Welcome to one of the smallest countries in the world: Monaco. Just a few kilometres from Nice, the Principality of Monaco is known the world over for its glamour, luxury hotels and starred restaurants, the Prince’s Palace and its famous Monte Carlo Grand Prix.
With an area of 2 km², Monaco is the smallest sovereign state in the world after the Vatican and only 20% of its inhabitants are truly Monegasque, thanks to its favourable tax policy.
This little handkerchief of the French Riviera exudes opulence: you will notice it in the high-tech skyscrapers, in the harbours crowded with yachts populated by celebrities, in the exclusive casinos and in the clubs serving sophisticated cocktails. But in spite of its wealth, it still hides authentic corners and is a very special place to visit, especially on big occasions, such as the Formula 1 Grand Prix.
In the middle of the French Riviera, the Principality of Monaco is a favourite holiday destination for the jet-set. Super yachts, elegant palaces and large luxury cars are the norm.Beloved worldwide for its Formula 1 Grand Prix and tennis tournament, Monaco is also a city rich in history and charm, where the Grimaldi family has ruled for hundreds of years, helping to promote beauty and culture.
The beating heart of the city, the Rock sits atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea. With its beautiful houses dating from between the 16th and 18th centuries, its alleys and ramparts, this quarter will amaze you with its timeless beauty and breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea.
Walking through the colourful alleys and vaulted passageways of the old town, such as Rue Basse, Rue du Milieu or Rue Briques, whose construction dates back to the Middle Ages, and after visiting the Cathedral of Monaco, the Place du Palais Princier awaits you.
The legendary Place du Casino de Monte-Carlo is the one on every postcard illustrating the Principality. Surrounded by luxury boutiques, the Hôtel de Paris and magnificent gardens, the Casino de Monte-Carlo is the emblem of the Principality.
Built in 1878 by Charles Garnier, the Casino is the eldorado of gambling, in Belle Epoque architectural style: it has made the fortune of many gamblers, but is also renowned for the beauty of its interior. Indeed, its gaming rooms, which house roulette, blackjack, poker and various games, are sumptuous and elegant.
The Prince’s Palace, visible from almost all over the Principality of Monaco, offers regular visits to the public: you can stroll through the throne room, admire the sumptuous decorations and feel the haunting past that enchants this elegant and refined place.
The official residence of the prince since 1927, the Palace of Monaco overlooks the Mediterranean and perfectly expresses the grandeur of the Grimaldi family. The building has a fascinating history and has been besieged and bombed by numerous foreign armies.
A symbol of the Principality’s influence on the French Riviera, it is also famous for the changing of the Prince’s guard, a ceremony that takes place every day, precise as clockwork: at 11.55 a.m. on the dot.
Located to the east of the Vallon des Gaumates, Monte-Carlo is the most famous district of the Principality and a must-see when visiting Monaco. Monte-Carlo is synonymous with luxury and abundance, and is often considered an area in its own right.
In fact, it is a district integrated into the city of Monaco, which has about fifteen thousand inhabitants. Discover its sumptuous villas and gigantic buildings, as well as its many buildings of interest: the Casino, the Opera and the fabulous Hôtel de l’Hermitage.
A magnificent Italian-style theatre decorated in red and gold, the Opéra de Monaco is a must-see.
In the extraordinary Belle Époque style building dating back to 1879, ballets, concerts and operas light up the splendid hall of the Monegasque Opera.
Also called Opéra Garnier, after its architect, and a true replica of the Paris Opera, the performance hall hosts the world’s most prestigious companies and orchestras. Every season, the finest opera performances are performed there.
Created by engineer Louis Notari and opened to the public in 1931, the garden brings together more than 900 species of flora from the semi-arid climate. You can admire many cacti, but also aloes and figs, among the oldest and rarest on our planet.
The beautiful walk will also take you to the Observatory Cave, a natural underground cavity located at the base of the cliff: this cave gently sinks into the sea and is a delight for passing travellers and speleology enthusiasts. The name refers to an ancient astronomical observatory that once stood here.
With its huge aquarium housing 6,000 species of marine animals, the Oceanographic Museum is a treasure for any lover of the fauna and flora of the seas. Founded by Prince Albert I in 1910, it will take you on a bewildering dive under the oceans to discover all its mysteries.
The Oceanographic Museum is the fruit of the Grimaldi Princes’ love for the exploration and protection of the oceans. Built on the side of a rock, for over a century the Museum has contemplated the Mediterranean from its 85-metre height. A marvel, with protected aquatic species inside.
The Shark Lagoon, a real reef reconstructed in the centre of a museum, is a fitting conclusion to this exciting journey into the heart of the marine world.
The Condamine quarter is located below the fortress, behind Port Hercule and is one of the first extensions of Monaco, developed in the 19th century.
Today, it is a real commercial centre of the principality, where various international brands for all budgets can be found, as well as various bars and restaurants, characterised by the presence of elegant old buildings.
The Place d’Armes and the market are its beating heart, always full of people and life.
Don’t miss the market in the Condamine neighbourhood, to sample fantastic local produce in this colourful hub of Monegasque life.
Open every day, this covered market allows you to stroll among the fish stalls and Monegasque specialities, sampling dishes from Italy, South-West France and even Asia.
The city of Monaco boasts two harbours: Port de Fontvieille is the marina, just below the Prince’s Palace and the Rock of Monaco, while Port Hercule is the main harbour, within a magnificent natural bay, boasting the deepest waters in the Mediterranean.
The Port of Monaco is a beautiful place to stroll around, watching the VIP boats, superyachts and tourist boats. It is the ideal place to admire the beauty of the Rock and the Princely Palace.
Along Avenue Princesse Grace, a 500-metre strip of fine sand softens the landscape, bordered by crystal-clear waters.
The various beaches of Larvotto, which wind along a pretty promenade shaded by pine trees with children’s games, are the most pleasant: never crowded, with small restaurants on the beach and the tranquillity needed for a truly relaxing time.
The Fontvieille district was built in the 1970s and occupies a site reclaimed from the sea, as the available space in Monaco was running out. The architects tried to realise a neo-regional style, standardising the colours and shapes of the buildings to that of the main districts.
Less well-known than Port Hercule, Port de Fontvieille is very quiet. Although it also hosts prestigious yachts, the marina is less conspicuous than the main port.
With a view of the fortress from below, you can choose one of the many trendy restaurants located on the harbour or go shopping in the many colourful shops.
In the Fontvieille district is the Princess Grace Rose Garden, where enchanting rose bushes arranged in the shape of a heart await you.
This unique garden, full of nostalgia and history, is dedicated to the memory of Princess Grace. Mediterranean plantations delight nature lovers. Its centuries-old olive trees together with a collection of more than 6,000 rose plants enhance this unique and relaxing atmosphere.
It is a magnificent green environment, combining Japanese traditions and Mediterranean elements.
Just 10 metres from the shoreline, Princess Grace of Monaco’s Japanese Garden is a compendium of all the wonders of the land of the Rising Sun.
Here reigns the harmony of Zen thought, from stones to bamboo, koi carp and other exotic elements: all surrounded by immense, tall glass buildings. The contrast between such different environments creates a truly unique and special scenario.
This is not a museum, but a true collection, the result of decades of passion: it is as if you were entering the garage of His Serene Highness Prince Rainier III.
Many vehicles are on display here, from all eras and styles, each with its own history within the princely family.
On the terraces of Fontvieille, you will find the Monegasque Naval Museum, which brings together in one place some 250 models of ships, paintings and objects related to the maritime world.
The museum was born from the passion of Professor Claude Pallanca, who as a child dreamed of becoming a sailor and delighted in building model ships. Enlisted on the ship Jeanne d’Arc as a dentist, he befriended naval officers, thus pursuing his passion for the sea and boats, and came to collect over 1200 models from every era, style and nation.
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article
Every year in May, the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix wakes up the Principality with an unprecedented roar. The greatest teams and drivers gather around this historic race through the heart of the city. In the grandstands or on the VIP terrace, the Grand Prix is one of the things to see in Monaco.
In addition to being the shortest circuit in the world championship, it is also the most tortuous and demanding: in fact, although it is quite short (about 3.34 km), it has particularly difficult junctions, which force the drivers to prove their skill between very slow bends where maximum speeds reach 45 km/h, urban chicanes and a wide bend that must be taken to enter the tunnel where speeds reach over 200 km/h. These unique features make the circuit one of the most spectacular and loved by motor racing fans.
If you wish to enjoy the unique experience of watching this race live, it is necessary to reserve a hotel room well in advance: in fact, during the period hosting the Grand Prix, hotels in the city are booked up from year to year and latecomers are often forced to travel as far as Nice, Cannes or Menton to find accommodation.
Booking tickets to attend the Monaco Grand Prix must also be carefully planned so as not to risk a sell-out. For an unforgettable, albeit expensive experience, there is the possibility of watching the race from an exclusive terrace or riding in a limousine with a real VIP.
Please note that during this world event the city is paralysed and it becomes almost impossible to get around.
The Principality of Monaco has a reputation as a haven for all excesses: jet-setters, oligarchs, heirs and wealthy capital owners, investment bankers and big tenants, politicians and tax exiles. Luxury and money are the main protagonists. It is therefore difficult to find cheap hotels and accommodation.
Yet the city state is the product of many different souls, each with its own characteristics. Located east of Le Rocher, Monte Carlo is the most famous district of Monaco. It is home to the casino, the most sumptuous palaces and luxury boutiques: the ostentation of wealth does not shock anyone, it is the norm. Obviously, staying in this central area, wedged between the beaches and the harbour of La Condamine, is by far the most expensive option. This is where you will find the most luxurious hotels and the wealthiest clients.
The La Condamine district, north of Port Hercule, certainly offers a more diverse variety of luxury hotels and flats. This is the commercial heart of Monaco, where one can indulge in shopping in the refined and classy boutiques. The Monaco Grand Prix takes place here. If you want to sleep near the circuit to watch the race, you should definitely book a hotel months in advance.
Very often overlooked by tourists, Fontvieille is a district created by the reclamation of a stretch of sea. Although it is home to the Principality’s industries and businesses, here you will find a more down-to-earth soul: many lush gardens, the Fontvieille harbour with waterfront bars and restaurants, and the International Circus Festival.
Alternatively, bus line 110 connects Nice Airport with the Principality every half-hour, with a 45-minute journey on the A8 motorway: this is a direct, regular service that runs 7 days a week.
The Principality is connected by state roads and the motorway network that will allow you to be right in the centre by using exit 56 Monaco. A good alternative, if you love scenic roads, is to drive along three very scenic roads, Les Trois Corniches: the Basse Corniche, which corresponds to the seafront, the Moyenne Corniche, which passes through the village of Eze and the Grande Corniche, which takes you past the Turbie and the Col d’Eze, at an altitude of 512 metres.
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The following are the most popular tickets and tours in Principality of Monaco that we recommend you don't miss.
The Principality of Monaco is a small city-state, nestled in the heart of the French Riviera, 11 km from Menton and 20 km from Nice.