This summer our last vacation as a family of three was a short road trip to the Italian Riviera. The first stop in our trip was in Genova where we stayed for two nights. One of those days was spent walking around in Genova itself. Before Julia we used to go on all sorts of free walking tours of the city, but we have now discovered that it is quite hard to keep up especially if we also want Julia to enjoy and want to give her time to explore at her own pace. So we want to share with you this short guide to the best walking tour of Genova with kids.
We came up with our walking tour of Genova by reading blog posts online and travel guides from TripAdvisor. This is something I normally do when we go to a new place, but then of course we make the itinerary our own and just go with the flow of the day and Julia’s mood. If you have kids you know that they are the little kings and queens of the family, if they’re happy everyone’s happy. That applies to traveling as well.
Make sure you adapt the time spent in any place to their moods and schedules, that will guarantee a happy vacation for everyone, and don’t forget to pack any of the essentials like water, snacks, or anything else you may need. These are the three things we never travel without.
This walking tour of Genova with kids, is really focused on the little ones that travel with us, our intention with traveling with Julia is always that she will love traveling as much as us and that the time spent in every city is a great experience for the whole family.
Walk around the old port
We took a tram from our hotel to the old port of Genova. It is a really pretty place to walk around, there’s a big pirate boat called the Galeone Neptune, we didn’t go in but you can actually do it. When we were there they had an area with inflatable games and trampolines that Julia loved playing in, it was right in front of the Marina and we had lots of fun. We were there for 20 minutes but those 20 minutes make such difference when you think of little kids. There is also a Ferris Wheel that looks so pretty all lit up at night, shops and cafes, and then obviously the Aquarium.
Visit the Aquarium
The Aquarium of Genova is the largest aquarium in Italy and only second to the aquarium of Valencia in Europe. They had a ton of different types of fish, sharks, turtles, stingrays, dolphins. Julia loved being there. I found that the tickets were a bit pricey but we came unprepared. If you know you will be in Genova book the tickets in advance, it is more likely to be cheaper. Children up to 3 years of age can come in for free so we didn’t have to pay for Julia. They have reduced prices for kids who are between 4 and 12 years. After spending a good 2-3 hours in the aquarium we were ready to continue with our self-guided walking tour of Genova.
Walk through via Garibaldi and visit Palazzi dei Rolli
Along Garibaldi street you will find lots of palaces, it is a beautiful little street right in between two UNESCO heritage sites. The Palazzi dei Rolli and the Historical Center’s streets. Walking through this street is really like taking yourself back in the past and imagining just how majestic this city must have been.
Take the evelator up to Belvedere Montaldo
On the street parallel to via Garibaldi you will find Piazza Portello. From Piazza Portello you will be able to take an elevator up to Belvedere Montaldo (otherwise called Spianata Castello). To ride the elevator you need a public transportation ticket that costs around 1.50€. From this beautiful esplanade you will be able to enjoy unparalleled panoramic views of the city. Take the chance to relax a bit and a grab a gelato before heading back down.
Through via Roma reach the Piazza Ferrari
If you cross through the main lobby of the palace to the other side of the building you will make it to Piazza Ferrari. In this Piazza you will find the iconic fountain you will find if you google pictures of Genova. We had lots of fun there just jumping from the fountain down and running around in the smaller fountain on the side of it.
Visit the Doge’s palace
Again the museum was closed when we arrived (hey it was a hot day so we did the walking in the late afternoon/ early evening) but we are not huge museum people anyway. The building itself is very beautiful, and I read that there are lots of temporary exhibitions, festivals, conferences and what not taking place there throughout the year. So plan in advance and check if they have anything going on that you may be interested in.
When you’re done taking pictures and enjoying the piazza and the fountain head to via Roma and just enjoy the beauty of the street. It is well known for its hanging umbrellas, but I’ve seen pictures of flags and when we were there they had colorful spinners.
Go to the San Lorenzo Cathedral
After the aquarium we made our way uphill to the San Lorenzo Cathedral. The church was closed so we couldn’t come inside. The building is beautiful and Julia was convinced it was a castle and some princess had to live there. We played in the plaza and let Julia run up and down the stairs. The church is free to visit and if you pay 5€ you can go up the tower and look out over the city. I bet the views are amazing from up there.
Just a note of caution – remember that Italy, when it comes to churches and visiting the churches is still very traditional. Both men and women should bear clothing that covers shoulders and knees. The first time we were in Milan I couldn’t go in the Duomo because I was wearing shorts. Keep this in mind wherever you go in Italy, because there is bound to be a Church you want to visit somewhere.
Head to Cristopher Columbus house
The house of Cristopher Columbus is more like what is left of the facade but we still felt like it deserved a visit. If you head up the walking path you will arrive at the St. Andrea towers, cross the towers and walk down that street. In that area we found lots of bars and restaurants where you can stop and have dinner or an aperitivo. After that you are a stone throw away from where you started this self-guided walking tour of Genova and it will be easy to find your way back to your accommodation.
We really enjoyed our time in this city and Julia had such a great time on that day that we couldn’t not share our tips for a great walking tour of Genova with kids. Have you been in Genova? What did you enjoy the most?