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How to Have a Perfect Stay in Monaco

Monte Carlo Harbor

At less than a square mile in size, Monaco is the world’s second-smallest state, behind only Vatican City. While the Principality, which is nestled along the French Riviera, may be petite, its personality is anything but. Monaco has a European vibe, but it also feels like you’re in this bubble of paradise.

Strolling through Monaco means experiencing a place that seamlessly blends storied history with fresh, of-the-moment excitement: At the thirteenth-century Prince’s Palace, the ceremonial changing of the guards still takes place every day at exactly 11:55 a.m. And this May, the Monaco Grand Prix, which transforms the Principality’s infamous hairpin turns into an urban racetrack, celebrated its 80th anniversary. 

Fast cars and luxury hotels are part of Monaco’s appeal, but there’s much more to explore beyond its gilded Casino – although that’s not a bad place to start soaking up the grandeur that helped the Principality grow into the global destination it is today.


Monaco doesn’t rely on its past to drive its present: dynamic young chefs, buzzy beach clubs, a new seaside promenade, and a year-round events calendar show that, unlike sleepier parts of the French Riviera, Monaco offers plenty to do during any season.

Live like a local.

Monaco comprises six districts – Old Town, Monte-Carlo, Fontvieille, La Condamine, Le Larvotto, and Exotic Garden – and it’s worth spending time in each. Start the morning perusing the stands of just-picked vegetables, fruits, and flowers at La Condamine’s farmers’ market in the place d’Armes.

Inside the 150-year-old Halle Gourmande, visitors will find a handful of stalls serving everything from Basque charcuterie and cheese to regional specialties such as savory pissaladière, an anchovy- and black-olive-topped onion tart, and barbajuan, a deep-fried fritter stuffed with ricotta and Swiss chard that also serves as Monaco’s national dish.

Soak up nature and culture.

Monaco is dotted with manicured green spaces, one of the best known being the Princess Grace Rose Garden in Fontvieille. It’s modeled after an English garden but has a distinct Mediterranean touch, thanks to hundred-year-old olive trees scattered among its 4,000 rose bushes. Families will love Princess Antoinette Park, which sits in the center of the Principality and is home to ping-pong tables and an 18-hole mini-golf course.

Travelers staying at the Jacques Garcia-designed, 125-room Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo, just across from the Casino, can take advantage of an exclusive experience that includes spending the night at the Oceanographic Museum to spy its thousands of tropical and Mediterranean fish by flashlight. Anyone visiting the Principality can tour the marine haven by day, or visit the Exotic Garden’s Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology alongside an archeology professor.

Monaco also has more to offer automobile lovers than Formula 1. Even if you’re not a race car fan, it’s pretty impressive to see Prince Rainier III’s car collection, which showcases hundreds of cars from the beginning of the automobile era until today. Keep an eye out for the ultra-rare 1903 De Dion-Bouton.

Go window-shopping – or shop till you drop.

Monte-Carlo’s iconic Casino dominates the Carré d’Or (Golden Square), and the views outside are just as good as the ones inside the fresco-filled, Bohemian-crystal-chandelier-adorned space, thanks to the parade of luxury cars always parked out front. The 150-year old Casino isn’t anything like the ones in Vegas, and its style is something everyone else in the world tries to replicate.

Travelers could easily spend an entire day in the Carré d’Or alone, hopping between the 80-plus boutiques at the Metropole Shopping Monte-Carlo (next door to the Hotel Metropole) and the glass-encased luxury shops, such as Chanel and Bottega Veneta, that line the streets of the new One Monte-Carlo fashion complex.

Post-shopping, people-watch from the Café de Paris terrace at the 207-room Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo while dining on classic brasserie fare, or head inside to its 1920s-inspired Bar Américain to sip cocktails (try the Roseraie, with rose-infused vodka) while listening to live jazz.

Eat well, live well in Monaco

At the crossroads of France and Italy, Monaco’s Mediterranean landscape and local ingredients attract chefs from around the globe. Six of the Principality’s restaurants boast prestigious Michelin stars. Many Monaco chefs highlight flavors and ingredients from the Mediterranean and the surrounding mountains.

Travelers will find buzzy restaurants, among them Giacomo, serving Italian fare, and Sexy Tacos, dishing up Mexican favorites. The stretch is also home to a few of the Principality’s most popular beach clubs, including La Note Bleue. Travelers looking for something more private can moor their boats around a rocky peninsula home to Monte-Carlo Beach’s new Capri-inspired Club La Vigie, where pine trees shield bungalows by the water and DJs spin music into the night.

Thanks to Monaco’s casinos, restaurants, and nightlife, there’s plenty happening here year-round. It’s a great mix of old and new, and there is a lot more to come. Let's start working o your Monaco vacation now.

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