A quick getaway in Monaco is the perfect way to soak in all the joys of the Riviera lifestyle. The Principality of Monaco is a little jewel perched on the Mediterranean coastline, and its tiny size – 2 km2 – makes it very easy to explore. From iconic tourist attractions to breathtaking vistas and prestigious destinations, here are a few tips for a wonderful day trip to Monaco.
How to get to Monaco for a day trip
Are you looking for the quickest way to get to Monaco from the Cote d’Azur? Then travel by air from Nice in Southern France to Monaco in unforgettable style! Monac’Air provides a regular helicopter service between Nice airport and the Principality. It takes just 7 minutes to get from Nice International Airport to Monaco Heliport, making it unbeatably quick. During your flight, you will be able to take in unspoilt views of the Mediterranean coast from the Promenade des Anglais to the Cap d’Ail. Once you have touched down, a shuttle will transport you to the heart of the city. In the Principality’s center, Hercule Harbor welcomes luxury yachts stopping off in Monaco, as does Fontvieille port. In short, by car or by train, all roads lead to Monaco!
A morning in Monte Carlo: Exploring Monaco’s heritage
If you are wondering what to do in Monaco for a day, make sure you take the time to explore at least one of these three places to visit. Step into the heart of one of the Principality’s most iconic tourist attractions which has helped to found its international reputation since 1863: Monte Carlo Casino. Its sumptuous Belle Époque building is open for you to visit every morning from 10 am to 1 pm. Follow in James Bond’s footsteps in the legendary Salle Europe room, and get ready to be dazzled by the Salle des Ameriques’ golden decor. These near-mythical locations are all open for you to explore. Feel free to come back later in the day to sample the slot machines and other games – perhaps lady luck will smile on you… Make sure you also check out the Monte Carlo Oceanographic Museum. Since being inaugurated by Prince Albert I of Monaco in 1889, it has become a world-leading institution. Its 90 pools are home to 6000 species from the Mediterranean and Tropics. You won’t want to miss the impressive shark lagoon or the 360° deep-sea diving experience courtesy of the museum’s virtual reality headsets. If you would prefer to spend your day in Monaco exploring its art scene, head to the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco. In the extraordinary double setting of the Villa Paloma and Villa Sauber, this art gallery showcases contemporary creations in the many temporary exhibitions that make up its yearly calendar.
Top lunch destinations in Monaco
Head to the Monte Carlo district for lunch in one of the Société des Bains de Mer’s restaurants. Step into the Casino, for instance, to soak in the Salon Rose’s cozy, intimate decor. In the glamorous, buzzing ambiance of one of gambling’s great capitals, this restaurant offers diners a delicious break from the crowd over dishes that combine the best of the Mediterranean terroir with Asian inspirations. You can also head next door to Le Grill and enjoy an outstanding meal on the eighth story of the Hotel de Paris Monte Carlo. When the weather is fine, its rooftop is the perfect place for tucking into lunch in the sun as you look out over amazing views of the Mediterranean sea. You will be excited to try cuisine crafted by chef Franck Cerutti, in which grilled fish and meat is complemented by the Riviera’s finest produce. You might prefer to head to the Larvotto district’s seafront and enjoy the chic, relaxed atmosphere of the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort on Avenue Princesse Grace. The L’Orange Verte restaurant is open all hours for succulent, world cuisine-inspired delights to take out or eat in.
An afternoon stroll from the Rocher to Monte Carlo
One thing you simply shouldn’t miss during your day in the second smallest country in the world is a trip to the top of its Rocher, or “rock”, where you can check out the Palais Princier which has been home to the princely Grimaldi family since the 15th century. If you get to the palace square at around 11.55 am, you can watch the Prince’s own carabiniers (or riflemen) perform the Changing of the Guard. From April to October, you can also explore the richly ornamented Grand Apartments, the Throne Room (where the Principality’s official ceremonies take place) and the Cour d’Honneur. Before you wander back down to Monaco City, head up the steps to make sure you check out the spectacular hilltop view over the entire Principality, port and Mediterranean sea. Next, go to Hercule harbor to stroll along its quays and admire its sailing boats and luxury yachts. That done, it is time to check out another of the city-state’s iconic places to visit, the Monte-Carlo district. Don’t forget boat-buses are available to quickly whisk you across the port. Once you have disembarked, a lift will take you up to Casino Square. From there, walk along to the Carré d’Or and you will find yourself surrounded by Monaco’s glitz and grandeur. The international jet set in their Ferraris and other haute luxury cars mingle along the coast in front of the sublime Monte Carlo Casino and the legendary Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo.
A day at the shops in Monte Carlo
You can’t truly say you have spent a day in Monaco if you haven’t visited the Principality’s top-class boutiques. The luxury capital’s most perfect exclusive shopping destination is close to Casino Square. Promenade Princesse Charlène is in the newly created One Monte-Carlo district and, like its side streets, this pedestrianized boulevard is home to the biggest names in fashion and jewelry, from Balenciaga to Saint Laurent via Lanvin and Cartier. There is only one word to describe it: Prestigious.
Monaco’s best cafes and bars?
After a long day spent exploring Monaco, take the time to sample the Cote d’Azur’s inimitable lifestyle with a glass of something lovely in one of the Principality’s many bars. Once you have visited the Prince of Monaco’s palace, wander the traditional winding streets of Monaco City’s old town and settle down in one of a cafe shaded by the local townhouses’ impressive Renaissance facades. In the well-to-do Monte-Carlo district, get a real slice of Monegasque life at Casino Square’s Café de Paris Monte Carlo. Grab a table on the terraces if you are looking to see and be seen, or head indoors to check out the elegant décor. Would you like some nibbles to go with your aperitif? Then head to Mada One in the chic new One Monte-Carlo complex. From 5.30 pm to 8 pm, this new-generation destination has a fine range of snacks to choose from to go with a cocktail or a glass of wine.
Check out our suggestions for great nights out in Monaco! If Monaco in a day sounds too short to take it all in and you are planning on staying longer, make sure you check out our tips for unforgettable weekends and week-long holidays in Monaco.