Monaco: Not Just for the Rich and Famous
Monte Carlo, Monaco is known worldwide as a playground for the rich and famous. The famous casino, expensive cars, celebrity yachts and designer shopping don't exactly scream kid-friendly (or budget friendly, either!), but there are plenty of inexpensive activities perfect for the whole family.
Below all that glamor however, Monaco truly is a beautiful destination. When I visited this past September, I only had a point and click camera, but I still managed to get some incredible shots of the landscape and some of the sights. I am excited to share them here in this photo essay. If you have never been, perhaps this will inspire a visit. I highly recommend it!
Some photos of Monaco from the hill where the palace is located.
We couldn't get enough of the gorgeous scenery and I took more scenery photos than I care to admit!
Note: For captions and/or descriptions click on photos.
Kids love water, and the marina fascinated my kids. The walked along the docks checking out the yachts, and even posed in front of a few. Then we paid a few Euros each to take the Bateau Bus (a small ferry) from one side to the other. It was exciting for my young boys, but it probably wouldn't be exciting for older kids. The views are spectacular, though.
Did you know that there are public swimming pools and public beaches in Monaco? That's right! Even if you can't afford to rent a yacht for the day, you can still cool off by taking a dip at one of the public swimming areas. We didn't swim, but I took a few photos. The steps down to the ocean where the steps meet the water are not particularly kid-friendly for swimming, but there is an almost hidden public beach just a few steps away.
My son is very interested in Sharks, and the ocean in general, so we decided to visit the Oceanographic Museum. Located in a huge palace, this is easily one of the best museums I have ever visited. I was a bit concerned that it wouldn't be interesting for a 5 and 2 year old, but I was wrong. Many of the exhibits are interactive and hands-on, perfect for curious little hands. The entry was 14 Euros for adults, 7 Euros for our 5 year old, and free for the two year old. It was worth every cent.
The Museum Aquarium
Inside the museum is a huge aquarium with species from all over the world. Both my boys enjoyed seeing the wide variety of fish and other sea creatures. The best part for my 5 year old was getting the chance to touch a real, live shark in the shark tank. We must have spent over an hour in the aquarium part alone.
Rooftop Playground & Turtle Sanctuary
The most surprising part of our visit was the rooftop area. We saw signs for a rooftop playground and turtle sanctuary, so we went up to check it out. We were amazed! There is a large rooftop panoramic area, where the family photo at the top of this post was taken. you can look out over the principality as well as the water. It's also where the restaurant and cafe are located. We didn't eat there, so I'm not sure how gluten free friendly it is.
Around the back of the rooftop is a large play area for kids, as well as a sanctuary for turtles. There was an incredible view of the royal palace, as well as the water from the playground area. There was equipment for both younger and older kids, and the cafe is there if you want a coffee or a cool drink.
A Relaxing End to the Day
We ended our day with a snack eaten at the lookout point beside the palace. We wandered through the narrow back streets of the old town for a bit, then grabbed some bowls of watermelon, a drink, and some chips to tide us over. We didn't really look too hard for restaurants that serve gluten free food since we had packed a full lunch that we ate in a park. There are so many things to see and do for families in Monaco that it would be a shame to miss it.
We didn't stay in Monaco, so we took the train in from Nice, which took about 40 minutes and passes through some fantastic scenery along the way. There is also a bus that runs, or you could drive and park in one of the parking lots that surround Monaco. It makes a great day trip from Nice or one of the other surrounding seaside villages.