Even though a large city, there is plenty you can see and do in one day in Genoa, and we are here to help you plan your trip to the Ligurian capital.
If you are staying only one day in Genoa, I suggest you draw your itinerary carefully. Even though there is much you can squeeze in such a short time, keep in mind that the city is big so movements take time.
In Genoa in a day, I suggest you head to the old town and duck into the majestic cathedral first thing and also to visit one of the notable mansions that are around the historic center, whether it’s Palazzo Ducale or the royal palace. Of course being only one day in Genoa hardly allows you visit more than one palace, but if you plan properly, I think you can squeeze at least one in.
I totally recommend to take a stroll around the old town to admire the local architecture, even if it’s just while going from a landmark to the other. Genoa’s historic center is a lovely collaboration or noble palaces and simple homes.
Last but not least, give the right weight to the most important factor of the local history and society: the sea. Your 1-day Genoa itinerary should include some stops in the sea, whether it’s its famous aquarium or a visit to the gorgeous marine museum (or both!).
In my article, I give you all the suggestions I found useful when I spent one day in Genoa and what I managed to do myself, including what and where to eat, and what to try to make time for. A perfect destination on your way from or to the Cinque Terre, a stop in the Ligurian capital will add incredible value to your Italy trip.
What to do in one day in Genoa – Step-by-step guide + map
Visit San Lorenzo Cathedral
Start the day bright and early with a visit to San Lorenzo Cathedral. The city’s Duomo is always the first thing I suggest visiting if you have only one day in Genoa, especially if it’s your first time.
This 11-century cathedral won’t fail to impress you from its black, white, and pastel pink facade, as well as for its grand interior. Before leaving the church, see the exhibition of the treasure of the cathedral for some precious pieces the local clergy has gathered throughout the centuries.
- Where: Piazza San Lorenzo.
- When: Monday to Friday 8 am-12 pm and 3-7 pm. Saturday and Sunday closed.
See Palazzo Ducale
Palazzo Ducale is only 3 minutes on foot from the cathedral and visiting it inside would take you no more than an hour. It was founded when Genoa became a leading marine republic and later turned into the residence of the local duke Simon Boccanegra.
It later became the mansion of the powerful Doria family and it was given the luxurious look we can see now. Today, the palace is home to several exhibitions that you can visit together with the original building.
- Where: Piazza Matteotti 9.
- When: Every day 7 am-11 pm.
- How much: 12€.
Or the Royal Palace
If you are into palaces and the history of the local nobility, the royal palace is probably more interesting than the doge’s palace. You will stroll through luxury rooms and halls, parlors, bedrooms, and dining halls finely decorated with carvings and paintings.
In only one day in Genoa, I would pick one of the two mansions as it will take at least an hour in each of them and with limited time, you need to make a choice.
- Where: Via Balbi 10.
- When: Tuesday to Saturday 9 am-7.30 pm, on Tuesday from 1.30 pm. Closed on Sunday and Monday.
- How much: 10€.
Stroll around the old town
One of the coolest things to do in Genoa even if you have only one day is to get lost in the maze of its alleys known as “caruggi”. Winding backstreets, small local shops, and historical buildings make it a lovely experience.
If you head towards Via Garibaldi, you can explore the area known as “Strade Nuove”, new streets, and the system of the UNESCO-listed Palazzi dei Rolli, a series of private buildings of the 16th and 17th centuries, when Genoa was at the top of its seafaring power, that served also as public lodgings and to host state visits.
This cool tour by the local tourism board will explain the purpose of Palazzi dei Rolli by also givign you the chance of visiting some of the historical buildings.
Try traditional food
Just because you only have one day in Genoa, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t eat! For lunch, you can grab a table at a traditional restaurant (we enjoyed our meal at Sà Pesta in Via dei Giustiniani 16R) to try some local dishes such as fresh pasta dressed with delicious pesto sauce typical from Genoa.
If you prefer to eat on the go so that you don’t waste too much time, you can tuck into the local street food, so the famous farinata, their typical focaccia, and pizza by the slice.
Resume your afternoon sightseeing visiting what’s probably the most famous attraction of the city, what puts together adults and children: Genoa’s Aquarium. This is a wonderful exhibition of a huge number of marine species from the shark to the penguins to all types of luminescent and kaleidoscopic fish.
If you are traveling with your family, your kids will love it. For this landmark, I would set at least two to three hours as it’s really huge and you are going to have fun.
- Where: Ponte Spinola.
- When: Every day 10 am-8 pm, Saturday and Sunday from 9 am. Last entrance 2 hours before closing time.
- How much: 20€. You can buy your ticket online to reserve your spot.
Explore Galata Museum of the Sea
Galata Museo del Mare is about 10 to 15 minutes on foot from the Aquarium along the coastline and towards the old port. It’s also a landmark that families enjoy but it can be extremely interesting for marine history enthusiasts. It will take you at least two hours to explore but if you are into the topic, I suggest you try to include it in your one day in Genoa itinerary because it’s very fascinating.
The huge exhibition displays the history and life of the marine republic, and how the proximity to the sea has shaped the local society. But it also gives a wider approach to the important role the sea has played in the world’s history with the tale of the main explorers and the waves of immigrants throughout the last decades for more than a century. A section is devoted to Christopher Columbus, the famous Italian explorer native from Genoa.
- Where: Calata Ansaldo De Mari 1.
- When: Every day 10 am-7 pm.
- How much: 17€.
Duck into the Nazario Sauro submarine
This is truly a one-of-a-kind experience that is part of Galata Museo del Mare. It’s located outside of the museum in the water and I suggest you don’t miss it even if you are only one day in Genoa because it might well be the only chance you will have to board on a real submarine.
We loved seeing what was the life and work of the crew of the Nazario Sauro, an Italian submarine operative until 2002 and today the only one open to visitors right in the sea. During your visit, you will hear the voices of the crew as well as sounds of engines, radar, sonar, and torpedo tubes.
Stroll around the old port
Renovated and revamped by Italian architect Renzo Piano, once you are done visiting the main landmarks, if you still have some time left off your 1-day Genoa itinerary, spend it by walking around the old port.
See the reproduction of a historical galleon and the Biosfera of Renzo Piano.
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