Monaco sits on what is essentially the side of a mountain that ends at the sea, so real estate is at a premium. Visitors are often shocked by the sheer scale of development here, with apartment buildings that would be veritable skyscrapers anywhere else.
But the hidden surprise within the borders of this small principality is its many public green spaces, perhaps the most surprising being the Japanese Garden on Avenue Princesse-Grace. It lies at the bottom of the mountain, just across from the Mediterranean Sea, a location that adds to the almost surreal tranquility of the garden.
It's a bit small, which has its merits – after all, there's plenty to do and see in Monaco. But there's so much in the country that is just over the top – the flashy cars, the James Bond-style casino, the yachts that are bigger than most people's dream homes – that a visit to the Japanese Garden can be just the respite you're looking for.
And the best part? It's a public park, which means it's free to enter and you can stay as long as you’d like. Spend time at the waterfall, listen to the babbling brook or watch the sunset at the end of a long day.
The Japanese Garden (Jardin Japonais) is located in the Larvotto neighborhood next to the Grimaldi Convention Center. It is free to enter and open from 9 a.m. to sunset.