Practical travel guide for Monaco

Monaco is one the most fascinating countries in the world. This rich playground has a rich history, stunning architecture and numerous places to eat and drink. Tourism in Monaco is still understandably affluent.

It is the ideal location to spend a few summer days, and its proximity to Nice makes it an almost conjoined touristic spot. This country is not the most affordable, but for those who want to spend money, this is by far a dream destination.

The Principality of Monaco: History of the Monegasque country

Monaco was formerly known as Monoïkos, which meant ‘individual house’ in ancient Greek. The name invoked the fact that its inhabitants were living in a ‘unique dwelling’ or that they were living away from others. At the time, the country was part of the Roman Empire.

It is one of three principalities (the two others being Andorra and Liechtenstein), a monarchy where the Sovereign is titled Prince or Princess as opposed to King or Queen. Monaco is therefore a constitutional monarchy and is currently lead by Prince Albert II from the house of Grimaldi, the house in charge of Monaco since 1297. Although it is an independent state since 1861, it is defended by the French army, and a visit to the country is often considered to be one of the things to do in the south of France, even though Monaco is not part of France.

In the 19th century, Monaco began to build up its infrastructure. The casino and its railway system linking it to France were built then. Shortly after, Monaco became a major touristic destination for gambling fans and a leisure centre for the wealthy. Today, Monaco is a seaside resort and a tax haven for businesses and private individuals.

Tourism in Monaco

When is the best time to visit the country?

The climate is warm and sunny during the summer, but quite cold in the winter. The best time to visit is between May and October. Monaco is easily accessible by cab or train via the Nice airport. The journey lasts around 30mns and trains run frequently. Once the visitors reach Monaco, it is very easy to travel by foot.

Monaco is part of the Schengen area and people with an European or American passport will not require a visa to enter. There is not passport control at the French border, and the euro is the main currency.

Enjoy the food in Monaco!

Culinary specialties

Do not hesitate to try the barbagiuan (a delicious pastry made of rice, cheese, leek and squash or spinach), the fougasse (another type of pastry made with orange tree flower water and decorated with star anis and nuts), the socca (a delicious pancake and prepared with chickpea flour) and stocafi (cooked with dry cod and tomato sauce).

Monegasque barbagiuan recipe

Amongst the traditional hors-d’œuvres served in the country are the grilled fruit skewers (with vegetable oil, lime juice, brown sugar, mint, apples, peaches, bananas, kiwis, strawberries and pineapples). The baba ganoush (prepared with olive oil, garlic, onions, lemon juice, aubergines, tahini, salt, black pepper, tomatoes, cold water and parsley), oven cooked cheese, nut chutney (fat-free cream cheese, chutney, peanut butter, onions, ginger, teriyaki sauce and mustard), strawberries with creamy lime dip (cooked with caster sugar, lime zest, fat-free cream, strawberries and lime juice).

Popular desserts in Monaco are chocolate mousse, selections of biscuits freshly oven baked, fudge brownies with walnuts, vanilla ice cream, seasonal fruit tarts, ‘Turtle’ cheese cake (classic cheese cake with a chocolate, caramel and nut garnish). Traditional drinks are influenced by nearby France. The most popular are coffee, hot chocolate, milk and fine wine.

What to do in Monaco

Visit of the Royal Palace

A visit to the Prince’s palace in Monaco at the top of the hill is recommended. The neighbourhood around the palace is part of the historical part of the city and offers a splendid view on the port at the bottom of the hill.

Monaco Tourism: The Prince’s Palace

Walk alongside the shore and eat at the Monaco Yacht Club

Walk alongside the beach in the direction of the Monte-Carlo Country Club. Beside the Country Club you will find the Monaco Yacht Club, where visitors can eat. If you keep your eyes open, you may even see members of the royal family or a celebrity.

Monaco Tourism: Monaco Yacht Club

Enjoy one of the beach bars on the port

Multiple beach bars are open on the port during summer. The port becomes very lively at night when the music starts to play in the early hours of the evening. A lot of beautiful people gather in these bars and the parties are marvellous.

Gamble at the casino in Monaco

Unmissable for all gamblers, the four casinos in Monte-Carlo are sublime. The most renown, the Casino Royal of Monte-Carlo is located in the city centre. The casino opened in the middle of the 19th century to save the Grimaldi household from bankruptcy. Today, Monaco is one of the main gambling destination in Europe and players from around the world come here to play.

Monaco Tourism: The Casino Royal

The Monaco Grand Prix

The best time to visit Monaco is during the Formula 1 Grand Prix at the end of May. A number of celebrities and wealthy people come to Monaco for this special week-end. Some of the largest yachts sail to the port of Monaco and fabulous nautical parties are organised in the evening. Night life becomes essential over the Grand Prix week-end.

Enjoy events at the Monaco Grimaldi Forum

This cultural centre spanning over 70,000m2 hosts the best events in the region. Shows, operas, festivals, concerts and exhibitions, there will always be something on for tourists and locals. With its theatre, three auditoriums, 22 conference rooms and 3 dining areas, you will be able to organise any professional events in the one building.

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