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The world’s second smallest country may be compact, but it’s brimming with things to see and do (and not just when the Grand Prix is in town). We stop at its glittering capital Monte Carlo overnight, giving you even more chances to explore. Here’s our ultimate 12-hour itinerary for getting the most out of your time in Monaco.
Head straight for Monte Carlo’s atmospheric old town, Le Rocher. Also known as Monaco Ville, Le Rocher sits on a rocky outcrop above the town and is home to winding medieval streets. The main draw here is the architecture. Don’t miss Saint Nicholas Cathedral, which dates back to 1875 and features a striking Roman-Byzantine style. If you’re in Le Rocher just before lunch, look out for the changing of the guard by the Place du Palais.
Discover more about Monaco’s maritime past at the Museé Oceanographique. Built in 1910 as part of the cliff overlooking the water, it’s home to the world’s oldest aquarium. Discover unique features like a shark lagoon and artefacts from an expedition by Prince Albert I.
When you need to rest your legs, stop for brunch at traditional Italian restaurant Valentin, which is located in the centre of Monte Carlo. Tuck into an antipasti board and a glass of wine, or top up your energy levels for the afternoon with fresh, flaky pastry and a rich espresso.
Walk off your lunch in the idyllic Jardin Exotique. Set on a dramatic cliff overlooking Monaco and the sea, the gardens have been open since 1933 and feature exotic succulent plants from all over the world. Once you’ve soaked up the sunshine, check out the cave which sits at the bottom of the cliff. Walk through a mysterious world of carved limestone, home to stalagmites, stalactites and grand columns.
Make the most of the late afternoon sunshine by paying a visit to Larvotto Beach. The beach is open to the public and has fine golden sand, making it the perfect place to laze with a good book. On hot days, let the clear water tempt you into the shallow surf. Larvotto Beach is lined with plenty of eateries where you can pick up a mid-afternoon snack.
When the sun starts to go down over Monaco, visit one of the world’s most famous casinos: the Casino de Monte Carlo. The casino has been a key part of the country’s history since 1863. There are four casinos in total: the Casino de Monte Carlo, Casino Café de Paris, the Sun Casino and the Monte Carlo Bay Casino.
The Casino de Monte Carlo is the most famous, with Belle Époque architecture and a world-class selection of games. If you’re feeling lucky, have a go yourself, or simply soak up the atmosphere of this seductively glamorous venue.
Make a night of it by catching an opera at this sophisticated opera house. Known as the Salle Garnier to locals, it’s the cousin of the Palais Garnier in Paris. Both opera houses were designed by the famed architect Charles Garnier, and feature an elegant and ornate style. The Opera de Monte Carlo enjoys a picturesque position between the sea and the casinos.
Before dinner, grab a glass of fizz or a cocktail to celebrate your time in Monaco at the Fairmont Hotel’s Horizon Deck. You’ll get to watch the sun set over the water form the 7th floor of the hotel. The deck has 360 degree vistas of Monaco and is inspired by the sea, with silky blue upholstery and rustic wood furniture. Cheers to that.
Splash out on dinner at the Michelin-starred Blue Bay. The menu specialises in a unique fusion of Caribbean and Mediterranean food, with sparkling sea views from the open-air terrace. Tuck into experimental dishes such as spaghetti carbonara served with juicy green papaya, or egg served with cassava, passionfruit and truffle. End your meal with a light and airy coconut souffle served with a delicate blend of spices.
The glittering lights of Monaco are waiting for you. Discover our Monaco itineraries and Mediterranean cruises now.
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