Monaco, the very name conjures up images of incredible displays of wealth, of supercars and palatial white yachts glimmering under the blue skies of the Côte d’Azur. Visitors to Monaco will be pleased to find that this tiny Principality more than lives up to all that you’ve heard about it! If you’re coming to Monaco, here are 10 great things to do whilst you’re there:
1. Visit Casino Square and The Casino de Monte-Carlo
When most people think of Monaco, they think of Monte-Carlo and its Casino, and with good reason. It is this square and the temple to gambling that crowns it, that typifies what Monaco and Monte-Carlo are all about! Dress to impress, you’ll feel just like James Bond as you climb the steps of the legendary Casino and head to one of the fabulously ornate gaming rooms. Whether you like gambling or not, a visit to The Casino de Monte-Carlo is a right of passage for any visitor to Monaco, unless of course you’re Monegasque, who are not even allowed in the building! The Grimaldi family that rule Monaco decided it was prudent to take this step to protect their citizens from potential ruin!
2. A glass of Champagne at the Café de Paris
The Café de Paris is the place to be in Monaco! This gorgeous Belle Epoque brasserie is reminiscent of the finest establishments in Paris, with perfectly presented waiters dressed in black and white, holding silver trays of drinks. Pick a table on the front terrace and sit down for a glass of champagne. An hour of people watching here will give you the entire Monaco experience distilled into the time it takes to enjoy a glass of champagne, or two! If you love cars, you’ll be in heaven as the parade of supercars right in front of you will be more impressive than even the finest motor show. Ferraris in their hundreds, fail to even turn heads, only the latest exotics from the likes of Pagani or Bugatti will cause a Monaco regular to look up from his drink.
3. Cocktails in the American Bar at the Hotel de Paris
The lobby of the Hotel de Paris is one of the most lavish lobbies found in any hotel anywhere in the world. It is truly majestic, with its marble columns and crystal chandeliers. Head to the American Bar in the hotel for a cocktail or two. Entering this bar is like stepping back in time, the photos of the likes of Winston Churchill and Frank Sinatra that adorn the walls remind you that you’re in a little piece of living history. A Vodka Martini, shaken-not-stirred will match the mood perfectly!
4. Play a game of tennis at the Monte-Carlo Country Club
The Monte-Carlo Country Club hosts the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters tournament every April in Monaco that brings the most famous faces in tennis to Monaco each year. Enjoy a game of tennis with the most spectacular backdrop of any tennis club in the world. Scores of glimmering megayachts sparkle on the Mediterranean sea and the view of the spectacular Villa La Vigie perched above the water is utterly beautiful. This is where many of the world’s top tennis players that reside in Monaco get to train regularly.
5. Walk the Monaco Grand Prix Circuit
Monaco is known the world over for its annual Grand Prix where elite drivers and machines live on the edge as they race around the streets of the Principality. Of course, the best thing to do is to come here for the race! But you can walk the circuit at any time of year and see all the famous corners, from Tabac Corner to the tunnel, Casino Square, the Swimming Pool and the Loews/Fairmont Hairpin. If you’re too lazy to walk the circuit, why not rent a supercar and do a few laps. You’ll likely get stuck behind a Monaco bus or two, but even they drive around Monaco like racing drivers and you’ll be going a lot faster than you think you are!
6. Visit the Old Town of Monaco and the Prince’s Palace
Le Rocher (the Rock) is the old town of Monaco and walking the narrow streets packed with little restaurants and shops is a wonderful way to while away an afternoon. Dominating Le Rocher is the grand Place du Palais, where you find the Palace that is home to Monaco’s Prince and the ruling Grimaldi Family. You can watch the changing of the guard if you arrive at the right time. A walk to the nearby Monaco Cathedral that is the final resting place of the late Princess Grace is also worthwhile.
7. Visit Monaco’s Oceanographic Museum
Also on Le Rocher, we find Monaco’s fabulous Oceanographic Museum. Built in 1910, this temple to all that lives under the sea clings to a cliff above the Mediterranean in dramatic fashion. The museum was built by Prince Albert I of Monaco, who was passionate about marine life. It is without doubt one of the finest museums of its type anywhere in the world.
8. Visit the yachts in Monaco’s Port Hercule
The Port of Monaco may not be home to the very largest yachts in the Mediterranean, that honour goes to Port Vauban in Antibes, but nevertheless, the sight of some of the finest yachts in the world on display in the amphitheatre like port is mighty impressive. A walk around all the yachts is a great way to spend a few hours, and there are plenty of excellent bars and restaurants to enjoy whilst you do.
9. Spend the day at Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo Spa
The Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo is a spa owned by the SBM who also own many of the finest hotels in Monaco such as The Hermitage and the Hotel de Paris. A day spent at the spa here is truly a way to pamper oneself. There are myriad of amazing treatments on offer and a pool with a panoramic view over the Port of Monaco. It is the perfect way to spend the day before hitting Monaco’s various nightspots!
10. Dinner at Alain Ducasse at The Hotel de Paris
For lovers of gastronomy, Monaco’s restaurants have been awarded no less than 8 Michelin Stars! From the exquisite Japanese cuisine at Yoshi to the fabulous creations of Chef Marcel Ravin at The Blue Bay, there is no shortage of fabulous places to dine in Monaco. But the one place that draws food lovers the most is Alain Ducasse at the Hotel de Paris, formerly called Le Louis XV. With 3 Michelin Stars, this lavish temple to gastronomy is truly of the finest restaurants on the planet and a dining experience you will remember for ever.
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Also see: 3 of the Best Restaurants in Monaco