The principality of Monaco with its capital of Monte Carlo is located in the south of Europe, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, France, and, for a very short stretch of its border, the Italian region of Liguria. It has been ruled by the Grimaldi family since they purchased the territory in 1419, and they have established the image of luxury and wealth that’s been inherent to Monaco ever since.
But there is a lot more to Monaco than glitz and glamor, and that’s why I like it. The principality is setting standards for sustainability and responsible tourism, most recently by publishing this white paper, researched and issued by the Tourist and Convention Authority. These efforts have been rewarded by Monte Carlo Beach winning Special 1st Prize in the Hotel and Lodge Awards 2022 Green Category.
And this isn’t the first time that Monaco’s won recognition for protecting the environment, reducing the use of plastic, and water management.
But it doesn’t stop there. The Prince is well known for his special interest in protecting sea life and the oceans, and the aquarium of the Musee Oceanographique is world-famous.
I like to visit Monaco again and again because the small country is really a world on its own” a fascinating combination of history, beautiful Belle Epoque architecture, beaches, art, fabulous gardens, museums as well as world-class events (more on some of these below). Practically any time of year there is something going on that makes a visit worthwhile, and here I highlight the reasons you should visit Monaco this year.
It’s easy to get to Monaco. The nearest international airport is in Nice, France. From there you can reach Monte Carlo either by direct train, bus, taxi (expensive), or car. If you really want to splash out and travel in the most glamorous style, you can even go by helicopter.
There are several new and interesting exhibitions this year in Monaco, as well as yearly events and two extraordinary spas to enjoy.
1. Polar Mission In Musee Oceanographique
The Musee Oceanographique is set against the Rock of Monaco and is the flagship of the Prince Pierre Foundation, established in 1966 by Prince Rainer III to promote art, culture, and science. Apart from its outstanding architecture and the aquarium, the museum sporadically hosts special exhibitions, and this year’s is called Polar Mission.
The immersion exhibition that starts on June 4 showcases the discovery of the poles, the wildlife that lives there, the people who inhabit and explore the pole regions, as well as objects and documents. The exhibition is divided into five themed areas spread out over two levels. Virtually meet polar bears, penguins, and the polar aurora borealis in all their glory and in their natural habitats — an unforgettable experience that is awaiting you in an iconic environment.
2. The Grimaldi Forum Celebrates Shoes
Monaco and fashion go hand in hand, with several designers having their ateliers in the principality and many more being represented with chic boutiques. The Grimaldi Forum and Convention Center, a spacious exhibition center, dedicates 2022 to shoes.
From July 9 to August 28, fashion fans can admire 30 years of creativity of renowned shoe designer Christian Louboutin, famous for his high-heeled shoes with red soles. This exhibition is a continuation of the one that took place in the Palais de la Porte Doree in Paris in 2020 and promises to be great fun, even if you are not particularly interested in shoes. His way of incorporating styles from many countries and cultures is pure art and genius.
3. Pamper Yourself In Two Fabulous Spas
Monaco is not short of luxurious spas and beach resorts. So why not indulge in two of the finest? The first is the Spa Metropole by Givenchy. Late actress Audrey Hepburn’s favorite designer, Hubert de Givenchy’s signature stands behind this spa. Located in the famous Hotel Metropole, you are already, to quote a Queen song, “Left In the lap of the Gods.”
Each treatment is a couture event in itself, surrounded by soft furnishings, black and white marble, and the relaxing atmosphere of a virtual rain forest projected onto the walls.
Another sophisticated experience is undergoing treatments at the Cinq Mondes Spa, located in the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort. The highlight: You are sprayed with a fine mist of refined aromas as you pass under the sunlight dome of the spa.
4. Yacht Show 2022
Port Hercule is one of the few deep water ports on the French Riviera, which allows the exhibitors at the Yacht Show to display, in the floating section, their newest, largest, and most luxurious super yachts and the visitors to enjoy the incredible sights
Hundreds of builders, architects, brokers, and suppliers are represented, either in the floating part or quayside. Suppliers even include helicopters as the yachting industry is growing and increasingly catering to the wealthiest boat fans. If your budget doesn’t stretch to a super yacht, you may be able to charter one for a short time or at least look and admire.
5. October Bloom
In October, the Garden Club of Monte Carlo organizes a flower and bouquet competition that, this year, is themed The Color in Fashion. The many gardens in Monte Carlo that will be in full bloom in October will participate, offering every visitor a colorful and sweet-smelling spectacle. Here are some of the most beautiful gardens in Monte Carlo to enjoy:
- Casino Garden and Terraces
- Princess Grace Rose Garden
- Japanese Garden
- Jardin de Saint Martin
- Jardin Exotique in Eze
Pro Tip: Apart from the parks and gardens, another must-visit is the covered Condamine market in the heart of the city. It is a cozy southern marketplace, offering local products by approximately 20 traders who include gardeners and florists. The market is open all day every day and is divided into three zones, each with terracotta tile floors that make for a soft, sunny, and light walk. You’ll also find colorful metal furniture where you can sit down and have a drink or snack.
6. The Festivities Of National Day
Monaco’s National Day is celebrated on the 19th of November and for visitors, it’s one of the few opportunities where they will be able to catch sight of the entire Royal family. It may be a small country, but National Day is a big affair.
There will be festivities all day long and splendid fireworks at night. Join the locals and make merry. Plenty of food and drink will be available in big and small cafes and restaurants or on the terraces of the casino, especially the iconic Café de Paris.
National Day is definitely a suitable occasion to celebrate in these plush surroundings. Talking about casinos: Monte Carlo is famous for her casino, but a peculiarity is that the locals are not allowed to gamble in the principality.
7. Sporting Events
If you are a tennis fan, you may want to plan for next year (2023) and the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters tournament. Next to the Grand Prix, it is the most important sporting event on the Monaco calendar. The exact date has not yet been established other than that the tournament will take place in April. Check again closer to time.
It will take place on the clay courts of the Monte Carlo Country Club which is located in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, just a short distance across the border in France. If you want to watch, you are well-advised to buy your tickets as soon as they are available; check this website to see prices and available seats, and consider looking periodically and closer to the time.
It is also recommended to use public transport during the competitions as roads into France tend to be very congested.
Pro Tips: Monaco is built on and into rocks which means a lot of stairs and climbing. To help you get around easier, watch out for (and use) public elevators that are to be found everywhere in the city and are free. They are called ascenseurs publique and there are 79 of them. Some go only up, others only down, and all also have stairs. Some are connected by tunnels that look like the subway.
If you need cash, use ATMs but first make sure with your bank that you won’t incur any charges. Not all banks in Monte Carlo have a money exchange. In a pinch, you can always exchange cash in the casino.