Monaco officially called the Principality of Monaco is the second smallest country in the world after the Vatican city. It is located on the French Riviera surrounded by France on three sides on land and opens up to the pristine waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Monaco is one of the most expensive and wealthiest countries and 30% of its population are millionaires. The official language in Monaco is French and its currency is Euro. If you have a day or two to spend in Monaco, these places should definitely be on your list.
Monaco is subdivided into ten wards Monte-Carlo, Monaco-Ville, Fontvieille, Larvotto and La Condamine, etc. These wards cover the most thrilling locations, apart from them Monaco has designer boutiques, luxury yachts, posh restaurants and home for many Formula1 drivers.
1.Palais du Prince
The palace is held up in a unique spot, high above the sea level on the ‘Le Rocher’ and has been the official residence of the Prince of Monaco since 1297 overlooking the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. The pathway around the Palais du Prince is picturesque and serves as a great vantage point for photography of the Fontvieille and the ports.
The private residence is open to the public from June to October of each year depending on protocols, thereby allowing the tourists to admire the galleries adorned with frescoes from the 16th century. The residence consists of Blue room(official reception room) Mazarin room, Throne room(official ceremony room), Palatine chapel and the main courtyard. The public can also see the Changing of guards take place every day at the royal entrance of the palace at 11:55 am making it a proud and delightful moment.
2.Musée Océanographique de Monaco
Musée Océanographique is also located on the Le Rocher and built also on the edge facing the Mediterranean Sea. Prince Albert I opened the museum in 1910 making it one of the oldest aquariums. The museum exhibits a wonderful collection of marine life with over 200 species of invertebrates and over 100 species of corals. The collections include sea turtles, Ptérois, Nautilus, Sharks and many more types of fishes. The whole museum is decorated to be informative and amusing for the kids. The museum has an open terrace restaurant ‘La terrace’ which allows you to enjoy food and the beautiful view of the blue sea.
Cathédrale de Notre-Dame-Immaculée or Saint Nicolas Cathedral was consecrated in 1911. This Roman-Byzantine style cathedral by the white stones gathered from the nearby place La Turbie. Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace got married and now houses the tombs of the former Princess of Monaco and the cathedral is open to the public for free.
4. Formula 1 circuit of the Monaco Grand Prix
Monaco is one of the best street race circuits in the Formula 1 calendar and is still in my bucket list, even though I have visited the country. The first race was held in 1929 and has a rich history and the Aryton Senna is a legend. The circuit starts on the Boulevard Albert 1er and passes by the famous Monte-Carlo casino and slows down into the world’s famous Grand Hotel hairpin and later pulls away into the blindspot of the Tunnel, further away leads to the swimming pool, where the crowd cheers for the drivers and the richest people end the race from their yachts and finally turning into the Boulevard Albert 1er to complete a lap. However, the pitlane is temporary and is built for every race along the Quai Albert 1er.
The circuit length is 3.337kms ( 2.074 mi) and if you are a crazy Formula 1 fan, I would highly recommend you re-live your favorite race lap on foot. Every year around 3rd weekend of May, the whole city will be filled with fans cheering for their favorite team. If you want to watch the race, I would recommend booking a room with a great race track view in advance. It can get very expensive or impossible to get a room during the race weekend.
Monte-Carlo casino as the same indicates a gambling and entertainment spot in Monaco. It includes the casino and the opera house and is one of the most glamorous and exotic locations. The casino road is lined by palm trees and a beautiful fountain. If you want to see exotic cars like Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini, Ferrari, McLaren and many more, you can find all of them here.
The interior of the casino has a lavishly decorated interior and the whole vibe seems to be a privilege. The bar area almost seems like you’ve entered into a museum with a great collection of paintings and sculptures. The casino offers a wide variety of games such as roulette, blackjack, trente et quarante, craps, poker and slot machines.
6.La collection de voitures de S.A.S Le Prince de Monaco
Prince Rainer III was passionate about cars and started to collect vintage cars and collection grew rapidly and his garage seemed to run out of place to park them. In 1993 the Prince decided to open his collection to the public. The museum is located in Fontvieille and holds about 100 cars. His collection has passenger cars, luxury cars, and sports cars namely Rolls-Royce, Lincoln, Ferrari, Maserati, Delage, Vega, Lamborghini. Apart from these the collection now also includes the Formula 1, Le Mans race car.
I visited Monaco in March 2018 and I was lucky to have a chance to view the special exhibition of Ferrari cars from the year 1960 to 2016. Oh my, I was amazed to see the oldest cars and how Ferrari had evolved with design and technology over the years. The room was filled with a sea of red Ferrari.
7.Jardin Exotique de Monaco
The exotic garden in Monaco has two major sections one being the ‘Exotic Garden’ and the other ‘Observation cave’. The garden was opened in 1993, built on the cliff-side offering a breathtaking view of Monaco. The garden has various types of cactus plants from exotic locations such as Mexico, South America, henceforth the name.
The Observation Cave is located at the bottom of the exotic garden. The cave is famous for its limestone rock are formed into stalagmites, stalactities, draperies and columns. The cave is visited with a special guide who give a tour and goes almost to a depth of 98 m (approximately 300 steps).
8. La Tête de Chien
La Tête de Chien literally means The Dog’s Head is situated in France, however people visiting Monaco frequently visit this place. This location played an important role and is a military fortress which is 550 meters high. There are multiple ways to reach La Tête de Chien (hike, car, motorcycle). I would recommend hiking to the top as the views along the hike are magnificent and the way up and down is totally safe. After 1.5 hours of hike to the top, I assure you the view is beyond words to explain, no wonder tourists visit this spot for photography, wedding proposals, picnics, viewing the sunset, so pick yours. The best months to visit this place is from May to August and do not forget your shades and sunscreen.
An interesting thing to do when in Monaco is to visit the Tourism Office grab the city map and ask for the PASSPORT STAMP !! It’s totally free and the receptionist will be happy to stamp your passport. Have a safe and wonderful journey !!!