MONACO (Principatu de Múnegu)
Monaco isn't a destination you would normally head to, unless you're very rich or, during one weekend a year, looking to watch F1 race cars go around in circles for a few hours. As can be seen in the pic below, Monaco mostly consists of endless apartment blocks and harbours filled with medium to huge yachts. The roads are very intricate, and overlap and mesh according to gradient, an interesting engineering achievement. It's no surprise that Monaco is the world's most densely populated country. The country has no border controls, merely a sign welcoming you in French and Monegasque. The Principality is so built into the surrounding French coastal resort area, that it's difficult to spot where the country begins and ends. That is until you pass over the hill where the Monaco Palace sits, and observe the aptly named Hercule Harbour below. The micro state consists of four areas, Monaco-Ville, Condamine, Fontvieille and the most famous, Monte-Carlo. Like other micro states, Monaco's main benefit is that it has no tax. As such, it's heaving population are mainly tax exiles, looking to boost there huge fortunes even further. As such, some of the opulence in Monaco can seem a bit obscene to the casual tourist. Nethertheless, the main attraction is mainly seeing how the other half, or 1%, live. Posh nail clipped lawns abound, and clean alleys and streets criss cross the Principality like spagetti. The fame of Monaco means it can attract lots of cultural events for the inhabitants and visitors. As such, there's normally something to see during the tourist season.
Language: French (Official) Monegasque
Visa: No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days.
Plug: European two round prongs, 220v
GMT: GMT +1
GDP Ranking (IMF): n/a (Similar to Singapore and Norway)
Communications: Country code is + 377
Health: No vaccinations or preventative measures are needed for Monaco.
When to Visit: The Country sits in the Northern Hemisphere, with hot summers, and cool winters. June to August are the peak holidaymaker months for the French Rivera, and prices and temperatures will be highest. It's still very pleasant to visit in late September.
Personal Safety: San Marino has a very low crime rate and responsive Policing, observe usual awareness in crowded tourist areas regarding possessions.
What to see/do: The Palais Princier (Prince's Palace) has daily tours, with a changing of the guard ceremony at 11.55am. The Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium is highly respected, and features many of the creatures to be found beneath the waves.The Jardin Exotique has many different plants from around the globe, and is a popular attraction here. Marlborough Fine Arts Gallery holds many paintings, including Picassos, best of all, entry is free. Unlike the Monaco Opera House, which is amazing inside, but expensive for tickets. Finally in a country of wealth and motor sports history, the Princes car collection is a popular visit too. For those with large wallets, a trip to the Monte Carlo Casino will be worthwhile, although check out the dress code. Personally, I just enjoyed walking around the state that is only about 2 miles long.
Food & Drink: Monaco's cuisine is mostly influenced by it's neighbours to the West (France) and East (Italy). These are served in world class restaurants all over the Principality, where a 15% service charge is added to the bill. However it does have a few dishes and treats of it's own. Stocafi is a cod based dish and Socca are a type of pancake. Langoustines à la Provençale is a traditional Monegasque dish, if found on the menu. Pastry is where Monaco excels, and local varieties include Barbagiuan, which is a pumpkin and rice based pastry, whereas Fougasse is topped with nuts, mainly almonds. Monaco Bière is the only local beer, the fact it tastes similar to Heineken shouldn't be a surprise, the brewer is owned by Heineken!
Other notes: It's very easy to come to Monaco and not spend much money, but the country is mainly orientated to those of wealth. It's best visited as a day trip from neighbouring countries.