Glamorous Monaco may be small, second smallest country only to the Vatican, but it leaves a tall shadow with its glitzy casinos, high-flying residents, luxury mega-yachts and the famous Formula One Grand Prix. Soak in the sunshine and style in this Mediterranean port, which differs from others in the region. Look around and you’ll spy a multitude of glass-clad high-rise hotels and posh designer boutiques lining these avenues. Yet there’s an enchanting old town to discover at Le Rocher, as well as a laid-back pace of life you can enjoy in Monte Carlo’s outdoor cafes and cocktail bars.
Monaco’s impossibly chic royal family is part of its appeal, so why not visit Prince Albert’s home, Les Grands Appartements du Palais, to see the throne room and an array of priceless artefacts? Renaissance paintings dot the walls, and the changing of the guard is a must-see sight. Afterwards, head to the Monaco Cathedral where Grace Kelly married Prince Rainer and became a princess. Take in all the action of Monte Carlo’s Grand Casino, which houses gaming rooms as well as the official Monaco Ballet! Remember to follow the dress code if you step inside – jacket and tie for men, upscale resort wear for women.
There isn’t very much of a terminal to speak of. When your ship pulls in to Monaco’s port, you’ll have your choice of walking a mile along the seawall to get into Monte Carlo’s town centre, or take the lift up to Old Town with its attractions. Don’t fancy walking? Taxis will wait for you outside of the pier during daytime hours. You can get around Monaco from Old Town to Monte Carlo centre via the public buses. These are clean, efficient, and very easy to use as they stop outside most main attractions. One thing to note is that exact change is required for these.
The summer months draw throngs of visitors to Monaco’s sunny beaches, with yacht parties lasting well into the evening and a fun-filled events calendar to keep you entertained. It’s busy at this time of year, but very enjoyable! For those who prefer slightly milder temperatures and thinned out crowds, April and October are fantastic months to visit. The weather is picture-perfect with warm (not hot) temperatures and more room on the beach to spread out. The holiday season also has its charm, when Monte Carlo’s glittering buildings and historic harbour are lit up for Christmas.
There’s no shortage of gourmet, Michelin-starred restaurants and sophisticated brasseries in Monaco, but some of the country’s most satisfying meals are its humblest. Look for bakeries selling fougasse, made with almonds and anise seed, or socca pancakes made with savoury chickpea flour. The seafood is always a good idea as well, served with deliciously rich butter sauce or lightly grilled with a spritz of fresh lemon.
Visit the Musee de l’Oceanographie to enjoy the animal life of an aquarium combined with the history exhibitions of a maritime museum. The building was opened in 1910, sitting along the waterfront with over 90 tanks. Don’t miss the Shark Lagoon with its moray eels and sea turtles thrown in the mix!
Monaco’s Hermitage Hotel is one of its most famous attractions, built up the hill with its beautiful Beaux Arts décor and period detailing. Below the hotel sits the Les Thermes Marins de Monte Carlo, a super-luxurious spa to soothe and pamper guests with facials, massages and thalassotherapy treatments.
A fun way to get around in the fresh air is aboard the Azur Express Tourist Train. This little trolley does an open-air loop through Monte Carlo and the old town area, giving you an overview of all the major sights!