Playground of the rich and famous, Monaco is brimming with Michelin-starred restaurants, classic casinos, hot clubs, and opulent hotels.
Despite attracting throngs of tourists, Monaco has not stopped being one of the hottest destinations in Europe. But, apart from the Jetset aspect of the country, Monaco has a significant cultural scene making it worthy of a visit – from wandering through the Prince’s castle to admiring the historical architecture of the town center, here are your top eight must-do’s in the sole city-state in the French Riviera!
HOW TO GET THERE
Monaco is known for being the tiniest sovereign-city state in Europe (even smaller than the Vatican!) It is situated near Italy on the French Riviera and forms an enclave within France. From Paris to Monaco, we suggest either driving or flying. By car, it is approximately an 8-hour drive as you traverse through the entirety of France. For a faster trip, fly from Paris Orly to Nice, rent a car and drive to Monaco. If you wish to visit the French Riviera and the city’s surroundings, we recommend staying a minimum of 4 days.
Hot tip: Monaco can be very busy during the summer, so to avoid the crowds and enjoy the experience a little more, plan your trip around fall or spring.
SEE / DO
Le Palais Princier or the Prince’s castle in English.
This landmark is by far the most popular in Monaco. Built in 1215, the original architecture was partly left intact, giving you a glimpse into the country’s past. Combining both a museum and a palace, numerous rooms were opened to the public, including: the Art room where you can admire the Prince’s breathtaking collection of art works. On a warm day, take a stroll in the Palace’s park or visit the Prince’s impressive car collection. From Europe to the United States, more than 100 cars are assembled honoring all periods and all styles. For museum or car enthusiasts, this palace is a fundamental monument to the city’s rich art and history scene.
Visit the Old Town.
What better way to discover a city than strolling through the alluring streets? The Old Town of Monaco is a must-do! The city blends both charm and elegance into its monuments and streets, while Monaco’s rich history can be seen in its architecture. First, it may be a good idea to start by climbing the famous Rock of Monaco, to capture a bird’s-eye view of the city. The climb is fairly easy and worth it, as it offers a spectacular panorama of the harbor and Monaco. After descending from the rock, you directly reach the center of the city. Unlike Monaco’s reputation, the city center is not ostentatious but filled with colorful houses, authentic restaurants, and old churches. For a lunch break, head to La Place d’Arme to discover the colorful Monegasque outdoor market. Yellow and red tents house various southern fruits and vegetables and the market farmers are true example of southern hospitality.
Enjoy a seaside organic lunch at Elsa.
Av. Princesse Grace, 98000 Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, Monaco
Located in Monte-Carlo, Elsa is a Monegasque institution due to its waterfront terrace and sustainable values. Chef Manon Fleury is truly nature’s advocate and her dishes reflect upon her devoted commitment. Elsa is the first restaurant serving 100% organic food to have received a Michelin star, putting it on the map for combining both chic dining and ecological practices. The cuisine is local, seasonal, and eco-friendly, offering plates, such as: Mediterranean sea bass, candied eggplant and harissa or squash and mushrooms ravioli, herb-infused. You can either choose from a variety of fixed menus offering 5-course meals or simple dishes. Much like the plates, the dining room is elegant and refined while the terrace resembles a white haven where you are in unity with nature. Elsa is more than a restaurant; it is a true philosophy of life and a Monaco attraction in itself.
Dine at The Pinocchio for an authentic Italian meal.
30 Rue Comte Félix Gastaldi, 98000 Monaco
Contrary to Elsa, The Pinocchio combines both intimacy and modesty. Located near the Palace, at the end of a narrow alley, the restaurant welcomes you in a warm and family-like atmosphere. The Pinocchio is the perfect Italian trattoria serving homemade and hearty food. A la carte: eggplant parmigiana, tagliolini with duck and truffle cream, and fillet of beef with caramelized onions and liver. Leave room for the chef’s incredible tiramisu! The interior of the restaurant is rustic and unpretentious while preserving the Monegasque way of life. For a more casual dining in the lively part of Monaco while indulging in authentic Italian food, we recommend this restaurant!
Late night drinks at Jimmy’z.
26 Av. Princesse Grace, 98000 Monaco
Having a night out in Monaco is no simple affair as various clubs and bars make up the landscape of Monte Carlo. But, Jimmy’z is THE club to be seen at, as it is a Monegasque institution and a favorite of the elite crowd. This iconic club is very well-known for its electronic music, intimate setting, and hosting the most glamourous nights in the Riviera. The biggest names in the electronic music industry have performed there, such as: Lost Frequencies, Calvin Harris, and Martin Solveig, which enchants both the locals and the international VIP crowd. A legendary dancefloor, luscious garden, and floating bar over the lagoon, make this nightclub one-of-a-kind. Exclusive and sophisticated, Jimmy’z is not the place to miss.
The Blue Gin Bar.
40 Av. Princesse Grace, 98000 Monaco
Blue Gin is a swanky bar featuring a lounge atmosphere, sushi, and custom-created cocktails. Contrary to Jimmy’z, this bar was created to relax and unwind with a spectacular view on the Mediterranean sea. While sipping on a cocktail, revel in finger food created by Chef Ravin, including: maki, sashimi, fois gras burgers, and charcuterie boards. But, don’t forget to make a reservation as this place fills up fast! To elevate the mood, a live DJ plays every Wednesday through Saturday, changing up the usual soothing scene. Enjoy your cocktail either in the cozy and intimate interior space or on the heated and open terrace.
Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo.
Pl. du Casino, 98000 Monaco
Do you wish to stay at the most popular and lavish hotel in Monte-Carlo? From its serene garden bistro to one of the finest spas in Europe, Hotel de Paris is a magnet for the elite. This sumptuous hotel was used as a backdrop for numerous movies, including: Monte-Carlo and two James Bonds; making it one of the leading hotels in the world. The five-star resort is within reach of the casinos and the bars, making it the perfect location to freely visit the city. The interior was completely revamped; however, the famous Belle-Époque lobby was untouched to keep a touch of the past. Luxury, harmony, and well-being come together in the rooms with state-of-the-art facilities, such as: Nespresso machines, living rooms, balconies overlooking the sea, and private Italian bathrooms. The suites are all uniquely designed with Art-Déco furniture and balanced colors, making them a lush oasis of peace. Doesn’t this sound like a dream? The 75,000-sq-ft spa is a hot-spot for the rich and famous for its wellness programs. The hotel’s millionth claim to fame? Hotel de Paris is home to one of the most exquisite restaurants in Europe: the 3-Michelin-starred Le Louis XV under the supervision of Chef Alain Ducasse. From European to Middle Eastern dishes, enjoy lavish plates accompanied by one of the 600,000 bottles of wine in the cellar. Set in a Baroque dining room with a modern décor, no trip to Monte Carlo would be complete without a dinner at Le Louis XV.
Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel.
40 Av. Princesse Grace, 98000 Monaco
Chic and casual, Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel is an ideal fit for travelers in need of a more “informal” stay. The four-star hotel was born in 2005 as a response to the demand for a modern establishment in this area of Monte Carlo. Designed by the architect Pierre-Yves Rochon, using vibrant colors and modest yet timeless furniture. With its neo-classical architecture, the hotel embodies the essence of the 1930’s mixing both luxury and tranquility. The rooms are marvelously maintained with modern facilities and a panoramic view on the Mediterranean. The resort’s exterior is designed to mimic a safe haven with its lagoon, four-hectare park, waterfalls, and heated pool. For dinner, head to Chef Ravin’s Michelin-starred restaurant Blue Bay for Mediterranean dishes that will flood your tastebuds with various flavors. Indulge in innovative plates, such as: the homemade foie gras with Martinique pistachio pesto. Gastronomy is Monaco’s strong suit (if you hadn’t noticed!) For a relaxing day, the Cinq Mondes Spa blends both science and beauty in its services. From body massages to beauty rituals, the spa offers a restorative journey for both your body and mind. Add in the hotel’s legendary Blue Gin bar (previously mentioned,) and you can see why this hotel is immensely popular in Monaco!