A country with an unusual layout, to say the least, the scenery of Monaco is quite dashing. It has one of the best locations on the Mediterranean which affords the country a perfect climate all year round and is surrounded by France from the north, east, and west, while the Mediterranean occupies the entire southern side. Monaco’s territory is small and is almost entirely a narrow coastline with amazing beaches, but it’s also surrounded by tall mountains from the mainland which tower above the streets of Monte Carlo.
Due to its location and inherent connectivity to France and nearby Italy, the cuisine of Monaco is quite colourful, but with a unique speck of fanciness. Centuries of influence from its neighbours means that pastries and pies are a mainstay, as well as some fish-based delicacies. The uniqueness in Monaco’s cuisine comes from its duality because many of the local dishes are either sweet or sour – and some are even both – which has led to a very interesting popularity in the international kitchen.
While Monaco has an interesting and colourful history which dates even to Ancient Greek legends, it finally set into its own after the introduction of casinos in the 19th century. Since then it’s grown into a haven for the rich and wealthy and is considered a premium destination, but besides that, it’s a very calm country with deep-rooted religious beliefs. The influence of France can’t be denied, however, as Monaco is also a haven for many modern cultural and artistic endeavours, and its many galleries and theatres are proof of that.
Monaco doesn’t really have cities since it’s a sovereign city-state, but the dynamics of its most popular area – Monte Carlo – can’t be overstated. A place filled with resorts, casinos, galleries, and theatres, Monaco, and by extension Monte Carlo, is one of the liveliest locations on planet Earth. Celebrities from the entire world flock to its shore and numerous sports activities happen on its soil, like tennis tournaments, or Grand Prix rallies, so no matter the time of day, there’s always something grand or fabulous happening in Monaco.
Maybe Monaco is a tiny country – second tiniest in the world after the Vatican – but it’s absolutely filled with things to do and places to see. The small size only helps because every visit is a focused one.
Know Before You Go
Monaco is small, very small, rivalled only by the Vatican which is contained within Rome itself. It sure is easy to navigate, and walking is a great way to get around. Despite the hilly terrain, it's the perfect way to enjoy a gloriously sunny afternoon in Monaco. It can, however, get quite hectic around the streets in the summer months around the peak tourist season.
As Europe's answer to Las Vegas, Monaco's high balling lifestyle is the main draw to this appealing state. Gambling is legal in Monaco, though only to tourists and foreigners, so always bring your ID. The Casino de Monte-Carlo is the very same one often attended by James Bond. Gambling is not mandatory in this luxurious haunt of hedonism, but it's a fascinating sight to see the wealthy high rollers put their money where their mouth is. Unlike the US, tipping is not expected in Monaco, service charges will likely already be included.
Monaco is far from a budget destination. 30% of its population are international millionaires. So accommodations and restaurants know how to hike up the bills. Walking shoulder to shoulder with the rich and famous comes with a hefty price tag.
Best Time To Visit
As a resort town with beaches and beautiful stretches of scenery and bustling ports, it makes sense that the warm, summer months are the best time to visit Monaco. The shoulder seasons in early May and September and October are best when the weather is still optimum and the crowds are calmer. Remember to cover up after leaving the beach, you'll need to wear proper attire in the city or risk a hefty fine.
There are two reasons to visit Monaco around the biggest event of the year in May. To watch the Grand Prix, or avoid it. Every year the race takes to the streets to thrill crowds from far and wide. Avoid visiting around this time in May unless you're here for the big day.
What To Expect
Here are a few things to consider when planning your trip to Monaco.
Currency - The official currency of Monaco is the Euro
Language - The official language is Monégasque, most people also speak French. Though never confuse them as being part of France. Monaco is its own country.
ATMs - ATM's are easy to find in Monaco, and if you're here for the casinos you'll need them. Just look for a bank or a shopping area and be careful of withdrawal fees.
Plugs - Monaco uses the Europlug, or Type C style plug with 2 round pins. As well as the Type E plug with 2 round pins and a hole for the earth pin. The standard voltage is 230v and 50Hz frequency.
Safety - Monaco has an armed national police force and is considered 'the safest square mile' in Europe.
Climate - As one whole side of Monaco is flanked by the sea, it enjoys a Mediterranean climate of warm, balmy summers averaging 24 degrees celsius and mild winters around 14 degrees.