If you want to visit an international destination that’s small and compact, you probably couldn’t pick anywhere more bijou than Monte Carlo, the heart of the tiny European country Monaco.
Small it may be, but this city is packed with plenty of entertainment for any visitor, especially if you like the idea of people-watching as part of your weekend getaway. So what is there to see and do in Monte Carlo? We’ve rounded up some of the sights not to be missed below.
Go all out at the Casino
One of the things that Monte Carlo is synonymous with is one of the world’s oldest casino. Established in the mid-19th century by François Blanc, the Casino de Monte Carlo has to be one of the most beautiful casinos in the world with its Belle Epoque architectural style. Here is the place you can really lose yourself in the fantasy world of the casino and certainly it’s a great excuse to dress up to the nines to go and play there. As well as the main casino floors with slots and table games, you can also play for higher stakes in the Salons Privés or out on the terrace if you like to gamble while taking in the views of the beautiful casino gardens and the magnificent seascape beyond.
Anyone coming to play casino games in Monte Carlo would be well-advised to get some online practice in beforehand. Mug up on games that you don’t know how to play, so you can look suave and sophisticated at the gaming tables. If you’re already familiar with Texas Hold’em poker, for instance, it’s a good idea to teach yourself a more exotic variant before you get there. For instance, Omaha Hi/Lo is a popular poker game, an in-depth tutorial for which can be found at 888poker. The aim of the game in this particular version of poker is to get the highest or lowest hand possible to share the pot 50/50. Even better, get both the highest and lowest hand and you’ll take the whole pot all for yourself.
Witness F1 on its Most Exciting Circuit
Each May, normal Monte Carlo traffic is suspended for the breathtaking spectacle of the Monaco Grand Prix. It’s traditionally the F1 event which draws the biggest number of celebrity spectators, so you’ll be in a for a great run of celeb spotting as well as the excitement of the race itself.
Beginning at Casino Square, the course is believed to be one of the hardest for drivers to win, thanks to the fact that it’s a tight and narrow circuit with little if no opportunities for overtaking. During the 260km race, drivers complete 78 laps of the 3.337km circuit. Ticket prices vary greatly, based on which day and which position on the circuit you choose.
Visit Prince Rainier’s Palace
The Grimaldi family have ruled Monaco for centuries and their palace, built in 1191, is definitely worth adding to your itinerary. Make sure not to miss the showy display of the changing of the guard outside on the square that takes place daily at 11.55am, before heading inside to admire the Renaissance-style decor. Prince Albert II is the current Sovereign Prince of Monaco, and has ruled the principality since 2005, when his father Prince Rainier III passed away. While the Prince’s Palace is his private residence, the State Apartments are open to the public from April to October.
Next door to the Palace and worth a visit after you’ve seen the State Apartments is Monaco’s cathedral, where both Prince Rainier and Princess Grace are buried.
Of course, these are just a few of the highlights Monaco has to offer its visitors. There are plenty of high-end shops to explore, even if you can only afford to window-shop and there are few places on earth where you’ll see such a line-up of luxury cars and yachts in such great numbers as here.
And if all the wealth and decadence of this vibrant city gets too much at any time, you can take five in Monaco’s municipal pool which has a prime position right next to the marina, or head to the beach to cool off and reflect on how the other half live.