Monaco overview

When travelers hear the name of Monaco, images of casinos, princesses and extreme wealth spring to mind first. Today, for most visitors, this small European principality is inextricably connected with members of the royal Grimaldi family. In fact, this tiny territory of hillside rock on the French Riviera has been governed by various kings for many centuries, yet Monaco’s current leaders, the Grimaldi family, has propelled the nation to its most flourishing state of prominence and wealth.

Best places to visit in Monaco

Monaco has transformed into a playground for the extremely rich and famous celebrities, a tax paradise for the globe’s wealthiest individuals and living proof that fairy-tale kingdoms can still exist. Monaco-Ville is the Old Town, positioned atop a 60m high promontory. This is where the Oceanographic Museum, the government building and the Royal Palace are situated. At the Old Town’s foot is La Condamine, home to the port and harbor district.

Monte Carlo, Monaco

Monte Carlo, Monaco

Uphill from the harbor located is Monte Carlo, with its glitzy casino and the prestigious grand old hotels. Despite having the size of a small town, Monaco boasts a nice amount of features. The nation boasts superb shopping places, several museums and some wonderful gardens. Monaco’s grand icon, the casino offers more than solely gambling. This famous attraction is a world-class opera house as well.

Some places you should visit:

National Museum

Monaco’s public museums tend to reflect the passions of its royalty but this one showcases a commoner’s collection and it is fascinating idiosyncratic and not just a little creepy. A villa designed by Charles Garnier (who also designed the Paris and Monte Carlo opera houses) is home to thousands of dolls including animated wind-up toys made in 19th-century Paris. It’s imperative that you time your visit with one of the automaton shows (times vary with the season—call in advance). The guard winds up a number of performing toys and dolls: monkeys that smoke magicians who make their own heads disappear circus performers. It is stunning (and scary) to see the absolute natural smoothness of their movements—and the attention to subtle details: Their chests heave with breath. (It’s not a place you’d want to be locked into at night.) Be sure to make it to the second floor to see the creche depicting the scene if Christ had been born in an 18th-century Neapolitan village: There are more than 200 villagers in the diorama each unique. In Monte Carlo.

Princess Grace rose garden

An extraordinary collection of roses beautifully displayed along a network of intersecting walkways. If you don’t already know the myriad sizes shapes colors and scents in which roses arise you’re in for a treat—there are 150 varieties represented (if you’re already a rose lover you’ll be in heaven). The gardeners keep things blossoming year round—when we visited in November there were only a few barren bushes.

Princess Grace rose garden

Princess Grace rose garden

An expressionistic statue of Princess Grace is surrounded by particularly delicate blooms. Our only complaint: Though touted by the tourist board as “a quiet spot ” its proximity to the heliport is a serious detriment. (For a nation that takes pains to regulate the serenity of its parks and gardens they’ve got a serious conflict here.) It’s adjacent to Fontvieille Park which also includes a small duck and swan pond and is near the Chemin des Sculptures sculpture garden. Open sunrise to sunset. In Fontvieille.

Larvotto beach

Larvotto beach

Larvotto beach

If you’re not staying at a beach hotel and your hotel doesn’t have arrangements for guests to use a private beach you (and day-trippers from France) will end up on Larvotto Beach. Showers cabanas restaurants and shops are available and as the sole public beach it can get quite crowded in high season. Parts of it will be (literally) in the shadow of the Cultural and Exhibition Center when that project is completed. Though it’s very much an in-city beach it’s adjacent to some lovely gardens (and the Japanese Gardens are on the other side of the Cultural Center site). In Larvotto.

Monaco Cathedral

This cathedral feels positively modern by European standards (it was built in 1875) but it’s worth a look because it houses the tombs of the former princes of Monaco and it has a particularly fine mosaic in the dome above the altar (an audience of saints faces the congregation from recesses in an arc of the dome). If your visit coincides with the Feast of Ste. Devote (27 January) or the National Holiday (19 November) you can hear the wonderful four-keyboard organ (installed in 1976). As you exit the cathedral take a moment to admire the Hall of Justice across the street (no visitors allowed inside). In Monaco-ville.

Naval Museum

This museum has less universal appeal than some of the other themed collections in Monaco. It will be fascinating to those interested in ships and naval history but will be of only limited interest to everyone else. There are more than 180 miniature ship models on display (many from the prince’s private collection) from clippers to submarines as well as ships’ equipment and related paraphernalia. In Fontvieille.

Wax museum of the princes of monaco

This Museum was Evil. I walked into the place and broswed the plexiglass displays of the old guys called”Princes” more like Princesses. Then I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. I turned around, Prince Ranier was staring me in the eye. His body position was ready and catlike. I turned around again and the whole Gimaldi family was staring me in the eye. I panicked I didn’t know what to do. They took vases and little shreds of plexiglass ready to strike. So I took up in my hands vases and little shreds of plexiglass. It was battle time. Prince Rainer jumped up in the air about to stab at his target. I clenched my teeth and prayed to god. But his swing went right past me. And it the Tranchala by my feet. They weren’t trying to kill me, but merely trying to extinguish the evil spider in their house.

The Aquarium in Monaco

This large building constructed on the edge of a dramatic cliff was built in 1910 by Prince Albert I whose attraction to the sea was comparable to the current prince’s interest in cars. Outside the museum is an imposing edifice: Inside it has quirky Victorian charm with high-ceiling display rooms and a grand lecture hall. The displays are a decidedly eccentric mix of the personal and the scientific. Much of the space is devoted to the collections of the Prince who gathered cataloged and preserved (in jars) specimens of aquatic life. But famed French oceanographic cinematographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau was for a period the museum’s director. His films are screened in the lecture hall and his influence is seen in the first-rate aquarium on the first lower floor. (Below the public floors are research laboratories). Displays provide written commentary in several languages and you’ll view displays of live species you’re unlikely to encounter anywhere else (most notably the otherworldly sea dragon and leafy sea dragon—they alone are worth the price of admission).

The Aquarium in Monaco

The Aquarium in Monaco

Also on display are scrimshaw and decorated shells stuffed aquatic birds a submarine used by the U.S. in its War of Independence and a hall of skeletons (mostly whales but other large sea mammals as well). One hall also features exhibits explaining oceanographic phenomena—for instance how icebergs are formed—though most of the commentary is in French only. Before leaving stop for a drink or meal on the terrace—you can see quite a way down the Italian Riviera. In Monaco-Ville.

Cruises in Monaco

Monaco is a land of everlasting and elegant European beauty. Flanked by France on three sides and Italy on one, this petite region is as gorgeous as its illustrious neighbors. The Monaco Cruise Guide offers traveler’s supercruise ideas to navigate their way through the charming Mediterranean stunner.

Cote d’ Azur

Cote d’ Azur

Cote d’ Azur

The French Riviera or Cote’d Azur is a breathtakingly beautiful belt of the Mediterranean coastline. Come here for a day on the cruise to catch the ultra-cool spirit if the region that envelops the borders of Monaco. This is a place for the hip and happening and a destination that doesn’t give you the opportunity to watch your wallet. Unabashedly opulent in attitude, this area encircling Monaco is famous for its idyllic waters and ancient historical structures. A day cruise-stopover is a perfect way to see this picturesque region as the rates of the hotels are terribly unaffordable and exorbitant most of the time.

Carnival Cruise

Carnival Cruise, one of the most celebrated cruise companies, offers a brilliant Monaco- Monte Carlo Cruise option that lets you explore the almost fairy-tale-like splendor of the region with an itinerary that includes a visit to the palatial abode of the royal Grimaldi family of Monaco. The next haunt is the famous rock of Monaco where you can catch a striking view of the region from the lofty peak of the structure. The trip also includes a visit to Monaco’s Royal Palace, an oceanographic museum and a cathedral that nestles the tomb of Princess Grace. Window-shop at high-end haute-couture stores and famous courtier houses at Monte Carlos’s elite shopping belt. Visit the world-famous casino complex of Monte Carlo and sample the region’s glitzy lifestyle with top-notch dining options and glamorous streets. The Jardin Exotique is a tapestry of the most beautiful native flowers, palm trees, and cactus’ that ornament the region. The cruise lasts for four hours and is priced at $70 per person for adults and children below three.

Glamorous Monaco

Take the Glamorous Monaco cruise that commences from Cannes and lasts for an hour and fifteen minutes. Visitors can opt to depart from and return to the swanky French hotspot on one of the several crossings that are operational daily. The ferry crossing is a mere 45 minutes from Nice so you can embark on your cruise from there as well. Visitors on a lavish budget can consider spending an entire day in Monaco before heading back to Nice or Cannes.

Monaco offers several cruise options that be combined with French and Italian destinations to complete a splendid European trilogy.

Top 5 Must Do’s in Monaco

All good things come in small packages and nowhere is this adage more true than in the case of this small charmer. This principality is sure to sweep visitors off their feet with its quaint south-west European appeal and striking monarchical legacy. The Monaco Must Do’s guide offer visitors exhaustive information of the best attractions and activities of the second smallest country in the world.

La Condamine

La Condamine

La Condamine

La Condamine provides a superb backdrop to catch the most breath-taking sight of Monaco. Stroll down this ancient district for experiencing Monaco’s distinguished harbor and some of the most expensive yachts of the region moored on it. The yacht owned of the Prince Of Monaco can be spotted here occasionally. Parts of Monte Carlo’s skyline are also visible to the left of this photogenic region.

A Glimpse of the Royal Life

Les Grands Appartements du Palais beckons visitors with a nose for the strong monarchial flavor of Monaco. Take a tour of the Palais du Prince (residence of Monaco’s royal family) that allows you a snapshot of the Throne Room along with palace artifacts and Princess Grace’s stunning portrait. The ritual changing of the guard process that takes place at 11:55 am daily is worth watching. Musée du Palais du Prince housed within the palace arena exhibits an extensive collection of royal memorabilia.

Vintage Car Lovers Rejoice

This is sumptuous eye-candy for connoisseurs of full-bodied vintage cars. Collection des Voitures Anciennes de S.A.S. le Prince de Monaco has Prince Rainer III showcasing his most coveted and spectacular wonders on wheels to the world. Drool over more than a hundred vintage models including Rolls Royce, Bugatti, De Dion Bouton, Lamborghini and many more.

The Monaco Grand Prix

The Monaco Grand Prix

The Monaco Grand Prix

It is an absolute sin to miss one of the most glamorous, prestigious and high-profile car racing events in the world. The annual Formula One race sees the crème de la crème of Europe who throng here to witness the spectacular and thrilling automobile challengers held on the Circuit de Monaco.

The Monte Carlo Casino

The Monte Carlo Casino

The Monte Carlo Casino

The Monte Carlo Casino and Hotel are a must-see while visiting Monaco. This famously elegant and sophisticated casino is a haven for the highest rollers of the world. The casino features a selection of American and European games, including European Roulette, Black Jack, and Punto Banco. Be advised, a formal dress code is strictly enforced (especially in the evening) and identification is required to enter along with a 10 euro cover charge.

Hotels in Monaco

Over the past 20 years, to attract more visitors Monaco has been trying to develop a wider tourism base and provided more middle-class lodging options. The high season is experienced during July and August. These months are so busy that most affordably priced hotel establishment are fully occupied months in advance.

Monaco airports

Monaco isn’t served by an airport so the sole way accessing the country by air is onboard a helicopter from nearby Nice Côte d’Azur Airport. This is certainly a cracking way to begin your visit, but rather costly as well. Nice Côte d’Azur Airport is one of the busiest in France and frequent flights arrive here from all over North America and Europe.