It may be the second smallest country in the world, but Monaco more than makes up for its diminutive size with seriously impressive status. A magnet for the lavish elite, this grandiose principality is home to superyachts, Formula One, hedonistic nightlife and is also a notorious tax haven. No wonder, then, that it earned itself the nickname “Billionaire’s Playground”.
You don’t need six zeros in your bank account to live it up in Monaco, however. This sovereign state is friendly and welcoming to visitors, and, whilst you may want to splash out on luxury accommodation while you’re here, there are plenty of things you can do and see for free too.
Where to Stay in Monaco
For that authentic Monegasque experience, prioritise spending more on accommodation than entertainment – the hotels here are worth it.
Hotel Metropole is the ultimate in chic accommodation, suites are designed by Jacques Garcia and even the onsite restaurant was designed by none other than Karl Lagerfeld himself. This five-star property in the Carre d’Or part of the city is renowned for its discrete hospitality, so you can be sure it’s a favourite amongst the A-List.
If you’re looking for more indulgent surroundings, head to the Hotel Hermitage Monte Carlo. Elegant and understated, this hotel boasts a Michelin-starred restaurant and a gorgeous spa for maximum wellness.
For your own slice of paradise, book a room at the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort. Set in its very own sandy lagoon and surrounded by lush green gardens, the Bay Hotel offers up resort living in the very best of taste.
Where to Dine in Monaco
Given Monaco’s reputation for entertaining the global elite, you won’t exactly be short on places to eat in the region. With more Michelin-starred premises than you can hope to visit in one trip, as well as plenty of international restaurant brands and affordable eateries, this is the place to visit if food is high on your list of priorities.
For a lavish and unforgettable meal, treat yourself to a table at Joel Robuchon’s Michelin-starred Odyssey at Hotel Metropole. Although Robuchon is sadly no longer with us, during his lifetime he was the most awarded Michelin-starred chef in existence. Now the baton has been passed to Christophe Cussac, who specialises in crafting dreamy Mediterranean dishes in the open-plan kitchen.
You can’t come to Monte-Carlo and not taste its oysters, which is why you need to head to the best oyster bar in Monaco: Les Perles de Monte-Carlo. Run by marine biologist Brice and his partner, Frederic, this isn’t officially a restaurant but the pair do serve up sumptuous seafood tastings.
When in Monte Carlo you simply can’t miss the opportunity to visit – and play in – the exquisite Casino de Monte Carlo. A true pleasure palace, this Belle Epoque style building houses gaming rooms, verdant gardens, a theatre and even the offices of the national ballet.
Historically, the casino has played an important role not just in the economic success of Monte Carlo but also in the development of casino gaming as we know it today. In the 1800s it was one of only a handful of places where the wealthy elite could play blackjack, a game that has since become globally renowned and is now available in several different formats and variants.
Monaco’s contemporary art museum, Le Nouveau Musee National, is a must-see. The gallery only hosts a maximum of two exhibitions per year from exciting new artists, however, there’s plenty to digest each time.
There are some amazing nightclubs and entertainment venues to discover when the sun goes down. Monaco is a place that takes partying very seriously indeed, and when you head to La Racasse you’re guaranteed a good time. Another unmissable venue is Jimmy’z Monte-Carlo, which has played host to the leading lights in EDM over the years, with the likes of Martin Solveig, Fatboy Slim and Bob Sinclair spinning the decks here.
After a night of indulgence, what could be better than immersing yourself in the gorgeous gardens of Le Jardin Exotique de Monaco? For a small entrance fee, you can explore the gardens at your own pace, including the various underground caves that are open for exploration.