sitting at the beach with a gelato and eating focaccia. Make sure to try the focaccia di Recco as it is different than that of Genova. It has ooey gooey melty cheese between two layers of thin dough.
Cinque Terre: While it’s easy to do Cinque Terre as a day trip from Genova, I think it’s worth staying a few days there. If you’re going to do a day trip, though, start early. Tourists are swarming and you don’t want to hit the trails when they’re packed. Plus it can get pretty hot. Start early, hike and spend the afternoon on a beach relaxing before heading back to Genova. For more information on staying longer check out my full post HERE.
Hike from Camogli to Portofino: Hop on the train to Camogli and hit the coastal trail towards Portofino. This is not for the faint of heart. The walk has a lot of uphill and some you’ll also find sections where you’re holding onto chains to scale the rock. But it’s a beautiful hike!
Stop at San Fruttuoso where you can take a ferry back or continue onto Portofino. There is swimming to be done if you so choose and all of the restaurants are extremely expensive so bring snacks! Portofino is a cute little town but not too much to do here besides swim or spend your money.
Take the ferry over to Rapallo where it’s much cheaper to eat and spend time wandering the town. You can easily take the train back to Genova from here.
Mountains: If you want to head up into the mountains you can easily do that from the city center. Take the funicular up to the top. It costs just the same as public transit, as the locals use it as a way to get down to the city for work. Up top there are forts to be explored, trails to blaze and views for dayz.
Staying: I think you could easily spend 3-5 days here
Going: Head west to the French Riviera or Monaco, east towards Cinque Terre, or continue on to both Pisa and Florence in Tuscany or stop by Emilia Romagna for some delicious eats. You can also head back up to Milan where it’s easy to travel anywhere. Otherwise, head south on a boat to Sardinia or Corsica! There are lots of options here!