Tucked into the eastern end of the French Riviera, Monaco is known around the world for its feeling of glitz and glamour. Although Monaco is surrounded by France and is the size of a small city, it is actually its own independent nation. With a total area of about 2 square kilometres (0.8 square miles), Monaco is the second smallest country in the world. It is compact, making it the perfect place to explore on foot. Although Monaco is small, it makes up for that with its big personality. The country has gorgeous landscapes, between the Mediterranean Sea and large hills with views of the water, city, and French countryside. Monaco is also known for its extreme wealth. Daydream while viewing the large yachts in the port and window shopping in Monte Carlo’s designer shops. The culture of Monaco has been influenced by its neighbours France and Italy, but it has also maintained its own unique identity. Cruises from Monaco are the perfect way to start your adventure around the Mediterranean.
While planning a cruise from Monaco, you’re spoilt for choice on where to go. Cruises out of Monaco head to destinations all throughout the Mediterranean and can last anywhere from 7 to 17 days. Some of the most popular ports of call for cruises from Monaco are Florence, Rome, Barcelona, Marseille, Malta, Split, Venice, Corfu, and Lisbon. Four different cruise lines operate out of Monaco: Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seabourn, and Azamara Club Cruises.
Monaco’s cruise terminals are located next to the famous Port Hercules. This is Monaco’s main port and is centrally located within the city. The major areas of Monte Carlo and Quartier du Port are both located beside Port Hercules. Due to the city’s compact size, the Port is within walking distance of every corner of Monaco. A bus to the cruise terminal is also available. It is referred to as the Bateau Bus and costs only €1 ($1.70 NZD). If you are driving to your cruise ship, a parking garage is available close by next to the Oceanographic Museum.
Several hotels are located near Port Hercules, which make a convenient place to stay the night before your cruise departs. Hotel Ambassador Monaco offers a budget-friendly rate. Other hotels located close to Port Hercules include Hotel Port Palace and Hotel Hermitage Monte Carlo.
Even non-gamblers won’t be able to resist a visit to this gorgeous casino. The Monte Carlo Casino is elaborately designed on both the inside and the outside and is often seen as the icon of Monaco. The casino was built in the 1860s and appears as if it could be a palace. Every last corner of the casino shouts glamour and opulence, from the marble pillars and mosaics to the ceiling frescoes and accents of gold. The Monte Carlo Casino has also been the backdrop for a number of films, including several James Bond movies.
Monaco was built around this impressive port that dates all the way back to the 6th century BC. Monaco was settled by the Ancient Greeks who used the port for trading. The Greeks also settled several other nearby cities, including Marseille. Over time, the rulers and culture of Monaco changed, but Port Hercules has always played a major role in the city’s trading. Today, a walk along Port Hercules will reward you with beautiful Mediterranean views. It also exhibits lots of yachts, which represent the wealth and prestige of Monaco.
For more than 700 years, the Grimaldi family has reigned over Monaco. The Prince’s Palace is the family’s official royal residence and home to the current monarch, Prince Albert II. The palace is elaborately designed and became internationally known in the 1950s when actress Grace Kelly married into the Grimaldi family. The palace is located atop a large hill, which offers beautiful views over Monaco and the surrounding hills. Visitors are able to tour portions of the palace, including the Throne Room, the state apartments, the Mazarin Salon, and several elaborate courtyards. Visitors can also experience a Changing of the Guards ceremony, which is held in front of the palace at 11:55am each day.
One of the most famous events to be held in Monaco is the Formula One Grand Prix. This race takes place each year at the end of May. If you are lucky enough to be in Monaco during that time, great views are available from the ships docked at the cruise terminal. During the rest of the year, the track is marked, so you can easily follow the same route that the Formula One drivers take. The track makes a 3.3 kilometre (2 mile) loop around Monaco. The Grand Prix track passes several of the city’s main attractions, so it’s a great way to see a lot of Monaco in a short amount of time.