4 Best Places To Visit In Monaco + Top Things To Do

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Find out why the tiny Principality of Monaco should be in your next European travel bucket list.

Monaco first came into my consciousness during college when I read a story about the Grimaldi Family curse which doomed members to endure unhappy married lives. The Grimaldi Family, one of the oldest dynasties in the world is the ruler of the Principality of Monaco.

French Riviera as viewed from Monaco
Photo courtesy of pexels.com

4 Best Places To Visit In Monaco + Top Things To Do

    About Monaco's Grimaldi Family

     
    It was supposed that an ancestor of the Grimaldis kidnapped and violated a beautiful maiden who was the source from whence the family curse came. 

    Indeed, just by looking at the scandals that blemished the royal family’s name, one could presume that there was some truth to that curse.

    However, I was not intrigued by the curse or any scandal that befell this royal family; I was fascinated by the Principality (a country ruled by a Prince) itself that was a tiny country, one of the smallest in the world.

    I just could not reconcile that such a small territory, no bigger than a large park could be an independent country with its own government.

    Monaco, the idyllic microstate


    Since I was severely interested in Monaco, I read about it whenever an opportunity presented itself – that was mostly in the UP Library via books and the internet. With my succeeding researches about Monaco, I found out that it was located off the coast of the French Riviera.

    It was one of the top and most opulent tourist destinations in the world. It was a gambling hub, as well as a citadel of art, music, and sports. 

     Monaco’s residents are also mostly rich and powerful personalities who drive around the ancient streets of the Principality in their luxury cars. Monaco was a haven for those who love and can afford the lavish lifestyle.

    Monaco is divided into four districts: the old town of Monaco which sits atop a rocky cliff, the main business center of La Condamine, the gambling district of Monte-Carlo, and Frontvieille which is an area reclaimed from the sea.

    The three largest ethnic groups living in Monaco are the French, Monegasque, and Italian.

    What to do Monaco


    Since Monaco is very small, the best way to go around is on foot. However, there are buses within the city-state that go around shops, museums, and other tourist attractions.

    Here are the top places to visit in Monaco:

    1. The Old Town of Monaco


    Also known as “The Rock,” the ancient town of Monaco dates back to the middle ages. Here, you can find the stunning Place Saint Nicolas and Placette Bosio, the Chapel of Mercy, Palais de Justice, and the Cathedral, a Roman-Byzantine style building that was built in 1875.

    Monaco Cathedral
    Monaco Cathedral (photo courtesy of pexels.com)

    Each day, the much-awaited changing of the guards happens in front of the Princely Palace, the official residence of the Grimaldi Family, at 11:55 AM so you might want to secure a good spot where you may watch this spectacle. I have read that parts of the Princely Palace are open to visitors so that is definitely worth checking.

    The other sights to see in Monaco town are the following:

    • The Saint-Martin Gardens
    • The Oceanographic Museum
    • The Museum of the Chapel of Visitation

    2. Monte-Carlo


    The town of Monte-Carlo is the site of the magnificent Place du Casino, frequented by those who love to try their hand with lady luck. 

    However, there is much more to see at the casino. Watch an opera at the Salle Garnier, marvel at the artworks housed inside the casino, visit fine jewelry and antique shops, or take a stroll around the Casino Gardens and Terraces – the things that you can do seemed endless!

    The other places to see at Monte-Carlo are the following:

    • The Grimaldi Forum, an events center
    • The National Museum, 
    • The Japanese Garden, 
    • The Trocadero Garden
    • The Place des Moulins 
    • The Esplanade du Larvotto

    3. Frontvielle


    The old town of Monaco
    Photo courtesy of pexels.com

    The reclaimed area of Frontvielle is home to the Stade Louis II, which is Monaco’s sports complex; the Sculpture Path, the Rose Garden, several notable museums such as the Exhibition of HSH The Prince of Monaco’s Vintage Car Collection, the Museum of Stamps and Coins, and the Naval Museum.

    4. La Condamine


    If you want to experience what daily life in Monaco is like, then La Condamine is the place to go to. Here, you will see stalls with fresh produce on display. There are also small cafes where you can enjoy a quick or light bite.

    Some of the places to see at La Condamine are the following:

    • Breathtaking gardens where one may admire exotic plants
    • The Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology
    • The Observatory Prehistoric Cave


    How to go to Monaco


    France is the most convenient access point going to Monaco with Cote d'Azur Airport in Nice being the nearest landing field. 

    A café in Monaco
    Photo courtesy of pexels.com

    Although one may charter a helicopter ride or take a train going to Monaco, possibly the most recommended transportation if you want to enjoy the stunning countryside vista is via bus, not the express but the regular Bus #100.

    How to apply for a visa (for Filipinos)


    Filipinos are required to secure a visa to enter Monaco. Since Monaco (as well as France) is part of the Schengen Area, one needs to apply for a Schengen Visa.

    For more information and other requirements, Filipinos may get in touch with the following:

    Consulate General of the Principality of Monaco


    • Address: #1, Arguilla Street, San Lorenzo Village, Makati, 1200 Metro Manila
    • Telephone number: (02) 812 1169

    Monegasque Consulate in Metro Manila, Philippines


    • Address: 2178 Paraiso Street, Dasmarinas Village, Makati, 1221 Metro Manila
    • Telephone number: (02) 810 9729

    Epilogue


    Monaco is one of the best places in Europe that you can visit. It may not be as popular as other European countries but it has a lot to offer in terms of its heritage and history, as well as modern luxuries. 

    What's more, since it's just a small country, you can explore it in a day and spend the rest of your holidays just relaxing amid Monaco's laid-back vibe.

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