Monaco is this teeny tiny country (city-country) surrounded by France, Spain, and the Mediterranean Sea. Known for fast cars, expensive yachts, and, of course, Grace Kelly, Monaco is also packed with history, culture, grandeur, amazing food, and so much to see and do.
Only 499 acres in total, the country is one of Europe’s leading resort areas. Although small – it’s actually the second smallest country in the world – and with a population under 40,000, the location of Monaco also makes it perfect for a home base when exploring the French Riviera and the Western Italy countryside.
Getting around Monaco is fairly easy by foot and public transportation with the elevator system. We like using this map. Whether you are on a vacation, on a cruise, or passing through, be sure to take advantage of the beauty and adventure that is Monaco. And be sure to stay out until the lights of the city come on! As a bit of information, Monte Carlo is a neighborhood in Monaco.
Here are our top 5 must-do’s in Monaco with, of course, true luxury included…
Casino de Monto Carlo
Seen from just about wherever you are in Monaco, you must make a visit to the Monto Carlo Casino. The building itself is a true delight. Designed by Charles Garnier, who also designed the Paris opera, it is true grandeur and we have all seen it in James Bond movies. Personally, we have to admit that people watching is one of our favorite things to do there.
The Casino is also home to the city’s opera and ballet. We highly suggest paying the 10 Euro entry fee and whether you gamble or not, take a walk around, do some people watching, grab a drink, and just enjoy. You’re in truly a piece of Monaco history.
Wander the City
Monte Carlo has amazing shops, streets, restaurants, and public squares. Get out and spend some time just wandering around. It is totally a walkable city with galleries, boats, sidewalk cafes, and beautiful public spaces. No matter the street you wander down, you will find a gem.
We were amazed with families out and about and kids running around playing. Be sure to walk around the harbor area and check out all the boats and yachts. It is an eye opening experience. A great place to start your wandering tour and eat is Condamine Market.
The Prince’s Palace
Whether you are interested in a tour of the staterooms and public areas or just want to see the Prince’s Palace from the outside, you should not miss a stop there. The view from the top of the hill in front of the Palace is one of the best in Monaco. Many of the Grimaldi family have called the Palace home, including Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace.
Today, the Palace is home to Prince Albert II. If you can, be there at 11:55 AM for the changing of the guards. The tour is short and only about 8 Euro. It’s worth getting a taste of the lavish decor. When visiting the Prince’s Palace, leave plenty of time to wander around the old village, grab a meal in one of the restaurants, and take the path back down to the city center. Getting to the Prince’s Palace is easy when you take the elevator from the Port area.
There are so many wonderful places to eat in Monaco, but if you are a true foodie, there are two not-to-miss stops. But beware, you must make reservations far ahead of time.
High Tea at Le Limun Bar at the Hotel Hermitage…Overlooking the Mediterranean, the hotel itself is a piece of work. But High Tea is an event you must enjoy and one of the most affordable we have seen for the grandeur. For 46 Euros, you can also get Tea Time with Rose Champagne. High Tea is daily and served British style with pastries, scones, and finger sandwiches. Be sure to save room for a cocktail in the Crystal Bar before you leave.
Le Louis XV – Alain Ducasse at the Hotel Paris…Another treasure of a hotel, located literally steps from the Casino, Le Louis XV is a luxury oasis in the middle of it all. The hotel, with 3 Michelin stars, is a foodies dream with carefully curated menus by Chefs Dominique Lory and Alain Ducasse. Each chef brings their amazing talent to the restaurant. Serving true Mediterranean flavors, you will want to come back the next night. We highly recommend you order one of the many set menus. If you are there, you must go all the way.
All the gardens! We highly suggest you make time to explore all the gardens of Monaco. Each has a special feel and the views are dynamic. Although there are many more these two are our favorites.
Fontvielle Park and the Princess Grace Rose Garden...Full of sculptures, plants, flowers and a small lake, these gardens are just breathtaking. The footpath is easy to follow and will guide you right around. The Rose Garden should not be missed. It has one of the largest collections we have seen. Open in 1984 in memory of Princess Grace, it has 8000 rose bushes. We especially love that the gardens have been awarded the “Ecological Garden” Label.
The Exotic Gardens and the Observation Cave…These gardens have several million species of plants including a large collection of succulents which are a favorite of ours. Located on a side of a hill, the path can be difficult for some people, but so worth the adventure. The rock formations alone are a site to be seen as well as the stunning views of the city. But if the hike is not for you, you can also explore below ground in the Observation Cave.
Do you know what the smallest country in the world is?
I am a home cook that does things my way. In my kitchen, I make breakfast, pack lunches, prepare snacks, and cook dinner. During the week, we eat real food that is homemade, organic, and local. On the weekends we do explore more of our local restaurants. I bake my own bread, juice fresh oranges every other day, and make my own kombucha and other weekly favorites.