What To Do & See in Monaco

Posted August 30, 2022 in Travel by Janine St.Denis

The original millionaire’s playground, Monaco has long played host to holidaymakers seeking the sea, sun and something a little different. Though tiny, the pretty Principality has plenty to see and do. You’ll find it caters to all tastes, whether you prefer to relax and destress, eat your way through or spend some time learning more about the history and geography of this small but impactful resort town.

Shop ‘til you drop

As a go-to for the most privileged, Monaco is well known for some of the most exclusive shopping experiences in the world. No trip to the city is complete without wandering through her tree-lined avenues and marble-shrouded shopping centers.

Whatever your desire, you’re likely to find it in Monaco. For a truly luxurious shopping experience, head to Le Metropole. Under the shimmering light of a period chandelier by Faustig, you’ll find a selection of designer wares, from chic fashion to trendy homewares. Or, if you’re looking for a more European-style experience, stroll down the Monte Carlo Shopping Promenade. Lined with sunny palm trees, this open-air shopping promenade is a favorite of locals and visitors, thanks to her Instagram-worthy storefronts and the welcome shade from the warm Mediterranean sun.

Discover the depths of the Mediterranean (Oceanographic Museum)

The health of our seas is a subject the Principality cares deeply about, and nowhere is this more evident than the Musée Océanographique de Monaco. This world-famous museum is one of the oldest aquariums in the world and houses several thematic tanks, including one dedicated to sharks, tropical species, sea turtles, and the Mediterranean. In addition, the museum hosts several exhibitions throughout the year, including artists, explorers, scientists and more, all hinging on the theme of the marine world. Whether you have children or are a child at heart, the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco is well worth a visit, if for nothing else than the spectacular views from the rooftop restaurant.

Invest in self-care

Wellness and well-being are a way of life in Monaco and the South of France; the spas here are world-famous. These facilities are as beautiful as they are practical: each has a comprehensive menu of treatments specific to your particular health, wellness and relaxation requirements. Monaco’s most famous spa, Thermes Marins Monte Carlo, is a haven of luxury beauty and wellness. Located above Port Hercule, the spa enjoys stunning views and a beautiful sunny terrace complete with a warm jacuzzi, an in-house restaurant and bar, a hammam, sauna, solarium, hair and beauty salons, and dedicated fitness room; it’s a one-stop wellness shop.

Find a moment of tranquility

What better way to wrap up a spa day than a walk through one of Monaco’s splendid gardens? The Principality has many lush green spaces in which to relax and unwind. You’ll find over 300 species of rose in the Princess Grace Rose Garden in Fontvieille, a celebrated sculpture trail by a lake in Fontvieille Park, Eastern-inspired zen in the Jardin Japonais, and a botanist’s dream with an extraordinary view in the Jardin Exotique. The Jardin Saint-Martin enjoys some of the most beautiful green spaces in the Principality. Still, if a manicured wild isn’t for you, you may enjoy the terrace of the Casino de Monte Carlo, a beautifully tended public space with water features and French-style landscaped gardens.

Eat your way through the city

Have you worked up an appetite? Good, you’re in luck. Monaco hosts some of the finest restaurants in the Mediterranean. From Alain Ducasse’s famous Louis XV in the Hôtel de Paris to the breathtaking view from Ceto at the Maybourne, there’s something on the menu for everyone.

Read more about where to eat in Monaco.

Explore the most extensive hotel wine cellar in the world

Oenophiles, in particular, need to stop by the Hôtel de Paris, home to the two most expensive hotel suites in the world. Still, despite the a-list celebrities, glittering royalty and powerful politicians that often make the hotel home, it’s what’s beneath that is perhaps most intriguing.

The cellar of l’Hôtel de Paris is home to the largest hotel wine cellar in the world. Designed by Marie Blanc, wife of François Blanc—the entrepreneur who opened the Hôtel de Paris as a refuge for the guests who visited his Casino de Monte Carlo—the cellars are a subterranean maze filled with treasures so fine that they were hidden behind several layers of empty bottles and lesser-quality vintage to protect them from occupying forces during the Second World War.

Worship the sun

Monaco’s only public beach, Plage Larvotto, is a family-friendly oasis bordered by high-rises on one side and the horizon on the other. Somewhat ensconced, it’s a surreal sight being so close to the city, but lined with bars and restaurants and often attracting the a-listers, it’s a lovely spot to while away an afternoon.

Other notable beaches nearby include Plage Mala by Cap d’Ail, Paloma Beach on Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Plage Petit Afrique in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, and the famous Promenade des Anglais in Nice.

Get out of the city

For a more romantic, picturesque sojourn from Monaco, consider visiting Tête de Chien. Offering unbeatable views of the entire coastline, it’s the perfect location for a hike or to watch the sunrise. You’ll even find services that will arrange a picturesque picnic, like local celebrity Elena, who zips guests around in her vintage Citroën 2CV, transporting visitors to the most Instagrammable outings with baskets full of baguettes and cheese, pastries and jams, quiches and fruits, as well as champagne, local rosé, and a sweet-sour homemade lemonade.

Uncover Monaco’s secrets

Monaco may be small, but she’s got a fascinating history woven from the lives of the many colorful characters that call her home. To really get to know her, it’s worth diving into her history via the monuments scattered around the city, starting with the grotto buried under the observatory within the Jardin Exotique. Here, prehistoric tools were left behind by nomads past who sheltered within this protected cave, including Neanderthals and several prehistoric human cultures.

Following the cave, head back into the sunlight and tour the Prince’s Palace on Le Rocher. This 12th-century fortress-cum-palace is full of beautiful frescoes, stately apartments and views worthy of a prince and is well worth a visit. One of Monaco’s hidden cultural treasures is not far from the Palace, the Princess Grace Irish Library. With a beautiful collection of references and historical books in English, it’s a must-visit for bibliophiles.

Finally, visit the church of Sainte Devoté. Built in the 11th century, the chapel was built in the hollow of the Vallon des Gaumates where, according to legend, a young woman was transported miraculously upon her martyrdom. There, she was recognized as a pious woman and dubbed Dévote, given her devotion to her faith, and sainted. Her bones remain in this church as relics, and the mysterious woman has been accorded a special place in the cultural narrative of Monaco.

For more information on visiting Monaco during a luxury yacht charter or during the Monaco Yacht Show, contact your preferred Northrop & Johnson broker.

Up Next in Travel

Navigator Newsletter

Stay informed on all things yachting and luxury lifestyle with the bi-monthly Navigator newsletters.