WHAT TO SEE WHEN VISITING MONACO
The Principality of Monaco occupies a tiny area of 202 hectares in the heart of Europe. To admire its beautiful location on the Mediterranean coast from above, take a 7-minute helicopter flight from Nice – it’s the most spectacular way to start your trip to Monaco and the best way to arrive in Monaco in style.
Monaco is more than sand, yachts and shopping, so take some time off to wander around the old part of Monaco, following in the footsteps of the Principality’s legendary rulers – the Grimaldi’s, who have been at the helm of this tiny Mediterranean state for over 700 years. It’s the second-smallest independent state in the world surrounded on three sides by France and occupies just under two square kilometres of the Cote d’Azur, where the Alpes Maritimes meet the Mediterranean.
If walking is your thing try to walk to the highest point of the Grande Corniche road to the Tête de Chien (Dog’s Head) observation point. You will be rewarded with a stunning view over the Principality from a 550 m (1,804 ft) high rock.
WHAT TO SEE IN THE OLD TOWN OF MONACO
There is a lot to explore on the narrow streets of the old town of Monaco. It was built on a hill and if you fancy some exercise take the steep climb up the Rampe de la Major.
To explore the old town of Monaco, sometimes fondly called as the Rock (Le Rocher in French), start your trip at Port Hercule – a natural deep marina at the foot of the Rock. Today, the area is occupied by an array of superyachts, some of them are up to 100 m long. Leave enough time to explore the Oceanographic Museum that rises from the side of the Rock. It is dedicated to marine sciences and combines unique exhibitions with 90 fish tanks and a shark lagoon.
From April to October, you are welcome to visit the Prince’s Palace Apartments and marvel at Venetian chandeliers and 16th century frescos. Visit the palace early to catch a daily ceremony of changing of the guard at 11:15 am – carabinieri in traditional colourful ceremonial dress follow every detail of a 100-year-old ritual. On a clear day, enjoy a view over Monaco’s port from the square in front of the palace. You might be able to see the onion domes of the Monte Carlo Casino on one side and Monaco’s stadium on the other.
Each Sunday, a sung mass is held at the nearby St Nicholas Cathedral also known as Monaco Cathedral built in the mid-19th century in a Roman-Byzantium style. Probably the most famous of all Monaco couples, Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace, were married and buried there. Their graves can be found behind the altar and it is open to visitors.
Take time to wander around the old streets of Monaco to experience the atmosphere of the bygone era. It can get hot and crowded in the summer but exotic plants of St. Martin Gardens (Jardins Saint-Martin) in front of the cathedral could provide you with much needed shade and a view of the helicopters taking off. The garden path will bring you back to the Oceanographic Museum.
Other places of interest in Monaco’s old town include:
Chapel of Mercy (Chapelle de la Miséricorde),
Museum of Old Monaco (Musée du Vieux Monaco),
Princess Grace Irish Library containing the Princess’ personal collection,
Chapel of Visitation (Chapelle de la Visitation),
Chapel of Peace (La Chapelle de la Paix).
It’s easy to spend the whole day at the old town of Monaco, especially if you include visits to the Oceanographic Museum and the Palace. How about trying your luck at the Monte Carlo district now? The famous casino is calling you! Check out the WAWW Guide to THE BEST BEACH CLUBS ON THE FRENCH RIVIERA