Things to do and sight to see in Monaco

It is relatively easy to navigate Monte Carlo and Monaco if you take the time to learn where the various short cuts are. City maps are generally available at most news vendor stands and shops for a small fee.

Avenue Saint-Martin. An absolute must-do for new or old visitors alike is a walk along the coastal Avenue Saint-Martin, feauturing some beautiful cliff-side gardens. On this road is the Monaco Cathedral, which was built in the late 19th century, and was where Princess Grace and Prince Ranier married. It is also where Grace and many of the other Grimaldis are buried.
The Palais du Prince (Prince’s Palace) is located in old Monaco-Ville and is also a must see. The changing of the guard takes place daily at 11:55 am, so you might want to time your visit for then. There are guided tours of the palace each day and usually run around the clock. While you are there, be sure to take time to walk over and look at the harbors on either side of the palace – the view is marvelous! From the palace you will have a nice view over the port. The palace is guarded by Carabiniers and every day at 11.55AM they perform a special ceremony.
While in the harbor, it is very easy to simply stop and marvel at the many super-yachts and cruise ships which usually adorn the docks in the marina. Sometimes, while having a drink at the shores, it is possible to glimpse one of the rich and famous simply relaxing aboard their own vessel.
If you leave the harbour and walk to the east, you’ll soon encounter the Casino de Paris (The Grand Casino) in Place du Casino, easily the most beautiful part of Monte Carlo. Here, it is well worth a visit inside the casino itself, even if you plan not to gamble – the architecture, lavish marble and golden ornaments inside are simply stunning. The casino opens daily to guests from 2 o’clock and entry to the antechamber outside the casino itself is free, although you still must be 18 to enter. It is even possible to, amazingly, just simply stop outside and ‘people-watch’ the guests coming to and fro the very exclusive Hotel d’Paris, just a few yards from the door of the casino. If not, the men in the family might enjoy the huge range of very expensive and powerful cars parked outside!
Entry into the Monaco Casino will cost you €10 for a day. There are also passes for a week, month, or even a year (which costs approx €50). As is usual for casinos, you are not allowed to take photos once inside the casino. It’s interesting to observe the games, if not participate for a bit. Watch how much money changes hands! Another attraction is the glass display showing the casino chips of higher value. You get to see the €500,000 chip, which is massive for a chip (in worth AND size). People younger than 18 years may not enter the casino. A jacket and tie are mandatory for men to wear in the casino.
The Jardin Exotique (Exotic Gardens) is a fascinating experience. Many rare plants from around the world are presented in a walking tour that is quite memorable for the views as well as the flora. Due to the rise in altitude, the microclimate of the area is mostly desert, so there are many examples of desert plants, including unusual cacti, to see. There is also a grotto (cave) that has scheduled, guided tours. The entry cost is a bit steep (€8) unless you’re under 16 or a student (€3.50)
The Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium on Avenue Saint-Martin is a world-reknowned attraction, There are more than 4,000 different fish and over 200 families of invertebrates, featuring everything from strange sea growths to deadly pirhanas and even the skeleton of a 66 foot whale, and is well worth a visit. To relax after seeing it all, the top floor of the museum is home to La Terrasse, a restaurant which features beautiful views over the Riviera. Admission charges are 12.50€ for an adult and 6€ for concessions (children under 6 go free).
The Grimaldi Forum is the Monaco convention center. Completed in July 2000, it hosts large exhibitions or shows. It is also the home of Monaco’s newest opera stage (situated below the sea). An incredible piece of architecture that one will either love or detest.
The Japanese Garden (free) on the seafront east of the headland with the Casino on top. You can walk round the road under the headland to save the climb.

If your wallet permits it, try your luck in the Grand Casino and gamble alongside the world’s richest and often most famous. You’ll need your passport to enter, and the fees for entry range enormously depending on what room you are going to – often from 30€ right up into the hundreds The dress code inside is extremely strict – men are required to wear coats and ties, and casual or ‘tennis’ shoes are forbidden. The gaming rooms themselves are spectacular, with stained glass, paintings, and sculptures everywhere. There are two other more Americanized casinos in Monte Carlo. Neither of these has an admission fee, and the dress code is more casual.
Formula One Grand Prix. It is possible to walk round the route of the circuit when the Grand Prix is not being held. Tourist office maps have the route clearly marked on their maps, although aficianados will not need this! A good place to start is at Place Ste. Dévote. The route will require you to cross the road at several occasions, so please be wary of traffic (it is especially difficult to cross at Portier and Rascasse, and there is no path at all on the start/finish straight). Driving the circuit is sometimes possible although you may find your route blocked just after the tunnel. There is a route you can take that doesn’t deviate too much, however. Always remember to drive according to the speed limits and lines on the road! It is often possible to find an exclusive company at the marina-side that will let you take a trip round the famous steep climbs and hairpin corners of the Monaco course in a performance vehicle – often a Ferrari or a a Lamborghini, however, this is costly.
The opera house also known as the Salle Garnier [8] was built by the famous architect Charles Garnier. The auditorium of the opera house is decorated in red and gold and has frescoes and sculptures all around the auditorium. Looking up to the ceiling of the auditorium, the visitor will be blown away by the superb paintings. The opera house is flamboyant but at the same time very beautiful. There have been some of the most superior international performances of ballet, opera and concerts held in the opera house for more than a century; consider taking in a show during your visit… but expect to pay top dollar!

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