Small and speedy. Those are two good words to keep in mind when visiting the second-tiniest country in Europe. With an area of only .78 square miles (2.02 square kilometers), a border with a circumference of only 3.4 miles (5.5 kilometers), and a population of just above 33,000, you really can run this country, see the sights, and meet everyone here in one day. But not so fast! What Monaco lacks in size, it makes up for in density of activity. The city-state is perhaps most famous for hosting the Formula 1 Grand Prix, which is one of the most challenging courses in auto racing. Outside of car season, travelers flock to the city to enjoy the sunshine, the beaches, the boating, the tax-free shopping and the casino at Monte Carlo. Then it's all fast wheels, fast yachts, beautiful people, and a lavish lifestyle - that's Monaco. Once you get swept up in it, it's very easy to gain - and lose - and regain - a fortune here in one stay.
Going for a run along the country's coastline is a great way to get ready for the city's adrenaline infusion. Read on to find out where to go!
- Nice Cars: This is true regardless of whether the Formula 1 Grand Prix is going on: there are some super nice wheels here, and you don't want to foot the bill it might cost to fix them. Be aware of the cars even when you are on the sidewalk: Monaco's roads are quite twisty and narrow, and you don't want a nice new Beemer barreling into you.
- Small Yapper-Type Dogs: We think it's kind of funny that in some European countries you have to watch out for large wild dogs, while in others you have to watch for the pomp and poozle of a tiny poodle. In Monaco, watch out for the latter. Maybe it's got something to do with the size of the country or the economic status of its visitors, but the only dogs we saw here were no bigger than the size of a small Prada handbag. And yet, they all seemed to yap at us louder than any canine we'd ever come across.
- Security: Residents of neighboring Italy and France joke that Monaco is the safest place on the Riviera to go out and party. With 517 police officers, Monaco has the continent's highest number of law enforcement officers per capita, and the densest concentration of them too. Security cameras are also hung many places throughout the principality, meaning that almost all of your moves are watched. This is okay as long as you aren't doing anything stupid, like tripping and falling while you run.
Did you know? Monaco is the world's second-smallest microstate. In land area, it is just ahead of The Vatican. As a microstate, Monaco is internationally recognized as a sovereign nation, but it depends on France for its national defense.
Did you also know? The capital of Monaco is Monaco-Ville, a small outcropping of administrative buildings atop a hill on the west side of Port Hercule. Monte Carlo is often thought to be the capital, but it is in fact just a neighborhood of the larger city.
And would you have known? The native people in Monaco are the Monégasque. They speak their own dialect (similar to Ligurian, a dialect of Italian spoken in Genoa), but are a minority in their own nation (they make up approximately 22% of the population). In the 1970s the language was in danger of going extinct, but it seems to have been revived. When you visit parts of the old city you will see street signs written in French and Monégasque.
And guess what? Monaco has been ruled by the same family - the Grimaldis - since 1297.