Monaco Sample Itinerary
Principality of Monaco
Monaco – situated majestically above the azure Mediterranean, is a scenic masterpiece with its narrow cobblestone streets, secluded coves, towering cliffs and lush landscapes. Rich with culture, historic sights, enchanting gardens and gourmet restaurants, Monaco is one of the world's most desirable destinations. It has an undeniable energy – delighting and diverting all who venture here. Whatever your interests, you will find something to thrill you in Monaco.
Day One – Old Town Day
For some local color start off in the Condamine market at the Place d’Armes. Enjoy one of the cafés or bars, or shopping for fresh produce at the famed markets. Next cross the street and walk up the Rampe Majeur to Monaco-Ville, also referred to as the Rock, for a must-see tour of the Prince’s Palace and the Palace Square. Take in the Throne Room, where H.S.H. Prince Albert II holds state receptions. In the Main Courtyard – with its horseshoe-shaped, Carrara marble staircase – three million stones create eye-catching geometric patterns. The Palace Guard is always on hand to ensure security and to protect the Prince and His Palace. Daily at 11:55am - sharp! - watch the colorful changing of the guard in front of the Palace gate. To get a good spot during the summer, be sure to arrive at least 20 minutes beforehand.
Walking from the Palace, towards the Monaco Cathedral, you’ll discover the beautiful St. Martin gardens. Facing the sea the gardens are an abundant of exotic flowers. Stroll through the gardens amid engaging bronze sculptures, enjoy the aroma of magnolias and eucalyptus trees, and dwell in the magnificent views and serenity of the gardens.
Hungry? Sample Monégasque cuisine at Le Castelroc, on the Palace Square – perhaps a Barbagiuan (H.S.H. Prince Albert’s favorite, by the way), or try another top lunch spot, Le Saint Nicholas, behind the Cathedral. In the mood for pasta? Pinocchio is the place. In a hurry to see more sights? Then try one of the many sandwich shops which offer traditional baguettes, Pan Bagnat tuna salad on a bun, Italian panini or focaccia.After lunch, stroll through the narrow streets inter-connected by vaulted passageways lined with houses dating from the 12th and 13th centuries. For handcrafts and souvenirs, drop in at the Boutique du Rocher, founded by H.S.H. Princess Grace. At the beautiful Romanesque-Byzantine Cathedral of Monaco, don’t miss the tombs of the Princes, bishops and, alas, the much beloved American-born H.S.H. Princess Grace.
Then head out for the close-by famous aquarium in the Oceanographic Museum, home to more than 90 tanks of rare species of fish and a living reef. Children will love the Invisible Ocean Micro Aquarium shows. Time for a late afternoon libation? There is no better place than the Café de Paris in the Casino Square to bask in the sunshine. If you're looking for something a little more chic, proceed to the bar in the Hôtel de Paris. For a romantic rendezvous try the bar at the Hôtel Hermitage or the Bar du Soleil behind the Casino, where the last rays of sunshine are to be found.
Back to the hotel to 'rest up' for a night out in Monte-Carlo. There is plenty of time to dine in one of the renowned restaurants ranging from Tex-Mex to Thai. After dinner, catch one of the Cabaret shows or other cultural events, or try to break the bank at the famous Monte-Carlo Casino. Then off to Sass Café piano bar to mix it up with other revelers. For those with energy to spare, it's on to the hottest spot in Monaco, Jimmy’Z, which doesn't get started until after midnight, or the newly opened trendy spot, Karément. The late, late nightspots are Cherie's, the Rascasse, and the Living Room.
Day Two - Delights for the senses
Garden enthusiasts, assemble. Bus or taxi to the Jardin Exotique, where some 7,000 varieties of succulent plants cascade down rocks in Monaco’s exquisite microclimate garden. Next door, plunge into the prehistoric Observatory Caves. Mind, though! There’s no elevator. Continue by bus, or taxi if you are in a hurry, to the Fontvieille Park. Follow the pedestrian pathway along scenic landscapes and view the magnificent sculptures situated throughout the park. The Princess Grace Rose Garden, adjacent to the Park, boasts 3,500 rose bushes from over 200 varieties, and is not-to-be-missed.
Enjoy a leisurely luncheon on the terrace at the Columbus Monaco Hotel, across from the Rose Garden, or stroll to the waterfront to view the luxury yachts, and enjoy a casual lunch at one of the portside restaurants. After lunch, car enthusiasts will want to check out H.S.H. Prince Rainier III’s Classic Car and Carriage Collection, the Prince's personal assemblage of vintage cars, or a visit to the Naval Museum with a diverse collection of maritime objects d'art and models. After being so steeped in history, you may wish to switch gears and check out the Museum of Coins and Stamps - or spend some coins of your own, at the Fontvieille shopping center adjacent to the Naval Museum. Or stroll to nearby Rue Princess Caroline pedestrian mall with its colorful shops, boutiques and local cafés.
For dinner enjoy one of the fabulous restaurants along the Mediterranean Sea, or take in the view from the rooftop terrace at the Palace Hotel, while savoring gourmet dining. For after dinner entertainment head off to the American style casino, Sun Casino, at the Fairmont Monte Carlo and try to tempt Lady Luck! Or check out the super trendy Zebra Square, atop the Grimaldi Forum, with marvelous views of the Mediterranean. Midnight snack? Visit the exquisite L’Intempo Restaurant at Le Méridien Beach Plaza.
Day Three – “You” Day
After striking it lucky at the roulette table last night, it’s time for some shopping. Check out the fashionable French or Italian designer boutiques along the Boulevard des Moulins or the Casino Gardens. Chocoholics will not want to miss the Chocolaterie de Monaco on Rue Bioves. For a delicate porcelain souvenir you should visit the Manufacture de Monaco. The Princess Grace Foundation's Boutique du Rocher would be the perfect shop for moderately priced souvenirs of your vacation in Monaco. If you are not sure what you are looking for, the Métropole shopping center has a little bit of everything.
Exhausted after all this shopping? Take a break, and enjoy the exquisite delights of the Thermes Marins Sea Water spa. Swim in a dream pool, do a cardio-training session while watching the Mediterranean’s azure waters, reward yourself for you efforts with a Tao massage or a beauty session. Many of the elite hotels in Monaco offer deluxe spa services. Check with your hotel.
After a leisurely day why not enjoy dinner at the Joël Robuchon Restaurant at the Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo? Choose to be seated on the open-air terrace, and while sampling gourmet Mediterranean cuisine, enjoy exquisite views of the Casino Gardens and the Sea.
Day Four - Explore the Riviera
Monaco is the ideal base on the Cote d’Azur for easy half-day and full-day excursions to France and Italy. For a full day excursion, head to Ventimiglia for some shopping, and explore the 14,000 types of plants in the Handbury Gardens. Then on to San Remo, the capital of the Italian Riviera. A playground for the royals, with villas, yachts, vineyards – and a resplendent casino. Make sure to visit the vibrant and exciting flower market and enjoy shopping at one of the most exclusive shopping streets. Choose one of the many fabulous Italian cafes or restaurants in the area for an afternoon lunch before heading off to enjoy some of the many historical sites of San Remo.
Day Five - Explore the Riviera Part Two
Going Medieval. Off to Eze, a medieval village suspended high above the sea between Nice and Monaco. Make sure to visit the Fragonard Perfumery by the entrance to the village. View the laboratory factory, sample perfumes or make your very own perfume. Then venture into Eze with its breathtaking views of Villefranche-sur-mer and the Mediterranean Sea. Shop for local Provencal objects and dine al fresco at the Le Château de La Chèvre d’Or, or Le Château Eza.
Next it's onto Saint Paul de Vence. Founded in 1537, with its fortified fortress, magnificent cathedral, numerous art galleries and boutiques, it is a true step back into history. Artists such as Matisse and Chagall, flocked to Saint Paul de Vence and many made the village its base.
End your visit with an afternoon aperitif at the La Colombe d’Or while taking in the scenery. Head back to Monaco to enjoy one of the fabulous restaurants you have not yet tried...and maybe a final visit to the Monte Carlo Casino to court Lady Luck!
At the end of your all too brief stay you will be left with memories of a multifaceted Monaco. Its history, culture, beauty, glamour and mystique will draw you back.