The exterior of Genoa Piazza Principe

Genova Piazza Principe (Genova / Genoa)

This guide to Genova Piazza Principe station explains what to look out for when using the station, how to access the city centre and how to reach picturesque Boccadasse.

Genova Piazza Principe is one of Italy’s most impressive train stations, by virtue of the fact that it’s one of the few major stations in Italy, not to have been re-built in the 1930s in the prevalent Art-Deco style.

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At a Glance

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Travel Information Desk
First Class Lounge
Onward Travel

Metro
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The main entrance hall, the escalators give access to the departure hall The main entrance hall, the escalators give access to the departure hall

A Choice Of Stations in Genova / Genoa

Genova is blessed with two impressive major stations, Piazza Principe (this station) and Genova Brignole - both of which are connected to the Genova Metro, which also runs beneath the city centre.

Many trains to/from Genova/Genoa, including virtually all of the local Regionale trains call at both Piazza Principe AND Brignole stations.
So it can be worthwhile looking up the location of your final destination in the city, to check which of the two stations will best suit your needs.

Train service summary from Piazza Principe:

Genova Piazza Principe is the city’s principle station because it is served by more long distance trains than Genova Brignole.
These train services depart from Piazza Principe:

(1) IC trains to Milano; more frequent than from Brignole.

(2) Regionale (RG/RGV) trains towards Milano; a quicker journey than from Brignole.

(3) Regionale (RG/RGV) trains to Albenga, Savona, San Remo, Ventimiglia; more frequent than from Brignole.

(4) IC trains to Albenga, Savona, San Remo, Ventimiglia; much more frequent than from Brignole.

(5) Frecciabianca trains to Torino; faster journey than from Brignole.

(6) The morning IC trains to Torino; do NOT depart from  Brignole.

(7) Regionale Veloce trains to Torino; faster journey than from Brignole.

(8) Frecce and IC trains to La Spezia, Pisa, Livorno and Roma; slower journey than from Brignole.

(9) Regionale trains to Sestri Levante and La Spezia; slower and slightly less frequent than from Brignole.

(10 The new direct Frecciarossa service to Venezia/Venice which departs daily at 07:05

Train service summary from Brignole:

(1) IC trains to Milano; slightly slower and less frequent than from Piazza Principe.

(2) Regionale (RG/RGV) trains towards Milano; slightly slower and less frequent than from Piazza Principe.

(3) Frecciabianca trains to Torino; slightly slower than from Piazza Principe.

(4) The new direct Frecciarossa service to Venezia/Venice which departs daily at 06:58.

(5) Regionale Veloce trains to Torino; slightly slower than from Piazza Principe.

(6) Frecce and IC trains to La Spezia, Pisa, Livorno and Roma; a slightly faster journey than from Piazza Principe.

(7) Regionale trains to Sestri Levante and La Spezia; a slightly faster journey than from Piazza Principe and  also more frequent.

From the city centre:

Heading north and west:
If you are in Genova city centre and will be heading north towards Milano or Torino by train, or west towards Savona, Albenga and Ventimiglia, then head to Pizza Principe to catch your train.
There is a wider choice of trains to these destinations from Piazza Principe compared to Brignole.

Heading south:
The IC and Frecce trains between Genova and destinations to the south, including La Spezia, Pisa and Roma, call at both Piazza Principe and Brignole.
If you are heading south from Genova city centre towards La Spezia, Pisa and the Cinque Terrre stations, then take the train from Brignole station.

Good to know about using Piazza Pincipe:

This is the departure hall where the access to the binari (platforms/tracks) is located This is the departure hall where the access to the binari (platforms/tracks) is located

Genova Piazza Principe is one of Italy’s most impressive train stations, by virtue of the fact that it’s one of the few major stations in Italy, not to have been re-built in the 1930s in the prevalent Art-Deco style.
But this 19th century architecture impacts on how the station can be used today, though a recent modernisation scheme has improved the access to and from the trains.

What isn't initially obvious when using the station is that is a station of five distinct parts:

(1) When you use the main street entrance, you will be in the entrance hall, where the ticket desk is located, but you can't access the trains directly from here.
You need to use the escalators or stairs which lead to the main departure hall and then follow the signs from there.

(2) the main departure hall which houses the:

  • the staffed left luggage office (check the opening hours when you drop off your bags);
  • the main waiting area;
  • access to the Metro and the underground binari (tracks/platforms) 1s and 2s used by local (Regionale) trains;
  • access to binaro (track/platform) 11, as its level with the departure hall;
  • two passage ways which lead to and from binari (tracks/platforms) 12 -20 in the main station.

The older style of the station's buildings compromises the access to and from the trains, because despite the station improvements at the station, neither of these passages has elevator access in the main departure hall.
As in addition to the stairs, they each only have one escalator in the departure hall, both of which can be leading upwards OR downwards.

(3) The main open air part of the station used by long-distance trains is where binari (tracks/platforms) 11 -20 are located.
On these binari (tracks/platforms) 12 20 there is access to those two passage ways, which connect this part of the station to the main hall, one is accessed by stairs and elevators and the other is accessed by stairs and escalators.
However, the passage way that has lift access to & from the binari (tracks/platforms) only has one escalator up into the main hall at the station - when SMTJ there it was working in the up direction.

(4) The binari (tracks/platforms) 1s and 2s used by most of the local (Regionale) trains are below ground, they have an access point between the entrance hall and the main hall, it's over on the right when heading to the trains from the main street entrance at the front if the of the station.
If you will be connecting a train leaving from here from a train arriving at binari11 -20, use the passage way on those platforms which can be accessed by the stairs and elevators.

(5) The access to the metro station is separate to the main station building.
In a courtyard beside the station, which isn't visible from the station is a roofed area, beneath which are escalators which connect this courtyard to the metro station.
From the entrance hall and main departure hall there are doors which lead out to this courtyard.

Departing By Train from Piazza Principe

The main access to the trains from this departure hall is under the departure screens The main access to the trains from this departure hall is under the departure screens

When departing by train from Piazza Principe station, step-free access between the main station buildings and the binari (platforms/tracks) that the express trains depart from is not guaranteed.

There are two passage ways, beneath the railway lines, which link the station buildings, including the departure hall, to the trains that depart from the main, above ground, part of the station.
Both have stairs down to them, but they both only have one escalator in the main departure hall.
So when you're in the departure hall, you can't be sure if either of the escalators will be switched so its leading down, and there are no elevators that connect the departure hall to these passage ways.

To reach this departure hall you can use the escalators in the main entrance hall, they'll be ahead of you when you enter the station, the ticket office will be over to the left.

At the foot of those escalators, over to the right and before entering the main departure hall, is a set of stairs and an escalator down into one of the passage ways to binari (platforms/tracks) 12-20; it also leads to binari 1s and 2s, which are used by most of the local trains.
At the end of this passage way, the binari (platforms/tracks) 12-20, can be accessed by stairs and elevators.

The main passage way to binari (platforms/tracks) 12-20 is in the centre of the departure hall, the stairs and escalator are beneath the main departure board.
At the end of this passage way the binari can be accessed by stairs and escalators.

Binaro (platform/track) 11 is level with the departure hall.

Something else to watch out for is that some of the InterCity trains, which call at Genova Piazza Principe, can spend around 15 mins in the station.
So keep an eye on the departure screens, as there MAY not be any need to rush towards a train that’s already arrived.

Though in contrast to the stunning main station buildings, the binari (tracks/platforms) that the express trains depart from are comparatively grotty.

Genova Pizza Principe does not have the screens that show where to wait on the platform for easy boarding into each coach on a train.
There are bi-lingual announcements that along with the calling points, will also say which end of the train the 1st class coaches will be.
But they're not always accurate; so waiting in the middle of the platform can be the best option.

If you will taking a Regionale train from Genova Piazza Principe be aware that some of these trains depart from underground platforms that are beneath the main station.
These underground binari (tracks/platforms) are numbered '1s' and '2s'.

Connecting from the Metro:

The exit from the metro (only escalators are available) leads up to a courtyard, which is beside the station building.
Ahead of you will be binaro (platform/track) 11 and the easiest route to the main departure hall, which houses the departure board and the access to all of the other parts of the station, is to walk along binaro 11 until you see the exit to the main hall on the right.

Arriving By Train at Piazza Principe

From the main hall, the escalators under these signs lead up to the main exit From the main hall, the escalators under these signs lead up to the main exit

When arriving by train at the binari (platforms/tracks) 12-20 in the main station (the part that is above ground). the signs pointing the way to 'Piazza Acquaverde' are leading to the main exit.

Take your time if you have luggage etc because the optional means of exiting the from the binari may not be obvious, because there is a choice of two passage ways, which are beneath the railway lines and give access to the exits.

On the binari there are escalators and a set of stairs down to one one these passage ways; these will be closest to the front of the trains that have arrived from the south, and by the rear of trains that have arrived from the north and the west.
However, despite this passage having access by escalators, there is only one escalator at the end of the passage way by the main station hall; though it usually arranged so that it is leading upwards.

On the binari (platforms/tracks) an elevator and stairs lead down to the other passage way beneath the railway lines; you'll find the elevator by the front of the trains that have come from the north and west, so it's by the rear of the trains when arriving from the south.
Again this passage has steps and only one escalator up to the main station hall.
So if you require step-free access up to the exits, you'll need to hope that this escalator is leading upwards; it was when ShowMeTheJourney was at the station.

This passage way, which can be accessed by elevators and stairs also leads to binari (platforms/tracks) 1s and 2s that most of the local trains depart from.

Both of the passage ways from the binari lead to the main departure hall in within the station, to one side of it are escalators and elevators which lead up to the main entrance hall at the station, this hall leads out on to the Piazza Acquaverde, the forecourt in front of the station.

To access the metro, use the alternative exits from the main hall (over to the right), which lead out on to a courtyard, look for an easy to miss red 'M' above the doors.
It will seem a tad bizarre, but under a roofed area in this courtyard, you will find the escalators, which lead down into the metro station.

A view across the binari/platforms A view across the binari/platforms
The main platforms/binari at Genova Piazza Principe station The main platforms/binari at Genova Piazza Principe station

Accessing The City Centre from Piazza Principe Station

Genova Piazza Principe station is the closest station to the ferry terminals, but it is located to the north of Genova/Genoa city centre.
Genova Brignole station is closer to the city centre, so if if you're heading into the city from the south, leave the train at that station.

The Genova Metro calls at Piazza Principe, it's entrance is in a somewhat hidden courtyard outside the main station hall.
The closest Metro station to the heart of the city is De Ferrari; so the easiest route to the city centre from Piazza Principe, is take the metro from this adjacent 'Principe' Metro station.

The western extremity of the Via Garibaldi, the location of the highest number of the Palazzi dei Rolli (a UNESCO site) is around a 15 min walk from Piazza Principe along Via Balbi; walk straight head, if you leave the station by its main exit on to Piazza Acquaverde.

If you're heading to Genova/Genoa to visit Albertis Castle, home of the 'Museo delle Culture del Mond' then take the train to Piazza Principe.
There is a somewhat hidden system of lifts and funiculars (by the Hotel Vittoria - on the other side of the piazza in front of the station) which lead up to the museum.

To the ferry terminal

The Ponte Andrea Doria ferry terminal is used by:

The ferry terminal is a 15 - 25 min walk from the station, but the optimum route to take is less than obvious, because the roads which lead off from the front of the station don't go to the port area.
The steps to take are:

  1. Head out of the main exit from the station on to Piazza Acquaverde, the square in front of the station (to reach this exit from within the station you can follow the signs with a boat on them).
  2. When you're outside the station building turn right and then right again into the road which leads down beside the station, it is named Via Andrea Doria.
  3. When its convenient cross this street so that you're on the other side of the street and keep walking down until on the left you see a pedestrianised flat area, there will be steps leading down to it by a bus stop.
  4. At the foot of the staircase over to the right you'll see a bus terminal, ahead will be an elevator and staircase leading down to Principe Metro station, but you need to walk to the right of these, but the pavement/sidewalk is narrow.
  5. Straight ahead, on the other side of the main road, you'll see a raised road on a long bridge, the entrance to the port area is on the other side of this bridge.
  6. Once you've walked under the bridge ahead of you will be a beautiful building emblazoned with the words Stazione Marittima, but unfortunately this isn't the ferry terminal.
  7. You need to take the road in front of it, which leads off to the right and this road is fairly long, that older entrance to the ferry port is around the half way point on the walking route.
  8. Walk along the road to the roundabout and turn left (don't go straight ahead), the ferry terminal is the low 1930s building.

To Boccadasse / Bocadâze

Access to the tourist hot-spot of Boccadasse/ Bocadâze mariner’s village (the seaside area with the multi-coloured buildings) is by bus; there is no Metro station in Boccadasse.

Bus line 31 (direction Via Maggio) provides a direct service to Boccadasse/ Bocadâze from Genova Brignole station - but there are NO direct connections to the area from Genova Piazza Principe station.
From Piazza Principe, the best option is to take the Metro to De Ferrari station and connect there for bus line 42 (direction Ragazzi del 99).

To The Cinque Terre By Train from Genova

Accessing The Cinque Terre is straightforward by train from Genova, you can be exploring any of the five charming villages within 90 mins of departing the city - and if you sit on the right, you'll also get to experience fabulous sea views for virtually the entire train journey.

The five Cinque Terre villages are linked by frequent local trains and 'Cinque Terrre Treno Cards' enable visitors to hop between the villages on these trains.
These cards can now be booked online or at any of the five Cinque Terre stations; though if you purchase them at the station make sure it's a 'Treno Card', which includes the trains.

There are FOUR options for taking the train to The Cinque Terrre from Genova/Genoa:

(1) Taking a train to Sestri Levante and then connecting there into local trains which stop at all five village five villages - Monterosso and Vernazza and Corniglia and Manarola and Riomaggiore.
This option has two plus points which offset the need to change trains:

  • Tickets will cost the same if you book at the station.
  • Between 08:00 and 12:00 these trains, which have good connections in Sestri Levant, depart hourly from Piazza Principe station at around 10 mins past the hour - and from Brignole station at around 20 mins past the hour.
    (The timings can be slightly different on Sundays)

(2) Taking a direct Regionale train:
For those who don't mind an early morning start there is a daily train which is scheduled to depart from Piazza Principe station at 07:11 and from Brignole station at 07:20 which calls in Monterosso and Riomaggiore on route to Pisa.

At 10:45 daily a train departs from Genova Brignole station heading for La Spezia and it makes calls at two of the Cinque Terre villages - Vernazza and Riomaggiore - note that this train does not depart from Piazza Principe station.
These Regionale trains are a great option, as tickets will cost the same price for these trains, even if you book last minute at the station

(3) Taking an InterCity train to Monterosso:
Depart from Genova Piazza Principe station at 07:47 and 09:47; and from Genova Brignole station at 07:56 and 09:56.
You will save around €5 per per person if you book tickets online in advance for these trains.

(4) Taking a train to La Spezia and making connections there.
A plus of this option is that the Cinque Terre has a tourist office at La Spezia Centrale station and it sells the Cinque Terre Treno cards, which enables visitors to hop between the five villages by train; though you can expect to queue for more than 30 mins to purchase these on a summer morning.
But these Cinque Terre Treno Cards can now also be purchased online.

The other plus of travelling via La Spezia is that you can travel to La Spezia on a comfortable express train - and then from La Spezia you'll have easy access to any of the five villages.
There are 2 or 3 x local Regional trains per hour from La Spezia to the Cinque Terre.

The morning options (confirm timings before heading to the station) for travelling to La Spezia from Genova usually are:
07:05 from Piazza Principe and 07:12 from Brignole by Frecce train*
07:11 from Piazza Principe and 07:20 from Brignole by Regionale train
07:47 from Piazza Principe and 07:56 from Brignole by InterCity train*
08:51 from Piazza Principe and 09:00 from Brignole by InterCity train*
09:47 from Piazza Principe and 09:56 from Brignole by InterCity train*
10:45 from from Brignole by Regionale train

*You can save €5 - €10 by booking tickets online in advance for these trains.

City Guides

Here's our pick of the online city guides which will help you make the most of your time in Genova/Genoa:

A Local's Guide (The Guardian)

48 hrs in Genoa (The Independent)

Experiences/Food And Drink/Activities (Lonely Planet)

Italy's Best Kept Secret (The Mirror)

10 Great Things To Do (Time Out)

Journeys

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ShowMeTheJourney

This is one of more than 300 station guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.