Monaco may be one of those destinations that is always associated with luxury and flamboyant lifestyle, but there is so much more to this tiny little country than meets the eye. After having visited Monaco on a regular basis for the past 20 years (when I say on a regular basis, I mean once a year or sometimes every other year if work is particularly hectic that year), I cannot claim to be an expert, but I can certainly say that this magical country have some beautiful and unique experiences to offer its visitors. So, I wanted to share my top 10 things to do in 24 hours, in case you’ve only got a short amount of time to spend there too.
Here are my recommendations in no particular order.
Monaco and the Cote D’Azur are absolutely beautiful from the sky, as you would imagine and, as with many stunning sceneries, best experienced on a helicopter tour. You can choose from 10, 20 and 30-minute packages depending on how much you’d like to see. Cruise over the stunning waterways and unique architecture and experience Monaco in a way you never imagined. Of course, if you’re pushed for time, a helicopter transfer from Nice airport to Monte Carlo is also beautiful. The ride only take seven minutes and is roughly the same price as taking a taxi from Nice airport to Monte Carlo. It’s a great option if you’re travelling alone or on business trip and of course, much better than getting stuck in traffic!
At the end of the 1950s, the car enthusiast Prince Rainier III began collecting old cars. His collection gradually grew over the years as he acquired more and more models, and the garage at the Prince’s Palace soon emerged as too small to contain this collection of around a hundred stunning streamlined and sporty cars, from majestic body work to gleaming hoods and regal radiator grills. In 1993, Prince Rainier III therefore decided to open his precious collection to the public. It’s astounding to view such an incredible collection of cars, particularly when you know they belong to a Prince! It’s well worth spending some time strolling through the exhibition.
The museum has everything you could imagine, ensuring you’ll have fun and learn a lot when visiting. Make sure you try out the Immerseave 360°
– A story full of poetry of an old sperm whale and his travels in the great ocean told with you wearing special seeing goggles that make it seem as though you’re underwater and in the story. Next embark with the Oceanographic Institute for the Philippines and dive in one of the most beautiful seas of the world in the second story of the series. Dedicated to marine sciences, the museum was for a long time managed by Jacques-Yves Cousteau and now boasts over 6000 sea creatures allowing you to observe the underwater world exactly as it is in the wild. Plus, there’s a Tactile Pool where you can reach in and touch the animals! I loved visiting the Oceanographic Museum; it was such a wonderful time.
Monaco Old Town, Vieux Monaco
Monaco Old Town is the original city centre of Monaco, before Monte Carlo was built. When visiting, you’ll wander through narrow alleyways from the middle ages which will lead you to the picturesque Place Saint Nicolas and Placette Bosio, the Chapel of Mercy, Palais de Justice and the Cathedral, a Roman-Byzantine style building built in 1875. This area of the city is perched atop on a cliff and it filled with absolutely breathtaking traditional Monegasque architecture. You’ll see remains of ancient city walls on this magnificent rocky promontory, perched high above the Mediterranean Sea. This is an absolute must-do in Monaco, there is so much history to be learned and the ancient buildings are some of the most beautiful in the world.
This is the best place for fresh seafood in a casual environment in Monaco. It’s inexpensive and great value for money. The oyster bar can be found right at the end of the pier overlooking the water so you’ll receive both a delicious meal and a beautiful view in one. With everything from lobsters to sea bass, you’ll want to try it all (and probably wash it down with a glass of organic wine. I highly recommend stopping in for a meal here, absolutely lovely.
Monte Carlo Casino Square & Gardens
You may never before have seen grandeur as spectacular as that of the four casinos. For over a century, Monaco’s Casinos have been talked about all over the world, fascinating people with their “Monte-Carlo” spirit. They brilliantly blend luxury and creativity, tradition and audacity, and offer visitors a glimpse into a world they may rarely have seen. The gardens are world class and the perfect place for a spot of people watching. Expect to see perfect flowers, beautifully dressed people and the most manicured of gardens. It’s Monaco culture at its finest.
A stroll along Porte Hercule. F1 Grand Prix Routes
The world famous Grand Prix circuit winds through the streets, along the coastline and past Port Hercule, which is filled with stunning yachts to keep your eyes busy. Stroll through the beautiful streets of Monaco and take in all the sights while knowing you’re walking on the streets that will soon be hosting the fastest cars in the world, in one of the most-loved races. This is such a great activity to do while in Monaco, even if just to simply day you’ve been on one of the greatest race tracks there is.
Another of my favourite restaurants in Monaco, dining here is an innovative experience. The haute cuisine is very vegetarian friendly and everything on the menu is world-class. Produce is sourced locally and is of the highest quality, the service is impeccable and the wine list unrivalled. The restaurant tells the story of the Riviera. I’ve absolutely loved everything I’ve eaten at Le Louis XV, especially the French beef, aubergine and early onions. A sophisticated experience and one I highly recommend to all visitors of Monaco.
Drinks at Yacht Club de Monaco
Although this is a private, member’s only establishment, it offers one of the best views of Monaco’s seascape. Founded in 1953 by Prince Rainier and presided over by HSH Prince Sovereign Albert II since 1984, the Yacht Club de Monaco brings together more than 1600 members from 66 nationalities. The multi-level building allows for sweeping views of the marina and is a truly beautiful space to spend time. The minimal interiors, a personal favourite, were designed by Foster + Partners. You’ll feel on top of the world after having visited Monaco’s stunning Yacht Club.
My favourite place to party is definitely Nikki Beach, on the rooftop of Fairmont Hotel. It has a cool, relaxing ambience and is always filled with the loveliest people. It’s a great place for spotting rare sports cars too. Nikki Beach offers amazing views of the city and Mediterranean Sea and the sophisticated scene is all about lounging poolside with champagne, cocktails and delicious food. Soak up the sun during the day and party by the pool at night, you’ll never want to go anywhere else, this place is the best fun in Monaco.
I hope you enjoyed my top 10 things to do in Monaco, it’s one of my absolute favourite cities and I can’t wait to go back and discover more gems.