The Principality of Monaco is the second-smallest country in the world – behind Vatican City! The country is in the French Riviera, along the Mediterranean Sea. I popped over to Monaco for a day while spending a long weekend in Nice, France. Monaco is a very quick (and scenic) train-ride from Nice. Most people associate Monaco with the Monte Carlo Casino and the Grand Prix, but the destination has a lot more to offer. It’s like visiting a city, but you get to add a whole new country to your list! If you’re short on time, I recommend visiting two highlights – Le Palais des Princes and Jardin Exotique de Monaco.
Le Palais des Princes
Just south of the Exotic Garden is Le Palais des Princes de Monaco, the official residence of the Sovereign Prince. The opulent Prince’s Palace was built in 1191 and is also a great place to visit. Tickets are required to enter the palace, but the outside area is free! The uphill trek from La Condamine is worth the exercise for the views along the way (but there are also tourist buses and a mini-train available to avoid the hike). There are great views on both sides of the palace, and racing fans can see the F1 track from the square. I quite enjoyed exploring the narrow streets with adorable little shops. At noon each day, you can catch the changing of the guard ceremony in Place du Palais!
Jardin Exotique de Monaco
The Jardin Exotique de Monaco, a garden on a cliff overlooking the Port de Fontvieille, is an absolute must-visit. The Exotic Garden opened in 1933 and has a collection of succulents with spectacular views over the coast! Tickets cost about 7 euros for entry (there are discounts for children and Seniors) and include a tour of the Observatory Cave and the Prehistoric Anthropologic Museum. The garden is open daily (other than holidays) starting at 9:00am, and closes between 5:00/7:00pm depending on the season. Tours of the cave are offered every hour after 10:00am.