Genoa is the birthplace of 15th-century explorer Christopher Columbus, whose voyages of discovery led to European settlement of the New World. When Columbus was a young boy he lived in Genoa and used to frequent the Old Port, where, from a very young age, his exposure to the shipping trade and experiences with navigation led to his own career as a mariner.Today the Old Port (Porto Antico) is still an exciting place to visit for the whole family, offering many inspiring kid-friendly activities that involve kids in a combination of knowledge, curiosity, fun, and games at the same time.Among the top Genoa kids activities is a visit to the largest Aquarium in Europe, walking in between the tanks which house many different types of fish and reptiles in exhibits that recreate the natural and original environments of the individual species. Furthermore, once a month kids can experience “a night with sharks” in the Aquarium. The only things that they have to take with them in this adventure are their sleeping bag, pajamas and toothbrush. During the “night with sharks” kids visit the Aquarium tanks to discover unknown behavior of the marine environment at night and end the evening in front of the shark tank.From the Old Port, there are family-friendly boat excursions to view whales and dolphins in the Ligurian Sea. This fascinating experience teaches kids the importance of protecting the environmental habitat of these majestic creatures.
Families can explore the depths of the sea even further with a “Full-immersion” voyage in the Nazario Sauro submarine, a real submarine in which children over 4 years old can enjoy a unique experience. Inside the Nazario, kids learn about underwater exploration in a fun engaging way that combines information about the complex operations of a submarine with entertainment and play.
Near the submarine dock, families with children can visit the Galata Museum of Sea and Navigation. The museum has fascinating reconstructions of shipyards, multimedia presentations, and sound effects that are oriented toward children. The museum’s rich collection of more than 6000 exhibits provides a unique opportunity to follow the progress of the sea exploration from the galleons of Christopher Columbus’ era to the modern gigantic transatlantic liners.
Located in an ancient cotton warehouse by the Old Port there is also the “Città dei Bambini” (the City of Children). This area is dedicated to play, science, and technology for children between 3 and 14 years old.
Finally, another two attractions that should be visited in this area are the Antarctic Museum (where kids can learn more about the Antarctica region with interesting films and environmental recreations) and the Pirate Galleon (constructed for the Polanski film Pirates).
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While you visit this area, take advantage of the opportunity for a healthy lunch that kids will want to eat—a freshly cooked focaccia from one of the several bakeries located all around the Old Port.
How to reach Genoa’s Old Port area:
From Genoa’s P.Principe railway station in 10/15 minutes by foot
From Genoa’s Brignole railway station by taking bus n. 12 or 13 to Piazza Caricamento
From Cruise Ship Terminal by taking bus n. 1 to Piazza Caricamento
If you arrive in Genoa Old Port by car: Highway Genoa Est exit. You can find many car parking in the area as: Aquarium parking, Parodi bridge, Marina ancient harbour, Calata Gadda and Car parking Cineplex.
Author Anna Merulla of the Beautiful Liguria Blog lives in Genoa and offers travel concierge services to assist visitors to the region with both the practical aspects of their travels as well as with discovering the beauty, the culture, the cuisine and the ancient history of Liguria by offering her unique expertise and insight.