Proud and tiny principality of Monaco is everything but rush. You can simply walk along the terraces enjoying the colours of the water changing from turquoise to deep blue with the bright reflections of yachts tearing the colour synchrony apart. Nevertheless, if you’re brave enough to do something, why not explore what the amazing principality has to offer?
Here is my short guide of the spots not to miss during your trip to Monaco! You can easily walk between some locations but between others (such as Jardin Exotique and the rest of the world) it’s easier to get a bus or a taxi. As this is Monaco, expect the prices to be set quite high.
1. Old Town on Le Rocher
Narrow ancient streets of tiny Old Town occupies, alongside with the Cathedral, Palace and the Oceanographic Museum, the so called Rock – Le Rocher.
Small cafes, charming streets of Monaco, photos of Grace Kelly stepping on the same pavement as you – it all creates a powerful aesthetics of this area.
2. Monaco Cathedral
Monaco Cathedral was built in 1875 and is a place where the remnants of the royal family members are kept. Although this neo-Byzantine cathedral is quite new, some objects inside have a multi-century history.
It is a must visit spot not only for those who appreciate architecture and royal families of Europe, but also for the cinema lovers. This is exactly the place where Grace Kelly who married Prince Rainier and became a Princess of Monaco rests after a tragic accident of September 1982, together with her husband.
Personally, I just admire her beauty and talent! Just think of it: she appeared in less than a dozen movies from 1951 to 1956 (including three under’s Hitchcock directorship) and made such influence that she is considered one of the greatest actresses of the 20th century and an indisputable fashion icon!
Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief, 1955, director Alfred Hitchcock
Everett Collection. Grace Kelly in Dior for ‘Rear Window’ film, 1954
3. Les Jardins Saint-Martin
Lovely Gardens of Saint Martin are a nice place for a stroll and admiring sea views. They are located near the Cathedral – look for the statue of Albert I!
4. The Prince’s Palace
It’s not hard to notice the overwhelming presence of Monaco royal family in the country – so no doubt the Prince’s Palace – Palais du Prince – secured a place to itself in the list. It’s history dates back to the 13th century when a fortress was crowning La Rocher.
We just sat for a coffee with a wonderful view over the square and the Palace’s facade – sadly, it wasn’t open to the public during our Monaco stay because the Prince was in there at that time.
I’d strongly suggest that you see a huge terrace on the side of the palace too: the panorama of Monaco Harbor is breathtaking!
5. Oceanographic Museum
Oceanographic Museum opened in 1910 is one of the most impressive not only museums, but also architectural spots of Le Rocher.
Looking like a proper palace, it’s a fascinating place with aquariums (a Mediterranean Aquarium, a Tropical Aquarium, and a Shark Lagoon), a decent collection of skeletons, maritime curiosities and an amazing view from the terrace too!
It was touching to see the exhibition dedicated to the involvement of the royal family into the sea exploration battling environmental problems our world faces today.
6. Jardin Exotique
Although it was not that easy to get to Fontvieille where Jardin Exotique is located (we gave up the idea of finding a taxi at some point and went there by bus), this garden became one of my favorite spots in Monaco!
Its collection of plants is absolutely astonishing – and, as you know my love for cacti, it was bliss for me to walk around.
One feature is quite distinctive from other gardens like this that I’ve visited: as Jardin Exotique is locted on the rocks, you have to go up and down.
It brings some bonuses such as fantastic views and a possibility to explore the Observatory cave in the rocks filled with stalactites and stalagmites.
7. Port de la Condamine
When you think about Côte d’Azur, I bet you imagine azure waters and couples leisurely doing their promenade. Well, Monaco can provide you with that too – and small but beautiful Port de la Condamine is a right place for it.
You can also pop into one of multiple cafes over there or do some shopping if you’re in the mood for it!
8. Chapelle Sainte Dévote
When you make your way from the Port de la Condamine to Casino Square (see below), you’re most likely to put an eye on a small but beautiful chapel along your way. It’s called Chapelle Sainte Dévote and, as you would have already guessed, is dedicated to the saint Devota, a saint patroness of the principality. Christian legend of this martyr has influenced Monaco a lot – if you spot an image of a dove, there is a chance that it’s linked to it too.
9. Casino Square
Well, if you think that you’ve seen this place somewhere before, you’ve probably not mistaken. There are a few buildings there that made this landmark absolutely iconic.
Art Nouveau Café de Paris and the late 19th century Opera de Monte Carlo, or Salle Garnier, both impress with splendour and architectural details. We were kindly hosted by Hotel de Monte Carlo just a few steps from the Casino Square – you can read about it in this blog.
10. Casino de Monte Carlo
Lavish Casino de Monte Carlo was built in 1893 and became the undeniable symbol of Monaco having been featured in Casino Royale. Any James Bond fans over there? Well, I’m first to raise the hand!
If you fancy gambling and would like to try your luck, don’t forget that this place has a strict dress code. The use of camera is limited by inner regulations.
What else to see?
If you have more time, you can also explore the museums such as Collection de Voitures Anciennes, Nouveau Musée National de Monaco and Musee de la Chapelle de la Visitation. Besides that, there are more green areas awaiting for you, e.g., Fontvieille Park, Princess Grace Rose Garden, and Jardin Japonais.
Hope you enjoyed my today’s blog!
Follow me on Instagram
Anna | London & Beyond
◈ featured in Vogue, CNN, Genic magazine
◈ Science journalist