Monaco might not be a place you have considered as a vacation destination before. The Principality, tucked away on the southeast edge of France, has a reputation for exclusivity and expense, which put a lot of people off the idea of going. It is not unreasonable to hold such opinion; Monaco is, after all, the most expensive city to live in anywhere in the world. That does not necessarily mean that it is prohibitively expensive to visit, though; it just means you might have to save up for a while before you are able to go!
We think it is a place that is worth saving up for. For all its opulence, Monaco is also one of the planet’s most beautiful places. It is in an almost perfect geographic location; the Mediterranean coastline provides incredible beaches, the border of Italy runs to the east, and the French Riviera dominates the landscape. It is easy to see why it costs so much to live there — buying land in Monaco is buying a slice of paradise!
We understand that not everyone is able to go to Monaco, and that some of you may not even want to. If you think it might be for you, though, we have put together a handy list of things you might want to see and do for your consideration. Enjoy!
Visit The Old Town
Not all of Monaco has been overtaken by money and grand architecture. There is still a living, breathing slice of Monaco’s distant past waiting to be discovered by tourists. Monaco’s ‘old town’ is usually referred to as ‘Le Rocher,’ which translates as ‘The Rock’ — a nickname it shares with Gibraltar. Very little has changed at Le Rocher since the middle ages when it comes to the roads and houses. It’s like an isolated slice of a different century.
While you are in the old town, you should take the opportunity to indulge in a little local living. By that, we mean visit the markets, and check out the restaurants. Your food, drink, and shopping will be cheaper in Le Rocher than it is anywhere else in Monaco, so you might as well stock up while you are there!
Tour The Harbor
One of the most regularly-seen images of Monaco internationally is its legendary harbor. There is a good reason for that; it is strikingly beautiful. Known to the locals as Port de la Condamine, Monaco’s harbor opened in 1901. It is where you will find the Prince of Monaco’s luxury yacht, as well as private yachts belonging to rich and famous people from all over the world. If you are lucky, you might even see some of them while you are there.
You should not need any help with finding the harbor, but if you are struggling, it is right at the foot of the largest of the cliffs in the area. It is large, so you will not miss it. You can pay for a yacht and take a tour of the harbor on the water, or if you do not have sea legs, you can simply sit at a cafe sipping cocktails and watching the boats roll in.
Go And See The Palace
If you were a tourist in London, you would definitely go and see Buckingham Palace. It would be rude not to! Monaco is a Principality, and that means it has a Prince. If it has a Prince, then it must have a palace — and what a palace it is. The Palais du Prince gives the home of any royal head of state a run for its money, and has been standing in its current location since the 13th Century.
Understandably, the Prince does not like people looking around his home when he is in it. You can tell if he’s there, because the main tower’s flag will be raised. If it is not, you are free to take a guided tour. The throne room is of particular interest, as is the extensive art gallery.
Try Your Luck At The Casino
In the 21st Century, the old-world methods of gambling are under threat. Online casinos are replacing offline casinos. Online slots are now among the most popular forms of gambling in the world. That is not hard to understand; you can play mobile slots wherever you are, and whenever you like, without the expense of getting to a casino. However much fun mobile slots might be, though, they cannot replicate the splendor of the world’s most famous casino.
The Casino de Monte Carlo is simply the most glamorous gambling paradise in the world. James Bond movies have been filmed here. This palatial mansion, built in 1893 and decked out in marble and onyx, has to be seen to be believed. You will feel like you have gone up in the world just by stepping through the doors. All the rooms inside have different themes, and so you should make your way around them all. Who knows, you might even get lucky at the same time!
Watch The Motor Racing
Formula 1 is not as popular in the USA, as it is elsewhere in the world, but even people who are not fans of the sport have heard of the Monaco Grand Prix. It may not be considered the best race on the Formula 1 calendar, but it is considered to be the richest. It is also a race unlike any other.
Whereas most high-speed motor racing events take place on a specialist track, the Monaco Grand Prix happens on the streets of the city. There is nothing quite like the sight of cars hurtling past your balcony at speeds approaching two hundred miles an hour, and then slamming on the brakes at the last second to avoid crashing headlong into a corner! Obviously, you will need to time your trip to coincide with the race, which happens once a year. Accommodation prices within the city normally increase on race weekend too, so perhaps this is an idea for a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
While this is a good list of potential activities to get you started in Monaco, there is plenty more to see and do. The aquarium might be the best in the world. There is a Japanese garden, French gardens, and organized tours of the Riviera. There is the opera, and all of the incredible restaurants. You will never be bored while you are there — and we think you owe it to yourself to live a life of luxury in Monaco at least once!