Microstates of Europe: Monaco | FinnsAway travel blog
Introducing the tiny, wealthy and luxurious Monaco in French Riviera. | FinnsAway Travel Blog

Microstates of Europe: Monaco

Monaco is a sovereign city-state on French Riviera, on a steep slope by the Mediterranean, close to the border with Italy. It’s the smallest country in the whole world after Vatican City, with total area of just around 2,1 square kilometers, which is roughly 60 % of the size of the Central Park in New York! However, with a population of over 38 000, Monaco is also the most densely populated country in the world. Monaco is known as a “playground for the billionaires”, for hosting world-famous, glamorous events like Monaco GP and Monaco Yacht Show and being home to casinos, yachts, luxury hotels and sumptuous housing estates. The wealth is not just a myth, as there are over 12 000 millionaires living in Monaco, the GDP per capita is the highest in the world and it’s a major banking center. Not everyone is insanely rich of course, but you get the picture, almost every third resident actually is a millionaire. Regarding government, Monaco is a constitutional monarchy, lead by Monarch Albert II.
Introducing the tiny, wealthy and luxurious Monaco in French Riviera. | FinnsAway Travel Blog

Monaco is not really the perfect destination for budget travelers, but in stead of a longer stay, many tourists just go for a day trip from France. We did that too, during our road trip in France in June 2019, and at least for us a short trip was enough to see what all the fuss is about. On the other hand, a day trip is not enough to thoroughly explore this interesting, wealthy city-state, so if that would be your thing, reserve more time. For those coming by car, don’t miss the amazingly scenic coastal roads between Monaco and Nice! These roads, also called Corniches, run on the coastal cliffs on different levels, and it’s worth to drive along more than one of them, and to make some stops to admire the stunning views! Oh and when in Monaco, you should know that the first hour in the parking garages is usually free, so consider changing parking place when exploring different parts of the city.

Alley in Monaco-Vile | Introducing the tiny, wealthy and luxurious Monaco in French Riviera. | FinnsAway Travel Blog
An alley in Monaco-Ville

World-famous Monte Carlo

Monte Carlo Casino | Introducing the tiny, wealthy and luxurious Monaco in French Riviera. | FinnsAway Travel Blog
Monte Carlo Casino
Monte Carlo quarter is the largest resort area of Monaco and probably the most famous part of this city-state. Monte Carlo is home to the iconic Monte Carlo Casino, as well as Hotel de Paris, Cafe de Paris and of course Opera de Monte-Carlo, or Salle Garnier, in the Monte Carlo Casino. As the whole area is tucked with buildings from ages old to brand new, the mix of architectural styles is interesting. One of the signature styles in Monte Carlo is Belle Epoque, that is seen also in the decorations of the Monte Carlo Casino building. Monaco Grand Prix is driven annually on the streets of Monte Carlo and La Condamine. The track, Circuit de Monaco is famous for its exceptional location, as well as its demanding, tight corners and a tunnel. Monte Carlo has been a setting to a huge amount of movies, books, television shows, compositions and video games, and it’s the primary tourist area of Monaco.
Introducing the tiny, wealthy and luxurious Monaco in French Riviera. | FinnsAway Travel Blog

Exploring Monaco-Ville

Whereas Monte Carlo was busy, the streets of Monaco-Ville, the oldest part of the city were surprisingly quiet, and we enjoyed just strolling around the beautiful alleys and sightseeing. Monaco-Ville, also known as the Rock of Monaco, or simply the Rock, is a Renaissance residence built on a rocky peninsula, and home to country’s political institutions, like the Prince’s Palace, the national and municipal councils, the government, the town hall and the courts.

Monaco Cathedral

The monuments include the Palace of Monaco and the fortifications, the Roman-Byzantine style Monaco Cathedral, the Palais de Justice (Courthouse) and the Fort Antoine castle remains. Allow a couple of hours to climb up to the Rock, getting lost on the narrow alleys and admiring the landmarks as well as the views over the harbor and Monte Carlo.

Palace of Monaco | Introducing the tiny, wealthy and luxurious Monaco in French Riviera. | FinnsAway Travel Blog
Palace of Monaco
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Introducing the tiny, wealthy and luxurious Monaco in French Riviera. Highlights of Monte Carlo and monuments and Renaissance alleys in Monaco-Ville. | FinnsAway Travel Blog

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