A luxury weekend in a tiny principality, an unusual location for rich and famous.
How to get there
You cannot get to the place by plane, because there is no airport capable of receiving liners in Monaco. Most of those who want to visit the principality fly to Nice and then choose the option that best suits their needs. From Côte d'Azur International Airport (Nice), you can take a 30-40 minutes’ travel costing only 10-20 euros to get to a neighboring state by train or bus. Or fly in a few minutes by helicopter, paying from 105 euros for a seat in the cabin. There is no point to rent a car as parking spaces are limited, but you can opt for this option if your car belongs to the category of “supercars”. Palaces and hotels would park it in front of the main entrance in order to show the status of their guests. Do not be surprised by a number of curious tourists taking pictures next to it. For the most exclusive guests, hotels also provide with personal drivers and the taxi would cost you around 500 euros.
Where to live
On the tiny territory of Monaco, there are a lot of hotels with luxurious rooms with excellent service, overlooking the azure water of the sea. If you want to spend a truly chic weekend, book a room at the historic Hôtel de Paris, Hotel Hermitage or Hôtel Métropole, at the exquisite Monte Carlo Bay Hotel, at the ultra-modern Meridien Beach Plaza. They are quite expensive; the most modest room will cost more than 300 euros per night. Therefore, those who prefer to save, it is better to settle outside of Monaco: to the west - in neighboring Nice or to the east - in even cheaper Menton or even Italian Ventimiglia. Fortunately, thanks to trains constantly running along the coast, you will need no more than half an hour to get to Monte-Carlo from these places. A train ticket from Cannes / Nice to Monaco and back would cost you around 20 euro.
The first day
Perhaps, in no other place in the world, the red sightseeing bus, operating on the principle of hop-on-hop-off will be as useful as in Monaco! The territory of the principality is small, so the only route Le grand tour with 12 stops allows you to see all the significant places, and quickly move between them. Buses run from 10 am to 5.45 pm in the high season and until 5.30 pm in the low with intervals of 15 and 30 minutes. The cost of a single-day ticket is 18 euros (or 7 euros for children from 4 to 11 years old), for 2 days only 21 euros. The main disadvantage is that the salons are small, and there are a lot of tourists on “hot” dates, so queues can form at stops and it is not always possible to get on the first car that came up.
If the idea of a ride on a bus does not attract you, then to get to know the city, in fact, you still have to do the same route, just on foot. From the train station, you should walk to the port (it is located in the Condamine area) and, having admired the luxurious multi-deck yachts with pools, helipads and car parks on board, walk to the palace. The rulers of the principality kindly let tourists into some of the apartments. You can see a suite of beautiful rooms, view works of art from different centuries and listen to the audio guide about the life of the ruling dynasty and the history of Monaco.
After the palace, everyone usually reaches the huge, pompous building of the Oceanographic Museum. Among its aquariums and various exhibits telling about the underwater realm, it will be interesting for children and ocean lovers. If you do not belong to either one or the other, then we advise you at least to go up to the open veranda on the roof, where you have a great view of the principality, and then linger in the museum shop and buy some lovely unique souvenirs.
The next destination is the Monte Carlo district (yes, this is not the name of the capital of the principality and not a separate city, but just one of the districts of Monaco!). It is located behind the port and is famous for its beautiful classical parks and the oldest casino, which can be seen by any adult tourist (if you look young, do not forget to bring your passport). To visit this legendary place is not even for the sake of the game, but to see the beautiful interiors. You will not be charged for entering, they will not force you to sit at the table with roulette, but they will ask you to part with the camera for a while: it is strictly forbidden to take pictures in a casino. And do not forget that the tourist office of Monaco is located in Monte Carlo, where you can take a map and get a lot of useful information about the country.
Going further east, you will find yourself in a lovely Japanese garden, where you can take a breath. By the way, fans of Formula-1 racing will probably recognize these places: you will constantly be on the highway passing through the city’s streets, and behind the casino, there is a famous tunnel on the seafront.
You can finish the day with dinner at one of the famous restaurants, a favorite pass-time for the richest people in the world. Among the gastronomic legends of the principality are Le Louis XV, Le Café de Paris, Muse and many others. GCC nationals are common quests to those places, so do not hesitate to ask for pork-free options. The gastronomic cuisine is made on the spot and any chef would be glad to accommodate your needs.
Most likely, you have already seen most of the sights the day before. On the second day, if you did not take a bus tour, you can go to visit the Museum of vintage cars from the personal collection of the country's ruler, in the Rosary of Princess Grace - they are located in the Fontvieille area, a territory entirely “conquered” from the sea. Pay attention to the surrounding residential buildings: these neat high-rises are social housing for Monegasques!
You can, on the contrary, go to the east of the state. Visit the beautiful villas "Zauber" and "Paloma" and spend time on the beach in the area Larvotto.
By the way, in a small area of Monaco there are many interesting art collections, so depending on your interests, pay attention to the Philatelic and Numismatic Museum, the Maritime Museum (do not confuse with Oceanographic!), The Museum of Historical Archives, a small zoological garden.
And if finances allow, do not deny yourself the pleasure of spending a couple of thousands or tens of thousands of euros, walking through the boutiques of the Monte Carlo district and looking into the Le Metropole shopping centre.
The public holidays in Monaco are:
§ New Year's Day (1st January)
§ Saint Dévote's Day (27th January)
§ Easter Monday
§ The 1st of May
§ Ascension (the Thursday 40 days after Easter)
§ Whit Monday (50 days after Easter)
§ Corpus Christi (the Thursday 60 days after Easter)
§ Assumption (15th August)
§ All Saints' Day (1st November)
§ The Fête du Prince (19th November), the national day
§ The Immaculate Conception (8th December or 9th if 8th is on Sunday)
§ Christmas Day (25th December)
If New Year's Day, the 1st of May, Assumption, All Saints' Day, the Prince's Day or Christmas Day fall on a Sunday, the following Monday will be a statutory holiday.
Our advice, skip those public holidays dates and try to visit Monaco during low season. This is the best time to avoid the crowd and to enjoy the charming sea-state. You can also plan your trip during the biggest regional events such as the Cannes Film Festival and Monte Carlo Formula One Race. But these days require a different preparation, which can be done for you by a professional concierge company. The best tables, the best hotel rooms and private entrance to the best museums and palaces, parties and receptions could be possible only through a booking agent.