Exploring beautiful Monaco: A family fun trip from sunny Nice

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 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 by 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.

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Natives of Monaco are called Monegasque.

 

Our day trip from Nice to Monaco that 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 worlds 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 charm gradually grew on us, and we realised something inspiring and beautiful can be found in every country.

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The only natural resource Monaco has is fish.
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Monaco has more policemen per person than any other country in the world.

 

Exploring beautiful Monaco: A family fun trip from sunny Nice

While we only had less than 12 hours to explore this tiny country, and 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 the rosebush is yet another  Springtime 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 clown-fish 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 Monte Carlo district and its where most visitors head first. Native Monaco, however, are not allowed to enter and gamble in any of casinos, the rule imposed by countries government.

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The Monte Carlo Casino, where three of James Bond films have been shot.

 

#4. Formula One Grand Prix

The world-famous Formula 1 Grand Prix that 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 prince is in residence and visit is off-limits. The traditional ritual of Changing of 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.

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Fort Antoine, Monaco.

 

#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 guide only, and the entrance can be found within the Exotic Garden. To reach the caves, you have to walk down 300 steps.

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Monaco.

 

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 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, 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, 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

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The Nice Train Station (Gare de Nice-Ville), France.

 

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 it 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, 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 euros which replace French francs 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!

 

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Our Crossings follows the daily adventures of Latvian expats living in Sligo as they surf and explore the world

35 thoughts on “Exploring beautiful Monaco: A family fun trip from sunny Nice

    1. You are welcome, as I mentioned in the post – Monaco was never really on our wishlist, but it would have been unforgiving not to make an effort to explore it. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day! Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, we were visiting Monaco on a very hot summers day and even thou taking photographs under bright, glaring daylight is never a good idea, some of them turned out to be okayish! Thanks for stopping by and have a good day! Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It was very beautiful indeed! If you add the allure of people watching in a totally James Bond setting, walking the famous F1 track and seeing the landmarks such as Casino Square and Mirabeau – it contributes even more to a successful day trip. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day

      Liked by 1 person

    1. We were delighted with our visit to Monaco and wish we had more time to explore it – underground caves and a few of the gardens are still remain unseen – a couple of reasons to return to Monaco one day. Thanks for stopping by

      Like

  1. We spent a day in Monaco back in 2010 and again passed through it on our way to Menton on bus route 100 in 2017. We will be back there in the next month. We may or may not stop, but will definitely spend time in Menton at one of our favourite restaurants. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Allan sounds like you have seen a fair share of beautiful places and countries! I would love to go back to the South of France one day! We absolutely had no idea oh how incredibly attractive that part of Europe is and were overwhelmed by day trip options – Menton and Eze still remain uncovered. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day

      Like

  2. If Native Moraccan’s can’t enter or gamble in the Casino’s who works in them? Do they hire foreigners to do that work? That would be bizarre b/c there are a lot of jobs to be done in a casino that would pay the bills and feed a family.

    It looks lovely there. I love their architecture, and colorful buildings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Casinos in Monaco constitute a gambling paradise for many Europeans. However, there is a bizarre point in Monaco Laws which forbid the locals from gambling-related activities within the boundaries of the city-state. Let alone gambling in the big casinos, the Monegasques cannot event set a foot inside of a casino unless they work there.

      Apparently, the creator of the idea of having a casino in Monaco also banned the locals from gambling due to moral reasons. Yes, Princess Caroline didn’t want the locals to gamble away their money as the state needed every single Monegasque Franc that they could save. The main goal was attracting gambling enthusiast foreigners.

      And, yes, it is lovely there, especially the coastal views and its beautiful gardens.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Great post! I spent a few days in Monaco many years ago, and I have to say it wasn’t my favourite city along the French riviera… Though the Musée Océanographique is indeed amazing! Thanks for sharing 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Juliette, Monaco wasn’t our favourite place to explore too, but it was nice to see something different from what we are usually used to – think quite villages and rugged mountain passes. We loved its blooming gardens and coastal views. Thanks for reading and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Monaco is a lovely country to explore for a day or two, but it was the little towns and villages scattered along the beautiful coast that truly captured our minds and souls. World is a beautiful place worth exploring! Thanks for stopping by and safe travels 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. We have spent a day in Monaco, it was a stop on our honeymoon cruise, and it was lovely. We felt we had to take a minute to gamble and stopped in during the day, we heard it was open to non formal wear at that time. David left $100 donation to the casino. I had a Rum and Diet coke – it was 12euros, almost the most expensive drink I have had in a long time. It was all crystals and gems, gold leaf, marble and large scale art that was impressive. It was worth the 12Euros just to see it. David disagrees on the $100 fee he left. We love the reading time posted. Smart idea!

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    1. Casino Monte Carlo is a great place to visit, even just to see it from the outside. We had a chance to have a peek inside of the on the day that we visited, and even though we didn’t go gambling, the interior of the building was stunning! I’m not surprised about the price of your drink – you’ll pay €6,50 for an orange juice at the adjacent Café de Paris, which sits right next to the casino. Thanks so much for stopping by, guys and safe travels

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We love talking to people on WordPress because no one in our town has been to Monte Carlo or even has an idea or are talking about it, so it’s fun to know somebody who knows has been to the same places you’ve been. Thanks ourcrossings

        Like

      2. Same here, it’s one of the reasons we started writing a travel blog – just so we get to interact with likeminded people and share our experiences about places visited. Have a good day and safe travels

        Liked by 1 person

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