One-Day Journey Through Monaco: Discoveries and Impressions

One-Day-Journey-Through-Monaco

Visiting Monaco, even if you only have one day, is an opportunity to immerse yourself in a world of luxury, history, and the unique atmosphere of the Mediterranean. This principality, nestled between the French borders and azure waves, holds many secrets and amazing places to explore in a short amount of time.

Where to Stay?

Staying directly in Monaco is not recommended unless you have a million euros in your account. It’s better to choose nearby Nice or Menton. Nice and Menton are not budget options, but they are more affordable compared to Monaco: in Nice, the hostel price during the season ranges from €20 to €35 per night, whereas in Monaco there are no hostels, and hotel prices start from €150. Menton is slightly more expensive than Nice, with rooms starting at €60 per night according to Booking, but it’s still more economical than staying in Monaco.

How to Get There?

By Bus

The optimal option for visiting Monaco from Nice or Menton is by bus for €1.5. Bus number 100 departs from Nice at Place de l’Île de Beauté (stop Le Port) from 5:55 to 18:00, every 20 minutes. From Menton, you can leave from the Menton Gare Routiere bus station. Tickets are purchased from the driver. You need to get off at the Place D’Armes stop.

Advice: For the best views of the Ligurian Sea and the white yachts and boats passing by, choose a seat on the right side when leaving from Nice, and on the left from Menton. This will help you tune into the atmosphere of Monaco, where having your own yacht is considered the norm.

Water Transport

For those who prefer elegance, there is an option to reach Monaco by water transport. Numerous tourist companies in Menton and Nice offer sea excursions starting at €15. This is not the fastest way, but it offers magnificent views and elegance, only surpassed by helicopter. The journey time is about an hour. Tourist boats usually arrive at the Port of Fontvieille, located near Monaco-Ville, which is convenient for starting a tour of the attractions.

Rail Transport

For those who cannot handle winding roads or are running late for the bus, there is a rail option. Nice has three stations: the main Gare de Nice-Ville, the eastern Gare de Nice-Riquier, and Gare de Nice-Saint-Augustin near the airport. From Gare de Nice-Riquier, you can reach Gare de Monaco in 15-20 minutes. The ticket costs €3.5, and the journey takes between 12 to 22 minutes. When traveling from Menton, it’s better to depart from the local station. Trains leave every 20 minutes, the journey takes about 10 minutes, and the ticket costs less than €3.

Tickets can be purchased online or directly at the station using ticket machines, which are accessible even to those who do not speak foreign languages.

Tip: In Monaco, the station is long, but trains are often short. Therefore, on the return journey, try to stay closer to the front carriage to catch the train on time.

What to See?

Monaco covers only two square kilometers, and at first glance, it might seem easy to explore it in a day. However, this impression is deceptive. The main attractions are located on different levels, with numerous height variations and elevators, as well as complex streets and labyrinthine roads, making navigation challenging even with a map. Moreover, each attraction deserves attention and time. Therefore, it’s better to focus on the most famous places rather than trying to cover everything in one day.

Administratively, Monaco is divided into 10 districts, but four are key: Monaco-Ville (or The Rock) – the oldest area where the Grimaldi princes’ residence is located; La Condamine – the district near the Port Hercules; Monte-Carlo – the touristic center with hotels and the famous casino; and Larvotto with its beach area.

Over the years, Monaco’s territory has been expanding by developing marine territories. By 2025, there are plans to reclaim 6 hectares for building elite housing and gardens. These works add extra complexity to the already crowded principality.

An ideal start for a walk in Monaco is from Monaco-Ville, on the hill where the Princely residence is located. This historical area, sometimes referred to as the capital of Monaco, is a medieval quarter with administrative buildings, attractions, and the Saint Martin Garden with romantic sculptures and colorful flower beds. Floral compositions are a real pride of the historical part of Monaco, decorating balconies, cornices, private gardens, streets, and even vegetable patches.

Oceanographic Museum of Monaco

This museum is often associated with Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the famous oceanologist and inventor of the aqua-lung, who directed the museum for over 30 years.

Located on the edge of the Monaco-Ville cliff, the museum appears from the sea side as a monumental structure, as if emerging from the depths of the sea. From the city side, the building resembles a refined palace, constructed due to Prince Albert I’s passion for oceanography, the ruler of Monaco at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The Prince, an experienced oceanographer and sailor, initiated the museum’s construction. Over 10 years, next to the princely palace, the museum was built, combining exhibition halls, an aquarium on the lower floor, and a scientific institute with laboratories, a library, and lecture halls.

Visiting the museum is an immersion into the world of marine fauna and oceanography. The entrance fee is €14, and there is a restaurant on the roof with a view of the Ligurian Sea.

Monaco’s Princely Palace

The Grimaldi family holds a deep respect for their history of power. Despite the ignoble events that marked the beginning of their rule, Monaco’s history has been closely tied to this lineage for seven centuries. The Grimaldis reside in a castle atop a cliff and are the longest-reigning royal family in Europe.

Originally, the princely castle was an impregnable fortress, but today it resembles more of a movie set decoration than a classic palace. From April to mid-October, the state rooms are open to visitors. An adult ticket costs €8, or €14 to visit the exhibition of vintage cars. Visitors can also attend summer classical music concerts, with schedules available on the palace’s website.

Port Hercule

Descending from the hill of Monaco-Ville, we find ourselves at Port Hercules. This deep-water bay, where Roman and Greek ships once docked, is now a mooring place for luxurious yachts from around the world. The port regularly hosts water competitions and regattas, and it can accommodate more than 700 vessels of all sizes. Observing the port and its beauty is absolutely free.

For those who prefer land, the annual Monaco Grand Prix has been held since 1950. It is one of the most prestigious events in the Formula 1 championship. Stands for spectators are set up along the port, and the asphalt of the port promenade becomes the perfect place for races.

Saint Nicholas Cathedral

The Neo-Romanesque Cathedral of Saint Nicholas, the main Catholic church in Monaco, was built in the 19th century. A special limestone used in its construction turns snow-white in wet weather, giving the impression that the cathedral is glowing. The cathedral also serves as the burial place of the Grimaldi family, including the famous Princess Grace Kelly.

Entrance to the cathedral is free, but there may be exceptions during aristocratic ceremonies. On such days, entry is restricted, but one can still enjoy the exterior view and observe guests in hats and tuxedos.

Monte-Carlo Casino

The Monte-Carlo Casino, located in the Monte-Carlo area, is one of the most famous and oldest gambling establishments in Europe. This place has become a symbol of the sophisticated life on the French Riviera, where luxury is felt in every detail. Here, you can find games like poker, blackjack, French and English roulette, slot machines, as well as VIP rooms for those willing to spend a significant amount, all set within luxurious Baroque interiors.

For those who just want to visit the foyer, take photos, or sit in the café, entry to the casino is free. To access the gaming rooms, a fee of €10 is required, along with an identity document. It is important for staff to ensure that the visitor is over 18 years old and is not a citizen of Monaco, as they are prohibited from entering the casino.

Photography and video recording in the gaming room are strictly prohibited, except for when film shootings take place, such as the scenes from “Casino Royale” featuring Daniel Craig and Mads Mikkelsen. When visiting the gaming rooms, it is recommended to adhere to the dress code, avoiding casual resort and sportswear.

Next to the casino is the famous Café de Paris, often featured in movies. Dining in this restaurant, where one might encounter celebrities, costs around €30-60 per person.

Dining in Monaco

In Monaco, the most economical dining option is self-catering. Purchasing groceries in local supermarkets, where prices are almost the same as in other parts of France, is an ideal choice for budget travelers. Here, you can buy a sandwich for €5, which can be heated up on the spot, and a cup of coffee or tea for the same price.

Monaco is also known for its ‘wine to go’ service, offering glasses of wine for takeaway, unlike the typical coffee to go.

For those who prefer cafes and restaurants, the minimum prices in local establishments start from €5-10 for breakfast, €8-17 for lunch, and €12-22 for dinner.

Budget Tourism in Monaco

Traveling in Monaco on a budget is both possible and enjoyable, especially considering that many attractions here are free. Public gardens, parks, promenades, panoramic views of the city, and the ports of Hercules and Fontvieille, as well as the Cathedral and the Oceanographic Museum, are accessible to all, even if you don’t have a significant amount to spend on visiting the palace and casino. Monaco’s beauty lies in the ability to enjoy its splendor and luxury without excess.

It is recommended to climb up to Monaco-Ville, sit on a bench or on the cool grass in the Saint Martin Garden, and watch as the sun slowly sets behind Tete de Chien mountain, coloring the sky in shades of rosé wine and welcoming the twilight. This is the time to hear the nightingales sing and smell the scent of pine trees and fresh earth – the true luxury. Just remember not to miss your return train!

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