Tips for visiting Monaco from a local resident
What to do and what to see in Monaco
If you are travelling to the South of France and you would like to visit Monaco, but you don’t have too much time to enjoy it slowly, here are a few of my recommendations for a quick visit.
First, I must admit that Monaco is a nice place to live, however is super small, therefore there is not too much to see, and tourists sometimes get disappointing because they come in with high expectations. This is not Paris or Rome where you have many touristic sites to see, keep in mind that the entire ‘country’is just 2km^2 making it the second smallest country in the world after the Vatican. This is more a place to live and experience it slowly, as it is the lifestyle that is amazing and is not so much a quick vitrine to watch, take a picture and go!
Having said, that, here are the top things to see and do in Monaco.
Walking up to ‘The Rock’ is a nice thing to do, you get the nice views of the Port Hercules, which is the main port of Monaco where all the yachts are and the race of the Grand Prix starts, and once you reached the top you can also see the port of Fontvieille, and is a perfect place to take pictures! I leave you here with the link to the palace tourist info. (click here)
Every day at 11:55 just before noon there is the change of guard which is really nice to see. For more info click here.
Here is where the Royal family officially lives. They are often there and for all the major local events there is where it takes place.
Once you are up in ‘The Rock’ as we call it locally, you can also visit the Oceanographic museum, which is a really impressive aquarium! If you are with kids this is a MUST- DO activity in Monaco. More info about the aquarium click here.
Located also on ‘The Rock’ the open Air cinema is one of my favorite things to do in the summer! I think this only open in the summer so check the website here. It is a beautiful place with sea view, open bar (yes you can drink alcohol!) and it has a great sound system! I find it very romantic thing to do in couples, but also a lot of fun with friends. The movies start around 9:30pm (so is dark enough to play outdoors)
The Casino of Monte Carlo is the most ICONIC site in Monaco. A tour of the Casino de Monte Carlo will give you James Bond like experience for an hour. Seeing all the luxurious cars, the glamorous clothes of the high rollers and the palatial surroundings would remind you of scenes that are always portrayed in most 007 films.
The idea of opening a gambling casino in Monaco belongs to Princess Caroline, a shrewd, business-minded spouse of Prince Florestan I in 1850. Revenues from the proposed venture were supposed to save the House of Grimaldi from bankruptcy. After several decades of joint ventures, the earnings finally took off. I won ttell you the entire story, so that you experience it for yourself.
Keep in mind there is a strict dress code hence no beach wear is allowed, no shorts, no flip flops,etc and all the obvious ones. Passport ID is required if you want to go inside. I want to highlight that this is not Vegas so if that is what you are expecting you will get disappointing, this is more classy and luxurious. The entrance is 10 euros however this can be exchanged for gambling chips/tokens or alternatively towards a drink at the bar. It is an amazing experience to see the real gamblers in action! you really feel you are inside a movie here! They have a really cool restaurant inside, which is my favorite one to watch the fireworks. If you are in Monaco during the summer, make sure to ask about the firework program and book your table there for an unforgettable experience!
Go try your luck you never know!! and if you win, give me a call to celebrate 🙂
Cafe de Paris
Get a drink and sit in the terrace of the Cafe de Paris, it is one of the best places for people watching! and if you love cars, is basically a ‘car walk’or THE ‘fashion-show’ of luxury cars. Yes the drinks may be on the expensive side but see it as a entry ticket fee to a show, and I guarantee you it is totally worth it! I usually order a coffee or a Aperol Spritz cocktail.
It is also a great place to eat real french brasserie food. We love the steak tartare there! to my american friends, steak tartare does not mean a steak with tartar sauce, in France it means raw meat and is delicious!
It is another ICONIC site in Monte Carlo, it is a famous hotel where many movies have been filmed. Inside the hotel by the lobby there is the famous Bar Americain, I recommend you to go there in the evening for a drink, they usually have live music and the ambiance is very jazzy chic. The setting feels like you are going back in time to those glorious ages of glamour, elegance and sophistication. My favorite drink there is the Negroni. This is a great place to go for a drink before dinner or actually even better after dinner for that night-cap drink paired with some jazzy notes.
Make sure you rub the feet of the horse statue at the Lobby of the hotel, legend has it that it brings you good luck! specially before going gambling!
GRAND PRIX FORMULA ONE
One of the most famous race tracks of the entire F1 racing is the Monaco Grand Prix which usually takes places around May every year. A life experience worth watching! I will do a separate blog about it.
On this note, if you are a car fan you can also visit the private car collection of the Prince! For more info click here.
For events, make sure you visit the website visitmonaco.com where you can see what is going on the day, the week or the month you are travelling.
The Larvotto beach is a nice place to go for lunch and go to the beach if you like swimming in the ocean and catching some sun. however my favorite beach is La Plage de la Mala which feels like a remote exotic place. It is a hidden gem! There are 2 restaurants Cap Resort and Eden Plage. It is quite difficult to get there by foot and car, it is possible but not easy. The best way to reach is by boat.
The best way to experience the south of France is totally by boat! There are boats for all types of budgets. Contact me for info on chartering a yacht in the South of France.
Prince Rainier III old car collection
If you like cars, this museum is amazing and very unique compared to other car museums, is the personal car collection of the Royal Family in Monaco.