Monaco is a captivating pocket of the world that sits on the French Riviera. With more than 300 days a year of sunshine, residents and visitors alike can take full advantage of the Mediterranean and all it encompasses. Synonymous with incredible food, super-yachts and of course, home of the Formula One Grand Prix, the tiny independent nation is a must-visit destination.
The country is squeezed into just 200 hectares but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in style. When it comes to food, Monaco is right on the Mediterranean, so expect lots of fresh seafood, olive oil, nuts, vegetables, and whole grains. The general diet in Monaco is low in saturated fat and sugar and serves up smaller portions.
Monaco residents love to spend time outside whether it’s running, swimming or jogging, it’s part of the culture. With fresh food and plenty of physical activity, it’s no surprise that people live longer here with the average life expectancy being a high 89.5 years.
Well-known for its opulent luxury and casinos that line the shores, there’s much more to Monaco when it comes to its history and rich culinary experiences. While visiting the country, embrace the Monaco way of life. This means eating healthy, getting out and soaking up the beautiful surroundings, taking a deep breath and relaxing.
Since gaining its independence in 1297, the country has been ruled solely by the Grimaldi family, making them the oldest ruling family in Europe. Monaco’s culture is heavily influenced by its neighbors, Spain, Italy, and France. The laid-back way of life combined with great food and warm weather make it a very special place.
Here are the best things to do when you travel to Monaco.
1. Visit the Monte Carlo Casino
The Casino de Monte Carlo is one of the most famous casinos in the world. Apart from being the center of gambling here, the casino is a major tourist attraction. Located in the heart of Monaco, spending even just a few minutes at the casino will make you dive into the world of luxury cars and high ballers. You can also take a tour inside the casino during the day.
2. Eat Italian Food From Valentin
Both locals and visitors rave about the pasta at Valentin. Tucked away in a shopping center, the restaurant offers up delicious and fresh al dente pasta and Italian food with rich flavors. A hidden gem serving up good food with a great selection of tapas and house wine.
3. Visit the Monaco Cathedral
The architecture throughout Monaco is an attraction in itself and the Monaco Cathedral is no different. The striking building stands out due to its white stones. Built in 1875 in the Roman-Byzantine style, the cathedral houses the former princes of Monaco including Prince Rainier. Although built in the 1800s, some artifacts inside date back as far as the 1500s.
4. Watch a Show at the Opera de Monte Carlo
The Opera de Monte Carlo, also known as Salle Garnier, is located on the Place de Casino, one of the most famous spots in all of Monaco. Originally built in 1878, you’ll find ornate carvings and sculptures. If you’re a fan of ballet, opera, or musical concerts then don’t miss the opportunity to watch a show while in Monaco.
5. Do Some Shopping
Monaco is known for its opulence which means you can expect to find a good range of shops and boutiques. Whether you’re looking for perfume, handbags or other designer products, take a walk along the Avenue de Monte-Carlo, it’s one of the best places in Monaco to splash some cash. For more great shopping options, then check out Boulevard des Moulins or Avenue Princess Grace, which was named in honor of Grace Kelly.
6. Experience the Formula One Grand Prix
The renowned Formula One race takes place every year in Monaco in May. The race is a major part of Monaco’s history and has been in operation since the start of the 20th century. The Grand Prix cuts through the streets in the city past the well-known Monte-Carlo Fairmont Hotel. With nearly 200,000 spectators at the Grand Prix, the huge event attracts a big audience. If you happen to be in Monaco at the right time, it’s definitely worth attending.
7. Enjoy a Drink on the Monaco Promenade
Finish your day exploring Monaco with a cocktail and some finger food on the Monaco Promenade. Admire the amazing view and soak up the atmosphere. The promenade is home to several bars and brasseries that transform when the sun goes down, with dancing and live music into the night.
8. Grab a Bite at Castelroc
Castelroc is a family-run business located in the historic old town of Monaco. Dishes include traditional Monegasque cuisine as well as Mediterranean-inspired foods. The terrace at the restaurant offers fantastic views and is a great spot for dinner or just your morning coffee.
9. Visit the Musée Oceanographique
A trip to the Oceanographic Museum is an absolute must. Built over a century ago, the architecture and location are both breathtaking. Sat on a cliffside rock, hanging just over the sea, the museum features exhibitions dedicated to sea life as well as thousands of specimens. Make sure to plan your visit as the museum is located in Monaco-Ville where cars aren’t allowed.
10. Explore Jardin Exotique
The garden is located in Fontvieille, just outside the city center. There are 7,000 species of plant on show in the garden including African and Latin plants that grow due to the warm weather. With views overlooking the ocean, spend a relaxing afternoon soaking up nature and exploring. While visiting you can also explore the Observatory Cave which is covered in rock formations, stalactites, and stalagmites.
11. Visit Casino Square
Casino Square is one of the most iconic spots in Monaco. The square is home to the Casino de Monte Carlo. Even if you’re not a gambler, head to the square at night, all the buildings are illuminated including the opera house and the Hotel de Paris.