Is Monaco worth visiting? Yes, it is worth visiting Monaco, but not just to play at the famous casino of Monte Carlo. When you arrive in Monaco (nicknamed The Rock or Le Rocher in French), you will be amazed by the architecture. My favourite building is the Oceanographic Museum. In addition, Monaco has a very good climate with an average of 300 sunny days each year. However, there are many other reasons to visit Monaco. Read on for my 21 reasons to visit Monaco.
Where is Monaco?
Monaco is a small sovereign state located on the French Rivera. It is situated between France and Italy along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Monte-Carlo is the name of the administrative area and a larger district of Monaco. The other districts of Monaco are Fontvieille, Monaco-Ville and La Condamine.
What to Do in Monaco?
1. The Prince’s Palace of Monaco (Le Palais Princier)
In Monaco, you have the unusual opportunity of visiting a working palace. This doesn’t happen every day, so make sure you visit The Prince’s Palace when you are in Monaco. The palace is full of history and you can learn about the House of Grimaldi (Monaco’s Royal Family) who still live in the palace today. In fact, the current sovereign Prince, Prince Albert II, was crowned in the throne room of the palace.
You can visit The Prince’s Palace of Monaco from 2 April until 15 October. The best time to visit the palace is 11:55 to see the changing of the Guard.
2. Discover the Exotic Garden of Monaco (Le Jardin Exotique)
The Exotic Garden of Monaco is one of the most interesting gardens I have seen so far. The garden is set high on the hill above Monaco and is fun to explore with its small bridges leading to different terraces. The garden is known for its succulent plants (plants with leaves which store water like cacti).
One of the advantages of this garden is that you can visit in winter or in summer and have a great experience. Kids will love this garden too because they may feel like they are in the Far West. Another good reason to visit this garden is for the view of Monaco. From here, you will find one of the best views of Monaco.
3. Oceanographic Museum (Le Musée Oceanographique)
As I mentioned above, the massive building which houses the Oceanographic Museum is attached to the rock and faces the sea. The Oceanographic Museum is one of the best oceanic museums in the world.
The museum was founded by Prince Albert I who was a navigator himself. At the age of 22, he took a book and sailed the oceans conducting a lot of research. When he came back, he opened this museum in Monaco and then another in Paris. Now Prince Albert II wants to carry on this work and has sent another boat to do more research.
One of the highlights of the museum is the sharks. The museum is a great place to observe sea creatures up close as it has more than 6,000 specimens in 90 aquariums. However, the museum is more than an exhibition. You will learn a lot during your visit as the museum is dedicated to research.
4. Observe the Architectural Buildings (L’Architecture des Bâtiments)
When you arrive in Monaco, the architecture of the buildings may be one of the first things you notice. In my opinion, the most impressive building is the Oceanographic Museum which is built on the edge of the cliff overlooking Monaco. In Monaco, you will discover plenty of different styles of buildings (including Art Deco and Art Nouveau) with streets full of colour and spectacular façades. Most of these buildings were built between the 19th and 20th centuries.
5. The Cars Collection of the Prince of Monaco (La Collection de Voitures Anciennes du Prince)
Another favourite for me is The Cars Collection of the Prince of Monaco. Monaco has a strong connection with cars. The Formula 1 Grand Prix is held in the streets of Monaco and there are plenty of luxury cars everywhere you look.
However, if you want to learn about the history of cars, you need to visit to The Cars Collection of the Prince of Monaco. At the end of the 1950s, Prince Rainier III started the collection and now there are more than 100 prestigious cars including Formula 1 cars and the car used for the wedding of Princess Charlene and Prince Albert II. Interestingly, this car is electric as Monaco is very concerned about ecology.
6. Monte-Carlo Casino (Casino de Monte-Carlo)
You don’t need to gamble to have a look around the Monte-Carlo Casino. The main façade of the casino is just splendid with a square and fountain in front. People just stand and watch the luxury cars arriving and leaving.
If you want to visit inside the casino, you have two solutions. The first is to book a visit between 10:00 and 13:00. During these times, you can enter the casino and take pictures. The second solution is to go after 14:00 and play! The minimum you can change is 20 Euros, but with this option you get to visit and you may be lucky win some money!
7. Saint Nicholas Cathedral (La Cathédrale de St Nicolas)
The other name of the Saint Nicholas Cathedral is the Cathedral of Our Lady Immaculate. The cathedral was built in 1875 and dedicated to Saint Nicolas. The beautiful interior with natural light creates a very nice atmosphere. Don’t miss the tomb of Grace Kelly (Princess Grace of Monaco). To find it, walk past the altar. You will find her tomb next to that of Prince Rainier III.
8. Monaco Harbour (Le Port de Monaco)
If you want to see huge yachts, then Monaco Harbour is the perfect place for you! There are many amazing boats moored in Monaco Harbour and it is always entertaining to look at the name of the boats and see where they came from. We advise you visit the harbour at the end of the day, so that you can enjoy a restaurant in this area afterwards. There are plenty of restaurants around the harbour which cater for all budgets.
9. Watch the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Monaco
The Formula 1 Grand Prix race in Monaco is perhaps the most impressive race in the world. This is because the race takes place on the streets of Monaco which were certainly not designed as Formula 1 racetracks. Whether you are fan or not, you will be impressed by the skill of the drivers to keep their cars on the road as they navigate the small winding streets of Monaco. The driver needs to use all his skills be overtake other Formula 1 cars.
10. Watch a Show at the Monte-Carlo Opera House (Opéra de Monte-Carlo)
The Monte-Carlo Opera House is located next to the Monte-Carlo Casino. The opera was built by the same architect who built the famous Opera House in Paris. If you are also interested in visiting the Paris Opera House, check out our post about What to Do in Paris for 2 Days.
The façade of the Opera House is amazing to look at, but why not enjoy a show and discover the inside. If you want to buy a ticket for a performance, you head to the Box Office in the Monte-Carlo Casino.
11. Shopping in Monte-Carlo
Monaco is the international capital of luxury. All the big luxury retail names are present in Monaco. In Monaco, there are a few magnificent shopping centres like the Metropole Shopping Monte-Carlo with its impressive chandeliers.
Le Marché de la Condamine is the perfect place to discover food specialties. This market was opened in 1880 and renovated in 1992.
12. Monaco Food Specialties
La Fougasse Monegasque – In Provence, la fougasse is part of the traditional 13 Christmas desserts. It is a variation of the French bread, the fougasse which is traditionally a small, sweet bread flavoured with oranges and decorated with nuts, raisins and anise.
The Fougasse Monegasque is the same as other fougasses but is decorated with red and white sugar glazed anise to symbolise the flag of Monaco.
Barbajuan – This is a national dish in Monaco. It is an appetizer comprised of a fritter stuffed with ricotta cheese and swiss chard. However, the fillings will vary depending on where you buy it. Barbajuan is very good as it has a cheesy taste with some crunch and plenty of flavours depending on the ingredients used. You must try Barbajuan when you are in Monaco!
13. Monaco with Kids
When you travel with kids, you always have this question at the back of your mind: Will the kids enjoy this? To help you make your kids happy, you will find below some activities which kids will enjoy.
Oceanographic Museum – The best thing to do with kids in Monaco is the Oceanographic Museum. All kids will enjoy this visit as they love to discover the different marine habitats and sea creatures and they will be impressed by the sharks! In addition to having fun, they will learn plenty of different things.
Monaco Harbour – Wandering around Monaco is another good way to entertain the kids and it’s free! You can teach your kids some Geography as the names of different countries are written under the name of each boat. You and your kids will be impressed by the splendour of the marvellous yachts moored in the harbour.
If you your kids are interested in cars, a visit to The Cars Collection of the Prince of Monaco will be a perfect choice for you.
14. Wander Around the Japanese Garden
If you want to travel to the Land of the Rising Sun, then the Japanese Garden is a good option. You will discover Japanese bridges, ponds, waterfalls, lanterns and a Zen garden. It is a little surreal to leave the French Riviera and enter Japan in less than 5 minutes!
15. Enjoy the Fort Antoine Outdoor Theatre
The Fort Antoine Outdoor Theatre is housed in an old fortress which was originally built in the 18th century but was then destroyed in 1944. Later, Prince Rainier III had the fortress rebuilt as a theatre which now stages different plays during the summer months. It is a great experience to sit inside this iconic theatre under the stars and watch a performance.
16. Wander Around the Moneghetti Area of Monaco
The Moneghetti area of Monaco is the perfect place to get a feel for Monaco’s atmosphere. Here, you will see villas and parks with century-old trees. Within this area of Monaco, you will find the Exotic Gardenof Monaco (see number 2).
The best way to discover the area of Moneghetti is to walk. You can stop at the Princess Antoinette park and walk between hundred-year-old olive trees or you can go the Prehistoric Museum to learn about early humankind.
17. Visit the Old Town of Monaco
After your visit to The Prince’s Palace, you can explore the picturesque area on the hill. This area was the home of Grace Kelly. Outside the Palace, there is an enormous square from which you can gain a stunning view of Monaco and its harbour.
From the square, it is worth exploring the streets of the Old Town. During the summer, there are plenty of tourists here. However, if you find the crowds too much, take a right or left turn away from busy places and wander at your leisure.
18. Treat Yourself in a Luxury Spa
Monte-Carlo is the town of luxury and it is the best place to treat yourself if you can. For that, why not to do a spa after your busy day? In Monaco, you have plenty of choices, and you will find world class spas here.
Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Monte-Carlo received the award of best spa hotel by Villegiature. You will receive a unique treatment from highly qualified staff, like the ‘Willow Stream Elements’ which isa signature treatment based on nature’s primal elements.
Espa at the Hotel Metropole is more than a spa. They have a treatment called ‘The Journey’ during which you will forget everything and lose yourself in another world.
19. Explore Fontvieille Park
Fontvieille Park is well known by locals and is a good place to find peace and quiet. You will find olive, pine and cypress trees with many exotic species. However, you can also enjoy art in this park. Alongside the paths, art is displayed, and your children will have a lot fun in the playground. This park is the perfect place to have a rest with a picnic for all the family.
20. Take a Helicopter Flight
Whether you are visiting The Prince’s Palace or the Exotic Gardens in Monaco, you will have a great view. However, you are in Monaco so why not take your experience to another level and book a helicopter flight? This is the best option, if you want to have a bird’s eye view of the area and make a holiday memorable forever.
21. Drive a Ferrari
As you know Monaco is a place for the wealthy and there are plenty of nice cars on the streets and Monaco even has its own Formula 1 racetrack inside the streets of the town. So, why not enjoy yourself and drive a Ferrari in Monaco, even if it is for just a short time? In my experience, driving a Ferrari is a sensation like no other.
Is Monaco Worth Visiting?
In my opinion, yes, Monaco is definitely worth visiting. There are plenty of interesting things to see and do, but the Oceanographic Museum is definitely the best of the best! The wealth, buzz and beauty of Monaco is captivating from the yachts and prestige cars to the buildings. All the family will have fun here, especially with a racetrack running through the streets! Don’t forget that Monaco also has 300 days of sunshine each year, so it is the perfect place to enjoy outside activities all year long.