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8 Best things to see & do in Monaco

  • Monaco, Cote d'Azur, France

Last updated: 15 June, 2024
Expert travel writer: Dana Facaros
  • Monaco, Cote d'Azur, France

Formula one car driving around corner in city street infront of Casino Monte Carlo

Bucket List Experience

Monaco Grand Prix

First run by the local automobile club in 1929, the Monaco Grand Prix is like no other race on the Formula 1 circuit: a heady cocktail of money, bling and VIPs, combined with the adrenaline-packed insanity of cars racing past mega yachts, around tight bends, through a tunnel and the steep streets of a densely packed city.

Because it is so dangerous, it’s shorter and slower than other F1 races, and often yields unexpected results. Some call it a drivers’ race (many drivers live in tax-haven Monaco) as it’s actually the least viewer-friendly of all F1 races – although for many diehard fans, that’s the attraction. Ideally, you’ll want access to a television to see what’s happening on the rest of the track.

Adult price: £50

Min age 6

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 4 days

When: Last weekend May

Freq: annually

  • Monaco, Cote d'Azur, France

Entrance to famous Casino Monte Carlo, Monaco on a sunny day

Bucket List Experience

Monte Carlo Casino

Monaco, a playground of the rich and famous, is world-renowned for its casinos; they’re integral to life and culture here. Although we wouldn’t ever recommend gambling per se, a visit to Monaco would feel incomplete without at least stopping by to experience and people watch at the Casino de Monte Carlo.

Opened in 1863, the world’s most famous and prestigious casino oozes glamour, history, and surprisingly for a casino, class. The setting is ornate and grand, the (uber-wealthy) clientele wear tuxedos and cocktail dresses, gentle applause replaces whooping and hollering. James Bond visited twice – once in Never Say Never Again and again in GoldenEye.

Between 10am and 12.15pm you can buy a ticket to visit the legendary gaming rooms with an audio guide. After 2pm, anyone in proper attire with photo ID aged 18 and over can enter the three main gaming rooms for a fee;  or play the slot machines for free in the Salle Renaissance. VIP big spenders and their guests are welcome to lose their shirts in the exclusive Salles Prives.

Good for age: 18+

  • Eze, Cote d'Azur, France

White convertible driving on a cliff-side highway looking down over Monaco

Bucket List Experience

Drive the Grande Corniche

Feel the wind blow through your hair along the spectacular Grande Corniche, the clifftop Cote d’Azur road where Hitchcock filmed Grace Kelly driving her roadster in To Catch a Thief.

Built 500m above sea level by Napoleon and following the old Roman road Via Julia Augusta, it has incredible views of this sought-after stretch of French coast, with mountains on one side and sea shimmering on the other.

You can drive the length of it in under an hour, but half the fun is stopping at the coast’s highlights along the way: picturesque towns such as La Turbie and Eze. From La Turbie, take the road to Monaco, but turn off at Les Hautes de Monte Carlo for the incredible views from the promontory by the France Telecom dome.

Part of the Grande Corniche is a park, with a network of footpaths: get there on the Route de la Revere, west of the Col de Eze.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: 2-4 hours

Cafe de Paris Monte-Carlo

  • Monaco, Cote d'Azur, France

Exterior of the green roofed, Belle Epoque cafe de paris with terrace in front

Experience

The famous Belle Epoque café, with its lovely outdoor terrace, is the place for a rendez-vous (and people watching) in Monaco. In a prime central location, go for lunch, dinner or a well-deserved cocktail. After some ‘Dutch courage’, try your luck at one of Monaco’s famous casinos nearby.

Good for age: 18+

  • Monaco, Cote d'Azur, France

Exterior of grand, ocean-front museum perched directly on a cliff

Bucket List Experience

Monaco Oceanographic Museum

Founded in 1906 by Prince Albert I, Monaco’s Musee Oceanographique is one of the oldest scientific marine institutes anywhere.

Located in a remarkable wedding-cake building, cascading over the cliffs towards the sea, it contains fascinating artefacts and stuffed creatures collected by Albert himself during his 24 ocean expeditions.

The basement’s aquarium tanks are one highlight, with examples of over 400 species from the Mediterranean and tropical ecosystems, including a shark tank and live coral reef – all labelled in English.

After taking in the exhibits, take the lift up to the café floor, even if you’re not stopping, for the views over the tiny, high-rise principality and the sea.

Adult price: £12

Good for age: 4+

  • Monaco , Cote d'Azur, France

Ever since 1297, when it was captured by Francesco Grimaldi the Spiteful (who snuck in disguised as a monk, stabbed the guards, then let in his men), this palace set on a cliff has been the headquarters of Monaco’s royal family. Around the 17th century, opulent state apartments were added, which are now open for public visits for part of the year.

The main palace remains the private residence of the ruling Prince, and is closed to the public. Family photos add interest – look out for the portrait of Princess Grace (a.k.a movie star Grace Kelly), Prince Rainier and their children – and there are fabulous views over a marina scattered with mega-yachts.

Adult price: £7

Good for age: 13+

Exotic Garden of Monaco

  • Monaco, Cote d'Azur, France

Path through a garden with giant plants and cacti on each side

Experience

If it all gets too much, head to the stunning 75-year-old Jardin Exotique, with its surreal collection of cacti, a stalactite Observatory Cave inhabited 250,000 years ago, and an anthropology museum. Open Tuesday to Saturday. Guided tours on Saturdya by appointment.

Adult price: £6

Good for age: 8+

Mala Beach

  • Monaco , Cote d'Azur, France

Gorgeous and secluded white-sand beach nestled in between jagged cliffs

Experience

A stunning white sand and pebble beach under pale golden cliffs just west of Monaco. Accessed by steep steps, this shallow cove is both glamorous and exclusive. Mala has two public areas and two chic beach clubs: Eden Plage and the Reserve de Mala – both romantic at sunset, serving cocktails by candlelight and playing music after dark.