Monaco is right behind the Vatican in regards to being the smallest independent nation. However, Monaco is second to none when it comes to glamour and luxury.
Luckily, you don’t have to break the bank to have a ball in Monaco. Check out these fabulous ways to spend your days without needing a seven-figure income or a yacht to transport your supercar from port to port.
Soak Up Some Rays at Larvotto Beach
Larvotto Beach is perhaps the most popular in Monaco. There are two main areas, and the public has access to either side, for a price.
The paid area offers a few amenities like the rental of water toys, but they share the same stretch of imported gravel. Gravel that’s been hammered into the finest sands you’ll ever get stuck between your toes.
This beach is favored for its calm and shallow waters. The crisp water of the Mediterranean cools the sunbathers while kids and adults play nearby.
The beach does get heavily crowded on most days. I recommend you arrive early enough to stake your claim before there’s no space for an additional beach blanket.
Those with families visiting from the U.S. should be forewarned that there is a fair amount of topless sunbathing that occurs at the beach. So, prepare accordingly.
Obviously, this freedom may be a significant draw for many beachgoers. Still, there is a litany of reasons to spend the day at Larvotto Beach.
One of my favorites is that it won’t break your casino bankroll, enjoying the fantastic view of the Mediterranean Sea.
People Watch at Place du Casino
Better known as Casino Square, this posh area of Monaco surrounds the grand Casino de Monte-Carlo, one of the most beautiful casinos in the world. The site is not built for those traveling on a budget.
The shops surrounding the casino are some of the most expensive retail shopping spaces on the planet. Still, you can get a cup of coffee and do all the people watching you can handle.
Sitting across from the luxurious casino in one of the elegant cafes is the perfect place to watch the six-figure supercars come idling by one after another.
It would be helpful if you didn’t skip the opportunity to have your picture taken in front of the Casino de Monte Carlo. Even if you have zero gambling intentions in the famous casino, you’ll be the envy of your gambling friends back home.
The wonderful thing about Casino Square is that it’s easily enjoyed by budgets large and small. I wouldn’t suggest that you can’t break the bank here if that’s your desire.
After all, you’re in Monaco; you should have a ball.
Appreciate the Beauty of Saint Nicholas Cathedral
Beauty is everywhere you look in Monaco. From the beaches full of imported sand to the fleets of supercars revving their engines through the streets, you’ll see beauty.
Saint Nicholas Cathedral hosts free tours daily. It would help immensely if you kept your camera handy throughout your entire trip to Monaco Cathedral.
This cathedral is the long time burial spot for the Monaco Royal Family, which includes the beautiful Grace Kelly.
The architecture and history are the stars of this show, and they shine bright. If you’re trying to save some money for the casino and need to get out of the hotel, Saint Nicholas Cathedral will fill the slot.
However, I don’t want to give you the impression that this location is a way to kill a dull afternoon. Monaco Cathedral stands on its own as a beautiful attraction and will be a memory you’ll never forget.
It would help if you still took plenty of pictures.
The Changing of the Guard
Palais Princier is the official home of the Prince of Monaco. The Palace of the Prince is located in the oldest district of Monaco and provides a massive amount of sightseeing.
Tourists line the streets to take photographs and learn about the tradition that dates back more than 100 years.
Best of all, the daily display is entirely free for all to enjoy. The actual pageantry is elegant and has a very formal feel.
Regardless, you’re in Monaco, and while everything may feel a bit stuffy at times, there’s an underlying sense that nobody is taking themselves too seriously.
Monaco is attractive that way. All of the ultra-wealthy jet setters and yacht crowd simply want to unwind and let off some steam like everyone else.
Despite the underlying silliness of it all, I encourage you not to attempt to become part of the show. You’re going to endure a bad time if you get between these men and their duty.
Find Your Zen at the Japanese Garden
The immaculate Japanese garden is the perfect spot to obtain some inner peace. The beautifully sculpted park is never the crowded and chaotic scene that you’ll find on Monaco’s beaches.
The garden sees heavier traffic on the weekends, but still not so much activity to disrupt your Zen.
You can meditate in peace from 9 a.m. to sunset seven days a week. You won’t spend a dime to enjoy the lush garden and its gorgeous scenery.
The tranquil spot is a lovely place to calm your mind before a casino session. It can also be the prime spot to take a stroll with someone special and enjoy nothing more than being in each other’s presence.
The garden itself is small in contrast to other attractions. However, the perfection of the garden’s design and the flawless use of foliage will make you feel miles away from the busy cityscape that surrounds you.
Saint Marten Gardens is only a short walk from Place du Palace. You’ll be among many other tourists if you make the trip by foot after the changing of the guard.
It doesn’t cost anything to stroll through the waterfront area. There are a ton of free and inexpensive activities for all to enjoy.
You’ll have unlimited photo opportunities between the statues and impressive fountains that are scattered throughout the garden.
The flowers bloom and paint the landscape with bright and vibrant colors against the salty sea air. Have a seat on one of the benches and enjoy the shade from the giant pine trees that fill the garden.
Nearby you’ll find dozens of restaurants and shops to grab a bite to eat or snag souvenirs for those that couldn’t make the trip.
You can easily make a memorable day of walking through old Monaco and soaking in every minute. It’s usually these small excursions that are the highlight of the trip.
Chemin des Sculptures
My favorite all-day activity that won’t break the bank is “Chemin des sculptures.” Monaco’s sculpture path is a collection of over 100 sculptures by artists from around the world.
You can spend an entire day weaving through beautiful Monaco and taking photographs of your favorite pieces of art. I encourage you to take photos with all of the incredible pieces.
You may find that when you’re back in the hotel room for the night or even on your flight home that a specific sculpture stands out in your mind, and you’ll want the photograph to remember the unique piece.
This can be an excellent activity for families because everyone gets a healthy dose of sunshine and fresh air. Besides, I think the kids have more fun spotting the next fabulous piece than the adults.
Most of the artwork is positioned along the vast walkways that wind through town, but keep your eyes peeled for a few gems off the beaten path.
Princess Grace Rose Garden
Gardens are a fabulous way to deal with the stress of casino gambling. The Princess Grace Rose Garden was built in her honor by her husband, Prince Rainier.
The expansive garden serves as a way to preserve the beloved Princess Grace’s legacy, and it’s not only the tourists that fill the park during the spring. It’s also a favorite tranquil getaway for many locals.
The rose garden is truly a magnificent display of love and beauty. It’s the perfect place to have a romantic walk before enjoying a special dinner in one of Monaco’s elite dining establishments.
As you can see, you don’t have to break the bank while gambling in Monaco. These are just a few of the attractive options at your disposal.
You could also go the other way and spare no expense on your Monaco vacation. The choice is clearly at your discretion.
I recommend a healthy mix of extravagance and simplicity for your Monaco trip. You don’t have to spend all of your gambling bankrolls, but loosen up enough to enjoy all the destination has to offer.