Under the Sea at the Aquarium of Genoa

Pink Fish in Pink Coral

What do you do when you are by the Mediterranean Sea, go to an aquarium of course! The Aquarium of Genoa is the largest in Europe. Opened in 1992 for the 500th anniversary of when Columbus discovered the new world. Looking like a ship getting ready to go out to sea, there are over 15,000 animals including reptiles, amphibians, rainforest & freshwater animals, and lots and lots of fish inside. Come and explore under the sea to see the animals in the Genoa Aquarium.

Pink Fish in Pink Coral

Aquarium of Genoa InformationAquarium of Genoa

The aquarium has over 33,000 sq feet of exhibits which will take you at least three hours to get through. There are over 70+ tanks including open-air tanks. You can find the Aquarium of Genoa in the old harbor area at Ponte Spinola (16128 Genova). The aquarium’s open hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on the weekends it is open from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. You can buy your tickets online here. The fee for the aquarium only is 18€. If you want to explore the Big Panoramic Lift, Biosphere, and the Galata Museum the ticket price for everything is 44€. When I visited I only went through the aquarium which did take a good portion of the day by itself. Try to go during the week as the weekends can get crowded. The Aquarium of Genoa sees on average 1.2 million visitors a year.

Capturing Photos of Fish in TanksBanggai cardinalfish close-up

Get ready to take some colorful photos of fish from all over the world. Tank after tank you will see fish swimming hiding in the coral. Some will be by themselves, others swimming in groups. Each one is more colorful than the next.

To help you get the best photos of the fish through the glass, make sure you have your camera flash turned off. It is good to know that the glass can distort your photos so, try to take your photographs perpendicular to the glass and the fish. A wide-angle lens will be the best to capture the fish when you put the lens right up to the glass. The other thing that will be helpful is having a rubber hood on the end of your lens. This will allow you to put your camera lens right on the glass without scratching it and it also helps to reduce and eliminate the reflections in the glass. If you shoot in manual mode, start at  1/125 sec at f/5.6 and see if you like your photos then adjust the ISO from there. This shutter speed should be able to capture the fish without making them blurry.

Ray Fish PoolRay Fish Pool

A fun interactive experience is the ray fish pool. Here you can touch the stingrays as they swim by you. But, be careful as my niece found out. Sometimes they flap their wings and can splash you! A little hide and seek game for you. Can you spot the flatfish hiding in the sand?Fish in Ray Fish PoolStingrays hiding in the sandFlat fish in ray fish pool - Aquarium of Genoa

Sharks BayShark - Aquarium of Genoa

Having a shark swim this close is not the best thing for you. But, when you have glass in between you it makes being by these dangerous animals a bit easier to bear. People are always fascinated and curious about these predators. And you can find out more about them at weekly one-on-one talks about these sharks and other animals within the aquarium.Shark swimming

Dolphins CoastDolphin Swimming

I like watching the dolphins play and you can see these guys below the water and above in their open-air tanks. You might even catch them jumping out of the water as I did. It is so funny that all the kids around me were screaming saying “Did you see that? There he did it again. He jumped right out of the water.” I think I stayed outside and watched these guys for quite a while during my visit.Dolphin Swimming in TankDolphin jumping out of water

ManateesManatee's face

Manatees are amazingly graceful for as large as they are. Aquariums rescue these animals after their tails have been damaged from boat propellers. People really should be more aware of how their actions affect the animals around them.Close-up of Manatee - Aquarium of Genoa

Seals IslandSeal swimming upside down

Another playful animal in the Aquarium of Genoa is the seals. I don’t know how they do it, but swimming upside down underwater is difficult but not for them. Most of these common seals were born here, but others have been abandoned by their mothers in the wild. These seals wouldn’t have survived without human intervention. Seal swimming

PenguinsPenguin at the Aquarium of Genoa

You can even see penguins at the Genoa Aquarium. Back in 2014, four baby Magellanic penguins – two of them twins – were born at an Aquarium in Genoa. This is a rare occurrence for penguins to have twins. I love that you can always learn interesting facts about the animals here.

Reptiles and AmphibiansTurtle eating greens

The aquarium has a few exhibits of reptiles and amphibians just like in a zoo. You can even watch the animals getting fed. I was amazed by the variety of animals you can find in the Genoa Aquarium. Crocodile resting in water

PiranhasGroup of Piranha

Piranhas the fish of the Amazon are vicious. Or at least that is how they are portrayed in the movies. Where the person gets out of the water and their clothes are in shreds. Seeing the same fish in aquariums is completely opposite of that image. They seem to swim in place and look frozen in the water. I guess you have to visit them at feeding time to see the frenzy.Piranha - Aquarium of Genoa

Jelly FishJelly Fish

This is the ideal place to see Jelly Fish because you don’t want to see them while you are swimming in the water. These animals are so pretty with their translucency. Plus, they look great in photos when the colors in the tanks change. Jelly Fish - Aquarium of Genoa

SummaryFish by purple coral

Spending time exploring aquariums is a great activity to do with the family. Especially if you are visiting Genoa and want to see the largest one in Italy and Europe! I hope you can practice some of the photo tips earlier. Go ahead and share your best aquarium photo in the comments. If you are planning on visiting the Aquarium of Genoa, you can download a map of the aquarium here to help plan your adventure under the sea.

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Further Reading

If you are coming to Italy for a visit, check out these posts for further travel inspiration:


  • Michelle 1February2020 at 10:33 AM Reply

    This looks like so much fun and I love your pics. Thanks for the tips on how to make your pictures look better. I will definitely be using them the next time we go to the aquarium! 🙂

    • Heather 1February2020 at 10:37 AM Reply

      Thanks, Michelle! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Let me know how your photos turn out.

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