Monaco sits on the glamorous French Riviera and is known for being a small principality headed by the Prince of Monaco. The principality stretches for two square kilometers but what it may lack in size it certainly makes up for in style. This is one of the most affluent spots in the world as well as being blessed with an abundance of nature.
Lined with blue seas, the warm climate here is the perfect weather for the palm trees that dot the lanes and you will find exotic flowers and lush vegetation galore. One of the best known areas of the principality is The Rock or Le Rocher which is a large rocky bluff which is also the home of the main part of the city called Monaco-Ville. Easily accessible from neighboring Nice in France, this is the place to come for glitz and glamour, and if you fancy trying your luck then you can spend time in the casinos here and cultivate your inner James Bond.
Here are the best things to do in Monaco:
1. Tour the Palais du Prince
Monaco is known for being a principality and you can see this first hand at the Palais du Prince.
The palace sits high above Monaco and dates from the 13th century when it would have been a Genoese fortress.
You can visit the palace when the Prince is not in residence, and an easy way to tell is to look for the flag in the main tower.
If it is raised then it means that the Prince is at home.
Some of the highlights of a visit include the gallery modeled in the Italianate style, as well as the Blue Room which is known for its blue and gold decorations.
There is also an ornate Throne Room and a Palatine Chapel.
2. Visit the Monte Carlo Casino
The Casino de Monte Carlo is one of the most famous casinos in the world, particularly as it was built in the flamboyant Beaux Arts style in 1893. The marble atrium is similarly lavish in style and you will find 28 onyx columns that welcome you to the Gaming Rooms.
Fans of James Bond are certain to enjoy the scenery, as this is said to have been the setting for the James Bond novel Casino Royale.
There are different gaming rooms here that are decorated in a variety of themes, but make sure you look up and take in the chandeliers and the stunning artwork as you try your luck.
3. Visit the Musée Oceanographique
The Musée Oceanographique is 90 meters above sea level and it took 11 years to construct the foundations that stop the museum toppling to the ground.
It was officially opened in 1910 which makes it one of the oldest aquariums in the world and is dedicated to marine artifacts and oceanography.
One of the signature sections of the museum is the collection of scientific items that date from an exploration undertaken by Prince Albert I as well as Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
There are also three aquariums here including a Mediterranean Aquarium, a Tropical Aquarium, and a Shark Lagoon.
There are over 6,000 marine life creatures here and 100 different pools that are designed to mimic their natural environment include reconstructed coral reefs.
Younger visitors can enjoy a dedicated touch tank to get up close to critters like sea urchins, starfish, and baby sharks.
Book online: Oceanographic Museum of Monaco Ticket
4. Walk around Jardin Exotique
Located in Fontvieille just outside of the city center is the Jardin Exotique.
This garden sits high on a towering bluff that looks out over the ocean and you will find lush surroundings coupled with stunning vistas.
The garden first opened its doors in 1933 and you will find a surprising mix of plants including African and Latin American species that grow here due to the warm weather.
There are 7,000 species of plants on show and you can also explore an Observatory Cave that is covered in stalactites and stalagmites.
5. Visit the Monaco Cathedral
Monaco Cathedral stands out because of the white stones that were used in its construction.
Built in the Roman-Byzantine style, the cathedral houses the remains of the former princes of Monaco including Prince Rainier.
The cathedral was built in 1875 although some of the artifacts inside are older such as an altar piece which was painted in 1500. Other items to look out for include a grand organ as well as the main throne which is carved from white marble.
6. Sunbathe at Larvotto Beach
Close to the iconic Avenue Princess Grace is Larvotto Beach which is also the only public beach in the principality.
The beach is surrounded by nets so that swimmers can bathe without the fear of jellyfish or if you prefer to stay out of the water then you can sunbathe on the strip of golden sand.
Water sports are popular here including jet skiing and sea kayaking.
7. Wander around Les Jardins Saint-Martin
Les Jardins Saint-Martin look over the sparkling Mediterranean Sea below and are known for a memorial statue of Prince Albert I. The gardens skirt along the coast and take you along the Le Rocher coastline.
The flowers here are both indigenous and exotic thanks to the warm Mediterranean climate that helps them to grow.
You can go for a wander around the gardens and check out the dainty pools, pretty fountains, and stunning views over the azure waters.
8. Watch a race at the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix
Monte Carlo is known for its Formula One Races that take place every year in May.
What makes the race so special is that it cuts through the streets of the city past Boulevard Albert I and past the famous Monte-Carlo Fairmont Hotel.
The race has an illustrious place in history and has been in operation since the beginning of the 20th century and it is definitely worth attending if you should happen to be in Monaco at the right time.
9. Have a drink at Quay Jean Charles Rey
Quay Jean Charles Rey sits on the water and is located on the other side of Le Rocher.
It is known for being a scenic place to have a drink and you will find a range of cafes and eateries overlooking the quay here including oddities like a traditional English pub.
If you are looking for a good way to end a busy day in Monaco then this makes a great choice for a sundowner.
10. Watch a show at the Opera de Monte Carlo
Also known as Salle Garnier, the Opera de Monte Carlo is located on the iconic Place de Casino which is the most famous spot in all of Monaco.
The opera house was built in 1878 and its main performance space is covered in pretty red and gold decorations.
You will also find ornate carvings here in the form of frescoes and sculptures and if you like opera, ballet, or musical concerts then don’t miss the chance to catch a show in this opulent setting.
11. Visit the Monaco Naval Museum
Looking over the marina in Monaco is the Monaco Naval Museum which first opened its doors in the 1990s and has a range of maritime related memorabilia including over 250 ships in model form.
Many of the items on display here belonged to Prince Rainier III and were donated to the museum from his private collection.
The museum takes you back in time with a look at Roman ships, traditional Viking longboats, and graceful Spanish galleons.
There is even a model of the Titanic as well as the Nimitz, a US warship that is also the largest in the world.
12. Tour Monaco Harbor
Located at the base of Monaco’s famous blustery cliffs is the main harbor of Monaco.
Yachts bob on the water and the harbor, which is also known as Port de la Condamine, dates from 1901. The Prince’s main yacht is located here as well as those of many moneyed Monaco residents, so this is a top spot to check out these amazing vessels, even if you don’t get to go aboard.
There are also a range of eateries and cafes here which mean that you can have a snack while enjoying the vistas over the water.
13. Do some shopping
Monaco is known for its opulence which also means that you can expect to find a good range of upscale shopping opportunities here.
These include perfume, jewelry, and other designer and luxury goods, and one of the best places to splash some cash in Monaco is along the Avenue de Monte-Carlo.
If you are looking for famous fashions then you will find these on the swish Boulevard des Moulins.
Avenue Princess Grace, named in honor of Grace Kelly, is also another good choice if you want to find some elegant clothes and accessories.
14. Visit the Nouveau Musee National de Monaco
Nestled inside two villas is the Nouveau Musee National de Monaco.
The villas are known as Villa Paloma and Villa Sauber and are filled with contemporary art exhibitions which include pretty paintings as well as photography.
The museum also operates as a kind of conservation center and works on restoring traditional art work such as antique dolls and costumes.
15. Wander around the Princess Grace Rose Garden
The Princess Grace Rose Garden is a moving visit for anyone who was a fan of the American film star Grace Kelly, who was married to the former prince of Monaco, Prince Rainier.
It was Prince Rainier III who built the garden in memory of his wife who was killed in a car crash and it first opened its doors in 1984. The park spans four hectares of land and has a dainty lake surrounded by palm trees and even an olive grove.
As the name suggests, you will also find over 8,000 rose bushes here.
16. Visit Casino Square
Casino Square is one of the most iconic spots in Monaco and any James Bond fans will want to make the trip here.
The square is the home of the Casino of Monte Carlo which was made famous in the book Casino Royale, but if you don’t have the cash to gamble the night away then a visit to the square is probably the next best thing.
The buildings here are all illuminated at night and include the world-famous casino as well as the Hotel de Paris and the opera house.
17. Admire the Collection de Voitures Anciennes
Located in Fontvielle is the Collection of Voitures Anciennes which is an exhibition featuring some of the private cars in the collection of the Prince of Monaco.
There are around 100 cars and models and many of these are vintage vehicles from Europe or America.
There is also a display of old fashioned coaches here and car-enthusiasts should make sure not to miss this spot off the itinerary.
18. Explore the Jardin Japonais
You may not think of a traditional Japanese garden when you think of Monaco but this is exactly what you will find on a bluff to the east of the principality.
Here you can tour a typical Zen garden which is covered in pretty plants as well as water features and stone work.
The park stretches for 7,000 meters and has an idyllic waterfall as well as a babbling brook.
There is even a strip of beach here if you are looking to spend some time in one of the quieter spots in Monaco.
19. Admire the Musee de la Chapelle de la Visitation
Another museum located on Le Rocher is the Musee de la Chapelle de la Visitation.
The spot marks the site of the Chapelle de la Visitation which is a baroque chapel that dates from the 17th century and has now been made into a museum where you can take in a range of galleries dedicated to religious art work and scripture.
Some of the other highlights here include a range of paintings by some of the most famous Italian masters.
20. Watch a performance at Fort Antoine
Fort Antonie is a military fortification which has now been transformed into a stunning outdoor theater space.
In the summer months you can watch a range of performances here and the main area can seat up to 350 spectators at one time.
Shows are in French although many people come here simply to spend an evening under the stars in one of the most picturesque spots in Monaco.
21. Discover the Moneghetti District
The Moneghetti District in Monaco is located to the west of the principality and is known for its palatial villas, perfectly manicured gardens, and slanting terraces.
The journey to this district is an adventure in itself and winds around roads cut into the cliff side, so it is not for the faint of heart if you suffer from vertigo.
It is worth a look however if you want to see how some of the richest residents in Monaco live.
22. Watch a match at Louis II Stadium
Monaco may not seem big enough to have its own sports venue but it does in the form of the Louis II Stadium.
The arena dates from 1939 and is the host of the two Monaco football teams.
It also sees international football matches and if you are in town when one of the teams is playing then this is a great experience to see some of Monaco’s sporting prowess in action.
23. Walk around the Old Town
The Old Town of Monaco is essentially centered on ‘Le Rocher’ which means ‘The Rock’ and is a labyrinth of charming little alleyways that date from the middle ages.
Here you will find a huge range of the best attractions in Monaco but also one of the nicest things to do here is to wander around and visit anything that catches your eye like small boutiques and cafes.
24. Enjoy some upscale dining
As well as its wealth Monaco is also known for its fine dining which is understandable given the clientele.
Some of the most expensive yet delicious food in the world can be found here and some of Monaco’s famous restaurants include the Le Louis XV Restaurant (a three Michelin starred venue) as well as the Joel Robuchon Monte Carlo which has two Michelin stars.
There are several other restaurants that have one Michelin star and if you want to splurge on a decadent meal then this is certainly the place to do it.
25. Walk around Fontvieille Park
Fontvieille Park eventually leads to the Princess Grace Memorial Rose garden, although it is worth a visit in its own right.
The park sits on reclaimed land and is one of the best loved green spaces in the whole of Monaco.
Here you will find pretty palm trees and olive groves and there are a number of lakes and ponds that attract the local fauna.
Ducks and swans swim in the lakes all year round and there is an elegant Sculpture Path that spans four hectares.