Clocking in at approximately 485 acres, Monaco is the second-smallest independent state on the planet next to Vatican City. Ruled by the Grimaldi family for more than 700 years, this tiny state is a tourist haven. Monte Carlo – which is not the capital, but a government district – is the best-known area in Monaco and is the port of call by which the vast majority of cruise ship passengers make their acquaintance with this tiny principality. Historical attractions and modern diversions are available in equal balance here, offering visitors a compelling – and unforgettable – time. Tucked into an incredibly scenic section of the Cote d’Azur, Monte Carlo is extravagant and timeless.
Sightseeing & Things To Do
There’s no place on the planet quite like Monte Carlo, so if your cruise ship will be making a stop here you should get off and have a look around. From the impossibly well preserved buildings and streets of Monaco-Ville to Prince Albert’s palatial residence, you won’t run out of things to see and do. Try your hand at a casino game at the Grand Casino or sample some of the unbeatable bouillabaisse that is so easy to find all over the principality; regardless of how you spend your time in Monte Carlo, you’ll surely create memories that will last a lifetime.
Monte Carlo offers up some of the most intriguing and interesting attractions in this section of the Cote d’Azur. From delightfully well-preserved buildings to flashy casinos, Monte Carlo has a bit of something for everyone. Consider these top attractions:
Sometimes referred to by locals as “le rocher,” or “the rock,” Monaco-Ville is a medieval village with winding, picturesque streets and is a wonderful place to explore. You will feel as if you have been whisked back in time when you wander around this incredibly old part of Monte Carlo. Photo opportunities abound, so be sure to bring along your camera.
Les Grand Appartements du Palais
Considering that Prince Albert currently resides here, it is quite incredible that tours are regularly given. If you have the opportunity, make it a point to go on such a tour. From a changing of the guards ceremony to unbelievable views of the port and the city, the Palais Princier is a great choice.
The Grand Casino
Dress up a bit – dress jackets for men and resort chic for women – and surround yourself in the elegance of the Grand Casino. It was built in 1878 and boasts a bounty of games. You’ll truly know that you’re in Monte Carlo when you spend a bit of time at the Grand Casino.
The Monaco Cathedral
As the wedding – and burial – site of Prince Ranier and Grace Kelly, the Monaco Cathedral is a wonderful place to include on any tour of Monte Carlo. The architecture of this building is quite stunning, and being able to check out the final resting place of such a world-renowned couple is a unique opportunity that you won’t want to miss out on.
Bargain shopping is basically nonexistent in Monte Carlo; if you want to shop here, be prepared to spend a pretty penny. The Golden Circle – which abuts Avenue Monte Carlo – is the premier place to shop in this already premier destination. Top designer shops are all accounted for here, including Prada, Christian Dior and Hermes. Don’t miss out on fantastic window shopping opportunities along the strip’s fine jewelry stores.
Best Souvenir To Bring Back To the Cruise Ship
Few souvenirs from Monte Carlo are cooler than a casino chip from the Grand Casino. Make it a point to stop in and bring home a few of them. They also make for wonderful gifts for friends and family back home.
Eating – Sample the Local Cuisine
Monte Carlo is positively rife with exceptional dining opportunities. If you want to sample a true local delicacy, though, make it bouillabaisse. This fish stew can be found all over the principality, and you won’t find more delicious or fresh versions of it anywhere on the planet. You can splurge and try truly gourmet bouillabaisse at a fine restaurant, or save a bit of cash and enjoy it somewhere a bit less expensive. Regardless of where you find it, you will surely never forget its incredible flavor.
When, Where, and How
When To Go
In order to enjoy fewer crowds, cooler weather and an all-around better time, you should seriously consider visiting Monte Carlo between December and February. The winter months are stunning in Monte Carlo, and you’ll be able to roam around more easily – and more comfortably, too.
Where You’re Docked
The cruise ship pier at Monte Carlo – which is known as the Nouvelle Digue de Monaco – is quite conveniently located. This isn’t surprising, considering how compact and tiny Monte Carlo and Monaco are. Ships dock in close proximity to the Palais Princier – home of Prince Albert.
Which Cruise Ships Go Here?
Many of the largest cruise lines have itineraries that include stops at Monte Carlo. A few of the major cruise lines that stop in Monte Carlo are Celebrity Cruises, Cunard, P & O Cruises and Fred Olsen Cruises. However, there are many other options available in terms of ships, dates, days at sea and in port when it comes to Monte Carlo.