Monaco – Guide to the Glamorous Principality on the Rock
With only 2 square kilometres, Monaco in the second smallest country in the world. And yet, its glamour and fancy life style is known almost to everybody. It’s situated on the French Riviera and many large beautiful yachts are docked in the port of Monaco. Due to its tax status, the principality attracts rich and wealthy people. Therefore it might seem a bit like a bubble of extravagance and luxury, yet it has a unique charm and spectacular beauty. Hamilton knows it: he was born and grew up here. Read on the guide to find out what best Monaco has to offer.
What to see
Visit The Rock and Royal Palace
The Rock is the oldest part of Monaco. There is whole stunning neighbourhood and a Royal Palace on the top. The prince of Monaco Albert II still lives here with his family.
↬ Note : The principality has been ruled by the same Grimaldi family since 1297!
The district on The Rock is a beautiful historical part of the city and offers a magnificent view on two ports below from the top of the rock. Walk on around the gardens and admire the stunning panorama of the city.
Opening hours of the Royal Palace:
April to October: 10AM – 6PM
July and August: 10AM – 7PM
Adults 8 EUR
Children from 8 to 14 and students: 4 EUR
Walk around the port of Fontvieille
This beautiful small port located on the opposite side of The Rock is really a stunning place. There is a long pier at the end, perfect for an evening stroll.
↬ TIP : Have lunch or dinner at La Saliere, authentic Italian restaurant.
Wander around Jardin Exotique
Jardin Exotique is a wonderful place located just at the edge of Monaco. The views of Monaco are stunning and the paths will guide through an impressive variety of exotic plants, cacti and colourful flowers. There is also a deep cave with stalactites and stalagmites, that you can visit with a guide each hour.
Opening hours & Ticket price:
9AM – 6PM
Adults 7.20 EUR, children 3.80 EUR. Free under 4 years old.
Monaco or Monte-Carlo? Let’s clear it out: Monaco is the name of the whole principality, while Monte-Carlo is the area around the casino that was built and established in 1866.
Gamble at the Casino
The most famous casino of Monaco is the Monte Carlo Casino, located in the centre of the city. Sit at the roulette or poker table. Who knows, maybe this time the house will let you win ?
↬ Note : You must be at least 18 to enter the casino and properly dressed (men no shorts and open shoes).
Visit the Japanese Garden
Located right by the Grimaldi Forum, this small garden will transport you instantly to Japan. The plants, little alleys and red bridges can’t be mistaken for any other style.
The Grand Prix
Visiting Monaco by the end of May during the yearly Grand Prix is a great idea. For 3 days the principality is visited by celebrities and Formula 1 enthusiasts. There are parties day and night, as well as preparations for the race that you can watch from the tribune. However be aware that the prices for GP go up even 4-5 times and everything becomes really expensive: specially the restaurants and hotels.
What to do
Take scenic route to La Mala Beach
Hands down it’s our favourite thing to do while visiting Monaco. The road starts in Cap d’Ail at the Marquet Beach and follows a small coastal path right next to the sea. On this 3km walk you will pass stunning scenery and natural beauty. The path will end at spectacular La Mala Beach, Martyna’s favourite beach.
↬ TIP : On the way back you can take the bus 100, back to Monaco.
The Oceanographic Museum
Built on the side of Monaco’s legendary Rock, the Oceanographic Museum is a great place to visit for the whole family. The Museum is renowned throughout the world for its expertise and has more than 6,000 specimens on display. The building itself is very impressive overlooking the sea and surrounded by beautiful gardens.
Opening hours: 9:30AM- 8PM
Ticket price: 11-16 EUR
Try out the nightlife
Monaco is famous for it’s evening life. There is always something happening here after dusk. Party at Jimmy’s, Sass Cafe, Twiga or Nikki Beach. Dress accordingly as you will be dancing in between fancy millionaires and their partners ????
Chill at The Monte-Carlo Beach Club
The Monte-Carlo Beach Club is a fancy hotel located on a private bay at the edge of Monaco. The grounds are stunning. There is a big pool, private beach access and restaurant on the site. On Sundays in June and September only, you can spend a whole day there, enjoying all the facilities and delicious lunch. Otherwise, you can access the place only to go to the restaurant.
Watch a movie at the Monaco open air cinema
The Monaco open air cinema is one of the most fun things to do in Monaco. In the summer the open cinema plays most recent realised movies. Grab an ice-cream, a drink and enjoy your movie.
↬ Note : The movies are played on the side of Monaco’s prison!
Relax at the beach
Monaco lies on the beautiful French Riviera. Swimming and relaxing on the beach is one of the most popular things to do. It’s common to go to the beach straight after work, to take a refreshing swim and tan. The main beach is called the Larvotto Beach and is located on the east side of Monaco. The beach is public and free to enter. However, if you’d like to rent a sun bed and umbrella you can do so from one of the beach restaurants.
Marquet Beach is the second most popular beach in Monaco: even if it is already in Cap d’Ail, France. The bay is beautiful, has a public and 2 private beaches and 2 good restaurants.
You can experience the charms of Monaco and surrounding French Riviera cities and landmarks from the air. Flying a helicopter to Monaco is very common thing to do, as fancy and quick taxi from the airport. But it’s a great activity for those who are just visiting as well. The leisure ride lasts 8 minutes and costs 69 EUR per person. See MonacAir for more details.
Getting to Monaco
The nearest airport is located in Nice. From the airport there is a direct fast bus going to Monaco, the 110 express. The ticket costs 22 EUR 1 way and it takes around 25 min to reach the principality.
There’s a much slower bus, the 100. This one will take the long way, on a much more scenic road, going all the way to Monaco from the sea side. It will take you about an hour depending on the traffic and will cost only 1.50 EUR.
Alternatively, you can take a tram from the airport to the Gare de Nice and then a train to the Gare de Monaco (3,7 EUR). The whole trip should take 45min-1 h.
You can arrive to Monaco by train as well. From Paris Gare de Lyon, a fast train takes 3 h to reach Marseille. Then you need another 3 hours to get to Monaco.
Monaco is really small and you can get almost anywhere by walk.
Alternatively there are well connected bus lines. Note that the ticket sold at the machine costs 1,5 EUR, while it’s 2 EUR directly on the bus. There is even a boat-bus!
There are also public electric bikes available throughout the city. You have to apply for the card online.
Surprisingly, the phone reception in Monaco is very poor, depending on your provider. There is almost no signal at all, or one bar with 3G only not even connecting. However there are wifi spots available in almost every restaurant and bar, as well as in public places.
Best time to visit
The ideal time to visit is either spring or summer. The weather is perfect and even if it might be a bit busier, the principality is very lively.
The Grand Prix happens yearly at the end of May. It’s the busiest time in Monaco, with lots of parties and attractions.
Monaco is pretty expensive. Lunch at a nice restaurant would be around 60 EUR for 2, dinner around 100 EUR.
Where to eat
Maya Bay is a beautiful Asian restaurant with 2 different settings: Japanese and Thai. Both serve amazing food.
Avenue 31 is a very good Italian restaurant. They have great daily lunch deals: starter + main + drink and espresso for 18 EUR. On the menu there is delicious lobster spaghetti. ?
La Note Blue is a fusion beach restaurant. Perfect place for easy lunch or dinner with sea views.
Castelroc the perfect place for lunch with stunning views. The restaurant is located on The Rock and has cute outdoor setting.
Where to stay
Hotels in Monaco are very expensive. To save some money you can choose a place just outside of the city lines. There is no border, nothing divides Monaco and France. On the edge, buildings on one side on the street belong to Monaco while across the road on the other side, to France.
↬ Find all the hotels in Monaco on booking.com