Ancona is a bustling port on the eastern coast of Italy facing the Adriatic Sea. This city lies directly opposite Zadar and is within the Marche region of the country. Furthermore, Ancona is also the capital of the Province of Ancona and has a current population of 101,000. Serving as one of the main ports in the Adriatic, Ancon has an economy based on passenger traffic and commercial shipping. Settled by Greeks around 380 BC, Ancon has always been an important destination and has been part of the Roman Empire, the Lombard Empire and has seen extensive trade with other nations and civilizations across the Adriatic.
As a tourist destination, Ancona benefits from superb weather and has some fantastic beaches serviced by some world class hotels. Furthermore, the whole port area has a fantastic combination of modern facilities and historical buildings such as the Arco di Traiano and the Mole Vanvitelliana. Additionally, this city has some fantastic squares, historical monuments and museums, plus a host of fine restaurants and bars. If you are looking for an exciting and fun packed escape on the Adriatic coast, Ancona is the place to visit!
Let’s explore the best things to do in Ancona:
1. Ancona Harbour
Ancon has an extensive harbour and port and this is a fantastic place to walk through to see the beautiful range of ships and commercial freighters.
At the western edge of the port is the Marina – here you can find a host of gorgeous fishing boats, sailing boats and yachts, together with a series of restaurants.
As you progress further east, you can pass the immense shipyard and commercial shipping sector that is always a hive of activity.
Continuing along you will pass the Mole Vanvitelliana, the cruise terminals, and eventually come to the iconic Arch of Trajan.
This whole area is bustling with activity and is a great place to simply walk through and admire.
2. Cattedrale di San Ciriaco
Located on the top of Monte Guasco in the eastern part of Ancona; the Cathedral of Saint Ciriaco is the most iconic religious structure in the city and towers above the surrounding region.
A pleasant winding path leads up to the cathedral and there is also a beautiful staircase.
Constructed in the 11th century, this cathedral has a Romanesque design and a beautiful front façade with an ornate central door.
Furthermore there is a series of intricate red marble lions standing guard in the entrance.
From the front courtyard of the cathedral you are granted fantastic views of Ancona and can see for miles across to the port area and historic old town.
3. National Archaeological Museum
Located in close proximity to Ancona Cathedral, the Archaeological Museum is one of the most important museums in the region and is an infinitely interesting place to visit.
Contained within the museum is a vast collection of artefacts and finds that have been excavated from the surrounding Marche region of Italy.
Spread over several floors, the museum features findings relating to the Piceno Civilization and the Gauls.
Furthermore, you can find prehistoric tombs, Roman coins and pottery and displays about people’s day to day lives during these time periods.
The displays are informative and well-presented and the variety of finds is diverse and intriguing.
4. Piazza del Plebiscito
This Piazza is one of the central points in the historic town centre and features several important buildings.
Notable structures include the Chiesa di San Domenico, the beautiful Prefettura Di Ancona, the Museo Della Citta and the ornate public library.
At the eastern side of the square there is a beautiful set of stone stairs complete with historic statues such as the marble statue of Pope Clement XII. Aside from the amazing architecture there is also a series of high quality restaurants, cafes and bars for your enjoyment.
This is a fantastic square to walk through and it also lies in close proximity to several other important monuments and attractions.
5. Mole Vanvitelliana
You can find this interesting structure in the heart of the harbour not far from the cruise terminal and the Parco Publico Cittadella.
This 18th century structure stands out against the modern port complex and is one of the most iconic and well-known structures in Ancona.
Originally constructed as a quarantine station for Leprosy sufferers, the pentagonal building has a beautiful design and its inner courtyard features some magnificent arches and porticos.
Furthermore there is a large monument in the centre of the complex with some interesting design features.
Aside from the architecture, the Vanvitelliana also houses the Museo Tattile Statale.
6. Arco di Traiano
Located in the heart of the port area, this magnificent arch stands as a display of Ancona’s historical past and involvement with the Roman Empire.
Created in early antiquity, the arch was built to honour the great emperor Trajan who helped develop the city of Ancona.
Made from Turkish Marble, the arch is 18.5m high and the archway is 3m wide.
On the central pediment there is an ancient inscription and either side of the arch there is a beautiful stone walkway that provides fantastic views of the port and harbour.
7. Visit Portonovo Bay
Only a short drive down the coast you can find the delightful Portonovo Bay.
Simply travel along the SP1 route and then take the first exit at the first roundabout.
This section of coastline has several amazing beaches with great facilities – on the western side are the main beach and the grand lake, and on the eastern side are a smaller beach and the Church of Santa Maria di Portonovo.
The coastline here is spectacular – the forests stretch down to the beaches, and golden sands meet with the warm seas.
Portonovo really is a great place to visit if you want to relax and escape the busy city.
There are several car parks and plenty of restaurants and cafes if you need refreshments.
8. Spiaggia del Passetto
The eastern coast of Ancona has some fantastic stretch of beach and rugged cliffs crowned with luscious forests.
At the end of the Viale Della Vittoria and the Monumento ai Caduti you can find the Passetto beach and promenade.
The beach is only a small section of golden sand but there is plenty of space to sunbathe and relax.
Furthermore, at either end of the beach there is an extensive coastal promenade where you can see fishing boats returning from the sea.
If you are looking for a pleasant and refreshing walk along the seafront, the Spiaggia del Passetto is the perfect place to be.
9. Museo Diocesano
In the structure adjacent to the Cathedral of Saint Ciriaco is the Diocesano Museum.
This structure was once the residence of Ancona’s Bishop but now holds a treasury of the cities most important religious artefacts.
When visiting the cathedral and Monte Guasco, it is advisable to visit this interesting museum too.
Held within the museum is a range of well-preserved religious items such as sarcophagus, jewellery, altar pieces and even a reconstruction of a church portal.
10. Parco del Cardeto
Whilst the Parco Cittadella offers views of the city, the Parco del Cardeto offers views of the stunning Ancona coastline.
This public park is located in the eastern part of the city next to the university campus.
Several fantastic footpaths snake throughout the park and through the beautiful wooded areas.
There is also several areas of manicured lawn where you can relax and sunbathe.
Within the grounds there is also several important archaeological sites including the Field of Jews (a grassy area containing 178 Jewish funeral jewels from as early as the 15th century), and the remains of the Cardeto military fortification.
11. Roman Amphitheatre
Like many cities in Italy, Ancona boasts its very own ancient Roman Amphitheatre.
Constructed on the slopes of the grand Monte Guasco, the remains of the theatre are not far from the San Ciriaco Cathedral.
This theatre was built during the rule of Augustus and was used as a place of the arts, but also as a gladiatorial school.
Indeed you can still see the remains of the school next to the theatre.
Although not as well preserved as some other examples, the theatre is still an interesting site and provides an insight into the ancient past of Ancona.
12. Monumento ai Caduti
Just above the cliffs of the Spiaggia del Passetto is the beautiful Caduti Monument.
This stunning Istria stone creation was built to commemorate those who lost their lives during WWI and was created in the 1920’s.
Since then it has stood untarnished and is the most recognised monument in the city.
In front of the monument is a beautiful ornate staircase that heads on down to the promenade and to the right is a small landscaped garden.
From the monument, you are granted with amazing views towards the ocean, and behind the monument is the grand Viale Della Vittoria.
13. Enjoy a delicious meal at the La DegOsteria restaurant
In the heart of the historic old town centre next to the Piazza del Plebiscito you can find the sublime La DegOsteria restaurant.
If you are looking for a place to dine then look no further! This establishment has everything you could want – great food, a charming atmosphere, friendly staff and a brilliant drinks selection.
In terms of food, you can choose from a range of traditional Italian dishes including some mouth watering pasta and high quality meats.
Furthermore, the desert menu is second to none and some of the creations are truly fantastic.
A meal at La DegOsteria will prove to be a highlight of your trip so book a table in advance!
14. Sample a selection of cocktails at the Liberty Cocktail Lounge
Another hidden gem in the centre of historic Ancona, the Liberty Cocktail Lounge is located on Via Traffico just a short walk from the Piazza del Plebistico.
For an evening of sophistication, great conversation and delightful beverages, there is no other place to visit! Although the establishment is small, the atmosphere is intimate and inviting and Fabio and Simonetta will make you feel welcome.
This bar is famed for its range of cocktails, in particular the Martini – make sure you try at least one! To accompany your drinks, you will also be presented with a delicious selection of nibbles.
To top it all off, the bar has a cool 20’s theme and plays some smooth music too.
15. Parco Publico Cittadella
In the western part of the historic town centre you can find the gorgeous and tranquil Public Citadel Park.
This beautiful public space stands on top of the Astagno hill and takes its name from the citadel that once stood here.
If you are looking for a place of respite and peace, this park is your haven – this is a fantastic place to walk dogs, sit in the sunshine and admire the views across to Ancona Harbour.
To the eastern part of the park, there is a separate area for picnics and ball games.
Visit the Citadel park for a refreshing break from sight-seeing and to find solitude from the busy city.