This post shows you what to do in one day in Monaco. We made a day trip to Monaco from Nice and our three generations family explored the wealthiest state of the world.
Since you can’t take a rental car across the border we were wondering how to get to Monaco. We studied French Riviera public transport timetables and took a bus to Monaco and returned by train.
Monaco on the French Riviera has a long history. It has been a Greek and a Roman colony and it is an independent state since 1309 when the Grimaldis bought it. The Grimaldis have been ruling Monaco since then which makes them the world’s oldest ruling monarchy.
Here you can see almost all of Monaco, seen from the road above. Monaco is not a big country: it is the world’s second smallest state, only the Vatican in Rome is smaller.
One Day in Monaco: the Walking Itinerary
Here you can see a map of Monaco and our “one day in Monaco” walking route marked on the map. But before walking in Monaco, we have to go and see what it looks like from the mountains.
Monaco from the Mountains
Monaco is surrounded by mountains. Even when you’re not allowed to take a rental car to Monaco without a considerable extra cost you can drive around Monaco along the French side of the border. Either take the coastal road to Beaulieu or the upper road from La Turbie to Roquebrune. These photos show views of Monaco seen from these two roads on the French side.
Monaco Yacht Show
This is not our car, it’s somebody from Monaco driving towards Italy.
And these are not our rental boats, they are yachts participating in the annual Monaco Yacht Show. It’s a huge exhibition of super yachts where the world’s leading companies in the yachting business present their selection for their upmarket audience.
Where else could this take place if not Monaco? If you want to have a look at these yachts check out the Monaco Yacht Show website.
To get the best view and photo shots you sometimes have to climb to a tree.
Here’s a photo taken from the tree. It’s the Casino, the Monte Carlo Casino and the quarters around it. We will go and look at the Casino later.
This photo is from the tree too, but to the other direction, east. The blue skyscraper is Odeon Tower, the highest building in Monaco.
At the time of writing there is a five-floor apartment for sale in Odeon Tower. The apartment has a ceiling terrace, dancing-floor and swimming-pool with a slide.
The price is 320 Million Euros which makes it the world’s most expensive apartment on sale. So why not buy it and move to Monaco?
Living in Monaco
But maybe not. To buy an apartment in Monaco you either have to be a native Monaco citizen or have been permanently living in the country for a certain period of time. So you have to rent first.
Another factor that might limit your choice are house prices. Square meter prices are extremely high in Monaco. For one Million Euros you would only get a 20 Sq. meters studio in Monaco.
So our big family is not planning to move to Monaco. Better to take the Bus 100 from Nice (15 Euros for seven people). But what to do in Monaco, and what to see? We hopped off the bus on the last Monaco bus stop and started to walk back towards the city center.
Boulevard des Moulins
Boulevard des Moulins is the main thoroughfare and the main shopping street. It leads through Monaco and Monte Carlo to Italy, that’s why the name changes to Boulevard d’Italie in the east.
Boulevard des Moulins is a busy street with lots of luxury shops so there’s a lot to choose from if you’re looking for a handbag, shoes, watch or stylish clothing.
Cars and Traffic
This photo gallery shows you some typical Monaco cars (and a police scooter). You can see many black and grey luxury cars but also handy small cars that you can easily park between parking-lots.
Click on the photos to see a slide-show.
Parking-space is limited in Monaco and roads are narrow and winding. Monaco is in a steep slope and there are stairs and lifts for pedestrians between streets on upper and lower levels.
So walking mostly takes less time than driving.
Place du Casino
Place du Casino is where the famous Casino is. You can see Monte Carlo Casino in the photo above.
There are many cafés on the Place and the most famous of them is the legendary Le Café de Paris that you can see in this photo:
The historic Le Café de Paris has a popular outdoor terrace and an atmospheric Belle Epoque style brasserie. A perfect stop for a coffee, a meal – and people-watching.
This is the website of Le Cafe de Paris Monte Carlo.
On the Place du Casino you can see the Casino both directly and as a reflection in this mirror.
And there is one more building you shouldn’t miss: the 5-star luxury hotel Hotel de Paris. A perfect place to stay when exploring what the Casino has to offer. We didn’t stay at this hotel, neither went we in, but you can read about it on the website of Hotel de Paris Monte Carlo.
Monte Carlo Casino
The Casino was built in the 19th century on an unbuilt section of land. The architect was Charles Garnier who also planned the Paris Opera house.
Monte Carlo Casino gained great success and after some years the Casino brought the Principality of Monaco so much money that no taxes were needed from the citizens after that.
Monte Carlo Casino is very decorative inside and there are many different salons for different games. It begins with the European and American salons with table games but to get further in the real Casino you have to pay an entrance fee and be properly dressed.
We were happy to explore the entrance and the doors. This is the side door and below the Casino from the sea side. From the big terrace below the Casino you get great views to Monaco and to the Mediterranean.
If the Casino interests you, this is the Monte Carlo Casino website. We instead decided to continue our One day in Monaco walk towards the Port of Monaco.
Monaco Harbor (Port de Monaco)
The Port of Monaco is in a natural sheltered bay between Monte Carlo and the rock of the princes of Monaco that you can see behind.
The harbor is also called Hercule Harbor. In addition Monaco has the Fontevieille Harbor behind the rock of the princes.
The yachts are many and they are impressive. Think about touring the Mediterranean with one of these… Which one would you prefer?
But luckily here is also a cruise harbor so you can choose a public cruiser or you can just take a water taxi and enjoy the views!
Here is what the city looks like from the harbor. You can guess stairs and lifts are needed in Monaco.
Monaco Grand Prix
Hercules Port is also the place where the Formula 1 Grand Prix race starts and ends. The Monaco Grand Prix is held every year in May-June. The race is held on the winding streets right in Monaco town center.
Old Quarters of Monaco
Behind the harbor are some pretty hidden quarters with old buildings and quiet streets. These old houses differ from the others in this part of Monaco where most buildings are from the 1960s or 1970s and a lot higher than these.
Monaco has the world’s highest per capita income. Yet people in Monaco have the same favourite thing to keep themselves busy with as everybody else: the phone.
Monaco Old Town
Monaco’s oldest part is up on the rock where the Palais Princier is. The rock is called Le Rocher and it’s flat at the top. Once you get up along the long easy stairs from Place d’Armes (see the photo) you don’t have to worry about stairs when strolling in the old town.
The first place you come to is Place du Palais.
Place du Palais
Place du Palais is a pretty square that takes a big part of the old town. On one side is the Palace of Monaco and on the other side the old town with its pretty buildings in different shades of pink. Some views of Place du Palais:
The Palace of Monaco
The Palace of Monaco is a massive castle-palace with canons and guards outside. The first part of the palace was built by the Grimaldis as early as in the 13th century. Some hundreds of years later the castle was rebuilt to the real palace with elegant salons that it is now.
We bought tickets in the kiosk and went on a palace tour, those who wanted. All of us didn’t go since the youngest family member was having his afternoon nap in the stroller so it was more worth staying outside with him. The palace is open for visitors at least in the summer season.
The palace tour takes about an hour and you’ll get a chance to see the beautiful rooms in different colors and a lot of precious furniture and artwork. Photographing was not allowed and I respect that. Instead you can see photos on the interiors on their own website:
Monaco Old Town
The old town consists of narrow parallel streets and pretty old houses, most of which are rose-colored. Everything is clean and pretty, well planned and not too many tourist shops with hassle.
The parallel streets are connected to each other by narrow alleys and tunnels.
Below some more street views of Monaco old town:
At the end of Le Rocher rock (where the old town is) is the clifftop Oceanographic Museum.
The museum has a good aquarium where you can to learn about marine plants, fish, shells and corals. The Oceanographic Museum is interesting and educative for both young and old.
Walk back from the Museum along the Fontvieille side and you’ll find a pretty garden that follows the edge of the rock all the way to the castle. It’s an exhibition of Mediterranean and exotic plants, very lush and quiet. And the views…
Views to Fontvieille
Fontvieille is the modern part of Monaco, built between the 1970s and 1990s on artificially created land. Fontvieille has a helicopter field Monaco Heliport from where you can get to Nice Cote d’Azur Airport in just 7 minutes. A small admirer of yachts and helicopters:
Views to Monte Carlo
A couple of panoramas of the Monte Carlo side of Monaco from the lookout on the rock before we end our One day in Monaco trip and start returning towards home.
First you have to walk down again along the long easy steps and through the ancient defense wall of the castle:
Monaco train station is deep inside the mountain but it’s accessible through long walking tunnels.
We bought tickets in a ticket machine which didn’t cause us any problems. Train tickets are a bit more expensive than bus tickets but the prices in the French Riviera are very reasonable, our fare was 25 euros for seven people.
In many countries you’re supposed to stamp your ticket in a machine before boarding so we were wondering if we should do it and there were no instructions. On the only available machine the text said compost which made us wonder if this was a waste-paper basket for used tickets.
But we observed what locals did. They inserted the ticket in the machine and it came back! So we did the same and caught our train back to Nice.
My Posts on the French Riviera
You might also be interested in my other posts on the French Riviera: