Monte Carlo is a destination which will forever be associated with showbiz glitz and the glamourous lifestyle and is a favourite port of call on a number of Mediterranean itineraries which explore the sun-kissed French Riviera.
6 hours in… Monte Carlo
Despite its expensive reputation, you don’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy Monte Carlo and there are several must-see landmarks not to be missed if you’re visiting for the day.
Of course, the casino is an essential landmark and sums up everything that Monte Carlo is about. James Bond tried his luck here on two separate occasions and indeed, those Bond movie gambling tables are very much in evidence, thankfully without the scheming villain peering over his drink! If you enjoy a flutter, you’ll find this a much more classy experience than say, the tables in Vegas and it’s not difficult to let your imagination run away with you and soak up the ambience. Even if you’re not a gambler, the building is not to be missed, with a stunning façade and some beautiful marble and bronze-work inside.
The Casino Square itself is another must-see and while there’s not a lot to do apart from sit back and drink it all in, you’ll find that this is more than enough, as the expensive cars, beautiful floral fountain displays and hustle bustle are attractions in themselves. The harbour is another place you can’t miss, even if you just visit for a short time. It’s a showcase of opulent vessels owned by both the rich and famous and you can have fun guessing whose is whose and how much they cost!
If you’ve visited previously and spent time in the casino, you may not have realised that it’s also home to the elegant Opera de Monte Carlo, which is another spectacular piece of architecture and the perfect setting in which to enjoy a show, and the prices are pretty reasonable.
If you’ve already caught all of Monte Carlo’s architectural attractions, you could join other return visitors and residents on Larvotto Beach. This small stretch of sand is the perfect spot if you want to soak up the rays and it has a good choice of restaurants, too. If you’re in search of something completely different to do in Monte Carlo, don’t miss the serene Japanese Gardens, where waterfalls, Koi and a charming Japanese tea house all offer a peaceful escape from the tourist hustle-bustle. The Monaco Aquarium is another completely different kind of attraction and the perfect showcase of the marine life to be found in the neighbouring Mediterranean Sea.
Can’t keep away?
If you’ve caught the Monte Carlo bug and can’t keep away, there’s always something, or more specifically someone new to see. It’s not known as the home of the rich and famous for nothing and as a repeated visitor, you’ve got more chance of seeing a celeb or two enjoying a coffee in a Casino Square café and finding out who’s new in town for the season by heading down to the harbour. If you enjoy opera, then repeated visits will give you the opportunity to take in new shows and again, you may spot a well-known face or two taking in the performance.
Of course, each year, the streets of the city transform into one of the world’s most renowned motor racing circuits as they place host to the Monaco Grand Prix and it’s possible to visit during this time as part of your cruise, which could be the perfect way to see another side to the city and of course, some more celebrities. Speaking of cars, the Private Collection of Antique Cars of H.S.H. Prince Rainier II is a natural place to head if you’ve a special interest in all things of the four-wheeled variety and is home to everything from F1 veterans to old classics and lesser-known treasures.
Don’t even bother!
…attempting to visit the casino if you’re under 21 or are a novice to gambling! Gamblers with some experience can certainly enjoy themselves, but it’s worth noting that the European Gaming Rooms are a particular area reserved only for serious gamblers. There’s an entry charge and the dress code is very smart.
As is the case with many tourist-centric places, be sure to shop around for souvenirs and snacks. Over by the Marina things can typically be more expensive, so don’t just opt for the first shop or café you see.