Located on the Mediterranean Sea, the principality of Monaco, despite its size of only two square meters, attracts all lovers of luxury in all its glory. One of the smallest independent states in the world exudes glamor all year round. Luckily, there are plenty of free attractions that budget travelers can enjoy. So, here is the list of our favorite things to do in this interesting city-state!
1. Visit the Prince’s Palace
The Prince’s Palace is the home of the oldest monarchy in the world, the Grimaldi family. Originally built in the 13th century as a strong defensive fortress, which over time transformed into what it is today, a stunning palace in the style of Louis XIV. Visitors can tour the state apartments when the royal family is away. Inside you can see an Italian gallery with 15th century frescoes, the wood paneled Mazarin Room, the Blue Room and the Throne Room. Every day at 11.55 a.m. in front of the Palace, the ceremonial Changing of the Guard takes place.
2. Go to the Oceanographic Museum
Although there are not many museums, this is the best and most famous museum in the principality. It is a neoclassical building built from the cliff which looks much larger than the Palace. From aquariums, exhibitions to games, relaxation to the recently opened Turtle Island, the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco gives you a fantastic insight into marine life. It teaches you how to love and protect the oceans. The entrance price ranges from 11 to 16€, depending on the season. Check timetables and prices.
3. Roll a dice at the casino
The Casino de Monte Carlo attracts international customers thanks to its history, iconic interior and a wide range of table games and slot machines. This legendary casino has been changed and updated for centuries to become what it is today, and to offer the best to the prestigious clientele. Even if we don’t advise you to bet, visit the casino to live the authentic experience of Monte Carlo. Enjoy the many activities, from European Roulette to Texas hold’em poker tables.
4. Visit the Sainte-Dévote Chapel
Visit the magnificent chapel dedicated to Sainte Dévote, the patron saint of Monaco. Sainte-Dévote Chapel is located in the Gaumates Valley, which is a slice of solitude from all the crowds and bustle. This is the place where arrived, in the 4th century, a small boat carrying the remains of Sainte Dévote. Every year on January 26, a boat is burned at dusk as part of the traditional ceremony.
5. Stroll around Port de la Condamine
The square-shaped Port de la Condamine was built in 1926 and designed to hold a large number of luxury yachts – even the prince moors his ship there. The Yacht Club de Monaco located in front of the navy has over 1,000 members from around the world and hosts races and festivals throughout the year. Enjoy a stroll along the harbor and stop for a snack in a café or restaurant. You can also travel by catamaran around the beautiful coast of Monaco.
6. Pray at Monaco Cathedral
Monaco Cathedral is the tomb of many members of the Grimaldi family, Monaco royalty, including Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier. The Notre-Dame-Immaculée Cathedral was built in splendid light limestone from La Turbie in France, and its interior houses and the impressive altar in Carrara marble dating from the year 1500. From September until June, all Sundays at 10 a.m., Les Petits Chanteurs de Monaco and the Cathedral Choir are sung during mass.
7. Soak up the sun at Larvotto Beach
Who doesn’t love a dip in the sea? Luckily for us, Monaco’s artificial beach, Larvotto, is made up of two parts, private and public. The only difference between the two is that in the private area you can rent deckchairs and beach club umbrellas. The sand, the fine gravel, is imported, and it gives the impression that the whole beach is as clean as the city. On summer days the beach is crowded, like the rest of the French Riviera beaches, it is the perfect place for people watching and cooling off in the clear sea.
8. Stroll through the Exotic Garden
The Exotic Garden is home to the largest collection of cacti and succulents, from small echinocereus to large African candelabras. The gardens cascade down the slopes of Moneghetti via the path, steps, and bridges. Admission includes the Museum of Anthropology, which displays prehistoric remains found in Monaco, and a 35-minute guided tour of the Observatory Cave. The prehistoric cave, lined with stalactites and stalagmites is unique too, as it is the only cave in Europe where the temperature rises as you descend.
9. Climb The Rock
Monaco Ville, also known as Le Rocher, is the only part of this small state that has kept its old town complete with all its narrow medieval streets. The old town is located on a gun-shaped rock, its strategic position overlooking the sea, and became the stronghold of the Grimaldi dynasty. There are several stairs leading up to the Rocher, but the best is at the Rampe Major, from the Place Aux Armes near the harbour.
10. Watch the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix
Every year, the last week of May, the famous Formula 1 Grand Prix takes place in Monte Carlo. The road starts at Boulevard Albert I, then goes towards Place du Casino, then turns in front of the Hotel Fairmont Monte-Carlo. It is the only car race in the world that takes place on the streets of the city. Despite the narrow streets, the race has become a tradition that attracts more and more spectators every year. It’s hard to find a good place to watch the race, but the atmosphere will blow you away.