Ancona travel guide: An Italian pitstop worth visiting

Situated on the eastern coast of Central Italy is the small port town of Ancona, whose name is ancient Greek for elbow given its interesting shape and location on the Adriatic sea. For many tourists who arrive at its famous port, this ancient city is often just a travel pitstop on their way to explore other parts of Europe. But take it from an American expat who lived in this capital city of Italy’s Le Marche region, there is so much more to explore below the surface and many reasons to stay and visit.

Why visit Ancona: Top attractions

Chances are if you’ve heard or traveled through Ancona, you arrived by train, by ferry or even docked with a cruise ship for a few hours. You may have even arrived at Aeroporto delle Marche, which lies about 30 minutes from Ancona’s center and is the largest airport in the region. So you’re in a new town, unsure of your surroundings and are wondering what interesting things there are to see, eat and explore.

Where to shop in Ancona

Our tour of Ancona starts in the city center, a short five-minute walk from the port, a 10-minute taxi or bus ride from the train station, Stazione di Ancona. The main shopping corridor in Ancona is Corso Garibaldi, the old town’s hub for shopping and people watching. Strolling along this pedestrian-friendly promenade, you’ll find familiar shops like Zara, Max Mara, as well as high-end designers like Gucci, and sprinkled in are some unique Italian boutiques.

Where to eat in Ancona


Fresh gnocchi at Rosa food

Along the main Corso and near Piazza del Plebiscito (also known as Piazza del Papa) are also several restaurants and cafes where one can sip a midday espresso or have a refreshing Aperol Spritz.

Best spots to grab lunch or dinner in the center include:

  • La Degosteria
  • Caffe Giuliani
  • Rosa Food
  • Mazzini 62 Rosticceria

Gelato from Rosa Food

If you visit during the summer, take advantage of eating alfresco and grab an outdoor table under an umbrella. You’ll get to savor a wonderful meal and enjoy some people watching at the same time.

Dining tips in Ancona

Something to note if you decide to stop at the other local eateries in Ancona, Italians tend to adhere to meal times so don’t be surprised if some restaurants are closed before noon and after 2:30 p.m., and don’t reopen again for dinner until 7 p.m. Don’t despair, there’s plenty of cafes where you can grab a panino or enjoy a snack. Oh, and when possible, always make a reservation.

Must see places in Ancona

Chiesa San Francesco

From above: Duomo of San Ciriaco, Parco del Cardeto

Between the northern end of Corso Garibaldi and the port is Piazza della Repubblica anchored by the Teatro delle Muse, the city’s performing arts center. Go up the inclined road to the right of the theatre, pass the popular nightlife spot Piazza del Papa, and make your way to Piazza San Francesco. There you’ll see the impressive Chiesa di San Francesco delle Scale. If your legs aren’t tired enough, keep trekking up the road to the top and make your way to the grand Duomo of San Ciriaco. The cathedral is reason enough to make the journey, but the views of the city and its port make it insta-worthy. Timesaver trick! If you start your journey from the port, follow the road Lungomare Vanvitelli, pass the Grand Hotel Palace, and there will be an elevator on the right that will take you up to the Duomo.

View from Parco del Cardeto

Up near the Duomo, is also the Parco del Cardeto, a residential park that boasts expansive, panoramic views of the city and of the Adriatic Sea. If you’re a nature lover and have a few hours to spare, it’s a nice way to spend an hour or two wandering through the natural flora of the area.

From the port: Gli Archi, Lazzaretto

Arco Traiano

In an old town like Ancona, luckily you don’t need to travel far to come across ancient sites worth visiting. In the port, you’ll find two Roman arches, the Arco Traiano and the Arco Clementino, built during the age of the Roman empire. You can climb the stairs through the Arco Traiano and walk atop the walls or pass both arches and make your way to the red lantern at the far side of the port to get a good look out at the sea and at the city’s hilly landscape. On the port’s opposite end, is the Mole Vanvitelliana, also known as the Lazzaretto of Ancona. This 18th-century pentagon shaped structure, originally built as a quarantine station, now hosts exhibits and shows. It’s usually always open during the day and is about a 10-minute walk from the port.

 Take a walk: Viale della Vittoria, Passetto

Monumenti ai Caduti

If you’ve got time, or let’s face it most of the city center has shut down for lunch, it’s worth your time to walk along the city’s largest promenade, Viale della Vittoria. About a 20-minute walk from the port, the viale is where you’ll find most of Ancona’s locals on any given day. The long viale cuts through residential neighborhoods and ends at the Monumenti ai Caduti. Connected to the monument is a long flight of stairs that go down to the city’s public beach: the Passetto. During the warm months, the beach is accessible via an elevator which can take you up and down for one Euro. Hungry? On your way to the Passetto, plan a picnic and grab a few slices of pizza at the best pizza spot in town: Farinando

Best travel sites outside Ancona

Le Marche sunflowers

If your layover in Ancona lasts more than a few hours and you have a day to spare, there are more than a few places surrounding Ancona you must travel to.

Riviera del Conero

Follow the coast south and drive along the Riviera del Conero, which starts at Portonovo down to the beach towns of Numana, Sirolo and Marcelli. If traveling during the early summer months, you’ll delight in the fields of sunflowers that line the roads to the beach. Beaches in Italy are typically covered with stabilimenti, which are beachside businesses that own a part of the shoreline and rent umbrellas and beach beds. These beachside towns are no different. You can choose to lay outside of these areas, but for a small fee, it’s more comfortable to rent the equipment for a few hours since the beaches aren’t covered in sand but in small smoothed rocks.

Beach at Sirolo

Hillside villages


If beaches aren’t your thing, go to Offagna, which has an impressive 15th-century fortress. The village hosts a medieval festival every July complete with games, demonstrations and typical food from the region. Camerano, located on a nearby hillside, is also a place to visit, especially if you’d like to beat the summertime heat. Underneath the town is a series of cool caves and tunnels excavated centuries ago replete with mysteries that still puzzle people today.

Best places to stay in Ancona

If you choose to prolong your stay in this special city, here’s a list of some of my top choices of where to stay.

For seaside views:

  • The Seeport Hotel, my top choice and where my family usually stays when they visit. Perk: The rooftop bar during the warmer months is a great place to have aperitivo at sunset.
  • Grand Hotel Palace, Closer to the center than the previous options, this hotel also has an adjacent wine restaurant worth visiting.
  • Grand Hotel Passetto. Enjoy seaside views from Ancona’s other coast and be close to the Passetto.
There’s a number of centrally located Airbnbs in the area at affordable prices. But if you’re looking for more of the hotel feel outside the city, I say an agriturismo is the way to go. An agriturismo is usually mom and pop establishments similar to bed and breakfasts found in the countryside. Agriturismo Le Vigne del Conero is my top choice.

 Travel wrap up on Ancona

Ancona doesn’t carry the flashy branding of bigger cities like Rome, Florence or Milan, but next time you happen to travel to Ancona or are considering it as a layover before heading off to other parts of the world, give it more than just a passing glance and explore all the city has to offer Other recommended places to stay:

Christin Erazo | Christin Travels

Christin Erazo is a freelance writer and social media professional from Miami, Florida, USA. In 2015, Christin moved to Ancona, Italy to pursue love and adventure. There, she began her blog “Peace Love Italian” and Instagram page “@Chris_in_Italy” as a way to continue her writing, journal her travels around Italy and Europe and share the experience with those on social media. She’s currently based in Split, Croatia.