From the casino to the circus, the ballet and of course the Grand Prix, this is the best Monaco has to offer.
1 Casino de Monte-Carlo
If you want to throw away your life savings in glamorous surroundings, then the relative hovels of Las Vegas and Macau can't hold a candle to the Casino de Monte-Carlo. The lavish, gold-splattered decor means tricks such as blocking natural light and removing clocks are unnecessary to keep people inside. It's worth meeting the smart dress code to get in even if you don't intend to gamble - watching some of the sums casually thrown onto the tables is entertainment in itself. casinomontecarlo.com.
It doesn't take more than a glimpse at the marinas of Port Hercules and Fontvieille to realise that the money being flung around in the casino is a mere drop in the ocean. The huge, super-shiny yachts on display make for a prime ogler's walking tour. Getting a peek at the over-the-top interior decoration, watching billionaires puff on giant cigars and working out which obscure flag belongs to which Caribbean tax haven are all part of the fun.
3 Chopper transfers
If arriving by yacht is a bit too much of a budget-breaker, then why not come in by helicopter? Monaco is home to one of the biggest helicopter fleets in the world and the seven-minute transfer from Nice Airport with Heli Air Monaco is relatively affordable. It's €125 ($145) one way, or €220 return. It's not necessarily quicker - you may have to wait up to an hour before take-off - but it does offer spectacular views of the Cote d'Azur on the way. heliairmonaco.com.
4 Le Jardin Exotique
An often understated factor in Monaco's appeal is that the principality is basically built onto the side of a mountain. Its terracotta-roofed tower blocks clamber upwards from the Mediterranean Sea at a fierce gradient, and what looks like a simple road network on a map is a vertiginous 3D maze. The further up you go, the better the views become. The best arguably come from the Jardin Exotique, an oddly out-of-place collection of cactuses and Latin American plants. Included in the ticket price is a tour of La Grotte de l'Observatoire - a deep mountainside cave in which 250,000-year-old flint weapons made by pre-Neanderthal man have been found. www.jardin-exotique.mc.
5 The Prince's Palace
A royal family headed by a former playboy prince helps with the whole glamour thing. Albert II got married last year, but he has brought a younger swagger to a formerly stuffy rich man's paradise. His abode is predictably prideful, but at least he allows the plebs in for a look around. Highlights include the Galerie d'Hercule, a Renaissance-style painted portico, and the full-on silk brocade walls and chandeliers of the Blue Room. www.palais.mc.
6 The Grace Kelly Trail
Albert's father, Rainier III, brought Monaco to international attention by marrying America's sweetheart, Grace Kelly. She died in a car crash in 1982, but she's still pretty big news. Spots across the principality with major links to Princess Grace are marked with explanatory signs. Key locations include the rose garden in Fontvieille that Rainier had planted in her memory and the Monaco Cathedral, where they were married.
7 Sexy cars
When you're royal, you can get all manner of peccadilloes humoured. For the princes of Monaco, the penchant has been expensive cars. The stash is housed at the Collection des Voitures Anciennes, which doesn't even pretend to be a museum - just a building full of Ferraris, Bentleys, Aston Martins and early 20th-century efforts to which Toad of Toad Hall would have taken a shine. www.palais.mc.
8 Geeky collecting
If you're more interested in your own "precious" than someone else's, then Monaco is a collector's heaven. Coins and stamps are big business here - so few of them are made that they instantly become valuable. You can go and buy them at the Comptoir Philatelique et Numismatique on Rue Princesse Caroline or study them at the Musee des Timbres et Monnaies.
9 Brasserie de Monaco
Less collectable, but equally appealing to obscurist travellers, Monaco is the smallest country in the world to brew its own beer. The Brasserie de Monaco, facing Port Hercules, is the nation's sole brewery, with three regulars and a rota of experiments brewed in the stills behind the bar. It's all organic and it's rather good. brasseriedemonaco.com.
10 The Grand Prix
New circuits such as those in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Singapore may try to compete, but no formula one race has the cachet of the Monaco Grand Prix. This is partly because of Monaco's glamour factor, but also because the street circuit is clearly inappropriate for hosting a race. Crowds pack in tightly around the track, the drivers desperately try to stay on it rather than tumbling into the harbour, and the festival atmosphere is incomparable with that of any other race.
11 Walking the circuit
It's also one of the few Grand Prix circuits that the public can happily walk around. When doing so, it becomes immediately clear why the track is such a challenge. Roads are narrow, elevations are constantly changing and the Fairmont hairpin is a struggle for buses to get round, let alone speeding F1 cars. Anyone wanting to drive around the circuit in a hire car - and some companies will rent you a Ferrari for the day if you wish to do it in style - can nearly manage it. The key difference is that the Grand Prix goes clockwise around the roundabout outside the Casino de Monte-Carlo, and you'll have to go anti-clockwise.
12 The hotel of champions
The Columbus might not be the swishest joint in Monaco, but it seems to be something of a lucky charm. The past four winners of the Monaco Grand Prix - Mark Webber this year and in 2010, Sebastian Vettel last year and Jenson Button in 2009 - have stayed there the night before. It's a smart joint with an unpretentious, laid-back cool to the common areas. The drivers like it because it's peaceful and set back from the most frenetic parts of town. columbushotels.com.
13 International Circus Festival
The Grand Prix is by no means the only highlight in Monaco's packed events calendar. Held in late January each year, the circus event is the Olympics for clowns, contortionists, acrobats and other big-top performers. The specially constructed Chapiteau de Fontvieille plays host to troupes from as far afield as Canada and Mongolia, while special dinner-and-show packages are available for those who want to make a night of it. montecarlofestival.mc.
One-upmanship isn't limited to petrolheads and clowns - Monaco also lets pyrotechnic wizards duke it out. The International Fireworks Festival welcomes hand-picked teams from four different countries each year, and they're each given a night to put on the most impressive display of whizzes and bangs they can muster. The dates are spread out through July and August, with the displays starting either at 9.30pm or when darkness falls.
15 Louis XV
Fine dining doesn't get much more impressive (or more expensive) than the opulent Louis XV restaurant in the Hotel de Paris. It is the flagship restaurant of Alain Ducasse, a man who collects Michelin stars like Mario collects coins. The Louis XV has three stars and serves up Provencal cuisine of the highest order. Magic tricks are worked with the vegetables and fish, a mind-blowing range of breads is wheeled round on a trolley and the service is in a league of its own. www.alain-ducasse.com.
16 Joel Robuchon
The rival for Monaco's splash-out dining crown is Joel Robuchon's two-Michelin-starred joint inside the Metropole Hotel. There's a slightly more relaxed vibe and the menu branches out across the Mediterranean with a few Spanish influences. The tasting menu employs a pick-and-mix tapas-like approach rather than a set-order degustation, while sitting at the chef's table by the open kitchen allows you to watch the masters at work. metropole.com.
17 Bargain ballet
Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo is respected globally as one of the world's premier dance companies. It is heavily subsidised by the Monegasque government and has a strong ambassadorial role. Go and see one of its productions overseas and you'll pay a fortune, but at the home ground in the Grimaldi Forum, tickets are capped at €33. Monaco and superb value don't always mix, but this is a notable exception. It's also possible to go on a fairly informal backstage tour of the ballet's HQ just over the French border in Beausoleil - phone in advance and someone will show you around the rehearsal studios and costume departments. www.balletsdemontecarlo.com.
18 The Opera House
A night at the opera in Monaco isn't quite as much of a bargain as the ballet, but prices are still kept relatively low by international standards. The real reason to go, however, is the building. Designed by Charles Garnier, the 524-seat Opera de Monte-Carlo is a dazzling blizzard of gold, plush chandeliers and frescoed ceilings. opera.mc.
19 The Fairmont Monte Carlo
Luxurious hotels aren't exactly in short supply in Monaco, but the one with the hip factor is the Fairmont. That's partly due to position - it looks out over the sea, looks up at the Casino de Monte-Carlo and is the namesake for the most iconic bend in Grand Prix racing. But it also has its own, more American-style, casino and a rooftop pool area that has unmatchable views and turns into a swaggering nightclub/lounge bar terrace at night. fairmont.com/montecarlo.
20 The Musee Oceanographique
Built rather splendidly into a cliff at the back of the old town, the Musee Oceanographique is arguably Monaco's best museum. The top two floors are given over to exhibitions about our oceans, the highlight being the comical wooden contraption that became the world's first submarine. The really cool stuff is down below, however. This is where the museum morphs into an aquarium, with a giant tank full of sharks and turtles and a large chunk of coral reef directly transplanted from the Red Sea. oceano.mc.
The writer was a guest of Visit Monaco.