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Introducing Monaco

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Yacht passing Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium © Monaco Government Tourist Office

Monaco Travel Guide

An independent city-state west of the French Côte d'Azur, the Principality of Monaco is the playground of Europe's celebrities and idle rich. They are drawn by the sun, glamorous lifestyle, and (most importantly) tax-free income, not to mention being in close proximity to one of the world's most publicised and famous royal families. There are more millionaires per capita in Monaco, the world's most densely populated country, than anywhere else, but true 'Monagasques' make up only about 15 percent of the population in a country that is jam-packed with opulence, wealth and the world's most expensive real estate.

As anyone who has seen the legendary Grand Prix will know, Monaco and its unofficial capital Monte-Carlo (the country doesn't actually have a capital) aren't as good looking as its sleek residents and visitors; most of the buildings are unattractive monstrosities, and the tiered urban jungle is cut off from the shoreline by sweeping roads: the roads on which Formula 1 racing cars screech during the annual Grand Prix in the second week of May each year.

Monaco does, however, have a suitably glamorous history: disguised as a Franciscan monk, Francois Grimaldi reclaimed a fortress on the Rock of Monaco from a rival Italian bloc in 1297, giving the country its name, which is derived from the word monk. The country soon became a major port and prospered, and when Lord Honore II took power in 1604, he declared himself a Prince - a tradition that remains today. Later, Monaco was annexed by France, but the Grimaldis soon regained their power and in the late 1800s, in order to restore wealth to the country, Prince Charles III created the Societe des Bains de Mer, consisting of a casino, some hotels and a theatre, from which sprung today's glittering Monte-Carlo area.

Best time to visit Monaco

The weather in Monaco is stunning all year long, boasting nearly 300 days of sunshine. Spring (April and May) and early autumn (September and October) are warm and less crowded than the peak summer season, however. Read more on Monaco's Climate and Weather.

Top things to see in Monaco

-Visit the tomb of Princess Grace in the stunning Monaco Cathedral.

-Tour the Palais du Prince, the lavish residence of the Grimaldi family.

-Relax and enjoy the sun in the lush Jardin Exotique. Read more about Monaco Attractions.

Top things to do in Monaco

-Try your luck at poker tables of the famous Monte Carlo Casino.

-Take in the impressive displays and exhibits at the world-renowned Oceanographic Museum.

-Sip on cocktails at one of many nightclubs and enjoy the opulent Monaco nightlife.

-Browse the shops along the pedestrianised Rue Princess Caroline.

Getting to Monaco

Since there is no international airport, there are no flights to Monaco from the UK or US. The best way to get to Monaco is to fly to Nice Côte d'Azur Airport in France, only 13.7 miles (22km) from Monaco. From there travellers can drive or take a train to Monte Carlo. Of course, the very well-to-do know that the most spectacular way to arrive in Monaco is by yacht! Read more about Monaco Airports.

Read

Loser Takes All by Graham Greene

Watch

GoldenEye (1995) and Monte Carlo (2011)

Drink

The Monaco, a traditional mixed drink made up of 1 part lemonade, 2 parts beer and a dash of grenadine.

Listen

Little Singers of Monaco

What to buy

Luxury brands like Gucci, Versace, and Armani; or leather goods at the market at the foothill of the Prince Palace.

What to pack

Pack your most fashionable clothes, as people in Monaco dress to impress; don't forget comfortable walking shoes, though!

What's on in Monaco

-Catch the awe-inspiring coordinated fireworks displays during the Monaco International Musical Fireworks Competition each summer.

-The Monaco F1 Grand Prix, held in May, is among the highlights of the racing calendar. More information on Monaco Events.

-See hundreds of the most luxurious yachts in the world at the Monaco Yacht Show in September.

Did you know?

Citizens of Monaco are not allowed to gamble, or even to enter one of the casinos.

A final word

Setting the standard in opulence, Monaco is the perfect luxury holiday destination for travellers wanting to spoil themselves with a once-in-a-lifetime vacation.

Become our Monaco Travel Expert

We are looking for contributors for our Monaco travel guide. If you are a local, a regular traveller to Monaco or a travel professional with time to contribute and answer occasional forum questions, please contact us.

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