August 17, 2023
Top 10: Highlights of Monaco
On a narrow slice of land on the French Riviera between the French Alps and the Mediterranean Sea, the Principality of Monaco has the distinction of being one of the world’s smallest—and wealthiest—countries. Synonymous with luxury and Old-World glamour, Monaco is known for its picturesque Mediterranean setting, legendary casino, Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix circuit and luxurious hotels.
Beyond that, however, the city-state also offers visitors 800 years of history, including a well-preserved historic center, beautiful Belle-Epoque architecture, subtropical gardens, acclaimed restaurants and luxury shopping.
Artisans of Leisure arranges private tours of the highlights of Monaco, which we often combine with touring in nearby France and Italy. Some of our favorite Monaco attractions and experiences include:
1. Touring the Prince’s Palace
Built in 1215 as a defensive fortress atop the craggy hill known as Le Rocher (The Rock), the Prince’s Palace is a Monaco landmark and the official residence of the ruling monarch.
The Grimaldi family has lived in the Prince’s Palace since they seized control of it in 1297, expanding and transforming it over the centuries from a medieval fortress to a lavish royal residence. The result is a combination of architectural styles, including medieval, Renaissance and Baroque.
Artisans of Leisure arranges tours of the opulent staterooms, including the Mirror Gallery (inspired by the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles), the Blue Room and the throne room with ceiling frescoes by Orazio de Ferrari.
Another highlight is watching the Changing of the Guard, a military ceremony that takes place with fanfare daily.
2. Seeing H.S.H the Prince of Monaco’s Car Collection
Whether watching the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix, attending the Monte Carlo Rally to see the latest automobile innovations or just enjoying spotting Bentleys, Lamborghinis, Bugattis and Rolls Royces on the streets, Monaco has long been a destination for car enthusiasts. One notable Monegasque car enthusiast was Prince Ranier III, who began collecting cars in the 1950s.
The Prince’s impressive car collection of around 100 classic automobiles and F1 cars is exhibited in a museum near the Automobile Club de Monaco and the famous Grand Prix racetrack.
3. Exploring Monaco Old Town (Monaco-Ville)
Monaco’s picturesque Old Town (also called Monaco-Ville) is the principality’s charming historic quarter.
Characterized by narrow streets and pastel buildings, this hilltop district is known for sites such as the Prince’s Palace, La Condamine Market, the Oceanographic Museum and St. Nicholas Cathedral, where Prince Rainier III married American actress Grace Kelly.
La Condamine Market offers fresh produce and flowers.
The Old Town has great views of the harbor.
The backstreets are lined with historic architecture.
4. Touring the Casino de Monte-Carlo (Monte Carlo Casino)
Occupying a prime position on the Place du Casino, the legendary Casino de Monte-Carlo (Monte Carlo Casino) attracts high-stakes gamblers with its exclusive gaming rooms in ornate surrounds.
Constructed in the late 1850s as part of a redevelopment program to transform Monaco into a vacation resort, the casino is one of Europe’s most lavish examples of Belle-Epoque architecture.
The sumptuous interiors, terraces and gardens are well worth a visit, even for travelers not interested in gambling.
The casino complex also includes the ornate red-and-gold Opera de Monte Carlo, known as the Salle Garnier after Charles Garnier, the French architect who designed it. Garnier also designed the renowned Palais Garnier Opera House in Paris.
Artisans of Leisure arranges private tours of the Monte Carlo Casino, including visits to the private gaming rooms. Upon request, we can also arrange a tour or tickets to a performance at the Opera de Monte-Carlo.
5. Staying in An Iconic Luxury Hotel
We arrange for our travelers to stay at the top luxury hotels in Monaco that are known for their historic architecture, magnificent style and prime locations.
Our favorite hotels include Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo, Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo and Hotel Hermitage Monte-Carlo.
Hotel de Paris and Hotel Hermitage provide access to the Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo, a vast 71,000-square-foot spa considered one of the best in Europe.
6. Dining in Glamorous Restaurants
Dining in Monaco’s upscale restaurants, stylish beach clubs and elegant cafes is part of the experience of the Monegasque lifestyle.
Artisans of Leisure arranges reservations at the top restaurants in Monaco, including favorite historic cafes and classic bistros.
7. Exclusive Shopping
Monaco is a luxury shopping destination offering haute couture, high-end designer brands, fine antiques, ceramics, perfume and jewelry.
Upon request, Artisans of Leisure can arrange a private shopping experience with a personal shopper, including private visits to ateliers and private fittings.
8. Attending the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix Circuit
Since 1929, Monaco has hosted one of the world’s most prestigious car races, the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix. The race takes place in the narrow, winding streets of Monte Carlo and is considered the most difficult F1 course.
Many travelers plan their private France tour around the Monaco Grand Prix. Artisans of Leisure can tailor any of our private France tours to incorporate Formula 1 VIP access with preferred seating, gourmet hospitality packages, private transfers, exclusive access to events and accommodation at Monaco’s top luxury hotels.
9. Visiting the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco
Founded by Prince Albert I in 1910, the striking Oceanographic Museum in Monaco’s Old Town is one of the world’s leading institutes of marine sciences.
The complex includes an active research institute, a giant aquarium, an open-air space dedicated to sea turtles and permanent exhibits focused on marine biology and oceanography. Hands-on activities and interactive displays make the museum a family favorite.
10. Touring the Jardin Exotique de Monaco (Exotic Garden)
Monaco has a number of gardens, but the Jardin Exotique de Monaco (Exotic Garden of Monaco), located on cliffs high above the city, is one of the best.
Subtropical plants spill down the terraced hillside, and the garden has one of the world’s largest collections of cacti and succulent plants.
A unique feature of the Exotic Garden is the Grotte de l’Observatoire (Observatory Cave), a limestone cave with ethereal stalagmite and stalactite formations.
(For travelers interested in gardens, we also arrange visits to other notable gardens along the Cote d’Azur in France, such as the Exotic Garden in Eze and the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild gardens in Saint-Jean-Cap Ferrat.)
A private luxury tour of Monaco combines well with destinations along the Cote d’Azur in France, including Nice, Cannes and Antibes. Other nearby options we combine with Monaco are Provence and Genoa and Portofino in Italy.
Contact us to arrange a private Monaco tour.