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What to see when docked in Genoa

Genoa Italy

While never identified as a famous port like Rome, Naples or Venice; Genoa can certainly compete on many fronts. It is a highly rewarding destination, providing cruise holidaymakers with many things to see and do.


The port of Genoa, Stazione Maritima, serves container and cruise ships. It is a large harbour and can accommodate several ships on the same date and time. Stazione Maritima is the home port for MSC cruise ships but other major cruise lines have ships that dock here too.

The cruise port has several transportation options for you to get about. It’s also possible to walk to the city centre in 15 minutes. Taxis are available right outside of the terminal. However, there is also a metro stop by the port at the Principe metro station that will take you to the city centre or the old port. The local buses N° 9, 11 or 32 have stops at the port as well.

MSC Poesia and MSC Fantasia in Genoa

Image courtesy of MSC Cruises


There are many attractions to fill up your day in Genoa.

One of the things that the inhabitants of Genoa are most proud of is their ‘native son’. They call their city the ‘Land of Columbus’ since explorer Christopher Columbus was born in 1451 and raised here. The house is tucked away outside the city gates.

Genoa is Italy’s sixth largest city. However, the historic centre is compact and an easy walk. A good place to start once disembarking is the Porto Antico (the old harbour).

Acquario di Genova (aquarium) is conveniently located here. It was built specifically for Expo 92 and holds the title as the second largest aquarium in Europe. A biosphere known as “La Bolla” is a modernistic glass ball utilized as a conservatory for plants, as well as birds and insects.

Acquario di Genova

In its old town, it’s easy to be transported back to the Middle Ages, with the hilltop castle, the cathedrals and the narrow cobblestone alleyways. Medieval, Roman and Venetian architecture can be seen everywhere.

The San Lorenzo Cathedral or “Duomo” is Genoa’s oldest cathedral and dates back to the 5th or 6th centuries. This historical building has a black and white striped marble facade interior with Moorish influence. During the WW1, the cathedral was one of the few buildings that withstood attack without any damage. A British battleship fired a shell into it but it never exploded. The fuse and the shell are still intact and are visible in a corner of the nave.

A different fate bestowed the 19th century Teatro Carlo Felice (Opera House) located on Piazza de Ferrari, the city’s main square. During WW2, the building was severely damaged during the bombing raids throughout the city. The Opera House was restructured to its former glory and reopened in 1991 serving as a house of culture for ballet, opera and concerts.

The symbol of the city of Genoa is its Museo Laterna, a lighthouse dating back to medieval times. The lighthouse’s property houses an enormous museum which contains several artefacts related to Genoa’s vast history. The observation deck boasts a wonderful view.

Located on Via Garibaldi, the UNESCO World Heritage Site was the home of the aristocracy. Today, it serves as a “museum street”, consisting of Palazzo Rosso, Palazzo Bianco and Palazzo Tursi.

  • The Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace) museum contains much of its original 17th Century furniture and impressive frescoes as well as a prestigious art gallery.
  • Palazzo Bianco (White Palace) houses the city’s premier art gallery.
  • Palazzo Tursi serves as home to Genoa’s city council but also plays hosts to several cultural events and art exhibitions.

After sightseeing, passengers find that shopping in the small shops in the old town is a perfect end to the day before heading back to the ship. Originating in Genoa is the much loved Pesto sauce with many shops selling it freshly sealed in a jar.


Genoa serves as port to tour other areas such as the very picturesque Portofino on the Italian Riviera. On the Flower Riviera, another alternative is the Renaissance town of Savona.

The village, Portovenere is a picture perfect UNESCO World Heritage Site and belongs to the Cinque Terre. This is a collective name, meaning 5 lands for five picturesque villages located in a National Park along the Ligurian coast.


To visit any of these places outside of Genoa, arrange for a tour excursion from the ship’s tour desk or venture on your own via train from Genoa or by taxi.


Most cruise vessels call on Genoa from April to October. The exception is MSC, who have a ship in this charming home port year round.


The following cruise lines offer itineraries that include Genoa:

  • Carnival
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Costa Cruises
  • Crystal Cruises
  • Holland America Line
  • MSC Cruises
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Princess Cruises
  • Royal Caribbean International

Written by Veronica Shine

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