When it's best to go:
· October in general. There's no major events in October to fill up the few hotels and yet the weather is still warm and lovely. The very first time we visited Monaco was in October, and it was everything we had hoped it to be, paving the way for future return trips.
· November 19 for the Monaco National Holiday, when the royal family waves to the public from the palace and much pomp and circumstance is put into festivities around the principality to celebrate Monaco. Also, there will totally be fireworks.
· In May for the Historic Grand Prix. Taking place every other year in May (it's on for 2014!) a week or more before the Formula 1, this race of historic automobiles happens on the same streets used since the first race on April 14, 1929. Since it's not the actual Grand Prix, the principality isn't as frantic, pricey and packed, but you still get some Grand Prix-ish action.
· September for the Monaco Classic Boats Show. It's not the yacht show (as mentioned below), but it's better in its own way. The event fills Port Hercule's harbor with "antique sailing vessels and motor yachts to powerboats, tall ships and more," to celebrate Monaco's maritime history.
· Formula 1 Grand Prix. This belongs on both lists, since it's really up to your individual interest and budget. Deep pockets, patience with crowds, and tolerance for entitled behavior by the extremely rich and famous (and their hangers-on) are required, but Formula 1 fans should go at least once.
Monaco in January
When it's best to stay away:
· January in general. Learn from our mistakes. The middle of winter may seem like the perfect time to head to where the sun typically shines, but there's no guarantee of that and your lovely vacation may happen during a seemingly unending rain spell. There may be no cruise ships overflowing the streets with sunburnt passengers rushing to see the sights in a few hours, but dreary weather is far worse a curse.
· March 16, during the Monaco Marathon. Unless you're running the race or supporting someone who is, it's best to stay away due to road closures and high hotel rates. Runners may get to experience the only marathon that touches three countries (France, Monaco, Italy), but it will only cause problems with transportation and sightseeing for the average visitor.
· Late September for the Yacht Show. Just after the Classic Boats Show (mentioned above), the yacht show sees over 500 yachting companies descend on the principality to show off their latest wares and even launch a few new hulls. It's a see-and-be-seen scene second only to the Grand Prix, but with more focus on actually doing business. Unless you're in the market for a yacht, we recommend returning another day.
· Formula 1 Grand Prix. This belongs on both lists, since it's really up to your individual interest and budget. Deep pockets, patience with crowds, and tolerance for entitled behavior by the extremely rich and famous (and their hangers-on) are required.
[Photos: EEPaul, Jaunted]