Perched on the glamorous French Riviera overlooking the Mediterranean, this ancient and aristocratic city-state is the second smallest country in the world with a hereditary Prince as the head of state. Monaco has been a tourist haven for a long time; more for its flamboyant neighborhood, Monte Carlo, famous for casinos, shops, theatres, operas, and varieties of entertainment opportunities.
Monaco is well connected by trains and roads with bigger cities like Nice and Mentone where there are airports. Avoid an expensive taxi ride and take a train from either of these places and enjoy magnificent views of the Mediterranean during the journey.
Monaco’s reputation of being the favorite playground of the world’s glitterati is undisputable. A bottle of champagne – which is quite commonly drunk here – would cost you about 400 euros. But nobody minds it because all – especially the tourists – are fabulously rich. If you aren’t, you can still have the bubbly by saving money on transport. Monaco’s radius is hardly two kilometers. Stoll around the city’s cobbled streets and watch the lush parks and old fountains with water trickling through their mossy mouths.
You must visit the 16th century Prince’s Palace and, if the ruling Prince and his consort are out of the country, you may take a grand tour of the interiors. Even if you don’t get a chance to go inside, you will enjoy the visit because of the panoramic view of the city you get from the Palace grounds.
Close to the Palace is the old Byzantine church Cathedrale de Monaco where many Princes and their families are buried, including Princess Grace, the former Hollywood celebrity, Grace Kelly.
One of the most celebrated tourist attractions in Monaco is the fabulous 19th century casino called ‘Monte Carlo’. The rich and famous go there more for displaying and refining their gaming skills than by the vulgar motivation of getting rich quick. There are several other casinos of varying standards throughout the Monte Carlo area.
Stroll around the harbor area and get amazed at the enormous size of the swanky yachts anchored there. Relax in one of the cheerful bars and restaurants facing the harbor. You may be lucky to spot a celebrity sunbathing on the deck of a magnificent floating paradise.
Shops are pricy, but the merchandize they sell – especially fashion items – are exquisite. Shopping hours are very restricted.
Hotels in the neighboring small French towns are reasonably good and cost at least half of what a Monaco hotel would charge. Go to the marina for your meals where the food is good and the cost won’t make a deep hole in your pocket.
You don’t have to be a billionaire to enjoy Monaco. But if are one, you will enjoy it more.