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Genoa is the gateway to the Italian Riviera and the first stop on any trip to the colourful streets of Cinque Terre. Once the richest city in the world, there are still signs of its glorious past in its grand palaces and beautifully decorated churches. Explore the winding alleys of the Centro Storico (historic centre) before following in Christopher Columbus's footsteps at the Porto Antico (old port).
Genoa hostels are usually inside the city's impressive historic buildings – such as a former convent, a 16th-century mansion or there is even a Genoa hostel in an old palazzo complete with frescoed ceilings and marble floors. Despite the significant age of the buildings (some date back to the 15th century), most hostels have been kitted out with mod cons like free Wi-Fi and, in many cases, elevators. Look out for hostels in Genoa with outdoor terraces where you can get to know other guests while making the most of the Riviera's famously mild weather.
Base yourself in the Centro Storico (historic centre) and you'll be in the heart of one of Europe's largest medieval neighbourhoods. Miles of alleyways and piazzas (squares) wind their way through this area, ideal for immersing yourself in the city's history. The Porto Antico (old port) is a short walk away. Rejuvenated in 1992, it's home to high-end shops and waterside bars where you can sip an aperitivo as the sun goes down.
While you're in Genoa, stroll along the UNESCO-listed Via Garibaldi street, which is lined with spell-binding 15th-century palaces. The Palazzo Rosso (Red Palace) and Palazzo Bianco (White Palace) are both fascinating art galleries. You'll get a 360-degree view of Genoa from the top of the Bigo Elevator, 40m above the ground. If you're in the mood for ice cream by the seaside, take the 15-minute taxi ride to Boccadasse, a fishing village with colourful houses.
If you're flying in, you'll land at Genoa Christopher Columbus Airport. There's a free shuttle bus every 15 minutes during the day, which runs between the airport and Principe Piazza Acquaverde, next to the main train station of Genova Piazza Principe. This is on the edge of the Prè neighbourhood, near the old harbour, and 15 minutes' walk from Via Garibaldi in the city centre. The Volabus also connects the airport to this area as well as the second train station, Genova Brignole.