First time visitors to Monaco: Things to do


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How to spend the day in Monaco 

No need to travel. French RivieraThe glamorous microstate of Monaco. In this post, we will share our experience with taking a Day trip from Nice to Monaco. It’s an easy 30 minute train ride from Nice, so you don’t need to stay overnight to enjoy this famous city-state. 

Before deciding to visit Monaco, I read a few blogs from people who made day trips to Monaco. We weren’t sure if it made sense to stay overnight in Monaco or if a day trip would be sufficient. We rented a Nice apartment to use as our home base for exploring the region. 

We can confirm that one day is enough to see the sights and get a sense of the city. It’s not very big, geographically, so you can see a lot in a short period of time. 

If you are planning to visit for a particular reason, such as attending the Monaco Yacht ShowThe following are some examples of how to use Monaco Grand Prix, then you’ll have time to go beyond these top Monaco tourist attractions. 

view of Prince's Palace of Monaco fort with mountain in the backdrop and city below

One day in Monaco: Things to do

Monaco is a small city, but there are many things to do. We recommend you start early with your day trip to Monaco from Nice.

If you’re taking the train, which is the fastest and most convenient option, you will arrive at Monaco-Monte-Carlo station.

You have a few options to choose from when it comes to exploring the city. You can either take the local bus (get a one-day pass if this is your choice), or take a double-decker tourist bus tour (Hop On Hop Off Monaco), A walking tourStart walking if you want.

The Hop On Hop Off Bus is a convenient and easy way to visit the top Monaco attractions. The buses can fill up fast during peak hours, especially when a cruise ship docks. 

We prefer to walk, so that’s what we did. 

Port Hercules

Monaco’s main harbour is located in the south of the country. Port Hercules. It dates back to ancient times, the 6th century. It’s the centerpiece of Monaco, acting as an easy compass for first time visitors. 

Both sides of the port offer spectacular views. The above photo was taken while on the way to Monte Carlo Casino and Opera House. While the below photo was taken as we walked up the path to the Prince’s Palace of Monaco.

If you’re exploring Monaco on a budget, it’s free to admire (or loathe) the Luxury yachts in Port Hercules.

Panoramic views of Port Hercules from the path to Prince's Palace of Monaco
Panoramic views of Port Hercules from the path to Prince’s Palace of Monaco

Casino de Monte-Carlo

Monte Carlo Casino, arguably, is the most popular attraction in Monaco. Even the exterior architecture is worth a trip. The expansive gardens in front of this famous building are also worth a visit.

James Bond films have been filmed in Monte Carlo Casino. Never Say Never AgainYou can also find out more about the following: Golden Eye.

Tourists are allowed entry to the Monte-Carlo CasinoTake a look at the Atrium. The casino has a dress-code and an entrance fee.

View the Monte Carlo Casino’s prices and terms Here’s how to get in touch with us

Sky Mirror sculpture is a big mirror located in front of Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco

The famous Monte Carlo Casino mirror is shown above. It’s called the Sky Mirror

Monte-Carlo Casino in Monaco, view of architecture from the backside of the building

Take a stroll around the Monte Carlo Casino and admire it’s architecture of the Monte Carlo Opera house(picture above and below) 

“Designed by Charles Garnier, architect of the Paris Opéra, the building is lavishly and ornately decorated in the opulent Belle Époque style and stands in formal gardens with a sweeping view over the tiny principality of Monaco”. [source]

Backside view of the Monte-Carlo Casino in Monaco
The Monte-Carlo Casino from the backside

The Champions Promenade

Monte Carlo is located behind the Monte Carlo. The Champions Promenade. The Champions Promenade, similar to Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, features the footprints of footballers (soccer, for North Americans) who were awarded the Golden FootLegends of the awarding.

This is a great place to take photos of your favorite players’ feet if you are a fan of soccer or football. 

Diego Maradona golden foot award at The Champions Promenade in Monaco. Footprints for footballers located behind Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco

Prince’s Palace of Monaco

You can also find out more about the following: Prince’s Palace is located on Monaco’s famous RocherThe. Rock of Monaco. It’s the current home of Prince Albert and his family.

It was built in 1191 as a Genoese fortress and has been bombarded and besieged by many foreign powers over the centuries.

Visit the official site here to learn about the palace’s history, ticket prices and hours of operation.

Front entrance to the Prince’s Palace is located on Monaco’s famous Rocher, or the Rock of Monaco. It's the current home of Prince Albert and his family

Changing of the Guard at Prince’s Palace Monaco

The royal entry on Palace SquareThe picture above shows you where to watch the changing of ‘The Prince’Palace Guard‘ ceremony in Monaco. This ancient ceremony is held every day at 11:55am.

Arrive early to get a good seat. It’s typically very crowded during the ceremony.

François Grimaldi Statue in front of the tower at Prince's Palace of Monaco
François Grimaldi Statue in front of the tower at Prince’s Palace of Monaco

Gateway to Rock

Walk the paved path through 15th-century gateways and old fortress towers on the way to (or from) the Prince’s Palace. You can enjoy a panoramic view of Monaco’s famous harbour and the surrounding area. 

Stone fortress tower at Gateway to Rock on Rampe de la Major, Prince's Palace of Monaco
Gateway to Rock on Rampe de la Major

You can follow these steps if you want to get there. Place du Palais from Fontaine Avenue du Port Monaco.

fort tower on the path up to Prince's Palace of Monaco with views of Hercules Port and Monaco Harbour

Palace Square in Monaco, pink building with unique architecture, flags celebrating Prince Rainier III anniversary

Above and below is Palace Square, located directly acrossThe following is a list of the most recent and relevant articles. the Prince’s Palace. This is a very popular spot, and for good reasons. The architecture is stunning and the views are spectacular. 

Old buildings and tourist area at Palace Square in front of Prince's Palace of Monaco

The Palace Square is one of the top tourist attractions in Monaco.

The red and yellow flags you see celebrate the birthday of the late Prince Rainier IIIThe date is May 31st, 1923. The famous square and several buildings on it Rock of MonacoThe former Prince of Monaco is celebrated for an entire year.

Tourists can get panoramic views of the city from Palace Square. This photo was taken at midday, when a cruise ship docked. It’s a very crowded time of day. 

Port of Fontvieille viewpoint from The Rock of Monaco and Prince's Palace lookout point, photo of colorful buildings and harbor in Monaco

Port of Fontvieille – View from the Port

While you’re visiting the Prince’s Palace, make sure to check out the incredible views from Port of Fontvieille. The viewpoint is literally a few steps from the palace. 

Here is where you can take postcard photos of the colorful super-yachts and buildings in the harbour. 

If you look carefully, on the upper-right corner, you will see Louis II StadiumHome of the AS MonacoThe national football team. It’s hard to see, because it blends with the other architecture; here’s a better photo

Harbour views and waterfront buildings at Port of Fontvieille viewpoint from The Rock of Monaco

There is a pathway that runs along The Rock that connects the Prince’s Palace and Port of Fontvieille View with Jardins Saint-Martin You can also find out more about the following: Musée Océanographique de Monaco (pictured below).

best views of Monaco for photography at Port of Fontvieille, Monaco-Ville tourist attractions

Musée Océanographique de Monaco, famous building in Monaco that hangs off the cliff at The Rock of Monaco. The Oceanographic Museum is a museum of marine sciences in Monaco-Ville, Monaco

Oceanographic Museum of Monaco

The Rock also contains the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, which is both a museum for marine sciences and an aquarium.

The photo above shows the back of the museum. It towers over sea below. This view can be captured from Jardins Saint-MartinThere are a number of gardens and paths along the south-west face of the Rock of Monaco.

front entrance to Monaco Oceanographic Museum and Monaco aquarium

Above and below, the front entrance of Monaco Oceanographic Museum. This is a famous place in Monaco.

The Yellow Submarine in front of the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco

The Yellow SubmarineThe Oceanographic Museum of Monaco.

Exterior of Cathédrale de Monaco, Saint Nicholas Cathedral, a Romanesque Catholic cathedral dedicated to Saint Nicholas, dating from the 19th century, located on The Rock of Monaco tourist attractions

Saint Nicholas Cathedral (Monaco Cathedral)

We actually stumbled on this impressive Romanesque Catholic church while walking from the Oceanographic Museum. I can still remember how my jaw dropped when we first saw this beauty. It’s unlike any other cathedral I’ve seen before. 

The cathedral was built between 1875-1903. Many of the Monaco royals are buried here, including Grace Kelly (Princess of Monaco) and Prince Rainier III.

Add Definitely Cathédrale de Monaco to your Monaco day trip itinerary. It’s very impressive. And, it’s free to enter, so it fits the budget. 

inside the Cathédrale de Monaco, Saint Nicholas Cathedral, a Romanesque Catholic cathedral dedicated to Saint Nicholas, dating from the 19th century, located on The Rock of Monaco tourist attractions

inside the Cathédrale de Monaco, Saint Nicholas Cathedral, a Romanesque Catholic cathedral dedicated to Saint Nicholas, dating from the 19th century, located on The Rock of Monaco tourist attractions
View inside Saint Nicholas Cathedral

Monaco Courthouse, Tribunal de Monaco à Monaco ville

Monaco Courthouse

The Rock of Monaco also has the historic landmark of the Monaco Courthouse (Tribunal de Monaco à Monaco ville). It’s located directly beside Saint Nicholas Cathedral.

Enjoy the Old Town and its shops, restaurants and shopping.

The Old Town can be found within a few minutes of Palace Square and Saint Martin Gardens. It’s a popular tourist trap, so expect to pay more here.

This is an interesting area to discover. It does not compare with the Old Town of Nice which is much larger. Given that this post is about taking a day trip from Nice to Monaco, we’re making the assumption that you’ve already experienced Nice’s famous Old Town. If this is the case, you don’t need to spend too much time here.

After a quick coffee or ice-cream, you can buy some unique souvenirs and admire the old architecture before moving on to the next attraction. 

Busy outdoor restaurants and cafes in Monaco's Old Town
Busy outdoor restaurants and cafes in Monaco’s Old Town

A row of colorful buildings in Old Town Monaco overlooking Monaco-Ville

Old Town Monaco with its colorful buildings overlooking Monaco-Ville. 

view of red roof buildings and Monaco Palace from a distance, mountains in the backdrop

In the above photo, you can see the Palace and the fortress on the left. This angle offers a new perspective of the views seen from the palace. 

Monaco Yacht Show at Port Hercules

The white tents along Esplanade Du Port HerculeThe annual Monaco Yacht Show. This world-renowned event is about luxury and is a perfect fit for the glitz, glamour and glitz of Monaco. 

We visited a couple of days before the show so the waterfront was mostly closed to prepare for the event.

Monaco Grand Prix

You can also find out more about the following: Monaco Grand PrixFormula One races are held annually on the Circuit de Monaco. It’s arguably the most famous grand prix event. 

You can also find out more about the following: Circuit de Monaco consists of the city streets of Monte Carlo and La Condamine, which includes the famous Port Hercules. 

The photo above is the Antony Noghes corner. It’s located beside the waterfront strip. You can see the race track’s red and white stripes. 

If you’re a fan of Formula 1, you might want to check out the famous Fairmont Hairpin CurveIt is located near the Monte Carlo Casino. Or, Join a walking tour where you’ll walk the entire track with a tour guide. 

La Collection Automobiles de S.A.S. le Prince de Monaco

The Prince of Monaco’s Car CollectionIn the La Condamine area, there is an automobile museum. The cars were Prince Rainier III’s personal collection and were assembled over thirty years.

Find out more about visiting this museum Here’s how to get in touch with us

Above is the front of The Car Collection of HSH the Prince of Monaco. The road that you see is a part of the racetrack used for the Monaco Grand Prix.

I’m not a big F1 fan, but it’s still pretty cool to walk on this street, knowing that it transforms into the race track. 

The Rainier III Nautical Stadium (French: Stade Nautique Rainier III) is a municipal sports complex on the Route de la Piscine in the La Condamine district of Monaco, in Port Hercules

The icon Rainier III Nautical Stadium, a sport complex on the Route de la Piscine at Port Hercules.

Monaco Yacht Show at Port Hercules in Monaco-Ville

Can you visit Monaco with a limited budget?

The best way to visit Monaco on a tight budget is to avoid spending the night in Monaco. Stay in nearby cities such as Nice, Eze, or Ventimiglia, Italy.

Monaco offers a number of free activities. Many of the attractions mentioned above are free, including the Monaco Cathedral, Palace Square, Jardins Saint-Martin, Port de Fontvieille viewpoint and Port Hercules.

Other free attractions include the Princess Grace Japanese Garden, Monte Carlo Casino (atrium), Larvotto BeachMetropole Shopping Monte-Carlo (the only beach in Monaco) and more.

Restaurants can be very expensive. Instead, visit a grocery store (there’s a Casino Supermarket on the waterfront of Monaco Hercules harbour) and grab snacks, sandwiches and drinks to go.

If you’d like to enjoy a meal on the patio, go to a café and order coffee and gelato rather than a costly meal. 

walking the streets of Monaco with family. Exploring city by walking instead of transportation

Can you walk all around Monaco in a single day?

Yes! Absolutely. I would even say that this is the best thing to do while in Monaco. Put on your walking sneakers and let your curiosity lead you.

We walked about 22,000 feet before our boys started complaining of foot pain. We started at the station and walked to the Monte Carlo Casino. We walked down to Port Hercules and up to Rock of Monaco. 

We spent 6 hours walking around Monaco. You may have less time to wander the Old Town of Monaco and the city center if you’re planning to visit a few museum. 

Unusual things to do in Monaco

Are you looking for something unique or unusual to do in Monaco? Take a look at these:

  • Princess Grace Japanese Garden (Free)
  • Get behind the Wheel of a vintage or luxury car
  • View the Formula 1 Fairmont Hairpin Curve
  • Take a dip off the Solarium Beach stairway.
  • See the extensive collection of cars of HSH the prince of Monaco
  • Attend the Monaco Yacht Show (late Septembre)
  • The Champions Promenade has the feet of your favorite soccer player.
  • Catch an AS Monaco soccer/football game at Stade Louis II
  • Witness the Changing of the Guard at the Prince’s Palace
  • Fly over the French Riviera on a private helicopter tour
  • Metropole Shopping Monte-Carlo offers a wide range of shopping options, including window shopping and credit card maxing.
  • Rent a private boatExplore the French Riviera
Explore the streets of Monaco in one of these vintage race cars
Vintage race cars are available to explore the streets of Monaco.
Art sculptures in the gardens behind the grand Opéra de Monte-Carlo

The Monte-Carlo Opera house entrance. It's part of the Monte Carlo Casino in the Principality of Monaco.

The Monte-Carlo Opera House entrance. It’s part of the Monte Carlo Casino.

exterior of Centre Cardio-Thoracique De Monaco. Small hospital near Monaco yacht club

I love the architecture in Monaco. Above is a photo of the exterior of Centre Cardio-Thoracique De Monaco.

When you look at the opulent details of this historical building, would you guess that it’s is a small hospital? It looks like a palace.

Colorful old buildings in Monaco’s historic Old Town

Monaco Fun Facts

  1. Monaco residents cannot gamble. Monaco residents and tourists are the only ones who can gamble. 
  2. Monaco is smaller in size than Central Park. It’s one of the densest countries in the world
  3. Monaco is home of 12,261 billionaires in a space less than one square kilometer. Monaco has a millionaire population of almost one in three. Monaco has an incredibly low poverty rate.
  4. Monaco has one policeman for every 100 residents.
  5. Monaco has the longest average life expectancy in Europe at 85,8 years.

What is Monaco famous for?

Monaco is famous being the playground of the rich and famous, even though it’s the 2nd-smallest country in the world. 

It’s famous for the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix on the Circuit de Monaco, the glamorous Monte Carlo Casino (location of James Bond films), the exclusive Monaco Yacht Show, and its luxurious real estate and superyachts for the wealthy.

How to get from Nice, France to Monaco

You can travel from Nice to Monaco by bus, train, car, or ferry. 

Train from Nice To Monaco

The most popular choice is to take the train. Nice to Monaco trains leave as early as 540 am, and the distance between Nice and Monaco is only 21.5KM.

You can purchase your Nice to Monaco train tickets either online or at central Nice-Ville train station. The Nice-Monaco train cost starts at 4,20 Euros. 

There is a second train station in Nice named Nice-RiquierThe train will take you to a station that is a little further away from the city. The train may be packed by the time it leaves Nice-Ville during peak travel times. You will probably have to stand up if you want to board at Nice Riquier.

The train will arrive in Monaco Monte-Carlo train stationThis is the same station where you catch the return train from Nice to Monaco. This is the same train station where you’ll catch the return train to Nice from Monaco.

Ferry from Nice To Monaco

From mid-May until September, departures are made three times per week on Tuesdays.

How long is the ferry trip from Nice to Monaco?

It’s a 45 minute ride. The ferry leaves Nice at 9:30 am and arrives at Monaco at 10:15 am. It returns from Monaco to Nice at 5 PM. Tickets can be purchased in advance. Here’s how to get in touch with us.

Can you take a cab from Nice to Monaco?

The cost of a taxi from Nice, France to Monaco is approximately 60 to 80 Euros. A taxi from Nice to Monaco costs between 60 and 80 Euros. Uber is also a cheaper option from Nice to Monaco.

However, it’s important to note that Uber is banned in Monaco. Drivers can only drop off passengers in Monaco. Uber does not pick up passengers from Monaco.

You can take an Uber from the Monaco-Monte-Carlo Station to Beausoleil in France. 

A private transport can also be hired from Nice to Monaco. The cost will vary depending on the type of vehicle. Search for options Here’s how to get in touch with us.

view of Monaco harbour from hill top castle

Is it Worth a Day Trip From Nice to Monaco?

It’s an interesting place and we would recommend adding a day in Monaco to any trip to the French Riviera. You don’t need to stay overnight. One day is sufficient to see the major attractions and get an idea of this unique city state. 

More travel blog posts in Europe:

Are you planning on a day-trip from Nice to Monaco 

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