Monaco yacht charter offers a unique perspective on this wealthy playground. The best time of year for yacht chartering in Monaco is from April to October.
A tax-free haven, the one square mile of Monaco is synonomous with casinos and wealth. Its excellent harbor attracts many luxury yachts, especially during the high season of July and August.
In addition to frivolity, Monaco also offers both history in its medieval town and natural beauty. And the smaller towns of the French Riviera to the west or the Italian Riviera to the east are not far away.
The Monaco Yacht Show is the largest floating luxury yacht display in Europe. This annual September event brings together luxury yacht builders, brokers, designers, equipment suppliers, and service providers.
The Monaco Grand Prix in May is another big event on the local calendar, with most charters booked at least a year in advance.
All types of charter are available in Monaco, though the emphasis is on luxury yacht charters.
By Kim Kavin
Monaco is a must-visit destination during any yacht charter itinerary that includes the French Riviera, the charter heart of the western Mediterranean. Start in St. Tropez and then cruise east along the mainland coast of France to Cannes, Antibes, Nice, and Villefranche, ending at Monaco’s Port Hercules—the gateway to one of the finest cities not only on the Côte d’Azur, but anywhere in the world. Monaco is a sovereign state less than a single square mile in size, smaller only than Vatican City among all recognized independent nations around the globe. Monaco’s lack of income tax, superb banking facilities, high-end real estate, and superyacht marina infrastructure make it a haven for millionaires and billionaires, who, on a per-capita basis, are more prevalent in Monaco than in anywhere else on the planet.
As your charter yacht pulls in, you may recognize the port area from films like the James Bond thriller GoldenEye and the action-packed Iron Man II, both of which show off the breathtaking scenery of the superyacht-packed marina. Iron Man II, actually, takes place during Monaco’s Historic Grand Prix, an annual event that sees classic racecars zipping through the streets two weeks before the modern Formula One speedsters arrive for the Monaco Grand Prix. Both events usher in the Mediterranean charter season each spring, luring the newest and most spectacular megayachts that money can buy.
Given Monaco’s size, it is an eminently walkable destination. The Casino de Monte Carlo is the first place that you should visit. It originally opened in 1858 and is still operating in the same breathtaking building with stunning fountains leading to the entrance. The casino looks like a palace both inside and out, and, interestingly, is open only to tourists. Residents of Monaco are stopped at the door and forbidden from gambling. (Not that they have much to complain about, since the lucrative casino business is what led to Monaco eliminating its income tax more than a century ago.)
The Monte Carlo Opera House is also an architectural stunner, originally built in the late 1800s and most recently renovated in 2005. Classics by Verdi, Puccini, and Bellini can sometimes be found on the seasonal calendar of performances, if you are interested in taking in a show. The opera house is worth a visit even if the stage is dark, too, simply for a chance to appreciate the building’s beauty.
Larvotto Beach is popular with residents and tourists alike, with many of the locals accustomed to the option of sunbathing topless. Other beaches along the French Riviera have more sand than the pebble-filled Larvotto, but this beach is easy to reach from town and fun for an afternoon of playing in the water and people-watching.
On not-so-sunny days, options in Monaco include visiting the Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium, touring the Prince’s Palace and Napoleon Museum, observing a moment of silence at the grave of Grace Kelly at Monaco Cathedral, or touring the Museum of Antique Automobiles that was created by Prince Rainier III. Whichever of these options appeal to you, one thing is for sure: Monaco is a destination that's not to be missed.