Valters and I are great travel buddies because, in many ways, we are so alike. We are both drawn to natural beauty and places where the lack of modern technology forces you to go outside and just be, we both can lay ourselves bare without much thought, and we both require a certain amount of spontaneous trips in our lives to keep us sane.
He never tells me my ideas are crazy or my dreams too big and by now, we have learned that accepting who we are and what we love allows us to live our lives to the fullest. We have acknowledged our passion for travel and embraced the deep-rooted infatuation with surfing.
When it comes to travel, I just love how it disrupts everyday patterns of my life, how it mends fractures in my mind and in a way, makes me whole. A very long time ago, we decided to make a living, loving and travelling to the fullest our main priority. And we never looked back.
Our day trip from Nice to Monaco which is located on a Medeterenian coast and is entirely surrounded by France wasn’t really an impulsive idea. Best known for its luxurious hotels, casinos, tax-free status and fancy resorts, Monaco was never our dream destination.
We actually, head our sites set for seeing colourful Menon town and medieval Eze on French Riveria. But the novelty of visiting yet another country that’s sitting conveniently just a stone’s throw away from Nice, where we spend 5 days basking in the sunshine, was so seductive that we planned accordingly and set aside an extra day for it.
Our introduction to Monaco, the world’s second-smallest country, was very brief. But as ever, we were determined to make the most of our time in this place.
We had seen many photos of Monaco before our arrival and heard many sceptical remarks from other travellers in regards to the rich and famous lifestyle and didn’t expect much from the trip.
To our excitement, it turned out Monaco was a real treasure box. Given its size, 2 square kilometres, we were spoiled for choice with so much to see and do. Monaco was more extensive than we initially thought, we even found a beautiful old town district made up of narrow streets and colourful buildings.
Wandering around it, Monaco’s charm gradually grew on us, and we realised something inspiring and beautiful can be found in every country.
Exploring beautiful Monaco: A fantastic family trip from sunny Nice
While we only had less than 12 hours to explore this tiny country, it proved to be just enough time to check out all the must-sees. The sun was lit high up in the sky as we jumped off a train and started wandering around the quiet streets of the second smallest country in the world.
In this blog post, we wanted to share places to visit as well as a few tips and hints for making the most of your trip to Monaco.
#1. Visit one of many gardens
There are many beautiful gardens in Monaco, and all of them are perfectly trimmed and litter-free, including the Les Jardins Saint-Martin that’s best known for the memorial statue of Prince Albert I and fantastic views over the Medeterenien.
Jardin Exuetique gardens offer fantastic views over the harbour and royal palace and are also home to thousands of cacti. Princess Grace Rose Garden with 315 varieties of a rosebush is yet another Springtime that is the best for seeing flowers in full bloom.
#2. Visit Musée Oceanographique
Situated right on the cliff edge and 90 metres above sea level, The Musée Oceanographique is one of the oldest aquariums in the world. There are three different aquariums and well over 6,000 marine life creatures. By visiting the museum that took 11 years to build, you can learn about the ocean and see shoals of young clownfish and beautiful seahorses.
#3. See the Monte Carlo Casino
It’s fair to say that the Casino de Monte Carlo build in 1863, is one of the most famous casinos in the world. Surrounded by palm trees and fancy cars that provide cheap thrills for tourists casino is located in the Monte Carlo district and it’s where most visitors head first. Native Monaco, however, are not allowed to enter and gamble in any of the casinos, the rule imposed by countries government.
#4. Formula One Grand Prix
The world-famous Formula 1 Grand Prix which started in 1950 is held in Monte Carlo. And usually takes place in May. Get a free circuit map from a tourist information centre for a self-guided tour. Ayrton Senna has won the race 6 times, more than any other race driver.
#5. Visit Prince’s Palace of Monaco
Overlooking Monaco, The Prince of Monaco’s palace, dates back to the 13th century and is located high above Monaco. The blue room is spectacularly decorated with gold and blue, and If the flag is raisin in the central tower, that means the prince is in residence and the visit is off-limits. The traditional ritual of Changing the Guards takes place every day at 11:55am, and you can purchase a combo ticket to see the State Apartments and Private Collection of Antique Cars.
#6. Enjoy a performance at Fort Antoine
Fort Antoine is an excellent place for photos looking back at Monaco and over the shimmering Mediterranean waters. Once a military fortification today Fort Antoine host a wide range of performances and this beautiful outdoor theatre can seat up to 350 spectators.
#7. Monaco -Ville or Le Rocher
Sitting on an imposing rocky headland known as ‘The Rock’ Monaco-Ville is the old town of Monaco, and this is where you’ll find Prince’s Palace, Saint Nicholas Cathedral with an impressive Carrara marble altar and Oceanographic Museum.
#8. Monte Carlo Opera House
The Opera de Monte Carlo, also known as Salle Garnier, was built in 1878 and is located on the iconic Place de Casino which is the most famous spot in Monaco. For ballet and opera fans this 520-seater heater, whose architect is Charles Garnier, also known for Palais Garnier Opera House in Paris, is a great place to watch a show as well as admire the impressive interior.
#9. The Observatory Cave
Did you know there is a cave filled with a fantastic array of stalactites and stalagmites beneath the city? The entry to the cave is with a guide only, and the entrance can be found within the Exotic Garden. To reach the caves, you have to walk down 300 steps.
Getting to and around Monaco from Nice
• Airport | Monaco is one of those countries that doesn’t have its own airport. The closest international airport is Nice Airport from where you can get a bus number 100 to travel to Monaco.
• Buses | Bus Nr. 100 (Monaco-Menton) is one of the most beautiful bus rides in Europe. To make sure you see the scenic coast, sit on the right side. During the week the bus leaves every 15 minutes and if it’s crowded, just wait for the next one. The price of the ticket is EUR 1.50, and you can buy it right from the driver. Keep in mind, that Monaco doesn’t have a Bus Station, but the bus makes a couple of stops in Monaco.
• Trains | You can also travel from Nice to Monaco by train that runs every half an hour. The beautiful Nice train station, equipped with restrooms and coin-operated storage know lockers, is very impressively decorated and showcases a grand clock. Just outside the train station is the Tourist Information Bureau and bus number 99 connects the train station to the Airport. You can also use the train to travel to Menton, Grasse, Lyon, Paris, Cannes, Ventimiglia, Marseille, and Toulon.
• Driving | Arriving in Monaco by car is also a very scenic introduction to the beautiful Medeterenian coast, but once you enter the country, you’ll find engorged roads that can be challenging to navigate.
• Getting around | You can use the local bus to get around Monaco, and you can also walk everywhere. This means you can see so much more while exploring the city on foot. There’s always a chance of coming across a charming corner shop or
Tips, hints and things to do in Monaco
- Few public lifts can take visitors from one level to another one but apart from that walking around Monaco is up steep hills and many flights of steps. Bring comfortable shoes and plenty of water.
- You won’t find any budget hotels, as we know in Monaco and that’s why it’s a good idea to stay in Italy or France where you can find hotels with excellent value.
- The Principal office in the Palais de La Scala is where you’ll find a philatelic desk; Monaco has always produced lovely stamps that are popular with collectors.
- During the August many businesses close for their own holiday.
- Monaco is divided into 10 resort and residential districts. There are four traditional and six newer ones, and Monte-Carlo is one of the areas.
- Winter is a great time to visit Monaco to avoid tourist crowds and to see incredible Christmas decorations,. At that time of the year, the weather is mild, and it rarely gets below freezing.
- French is the official language in Monaco, yet most people speak Italian and English.
- By visiting French Riviera, you can see three countries in one day and can have breakfast in Italy, lunch in Monaco and dinner in France.
- The official currency in Monaco is the euro which replaced the French franc in 2002.
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Now, over to you!
Have you been to Monaco? Let us know in the comments!
Let us know if you are plotting a visit to Monaco and have travel-related questions!