Grace Kelly, the Grand Prix, Monte Carlo—Monaco is probably the most glamorous place in the world. This makes it a must for any Mediterranean tour. Only a half hour from Nice, whether you can commit a day trip or a week, Monaco will welcome you with golden, diamond-encrusted Louis Vuitton arms.
View of Monaco harbor.
When to Go
While Monaco, like the rest of the French Riviera, is beautiful most of the year. The prime time to visit is between May-September. June, July and August will be the busiest, and remember the Grand Prix is in late May. So if you want to avoid crowds and get the best value for money go in early May or in September, but don’t worry it will still be very warm during either the beginning or end of the season. All these photos are from my trip during late May last year, we enjoyed 80-degree weather and that infectious Mediterranean sunshine.
What to Do
If this is your first time in Monaco, you have to hit the hot spots first. The casino, the Opera, and the Hotel de Paris.
The famous Monte Carlo casino.
However, there are a few less well-known spots that I highly recommend. The “Jardin Exotique de Monaco” is a breathtaking cactus garden on the side of a mountain with an awesome cave that you can tour. Also, if you have any car enthusiasts with you, be sure to hit up Prince Albert’s exotic car museum. There are over 100 classic cars featured.
The Jardin Exotique de Monaco, on the side of a mountain.
100 meters above sea level, the Observatory Cave offers tours daily.
Where to Eat
Look, you’re in Monaco; you are going to spend $20 on one drink sooner or later. So it might as well be at the Café de Paris. Just do it, get one of their excellent cocktails and one of those awesome sundaes in the giant martini glasses (FYI the ice cream is so amazing it is worth $20). For dinner, you can also do Café de Paris, they have all the Mediterranean classics. But be prepared to throw down several of those 100 euro bills. If you are in the mood for something other than French bistro classics, there are a surprising amount of solid Italian places downtown. (Remember Italy is literally only a half hour away after all).
Grilled veal and pommes frites from Café de Paris.
Some great pizza at one of those places downtown.
Where to Stay
While Monaco is quite small, there are several great options for lodging.
Luxury all the way: Hotel de Paris is a must if you are planning a 5 star getaway. History, glamour, luxury, this place has it all. Also, the dining in the hotel is truly world class, Louis XV by Alain Ducasse is a landmark all on it own. ($500+ in low season)
Luxury on a budget: Columbus Monte Carlo is a superb, which also happens to be where many Formula 1 stars stay. Clean, ocean view rooms are a must; excellent views and ocean air will make your stay magical. ($200+ low season)
View from our room at the Columbus Monte Carlo.