Country guides Europe
Monaco Travel Guide
An independent city-state west of the French Cote d'Azur, the Principality of Monaco is the playground of Europe's celebrities and idle rich. Most people are drawn by the sun, glamorous lifestyle, and tax-free income. There are more millionaires per capita in Monaco than anywhere else on the planet. But true Monacans make up only about 15 percent of the population in a country packed with wealth, opulence, and the world's most expensive real estate.
The sweeping roads of its unofficial capital Monte Carlo serve as the course for the legendary Monaco Grand Prix. The buildings which line the streets are themselves unattractive monstrosities, huge tiered blocks that belie the fabulous lives of its residents. However, Monaco does have a suitably glamorous history. Disguised as a Franciscan monk, Francois Grimaldi reclaimed a fortress on the Rock of Monaco from a rival Italian bloc in 1297. This gave the principality its name, deriving from the word 'monk'. Lord Honore II took power in 1604 and declared himself prince. France later annexed Monaco, with the Grimaldis regaining power. In the late 1800s, Prince Charles created the Societe des Bains de Mer in order to restore wealth. It consisted of a casino, hotels, and a theatre, from which sprung the glittering Monte Carlo area.
Monaco isn't good for those who love the great outdoors, apart from a few ornate parks. Those with light wallets should also stay away, unless they want to try their luck filling it up in Monaco's famous Casino de Monte Carlo. If one wants to rub cloaks with royalty and high society, then Monaco is the place to be.
Best time to visit Monaco
The weather in Monaco is stunning all year long, boasting nearly 300 days of sunshine. Spring (April and May) and early autumn (September and October) are warm and less-crowded than the peak summer season, however.
Top things to see in Monaco
-Visit the tomb of Princess Grace in the stunning Monaco Cathedral.
-Tour the Palais du Prince, the lavish residence of the Grimaldi family.
-Relax and enjoy the sun in the lush Jardin Exotique.
Top things to do in Monaco
-Try your luck at poker tables of the famous Monte Carlo Casino.
-Take in the impressive displays and exhibits at the world-renowned Oceanographic Museum.
-Sip on cocktails at one of many nightclubs and enjoy the opulent Monaco nightlife.
-Browse the shops along the pedestrianised Rue Princess Caroline.
Getting to Monaco
Since there is no international airport, there are no flights to Monaco from the UK or US. The best way to get to Monaco is to fly to Nice Côte d'Azur Airport in France, only 13.7 miles (22km) from Monaco. From there, travellers can drive or take a train to Monte Carlo. Of course, the very well-to-do know that the most spectacular way to arrive in Monaco is by yacht.
Loser Takes All by Graham Greene
GoldenEye (1995) and Monte Carlo (2011)
The Monaco, a traditional mixed drink made up of 1 part lemonade, 2 parts beer and a dash of grenadine.
Little Singers of Monaco
What to buy
Luxury brands like Gucci, Versace, and Armani; or leather goods at the market at the foothill of the Prince Palace.
What to pack
Pack your most fashionable clothes, as people in Monaco dress to impress; don't forget comfortable walking shoes, though!
What's on in Monaco
-Catch the awe-inspiring coordinated fireworks displays during the Monaco International Musical Fireworks Competition each summer.
-The Monaco F1 Grand Prix, held in May, is among the highlights of the racing calendar. More information on Monaco Events.
-See hundreds of the most luxurious yachts in the world at the Monaco Yacht Show in September.
Did you know?
Citizens of Monaco are not allowed to gamble, or even to enter one of the casinos.
A final word
Setting the standard in opulence, Monaco is the perfect luxury holiday destination for travellers wanting to spoil themselves with a once-in-a-lifetime vacation.