Things to do in Monte Carlo
For many, Monte Carlo is synonymous with its lavish casinos, a staple of the area for more than a century and a half, and no trip would be complete without a trip to the betting tables. Live out your James Bond fantasies at the Casino de Monte Carlo, a glitzy 1910-built complex that features slot machines, French roulette and private rooms for craps, blackjack and more. Then, take your winnings and get a taste of the thriving nightlife Monte Carlo is known for.
Monte Carlo isn’t all about the gambling, however. Visitors can glimpse the principality’s medieval history with a tour of Le Rocher (“The Rock”), the old town that’s still home to Monaco’s government entities and the Grimaldi family’s royal residence. Thousands also make the trek to the 19th-century Cathedral of Monaco to pay their respects to Princess Grace. Travelers looking for things to do in Monte Carlo will find plenty of opportunities to wander. Spend time soaking up the sun along its Mediterranean shoreline, or stroll through its Jardin Exotique, home to the World’s largest collection of succulents and cacti.
Built in the 16th century on the site of an ancient fortress, the official residence of Monaco's royal family overlooks the harbor and is open for tours June through October. Don't miss the ceremonial changing of the guard daily at 11:55 a.m.
During the day, a Zen-like atmosphere permeates the posh seaside restaurant. Come sunset, though, energy levels pick up with the pop of champagne corks, and DJs provide a pulsing soundtrack for late-night revelers who dance until dawn.
You'll find most of the usual high-fashion suspects—Gucci, Dior, Chanel, Cartier—near the Casino de Monte Carlo.
Princess Grace opened the housewares shop in 1966, and it remains the place for locally handcrafted Monégasque and Provençal items, such as embroidered tablecloths, hand-carved frames, and colorful ceramic platters. Best yet, all proceeds go to charity.
Pick up porcelain candy boxes bearing Prince Rainier's personal seal at this shop, which is the official provider of Palace gifts. There's also luxury tableware and other decorative accessories by the likes of Moser Cristal, Valombreuse, Hervé Gambs.
The official chocolate maker of Monaco since 1920 sells an assortment of handmade chocolates infused with lavender, pistachio, and orange packaged in elegant porcelain boxes, and Provençal specialties such as Calissons d'Aix, made from almond paste and a thin layer of icing.
Order a milky pastis or the traditional Monte Carlo Imperial—made with gin, white crème de menthe, lemon juice, and champagne—and watch the sun set on the Bentleys and Lamborghinis clustered around the casino across the plaza.
Thanks to a recent $34 million renovation to the Salle Garnier, the spectacle of opera season in Monte Carlo rises to new heights.
There's plenty of horsepower in this collection of 100 vintage automobiles, including a 1903 De Dion Bouton and a 1929 Bugatti—an appropriate exhibit in a city famous for its annual Formula 1 race.
The 19th-century Romanesque-Byzantine cathedral constructed of white stone from La Turbie is the final resting place of the former Princes of Monaco as well as Princess Grace.