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10 things to do and see in Monte Carlo

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10 things to do and see in Monte Carlo

Famous for its Formula 1 Grand Prix, for the majestic Casino appeared in several Hollywood films, for its beaches and parades, yacht and luxury cars that populate the streets, Monte Carlo is certainly the Principality icon district of Monaco. It owes its name to Prince Charles III of Monaco who saved  the finances of the kingdom after the disastrous father’s policy, and for this emergency was built the Casino that now dominates and embellishes the square.

Located on the Ligurian Sea, among its skyscrapers,  grand hotels and elite restaurants, Monte Carlo hides a beautiful neo-Romanesque cathedral, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, in which are preserved some original paintings of the sixteenth century, an exotic  garden , and  the elegant Castello deiPrincipi that dominates the territory from 1191.

In this page we suggest you 10 things to do and see absolutely during your holiday in Monte Carlo.

If you are looking for a hotel in Monte Carlo, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 30 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

The Monte Carlo Casino

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The Monte Carlo Casino is the elite symbol of the Principality and is located in the namesake square, adorned with a majestic fountain and a parterre of luxury cars. The casino is part of a complex that also includes the Grand Théâtre, located close to it.

The Monte Carlo Casino
The Monte Carlo Casino

There are also the Carré d’Or and the Galerie des AlléesLumières.

You cannot visit without Monaco avoiding the Casino. The Casino was designed by the same architect of the Paris Opera and is made by gold and marble, sculptures and frescoes. Many movies have been set in it including Never Say Never, GoldeneEye, and Ocean’s Twelve.

The structure was inaugurated in 1865, following the decision of Prince Charles III to build a casino to consolidate thestate finances.

Where: Place du Casino
When: every day from 2 pm
Ticket: the entrance requires an ID and is for adults only. Ticket is € 10 plus a supplement of an additional 10 € for accessing to Salons Privés. An appropriate outfit is required, uniform not allowed.

Le Grand Théâtre de Monte Carlo

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Le Grand Théâtre de Monte Carlo, best known as “l’Opéra”, is a great theater,  part of the Casino. It was inaugurated in 1879 and designed by Charles Garnier, the architect of the Paris Opera: Le Grand Théâtre de Monte Carlo is indeed a little copy of the famous Parisian theatre.

Le Grand Théâtre de Monte Carlo
Le Grand Théâtre de Monte Carlo

Everything here recalls the splendour of the Belle Époque: gold ornaments, lights and stunning window overlooking the blue Mediterranean sea. A curiosity: columns that support the entire structure were designed by Gustave Eiffel. Yes, the one of the Tower.

Le Grand Théâtre de Monte Carlo is one of the international jet set venues and has hosted a number of world premieres, including La damnation de Faust by Hector Berlioz in 1893 and Massenet’s Don Quichotte in 1910. Today it is the home of Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo and the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra, but has always hosted the protagonists of world theatre scene: just think of Caruso, Saint-Saëns, Puccini, Tito Schipa.

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Monte Carlo

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The Immaculate Conception Cathedral is located in the centre of Monaco and is the most important religious building in the city.

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Monte Carlo
The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Monte Carlo

The cathedral is a white neo-Romanesque marblejewel, consecrated in 1911 and rises on the ruins of a church dating back to 1252 dedicated to St. Nicholas of Myra.

Inside you can admire the altarpiece of St. Nicholas, built in 1500, the triptych of Saint Devotaand a large organ restored in 2011. To the left of the presbytery there  are the tombs of Prince Rainier III of Monaco and Grace Kelly. Every Sunday at 10 am there is Mass sung by The Little Singers of Monaco.

Where: Rue Colonel Bellando de Castro, 4
When: every day from 8.30 am to 6 pm. Summer time until 7 pm
Ticket: free entrance

The Oceanographic Museum in Monte Carlo

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The oceanographic museum in Monte Carlo is the joy of children and adults since 1910, and proof that this little corner of Europe is not just luxury cars and tax haven.

The Oceanographic Museum in Monte Carlo
The Oceanographic Museum in Monte Carlo

This museum gives to visitors 6,500 square meters of space in which there are over than 6,000 marine species including sharks, turtles, fish of the Mediterranean and the Tropics, and even a coral reef that grows happily in these waters since 1989.

In addition to aquariums you can admire a collection of objects and tools that document the birth of oceanography.

Where: Avenue Saint Martin close to Prince’s Palace
How to get there:
By feet  or by car: you can park in the Parking des Pêcheurs and reach the museum by elevator.
Bus: line 1 or 2 in the direction of Monaco Ville, get off at the terminus.
When: every day
From January to March: 10am to 6 pm
From April to June: 10am to 7 pm
July and August: 10am to 8 pm
October to December: 10am to 6 pm
Ticket:
Adults: € 14; children 4 to 12 years old and disable people:
€ 7 Kids from 13 to 18 and students: € 10; Children under 4 years free entrance
Combined ticket Museum + Prince’s Palace: adults € 19, children 13 to 18 and students € 11, children from 8 to 12 years € 9 and children 4 to 7 years 7 €.

The old town of Monaco

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Walking through the old town of Monaco means to discover an entire pedestrian area, much like the small towns of southern France.

The old town of Monaco
The old town of Monaco

Well-kept, rich in history and fascinating sights, the old town of Monaco is placed  at the foot of the “rock”, where stands the Prince’s Palace, and welcomes visitors with narrow streets, small shops and bakeries withcolourful and inviting windows, plus a number of historical sites and monuments.

Do not miss the Place Saint Nicolas, the Chapel of Mercy and the Condamine area, with its colourful vegetable market.

From there, a nice slopes leads to the Port Hercule area, with brasseries, restaurants and shops. Close to the Condamine is located the Moneghetti district  with historic villas, lots of greenery and playgrounds for children. It is a valuable opportunity to learn about the traditional Monaco and to hear perhaps the Monegasque dialect, so similar to the dialects spoken in Liguria, a few kilometres faraway .

Prince's Palace in Monaco

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Placed in the centre of Monaco, Prince’s Palace overlooks the sea and the territory by 1191. The official residence of the Prince of Monaco in fact stands on the ruins of a Genoese fortress, and from 1297 is owned by the Grimaldi family.

Prince's Palace in Monaco
Prince’s Palace in Monaco

Legend tells that the leader of the Guelph Francesco Grimaldi, with his cousin Rainier I, get into the palace dressed like a monk, killing the guards of the Republic of Genoa.

Today the building and its interiors can be visited only in summer. The entrance is dominated by a marble double staircase of 1600 and the route includes a series of rooms that trace the events of the Principality, including the state apartments. Thegold and yellow Salon Louis XV, colourful panelling of Mazarin Salon, beautiful brocades that decorate the Blue Room, the Throne Room. Along the way are exhibited frescoes, portraits and furniture from the 1700s.

Every morning at 11.55 in the courtyard there is the ceremony of the changing of the guard.

Where: Place du Palais
How to get there: By feet  or by car: you can park in the Parking des Pêcheurs and reach the museum by elevator.
Bus: line 1 or 2 in the direction of Monaco Ville, get off at the terminus.
When:
From April to October: 10 am to 6 pm; July and August: 10 am to 7 pm
Never from November to late March and during the Saturday and Sunday of F1 Grand Prix
Ticket:
The entrance fee includes the audio guide.
Adults: € 8; boys 8 to 12 years: 4 €; Children 4 to 7 years: 7 €.
Children under 4 enter for free
Combined ticket Price’s Palace and Oceanographic Museum: € 19 adults, € 11 children 13-18 years and students, € 7 children 4-7 years.
Combined ticket Prince’s Palace  and cars collection s.a.s. The Prince of Monaco: € 11.50 adults, € 5 children 8-14 years and students, free entrance for children up to 8 years.

The Exotic Garden of Monte Carlo

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Opened in 1933, the exotic garden of Monaco collects a wide variety of succulent (fat) plants, which thanks to the different origins bloom all year. You can admire various species of agaves and cacti from Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, South America, Mexico, United States.

The Exotic Garden of Monte Carlo
The Exotic Garden of Monte Carlo

The exotic garden is located in the heart of Monaco and offers a break in the countryside, but also the chance to explore, with the help of experienced cavers, a limestone cave that rises from the sea up to 100 meters high, with stalactites and stalagmites. The findings of animal bones testify  the human presence in these places since prehistoric times. Complete the visit with the Prehistoric Anthropology Museum inside the garden, which houses the relics found in the cave.

Where: Boulevard du JardinExotique, 62, downtown  Monaco.
How to get there: by feet
When: Open all year from 9.00: in January, November and December closed at 5 pm; from February to April at 6 pm and at 7 pm in summer
Ticket: The ticket includes a visit to the garden, to the cave and the entrance to the Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology.
Adults: € 7.20; children aged 6 to 18 and students: € 3.80; for those over 65 years: 5,50 €

The New National Museum of Monaco

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It promotes and spreads contemporary art, with a series of exhibitions, permanent collections and events related in particular to the cultural heritage of the Principality of Monaco.

The New National Museum of Monaco
The New National Museum of Monaco

The New National Museum of Monaco has two exceptional locations: Villa Sauber and Villa Paloma, two historic villas in the heart of the city, acquired by the state and turned into museums. The 875mq of Villa Sauber are dedicated to the theme “Art and Entertainment”, while Villa Paloma hosts  the “Art and Territory” section. Each year the museum has at least two exhibitions of contemporary artists and designers.

Among the top names of past exhibitions are René Magritte, Claude Monet and William Turner.

Where: Villa Sauber is located at no. 17 avenue Princesse Grace in Monaco. Villa Paloma  n. 56 Boulevard du JardinExotique
How to get there:
Villa Sauber can be reached with the #n. 6 bus, stop Grimaldi Forum / Villa Sauber. For those arriving by car, parking is located at the Grimaldi Forum and Place des Moulins, a public elevator takes you directly to the entrance.
Villa Paloma can be reached by bus line 2 direction JardinExotique, stop Villa Plaloma, and line 5stop Hôpital, and then public elevator. For those arriving by car, parking is at the Exotic Garden.
When:
The villas are open every day from October to May 10 am to 6 pm and from June to September 11am to 7 pm.
Never: May 1st, November 19th, New Year, Christmas, Grand Prix weekend.
Ticket: the ticket includes access to both villas is 6 € for adults and € 4 for groups of 15 or more. Admission is free for kids until 26 years old and the disable people.
Combined ticket New National Museum, Exotic Garden and Anthropological Museum: 10 €

Things to eat in Monte Carlo

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Placed between France and the Mediterranean, a few steps from Italy, the Principality of Monaco has been influenced by two of the most popular cuisines in the world.

Things to eat in Monte Carlo
Things to eat in Monte Carlo

But Monte Carlo is a unique place: the top quality ingredients , starred restaurants, excellent service excellent and high prices .

For this, together with international dishes of the highest level, you’ll find the best of all the French and Italian traditional dishes: fish and shellfish, pasta, pesto, sauce, crepes suzettes, cheese, Nicoise salad, oysters and delicious desserts. However, the Monegasques are loyal to two or three dishes, some of which are derived from recipes of Ventimiglia and Imperia.

First of all: the Barbagiuan. Homemade ravioli, stuffed with pumpkin, ricotta, basil and fried. It seems that the name derives from the Ligurian beard Giuan, an uncle John, that  invented it.

The Stocafi instead is  cod with tomato sauce flavoured with garlic, black olives, fresh herbs. Then, also in Monte Carlo there is the  pizza: it’s called Pissaladière and is a seasoned focaccia with onions, tomato anchovies and herbs such as sage, rosemary and thyme.

Traditionally in Monte Carlo the meal ends with Fougasse, sweet rolls with aromas of orange and anise, sprinkled with almonds, granulated sugar and pine nuts. The desserts go with  anise-based liqueurs or with Mesccia, the typical liqueur.

Where to sleep in Monte Carlo

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Monte Carlo is the pearl of the Principality of Monaco. Placed on the Ligurian Sea, only a few hours away from Genoa, is the home of one of the most important royal families of Europe, luxury tourism destination and birthplace of magnificent historical and architectural masterpieces.

Where to sleep in Monte Carlo
Where to sleep in Monte Carlo

The offer of hotels and other accommodation is not very wide (about 27 hotels) but enough to meet the needs of travellers. The costs are high: for a 3 star hotel in the center they start from € 150 up.

If you are looking for a hotel in Monte Carlo, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 30 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com