Monaco, officially known as the Principality of Monaco, is a sovereign city-state nestled on the French Riviera in Western Europe. Bordered by France and the Mediterranean Sea, it’s renowned as one of the most expensive and wealthiest places in the world.
With an area of just 2.02 km², it’s the second-smallest sovereign state, but its dense population and luxurious lifestyle make it a unique destination. Monaco’s mild climate, scenic beauty, and world-famous Monte Carlo Casino contribute to its status as a sought-after tourist destination and recreation center for the rich.
The principality’s blend of glamour, culture, and history offers an unparalleled experience for travelers seeking both excitement and elegance.
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Attractions and Things to do in Monaco
1. Port de Fontvieille
The Port de Fontvieille is a playground for the rich and famous, accommodating 275 vessels of varying sizes. Fifty years ago, it was just a patch of sand, but now it’s a scenic marina bordering the village of Fontvieille.
Travel Tip: Enjoy amazing views of the marina from the Rock of Monaco.
2. Monaco St Nicholas Cathedral
St. Nicholas Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, is the burial place for the Grimaldis, including Grace Kelly and Rainier III. This Romanesque church with a facade of white marble is described as beautiful and peaceful.
Travel Tip: Take a moment to appreciate the tranquility and architectural beauty of this historic site.
3. Oceanographic Museum
Founded in 1910, the Oceanographic Museum is devoted to marine science and overlooks the Mediterranean. It houses collections of sea life, model ships, and sea animal skeletons.
Travel Tip: Don’t miss the aquarium in the basement, home to 4,000 species of fish.
4. Larvotto Beach
Larvotto Beach is Monaco’s only beach, known for its pebbly surface. Some sections are free to visitors, while others charge admission.
Travel Tip: Wear sturdy shoes for walking along the beach, and be aware that it is popular with topless sunbathers.
5. Jardin Exotique
The Jardin Exotique is a botanical garden built on a cliff, boasting over 1,000 succulents, mostly cacti. Some plants are over 100 years old.
Travel Tip: Capture panoramic photos of Monaco from this garden, and consider arranging a guided tour of the underground cave.
6. Monaco Grand Prix
The Monaco Grand Prix is one of the most prestigious car races in the world, known for its demanding track.
Travel Tip: Plan your visit in May to catch the race, and enjoy the thrill of Formula One racing on Monaco’s unique streets.
7. Monte Carlo Harbor
Monte Carlo Harbor is where the rich dock their yachts, including the royal vessel belonging to the Prince of Monaco.
Travel Tip: Relax at a waterfront café and enjoy the view of luxurious yachts in a glamorous setting.
8. Monaco-Ville (Le Rocher)
Monaco-Ville, or The Rock, is the country’s oldest neighborhood, retaining its medieval character.
Travel Tip: Explore the pedestrian streets and passageways, and visit landmarks like the Prince’s Palace and St. Martin’s Gardens.
9. Monte Carlo Casino
Established in the 19th century, the Monte Carlo Casino lures gamblers with games like roulette, Baccarat, and slot machines.
Travel Tip: Dress appropriately as there is a dress code, and foreign visitors need to show ID.
10. Prince’s Palace of Monaco
The Prince’s Palace is the official home of the Grimaldi family and has been restored to its former grandeur.
Travel Tip: Visit between June and October to explore the palace, and don’t miss the changing of the guard ceremony at 11:55 AM.
Unique Activities in Monaco
1. Sherlock Holmes Murder Mystery Game
Channel your inner detective with a Sherlock Holmes-themed murder mystery game in Monaco. Available throughout the year, this activity challenges participants to solve a captivating crime story.
Day Trips from Monaco
Just a short drive from Monaco, the picturesque city of Nice offers a blend of French Riviera charm with its Promenade des Anglais and the historic Vieux Nice. Wander through its bustling markets and relish the local cuisine in quaint cafes.
Travel tip: Opt for a tram ride through the city center for an easy way to see Nice’s most prominent sights in a short amount of time.
2. Eze Village
Perched on a cliff above the Mediterranean Sea, Eze Village boasts panoramic views, medieval streets, and the renowned Jardin Exotique. The village is a hub for artisan workshops and perfumeries, making it perfect for souvenir shopping.
Travel tip: Wear comfortable shoes as the village streets are cobbled and can be steep, making the exploration a bit challenging but totally worth it.
Famed for its golden beaches, luxurious yachts, and celebrity sightings, Saint-Tropez is the epitome of French Riviera glam. Enjoy the old port, dine in upscale restaurants, and maybe spot a star or two.
Travel tip: To avoid traffic, consider taking a ferry from nearby Sainte-Maxime; it’s a scenic route and typically faster during the busy summer months.
Where to stay in Monaco
Monaco and its surrounding cities are renowned for their luxurious lifestyle, stunning landscapes, and world-class hospitality. With a wide range of hotels to choose from, visitors can find accommodations that suit their preferences and budget. From opulent five-star hotels with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea to budget-friendly options, Monaco offers a unique blend of elegance, comfort, and convenience. Whether you’re visiting for business, leisure, or a special occasion, the hotels in Monaco promise an unforgettable experience.
1. Best Reviewed Hotel
Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo (★★★★★)
- Description: Set in a building dating from 1864 in Monte Carlo, this hotel is known for its extremely clean and high-class ambiance with professional staff.
- Price: €1,951 per night
- Rating: 9.5 (Exceptional)
2. Most Luxurious Hotel
The Maybourne Riviera (★★★★★)
- Description: Located in Monte Carlo, this hotel offers extraordinary views over Monaco and the coast. Known for its great amenities, super friendly staff, and personalized service.
- Price: €661 per night
- Rating: 9.8 (Exceptional)
3. Budget Hotel
Hôtel Alexandra (★★★)
- Description: Situated in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, this hotel offers a central location with very nice views and a balcony. It’s known for its affordability without compromising on quality.
- Price: €137 per night
- Rating: 8 (Very good)
4. Hotel for Family
Novotel Monte-Carlo (★★★)
- Description: Located in the heart of Monaco, this hotel offers spacious suites perfect for families. The view from the private terrace on the 10th floor is amazing.
- Price: €304 per night
- Rating: 8.2 (Very good)
5. Hotel for Couples
Port Palace (★★★★)
- Description: A 4-star boutique hotel in Monaco overlooking Port Hercule. It’s located in the center of Monaco’s legendary Grand Prix circuit and the Monaco Yacht Show, making it a romantic spot for couples.
- Price: €562 per night
- Rating: 8.8 (Fabulous)
6. Hotel for Solo Travelers
Hôtel Columbus Monte Carlo (★★★)
- Description: A mid-sized boutique hotel that was entirely renovated in 2018. Known for its professional and helpful front desk staff, it’s a great choice for solo travelers.
- Price: €309 per night
- Rating: 8.6 (Fabulous)
Did you know? Facts about Monaco
- Monaco is the second-smallest sovereign state in the world, after Vatican City, with an area of just 2.08 km² (0.80 sq mi), making it the most densely populated country in the world.
- The principality is home to one of the world’s first protected marine habitats and hosts the International Atomic Energy Agency Environment Labs, the only marine laboratory in the United Nations structure.
- Monaco is famous as a tax haven, with no personal income tax (except for French citizens) and low business taxes. Over 30% of the residents are millionaires.
- The country’s economic development was spurred in the late 19th century with the opening of the Monte Carlo Casino, contributing to Monaco’s status as a tourist destination and recreation center for the rich.
- Monaco is not formally a part of the European Union (EU), but it participates in certain EU policies, including customs and border controls, and uses the euro as its sole currency.
- The principality is governed under a constitutional monarchy, with Prince Albert II as the head of state, wielding significant political power despite his constitutional status.
- Monaco hosts the annual street circuit motor race, the Monaco Grand Prix, one of the original Grands Prix of Formula One, and the Monte Carlo Rally, hosted in January in the French Alps.
- Despite its independence and separate foreign policy, Monaco’s defense is the responsibility of France, and it maintains two small military units.
- Monaco’s land mass has expanded by 20 percent through ongoing land reclamation, started in 1861 and accelerating in the 1960s.
- The country has one of the largest police forces per capita in the world, with 515 police officers for about 38,000 people, ensuring a high level of security within the principality.
FAQ about Monaco
What is the Official Language of Monaco, and What Other Languages are Spoken?
Monaco’s official language is French. In addition, Monégasque (a dialect of Ligurian), English, and Italian are spoken and understood by many residents.
What is Monaco’s Currency, and What Time Zone Does It Follow?
Monaco uses the Euro (€) as its currency. The time zone in Monaco is UTC+1 (CET), and during the summer (DST), it follows UTC+2 (CEST).
What are the Top Tourist Attractions in Monaco, Including the Famous Monte Carlo Casino?
Monaco is famous for its mild climate, scenic beauty, and gambling facilities, including the Monte Carlo Casino. Other attractions include the Monaco Grand Prix, the Oceanographic Museum, and the International Atomic Energy Agency Environment Labs.
How Can I Travel to Monaco, and What are the Bordering Countries?
Monaco is a sovereign city-state located on the French Riviera in Western Europe. It is bordered by France on three sides and the Mediterranean Sea on one side. You can travel to Monaco by air, road, or rail, with the nearest airport being in Nice, France.
What is the Population Density of Monaco, and What Makes It Unique?
Monaco is the second-smallest sovereign state in the world and the most densely populated, with 18,774/km² (48,624.4/sq mi). Its unique status as a tax haven and one of the wealthiest places in the world makes it a favored destination for millionaires.
What are the Accommodation Options in Monaco, and How Can I Find Luxury Stays?
Monaco offers a wide range of accommodation options, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly stays. Known as one of the most expensive places in the world, you can find high-end resorts and boutique hotels offering lavish amenities.
What is Monaco’s Climate Like, and When is the Best Time to Visit?
Monaco enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate, making it a year-round destination. However, the best time to visit is during spring and early autumn when the weather is pleasant, and the crowds are fewer.
Is Monaco Part of the European Union, and What are Its Customs and Border Controls?
Monaco is not formally a part of the European Union (EU), but it participates in certain EU policies, including customs and border controls. Travelers should check the latest visa and entry requirements based on their nationality.