Situated between the French and Italian Rivieras, there is a tiny state called Monaco. Probably most well-known for several reasons; Grace Kelly, Formula One Grand Prix and Prince Albert II.
Monaco is a principality governed under a form of constitutional monarchy, with Prince Albert II as head of state. The official language is French. The state has no income tax, low business taxes, and is well known for being a tax haven. More on Monaco’s history and governance here. (Wikipedia, Monaco)
The country is divided into four areas: Monaco-Ville (the old city), the Condamine (port quarter), Monte-Carlo (business and recreation), and Fontvieille (recreation and light industry) (WikiTravel). Monaco is barely two miles long and a little over half a mile wide, it’s the World’s Smallest Nation after the Vatican, so it’s very walkable.
This is where billionaires and royalty gamble, boat and party. If you love exotic cars, yachts and anything haute-couture, you will not be disappointed here, Maserati’s and Lamborghinis are as common as Fords in America.
Casino of Monte Carlo
In the most exclusive area of Monte Carlo, is the luxurious marble-and-gold Grand Casino. The area itself is where all the most luxurious and fashionable hotels, restaurants and boutiques can also be found (including the famous Hôtel de Paris). The building is linked to the Salle Garnier Opera House by an impressive atrium lined with 28 Ionic Golden Circle columns made of onyx. The minimum age for entering is 21, and you’ll need your passport as well as an entry fee. Even if you don’t enter, you can people watch in front of the building at the high-rollers pull in with their exotic cars.
Escape for some sun and sea at this public beach and bask in the sun while you watch the super yachts. You’ll find several cafés and kiosks nearby for refreshments and light lunches. The beach is a small pebble beach but that doesn’t stop the locals, that come here for fun. Don’t expect to see millionaires here, they are at their own private beaches, or at beach clubs.
Formula Grand Prix
The world-famous Formula Grand Prix takes place in the narrow windy roads of Monaco every year in May. The course is challenging and dangerous and includes tight corners, different elevations and a tunnel. During the event, grandstands are set up around the course, while the rich watch from their yachts or from balconies of hotels. If you’re fortunate to be in Monaco during this time, you won’t be able to avoid this thrilling event.
Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium
The museum’s building is impressive towering over the sheer cliff face to a height of 279 feet (85.04 m), called the Rock of Monaco. The museum was founded by Prince Albert I as a palace dedicated to Art and Science. Today, it houses exhibitions on education of the seas including Turtle Island and Shark Lagoon. Adult entry fee is 14€, children 7€.
The Palais Princier
In Monaco-Ville (old town) is the Prince of Monaco’s official residence. Built around 1215, the palace takes you from the Renaissance to the Napoleonic period with focal points being the Thorne Room and the Main Courtyard with its horse-shaped marble staircase, adorned with millions of geometric patterns. Attend the free Changing of the Palace Guard – the Carabiniers du Prince which takes place daily, just before noon (11:55).
Prince’s Car Collection
At the Terraces de Fontvieille, the Prince of Monaco exhibits his remarkable collection of almost 100 classic cars of all ages, European and American, as well as six coaches belonging to HSH, Prince Rainier III of Monaco. Admission is 6.50€, Children and students 3€.