If you are in love with microstates (or city-states, in this case), then we have just the thing for you today because we are going to explore the splendour and the vivacity of the Principality of Monaco. Situated proudly along the French Riviera, Monaco has a total population of around 38,000 and it stretches upon a land area of 2.02 square kilometres (it is the second-smallest independent state in the world after the Vatican). If you think your town community is small, imagine your whole country being that very town (wink)! Oh, and sitting upon the French Riviera also means that the official language there is French.
Monaco is located within the bounds of the hot-summer Mediterranean climate zone and this grants it only mild temperature fluctuations. Summers, thus, are warm to hot whilst winters are cool, forgiving and wet. If you wish to visit Monaco during wintertime (December-February), you might want to consider hauling an umbrella along for most of its yearly precipitation falls in that interval. Daily means never fall below 10 degrees Celsius and average highs can reach 26. Summers are much dryer than winters but intermittent thunderstorms can occur at times. They do not last long, however, so there is nothing to be concerned about. Oh, and if you are afraid that it might get too hot during summertime, fret not, because the abundance of local sea-breezes mitigate it the castigation of the sun efficiently.
Monaco does not have an airport on its own but its benefits from the use of the neighbouring Nice Côte d’Azur Airport of France. Located merely 40 kilometres away from the Principality, it was only fitting that it should serve it as well. Being a focus city for the Air France, EasyJet, and HOP! airlines, it funnels more than 12 million passengers every year. With such traffic, it is the third-busiest airport in France. A helicopter system can get you from there and land you in Monaco, so prepare for the adventure of your lifetime.
Getting around the city-state is as effortless as it can get for it really isn’t that large. Bicycles can be hired from a local establishment called Auto Moto Garage (7 Rue de Milo) if you choose to go eco-friendly but there is an abundance of cabs as well. Pirate-cabs are non-existent, so feel free to enjoy your short rides without concern. Additionally, you can use one of the five bus lines (Compagnie des Autobus Monaco) that operate with 143 stops in total (they are numbered 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6). You can check each station for the specific buses that stop there for they should all be listed on real-time displays.
SIGHTS AND ACTIVITIES:
Monaco’s most treasured landmark is most indubitably the Prince’s Palace. Built in 1191 as a stalwart Genoese fortress, it is currently the official residence of the prince of the Principality. What’s interesting about it is that, in spite of its current-day grandeur, it has been bombarded and besieged countless times by foreign assailants throughout its unsteady history. If you wish to bask in the brilliance of an unparalleled view of the port, then hesitate not and climb its steps. Also, there are audio-guided tours that you can take to explore the premises.
Next up, you should hop over to the local Oceanographic Museum, a fine establishment dedicated to marine sciences. Located in Monaco-Ville (the south-central ward), it harbours the Mediterranean Science Commission. Rising out of the sea-facing cliff like a spire, the museum even boasts with possessing a whale skeleton. Additionally, you can find countless marine flora and fauna, including 200 species of invertebrates. Oh, and if you do go there, make sure you admire its Baroque Revival façade for it is simply exquisite.
If you are not the budget-savvy traveller, you might want to check out the world-famous Monte Carlo Casino. Operated by the Société des bains de mer de Monaco, the entertainment complex contains two other major attractions that we must urge you to check out: the Opéra de Monte-Carlo (the most scintillating cultural establishment of the city-state) and the Les Ballets de Monte Carlo (the famous local classical ballet company – you can only check this one out when there is a show). Also, remember that if you wish to get inside and gamble, you are going to need your passport – that is your ticket in… besides the entry fees, of course (wink).
Monaco is a place that is modern in all terms possible yet it hearkens back to times long gone. No matter where you might tread, you feel the grandeur of its history peaking at you from a local corner. Admire its beauty and bask in the tranquillity that such a small yet majestic community can provide you with. Safe travels!