Monaco Holiday Planning Guide
As part of the French Riviera, Monaco offers the aquamarine waters of the Mediterranean Sea on its doorstep. The country has long been known for its panache--fast cars, big casinos, and expensive boutiques will surround you on your Monaco holiday. While you can find some more economical activities for travelers, this is not the country for tourists on a budget. Many cruise ships make this a port of call, so expect to see these vessels and large yachts as part of the landscape here.
Places to Visit in Monaco
Cities in MonacoMonte-Carlo
: The luxurious city at the base of the Alps boasts a renowned casino in a historical palace, and features high-class entertainment including operas and ballets performed in stunning theaters, and medieval villages.Monaco-Ville
: As one of the nation's oldest towns, the site offers delightful little streets decorated with cathedrals and museums all sitting against towering cliffs.
La Condamine: Known for its large harbor and the luxury yachts within, the second-oldest district in Monaco stands out as a great place for excellent seafood meals.
Fontvieille: The newest of four traditional quarters in Monaco, this more modern district was built in the 1970s and offers shopping centers, a large harbor, and a sports complex.
Things to Do in Monaco
Popular Monaco Tourist AttractionsOceanographic Museum of Monaco
: Located on a towering sea cliff, the marine museum educates visitors on surrounding aquatic life and its environment, including displays like a shark lagoon, turtle island, and tactile pool where you can touch various animals.Casino Square
: A luxurious and exciting stop on any Monaco itinerary, this square is surrounded by lavishly landscaped areas that open to first-class hotels and a casino; you may recognize it as a backdrop for James Bond films.Monte Carlo Harbor
: A mecca for luxury yacht owners, this harbor exudes wealth as fancy boats float alongside restaurants and cafes that offer perfect places for dinner and drinks among celebrities.Prince's Palace (Palais du Prince)
: Inhabited for more than 700 years by the ruling Grimaldi family, the palace allows visitors during a limited time period to explore the lavish rooms with 16th-century frescoes and the throne topped by the crown.Saint Nicholas Cathedral
: Once the wedding location of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III, this beautiful cathedral with marble floors and elaborate frescoes dates back to the 13th century.Japanese Gardens
: Escape usual bustle of Monaco tourist attractions by spending some time in this quiet garden with waterfalls, carp-filled lakes, secluded pathways, and a teahouse.Exotic Garden (Jardin Exotique)
: Sitting atop a steep hill and featuring exhibits of native plants, including succulents and cacti, this garden offers educational tours about the region's fauna as well as an underground cave to explore.Vieux Monaco
: Otherwise known as the city's Old Town, this 6th-century area houses numerous famous attractions like theatres and chapels amongst medieval streets and buildings.Larvotto Beach
: As Monaco's only beach, the stretch of man-made pebbled shoreline features shallow water and lots of convenient bars and restaurants.Place du Palais
: Among many other Monaco things to do, stop to learn about Monaco's military history and the history of the royal family in the palace surrounded by mansions and officers' barracks.
Planning a Monaco Vacation with Kids
Places to Visit in Monaco with Kids
Despite being the world's second smallest country, Monaco packs a punch when it comes to things to see and do. The main city of Monte-Carlo
holds most Monaco tourist attractions, so base yourself here for convenience. If you want to get off the beaten path, head to one of the nation's oldest towns at Monaco-Ville
and explore the delightful streets and shops. For families who love the water, check out La Condamine, where you can view a plethora of luxury yachts and find some excellent seafood.
Things to Do in Monaco with Kids
Since many travelers begin in Monte-Carlo, make Oceanographic Museum of Monaco
a priority. The museum hosts rare and regional marine species, including seahorses, stingrays, turtles, and even an intimidating shark lagoon where kids and adults alike can view the predators of the sea up close. Monaco's only beach, Larvotto Beach
, is man-made and works well for youngsters who can swim safely while adults can relax on the pebbled shoreline. You'll find playgrounds and water sports here, and restaurants line the shoreline so it is easy to grab a bite.
If you'd rather skip the beach, head to Exotic Garden (Jardin Exotique)
. Although your kids may not be botanists, they are likely to enjoy the underground cave on site. Or visit the Zoological Museum that hosts about 50 different species like exotic birds, primates, hippopotamus, and black panthers. In the city center, the 6th-century Old Town of Vieux Monaco
provides lots of little alleyways to explore and old buildings to admire.
Tips for a Family Vacation in Monaco
Consider renting a bike during your Monaco vacation and explore the country on your own. But be sure to pace yourself, as the area is extremely hilly and kids might have trouble pedaling for more than an hour or two. Or, opt for motor bikes. If the small country starts to feel too limiting, head for the city's train station, which is centrally located and allows easy day trips to France or Italy.
Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Monaco
Cuisine of Monaco
While you'll notice some French and Italian influences throughout Monaco cuisine, most dishes tend to resemble Mediterranean flavors. Seafood is prevalent and delicious, so be sure to ask your server for the catch of the day. Breakfast portions are usually small, so grab a snack or two to carry with you if you need more to eat as you go Monaco sightseeing.
Shopping in Monaco
Monaco is a world-class location for luxury shopping, and shops offer everything from haute couture to stunning jewelry. Famous stores are found in the heart of the city, but if you are looking for something more unique, explore the hand-crafted products of the Old Town shopkeepers at Vieux Monaco
. Clothing, bags and leather pieces make perfect souvenirs.
Know Before You Go on a Trip to Monaco
History of Monaco
History of the area of Monaco stretches back centuries to 6th century BC, when Phocaeans founded the colony of Monoikos, named after the Roman god Hercules. At the time, legend told that Hercules built the ancient path that passed through the region from Spain to Italy. Some writings since then have described a temple dedicated to Hercules, but no such structure has been found. This area also served as a stopping point for Julius Caesar on his way to campaign in Greece.
Romans controlled the area until the fall of the Western Roman Empire, and afterwards it passed from ruler to ruler through raids and invasions. In 1191, Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI granted the area to the city of Genoa, the native home of the Ligurians, and Monaco's modern history began.
Originally created as a colony of Genoa in 1215, Monaco passed under the rule of the House of Grimaldi in 1297. The nation has remained under the family's rule since then, except for a brief period when the French ruled from 1789 to 1814. The Grimaldi family is famous around the world and visitors can even visit their lavish home at Prince's Palace (Palais du Prince)
. Although Monaco is now constitutional government, the Prince of Monaco was the supreme ruler until 1911.
France become involved with the country once again in 1918 when Monaco bartered limited protection along with French policy and cooperating economic interests. In 1993, Monaco gained full voting rights after joining the United Nations.
Customs of Monaco
While the area thrives with an international presence, the culture's etiquette is similar to most Western countries. Keep in mind that privacy and discretion are very important, especially when interacting with Monegasques natives who work to keep their history and culture alive among outside influences.
Holidays & Festivals in Monaco
Celebrated with a fantastic parade, fireworks, and a Thanksgiving mass in Saint Nicholas Cathedral
, National Day every November 19 makes an exciting event for any Monaco trip traveler. The country also hosts several other religious celebrations, including the festival of Saint John on June 24 and the Feast of Saint Devote on January 27, when special church services and large meals are held.
Monaco Travel Tips
Climate of Monaco
With mild temperatures year-round and a low amount of rainfall, Monaco serves as a comfortable vacation spot. Be sure to take warm clothing even in the hottest months of July and August, as the ocean breezes can be cool at night.
Transportation in Monaco
Due to the country's small size, getting around is easy, with the bus system encompassing more than 140 stops. Bus networks are plainly labeled on maps, and wait times are displayed at each stop. If you'd like a bit more independence, rent a scooter and explore the area. Theft is not an issue here, and you can find free parking almost anywhere. Taxis are available but can only be hailed at two major stops--at the railway station and Avenue de Monte Carlo.
Language of Monaco
English is widely spoken in Monaco, so you will not have any trouble communicating as you explore Monaco tourist attractions. But if you wander to the countryside and its villages, people may only speak French or Monegasque, the language of the natives.
Tipping in Monaco
Service charges are commonly added to bills in hotels and restaurants, but tipping extra for good service is welcomed. Additionally, it's proper to give at least a 10 percent tip to porters and valets.