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Pocket Guide: Genoa

Staying in Genoa

This buzzing yet little-known city in north-western Italy has quality hotels aplenty, offering everything from swanky spa hotels and historic properties to pocket-friendly guesthouses and B&Bs. Whether you're planning a romantic getaway or a family break, there are accommodation options to suit your personal taste in Genoa.

Sightseeing in Genoa

Famed for being the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, this vibrant port town has an atmospheric UNESCO-listed historic centre full of narrow alleyways and piazzas, dotted with cafes, museums and antique shops. Enjoy a stroll down Via Garibaldi, a street lined with opulent Renaissance palaces, several of which are art galleries filled with Genoese paintings. Must-see galleries include the Palazzo Bianco, Palazzo Rosso and Palazzo Tursi, which are loaded with works by major painters from Caravaggio and Titian and Van Dyck.

Eye up swanky yachts at Genoa's spruced-up harbour, the Porto Antico, where you'll find bars, gelaterie and restaurants, as well as the huge, family-friendly aquarium which is among the largest of its kind in Europe, with impressive shark and dolphin displays. Near the aquarium is a gorgeous biosphere containing a tropical garden.

Great Views across Genoa

Gen up on Genoa's seafaring history at its maritime museum, the Galata Museo del Mare. The Mediterranean's largest sea museum has plenty of interactive exhibits to engage visitors of all ages, with highlights including a faithful reconstruction of a 17th-century galley ship and a fascinating section dedicated to Columbus. End your visit on a high by heading up to the museum's rooftop terrace, where you'll be treated to a stunning panorama of Genoa's cityscape.

Perched on a hill above the Galata Museum is Castello D'Albertis, a fairytale 19th-century castle that homes the Museum of World Cultures. Reach the castle from downtown via an old public Balbi-Dogali elevator that dramatically switches directions from horizontal to vertical. Then head for the castle's ramparts to enjoy sweeping views of the port.

If you've got a head for heights, Genoa is not short of elevated spots for looking down on the city's beautiful buildings. For 360-degree views over Genoa's historic centre, port and the surrounding mountains, take a ride up to Spianata Castelletto in an Art Nouveau lift at Piazza del Portello. When you reach the top, you'll be treated to a glorious view of the old town's Medieval towers, opulent villas and Baroque domes.

Shopping in Genoa

Anyone with a serious interest in fashion should get to the main drag, Via XX Settembre, a gorgeous wide boulevard lined with buildings with Art Nouveau facades. Shops range from high-street fashion to designer brands, as well as shoe shops galore. Running parallel to Via XX Settembre is Via Vernazza, home to popular Italian department store, Rinascente, and the Mercato Orientale, a food market filled with stalls selling fruit, vegetables and delicious pesto. If you're planning a few days of retail therapy, book yourself into one of Genoa's luxury hotels with spas, where you can enjoy a relaxing massage after a tiring day of shopping.