Glamorous, chic, tiny but perfectly formed, the principality of Monaco is not to be missed, says Editor of Cruise International Liz Jarvis

With its elegant apartments, marinas full of luxury yachts and delightful castle, Monaco and its districts, including Monte Carlo, ooze glamour from every brick. No wonder movie star Grace Kelly fell in love with the place (and its prince). But even if you’re not a high roller, there’s plenty to enjoy on a pre- or post-cruise stay.

What to do:

Officially the second smallest country in the world (it’s just two miles long), and with a clever elevator system to get you from one level to the next, Monaco is perfect for ambling around, or there’s also an excellent bus service. Enchanting Monaco-Ville, the old town, is where you’ll find the Palais Princier, which is still home to the Royal Family. The State Apartments are open to the public in the summer – visiting will take less than an hour, but it’s well worth it, for the wonderful courtyard and exquisitely decorated rooms (Changing of the Guards takes place at 11.55am daily). From the palace you’ll be able to enjoy stunning views of the city and sea. It’s just a short walk to stunning Saint Nicholas Cathedral, where Princess Grace and Prince Ranier are buried.

The nearby Oceanographic Museum has a fantastic aquarium, car enthusiasts will find plenty to look at in The Prince of Monaco’s Vintage Car Collection, while the stunning Exotic Gardens are definitely worth exploring. Even if you don’t fancy a flutter, do go and see the beautiful Casino and Opera House, built in the Beaux-Arts style. Or you can walk along the marina by Port Hercule and choose your favourite if-you-won-the-lottery yacht.

Where to shop: 

It really depends on your budget, because as you might expect from a tax-free destination that boasts racing car drivers among its residents, this is a city for people with a lot of money to spend, with designer shops including Chanel, Prada and Dior. Close to the palace you’ll find souvenir shops and pretty market stalls selling fresh fruit.

Where to eat: 

Quai Antoine 1er – on the route of the Monaco Grand Prix – has some excellent restaurants with stunning views of the harbour, making a fabulous spot for lunch if you’re visiting for the day, or hanging out in the evening if you’re staying overnight. Highly recommended is celeb-favourite Stars ‘n’ Bars (starsnbars.com) which serves everything from sushi to gourmet burgers, al fresco or inside – and has an excellent array of sports, movie and rock star memorabilia.

When to go: 

It’s nearly always sunny in Monaco (for 300 days of the year); spring can be a little cooler and in the summer it’s very hot.

GETTING THERE

If your cruise ship doesn’t dock directly in Monaco at Port Hercule it’s a very easy train ride from Villefranche-sur-Mer, or if you’re arriving at Nice, you can take a taxi along the spectacular Grande Corniche or join the jet set with a helicopter transfer. Find out more about exploring Monaco and Monte Carlo at visitmonaco.com

Slideshow images: © Art Kowalsky/Alamy/Monaco Press Centre Photos

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