It’s one of the smallest countries in the world (second only to the Vatican City), hugely popular for day trips from the surrounding French Riveria.
So what are the main sites in Monaco if you’ve only planned on one day?
Size doesn’t matter in Monaco, and the sites, attractions, and excitement is all densely packed in!
While there’s plenty to do deserving of a vacation in its own right, here is a quick list of the top 5 places to add to your itinerary if you’re day tripping.
One Day in Monaco: 5 Places You Shouldn’t Miss
Regardless of whether you’re a fan of architecture, Monaco Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady Immaculate or Saint Nicholas Cathedral, is a remarkable place to visit.
This is a towering Roman-Byzantine style building, which was first built in 1875, though with alter pieces which are older than the cathedral itself. The white stone which defines the facade is from La Turbie.
Saint Nicholas Cathedral stood in this place from 1321 until it was demolished and the current Cathedral built in its place. Fun fact – the original parish cemetery was in the area that is now the nave.
Inside the Cathedral are the tombs of Monaco’s former Princes – a soveriegn State, the house of Grimaldi has ruled over Monaco since 1297.
You can also see a spectacular throne made from white marble, which was carved in 1500.
Casino of Monte Carlo
What can we say … a building that needs no introduction, and is most likely the reason you’re day tripping to Monaco in the first place!
Monte Carlo Casino is one of the most famous casinos in the world, because of it’s grandeur, high rollers, and yes, filming location for numerous Hollywood films, including James Bond’s Never Say Never Again and Golden Eye.
It has been around since 1893, and while it may not be as flashy as a new modern Vegas casino, it maintains the grandeur of a palace, which will make you feel like a Queen!
While most of the casino industry is online nowadays and players might be looking forward to play Aviator or other famous slots, land-based casinos remain relevant. Of course, the main thing is to enjoy them responsibly.
After you’ve donated some of that travel cash to the casino (house always wins right?!), take some time to refind your zen in Monaco’s Japanese Garden.
Created in 1994 by Prince Rainier III, this is a great place to find some peace and quiet, and despite being over 6,107 miles away (that’s exact!), it’s one of the most authentic gardens you’ll find outside Japan.
It was built adhering to the strictest principles of Zen design by the Japanese landscape architect Yasuo Beppu, and you’ll find all the essentials like islands, koi ponds with lilies and lotus flowers, waterfalls, lanterns, bridges, and the obligatory tea house.
If you time your visit right, you might be lucky enough to catch Mr Beppu, who comes back once every year to talk with gardeners about what it takes to look after the plants.
You might not think to head to the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco, but this is one of the best marine museums in the world, and would be a real shame to miss.
With more than 6,000 marine specimens in its permanent collection, the museum has been running since 1910, and is known locally as a ‘Temple of the Sea’.
It’s main aim it to protect and raise awareness for the ocean, and it does so through lagoons, tropical and Mediterranean aquariums, and even a touch tank on Wednesdays that allow visitors to get close to the sea creatures.
There’s a Whale room with mounted species and skeletons you can get up close with, and an exhibit called Oceanomania, which includes fossils, diving gear, books, and chimaeras.
If you do leave Monaco having missed it, they have a high definition 360° camera that allows you to tour the building virtually, regardless.
From the Oceanographic Museum to the beach! If you’re in Monaco in summer (we’re making the most likely assumption!), you’ll also want to spent time at the beach.
Larvotto is an all day public beach near the casino, and while the sand is aritifical (ie, it’s not a naturally occuring beach), it’s a great place to swim and enjoy the coastal waters.
There’s both free and paid areas, the paid areas allow you to rent sunbeds and parasols for around €15, though most locals sit on towels in the free version right on the sand.
There’s plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars around, and this is a hotspot for parties and water sports like seak kayaking and jetskiing. The perfect way to end your day in Monaco!
Image credit: Kurayba (CC-SA 2.0) via Flickr