Genoa (Genova) is a beautiful Italian city to visit for a family vacation! Be sure to check out these child-friendly sites and other helpful tips for your family trip to Genoa.
If you love all things pesto, you may be familiar with Genoa, Italy. It is the birthplace of Christopher Columbus and is located right off the coast of Northern Italy! Genoa has a flourishing ancient port and is also a popular cruise port destination, so if you’re stopping in for the day, start planning your itinerary!
Genoa is a beautiful city and is filled with so much history. This was the last stop in our two-week trip to Northern Italy, and it was a great city to relax and wind down from our long trip. Genoa with kids should be a part of your family trip to Italy; it is beautiful, with many child-friendly activities!
Things to do in Genoa with kids
The Genoa Aquarium (Acquario di Genova)
This famous aquarium of Genoa is one of the top reasons to experience Genoa with younger children! It is the second-largest aquarium in Europe. It is located outside the Old Harbor of Genoa (Porto Antico) near the Galata Museum. The aquarium is ideal for kids of different ages, and you can easily spend a couple of hours enjoying all of the marine life. There is a restaurant right outside at the exit, which gives you a beautiful view of the boats in the harbor.
Take a walk and visit the Old Harbor boats and Pirate ship
My two-year-old loves boats. We spent a bit of time checking out all of the boats in the Porto Antico area. His favorite? The pirate ship! This 17th-century Genoese pirate ship replica is beautiful and a must-see, especially if you are visiting Genoa with kids.
Take a ride on the Bigo lift
If you’re not afraid of heights, the panoramic lift can be an enjoyable experience, offering amazing views of the Old Harbor. It is located right outside the aquarium.
La Citta dei Bambini
La Cittá dei Bambini directly translated as the city of children, is the children’s museum in Genoa.
It’s an excellent place to spend a couple of hours inside, with so many different activities available for kids up until 14 years of age. There is a lot to experience for toddlers and small children; there are rooms geared to each of the four senses (taste, sight, touch, and smell), a construction room, and even a splash pad. This museum is specifically for kids and an excellent option for the entire family.
The Genoas Caruggi (translated to English as “Alleys”), are of huge significance to the city of Genoa. Aside from the aquarium, exploring these narrow alleys was one of my toddlers and my favorite activities. The streets are narrow and intersect continuously and often unexpectedly.
The Caruggi served as a form of protection for the city; in my perception, it acted as a maze. Exploring these alleys was a perfect way to feel immersed in the city.
Be sure to grab some gelato and visit some artisan shops. If you find one of the ancient churches, stop in. They are beautiful.
Gelato Maritime Museum
The Galata Museo del Mare, translated as museum of the sea, has four floors and is one of the largest museums in Italy. It specifically favors the history of Genoa, with its ancient ships and much dedication to Christopher Columbus. The museum is located in the Porto Antico (Old Port) near the aquarium. It is a significant museum for Genoa and is the ideal place to learn all about the ancient port. The museum has an interactive storm room which allows visitors to partake in a simulation, this can be a lot of fun as long as your little ones don’t get freightened.
Nazario Sauro S 518 Submarine
The Nazario Sauro Submarine was a real submarine with the Italian Navy that was decommissioned in 2002. It is unique because it is now a museum parked in the water. It is located right outside the Gelato Maritime Museum and can be a fun and exciting museum for kids.
Center Storico (Old Town)
This neighborhood is home to the San Lorenzo Cathedral, Doge’s Palace, and the Piazza de Ferrari and makes for a beautiful walk. It is the Centre of Genoa, and surrounded by magnificent buildings. This is a great area to find some delicious restaurants and do some shopping.
Piazza de Ferrari
A beautiful fountain is located in the main square of the old town, the Piazza de Ferrari, and is at the heart of the city. It is magnificent and stunning. The Piazza de Ferrari is centered in the city’s financial center and surrounded by beautiful buildings.
The square was a nice little break from walking around the city and allowed my toddler to run around and chase the pigeons. The area around the fountain is quite large, and although there is space to run, the streets are bustling.
Boccadasse is an old mariners’ village in Genoa. It is stunning with its pastel buildings and cobblestone streets. The beach is beautiful and looks to be an ideal spot during the summer months. Being there in April, we played primarily in the sand.
Can you swim in Boccadasse?
The current was a bit strong, but we did see a couple of swimmers in April wearing wet suits. The beach itself is a mixture of sand and rocks.
The beach of Boccadasse can be a nice break from the city- especially if you have young kids. The promenade along the roads with the ocean backdrop is beautiful, with plenty of restaurants facing the gorgeous scenery.
Visit the Public Parks and Playgrounds
My son’s favorite playgrounds were located right on the Old Harbor. There was a large section for older kids and a separate one for younger ones. This was an ideal location for us, in that it was surrounded by restaurants and on the port walking distance from our Airbnb. We easily spent a couple of hours watching him run around.
This is a grand garden and park. If you’re there on a beautiful day, you can easily spend a few hours soaking up the sun. The park has playgrounds and, similar to our favorite park in Milan, has a little ride. This is an ideal place for a picnic. Another great idea would be to stop at a nearby cafe and enjoy some gelato (an Italian, more creamier form of ice cream).
Like museums, we must be very selective with tours when taking our toddler along. Our favorite tours were the bus and food tours, we sought these out in every city of our trip to Northern Italy.
Hop-on-hop-off bus tours
These bus tours are a great way to see the city and some of its historical landmarks. It’s also an excellent way to travel with babies or toddlers. We were able to quickly get to the Boccadasse, as well as see some of the sites in the Center Storico.
We try to take advantage of these bus tours in every city on our travels; my toddler always enjoys them.
What better way to get to know a city than through a food tour, especially in Italy! Many of these food tours often include a guided tour of the city.
Be sure to try some of Genoa’s typical cuisine!
What to eat in Genoa
- Spaghetti Al Nero di Seppia (Spaghetti served in a squid ink sauce). This was also a popular dish in Venice
- Stockfish and other seafood dishes
Getting around Genoa with kids
Genoa cruise port
Palazzo SanGiogio, Via della Mercanzia 2, Genoa, GE 16123, Italy
How far is the Genoa cruise port from the train station?
It is about a ten-minute walk (500 meters) from the central train station, Genoa Piazza Principe. It is also about a ten-minute walk from downtown Genoa if you choose not to take a shuttle bus.
Genova Piazza Principe is the central train station. It even has an ICE train that goes straight to Milan.
I would recommend utilizing the metro station and buses; there were so many options, and they were very easily accessible.
The city of Genoa is not very large and is easily accessible on foot.
However, if you plan to visit Boccadasse or another nearby village, I suggest public transportation.
We used the hop-on-hop- off bus to get to Boccadasse and took public transportation back to the city center allowing us to stay and enjoy the beach city longer.
Where to stay in Genoa with kids
I can’t personally speak to the hotels. But there is a Best Western City Plus- and generally speaking, my family and I have had pretty good experiences with Best Western Overseas
We chose the Airbnb route for more flexibility and space with our toddler.
Our AirBnB was located in the Old Harbor area- which was nice. There was so much to see only walking distance from us—including the aquarium and the playgrounds.
Other helpful tips for traveling to Genoa with kids
Dining in Genoa
Restaurants typically don’t open up for dinner in till 7:30, and many require reservations.
Some restaurants didn’t have kids’ menus, but if you asked, they would gladly make a kids-sized pasta upon request.
Where to purchase essential items in Genoa
You can purchase many different items in their local grocery stores, including baby and toddler supplies
Any medications must be purchased here (we found supermarkets did not carry medications).
This was also an easy stop to purchase baby wipes.
Is Genoa stroller-friendly
Yes- we saw many people with strollers. However, I would recommend a more compact and sturdy stroller for traveling in Italy. Many restaurants are small and may not have space, and those cobblestone streets can be challenging.
We chose not to bring a stroller for our family trip to Italy.Instead, we brought the carrier. In my opinion, the backpack carrier seemed to be more convenient.
My final thoughts on visiting Genoa with kids.
Genoa is one of the most beautiful cities, with an authentic, gritty feel. A wonderful place worth visiting for the entire family. The unique feel of the Carruggi to the aquarium and gorgeous beach makes for a perfect place to visit with the whole family!
Whether it’s a one-day stop or a three day trip, you can easily make an itinerary that works for you.
I loved our time there, and I am hoping to have the opportunity to visit again!
We loved our family trip to Italy with our toddler and recommended visiting these cities! Milan had our favorite parks; there was so much to see and do in Verona; Venice is a must-see. Florence & Tuscany are beautiful. Pisa was just a quick detour off the train to see the tower. Rome is a city that should be prioritized.
Have you been to Genoa? Did you or your kids have any favorite spots? I would love to hear about it!