Here’s a list of the 15 best things to do in Monaco, along with famous landmarks, museums, and other points of interest.
Monaco is one of the smallest countries in the world with an area of just 2.1 km2 (0.81 sq mi), and it’s beautifully located next to France and the French Riviera. Just like nearby destinations Cannes, Nice, and St. Tropez, Monaco is an extravagant destination that attracts some of the richest and most famous people in the world.
The principality is governed under a constitutional monarchy, where Prince Albert II serves as head of state. With only a few short interruptions since 1297, the House of Grimaldi has ruled Monaco. More than 30% of the residents are millionaires, and the small nation is also known as a tax haven with no income tax and low business taxes.
But Monaco is not only for the rich and famous, but it also welcomes “regular” people, and despite its small size, there is a lot to discover when traveling here. Many come for a day trip or to spend just a few days, which is well enough to explore the main attractions in Monaco.
Monaco’s Oceanographic Museum is dedicated to inspiring its visitors with a staggering collection of sea fauna including starfish, seahorses, turtles, and many more.
There are also other sea-related objects on display such as models of ships and historic naval weapons. The museum also features an exhibit of the research work of Prince Albert I. and a beautiful aquarium.
Apart from the fantastic collections the Musée Oceanographique also amazes with its beautiful architecture and breathtaking location right on a cliff above the sea.
The Cathedral of Our Lady Immaculate is a stunning example of the Romanesque revival style of architecture and was built between 1875 and 1903.
The church is known for its fantastic Episcopal throne consisting of Carrara marble and its Great Altar. This is also a resting place for many famous personalities of the 20th century such as Grace Kelly and many members of the Grimaldi family. Pontifical services take place only during major religious festivals.
Monaco Grand Prix
The Grand Prix of Monaco is the highlight of every racing season as it is by far the most unique Formula 1 racetrack in use today. Not only is the Grand Prix world-famous for its scenic location and the streets of Monaco.
It is also known for being one of the biggest meet-ups of the rich and famous of the world making the race much more than just a sporting event. Despite the outrageous accommodation prices, a visit to the Grand Prix is a great experience that visitors will likely never forget.
Opera de Monte Carlo
Monaco’s most famous opera house, the Opera de Monte Carlo, is another highlight of the city. The venue is located in a scenic location on a hill above the sea and hosts many world-class music events throughout the year.
Since its construction in 1879, it has been a major cultural institution and became yet another meeting place for Europe’s high-society. The unbelievably interior decorations bursting with luxury and splendor are breath-taking. Needless to say, the operas taking place here are of fantastic quality as well and are a pure delight for music lovers.
Nouveau Musee National de Monaco
The Nouveau Musee National de Monaco is dedicated to the display of contemporary visual art and entertains two different locations, one the Villa Sauber and another the Villa Paloma.
Interesting exhibitions are held here regularly such as the town planning and urbanization display ”Monacopolis”. Visitors should keep in mind that there is no permanent collection to be found here. All the exhibits are temporary, and you should check the museum’s schedule before visiting to see what’s on display.
Palais du Prince
The Palais du Prince acts as the official residence of Monaco’s ruling prince and was built in 1911 as a Genoese fortress. The palace looks back on an often-violent history of bombardments, sieges, and bloody battles.
In the more peaceful 19th and 20th century the palace became symbols of the glamour and decadence that characterize the French Riviera today.
The Palais du Prince is located on the Rock of Monaco and overlooks the harbor and many of the streets used for the annual Grand Prix. Unlike most other royal residences, it resembles a fortress more than an actual residential building.
Monte Carlo Casino
Monte Carlo is known for its gambling just as it is known for being the home of the rich and famous and the annual Grand Prix. No other place in Monte Carlo offers the decadence and wastefulness of many of the city’s residents better than the Monte Carlo Casino.
Most visitors only come here to people watch and don’t really enter the gambling rooms of the casino. Entrance is possible for the general public but only if the strict dress code of the casino is adhered to.
Lovers of expensive sports cars will love this place for the parking lot. This is the only place in the world where a Ferrari is just a regular car and doesn’t raise anyone’s eyebrows.
Jardin Exotique de Monaco
The Jardin Exotique de Monaco is another first-class attraction found in the city-state. It opened in 1933 and offers a prestigious setting for many succulent plants.
One of its main draws is its fantastic location on top of a cliff overlooking not just the sea but also the harbor and many parts of the city. There is a particularly flamboyant collection of different cactus species to be found here, coming from all areas of the world.
Larvotto is the main beach of Moncao and offers a great opportunity to cool down in the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea and relax on the golden sand or go for a relaxing walk along the beach promenade.
The Larvotto beach is generally very busy during the summer months which makes the early mornings the best time of the day for a visit. Many cafes and restaurants line the beach and offer great food and drinks with a view of the water.
The Private Collection of Antique Cars of H.S.H. Prince Rainier III
Monte Carlo is a mecca for car-lovers as the streets are lined with an endless array of expensive cars that you will rarely see in regular places. To make it even better there is also the Private Collection of Antique Cars of H.S.H. Prince Rainier III.
It displays an interesting mix of vintage and classic cars stretched over five floors. There are more than 100 exhibited cars here and its highlights the open-topped 1903 De Dion Bouton and a 1911 Renault Torpedo.
The museum also has a few modern cars on display such as the Citroën DS3 WRC driven by Rallye-ace Sebastian Loeb during the 2013 Monte Carlo Rally.
The best place to experience the historic part of the city is the Vieux Monaco. This neighborhood has retained much of its original charm and its small alleys and winding streets are still almost the same as they were a century ago.
Many of the historic highlights of Monaco can be found here such as the Le Rocher and the Rock with its palace and its fascinating museums. The Old Town is perfect for a walk but keep in mind that many of the streets are steep and good footwear is recommended.
If you are searching for a quiet park that lets you unwind from the busy streets of Monaco then the Japanese Gardens are the right spot for you. They are located on the Avenue Princesse Grace in Larvotto and offer 0.7 hectares of relaxing greenery.
The park features a special Zen garden used for meditation as well as a waterfall and a stylized mountain and beach. The gardens are a miniature representation of Shintoist philosophy and were designed by Yasuo Beppu, the winner of the Flower Exhibition of Osaka.
Metropole Shopping Monte-Carlo
The city’s number one shopping center is the Metropole Shopping Monte-Carlo. It offers an extensive array of luxury brands as well as some more affordable options. Many famous luxury brands like Hugo Boss, Ralph Lauren, Wilford and Gucci can be found here.
Apart from fashion, there are also interesting gourmet, art, and interior decoration shops found here. Needless to say, fantastic restaurants make sure no visitor needs to go hungry when coming to the Metropole.
Saint Paul’s Anglican Church Monaco
The humble Saint Paul Anglican Church is located in the Larvatto ward and impresses with its beautifully decorated interior. One of the highlights of the church is its three tall stained-glass windows.
Unlike other churches in the city-state, this is an actual place of worship with regular services and a mostly local audience. This authentic, spiritual atmosphere sets the Saint Paul Church apart from its more popular counterparts like the Cathedrale Notre-Dame-Immaculee.
Monte Carlo Harbor
The harbor of Monte Carlo is a great area for people-watching and just spending some lazy hours either sitting on a bench or having a drink in one of the many cafes or restaurants.
This is one of Monte Carlo’s most noble areas as all the expensive yachts are serviced here. Many celebrities pass through here and there always seems to be something interesting going on.
The harbor is dominated by the Rock of Monte Carlo and the towering palace of the prince.
Interesting facts about Monaco
- It’s the second smallest country in Europe, only the Vatican is smaller in size.
- French is the official language in Monaco.
- Monégasque, Italian, Occitan, and Provençal are some other commonly spoken languages in Monaco.
- A local is called Monégasque or Monacan.
- There are around 38 000 people living in Monaco.
- The official currency of Monaco is Euro (€) (EUR).
- Monaco participates in certain EU policies but is not a formal member of the European Union.
- In 2018, Monacan real estate had prices reaching €100,000 ($142,000) per square meter
- Monaco has two small military units but is under the protection of France.
- It’s one of the richest countries in the world.
- The princes of Monaco were absolute rulers until the Monegasque Revolution in 1910, which forced them to adopt the 1911 constitution.
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