- Located on the French Riviera, Monaco is a sovereign city-state of ~36,000 people.
- With a land border of just 4.4 km, Monaco is the second smallest and the most densely populated country in the world.
- The Principality of Monaco is governed under a constitutional Monarchy. Prince Albert II is the head of the state.
- Monte Carlo is the most populous quarter of Monaco.
- The city is well known for the glamorous and prestigious Grand Prix de Monaco, a Formula One race held there every year.
- Currency: Euro (EUR).
- Spoken languages: French and Monegasque.
- Best time to visit: April to October.
- Getting there: as there is no airport in Monaco, transport is facilitated by rail, road and waterfronts. The nearest airport is Nice Cote d’Azur International airport (Monaco is 13 km away from Nice). Regional express trains from Nice can get you to the Monte Carlo station in 22 minutes – a single ride costs EUR 3.60. The cheapest way to travel to Monaco from Nice is via the EUR 1.00 bus (#100 – Nice-Monaco-Menton), which runs every 15 minutes. The bus leaves from Station J.C Bermond Nice, and the trip takes ~45 minutes.
WHERE TO STAY
Anywhere in the Condamine district. To save some money, consider the area east of Monaco – in Roquebrune Cap-Martin. Monaco is a very expensive city (many tourists prefer to stay in Nice and visit Monaco for a day trip).
- Monaco is best explored on foot. There is a lot of urban hiking, and considerable elevation changes. With that said, the city is very well planned – many escalators are spread across the steep slopes of the city.
- Local buses operated by Compagnie des Autobus Monaco serve 143 stops across the city. The tickets can be purchased and validated on board. A single ticket costs around EUR 2.00, but if purchased from news vendors can be bought for EUR 1.50. The buses run from 7:30 AM to 8:30 PM.
- Taxis can be booked by calling +33 8 20209898 or +377 93 15 01 01. Taxi services are convenient but very expensive. They cannot be hailed on the street of Monaco (a pre-booking is required).
- Drinking age is 18, last call is 2.00 AM.
- Hip/local scene: Monaco is the city of glitzy Casinos and the coolest bars and clubs. One can bump into a celebrity in the ritzier establishments.
- Trendy scene: Monte Carlo nightlife is chic and glamorous – choose between the Casino, the Café de Paris, the Sun Casino, and the Salle des Palmiers. The Casinos are thrilling at the night hours. The lounge bars and clubs are elegant and trendy.
- College crowd: La Brasserie de Monaco, on route de la Piscine. During happy hour (5 PM to 8 PM), you can grab an organic beer for just EUR 2.00. Check out Wine O’Clock, on avenue Saint-Laurent, where vintage wines cost around EUR 4.00.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- The Oceanographic Museum. This is the city’s most visited museum, offering a splendid view of the city (not to mention many beautiful species of fish). The museum also displays interesting skeletons of extinct specimens. The museum stop is Palais-Musée. Open from 10:00-18:00. An Adult ticket costs EUR 12.50.
- Jardin Exotique. This botanical garden is located right on the top of Monaco, overlooking the port of Fontvieille. Featuring a rich collection of succulent plants, the facility also includes a large underground cave, with caverns of stalactites and stalagmites. The cave can be visited only with a guide. An Adult ticket costs EUR 6.80.
- The Cathedral of Monaco is located in Monaco Ville, a short walk from the Oceanographic Museum. The Cathedral contains the tombs of the Royal family of Monaco. Admission to the Cathedral is free.
- The Palais Princier (Monaco Palace) is located in the old town. This is the official residence of Prince Albert II, the head of the state.
- Located in the Place du Casino Monte Carlo, the world-famous Monte Carlo Casino is perhaps the city’s most popular attraction. The Grand Théâtre de Monte Carlo sits in this charming, glamorous area which is often known as the ‘Las Vegas’ of the French Riviera. A great place to check out some of the world’s most exotic cars – and other displays of wealth.
- Stroll around the local market of La Condamine and the Moneghetti area.
- Walk around the Place du Casino Monte Carlo (designed by architect Charles Garnier). Explore the Casino gardens and terraces overlooking the sea. The flowerbeds are especially magnificent, featuring diverse species of plants.
- Walk to the Fontvieille district, then head over to the sculpture park to discover works by Blake, Botero, Calder, Arman and more. Continue on to the Rose Garden, dedicated to Princess Grace. This heart shaped garden is covered with over four thousand roses.
- Hike to le Jardin Exotique. This exotic garden is right at top of Monaco, overlooking the port of Fontvieille. This 40-minute hike is an exhilarating experience.
- It helps to know some French! If possible, try to learn some basic phrases prior to arrival. Don’t forget to bring along a pocket dictionary or phrasebook.
- Where to find good cheap eats: Tartine Monaco (on route de la Piscine) is a bistro which serves organic salad and fresh fish. A short walk from the Casino (on avenue de la Madone) is one of the best pizza places of Monaco – Il Triangolo.
- Dangerous areas: Monaco is a very safe city – it is often considered as the safest destination in Europe. Security is very strict in this constitutional monarchy.
RECOMMENDED MONACO GUIDE BOOKS
- French Riviera, Nice, Cannes, & Monaco Marco Polo Guide
- Provence: Provence & the French Riviera: Travel Guide Book-A Comprehensive 5-Day Travel Guide to Provence & the French Riviera
Recommended trip duration: 1-2 days