Monaco is the second-smallest country in the world, right behind Vatican City. It is known for being glamorous and extreme wealthy country with 30% of the population being millionaires.
Monaco is its own country, separated from France, despite technically being in a location surrounded by France. It’s filled with fantastic scenery, tropical vibes, and luxury everywhere you look.
It also has a pretty small population. In total, the whole country has around 40,000 people living in it. For reference, think of New York City’s Central Park. Monaco could fit inside it, and there would still be some part completely untouched!
Monaco is also one of the safest places to visit in the world. There is really tight security, most likely because of all the millionaires that live in the area. There are also surveillance cameras pretty much everywhere.
HOW TO GET TO MONACO
- By Train. Depending on where you are staying. We are taking the train from Menton which cost us €2.3 and it was only 11 minutes away. Train from Nice is 23 minutes and cost €4.2. You can buy ticket online here.
- By Bus no. 100 and 112. The bus route from Nice to Monaco/Menton is one of the most stunningly beautiful bus rides in the world, and a super bargain at just € 1.50. See bus schedule here. Bus from Menton is around 25 minutes while from Nice is around 45 minutes.
- You could also drive to Monaco which gives you more freedom to stop at other places along the way and is best way to travel if you are doing a wider South of France trip. The drive from Nice will take approximately 25 minutes if you take the A8, and you’ll have some great coastal views at the very end of your drive as you’re getting closer to Monaco.
HOW TO GET AROUND
Monaco is a tiny country, the easiest way to get around on your one day in Monaco is just by walking. It can take less than one hour to walk across the entire width of Monaco. But Monaco is located at a few different heights, so when you get tired you can hop on the bus which runs between 7 am and 9.30 pm. It will pretty much bring you to all the top attractions in the city, as it is mainly catered for visitors to Monaco rather than locals. Singe ticket cost €2 (7 years old below free) and 1 days pass cost €5.5
The Bus line:
Line 1: Monaco Ville – Saint Roman (Round trip).
Line 2: Monaco Ville – Exotic Garden (Round trip).
Line 3: Fontvieille (Shopping Mall) – Hector Otto (Round trip).
Line 4: Fontvieille (Shopping Mall) – Saint Roman (Round trip).
Line 5: Hospital – Larvotto (Round trip).
Line 6: Fontvieille (Shopping Mall) – Larvotto (Round trip).
Be mindful also that phone reception is not so good in Monaco especially in the hilly area where the Palace and old town is situated.
If you are driving to Monaco as a day trip, leave your can in the parking lots near Port Hercules and walk to to explore the city. Parking is quite pricey in Monaco, however, all car parks have a daily maximum rate of around 20-30 EUR (24-36 USD), which is not that bad if you want to spend the full day in Monaco.
HOW TO SPEND ONE DAY IN MONACO
Explore Port Hercules
As we arrived by train, we started our day by heading down to Port Hercules and taking in the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. Port Hercules is the main port in Monaco that has been used for thousands of years. The port has been redone in the early 20th century so now it can hold around 700 different boats.
Port Hercules is around 15 minutes walking from Monte Carlo train station.
Walk to the Old Town of Monaco
Next, head over to Monaco’s Old Town. This is arguably one of the most picturesque parts of the city which is located up on a hill and has really great views of the Mediterranean Sea.
The easiest way to get to the Old Town is to take Rampe de la Major, easily accessible from the port which starts right after the roundabout by Place d’Armes.
Rampe de la Major is an uphill footpath which leads to the Place du Palais in the heart of the old town of Monaco and of course, to the Rock of Monaco which is the highest point of view of the whole Principality. It is the oldest and most direct route to Monaco-Ville where you can find all the most iconic landmarks of the Principality of Monaco. During the 13th century, the ramp was used as a means of communication between the plateau and the Prince’s Palace
Today, it is a pedestrian route approximately 3 km long with red paved stairs that combines good exercise with sightseeing. Wear comfortable walking shoes because the route can be steep in some areas. The views that accompany this footpath will make you want to reach the top even more where you will witness a phenomenal panorama of the region.
Within 10-15 minutes, you will reach Place du Palais, the square in front of the Prince’s Palace and you can start exploring the Old Town. Take your time to walk along the cobblestone streets and pop into interesting stores and restaurants that you may come across.
Old Town is the most historical part of the city, so you’ll find some unique architecture here that you won’t find elsewhere in Monaco and it is also the most interesting area in Monaco.
If you don’t feel you are fit to walk uphill, you can always take the bus which will take you up to the top. And then as you finish exploring the old town and the Palace you can walk your way down so you still get to enjoy the beautiful view of Monaco coastline. I was taking this route on my first visit and did the reverse in my second visit.
Opening hours: 10 am – 6 pm between April and mid-October
Entrance fee: 10 EUR (12 USD)
Your Monaco day trip wouldn’t be complete without seeing where the royalty lives. The Prince’s Palace is located right next to where the Rampe de la Major ends (the road you took up to the Old Town), so you can easily make this your first stop in the Old Town.
The palace was built in the 12th century and is the home of the current prince of Monaco. If you’re lucky, you may even see the changing of the guards, which is an entertaining sight.
Because Monaco is so small and you can get reasonably close to the palace compared to royal palaces in other countries, you may even sneak a peek of the Prince of Monaco. Although it’s a private residence, the State Apartments are open to visitors from the beginning of April until mid-October.
Inside, you can see the Palace Chapel and many majestic rooms such as the Hercule Gallery, the Throne Room, and Louise XV Bedroom, as well as numerous beautiful frescoes and old furniture.
As the palace is perched on top of the hill, you can see Monaco coastline view on your right and left. There is also a playground behind the souvenir shop on the left side. If you are traveling with children you can let them play there for a while while you rest your feet.
Old Monaco Museum
Opening hours: 11 am – 4 pm on Wednesdays and Fridays
Entrance fee: Free
If your one day in Monaco happens to fall on a Wednesday or a Friday, you can take advantage of visiting the Old Monaco Museum (otherwise referred to as Musée du Vieux Monaco) for free. Inside you can find numerous paintings, furniture, and ceramics related to Monaco’s heritage.
St. Nicholas Cathedral
Opening hours: 9 am – 6 pm
Entrance fee: Free
St. Nicholas Cathedral, otherwise known as the Monaco Cathedral is one of the most important religious monuments in Monaco. The construction of the cathedral began in 1875 but it was only consecrated in 1911.
The cathedral was home to many royal events such as the wedding of Grace Kelly and Rainier III, the Prince of Monaco and now it houses the tombs of Monaco’s former princes.
Opening hours: 10 am – 6 pm
Entrance fee: 16 EUR (19.5 USD)
While you may not associate any type of history or museum with Monaco, you must visit this one. I didn’t come inside on my first visit back in 2014, but my no.2 love to see sea animals so she insisted we should come inside. So we did and it didn’t disappoint at all. In fact it was one of the best Oceanography museum we have ever been!
The Oceanographic Museum was opened in the 20th century and focuses on everything involving the ocean and marine science. Inside the museum, you’ll find lots of aquariums, artifacts, and exhibits. Take the time to explore here because you’ll truly learn a lot. It was also founded by a relative of Monaco’s current Prince, so it has an important connection to the country itself.
Port de Fontvieille Viewpoint
Just beside the Oceanographic Museum, you can find a beautiful park called Jardins de Saint-Martin.
The park already offers some incredible views over Port de Fontvieille but keep walking to the end of the park and you will find one of the most beautiful viewpoints in Monaco.
Walk along the Formula1 Track
If you’ve finished exploring the Old Town, it’s time to move to the other side of the city. It’s going to be a long walk but on the way to Monte Carlo Casino, you can do a very unique thing that you can only do in Monaco: walking along the Formula 1 Track!
Because Monaco is known worldwide for hosting the Grand Prix, you absolutely must find part of the race track route and walk along it. It’s incredibly cool to think that Formula 1 racing happens here!
It takes around 25-30 minutes to get to Monte Carlo Casino from the Old Town by foot. Alternatively, if you are already tired you can hop on the bus which will take you to the casino but sadly this way you will miss walking along the F1 track.
Monte Carlo Casino
Your one day in Monaco itinerary wouldn’t be complete without visiting the famous Monte Carlo Casino. Interesting to know that locals aren’t allowed to gamble in the casino and is considered to be illegal. So the casino is entirely for visitors to Monaco.
The Monte Carlo Casino is said to be the most popular casino in the entire world. This is most likely because it’s featured in quite a few of the James Bond films, among other pop culture phenomena.
The casino dates back to the 19th century and is absolutely breathtaking on the inside and the outside. We didn’t come inside the Casino this time because children are not allowed in but I came inside on my first trip.
One thing to keep in mind when visiting the Monte Carlo Casino is that you do have to be dressed nicely. doesn’t mean you need to wear your finest dress or tuxedo, but I wouldn’t suggest trying to enter wearing your favorite leggings and flip-flops.
Sunset at Tête de Chien (Only if you have a car)
This viewpoint is only accessible by car as we are traveling by train/bus we had to skip this. However if you are driving to Monaco, type Tête de Chien in Google Maps and it should take 25 minutes to each the parking lot near the viewpoint from Monaco.
From the parking lot, it is a short but relatively steep hike and in 10-15 minutes you can reach the viewpoint. From this viewpoint, you should get an incredible panoramic view over the entire coastline and Monaco. Just perfect to end your day in Monaco.
We ended our day in Monaco in Monte Carlo Casino and made our way to the bus stop passing an interested garden in front of the casino.