15 Best Places to Visit in Monaco

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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One of the most glamorous and glitzy places on earth is just two square kilometres in size. Monaco comes complete with a gorgeous deep blue sea, exotic flowers, palm trees, and Le Rocher (The Rock) – a dramatic promontory that juts out over the Mediterranean. But it’s not just the natural beauty that makes the world’s second smallest country so seductive.

Here you’ll find extravagance, designer everything, luxury everything, and wealth, wealth, wealth. Monaco isn’t a member of the European Union, but you won’t notice that when you visit.  There are no border formalities with France and the Monégasque use the Euro.

Pack your bags for balmy weather and holiday of hedonism in sunny opulent Monaco. Here’s the best places to visit in Monaco!

1. Monte Carlo

Monte CarloSource: Boris Stroujko / shutterstock
Monte Carlo

Your first stop will undoubtedly be Monte Carlo where comfort and lavishness rule.  This is the district that everyone thinks of when they think of Monaco. It’s fabulous for people watching – and car watching for that matter.  Not to be outdone by man-made magnificence, the natural beauty of Monte Carlo will take your breath away.

The district is located on a promontory that has fantastic views of the Port of Monaco.  You’ll also find incredible seaside views from Place du Casino. For dinner try one of three Michelin-starred restaurants and after take a walk down Princesse Charlotte Boulevard or Boulevard des Moulins.  Both offer haute couture shopping and luxury boutiques.

If you can handle more decadence, don’t forget the Opera House.

2. Palais du Prince

Palais du PrinceSource: Inu / shutterstock
Palais du Prince

The oldest monarchy in the world calls The Palais du Prince home.  Established in 1297 by the Genoese family of Grimaldi, the site was chosen for its location high above sea level on the lovely peninsula of Le Rocher. It was originally built in the 13th century as a strong defensive fortress.

From generation to generation, the palace has been transformed into what it is today:  a magnificent palace in the style of Louis XIV. Visitors can tour the State Apartments when the royal family is away.

Inside you’ll find an Italiante gallery with 15th century frescoes, the wood panelled Mazarin Room, the Blue Room, which is covered in blue and gold, and the Throne Room with its oversized Renaissance fireplace.  Each day at 11:55am the traditional Changing of the Guard takes place at the palace gate.

3. The Musée Oceanographique

Musée OceanographiqueSource: saiko3p / shutterstock
Musée Oceanographique

Ninety metres above sea level, on Le Rocher, is the Musée Oceanographique, the world oldest aquarium. Commissioned by Prince Albert I and opened in 1910, the Musée Oceanographique is known around the world for its exhibits on oceanography and marine science.  Several discoveries of Jacques-Yves Cousteau are on display. But the real highlights are the rare species you’ll find in all sizes, shapes, and colours.

There are three aquariums with over 6,000 specimens in 100 pools.  You’ll love Turtle Island and the Touch Tank, where you can discover for yourself what a sea urchin feels like or even hold a baby shark.  The latest instalment is the Shark Lagoon, which measures about 450 cubic metres where you can see the most extraordinary colours of the coral reef and the many creatures that live there.

After you’ve been through the exhibits and the museum, enjoy a superb meal at rooftop restaurant and take in the coastline below.

4. Jardin Exotique

Jardin ExotiqueSource: trabantos / shutterstock
Jardin Exotique

Located in the Fontvielle area, just outside the city centre, the Jardin Exotique is pure sensory overload.  With lush vegetation and awe-inspiring views of the sea, this exotic garden is beautiful beyond words.  Tropical plants thrive here due to the consistent balmy weather.

You’ll find species from Mexico, Africa, and beyond, with over 7,000 varieties of succulents.  Open since 1933 there is also an Observatory Cave with wonderfully fun stalagmites and stalactites.

A visit to the Anthropology Museum on site will teach you about the prehistoric era and the prehistoric man that once lived in the vicinity of the cave.

5. The Cathedral

Monaco CathedralSource: saiko3p / shutterstock
Monaco Cathedral

The burial places for all the Princes of Monaco, this Roman-Byzantine cathedral is made from stunning white stones brought from La Turbie nearby.  You can visit the tombs of Prince Rainer and Princess Grace.

Built in the late 19th century you’ll find older treasures like an altarpiece by Louis Bréadating, which dates from the 16th century, and Carrar, the white marble Episcopal throne. Be sure to check out the grand organ that’s regularly used for concerts and religious services.

From September to June you can hear the “Les Petits Chanteurs de Monaco” and the “Cathedral Choir” sing mass each Sunday.

6. Les Jardins Saint-Martin

Les Jardins Saint-MartinSource: lindasky76 / shutterstock
Les Jardins Saint-Martin

Located close the Musée Océanographique and overlooking calm blue sea is the Les Jardins Saint-Martin. There you’ll find a statue honouring Prince Albert I, a well respected marine researcher.

The gardens extend down the coast to Le Rocher peninsula and the steep sea-cliff there.  Exotic species thrive under the generous Mediterranean sunshine.

These gardens are ideal for strolling as there is an intricate system of paths that cross the rocky slopes and ridges.  The designers have done a wonderful job of adding in fountains, ponds, and small viewpoints with wonderful views.

7. Formula One Monaco Grand Prix

Formula One Monaco Grand PrixSource: Bob Cullinan / shutterstock
Formula One Monaco Grand Prix

Every year during the last week of May, the famous Formula One Grand Prix takes place in Monte Carlo. The course begins on the Boulevard Albert I, turns up toward Place du Casino, and then around a rather harrowing turn in front of the Monte Carlo Fairmont Hotel.

It’s the only car race on earth that’s run on city streets. This is easily one of the world’s most popular sports events.  Despite the narrow streets, the race continues each year out of a sense of tradition.  A good view is difficult but the atmosphere is well worth the visit.

Tie in the Grand Prix with the Cannes Film Festival on the nearby French Riviera – also held in May.

8. The Monte Carlo Opera House

Monte Carlo Opera HouseSource: SCStock / shutterstock
Monte Carlo Opera House

Inside the sumptuous public square of Place du Casino, is the Monte Carlo Opera House.  This is Monaco’s most opulent neighbourhood – complete with palm trees, a spectacular fountain, and a terrace with gorgeous coastline views. Built in 1878, the Opera House compliments the neighbourhood perfectly.  Built by the same man who designed the equally famous opera house in Paris, the auditorium is decorated in lush red and gold, beautiful frescoes, and stunning sculptures.  Opera season is from November to June and offers classics like Rossini, Mozart, and Puccini.

9. La Condamine

La CondamineSource: Dmitry Eagle Orlov / shutterstock
La Condamine

Are you surprised to learn that Monaco’s harbour is packed with yachts?  In the shape of a square, La Condamine was completed in 1926 and designed to hold a large number of luxury vessels – even the Prince docks his private vessel here.

The Yacht Club in front of the marine has over 1,000 members from all over the world and hosts races and festivals throughout the year. Enjoy a walk along the port area and stop for a snack at an outdoor cafe or restaurant.

You can also take catamaran ride around Monaco to see the striking coastline.

10. Princess Grace Rose Garden

Princess Grace Rose GardenSource: trabantos / shutterstock
Princess Grace Rose Garden

Created by Prince Rainer III as a tribute to Princess Grace, the rose garden has been open since 1984.  Located in Fontvielle Park it covers about four hectares that include a palm tree lined lake and a lovely olive grove. It was awarded the label of “Ecological Garden” thanks to the eco-friendly practices used to maintain the park.

Inside are 300 varieties and over 8,000 rose bushes.  If you’re a garden or a serious rose enthusiast, each rose has an identifying QR code.

Relax on the many park benches, admire the sculptures, take a walk along the many footpaths, and generally just take it easy in this tranquil setting.

11. Monaco Ville or Le Rocher

Monaco Ville or Le RocherSource: OSTILL is Franck Camhi / shutterstock
Monaco Ville or Le Rocher

This is where you’ll find the old Monaco.  Monaco Ville still has its small medieval lane from when it was a stronghold of the Grimaldi dynasty.

To get there, you can walk up the Rampe Major, a red-brick path built in the 16th century.  The walk will take you back the statue of the late Prince Rainer looking down on his beloved country.

Be prepared to do some climbing, Monaco Ville is located at the top of a large rock cliff.

12. The Jardin Japonais

Jardin Japonais, MonacoSource: Haidamac / shutterstock
Jardin Japonais

Built into a steep hillside on the eastern end of the country, this authentic Japanese garden is truly a must-see.  The Jardin Japonais is a lush Zen garden complete with water, stones, and vegetation.

It’s just over 7,000 square metres and inside you’ll discover a beach, a pristine stream, and even a rushing waterfall.  If you’re looking for serenity, this is your place.  Built to be a small piece of paradise between Monte Carlo and Larvotto, it definitely lives up to that vision.

Bring your meditation cushion and contemplation and meditation are encouraged.

13. Nouveau Musée National de Monaco

Nouveau Musée National de MonacoSource: trabantos / shutterstock
Nouveau Musée National de Monaco

The Nouveau Musée National is housed in two separate villas: the Villa Sauber and the Villa Paloma.  The exhibits showcase contemporary art as well as avant-garde photography, drawings, and paintings.

At Villa Sauber the theme is performing arts and at Villa Paloma it’s the environment that is the focus of the artists on display. It’s a progressive museum dedicated to conservation and you can see many of their labours on display – like several theatre costumes.

It’s an interesting and unique place to explore for an afternoon.

14. Fort Antoine

Fort AntoineSource: Tony Pasma / shutterstock
Fort Antoine

Once a military fortress and now an outdoor theatre, Fort Antoine is on the northeast edge of Le Rocher.

Enjoy a warm summer evenings enjoy incredible performances under a starry sky.  There’s room for 350 and all performances are in French and free to the public (though you must get a ticket first).

Come early to enjoy the view of the French Riviera coastline as it extends all the way to Italy.

15. Sainte-Dévote Chapel

Sainte-Dévote ChapelSource: Pawel Szczepanski / shutterstock
Sainte-Dévote Chapel

Dedicated to the patron saint of Monaco, this Roman Catholic chapel can be dated back to the 11th century.  It has undergone much renovation over the century and suffered some damage during World War II.

Traditionally, the bride of the Sovereign Prince of Monaco will lay her bridal bouquet in the chapel after the wedding ceremony.

It also lies along the route of the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix.

15 Best Places to Visit in Monaco:

  • Monte Carlo
  • Palais du Prince
  • The Musée Oceanographique
  • Jardin Exotique
  • The Cathedral
  • Les Jardins Saint-Martin
  • Formula One Monaco Grand Prix
  • The Monte Carlo Opera House
  • La Condamine
  • Princess Grace Rose Garden
  • Monaco Ville or Le Rocher
  • The Jardin Japonais
  • Nouveau Musée National de Monaco
  • Fort Antoine
  • Sainte-Dévote Chapel