See the world’s second-smallest country with this one-day itinerary for Monaco!
Monaco – often just called “Monte Carlo” (after the famous casino with that name) – is the second-smallest country in the world, located in the French Riviera near Nice and Saint-Tropez. Monaco is known as one of the richest zip codes in the world, where over 1/3 of the residents are millionaires.
Don’t let this wealth and opulence deter you, however: Monaco is absolutely worth seeing. Because Monaco is so small, it’s easy to spend just one day here and still see most of the country.
Don’t visit the French Riviera without spending one day in Monaco. From a true Prince’s palace to exotic supercars to the world-famous Monte Carlo Casino, there is something for everyone!
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How to get to Monaco
Monaco is easily accessed from the main cities in the French Riviera, especially Nice. Just hop on the train from Nice-Ville towards Monaco-Monte Carlo and ride for a bit over 20 minutes. Easy!
I would not recommend driving. Monaco is small and parking comes at a premium.
Walk from the train station to the harbour (and admire the yachts)
After taking the train into Monaco, you’ll meander through the winding, hilly streets towards the harbour. The architecture is absolutely gorgeous…
… but the Super Yachts are truly breathtaking. You might know that Monaco is mega-wealthy, but you won’t truly realize it until you see these massive vessels.
Once you’re at the harbour, you’ll meet up with your tour guide for your Lamborghini driving experience!
Live like the rich & famous and drive an exotic car
In the land of the mega-wealthy, why not live a little? That was what I thought, at least, and why I decided to drive a Lamborghini through the hills of Monaco!
This isn’t a cheap experience, but for just a couple hundred dollars, you can feel the power of 500+ horsepower while you power through the twists and turns of Monaco. Even better, part of this route is on the Formula One circuit, which is certainly on any car enthusiast’s bucket list.
If you are into cars or thrills at all, you absolutely cannot visit Monaco without driving a Lamborghini or a Ferrari. There’s a reason hundreds of people have rated this experience 5 stars – it’s absolutely amazing!
Walk up to the Prince’s Palance and witness the Changing of the Guard
After completing your Lamborghini driving experience, walk up the hill toward the Prince’s Palace. Try to time it right so you arrive a little bit before 11:55 am, which is when the ceremony begins. Crowds form, so you’ll want to arrive at least half an hour early to snag a good spot!
To get to the palace, head up Av. de la Prt Neuve towards the walking trail. You’ll come across an excellent viewpoint location for the harbour, so snag a picture and then huff up the hill.
The Prince’s Palace is the true residence of the Monagesque Prince, and is a unique European palace in that it has been the Grimaldi Palace for over 700 years. Most other royals would move to a new location to get bigger, grander palaces, but Monaco is so small that the Palace location has not changed. Pretty neat!
You can visit the Palace between June and October.
Marvel at the Port of Fontvieille Viewpoint
After enjoying the Changing of the Guard, feel free to explore the area around the Prince’s Palace. This area is known as the “Old Town of Monaco” and it is absolutely gorgeous.
One excellent viewpoint is overlooking the Port of Fontvieille. More yachts!
Visit the Saint Martin Gardens
Continue down the street from the viewpoint to the Saint Martin Gardens. This small park has been open for over 200 years and was originally created as a place where residents could work when famine hit. Enjoy views of the Mediterranean, relax by the pond, and unwind for a moment.
Enjoy museums? Go to the Oceanographic Museum
Located right next to the Saint Martin Gardens is the Oceanographic Museum. If you love the ocean, this is the museum for you. Find exhibits of various sea life (including seahorses, cuttlefish, and even sharks), model ships, seafarers’ weapons, and more! There’s even an aquarium in the basement.
Return to the Harbour and take the Bateau Bus across the water
After exploring Old Town Monaco, you’ll want to head back down towards the harbour and take the Bateau Bus across the water. You’re heading towards the world-famous Monte Carlo Casino!
For only 2 euro, the Bateau Bus will take you across the harbour. Given how hilly Monaco is, this is a steal – plus it’s fun to ride a boat between all the yachts.
Once you cross the harbour, follow the crowd towards the nearest tunnel. There is an elevator in the tunnel that will drop you just behind the Monte Carlo Casino.
Visit Café de Paris and eat barbagiuan
Café de Paris is arguably one of the most popular restaurants in Monaco, but for good reason. Located on Place du Casino, it is in the center of all the action. Fair warning, Café de Paris is quite expensive – but you’re in one of the world’s most expensive zip codes, so is it really that surprising?
I ordered a cocktail and barbagiuan, which was absolutely delicious. Barbagiuan is the national dish of Monaco and absolutely cannot be missed. It’s something between a dumpling and a ravioli, stuffed with Swiss chard and ricotta.
Gamble at the world-famous Monte Carlo Casino
Starting at 2 pm the Monte Carlo Casino is open for gambling. You absolutely must visit the casino with your one day in Monaco, even if gambling isn’t your thing. There is a small cover charge but some of the value can be put towards slots or table games, so it’s not a bad price at all.
The inside is absolutely gorgeous, too. Are you curious about the Monte Carlo yet?
I ended up winning something like 300 euro from my small time at the casino, so it paid for both the Lamborghini experience and my expensive lunch at Café de Paris. All in, a pretty good deal!
Check out all the exotic cars around Casino Square
By now, you’ve had a pretty full day and you’ve probably walked a ton, so it’s time to wind down. Spend some time in Casino Square and admire all the crazy expensive cars. Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Maseratis – they’ll all be present. Literally millions of dollars of cars in one small space!
Walk to the Fairmont Hotel to see the “Fairmont Hairpin”
Before heading to the train station, take a quick detour towards the Fairmont Hotel. Here you will see the world-famous “Fairmont Hairpin”, which is touted as “the world’s most famous bend”. The Formula 1 race comes through this turn and it’s a sight to see:
Stand on the international border between France and Monaco
Before you head back to Nice or wherever you’re visiting from, take a quick detour on the way to the train station. You’ll be able to straddle the international border between France and Monaco. How many times have you stood on an international border?
The border cuts right through the Monaco train station, so you’ll be able to do this quickly before calling your day trip to Monaco done.