Monaco is a very small country but it’s certainly not short of things to do. Monaco is the world’s second smallest country, but it’s well known around the world for Grand Prix and for the late Princess Grace of Monaco. Outside of these things, there’s so much that makes Monaco a worthwhile place to visit. I had the chance to see Monaco while on a quick trip to Nice, France and I decided to give a full day of my short time there to visiting Monaco.
You only need a day to cover this area, and you can do it by foot if that’s what you prefer. We opted for a hop-on hop-off bus tour that would take us to all the sights we wanted to see. We didn’t start until around 1:30pm so we couldn’t do all the stops, but if this is something you want to do then make sure to start early. The only downside to the bus tour was the sound wasn’t great, so it was hard to understand at times what the recording was saying, and occasionally it was playing information for buildings we hadn’t reached yet. Despite this, the bus is still a really handy way to get around so I wouldn’t discount it!
Below is an overview of everything we were able to see and do on our day in Monaco!
1. Place du Palais
Place du Palais was the first place we hopped off, straight away giving us the opportunity to capture some amazing views. These views alone are enough reason to visit Monaco in my opinion. The vibrant blue of the sea and the sky jumps straight out at you on a clear, sunny day, complemented by the pale orange rooftops of the buildings and the white boats dotted throughout the water.
You have the opportunity to get a tour of the palace itself, but because we started later we had less time, so we chose to continue walking along the area until we reached the cathedral.
2. Cathédrale de Monaco
When you’re finished exploring Place du Palais, instead of hopping back on the bus you can take a short walk down towards the Cathedral. There are stunning views along the way, as there are all over Monaco, and the Cathedral itself is a beautiful building. There’s plenty to see inside including the resting places of members of the royal family – including Princess Grace. This is a nice place to stop off and cool down in a quiet and peaceful building.
It’s a one-way system, so make sure you’re going around the right way!
3. Jardins St-Martin
Leaving the casino you can continue your way around to Jardins St-Martin. Another peaceful spot, it’s really nice just to stroll through these gardens, looking at the statues and the plants. There’s places to take a seat and relax, or you can walk to the edge to look out across the water. You might be sensing a theme here – the view is amazing no matter where you go!
4. Musée Océanographique de Monaco
The gardens will lead you towards the Musée Océanographique de Monaco, where you can visit a fabulous aquarium and learn more about the history of oceanography in Monaco. Their aquarium has hundreds of different types of fish, sharks, turtles and other animals for you to look at and every display has information next to it so you can learn more about the species inside. We happened to arrive at feeding time so there was lots of activity, making it even more exciting to watch. This is a great place to visit, especially with kids. Before you leave make sure to go up to the roof for a panoramic view, and say hello to the turtles at Turtle Island, next to the playground!
5. Japanese Gardens
I love to visit Japanese Gardens whenever I’m visiting a new place because I find them so beautiful. These gardens are definitely worth visiting. We had to hop back on the bus in order to get here. I found the area they are in to be quite busy with cars driving past and a lot of people about, so the Japanese gardens are the perfect oasis to escape in, with gorgeous plants, classic Japanese bridges, lots of information about the plants and the meaning behind the positioning of different trees, and they even had a Japanese Tea House.
6. Casino de Monte Carlo
Of course, we couldn’t leave Monaco without visiting the famous Monte Carlo Casino! The Casino is almost all you need to visit in order to get a taste for everything that Monaco is about – luxury cars, beautiful architecture, wealthy residents, and stunning views. If gambling is your thing then it’s certainly not to be missed (unless you can’t afford to lose any money!), but if it’s not, you can still go inside to have a look around without having to pay up and gamble. I definitely recommend going inside and taking a look at the marble-floored lobby, with huge columns surrounding the room and impressive detail on the walls and ceiling. You have to be over 18 to enter so have your ID ready, they do check! There are also tours available during certain hours and you don’t have to be 18 to attend these tours.
Final thoughts on Monaco
Monaco is a well known country for a lot of different reasons – luxury cars, the Grand Prix, Grace Kelly, and a place where people who have lots of money go to live. If you don’t have an interest in any of these things, then it might not seem like a very appealing place to go. But there is so much more to this little country – the fabulous views, beautiful architecture and peaceful gardens – that I would say it’s very much worth your while to take a day to visit.
Have you been to Monaco? Leave a comment with your favourite part!
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