Monaco, a principality located on the coast of southern France, is a hidden gem. This luxurious area, known for its posh lodgings and celebrity clientele, is a splendid place to visit. Although Monaco covers only two square miles, making it the second-smallest country in the world, the population continues to grow. Boasting more than 100 different nationalities and its own dialect of Ligurian, known as Monegasque, this sovereign state enjoys its own national holidays, a tabloid-friendly royal family, and immense wealth due to its history as an important shipping port. The picturesque streets lined with splendid architecture, perfectly manicured parks and lawns, and the world-famous Grand Prix make Monaco a popular destination among many European travelers.
Because there are no stops at the border between France and Monaco, Monaco travel is quite easy from within Europe. If you prefer to fly, there are departures every 30 minutes from the Nice Cote d'Azur International Airport that go directly to the principality. If you are traveling to Monaco from outside of France, there are various major airlines that provide service to the airport in Nice so you can catch a connecting flight. Some of the most popular airlines are Air France, Swiss International Air Lines (which is popular for travelers from North America), British Airways, Delta Air Lines, and Easy Jet. You can also opt to take a train or bus from France, or you can rent a car to travel at your own pace and enjoy the scenery. Once you arrive in Monaco, you will find getting around to be very simple. There are various parking options for your rental vehicle that are budget-friendly, numerous bus routes that extend throughout the principality, seven public elevators that operate as lifts in between the steep areas of the principality to help travelers on foot, and two taxi stands. Due to the small size of the principality, many visitors prefer to travel on foot or by public bus, rather than renting a car.
Although trips to Monaco typically may not last more than a day for the standard traveler, wealthier tourists are able afford the high cost of accommodation and the lure of the Grand Casino in Monte Carlo. The more affordable hotels are mostly located outside of the principality in the surrounding towns of Southern France. Those wishing to fully experience Monaco and all it has to offer for more than a day will find very suitable accommodation options within easy reach of the local attractions, regardless of their budgets and tastes, such as beach hotels situated on the Mediterranean Sea and quaint accommodations farther inland. The most popular time for holidays in Monaco tends to be in the summer due to the warmer weather and lush surroundings. Travelers will see an increase in prices during the busy season as well as international crowds, so those looking to explore in a more laid-back manner without the masses or higher expenses should plan their trips to Monaco during the fall or winter months.
Despite the principality's small size, there is much to see during your Monaco travel. Including museums and churches, royal buildings, and historic quarters, Monaco has something to offer every traveler. Monte Carlo is the most popular area due to the lure of the Grand Casino, and every traveler should make a trip here, just to see the magnificent architecture. Surrounded by lush gardens and terraces, the Grand Casino has more to offer than just gambling. Situated above the casino is the Palais Princier (State Apartments), one of the homes of the Grimaldi royal family who has been ruling Monaco for more than 700 years. You can opt to take a tour of the somewhat small palace to view the lavish decorations and get a feel for what royal living is like. Monte Carlo also offers great nightlife and a chance to see outstanding operas and ballets.
If you are looking to learn about local history during trips to Monaco, be sure to visit the Place du Palais. Every day at 11:55 am the changing of the guard occurs, when the royal security guards, dressed in full uniform, switch their shift. The palace also offers sweeping views that overlook the port of Monaco, the district of Monte Carlo, and even as far as Italy if you look to the northeast from the palace terrace. The Cathedrale de Monaco is also a must during your Monaco travel, especially since there is no admission charge. Built in 1875, it was the venue for the wedding Prince Rainier III and Grace Kelly in 1956. It was built on top of the site of a thirteenth-century church and houses the tombs of the former rulers of Monaco. From September through June, visitors can hear the angelic voices of Les Petits Chanteurs de Monaco, the famous Monaco boys choir, who sing every Sunday at the 10 am Mass.
There are also numerous unique museums and beautiful gardens that are housed in Monaco. The Exhibition of His Serene Highness The Prince of Monaco's Private Collection of Classic Cars is a must for any car-lover. It features more than 100 classic cars that are carefully maintained and quite impressive to see. The Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium is also a must-see during your holiday in Monaco. The museum itself is an architectural wonder, it sits 280 feet above the sea and is built of beautiful stone. Visitors can view the large collection of marine fauna and upwards of 4,000 species of fish during their visit. If you don't feel like spending all of your time indoors, then venture to one of the numerous gardens and parks. The Fontvielle Park, Princess Grace Rose Garden, and the Japanese Garden are among the most peaceful and beautiful parks that Monaco has to offer. If you are in the mood to venture underground, you can also check out the Observatory Caves, located underneath the Exotic Gardens. Visitors can view the stalactites and limestone concretions that are a geologist's dream.
Whether you prefer to take a leisurely walk around the Yacht Club of Monaco to view the multimillion dollar yachts, play the slots at the Grand Casino in Monte Carlo, or take a tour of the State Apartments, Monaco is sure to be a pleasant destination for any European traveler.