Old Town

98000 Monaco
The historic district of the Principality, home to its main institutions, is easily identifiable by its impressive fortress overlooking the city from atop its Rock, and the colourful residential houses like a Mediterranean-style Notting Hill. Fall under the spell of Monaco’s Old Town.


When you first arrive in the Principality, your gaze will naturally be drawn to the Rock and its fortress, and you will no doubt find your way to the Place du Palais, the splendid square where the Changing of the Palace Guard takes place every day, at precisely 11.55 am.

Before you stands the Prince's Palace, built in the 13th century and later remodelled during the Renaissance period. Guardian of a secular tradition, with its Italian gallery and 16th century frescoes, the Palace is partly open to the public once more, following major renovation work completed in summer 2022.

Visit time: 35 to 40 minutes - Tel: +377 93 25 18 31.

Further on, to the left of the Place du Palais, you’ll find a viewing point lined with old cannons, commanding spectacular views of the Fontvieille district. Continue towards the Saint Martin Gardens, created around the 1830s in the reign of Prince Honoré V, where you will find a children’s play area in the shade of the pine trees.

Very close to the Saint Martin Gardens is the imposing Cathedral of Monaco, where Prince Rainier III married Princess Grace Kelly. The Princely couple now rest in peace in the Cathedral’s crypt. Nearby, you will see the Palais de Justice, Monaco’s courthouse.

Continue along the Saint Martin Gardens and you will arrive outside the Oceanographic Museum, one of the most precious architectural jewels of the Principality. Built in 1910 at the behest of H.S.H. Prince Albert I, this institute of oceanography, also known as the “Temple of the Sea”, was for some years directed by Captain Cousteau. Dedicated to undersea research, the museum houses a vast coral reef: 400 cubic metres of water, hammerhead sharks, majestic rays swimming along a reef teeming with a multitude of topical fish and live corals (this is the shark lagoon, the only one of its kind in the world). Recent additions include a tortoise tank constructed in 2019 and a 360° interactive auditorium for a complete immersion in the marine world.
Finally, the roof commands panoramic views, and has a children’s play area and restaurant.

Visit time: Between 2 hrs 30 mins and 3 hrs - Tel: +377 93 15 36 00.

Just outside the Oceanographic Museum, take one of the "Monaco Tours" tourist trains. These dotto trains decorated in the national colours run daily, carrying passengers on a guided tour that takes in sites such as Port Hercule, Monte-Carlo and its luxury hotels, the famous Casino and its gardens, before returning to the old town with its ramparts and the Prince’s Palace.

Journey time: 30 minutes - Tel: +377 92 05 64 38.

Below the “Temple of the Sea” is an esplanade surrounding by the Mediterranean, which is home to the Open Air Cinema. In the style of an American ‘drive-in’, you can watch the latest movie releases projected onto a giant screen in their original versions, all beneath the open night sky. A snack will round off the experience perfectly.
On the same esplanade, riders will be delighted by the 275m² Skate Park overlooking the sea, with plenty of halfpipes and ramps for maximum thrills!

Make your way towards Port Hercule and you will see the photo spot, a giant picture frame overlooking the port and the Monte-Carlo district that resembles a smaller version of the “Dubai frame”. It stands opposite Monaco’s higher institute of arts, the Pavillon Bosio.

For a splendid panoramic view, descend towards Fort Antoine, which occasionally hosts shows and plays.

On the Rock, on Place de la Visitation, the Museum of the Chapel of the Visitation occupies a baroque chapel dating from the 17th century. It houses part of the remarkable collection of sacred artworks owned by Ms Piasecka Johnson, and includes masterpieces by Rubens, Zurbaran, Ribera and the Italian baroque masters.

Visit time: 30 minutes - Tel: +377 93 50 07 00.

On Place de la Visitation, look around to see you are surrounded by the country’s political institutions: the Ministry of State, the National Council, and City Hall just a few yards away.

To explore the nooks and crannies of the Rock, follow the picturesque narrow streets , lined with souvenir shops and restaurants. Along the way, look out for the Princess Grace Irish Library, which houses a collection of works by authors from the Emerald Isle, in homage to Princess Grace’s Irish roots. It also contains books from the Princess’ personal/private collection.

Walking time in the Old Town, excluding museum visits: around 2 hrs.

Photo credits: ©Benjamin Vergély / VisitMonaco