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While Monaco is less than one square mile in total, and Monte Carlo as just a fraction of that, the tiny principality is packed with cultural adventures — from ogling the mega-yachts that fill the harbor to exploring the storied palace. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the five best things to see and do in Monte Carlo:
1. Shop in the Carré d’Or. Surrounding the Place du Casino, the Carré d’Or (the golden circle) is the crème de la crème of shopping districts. International luxury labels such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Hermès and Gucci fill the gilded area.
2. Hit the casino. Monte Carlo is known for its casino and for good reason — the Casino de Monte-Carlo has presided over the glamorous destination for nearly 150 years. From its 19th-century architecture and parade of famous faces to the 1,000-plus slot machines and plethora of table games, this is a must-do in Monaco.
3. Tour the palace. Monaco is also known for is its royal family, the Grimaldis. You can tour the Prince’s Palace of Monaco (the royal family’s primary residence) between June and October to stroll through the magnificent palatial rooms.
4. Cheer at the Grand Prix. As one of the 20 races included in Formula One’s world championship, the Monaco Grand Prix is one of the splashiest events — and one of the most dangerous. The race runs a circuit through the streets of Monaco and drivers must make hairpin turns at high speeds. It’s held every year for four days in May.
5. Discover the Oceanographic Museum. The 1901 building that houses the Oceanographic Museum in nearby Monaco Ville — a cross between an aquarium and a history museum — towers cliffside above the Mediterranean Sea. Explore the 90 pools of rare Mediterranean and tropical species and visit the Shark Lagoon — it has bright, colorful fish on one side of a coral reef and predators on the other.