Monaco: Visit this elegant country to taste the sweetness of life


The second smallest country in the world is well known for its casinos, fast cars and glamorous residents – including a handful of Formula 1 drivers and Beatles drummer Ringo Starr. But there is a lot more to Monaco than it seems at first glance.

Principality located in the heart of the Côte d’Azur, Monaco has been run by the Grimaldi family for 700 years. Prince Albert II ascended to the throne in 2005, succeeding the long-reigning Prince Rainier III, who married Grace Kelly in 1956.

Although it is small in size – it is actually smaller than Central Park in New York – Monaco contains a lot of it in its 1.95 km², of which around 38,000 inhabitants, of which only 9,000 are Monegasque citizens. Not surprisingly, due to the luxurious lifestyle of its residents, the citizens of Monaco also have the longest life expectancy in Europe.

There is a lot to do in Monaco, even if you don’t have a prince’s bank balance.

With so much history and 300 days of sunshine a year, there are plenty of reasons to visit this small country, whether you’re on a day trip from Nice or staying in one of the decadent hotels in the Principality.

Here’s a look at our favorite places to visit in this charming and compact country.

What are the travel restrictions for Monaco?

Since October 12, the rules relating to wearing a mask in Monaco have been slightly relaxed. Masks are no longer mandatory in outdoor public spaces other than in certain circumstances, but should be worn in all indoor public spaces.

Depending on the country of origin, visitors may need to provide a “sanitary pass,” which includes a PCR or antigen test performed within the last 72 hours. More information can be found here.

Tourists may need to present their vaccination passport in order to eat inside restaurants and bars.

As many visitors will cross France to reach Monaco, it is also important to know the rules for traveling in France, which can be found here.

5. Michelin restaurants and the Condamine Market

If you love gastronomy and world cuisine, then Monaco is the perfect destination for you.

“In Monaco, you can have fun, you can really have fun. You have seven Michelin-starred restaurants and many very different dishes, ”explains Guy Antognelli, director of tourism for the Monegasque government.

“There is a Japanese restaurant with a Michelin star, a 100% organic restaurant Elsa, the first in the world with a Michelin star.

“We also have the best of French cuisine with The Louis XV – Alain Ducasse at the Hotel de Paris, which is three stars. It is really very interesting.

In addition to the gastronomic options, if you want to see how the 9,000 Monegasque citizens live, go to Condamine market. It is open daily and serves local bread, vegetables and other delicious specialties. There is also a food court inside, so you can stay and eat your lunch while watching the world go by.

If you want to taste the real taste of Monaco, there is even a locally grown and produced orange liqueur called ‘The Orangery’ which is made from the bitter oranges that grow on the boulevards of Monaco. The liquor was first distilled by Irish businessman Philip Culazzo in 2017, and oranges have been hand-picked by the distillery every year since.

4. Enjoy the sweetness of life in the natural spaces of Monaco

For such a small country, Monaco has more parks, gardens and trees than you might initially think. In fact, 20% of its territory is made up of green spaces. This includes the delicious Exotic Garden, built on the side of a cliff, which brings together succulents and cacti from all over the world.

If you’re feeling brave, under the garden – though still 100 meters above sea level – there’s even a prehistoric cave to explore, complete with bone fragments and stalactites.

If you prefer your sightseeing a little less scary then you can head to the Oceanographic Museum. Built in 1912, the Monaco Aquarium has become much more than a giant aquarium. Now “there is a rehabilitation center for sea turtles,” says Antognelli, as well as an art and science museum in the complex.

Although Monaco cannot be described as a seaside destination, it does have a public stretch of sand, the Larvotto. An artificial beach with soft white sand and crystal clear waters, it’s perfect for a dip. There are also plenty of restaurants and brasseries in the surrounding area, for those who are hungry.

3. Monaco’s rich history of fast cars

If you are interested in fast cars and Formula 1, there is no better place to be.

“We have three Grands Prix. Two weeks before Formula 1 there is Formula E, and also a vintage car Grand Prix in mid-May, ”explains Antognelli.

“The biggest group of people who come are people from Great Britain and Australia, and they are competing with classic cars from the 1930s on the Formula One track.”

All three Grands Prix take place in May, drawing huge crowds of the rich and famous. Many stars of motor racing have also made Monaco their home, thanks to the sunny weather, including Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc, born in the principality.

If classic cars are more your thing, then there is a permanent display of Prince’s vehicles, including sports cars and Dawn of Driving automobiles. The collection can be found on the Terraces of Fontvieille and contains over 100 different vehicles, including Formula 1 winners. There are even some that belonged to Princess Grace of Monaco.

2. The Prince’s Palace and Princess Grace of Monaco

Home to the oldest royal family in Europe, it would be rude to visit Monaco and not go to the Prince’s Palace. If you can go, it depends on when you visit, as it is still the official residence of the prince and closed when in residence.

Open from April to October, the palace closes the rest of the year. If you visit Monaco during this time, you can also learn about Hollywood actress Grace Kelly, who became Princess Grace of Monaco in 1956.

You can tour the state apartments where she once lived, or if you’re feeling bloated head to Monaco’s shopping boulevards and buy yourself a Hermès ‘Kelly Bag’ named after the princess herself.

1. Casino

A visit to Monaco would not be complete without a visit to the casinos. But don’t worry if you are not a big player, you can just visit the bar.

Place du Casino, a large, beautifully maintained square is where you’ll find the country’s gambling establishments. Two are currently open, with the super glamor Monte-Carlo Casino the most known. In fact, it is believed that Ian Fleming based his first James Bond Casino Royale novel in this very location. The Coffee of Paris is nearby with a panoramic terrace for breakfast, lunch and tea.

“You can only enter the casino to visit it if you wish. There is a bar inside, so you can go to the casino bar, ”Antognelli explains.

“There is a space for people who just want to try, and after that there is the private casino, with European style gambling, roulette and table games where you can play more.”

To raise the bar, the nearby Hotel de Paris Monte Carlo – the first hotel to offer hot water to its guests – has served as the backdrop for several James Bond films. Antognelli says it has been completely renovated in recent years.

“Monaco is transforming, we are transforming Monaco but we really want to keep our DNA. We have therefore restructured L’Hôtel d’Paris for four years.

“So if you come now, you will see it and say ‘this is the Hotel d’Paris, nothing has changed.’ In fact it is completely new, we only keep the facade of the palace and the historical parts, but all the other parts of the hotel have been completely rebuilt.