Visiting Genoa in winter is a lot more interesting than you might expect. The city is known for its stunning architecture, rich maritime history and labyrinthine Old Town. This area comes alive during Christmas with a festive market that’s the heart of the city’s celebrations.
In the following article, you’ll find all the essential details, from the 2023 dates and opening times to the top stalls and local delicacies of Genoa Christmas Market.
As Christmas approaches, Genoa wraps itself in a charming aura of festivities. The city’s streets come alive with twinkling street lights and vibrant decorations that turn Genoa into a winter spectacle.
Genoa Christmas Market 2023
The Christmas market in Genoa is a vibrant display of tradition and culture. You’ll find countless stalls lining the heart of the city, each bursting with unique artisan gifts, handcrafted decorations, and local delicacies such as the popular pandolce Genovese, a traditional Genoan Christmas cake.
The market’s festive spirit is further amplified by the live music echoing through the streets and the heartwarming sight of locals and tourists alike, enjoying the festive cheer.
Dates and Location
Genoa Christmas Market dates: Likely dates: 10th to 23rd December 2023.
Location: Piazza De Ferrari, Genoa Old Town.
Opening times: From around 11am to 7pm.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Admission: Free, no tickets required.
Christmas lights: Yes, switch on date: 3rd December.
Ice skating: Yes, at Piazza De Ferrari.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, but limited.
Gluten-free: Yes, but limited.
Accessible: Yes, if you can manage cobblestones.
Pet-friendly: Yes, dogs are allowed on a lead.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: A harmonious blend of tradition and culture; a unique selection of artisan gifts; handcrafted decorations; pandolce genovese; historic location.
Recommended tour: A guided tour of the incredible Rolli Palaces.
Specialities: Pandolce Genovese; panettone; focaccia di Recco; farinata; castagnaccio; sweet zabaione.
Where to stay: Hotel Bristol Palace is a classic Genovese hotel, 4-minutes from the Christmas market.
Hotels near Genoa Christmas Market
When visiting Genoa for the Christmas Market, staying in the city centre ensures you’re just steps away from the festive atmosphere and charming historic streets.
The bustling Piazza De Ferrari area is an ideal base, with its close proximity to the market and other iconic attractions.
For a comfortable and elegant stay, consider Hotel Bristol Palace, a highly-rated classic Genovese hotel conveniently located near the Christmas festivities.
Location of Genoa Christmas Market
City and Christmas Tours
Exploring Genoa via a city tour is a brilliant opportunity to delve into the city’s rich heritage and vibrant culture. With its quaint old town, vibrant buildings and remarkable architecture, Genoa is a city that holds appeal for all.
I suggest this private city tour of Genoa as it allows you to discover the city’s highlights accompanied by a local guide at a reasonable cost. This is particularly suitable for those making their first visit.
On a city tour, you’ll encounter some of the city’s most significant landmarks and attractions, including the historic Via Garibaldi, the elegant Fountain of Neptune, and the impressive San Lorenzo Cathedral.
Alternatively, you might fancy taking a food tour to understand local culture through their gastronomy. Food tours are gaining popularity, and having experienced a few during my time as a travel blogger, I would highly recommend this type of tour.
For a broader view of the festive magic across the country, you might like to check out my guide to the best Christmas markets in Italy, which will help you in planning an amazing winter holiday.
What to Expect in Genoa
Christmas Specialties in Genoa
Pandolce Genovese: Also known as Genoa cake, this is a sweet bread traditionally prepared during the Christmas period. It’s studded with raisins, candied peel and pine nuts, and flavoured with fennel seeds, giving it a unique and distinct taste. The texture is light and crumbly, making it a nice treat to enjoy with a cup of coffee.
Panettone: A classic Italian Christmas cake originating from Milan, panettone has found its way into the hearts and kitchens of Genoans during the festive season. It’s a tall, dome-shaped sweet bread filled with dried fruit and has a light, fluffy texture that almost melts in your mouth.
Torrone: A traditional Italian nougat that you’ll often find at Christmas, torrone is a delicious sweet made from honey, sugar, egg whites and toasted nuts. Depending on the recipe, its texture can range from soft and chewy to hard and crunchy.
Baccalà con Patate e Pinoli: Translating to ‘salt cod with potatoes and pine nuts’, this dish is a Genoan Christmas Eve staple. The salt cod is soaked for a few days to remove the saltiness before it’s baked with potatoes, pine nuts and olives in a rich tomato sauce.
Capon Magro: A Genoan seafood and vegetable salad, Capon Magro is traditionally served on Christmas Eve. It’s a layered dish with various cooked vegetables, seafood and a rich green sauce.
Insalata di Rinforzo: This hearty salad is a Christmas staple in many Italian homes. It’s packed with cauliflower, pickles, olives, capers and pepper, all tossed in a tangy vinaigrette. It’s a great addition to the Christmas table as a vegetarian dish.
Mostaccioli: These sweet, diamond-shaped biscuits are a festive favourite in many Italian regions. Made with honey, spices and almonds, they’re often covered in a delicious chocolate glaze.
Struffoli: These small balls of dough are fried until golden and then covered in honey. As a typical Neapolitan Christmas dessert, they’re often decorated with coloured sprinkles or candied fruit. Despite not being a Genoan specialty, you might find them in some homes, adding a sweet touch to the Christmas festivities.
Food at the Christmas Market
Focaccia di Recco: An iconic Genoan snack, Focaccia di Recco is a thin, crispy flatbread filled with a layer of melted cheese. It’s traditionally baked in a wood-fired oven, giving it a slightly smoky, irresistible flavour.
Farinata: Made from a simple mixture of chickpea flour, olive oil, water and salt, Farinata is a thin, pancake-like snack that’s baked in large, round copper pans. This savoury treat is a Genoan staple that you’re bound to find at the Christmas market stalls.
Panissa: Panissa is a traditional Genoan dish made from chickpea flour, similar to Farinata but served in a different way. Once the mixture is cooked, it’s left to cool and set before being cut into thick slices or wedges and fried until crispy.
Chestnuts: Roasted chestnuts are a classic winter street food in many parts of the world and Genoa is no exception. The enticing aroma of chestnuts roasting over an open fire fills the air at the Christmas market, drawing visitors to the stalls for a warm, comforting treat.
Mulled Wine: Known in Italy as Vin Brulé, this warm, spiced wine is a popular beverage at Christmas markets across Europe. The wine is slowly heated with a blend of spices such as cloves, cinnamon and star anise, resulting in a comforting and aromatic drink perfect for warding off the winter chill.
Candied Nuts: A sweet treat that’s hard to resist, candied nuts are a common sight at Christmas markets. Almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts are coated in a sweet syrup and roasted until they’re wonderfully crunchy and caramelised.
Gingerbread Cookies: While not a traditional Italian snack, gingerbread cookies have become a popular treat at Christmas markets around the world. These spiced cookies are often beautifully decorated, making them a festive and delicious snack to enjoy while exploring the market.
Bratwurst: Another international Christmas market staple you might find at Genoa’s Christmas market are Bratwurst sausages. Originating from Germany, these juicy sausages are usually served in a bun with mustard and make for a hearty snack while you browse the market stalls.
What to Buy
Handcrafted Decorations: Among the many treasures you’ll discover at Genoa’s Christmas market are beautifully handcrafted Christmas decorations. Artisans pour their heart and soul into creating unique ornaments, from delicate glass baubles to hand-painted wooden figures, which can add a touch of Italian charm to your Christmas tree.
Leather Goods: Genoa and the surrounding region of Liguria are known for their quality leather goods. At the market, you can find finely crafted wallets, belts, bags and other accessories, making for a thoughtful and long-lasting gift.
Local Delicacies: Christmas is the perfect time to indulge in local food specialties. Stalls at the market sell packaged Genoan treats like pandolce, a type of sweet bread, and other regional delicacies, which make for a delicious gift to bring home.
Italian Ceramics: Known for their beauty and craftsmanship, Italian ceramics make for a pretty purchase. You’ll find various items such as dishes, vases, and decorative tiles, often beautifully hand-painted in various designs reflecting Italian art and culture.
Olive Oil: Liguria, the region where Genoa is located, is famous for its high-quality olive oil. Bottles of locally produced olive oil can be found at the market, making for a practical and tasty gift for the foodies in your life.
Limoncino: A popular Italian liqueur, Limoncino is often made in homes along the Italian Riviera, which includes Genoa. Bottles of this sweet, lemony liqueur could make for a refreshing and distinctive gift.
Local Wines: Liguria is home to several vineyards producing excellent local wines. The market is a good place to pick up a bottle or two of Ligurian wine, such as Vermentino or Rossese, for the wine connoisseurs back home.
Christmas Knitwear: With winter in full swing, stalls selling cosy knitwear are a common sight. You can find beautifully crafted scarves, hats and gloves, often made from high-quality Italian wool, that make for a warm gift and add a fashionable touch to your winter wardrobe.
Mercatino di San Nicola Christmas Market
The Mercatino di San Nicola Christmas Market is a smaller festive event held annually in Piazza Piccapietra.
The market features a variety of Christmas stalls offering unique handcrafted gifts, local artisan products and a wide variety of local and international food and drink specialties.
This magical market is a popular destination for those seeking an authentic Italian Christmas experience, as it provides an enchanting atmosphere away from the main Christmas market.
Mercatino di San Nicola dates: Likely dates: 1st December to 23rd December 2023.
Opening times: From around 3pm to 7pm.
Location: Piazza Piccapietra, Genoa.
Location of Mercatino di San Nicola
To further aid in your trip planning, you might find the website of Visit Genoa particularly useful, as it provides a wealth of information tailored to visitors exploring the city, including things to do and upcoming events.
Sustainable Christmas Tips
Many of us are increasingly concerned about climate change and sustainability. Here are a few tips on how we can travel more responsibly in Genoa at Christmas.
- Renewable Energy: Choose accommodations that prioritise renewable energy sources, like solar panels or wind energy.
- Energy Efficiency: Opt for hotels or apartments with energy-saving measures in place, such as LED lighting, double-glazed windows and well-insulated walls.
- Reducing Food Waste: Visit local markets, such as Mercato Orientale, to buy fresh, seasonal produce and only purchase the quantities you need to minimise food waste.
- Ethical Consumption: Support local artisans and eco-friendly businesses by purchasing sustainably made products and souvenirs at the Christmas market or in Genoa’s historic centre.
- Sustainable Diets: Enjoy the region’s vegetarian and vegan cuisine, like farinata and focaccia, to minimise your environmental impact and explore the city’s diverse culinary landscape.
- Sustainable Transport: Navigate Genoa’s charming streets by foot, bicycle, or public transportation, such as buses and the metro system, to reduce your carbon footprint and experience the city like a local.
Genoa Christmas Market starts on 10th to 23rd December 2023.
The Genoa Christmas Market is typically held in the historic city centre, with the main festivities concentrated around the bustling Piazza De Ferrari.
The Christmas markets are typically open from around 11am to 7pm.
Winters in Genoa are mild, with average temperatures ranging from 5°C to 13°C (40°F to 55°F); however, it can be rainy, so make sure to pack an umbrella or raincoat.
Yes, Genoa is generally safe for tourists during winter, but it’s always advisable to practice common safety measures like being aware of your surroundings and keeping your belongings secure.
In case of rainy weather, you can visit Genoa’s numerous museums, such as the Palazzo Rosso or the Galata Maritime Museum, or enjoy a leisurely meal at a cosy trattoria or café.
Venturing to Genoa this winter is a wonderful experience that allows you to explore the city’s rich history, stunning architecture and vibrant culture, all amidst the warmth and cheer of the Christmas market.
Indulge in mouthwatering local delicacies, shop for unique gifts and create lasting memories with loved ones in this enchanting Italian gem.
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Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Genoa, Italy. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.