Monte Carlo is a very curious city (or country) in my opinion. It’s very hard to get a feel of the real monegasque lifestyle, because you mostly get to see tourists exploring the port or the Casino square, or sipping cocktails in bars on the port. But through the years I’ve learned that Monaco is much more than this, and you can really enjoy the visit (even though it is quite expensive!).
Monaco or Monte Carlo is a Principality, governed by the Grimaldi family. In the 1850s Monaco had lost the territories of Roquebrune and Menton, who used to be their source of revenues due to their exports of lemons, oranges and olives, therefore it had to reinvent its structure and they built a German-style Casino and a sea-bathing facility for treatment of diseases. The casino was relocated various times, and grew successful due to its inaccessibility from other countries.
Many events are hosted in Monaco every year, most notably the Formula 1 Grand Prix takes place at the end of may, and is one of the most exciting given that the cars compete in the city itself. Other events include the tennis Monte Carlo masters, Monte Carlo Rally, the International Auto Show, and the European Poker Tour.
Most notable attractions to see in Monaco are the Oceanographic Museum and
Aquarium, the Prince’s Palace, Napoleon Museum, and the Monaco Cathedral (in Monaco-Ville), the Casino and the Opéra de Monte-Carlo (Salle Garnier) that recalls the Parisian opera, the Grimaldi Forum (which hosts annual art exhibits), and the Japanese gardens in front.
On the other side of the Monaco you can find the area of Fontvieille, where there is also a smaller port with many nice bars and restaurants, such as the Beef Bar, and the One Apple. Here you find a Heliport close to which there is the Circus, close by is also the Stade Louis II, the Zoo, and the Monaco Top Cars Collection museum.
The Larvotto beach in Monaco might not seem so glamorous given its pebbled beach and number of people that fill it in summer months, along the beach you’ll find private beach clubs where you can rent a chair and a parasol, such as La Note Blue (nothing to do with Blue Note but they do organize music events), Miami Plage, and La Rose des Vents.
Shopping is very expensive here, since you’ll find all of the greatest luxury fashion brands. For some “cheaper” shopping you can visit the Métropole gallery or Fontvieille.
The best bars in Monaco are located along the main port, where you have places like La Rascasse and La Brasserie (these are the places for younger people, which are also cheaper!), or close to the Casino where you have the Buddha Bar (cocktails are usually around 17€ but they are excellent), or Nikki Beach on top of the Fairmont Hotel, also X (briatore) is located in a very nice spot on the sea. Sass is a bar where they also organize music and dancing, and also Zelos (in the Grimaldi Forum), but the most famous disco in Monaco is certainly Jimmy’z.
There are many nice restaurants in Monaco such as Bouchon (french food), Maya Bay (thai and japanese food), Joel Robuchon (inside the Hotel Métropole), Buddha Bar (for sushi), Nobù (japanese, inside the Fairmont hotel), Mozzà (italian food), and Cipriani.