Monaco might be the world’s second-smallest sovereign state (behind only the Vatican), but this tiny nation has a massive reputation. For North Americans who may be a little iffy about European politics, then here’s a quick catch-up… Monaco is a monarchy that’s run by local Prince Albert II, and is located on the French Riviera between Spain and Italy.
You’ve probably heard of it thanks to the Monaco Grand Prix, the Casino di Monte Carlo, the socialite-turned-monarch Grace Kelly, or its luxurious reputation as an economic haven for European icons. Regardless of why Monaco is calling your name, it’s well worth a visit.
However, Monaco is exceedingly pricey and can be difficult to navigate. Despite being tiny, there’s a lot to do in the way of tourism, and it’s easy to get turned around… and overcharged. If you’re considering heading to Monaco, then let us help you take a few shortcuts with the tips below.
What to Do
As mentioned above, Monaco’s Grand Prix and Casino di Monte Carlo are two of the city-state’s biggest attractions—but are they worth it? Let’s cover the latter first. If you’re a fan of card games like blackjack, then you probably stick to online platforms that offer different variations, like High Roller and classic blackjack. Online blackjack is simply convenient for dedicated players.
But is it worth it for a blackjack player who’s used to sticking to online formats to head to the Casino di Monte Carlo? That depends. It’s worth it for a blackjack player who also wants to see the famous location and partake in its atmosphere. It’s probably not worth it for someone who really just wants to hit and split their way through a few casual games, as it can be pricey.
The same mentality goes for the Grand Prix race. If you’re a hardcore fan of Formula One, then it’s a no-brainer—shell out a few extra dollars to catch the race live and become part of history. But if you’re only a seasonal or fair-weather F1 fan, then the race will be exorbitantly priced—and you’ll find that you can only steal a few glimpses of the drivers as they peel by.
Where to Stay
Keep in mind that 30% of Monaco’s residents are millionaires. That should paint a pretty good picture of what local prices look like if you want to take a walk on the luxurious side. From restaurants to retail, there’s a shifting price scale that moves from affordable to outrageous. If you’re heading to Monaco on a modest budget, then one area you’ll want to focus on is lodging.
Be sure to locate a reasonable hotel or hostel inside Monaco’s state lines before arriving, or you’ll find that prices quickly rise. However, if you’re worried about overspending on a room you’ll only use to sleep in at night, then consider hanging your hat up across the French border.
You can find transportation to and from French locales like Beausoleil and Roquebrune-Cap-Martin nearby. Both offer affordable lodging for those looking to maintain their budgets, along with some incredibly high-class hotels for those looking for a little more breathing room than Monaco has to offer.
So far, it might seem like Monaco’s culture revolves around extravagance—and that’s true. We mentioned that the city-state is still a monarchy. Interestingly enough, that monarchy helped found the Société des Bains de Mer (SBM). Though publicly traded today, the company is responsible for maintaining the casino, the opera house, and the official Hôtel de Paris.
So, if you’re looking to dive into local culture, then consider doing a bit of research about Monaco before touching down. You’ll find that there are endlessly interesting tidbits of history—and even recent history. For example, Grace Kelly wasn’t the only starlet tied to Monaco during the 1950s.
Aristotle Onassis, the second husband of Jackie Kennedy, was an investor in SBM back in the 1950s. Even as recently as 2015, companies like Louis Vuitton (LVMH) have staked a claim in SBM.