Located on Italy’s northwest Mediterranean coast, Genoa is the capital of the country’s Liguria region and has a population of nearly 600,000 residents.
That makes it one of the country’s top ten most populous cities. It’s also Italy’s busiest seaport by volume and ranks 12th overall in the European Union.
Dating back to medieval times, Genoa was a center of maritime commerce; as a result, it was one of the birthplaces of the country’s wealthy merchant class.
The city is full of historical, cultural, and art attractions, many of which are more than a thousand years old.
Below are 15 of the best tours of Genoa.
1. 24 or 48-Hour Hop-on Hop-off Tour Ticket
Hop-on hop-off tours are steadily growing in popularity among the segment of travelers that prefers to spend their valuable vacation time on their own terms.
Depending on which option you choose, these tickets are valid for either 24 or 48 hours from the time they’re purchased.
Tours are conducted on a multi-level bus that offers unobstructed views of many of Genoa’s top attractions, like Piazza Caricamento Acquario, Via Garibaldi, and the aquarium. Guests can depart and explore the attractions that interest them and skip those that don’t.
Between stops, participants will appreciate the multilingual commentary provided by the complimentary audio guide.
2. 2-Hour Guided Walking Tour of the Historical Center
For lovers of history and culture, Genoa is a virtual treasure trove that’s best experienced with a local guide.
This two-hour walking tour explores the city’s historic center. It includes old neighborhoods, elegant residences from past eras, and iconic attractions like the Opera House, San Lorenzo Cathedral, and the art galleries of Pallazo Rosso and Pallazo Bianco.
Tours begin in the Old Port area and wind their way through the old city’s labyrinth of narrow streets, many of which don’t get much tourist traffic.
That makes them perfect for those looking to distance themselves from the crowds and see things from a local’s perspective.
3. Traditional Food Tour
Like nearly every place in Italy, Genoa boasts an amazing cuisine that features traditional and contemporary grub with a variety of international influences.
This three-hour food-centered tour includes the services of a local epicurean. It explores a variety of Genoa’s neighborhoods, markets, and eateries, where guests will have the opportunity to learn about local food, history, and culture.
They’ll also meet locals, dine where they do, and sample a wide variety of dishes that may include fresh seafood, pasta, fresh baked goods, fresh and aged cheeses, coffee, and dessert.
To get the most bang for your buck, show up with an empty stomach.
4. Genoa Old Town 2-Hour Audio Guide Tour
Characterized by opulent palaces, idyllic fountains, historic cathedrals, and neoclassical palazzos, Old Town Genoa is one of the city’s most impressive destinations.
This short audio guide tour is a great value for those who’d rather not have an overly verbose tour guide talk their ears off for two hours.
Instead of a live guide, each guest gets a small audio device and headset that will describe the things they see at each of the tour’s stops.
Tours begin at Piazza Fontane Marose and eventually make their way to the Old Port area.
Highlights include the home of Christopher Columbus, the Rolli Palaces, and the Cathedral of San Lorenzo.
5. Aquarium of Genoa Guided Tour
Featuring more than 10,000 individual animals from hundreds of land and marine species, the Aquarium of Genoa is the perfect antidote for those who’ve tired of the city’s abundant historic attractions.
As Italy’s largest aquarium, it draws visitors from near and far and can get downright crowded during peak times.
Luckily, this tour includes skip-the-line tickets. Since participants are led by a knowledgeable local guide, they’ll get valuable insights into the things they’re seeing that those showing themselves around may miss.
Aquarium highlights include bottlenose dolphins, colorful reefs and jellyfish, and even a variety of shark species of varying sizes.
6. 1-Hour Segway Tour
Though they’re most well-known for their use by airport security personnel and mall cops, Segways are perfect for sightseers who want to experience attractions from street-level without expending a lot of energy in the process.
After receiving an overview of how to use their two-wheeled machines, guests and their guide will set out to explore Genoa’s significant monuments, cathedrals, and palaces in and around the city’s historic center.
Guided Segway tours are fun, engaging, and educational, and are appropriate for those of most ages and levels of fitness.
Tours go full-speed ahead regardless of the prevailing weather conditions, so dress accordingly.
7. Palazzi dei Roll and Palazzo Reale Guided Tour
For generations, Genoa has had a thriving merchant class. Over the years, many wealthy families have built opulent homes or palazzi that were the height of luxury for their era.
This guided three-hour tour gives guests access to some of the most stunning and regal residences built during Genoa’s Golden Century. Many of them date back to the 16th and 17th centuries.
The homes typically include grand staircases, idyllic gardens, and wondrous works of art, and were inhabited by the city’s wealthiest and most influential residents.
Though hotel pick-up and drop off aren’t included, tours depart from a convenient central location.
8. Private Tour with a Local
For those who’ve just arrived in town looking to get an insightful overview of Genoa’s major attractions, history, and culture, this tour would be a wise way to spend a few hours.
Whereas many tours focus solely on attractions, this one delves into the area’s culture and people, and what makes them so unique.
Previous guests have described their guides as passionate, knowledgeable, and helpful, and many tour stops are among the city’s hidden gems.
Tours last between two and six hours, depending on the interests and schedules of participants. They are a great way to get familiar with the city’s layout for first-time visitors.
9. Guided Gourmet Food Tour with Tastings
Though Italian cuisine is loved the world over, many visitors are pleasantly surprised to discover that Genoa’s food scene is vibrant and distinct compared to other cities and regions.
After meeting their guide at a central location, food lovers will set out on a walking tour through the city’s exotic and historic streets.
Tours include traditional family-style eateries, contemporary restaurants and cafes, and markets where locals do their daily shopping.
At about 3 ½ hours, these tours allow guests to sample everything from gourmet pizza and aged cheese to Italian coffee and sweet treats while leaving lots of free time in the day.
10. 24 or 48-Hour Genoa Museum Card
On a per-capita basis, Genoa is probably home to more museums than just about anywhere else in the world.
Lovers of history, art, and culture could spend days visiting them without running out of options. This value-packed museum card is a superb choice for those who prefer to see many of them at their own pace.
Tour cards are good for either 24 or 48 hours from purchase and include discounted access to Musei di Strada Nuova, Galata Museo del Mare, and Galleria Nazionale di Palazzo Spinola, to name just a few.
Click the link below for more details.
11. 2 ½-Hour Private Guided Tour of Music Traditions
From fantastic food and world-class art to historic attractions and unparalleled natural beauty, Genoa has a little something for travelers of all stripes.
This 2 ½-hour tour focuses on the city’s musical traditions and starts when guests meet their guide in the Old Harbor area.
Tour stops include haunts once frequented by musical titans like Guiseppe Verdi and Wagner, as well as the spot where Alessandro Stradella was murdered after a string of sordid indiscretions that included embezzlement from the Roman Catholic Church, and affairs with the wives and mistresses of some of the city’s most prominent and powerful citizens.
12. Genoa Street Food Tour with Local Guide
It’s been said that unless you eat what the locals eat, you’ll never really know their culture.
For those who subscribe to that notion, this 2 ½-hour tour of Genoa’s culinary hotspots would be a great way to do just that.
Tours get underway at the Old Port and include iconic attractions like the Cathedral of St. Lawrence and Piazza Corvetto. They are a great way to meet likeminded locals and food lovers from all over the world.
Plan on showing up with an empty stomach, because along the way, you’ll sample tasty fare like fresh seafood, baked goods, pasta with basil pesto, and sweets like canestrelli and gelato.
13. Guided Tour of Rolli Palaces UNESCO Site
During the city’s Golden Century, a number of amazingly wealthy merchant and aristocratic families lived in opulent homes that stood in stark contrast to those of average working families.
Genoa’s Rolli Palaces are among the city’s most significant UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Visiting them with a local guide gives inquisitive visitors unique insights into the lives of the ultra-elite and wealthy in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Tours include stops at several palazzos, as well as the Bianco Museum, where guests will see priceless art, antiques, and housewares, and learn how maritime trade led to previously unimaginable wealth.
14. Triple-Attraction Maritime Experience
Combo tours are great values for those who prefer not to be shoehorned into spending their day focusing on one particular aspect of Genoa.
Though this triple-attraction experience is centered on the city’s maritime history, it includes elements of commerce, culture, and the natural world that makes it fun and engaging for those of nearly all ages and interests.
Tour centerpieces include the Aquarium of Genoa, the Galata Museum, and a World War II-era submarine christened the S518 Nazario Sauro.
The aquarium portion of the tour is a perennial favorite of those traveling with little ones in need of constant stimulation.
15. Private Walking Tour with a Local Guide
Despite its urban hustle and bustle, Genoa is a very pedestrian-friendly city. For those who prefer stretching their legs to sitting on a stuffy tour bus, walking tours are great options.
Tours include iconic attractions like the port and harbor, St. Lawrence Cathedral, and the Academy of Fine Arts. Though entry may not be included to each site, guests often discover things they’d like to explore on their own when the tour is officially over.
Walking tours are popular with lovers of history, culture, and architecture, and are generally appropriate for those of most ages and levels of physical ability.