17 Top Tourist Attractions in Monaco & Easy Day Trips
Gorgeous and glittering Monaco is a tiny royal principality on the French Riviera. Less than two square kilometers in size, it is perhaps the most glamorous little stretch of land on the planet.
A place of sublime natural beauty, Monaco has the lush vegetation and balmy weather of the Côte d'Azur. There is a seductive quality to the scenery, with its deep blue sea, graceful palm trees, and vibrant flowers.
The most dramatic feature is the steep, rocky promontory jutting out into the Mediterranean, called "Le Rocher" ("The Rock"), which contains historic Monaco, also known as Monaco-Ville (or the Old Town). Full of charming narrow streets and impressive landmarks, Monaco-Ville dates back to the 13th century when the principality was founded.
Many tourists come to Monaco to experience the alluring decadence of the French Riviera. Considered to have Europe's highest per capita income, Monaco exudes an air of extravagant wealth, with its lavish five-star hotels, designer boutiques, luxury yachts, and opulent restaurants.
Monaco is often visited as a day trip from Nice, which is an easy 30-minute train ride away. However, Monaco is also a good base for sightseeing on the Côte d'Azur.
There are so many things to see and do in this stunning seaside city-state. To decide how to spend your time, use our guide to the top attractions in Monaco.
See also: Where to Stay in Monaco
Despite its small size, Monaco packs an enormous amount of glitz and luxury. Monte-Carlo is the most glamorous district, found in a spectacularly picturesque setting north of Port Hercule and overlooking the bay.
There are breathtaking sea views from the terrace of Place du Casino. The utterly chic neighborhood around the Place du Casino is called the Carré d'Or (Square of Gold), in reference to the streets lined with high-end designer stores and upscale jewelry boutiques.
As Monaco's wealthiest district, Monte-Carlo attracts the rich and famous. Ferraris and "beautiful people" fit right into this neighborhood. For tourists, Monte-Carlo is a great place to visit for people-watching or to enjoy fine dining. Monte-Carlo is brimming with stylish gourmet restaurants and Michelin-starred establishments.
Monte-Carlo is intersected by two elegant boulevards, the Boulevard Princesse Charlotte in the west and the Boulevard des Moulins at its southwestern end. There are many fashionable shopping streets, such as the Avenue de la Costa with its luxury boutiques. The Opera House is also in this district.
2. Palais du Prince
In a unique position high above the sea on the picturesque peninsula of Le Rocher, the Palais du Prince is home to the oldest monarchy in the world. The Genoese noble family of Grimaldi established Monaco in 1297 after they captured the land from the Republic of Genoa.
Originally built in the 13th century as a Genoese fortress, the site affords panoramic views, which provided defensive purposes in the Middle Ages. The fortress was renovated throughout the centuries and transformed into a luxurious Louis-XIV-style palace.
The Palais du Prince is a private residence but is open to the public at certain times of the year. Visitors can see the sumptuous State Apartments, including the Hercule Gallery adorned with 16th- and 17th-century frescoes; the gilded "Blue Room," which is used for official state events; the wood-paneled Mazarin Room; and the Empire-style Throne Room, where official ceremonies and receptions take place.
Be sure to admire the 17th-century Palatine Chapel and the Main Courtyard, with its monumental 17th-century Carrara marble double staircase. In July and August on some Sundays and Thursdays, the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra performs classical music concerts in the main courtyard.
A tradition of the Sovereign House, the Changing of the Guards takes place every day at 11.55am in front of the palace. The Compagnie des Carabiniers du Prince (Palace Guards) conduct this traditional ceremony in full uniform and accompanied by L'Orchestre des Carabiniers du Prince military brass band.
Address: Place du Palais, Monaco-Ville
Official site: http://www.palais.mc/en/index.html
3. Musée Oceanographique
The Musée Oceanographique lies in a spectacular location on Le Rocher, almost 90 meters above sea level. In this dramatic setting, the museum and aquariums stand on massive foundations that took 11 years to build. This is one of the world's oldest aquariums, commissioned by Prince Albert I, great grandfather of H.S.H. Prince Albert II, and opened in 1910.
Constantly evolving, the Oceanographic Museum has world-renowned exhibits of marine science and oceanography. The museum's valuable scientific collections include finds from the exploration of Prince Albert I and the discoveries of Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
The highlight of Musée Oceanographique is its aquariums containing rare species of fish and marine life in magnificent shapes and colors. There are three Aquariums: the Tropical Aquarium, Mediterranean Aquarium, and Shark Lagoon. There are approximately 100 aquarium pools, with realistic natural environments such as coral reefs.
The casual La Terrasse restaurant on the museum's rooftop terrace is open for lunch. The main attraction of dining here is the location, which affords superb panoramic views of the coastline. On a clear day, it is possible to see all the way to the Italian Riviera.
Address: Avenue Saint-Martin, Monaco-Ville
Official site: http://www.oceano.mc/en
4. Jardin Exotique
One of the most delightful things to do in Monaco is wander through the Jardin Exotique. Perched on a steep cliff overlooking the Mediterranean, the Exotic Garden is a luxuriant place with an incredible variety of vegetation and mesmerizing views of the sea. The gardens are carefully tended and extend dramatically along the craggy hillside.
Because of the balmy weather and consistency of sunshine on this location, exotic plants of the Southwestern United States, Mexico, South America, and Africa are able to thrive here. A wide variety of succulents, including enormous cactuses, also flourish in this ideal climate.
The Exotic Garden also has an Observatory Cave filled with stalactites and stalagmites. The vicinity of the cave was once inhabited by prehistoric humans. Guided tours of the cave are available every hour, beginning at 10am until an hour before closure.
Tip: The garden is in the Fontvieille area (the more modern section) of Monaco, outside the historic center. For visitors who arrive by car, there is a parking lot above the gardens at 63 Boulevard du Jardin Exotique.
Address: 62 Boulevard du Jardin Exotique, Monaco
Official site: http://www.jardin-exotique.mc/en/
5. Cathédrale de Monaco
This neo-Byzantine cathedral features a striking facade of white stones from nearby La Turbie. The cathedral is the burial place of the Princes of Monaco and houses tombs of past sovereigns Prince Rainier and Princess Grace.
Although the cathedral is relatively modern (built between 1875 and 1884), the sanctuary houses an altarpiece by the Niçois painter Louis Bréa dating from 1500. Another noteworthy work of art is the Episcopal throne, which is sculpted from Carrara marble.
The cathedral has an impressive grand organ that is used for religious services, as well as concerts of holy music. Mass is celebrated every Sunday at 10am from September through June, with songs by "Les Petits Chanteurs de Monaco" and "La Maîtrise de la Cathédrale" choir.
The cathedral is open to the public (free admission) except during religious services. Visitors must dress properly - those wearing tops that reveal shoulders, sleeveless tops, miniskirts, or shorts are not allowed entry.
Address: 4 Rue Colonel-Bellando-de-Castro, Monaco-Ville
6. Les Jardins Saint-Martin
Overlooking the serene blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea, Les Jardins Saint-Martin lie near the Musée Océanographique and would be an ideal complement to visiting the museum. The gardens feature a statue that commemorates Prince Albert I who was renowned as a marine researcher.
The Saint-Martin Gardens extend along the coast around Le Rocher peninsula with its steep cliff facing the sea. These dramatic gardens offer a rich display of exotic species and vibrant flowers that flourish under the Mediterranean sunshine.
Small paths that weave around the rocky slopes and grassy ridges invite visitors to take a leisurely stroll. Stop to admire the little ponds, fountains, and beautiful viewpoints. There are benches placed in just the right spots to relax and take in the gorgeous scenery.
Address: 2 Avenue Saint-Martin, Monaco
7. Formula One Monaco Grand Prix
The famous Formula One Monaco Grand Prix race takes place in Monte-Carlo every year on the last weekend in May. This is the only car race in the world that is held on city streets. The course runs from the Boulevard Albert 1 up toward Place du Casino and around the harrowing turn in front of the Monte-Carlo Fairmont Hotel.
Organized by the Automobile Club of Monaco, the Monaco Grand Prix is one of the world's most popular sporting events. The narrow streets are not ideal for the race cars, but the race continues for the sake of tradition (it has been going since the early 20th century). Because of the crowds, it's difficult to get a good view, but the atmosphere is worth it.
For those staying in or around Monaco during the month of May, it may also be possible to attend the Cannes Film Festival.
8. Opéra de Monte-Carlo (Salle Garnier)
The Monte-Carlo Opera House is found on the Place du Casino, a lavish public square in Monaco's most glamorous neighborhood. Lined by palm trees, this splendid square features an impressive fountain and a terrace with superb views of the coastline. The Opera House fits right into this elegant scene.
Built in 1878, it was designed by Charles Garnier, the architect of the Opera House in Paris. The auditorium of the Opera House, called the "Salle Garnier" is entirely decorated in red and gold, with a profusion of intricate bas-reliefs, amazing frescoes, and striking sculptures.
The Salle Garnier was inaugurated by Sarah Bernhardt in 1879. For more than a century, opera and ballet have entertained audiences here, and the Opera House has welcomed many world-class opera singers.
The Monte-Carlo Opera House offers mostly classic operas but also hosts other musical recitals, concerts, and ballet performances. The Opera Season begins with a Gala Opening event in September and runs from October through April.
Address: Place du Casino, Monte-Carlo, Monaco
9. Monaco Harbor
Backed by a dramatic cliffside, Monaco's waterfront La Condamine district centers around the city's largest harbor. The deep-water Port Hercule was constructed between 1901 and 1926 to provide a large number of moorings. There is berthing space for over 500 vessels. Many luxury yachts are docked here, including the Prince's private vessel.
Monaco has a prestigious Yacht Club at the Port Hercule marina. The Yacht Club de Monaco on Quai Louis II brings together more than 2,500 members (private yacht owners) from 73 different countries. The Yacht Club was founded by Prince Rainier III in 1953. In keeping with its high-profile image, the club hosts regattas and yacht shows such as Monaco Classic Week.
The port is a pleasant area to stroll or stop for a snack. There are many restaurants and cafés with outdoor seating to enjoy the seaside setting. From the port, tourists can also take a boat cruise around Monaco to see the dreamy coastline.
Those exploring further into La Condamine district will find the charming Eglise Sainte-Dévote in a ravine-like valley on the northern edge of the town at Place Sainte-Dévote. This 11th-century votive chapel is dedicated to the local patron saint.
10. Nouveau Musée National de Monaco
The expansive collection of the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco is housed in two separate villas, the Villa Paloma near the Jardin Exotique and the Villa Sauber on Avenue Princess Grace.
The museum presents a diverse collection of 19th- and 20th-century artworks including paintings, photographs, theater costumes, models of stage sets, decorative objects, and sculptures.
This forward-thinking museum is also devoted to conservation work, for example the restoration of an antique doll from 1880 and vintage theatrical costumes. The museum encourages dialogue between artists and researchers and promotes learning across artistic, cultural, and scientific disciplines.
Address: Villa Paloma, 56 Boulevard du Jardin Exotique, Monaco; Villa Sauber, 17 Avenue Princesse Grace, Monaco
Official site: http://www.nmnm.mc/index.php?lang=en
11. Princess Grace Rose Garden
This exquisite garden was created by Prince Rainier III as a tribute to his wife Princess Grace and was opened on 18 June 1984. In Fontvieille Park, the Princess Grace Rose Garden encompasses almost four hectares including a small lake bordered by palm trees and an olive grove. The garden flourishes with 6,000 rose bushes in 315 varieties.
Each rose has an identifying QR code (useful for gardeners). Special roses are named for the Princes and Princesses of the Grimaldi Royal Family. The Rose Garden is maintained using eco-friendly practices and has been awarded the label of "Ecological Garden."
This tranquil garden is one of the best places to visit in Monaco for a moment of relaxation. Visitors will enjoy sitting on the park benches while admiring the scenery or taking a stroll around the grounds. Pleasant footpaths allow visitors to explore this charming place at leisure.
Address: Avenue des Guelfes, Monaco
12. Collection de Voitures de S.A.S. le Prince de Monaco
On the Terraces of Fontvieille in Monaco's most modern neighborhood, this wonderful collection exhibits the Prince of Monaco's vintage cars. The Cars Collection of H.S.H. the Prince of Monaco brings together around 100 vintage automobiles, all made by prestigious European and American car companies such as Rolls Royce, Lincoln, Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Maserati.
Address: Les Terrasses de Fontvieille, Monaco
13. Jardin Japonais
It's a wonderful surprise to find this authentic Japanese garden in a beautiful French Riviera setting. Built right onto a steep hillside in the eastern end of Monaco, the Jardin Japonais replicates a Zen garden using water, stones, bamboo hedges, and Mediterranean trees pruned in the Japanese style.
This peaceful garden has a special atmosphere of harmony and serenity. The 7,000-square-meter park includes a rushing waterfall, a pond with koi fish and water lilies, and a teahouse that was imported from Japan. Traditional Japanese lanterns and footbridges add to the magical ambience.
Address: Avenue Princesse Grace, Monte-Carlo
14. Fort Antoine: Outdoor Theater
Fort Antoine is an 18th-century military fortress perched on the edge of Le Rocher. The site has been repurposed as an outdoor theater for symphony concerts and French-language theater performances.
On balmy summer evenings (from July until early September), the 350-seat theater offers an enchanting open-air setting. Performances at the Théâtre du Fort Antoine are free, but reservations are required.
Besides attending a performance, the main reason to visit this site is the sweeping viewpoint of the deep blue sea stretching to the horizon. From Fort Antoine, it is possible to see the coastline of the French Riviera all the way to Cannes, as well as in the other direction towards Menton and Italy.
Address: Avenue de la Quarantaine, Monaco-Ville
15. Moneghetti District
Seemingly endless steps and roads with hairpin bends wind around the eastern slope of Monaco, from the Tête de Chien to the Moyenne Corniche. These roads give access to the district of Moneghetti in the west of the principality, a part of the town built on terraces with lovely villas and gardens.
16. Michelin-Starred Fine Dining
Monaco is famous for its fine-dining scene, which caters to a discerning clientele. The fancy restaurants are designed for gourmands who appreciate the best meals that money can buy.
For those prepared to splurge, there are several legendary restaurants to try. The most renowned dining establishment in Monaco is Le Louis XV - Alain Ducasse at the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo, which boasts three Michelin stars. The menu features contemporary, Mediterranean-inspired haute cuisine, made with the freshest local ingredients.
At the Hôtel Métropole Monte-Carlo, the Metropole Monte-Carlo restaurant has two Michelin stars. Guests are treated to the finest contemporary French haute cuisine prepared by Chef Christophe Cussac, who was trained by a famous figure in French gastronomy, the late Joël Robuchon.
Located in the opulent Belle-Epoque-style Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo, Le Vistamar has one Michelin star. This welcoming restaurant serves casual "bistronomy" meals for lunch and gourmet Mediterranean cuisine for dinner. The restaurant's seaside terrace adds to the memorable dining experience.
Another place to dine al fresco with dazzling views is the Michelin-starred Blue Bay restaurant at the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort. This trendy restaurant specializes in Mediterranean fusion cuisine with a subtle West Indian influence. The restaurant's chef, Marcel Ravin, hails from the Caribbean island of Martinique.
In the upscale Asian cuisine category, Yoshi delights guests with delicate, contemporary Japanese dishes and exquisite sushi. Yoshi is helmed by Chef Takéo Yamazaki, who previously collaborated with Joël Robuchon, and has one Michelin star.
17. Musée de la Chapelle de la Visitation
This stunning 17th-century Baroque chapel on Le Rocher has been converted into a noteworthy museum. The remarkable collection includes sacred works of art donated by Mrs. Piasecka Johnson. Among the masterpieces are paintings by Rubens, Zurbarán, Ribera, and Italian masters of the Baroque period. Address:
Address: Place de la Visitation, Monaco-Ville
Where to Stay in Monaco for Sightseeing
Any hotel in Monaco-Ville or Monte-Carlo is convenient for sightseeing, shopping, and dining. The less-touristy Fontvieille district has accommodations with fantastic views. Just outside Monaco, bordering the Fontvieille district, the Cap d'Ail is a desirable area because of its sandy beaches. Here are some highly rated hotels in and around Monaco:
- Luxury Hotels: Near the Place du Casino, the Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo is a sumptuous Belle Epoque edifice. This five-star hotel offers exquisitely decorated guest rooms with city or sea views. Amenities include a spa, swimming pool, and Michelin-starred restaurant.
Another five-star hotel near the Place du Casino, the Hôtel Metropole Monte-Carlo has stylish guest rooms with city views. The hotel features a spa, fitness center, swimming pool, and two renowned gastronomic restaurants with Michelin stars.
The Fairmont Monte Carlo is right on the waterfront and within walking distance of the Place du Casino. This four-star resort hotel has several restaurants, a rooftop swimming pool, and spa. Some rooms feature sea views; others overlook a hairpin turn in the Grand Prix route.
- Mid-Range Hotels: Above the harbor in Fontvieille, the Columbus Monte-Carlo is near the Princess Grace Rose Garden and a short walk away from many waterfront restaurants. Guests enjoy the swimming pool and fitness center, as well as the sea views from some rooms.
In a convenient location for tourists, the Hotel Novotel Monte Carlo is a five-minute walk from the train station and a 20-minute walk to the Palais du Prince. The three-star amenities include an outdoor swimming pool, gardens, fitness center, spa, sauna, and restaurant.
The Riviera Marriott Hotel La Porte de Monaco is in Cap d'Ail, prized for its sandy beaches. The hotel is about a 15-minute walk away from the Princess Grace Rose Garden in Fontvieille. This four-star hotel has a waterfront restaurant, outdoor swimming pool, and fitness center.
- Budget Hotels: The Hôtel de France is in La Condamine neighborhood near many shops and restaurants and about a 10-minute walk from the Palais du Prince. This two-star hotel offers basic accommodations in a three-level building with no elevator.
In the town of Beausoleil, which neighbors Monaco, the Hôtel Forum is an affordable option that is only a 10-minute walk from the Place du Casino. This three-star hotel provides comfortable modern guest rooms and has a rooftop terrace with sea views.
Day Trips from Monaco
Overlooking the stunning cerulean waters of the Baie des Anges, the city of Nice has inspired visitors and Impressionist artists since the early 19th century. It's worth taking a day trip from Monaco to experience Nice's gorgeous Mediterranean environment, vibrant culture, and old-world charm.
Tourists will enjoy exploring the atmospheric cobblestone streets of the Vieille Ville (Old Town), with its lively ambience and quaint buildings. The Marché aux Fleurs, a traditional Provençal flower market, takes place on the Cours Saleya in the Vieille Ville.
Another must-see attraction is the palm-fringed Promenade des Anglais, where locals and tourists soak up the French Riviera sunshine and the scenery.
High on the list of Nice's top attractions are several world-class art museums, including the Musée Matisse, Musée Chagall, and Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain.
An organized tour, such as the Half-Day Nice City Tour, is an easy and enjoyable way to see the sights of Nice on a day trip from Monaco.
To see the full stretch of the French Riviera and experience Provençal-style seaside glamour, take a day trip to the resort town of Saint-Tropez. Once just a little fishing village, Saint-Tropez is now a fashionable resort town, but it still has an appealing small-town ambience, even during the crowded summer months.
The Old Town (La Ponche) is a jumble of boutique-lined pedestrian streets that lead to the Place des Lices, a pleasant shaded square. Things to do in this area include shopping at traditional outdoor markets, basking in the sunshine at café terraces, and watching the elderly men of the neighborhood play pétanque (a French game similar to Italian bocce ball).
Other must-see sights in Saint-Tropez include the Musée de l'Annonciade, which has a superb collection of Impressionist art, and the atmospheric Vieux Port (Old Port), where the harbor is lined with café terraces, and local artists sell colorful paintings that depict scenes of Saint-Tropez.
From Monaco, Saint-Tropez is about a two-hour drive (depending on traffic). Since it's quite a distance, the easiest way to get there is by taking an organized tour such as the Saint-Tropez Day Trip from Monaco.
Eze and Other Perched Villages
Just eight kilometers away, Eze is one of the most delightful day trips from Monaco. Tourists adore this village for its medieval charm and stunning coastal views. This picture-perfect little town is perched on a hill high above the Mediterranean Sea, overlooking the Cap-Ferrat peninsula.
A stroll through the town's winding cobblestone streets leads to a 12th-century church, inviting art galleries, upscale boutiques, and pleasant cafés tucked away in courtyards. A must-see stop in Eze is the Exotic Garden, with its lush flora and spectacular panoramas of the coastline.
Another top tourist attraction is the Fragonard Perfume Museum, located at the base of the town. Nearby is the start of a hiking trail that leads down to the beach. The most direct way to reach Eze from Monaco is by car, which takes about 20 minutes.
Several other medieval "villages perchés" (perched villages) are dotted on the hilltops around Monaco. The ancient town of La Turbie is about a 15-minute drive away from Monaco, nestled between a ridge of the Tête de Chien and the Mont de la Bataille peaks. It's worth a detour to La Turbie for a meal at the Hostellerie Jérôme, a gastronomic restaurant with two Michelin stars.
Continuing north of La Turbie is the distinctly Provençal community of Peille, perched on a hilltop high above the River Peillon (15 kilometers from Eze and less than a 30-minute drive). Touristic highlights of Peille are the 12th-century Romanesque church and ruins of a 13th-century castle.
From Peille, a circuitous road winds southwest for 12 kilometers, leading to Peillon, a beautiful village with a noteworthy 15th-century church, the Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs (also known as the Chapelle Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs), featuring Renaissance frescoes by Giovanni Canavesio.
Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea from a hilltop on the Cap Martin peninsula, the lovely medieval village of Roquebrune is an interesting day trip from Monaco (six kilometers away). Roquebrune was formerly part of the Monegasque territory and has a history that dates back even further - there are remains of a 5th-century Carolingian castle.
Nearby in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin are secluded beaches and idyllic nature sites. This posh seaside resort is a great place for sunbathing and walking along the coastal paths.
Tips and Tours: How to Make the Most of Your Visit to Monaco
Below are several different tours that provide unique and enjoyable sightseeing opportunities in and around Monaco:
- Sightseeing by Bus: To see the highlights of Monaco with ease, take a Monaco Hop-on Hop-off Tour. This flexible bus tour allows you to visit Monaco at your own pace. You can choose to disembark at 12 different stops, which include the most important tourist attractions, such as the Palais du Prince and the Cathédrale de Monaco.
- French Riviera Day Trip: The Best of the French Riviera Full-Day Tour is a driving tour from Monaco to Antibes. The itinerary includes stops in the Old Town of Antibes, the glamorous resort town of Cannes, and two medieval hilltop towns: Saint-Paul-de-Vence for lunch and Eze to visit the Fragonard perfume factory. The tour concludes with Monaco's top sights.
- Monaco and Eze Half-Day Trip: If you are short on time, the Monaco, Monte Carlo, Eze, La Turbie Half-day Tour is a great option. This guided driving and walking tour covers the highlights of Monaco and the enchanting village of Eze, as well as the hilltop town of La Turbie.
- Luxury Yacht Cruise: Travel along the French Riviera in a private yacht with your own personal skipper. The Private Luxury Yacht Cruise, departing from Monaco's Port de Fontvieille, gives you a taste of the French Riviera high life and a unique sightseeing experience. From the comfort of the yacht, discover the Côte d'Azur and its seaside villages: Cap'd'Ail, Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Villefranche-sur-Mer, and Menton.
More Related Articles on PlanetWare.com
Highlights of the French Riviera: Monaco is at the heart of the sensationally glamorous Cote d'Azur. A perfect vacation could include Nice (about a 30-minute drive or train ride) and other attractions near Nice such as the serene Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat peninsula, the peaceful seaside village of Beaulieu-sur-Mer, and the medieval perched village of Eze.
Sandy Beaches and Sightseeing: Slightly farther away on the French Riviera are the pristine sandy beaches of Antibes (50 kilometers away), which also has an atmospheric Old Town with many cultural attractions; the legendary resort of Cannes (55 kilometers away); and lesser-known but still wonderful beach resorts and picturesque towns near Cannes.
Provence and the Italian Riviera: In the other direction, towards Italy, are the sunny seaside village of Menton (20-minute drive or train ride) and the quaint fishing villages of Cinque Terre, a popular summertime holiday destination on the Italian Riviera, about five hours away by train. Those with more time should explore the nearby countryside of Provence, with its lavender fields, charming historic towns, and ancient hilltop villages.