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Only the Vatican is smaller than the Kingdom of Monaco, but a visit to this 200-hectare principality that tucked into the French Riviera still offers a large amount of relaxation and fun.
Monaco has a land border that is just 4.4 kilometers in length, while it also has 4.1 kilometers of coastline right along the Mediterranean Sea. The House of Grimaldi has ruled Monaco with only a few brief interruptions since 1297.
Since the mid-1800s, one of the primary draws to bring visitors into Monaco has been the gambling industry. The company which owns Le Grand Casino still operates in the same building that was constructed more than 150 years ago to bring the first casino venue to this principality. Several casinos are right along the Mediterranean, offering stunning views.
There are several events and festivals that are worth a visit to Monaco throughout the year, though the annual Grand Prix held in May is one of the highlights. Walking the streets of Monaco is an interesting experience, as there seems to be no concentric layout. There are other quirks as well, such as visiting the highest point in the country by going to the roof of an apartment building.
Monaco is often considered to be a haven of wealth, but it also contains the charm of a small town that is warm and welcoming. When you visit this principality, you will feel like you have been transported to a whole new world. Grab some beach time, enjoy the games, and be prepared to relax.
The principality is divided into four quartiers: the town of Monaco (also known as “the Rock), which juts into the sea; La Condamine, the business district to the west; Monte Carlo, which includes the casino; and Fontvieille, primarily light industrial.
You can find the prince’s Genoese and Renaissance palace in the Monaco quartier, as well as a beautiful Roman Catholic cathedral and the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco.
In Monte Carlo, you’ll find the Place du Casino, which contains a theatre housing the Opera de Monte Carlo. The Monte Carlo National Orchestra often plays here as well. The Grand Prix de Monaco is here, as well as the Monte Carlo Rally.
Recommended things to do and see in Monaco
Home to the rich and famous, Monte Carlo exudes style and panache. The locals walk the paths with a swagger; you can smell the affluence. The town is a charming blend of chic city living and wonderful sun-kissed beaches.
Monte Carlo is a compact city; the best way to explore is by foot. The narrow streets and tight alleyways are home to a fascinating array of petite shops, bars and restaurants.
Monte Carlo Casino
Built in 1863, this architectural masterpiece overlooks the Mediterranean and must be a priority on your sightseeing list. It has a remarkable gold and marble atrium designed by the legendary architect Charles Garnier.
Walk the Grand Prix Racing Route
The Monaco Grand Prix has been held annually since 1929 and is considered one of the most prestigious races in motor sport. The roads are transformed from busy public highways into a Formula 1 circuit in an incredibly short space of time.
The palace is open to the public from June to October. The courtyard is paved with over 3 million coloured pebbles, beautifully arranged in geometrical patterns. Built in 1215, the palace was originally a fortress before being transformed into a luxury home.
This magnificent cathedral was constructed in 1875 and is the final resting ground of Princess Grace. The cathedral’s fabulous organ was painstakingly restored to its former glory in 1988.
Monte-Carlo Thermes Marins
For over a century this luxury spa has pampered and delivered the ultimate in relaxation. Treat yourself to a day you will never forget.
Metropole Shopping Centre
Filled with designer stores to match those of Paris and Rome, the Metropole is a shopper’s paradise. A stroll around Casino Square will present you with precious stones of the highest quality.
The Old Town
An abundance of quality restaurants and bars present themselves in the more traditional parts of town. Here you can tuck into local specialities such as Monegasque cuisine.
Café de Paris
Located in Casino Square, Café de Paris is the place to be seen. The lively mix of locals and visitors generate a warm atmosphere, whether sitting outside or dining indoors. The menu has an international flavour and daily specials are always recommended.
The Grimaldi Forum
The stunning Grimaldi Forum is home to a host of cultural events. Watch concerts, opera, ballet, as well as festivals and exhibitions, including the Monte-Carlo Masters tennis.
Stade Louis II
What the home of AS Monaco Football Club lacks in size, it certainly makes up for in quality. Despite a capacity of only 18,500 (smaller than most top football clubs), the ground’s architecture make it one of the more memorable stadia.
Le Louis XV is one of France’s, and Europe’s,. premier restaurants, with Alain Ducasse, one of the greatest chefs in the world, designing its cuisine. You can expect to spend a lot of money here on this, but you will find the food worth it. You can also try the Café du Paris, where supercilious waiters fawn over you and jet-setters and titled guests lounge at the bars. Of course, if you’ve lost all your money at the casino, you might want to bring some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches instead and just watch from outside.