Follow Via Garibaldi lined with opulent Renaissance palaces and enter the labyrinth of unnamed medieval lanes winding down to the port on your first holiday to Genoa. Explore the revamped waterfront on return visits and take a daytrip down the Ligurian coast to the five picture-perfect villages of the Cinque Terre.
The jumble of alleyways leading up from Genoa's raffish, if sometimes seedy, port comes out in picturesque Piazza Banchi and Piazza de Ferrari squares. Shop on Via XX Settembre, leading away from Piazza de Ferrari, or visit the nearby Ducal Palace on the Piazza Matteotti square, the Renaissance home of Genoa's rulers. Head away from the port to pass impressive palaces on Via Garibaldi.
Target pedestrianised Via Garibaldi to immerse yourself in Genoa's glorious Renaissance-era architecture. Admire the elaborate palaces lining the street and visit the Bianco Palace and Rosso Palace to see paintings by Van Dyck, Veronese, Rubens and Murillo. Browse the small museum devoted to the famous Genoese violinist Paganini in the Tursi Palace and see how Genoa's nobility lived in the gorgeously furnished and decorated Spinola Palace. Step inside the impressive San Lorenzo Cathedral and take a tour of the riches housed in its treasury. Follow Via San Lorenzo down to the port or duck inside the Baroque Ges Church to see paintings by Rubens.
Explore further Genoa's waterfront attractions, starting at the acclaimed Aquarium with its many different habitats and sea creatures. Pick up information about maritime history at the Galata Museum and see the docks restored by architect Renzo Piano, another of Genoa's famous sons. Visit the medieval house that Christopher Columbus allegedly called home then take a daytrip to the Levante Riviera to see the five tiny cliff-hugging World Heritage ports of the Cinque Terre. Seek out a traditional local trattoria restaurant to feast on Genoese specialities like spaghetti pesto, herby focaccia bread, chickpea-flour farinata crepes and, of course, fish soup prepared with fresh seafood from the port.