Monaco: An Insider’s Travel Guide

The Principality of Monaco with its famous Rock has something to dream about. And it is real. The fame and status of this charming area reach well beyond its borders. With this Monaco travel guide, Iconic Riviera will give you a sneak-peek of the opulent lifestyle the Principality has to offer. Know more about the rich Monégasque culture and the beauty of the Principality.

WHAT AND WHERE IS MONACO?

Monaco is a small country or principality on the Mediterranean coast, completely surrounded by France, but very near (about 20 minutes drive from) the Italian border. Squeezed into just 200 hectares, and with less than 40k population, it might be the world’s second-smallest country (only the Vatican is smaller), but what it lacks in size it makes up for in attitude.

MONTE-CARLO, AND OTHER WARDS WITHIN

(monaco travel guide)

Before we go any further, we’ll explain the difference between Monaco and Monte-Carlo because they seem to be so often confused. Monaco is the country or the city-state, whereas Monte-Carlo is one of the areas or wards within. There are other wards of course: Monaco-Ville or its other name Le Rocher (The Rock) is the oldest part; Fontvieille is the newest area and reclaimed from the sea; La Condamine is the area by the old port. A total of ten wards, there is Monte-Carlo, and nine other wards within the city-state. There are possible plans for building at least one other on land, once again, or reclamation from the sea.

Below a list of the ten wards as mapped above (the numbering is for illustration purposes only):

Monte Carlo, and other wards within Monaco (tra
Monte Carlo, and other wards within Monaco
  • 01 – Monte-Carlo / Spélugues
  • 02 – La Rousse / Saint Roman
  • 03 – Larvotto/Bas Moulins
  • 04 – La Condamine
  • 05 – Monaco-Ville
  • 06 – Fontvieille
  • 07 – La Colle
  • 08 – Les Révoires
  • 09 – Moneghetti/ Boulevard de Belgique
  • 10 – Saint Michel

BASIC BACKGROUND

Locals celebrate National day of Monaco in front of the Rince's Palace

Of the 37,308 population of the nation in 2016, 47% are French, 16% are Italian, with 21% coming from 139 countries. Only 16% of the population are Monagesque, the ancestral citizens of the Principality.

French is the official language. Many people understand and speak English and Italian. A number of old people still speak Monagesque, the traditional and national language. Schools still teach the language to the new generation.

The currency is the same as the rest of the EU: the Euro.

Government and Other Additional Information

The form of government is Unitary Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy. It is an independent City-State (Monaco is not part of France), and the second smallest State next to the Vatican. A hereditary constitutional monarchy defines the Head of the State. Therefore, the Sovereign Prince is the head of the government. The Consultative Constitutional Assemblies assist in governing. The current monarch is H. S. H. Prince Albert II. Monaco is also a member of the United Nations (UN). It is also part of thirteen UN organizations, such as UNESCO and WHO. The state’s sovereignty was officially recognized by the Franco-Monegasque Treaty of 1861, with Monaco becoming a full United Nations voting member in 1993.

Despite Monaco’s independence and separate foreign policy, its defense is the responsibility of France. However, Monaco does maintain two small military units. Monaco is predominantly a Roman Catholic. It is also the state religion. The Constitution guarantees freedom of worship. The motto is Deo Juvante, which translates to “With God’s Help.”

living the high-life in Monaco

Whether gambling at the casino, dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant or sipping champagne at a piano bar, you can show off your inner Mr. or Mrs. Moneybags at the high-class venues of Monaco.

Palais Princier de Monaco
  • Palais Princier de Monaco: This is the official residence of the Royal Prince of the ruling Grimaldi dynasty. You can take a regal tour in this princely abode as it is open to the public.
Casino de Monte Carlo, the famous casino in Monaco
Casino de Monte Carlo
  • Casino de Monte Carlo: Visitors can channel their inner James Bond at the Mediterranean’s ultimate gambling den. Peeping inside Monte Carlo’s legendary marble-and-gold casino is a Monaco essential.
  • Opéra de Monte Carlo: You can dress to the nines for a night out at this opulent 19th-century opera house. Check the schedule here.
The Grimaldi Forum, Monaco
The Grimaldi Forum
  • Grimaldi Forum: This is the main exhibit area that hosts both international and local events.
  • Sass Café: A see-and-be-seen hang-out for Monaco’s high-rollers, this perpetually packed piano bar is reminiscent of old-school cabarets with its shiny bar counter, lacquered grand piano (live music every night) and padded red walls. DJs keep things heaving into the wee hours

MOTOR-SPORTS IN MONACO

A classic racer in Gran Prix Historique
A classic racer in Gran Prix Historique

Sports in Monaco are both for the competitive and the rich.

  • Formula One Grand Prix: Nothing compares to this classic mad dash through Monaco’s streets. Learn about it here.
  • Collection de Voitures Anciennes (Classic Car Collection): Feast your eyes on this grand collection of racing cars spanning more than a century.
  • La Boutique de l’Automobile Club de Monaco (ACM Boutique): Shop for a Grand Prix racing jacket or a must-have souvenir keychain.
  • Grand Prix Historique de Monaco: Watch vintage sports cars take the familiar Monte Carlo course.

FAMOUS PARKS & GARDENS

Jardin Japonais, Monaco
Jardin Japonais

Learn about nature while enjoying it in Monaco’s elegant gardens.

  • Jardins St-Martin: You can stroll in the middle of the greenery and statuary of these elegant cliffside gardens.
  • Jardin Exotique: Visitors will enjoy the awesome bird’s eye Mediterranean views. It has a great variety of cacti.
  • Jardin Japonais: Tourists can watch koi swim in a rustic pond oddly backed by high-rises.
  • Roseraie Princesse Grace: Have a pause here to indulge in its fragrant sea of roses.

MUSEUMS to visit

Heritage, culture, and the arts are the focus of Monaco’s numerous villas, museums, and exhibits.

Musée Océanographique de Monaco
Musée Océanographique de Monaco
  • Oceanographic Museum of Monaco: The aquarium – widely considered one of the best in Europe – opens the world of marine life to every guest.
  • Musée des Timbres et des Monnaies: Yes, it’s tiny. But this one-room museum houses a lifetime’s worth of Monaco-issued stamps and coins.
Villa Paloma
  • Villa Paloma: You can catch the rotating modern art exhibits. It also has sweeping Monaco views from historic hilltop villa.
  • Villa Sauber: It is worth visiting for its renaissance architecture and pretty gardens alone. But the art’s nice too!

What do billionaires do in Monaco

Monaco is known as the most expensive and the wealthiest place on earth. A magnet for high-rollers and hedonists since the early 20th century, it’s also renowned as one of the world’s most notorious tax havens.

M/Y Jetsetter, one of the luxury yacht to see in the port of Monaco
M/Y Jetsetter Superyacht
  • Arrive with class by helicopter: The seven-minute ride on a chopper from the Nice airport offers the experience flying like a passenger-royalé. Prices start at around $ 280 per head.
  • Ride or own supercars: Ride (or own!) a BMW I8 Roadster, a hybrid supercar that costs about $ 165 000. You should own the latest model of supercars to stand out on the streets.
  • All-aboard the superyachts and ultimate speedboats: A lifestyle management service offers luxury yacht rentals that have a better experience than hotels. Host a party without limitations. A stay in M/Y Jetsetter (Dynamiq) costs around $ 152 000 per week. A speedboat like Riva Rivamare costs over $ 1.9 M. A ride for a day is around $ 6 000. Known personalities who own a Rivamare are Sean Connery, Sophia Loren, and George Clooney.
  • Play at the plush casino: Casino de Monte Carlo has an exclusive room, Privée Anglais, for high-stakes. Betting chips are more than $ 220 000 each.
  • Sleep like a royal in luxury suite: Recline after a day of luxury at the Diamond Suite of Hotel Hermitage. A night can shed you for almost $ 15 000 per night. And have your own Michelin star chef for private dining that costs up to $ 600.

some favorite local places

Parc Princess Antoinette, Monaco
Parc Princess Antoinette
  • Parc Princess Antoinette: The parc is a stark contrast to the high-rise development in the area. It is a favorite spot for picnics, especially in the summertime, when families, lovers, and friends share an open-air meal in the serene setting. An olive grove is in the center of the park, where the trees are about a hundred years old. Kids will surely love the mini-farm. For some “alone time” and meditation, try the “Zen place.” A multi-purpose sports ground offers a lot of outdoor activities, such as ball games, mini-golf, skateboarding, etc.
Marché de la Condamine, Monaco
Marché de la Condamine
  • Marché de la Condamine: The market must be the heart of the Principality where local gathers. It has seasonal and regional fruits, vegetables and flowers. Go down to place d’Armes coming from Parc Princess. Then, a series of signs for Avs Crovetto and Prince Pierre leads to the place. Enjoy locally produced specialties: soccabarbagiuanspissaladière, and fougasse. Feel nostalgic with its Provencal motifs. Ceramic tiles that decorate its terracotta pavements under the soft, warm shades of the market hall.

IMPORTANT NUMBERS

European emergency number (from a mobile phone)
112
Doctor and pharmacy on duty
116 or 117
Healthcare center Princesse Grace
Standard : (+377) 97 98 99 00
Urgent : (+377) 97 98 97 69
Cardio-Thoracic Centre in Monaco
(+377) 92 16 80 00
Poison control center (Marseille)
(+33) 4 91 75 25 25
Lost and found 
(+377) 93 15 30 18

FINAL NOTE

To sum up, as a mixture of modernity and historicity, Monaco is truly a place to visit. A seriously in-depth travel guide to Monaco such as this one hopes to give a peek of the beauty and richness of the Principality. Subscribe to iconic Riviera for more guide s and information about Monaco and the French Riviera.

Please visit the Official Tourism Website of Monaco.