Monte-Carlo Introduction Walking Tour, Monte-Carlo

Monte-Carlo Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Monte-Carlo

Situated on a prominent escarpment at the base of the Maritime Alps washed by the Mediterranean Sea, the district of Monte Carlo is an administrative center of the tiny Principality of Monaco.

The latter owes its name to the nearby 6th-century BC Greek colony, seemingly linked to the Greek hero Hercules who visited the area and built here a temple – a sole structure, back then – which came to be known as Monoikos (Greek: “single house”). True or not, but Monaco's main port today is called the Port of Hercules...

In the late 12th century BC the Romans occupied the region, which, after their fall in the 5th century AD, was regularly sacked by various barbarian tribes. Eventually, it ended up in the hands of the Holy Roman Empire, which then gave it up to the Genoese. Monaco re-emerged as a colony of Genoa in 1215, and was first ruled by a member of the House of Grimaldi, an ousted branch of a Genoese family, in 1297.

In the 19th century, still independent, the region came under French influence. From 1856, thanks to the efforts of Prince Charles III, who granted a concession to establish in Monaco a sea-bathing sanatorium and a casino, the city-state started to evolve into a thriving resort and recreational center for royalty and all sorts of celebrities.

The municipality of Monte Carlo (Monégasque for “Charles's Mountain”) was created in 1911. Today, this term is equally applied as an international byword for the extravagant display and reckless dispersal of wealth. Indeed, in recent decades Monte Carlo has been a mecca for the rich and famous.

Being one of Europe's top tourist destinations, Monte Carlo has no shortage of attractions. Among the most notable of them are the Monaco Cathedral – the final resting place of many Monégasque royals, including Grace Kelly; the Oceanographic Museum – one of the oldest of its kind in the world, founded in 1910; the Prince's Palace – an official residence of the Sovereign Prince of Monaco, formerly a Genoese fortress of 1191; and many others. And since the gambling is what made Monte Carlo what it is, one shouldn't forget the famous Place du Casino either, surrounded by glamorous casinos and Belle Époque architecture.

If you wish to acquaint yourself more closely with this exclusive spot in the fabulous French Riviera, take our self-guided walking tour of Monte-Carlo.
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Monte-Carlo Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Monte-Carlo Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Monaco » Monte-Carlo (See other walking tours in Monte-Carlo)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
Author: leticia
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Place du Casino (Casino Square)
  • Jardin Japonais de Monaco (Japanese Garden)
  • Avenue de Monte Carlo (Monte Carlo Avenue)
  • Monte Carlo Harbor
  • Oceanographic Museum
  • Monaco Cathedral
  • Prince's Palace of Monaco
Place du Casino (Casino Square)

1) Place du Casino (Casino Square) (must see)

Casino Square, located in the center of Monte Carlo, is one of Monaco's most popular tourist attractions. The square is surrounded by Belle Époque architecture, stylish hotels and glamorous casinos. Gambling in style at one of the casinos nearby is a main attraction that brings tourists to Monte Carlo from world over and is what gives the square its name.

The open space is modern while allowing you to savor the beautiful historical architecture around it. You'll enjoy the beautiful Belle Époque style of the buildings here.

Some of the sights to see are the Casino de Monte-Carlo, Café de Paris and Casino, and Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo. These famous buildings appear frequently in Hollywood movies and TV series. Try to identify famous people leaving or entering these places. Don't miss the circular fountain that features the iconic Sky Mirror at its center. You may recognize a row of twenty palm trees that are often seen in the movies.

The Boulingrins Gardens are worth your time as you make your way through Casino Square. You won't want to pass up the high-end shopping opportunities at One Monte-Carlo district. Grab a coffee from a local coffee shop and spend some time people-watching.
Jardin Japonais de Monaco (Japanese Garden)

2) Jardin Japonais de Monaco (Japanese Garden) (must see)

The Japanese Garden of Monaco is an oasis of tranquillity amid the bustling Monte Carlo city. The garden was created by Japanese landscape architect Yasuo Beppu at the request of Prince Rainier III. It spans 7,000 square meters and took three years to build. The garden opened in 1994, thus fulfilling the life-long dream of Princess Grace, aka Grace Kelly, a Hollywood star and the mother of the current monarch of Monaco, Prince Albert II.

In accordance with Japanese tradition, the garden is asymmetrical in structure and appears quasi-natural, replete with vegetation, comprising a variety of plant species from different parts of the globe, including the Mediterranean, South America, Australia, Africa and Asia. A centrepiece of the garden is an 1100 square metre artificial lake.

Another notable thing about the garden is location. It is laid out over a concrete roof of a coach car park. Unlike the plants, all the man-made features within the garden, such as the gates, fences, tiles and lanterns, have been brought over from Japan.

The garden offers a peaceful, green retreat from the stone-, steel- and glass clad setting of Monaco. Perhaps the only thing not quite Japanese here is the lack of fog, which is richly compensated for by the Mediterranean sun, casting warm light upon the garden's every minute detail.
Avenue de Monte Carlo (Monte Carlo Avenue)

3) Avenue de Monte Carlo (Monte Carlo Avenue)

The Monte Carlo Avenue is a major thoroughfare of the Principality, lined with a huge number of high-end and luxury boutiques, featuring international brands, such as Hermes, Gucci, Valentino, Lalique and many others. There are also numerous restaurants and cafes where one can treat their taste buds, provided he/she can afford it, to the exquisite dishes of the French Riviera and international cuisines, drinks and craftsmanship sweets.

But perhaps just as much, at least by motorsport enthusiasts, the Monte Carlo Avenue is noted as the location of the Circuit de Monaco, which is part of the Formula One Grand Prix that takes place in the city each year. In May, when the local weather is most favorable for the race, the streets of Monaco are turned into a Formula One track. A good portion of it passes through Monte Carlo, including the Monte Carlo Avenue, much to the delight of the locals and multiple international fans flocking to see it up close.
Monte Carlo Harbor

4) Monte Carlo Harbor (must see)

The Monte Carlo Harbor is one of the most popular places in the city, famous for its beautiful views. One of the things that stands out about this location is its ability to handle some of the world's largest yachts. If you're looking for one of the best panoramic views to be found in Monaco, this harbor is the place to go.

You'll enjoy hiking along the harbor area and seeing some of the gardens along the way, as well as beautiful houses. If you feel like getting something to eat, you don't need to break the bank to find something delicious to enjoy. There are abundant pop-up market stalls selling burgers, hot dogs, and paninis, as well as crepes and churros.

The harbor area is also host to regular events that you won't want to miss if you're here at the right time. Concerts and fireworks shows are always popular, and the holiday season is host to Christmas markets. The Carlo Harbor is one of the most popular places in the city, famous for its beautiful views. One of the things that stands out about this location is its ability to handle some of the world's largest yachts. If you're looking for one of the best panoramic views to be found in Monaco, this harbor is the place to go.
Oceanographic Museum

5) Oceanographic Museum (must see)

The Oceanographic Museum in Monaco dates back to 1910. This museum is currently one of the oldest museums of its kind in the world. Its architectural design style is known as Barque Revival. A frieze on the museum's facade highlights the names of twenty oceanographic vessels whose names Prince Albert I selected.

Collections and exhibitions on display highlight sea species as diverse as starfish, cuttlefish, crabs, and sea urchins. View collections of objects made from materials like pearls or mollusks. You will also be able to see other nautical artifacts like tools, sea creature skeletons, and model ships.

An exhibit that visitors enjoy is a reproduction of the first research lab that appeared on one of Prince Albert's research yachts. There are several art displays, including works from Hirst and Pasqua. One of the highlights of the museum is an aquarium with over four thousand fish species and presentations of Mediterranean ecosystems.
Monaco Cathedral

6) Monaco Cathedral (must see)

The Monaco Cathedral, but sometimes also called Cathedral of Our Lady Immaculate or Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Monaco Cathedral, is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Monaco, where many of the Monaco royals were buried, including Grace Kelly and more recently, Rainier III.

The cathedral was built in 1875–1903 and consecrated in 1911, and is on the site of the first parish church in Monaco built in 1252 and dedicated to Saint Nicholas. Of note are the retable (circa 1500) to the right of the transept, the Great Altar and the Episcopal throne in white Carrara marble.

Pontifical services take place on the major religious festivals, such as the Feast of Sainte Dévote (27 January) and the national holiday (19 November). On feast days and during religious music concerts, one can hear the magnificent four-keyboard organ, inaugurated in 1976.

From September through June, the singers of the Cathedral Choir School sing during Mass every Sunday at 10am. Mass is also celebrated here each year on 6 December, when primary children gather for a joyful remembrance of Saint Nicholas' life.

If you're a Princess Grace buff, there's a nice memory of her and Prince Rainier here.
The interior is beautiful and excess-free. The cathedral's organ is an amazing sight to see.
Prince's Palace of Monaco

7) Prince's Palace of Monaco (must see)

The official residence of the Sovereign Prince of Monaco, this palace was built in 1191 as a Genoese fortress, and during its long and often dramatic history, it has been bombarded and besieged by many foreign powers. Since the end of the 13th century, it has been the stronghold and home of the Grimaldi family who first captured it in 1297. The Grimaldi ruled the area first as feudal lords, and from the 17th century as sovereign princes, but their power was often derived from fragile agreements with their larger and stronger neighbors.

Thus while other European sovereigns were building luxurious, modern Renaissance and Baroque palaces, politics and common sense demanded that the palace of the Monegasque rulers be fortified. This unique requirement, at such a late stage in history, has made the palace at Monaco one of the most unusual in Europe. Indeed, when its fortifications were finally relaxed during the late 18th century, it was seized by the French and stripped of its treasures, and fell into decline, while the Grimaldi were exiled for over 20 years.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the palace and its owners became symbols of the slightly risqué glamour and decadence that were associated with Monte Carlo and the French Riviera. Glamour and theatricality became reality when the American film star Grace Kelly became a chatelaine of the palace in 1956. In the 21st century, the palace remains the residence of the current Prince of Monaco and is open to the public during the summer months.

Why You Should Visit:
Nestled into the oldest part of the city-state, Monaco-Ville's medieval roots are still visible, making it a particularly picturesque spot. Even though only the ceremonial parts are publicly accessible, the tour is worth taking as the groups are small so you can move freely through the gorgeous rooms.

Tour tickets can be combined with tickets to view the Prince's car collection or the Oceanographic Museum. If you are in Monaco during summer (July, August), do not miss the wonderful summer concerts in the Palace.

Walking Tours in Monte-Carlo, Monaco

Create Your Own Walk in Monte-Carlo

Create Your Own Walk in Monte-Carlo

Creating your own self-guided walk in Monte-Carlo is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Historical Buildings Walk

Historical Buildings Walk

Monaco – the world’s second smallest state – is also one of the world’s richest. The latter fact definitely shows in the historic buildings – famous casinos, opera house, hotels and opulent palaces – found in the central ward Monte-Carlo, displaying a range of architectural styles quite wide for a small country like this.

The geography of Monaco, featuring sharp hills and narrow...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.2 Km or 0.7 Miles