Monaco is an absolutely beautiful country. Often mistaken for part of France, it is actually a principality and the 2nd smallest country in the world. It’s a mere 0.75 square miles, but still manages to have several different quartiers: Monte Carlo (where the famous casino and shopping are), Fontvielle (a newer part along the smaller harbor filled with hotels, condos, and shopping), Monaco-ville (the capitol and main part of Monaco where there are many restaurants and shops, and the train station is) and La Condamine (where you can gawk at all the super yachts in the harbor).
While it’s known for hosting the rich and famous, you don’t have to shy away from Monaco if you’re not a millionaire. You can easily stay in Nice or any of the surrounding coastal towns and take the train for the day to be in Monaco in less than 30 minutes. It’s about 5 euros each way, and you get to see the beautiful coastline along the way. Here’s a few things you can do that don’t cost much (or are free!).
Grand Prix Track
One of the most famous races in the world, the Grand Prix in held every May in Monaco. The event brings flocks of celebrities who hang out on yachts all weekend and go to be seen at exclusive parties at night. The race itself has been held since 1929, and is known as one of the most challenging courses in F1 due to its tight turns and hills. The track is on the regular streets that people drive on. Even if you don’t like watching car races, it’s neat to see some of the more famous turns, like the Fairmont Hairpin, and see the bumpers on the side of the streets with the skid marks.
Prince’s Private Car Collection
If you like old cars, this is the place to go. For 6 euros, you can view 100 antique cars and race cars dating back to the early 1900s. There is a large section dedicated to the F1 Grand Prix race, which is not surprising with how big the race is. I’m not the biggest car lover, but I found it fun to see how technology has improved with each generation of new cars. They also have pictures next to many of the cars, such as a car that Princess Grace got picked up in when she first became a princess.
The Prince of Monaco’s palace is located up high overlooking Monaco and has beautiful views. You can get a tour of the massive palace for 8 euros, along with a self-guided audio device to hear about the history of each room. Unfortunately, there are no pictures allowed inside, which is too bad because the antique furniture and decorations are extraordinary. The palace was built in 1191 and has had a very interesting and diverse history throughout the years, including being taken over by many different foreign leaders. The tour is very informative and will educate you on each different reigning family.
Monte Carlo Casino
This was built in 1863 as a means of keeping the House of Grimaldi (the ruling family at the time, which you’ll learn about if you go to the Prince’s palace) out of bankruptcy. While gambling can cost you a pretty penny, it’s 10 euros if you just want to walk around to see the inside, which I recommend. Make sure to bring your ID, as they will need it to let you in (citizens of Monaco are not allowed inside). There also is a stricter dress code at night. Once again, no pictures are allowed here, but it seems that gold decorates everything that you look at. Make sure to take time to see all the very expensive cars parked outside, which is a sight in itself.
Gawking at Yachts
This is completely free, and you could literally spend the whole day doing it with how many yachts and even superyachts there are. There are two harbors in Monaco, and both were filled to capacity every day with all the yachts coming in. The largest one I saw was five stories tall, which I can only imagine what all they had on that boat! There’s an assortment of food stands along the harbors, so grab a gelato to go and pick out your favorite boat to dream about as you walk along the docks.
What else would you add to this list of activities in Monaco?
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