With its atmospheric historic centre and revamped harbour, the port town of Genoa is the perfect destination if you’re looking for an authentic slice of real Italy.

Renowned for being the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, Genoa is in the Liguria holiday region of Italy's northwest coast, known as the Italian Riviera.

Get lost in the winding backstreets of Genoa's UNESCO-listed historic centre, one of the largest of its kind in Europe. Soak up the history while strolling through the cobbled alleyways and handsome piazzas dotted with pavement cafes, antique shops, taverns and restaurants.

Art lovers should take a stroll down grand boulevard, Via Garibaldi, where you'll find a trio of opulent palaces loaded with paintings by old masters, including Caravaggio and Van Dyck.

Popular with families on holiday is the Porto Antico, a vibrant old port alive with restaurants, shops, art galleries and museums. After being in a state of decay for years, the port was given a makeover in 1992 by Genoa-born architect Renzo Piano, who designed The Shard in London.

The port's star attraction is the Aquarium of Genoa, where you can see dolphins, sharks, penguins and more. Learn more about Genoa's seafaring history and Columbus at the Galata Maritime Museum, home to a real submarine and plenty of interactive exhibits.

During your holiday in Genoa, enjoy views of the city from the Bigo Lift, a panoramic elevator in the old port. The rotating cabin of this former crane offers 360-degree views from high above the ground. Alternatively, take a ride up to Spianata Castelletto in an Art Nouveau lift at Piazza del Portello for sweeping views of the old town's lavish villas and Baroque domes.

Whatever your holiday budget, you're guaranteed to eat well in Genoa. The city's most famous street food is focaccia deliciously topped with cheese, onions or olives, and you can pick it up in one of the old town's many bakeries. You’ll also have a considerable choice of fine-dining restaurants in the historic centre and near the harbour.

Genoa is also a great base for a holiday exploring the nearby village treasures of the Cinque Terre and the luxury resort of Portofino, a haven for film stars and jet-setters.

Guide to Exploring Genoa

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