Explore Genoa, A Mesmerizing Maritime Haven
Enchanting City of Genoa
In this blog post, we’ll take you through the enchanting city of Genoa, Italy, and explore its must-visit landmarks. Get ready to be swept away by the rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant maritime culture of this beautiful destination.
Embarking on a Mediterranean cruise was an unforgettable experience, and the route from Barcelona, Spain to Civitavecchia, Rome, Italy is no exception. For the 11-day voyage, our first stop adventure was in Barcelona. This is where we embark, the beginning of our cruise adventure. As exciting as it was cruising, flying over a few days ahead takes you on a whirlwind adventure, allowing you to explore one of Europe’s most visually stunning cities, Barcelona that balances the medieval intimacy of its Gothic Quarter with the grace and distinction of the wide boulevards in the Moderniste Eixample. Ships will dock at the Barcelona Cruise Terminal, which is a 30 minute drive from the Barcelona airport and a 15 minute drive from the city centre.
Top Things to Do in Barcelona? There’s plenty but here are some of the most popular places to explore and to visit Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia. You will never go wrong with this one. It’s a history by itself and if you can, go on a tour inside or better yet attend a mass on a Sunday. Such a privilege! Other popular landmarks include a stroll along La Rambla, explore Park Güell and a visit to the Picasso Museum. We did the La Rambla last as it was close to where the embarkation for the cruise.
First port we visited was Toulon, the capital of Provence. As France’s principal naval base, the waterfront is always full of life and the narrow streets of its picturesque Old Town lead you to its famed 18 fountains. The ship docked at the cruise port, La Seyne sur mer. The first port was just right, exploring around the city. The tour to Marsellie was fully booked; we didn’t get a chance on the waiting list. We still have fun strolling along the coastline. In the evening, we made sure to get a lot more sleep so we have full energy for the next port, which is Genoa, Italy.
If you are seeking authentic Italian experiences, visit Genoa. Brimming with history, the largest seaport in Italy was a political powerhouse in the 12th and 13th centuries and was the birthplace of Christopher Columbus. Genoa is also known for its many palaces, its culinary traditions and as the gateway to the Italian Rivieramedieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and Gothic architecture. Think of Pesto, one of my favorites, Pansoti with nut sauce, delicious fried squids and anchovies and the cheeses. So much food for thoughts in my head.
Since from the port, it is a 5–10 minute walk from downtown Genoa, we did our own walking tour. So proud to walk in a foreign land and not take a taxi. It is so freeing…
Genoa Tourist Spots
Immerse yourself in Genoa’s medieval heart, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where narrow cobblestone streets lead to beautiful squares, palaces, and historic buildings. A few landmarks you want to check out when in Genoa, Although we only explored around the city center, there’s always more to explore when you have more time. It was the first week of November so the weather was just right. Cool yet not cold and layering a few really helps when it gets cooler.
When it comes to weather, the best time to visit Genoa and truly enjoy its offerings is during the shoulder seasons of spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October). As we were here in early November, just a few days shy after autumn it was still less. Now if you join the cruise line’s excursions, there might be a point it becomes crowded, the coming and going. Since cruise ships carry thousands of passengers, the excursions will be in groups, hence, crowd bottleneck during the arriving and going out the excursion destination. Especially if there are 1 or 2 other cruise ships dock at the same time. Buses will be waiting outside the port for those going on excursions. During these months, moderate temperatures prevail, and the city is less crowded, allowing for a more intimate exploration of its treasures. Summer (June to August) can be hot and humid, with a possibility of crowded tourist spots, while winters (December to February) are relatively mild but with occasional rainfall.
Let’s get back to the landmarks to explore when in Genoa. Some are close by and some take more or less an hour’s drive to get there so signing up for the excursion would be best.
If you plan to walk around the city, there’s a 15 minute walk to The Aquarium of Genoa where you can explore a fascinating aquatic world at one of Europe’s largest aquariums, housing an impressive array of marine life and offering educational exhibits and interactive experiences
And the San Lorenzo Cathedral which was founded in the 5th century, is an addition to your adventure if you decide to walk around the city. This Romanesque pillared basilica was remodeled in Gothic style. Inside, see splendid artwork and the earliest example of Renaissance architecture in Genoa. So, if you decided to walk, might as well explore this Cathedral as it is not far from the cruise port.
Another popular one is Cinque Terre – The Five Lands, a string of coastal villages linked by the sea, are part of a national park and World Heritage Site. Stroll through the quaint streets and take in a plethora of cultural sights. For you to explore this place, you might have to go with the excursion and be back on time. Cruise ships don’t wait if you show up late. You don’t want to be left behind. Although, it would be a great adventure for you if you dare.
If you love shopping, you don’t want to miss Santa Margherita – One of the premier destinations on the Riviera, Santa Margherita rose to prominence with the arrival of the English in the 19th century. Enjoy the lively shops and stroll along the seaside promenade. You might find something unique.
What about palaces? I love the grandness of palace building if you know what I mean. The real royal palace, huge, tall and echoey..
Via Garibaldi – Cutting through the city’s historic center, narrow Via Garibaldi is flanked by magnificent landmarks including the ornate Ducal Palace, home to a splendid art collection and cultural exhibits. If you are interested in visiting the Palazzi dei Rolli museums along Via Garibaldi, time your visit to fall between opening hours from Tuesday through Sunday. If you would like to simply stroll along this elegant thoroughfare and take in the architecture from outside, the palaces are beautifully lit at night.
Another church you can visit is the Chiesa del Gesu. This 16th century former Jesuit church is situated near Palazzo Ducale in the heart of Genoa. The Baroque building houses paintings by Peter Paul Rubens and frescoes illuminated by bronze chandeliers.
The popular Milan is a an hour and a half from the Genoa cruise port. Time for shopping and is the most important city in northern Italy. Will you shop until you drop? Seek out Milan’s hidden gems? Visit art museums? Believe it or not, it’ll be just enough time to get a feel for the fast-paced city life, eat some delicious food, see Milan’s most beautiful sights, and go shopping!
Portofino – Experience La Dolce Vita when you visit picturesque Portofino, known as the playground of the rich and famous. Explore the colorful streets and historic sites and browse the luxury designer boutiques. You can also take a ferry from the cruise port or maybe go fishing?
There are many places to visit in Rapallo, Italy, including castles, churches, and other attractions. Rapallo is guarded by a stately 16th-century castle, the largest Riviera resort has a wonderful seaside promenade. Ride the cable car to the top of Montallegro for beautiful views of the gulf and the hills.
What to Wear
Considering Genoa’s Mediterranean climate, pack light and comfortable clothing suitable for mild to warm temperatures. During summer, opt for breathable fabrics such as cotton and linen, along with a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. In spring and autumn, layering is recommended, as temperatures can vary throughout the day. Don’t forget comfortable shoes for exploring the city’s charming streets.
Compelling Reasons to Visit Genoa
- Rich Maritime Heritage: Genoa is renowned for its historic significance as a maritime powerhouse. Visitors can delve into its seafaring past through its numerous maritime museums, iconic port, and vibrant seafaring culture.
- Cultural Delights: With its impressive art collections, theaters, and lively festivals, Genoa thrives as an epicenter of cultural experiences. The city boasts an authentic Italian charm, evident in its cuisine, markets, and traditional celebrations.
- Gateway to Riviera Delights: Located perfectly along the Italian Riviera, Genoa offers easy access to nearby coastal gems such as Portofino, Cinque Terre, and Santa Margherita Ligure. A cruise from Genoa allows you to explore these stunning destinations conveniently.
- Beautiful Scenic Views: Experience breathtaking panoramic views of the Ligurian Sea from Genoa’s elevated spots, such as the Spianata Castelletto. Capture picture-perfect moments that will leave you in awe of the city’s beauty.
Genoa, with its captivating landmarks, delightful Mediterranean climate, and enticing cultural heritage, is an ideal destination for travelers seeking an enriching and unforgettable experience. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, art aficionado, or lover of coastal beauty, Genoa will surely leave an indelible mark on your heart. So set sail and embark on a cruise adventure that includes Genoa, allowing yourself to be transported to this mesmerizing maritime haven. Bon voyage to the next port on our Grand Western Mediterranean Cruise!