Monaco has long been on our list to visit. We came close a couple of years ago but chose to enjoy what little time we had in Nice rather than visiting Monaco. But this time we had much longer in the area so exploring Monaco was a definite. Only 20 minutes on the train from Nice, it’s pretty easy to get to and do a day trip or you can stay in Monaco to explore more. Here is our guide to Monaco (+ printable guide to Monaco at the end of the post).
A Guide To Monaco
Areas In Monaco
Monaco is made up of a few different areas, the main ones being Monaco-Ville, Monte-Carlo, La Condamine and Fontvieille.
Monaco-Ville is the old town where the Princes Palace resides.
Monte-Carlo is perhaps most famous for Casino Monte-Carlo.
La Condamine includes the port area.
Things To Do In Monaco
At 11.55am the changing of the guards occurs at The Princes Palace. It’s a fairly quick little ceremony but worth a look if you’re going to be there. The bell music that goes off makes you feel like you’ve walked onto a Disney film set. You can also go and have a look at the State Apartments in the Palace and also the Princes car collection.
Afterwards, we went for a walk through the gardens. Jardin Saint Martin was really beautiful, with different plants and flowers and views over the water.
Monaco-Ville has tiny little streets filled with character. Take your time and walk around.
From Monaco-Ville you can walk down to the harbour and take the Bateau Bus to Monte-Carlo, which is actually a boat. We thought the bateau bus sounded like a good idea. Boat ride. Tick. Save on walking. Tick. The truth is although it did save us some time, you’re literally on the boat for a couple of minutes. And you don’t go very far at all. So I’d still recommend doing it if it interests you, but don’t go with high expectations.
Casino Monte-Carlo, best known for it’s James Bond appearances, is definitely worth a look. It costs 10 euro to go into the actual casino but you can still go into the lobby for free and have a look.
Casino Square is beautiful, filled with fancy cars, fancy coffees (Cafe de Paris) and fancy shops.
There are also a few harbour areas in Monaco that are worth walking around, including La Condamine and Fontvieille Port. There is also a nice beach, Plage du Larvotto.
Other things to see in Monaco include the Princess Grace Rose Garden, Exotic Garden, Japanese Garden and the Oceanographic Museum.
Where To Eat In Monaco
The first thing we did was head straight for the markets. We went to Marche de La Condamine at Place D’Armes. There were some fresh fruit and vegetable markets outside and inside there were food shops like bakeries and casual eating places. It was here that we tried a Monaco food speciality – Barbagiuan. A barbagiuan is a deep fried pastry stuffed with Swiss chard and ricotta. Delicious!
There is a cute little chocolate shop, the ‘Chocolaterie de Monaco‘, where the chocolates are meant to be made in Monaco. We tried a couple of chocolates, and as chocolates are, they were delicious.
A great option for lunch is Le Petit Bar in Monaco-Ville. Emilies Cookies is a great place for coffee, smoothies and cakes. And then there’s also Eqvita restaurant, which is 100% Vegan and Gluten Free.
Buddha Bar is a restaurant and bar that serves Asian cuisine in an upscale environment.
For fine dining there is Joel Robuchon and Le Louis XV Alain Ducasse.
Where To Stay In Monaco
A guide to Monaco’s best places to stay…
Hotel Hermitage Monte-Carlo – 5 star luxury in a beautiful historic building in an excellent location.
Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo – 5 star luxury with a 3 Michelin star restaurant and excellent location.
Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort – Great facilities, Beautiful pool area and close to the beach.
Novotel Monte-Carlo – Well reviewed hotel that offers value for money in Monaco.
Getting to Monaco is quite easy. Monaco is well connected to the French railway network, only 20 minutes on the train from Nice. You can also reach Monaco on the train from Italy too. For International flights, the closest airport is Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport.
Monaco is relatively small, so it’s easy to walk around to explore. Having said this, it is pretty hilly, which is why you will find escalators throughout Monaco. Other options for getting around include taxi, bus and the bateau bus which is actually a boat to get you across the harbour.
When To Go
Monaco is a destination that can be visited year round. It really depends on what you want to get out of your visit. If you want to see the Monaco Grand Prix then this occurs in May. Keep in mind that room rates will be high and availability will be low at this time, and Monaco will be extremely busy. June, July and August are peak season in Europe, but great if you’re wanting to visit the beach in Monaco or get out on the water. March, April, September and October are also good times to visit Monaco.
Getting Out | Day Trips
A guide to Monaco wouldn’t be complete without mentioning all the amazing places you can visit from Monaco. Monaco is in a fantastic location making day trips to other areas very easy. From Monaco you can explore Eze, Menton, Villefranche Sur Mer, Nice, Saint Paul de Vence, and Ventimiglia or San Remo in Italy. Cap D’Ail is also an area with beautiful beaches to visit nearby.
How Long To Stay
Monaco can be seen in a day trip if you just want to see the main sights and get a feel for it. If you want to explore more, relax and spend time at the beach then I would recommend two to three days.
If you’re holidaying on the French Riviera and trying to decide if you should come to Monaco for a day trip, then I think it’s definitely worth it. From the old town with it’s charm to Monte-Carlo with it’s casino and luxury. But it’s really what you prefer or want to see. If you want to see hilltop medieval villages, you might try Eze or Saint Paul De Vence. If you want coastal beach towns you might prefer Antibes/Juan les Pins, Cannes or Saint-Tropez.
For more information see Visit Monaco.
A Printable Guide To Monaco
Get your free printable guide to Monaco resource page here.