Good things tend to come in small packages and the tiny principality of Monaco certainly proves that statement to be true. Most people tend to visit Monaco as an add-on day trip from France, but we think the world’s second smallest country warrants a longer visit. From race cars to roulette, here are our 10 reasons to go to Monaco now:
1. Try your luck at the world’s most beautiful casino.
We’ve seen our fair share of casinos – after all, we spent five years living in Las Vegas – and we can confidently profess that the Casino de Monte-Carlo is the most beautiful in the world. The gloriously over-the-top Belle Epoque facade is enough to make visitors ooh and aah, but be sure to visit the inside. It’s like stepping back in time to the glitz and glamor of days-gone-by. The idea of a prince and designed by the world’s best architects, you’d expect no less. You’ll find both American and European games and with a minimum bet of just €5, at least try to luck at one spin of the roulette wheel.
Guided visits and group tours to the casino are available from 9am – 12:30pm. Gaming opens at 2pm daily, at which time visitors to the casino must be 18 years of age, meet the dress code, and present ID. There is an entry fee of €10 per person; free entry to Cercle Monte-Carlo card holders.
2. Cruise the coast in a Supercar.
The coast of the French Riviera is incredibly scenic with jaw-dropping views of the glistening, cerulean Mediterranean around every bend. A playground for the rich and famous, the coast is dotted with spectacular villas and sparkling white yacht bob in the sea below. What better way to take in the views than with the top down and the sea breeze blowing your hair while feeling the power of the high-performance Supercar as it hugs the coastal curves?
There are a number of companies that rent supercars like a Lamborghini or Ferrari and rentals start from €500 per day.
3. Wake up to sunrise views over the bay.
Located on the Larvotto peninsula, the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort has unique sweeping views over the azure lagoon and a sophisticated ambiance that almost lures you to hole up in your spacious hotel room. Sip chilled champagne on your terrace, cool off with a dip in Monte Carlo Bay’s sandy-bottomed lagoon pool, or get pampered at the Cinq Mondes Spa.
Monte Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort room rates from €228 per night.
4. Dive deep (without getting wet).
Perched atop a sheer 280-foot cliff, the Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium was built in 1910 and is worth a look at the spectacular building alone. Step inside to take a deep-dive in the likes of the famous ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau (he was a former director of the aquarium). Head first for the basement tanks where colorful reef fish like clownfish, lionfish, and Picasso triggerfish swim about the coral reefs that the caretakers have painstakingly worked to create. Afterward, be sure to head all the way to the top for spectacular panoramas over the whole of Monaco.
The Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium is open daily, except the weekend of the Monaco Grand Prix and December 25th. Admission is €14 per adult, €10 per teenager 13 – 18 years old, and €7 per child 4 – 12 years old.
5. Indulge in Europe’s best brunch.
Brunch is an American institution, though the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel seems to have caught on. Each Sunday, Monte Carlo Bay Hotel’s Blue Bay restaurant opens up its sunny terrace and welcomes guest with a glass of Tattinger champagne at the door. And this is no boring buffet – stations offer culinary delights like delicious tossed-just-for-you salads, fresh seafood, and cooked-to-order hot dishes. Be sure to save room for the desserts. Home made gelato anyone?
The Blue Bay Sunday Bubbly Brunch is €85 per person and is served every Sunday from 12:30 – 3pm. Reservations are required.
6. Picnic at the Monaco Grand Prix.
One of the biggest social events of the year, each May the Monégasque take to the hills with picnic baskets filled with baguettes and champagne to watch Formula 1 racers zoom along Monaco’s winding streets at top speeds. One of the most demanding tracks in Formula 1, the Monaco Grand Prix is a must-see event for race enthusiasts.
General admission tickets for the Monaco Grand Prix start at €75 per person.
7. A wine collection fit for royalty.
The Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo has a secret. Below the hotel is its wine cellar, the largest hotel wine cellar in the world, and it isn’t open to the public. Discerning guests that have booked private tastings get a peek at the collection of some 500,000 bottles, some quite literally priceless. The cellar is so exclusive that it was the venue for the 20th wedding celebration of Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace of Monaco. You don’t need an American Express Centurion® Card to taste a bottle from the famed cellar – all Monte Carlo SBM restaurants are serviced by the hotel’s wine cellar.
8. Walk the country from end-to-end.
It’s not as brag-worthy as trekking the Alta Via 1 or climbing a Colorado 14er, but it’s still pretty cool to say you walked an entire country…in only one day. Monaco is tiny at just 0.76 square miles; it is just three miles long and a half mile wide (about the size of NYC’s Central Park). You can easily walk it from end-to-end, with time to stop for lunch and a coffee or drink along the way.
9. Ogle the Prince’s vintage car collection.
H.S.H, The Prince of Monaco has quite the collection of classic cars of all makes and ages. Wander through the collection of about 100 cars, which is open to the public, and check out everything from Bentleys to Beetles. There are even six carriages that belonged to former sovereigns and the glass-topped car Prince Albert and his glamorous South African wife Charlene Wittstock rode in after their wedding.
The Private Collection of Antique Cars of H.S.H Prince Rainier III is open daily from 10am – 6pm, except on December 25th. Admission is €6.50 per adult and €3 per child.
10. The Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo’s soufflé is historic.
It’s the same recipe the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo has been using since 1898, though our waiter jokingly assures me that the eggs are fresh. It’s served at Le Grill on the eighth floor of the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo and it is heavenly. There are half a dozen flavors to choose from and the raspberry was like eating a perfectly sweet pink cloud. The Grand Mariner also looked intriguing – it’s opened up and Grand Mariner is poured in right at the table. We’re pretty sure that any flavor is equally as delicious.
Our trip to Monte Carlo was hosted by Monte Carlo SBM in order to bring you this story. However, Luxe Adventure Traveler maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site. As always, all thoughts, opinions, and enthusiasm for travel are entirely our own.