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
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
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! For speed demons, the Parking des Pêcheurs car park (below
the Oceanographic Museum) houses a 3,000m² indoor karting track built in 2020.
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.