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Monaco Tourism And Travel Guide
10.6° C / 51° F
May to September
2 to 3 Days
Nice Cote d'Azur Airport (30 kms)
Gare de Monaco-Monte Carlo
Monaco is a sovereign principality; the second smallest country in the world and is nestled between the Alps and the Mediterranean, surrounded by the French Riviera in the east and west and the Italian Riviera a little further to the east. It is ruled by the royal Grimaldi family, and with an area of just 2 sq. km, it might appear that there is little to offer in this long-serving monarchy.
However, Monaco’s strategic location and warm Mediterranean climate ensures that tourists flock to the state all year long to enjoy its glamorous attractions. Moreover, the entire city of Monaco serves as the racing circuit for the annual Formula One Grand Prix event, which brings in racing enthusiasts from around the world to Monaco in large crowds and contributes largely to the thriving tourism in the state. Read on to know more about this small yet versatile city with the help of this travel guide.
How to Reach
The nearest airport from the city of Monaco is the Nice-Cote d’Azur International Airport, located about 30 km from the city centre. Daily direct flights operate regularly from European cities like London and Paris to Monaco, while travellers from India are required to book connecting flights with one or more stopovers since no direct flights connect Monaco to India. From Nice Airport, airport shuttles, taxis and buses are available to take you to Monaco directly, which takes roughly 30 minutes.
There’s also a helicopter service called Monacair that operates regular helicopter transfers from Nice Airport to Monaco. While the journey time is cut down to a mere 7 minutes, travellers will also be blessed by beautiful scenic sights on their flight.
The Gare de Monaco-Monte Carlo is predominantly an underground railway system. There are regular rail services to France and Italy, with multiple trains to Nice, Cannes, Menton and Ventimiglia on an hourly basis. The SNCF rail network connects Monaco to most of France, and the TGV network expedites travelling from Paris to Monaco. Travellers can come in from Italian cities like Rome, Genoa, Milan and Venice through the Trenitalia train service.
A large network of roads connects Monaco to France and Italy. The A8 motorway makes accessing Monte Carlo from Nice and Marseille in the west and from the Italian border in the east quite a convenient affair. There are no bus stations here and international buses have stopovers in multiple points in the city. The Rapide Cote d’Azur bus service connects Monaco to the majority of the French cities.
If you are interested in driving across the French countryside, cars can be hired from any rental service that allows travellers to get to Monaco through any of the amazingly scenic routes in the country.
Weather & Best Time to Visit
Summer (June – August):
The most popular time to visit Monaco is during the summers. The temperatures range from 21⁰C-24⁰C with minimal chances of rain, making this the perfect weather to hit the beaches on warm sunny days. The city is crowded with tourists and hotels charge very high rates during this season. Even the residents tend to remain mostly outdoors during the very lively summertime.
Autumn (September – November):
During the early fall season, the climate remains pretty much similar to that of summers. The temperature ranges between 12⁰C-16⁰C, which means the days are warm enough to enjoy most of the outdoor activities. There is ample sunshine during the daylight hours to spend time on the beaches as well; however, the sea starts to get cooler and swimming may not be an option during this season. Autumn is also the rainiest time of the year. Expect to find lesser crowds and lowered hotel rates, making this the ideal time for budget travellers.
Winter (December – February):
Winters in Monaco are mild and the temperature rarely ever dips below 8⁰C during the coldest month of the year, January. Christmas and New Year’s celebrations are in full swing during December, and while winters are typically off-season, a lot of travellers choose to visit during this time to enjoy the quieter yet festive ambience of the region. Keep in mind that a lot of hotels and restaurants may remain closed during this time.
Spring (March – May):
Apart from autumns, spring is another great time to visit Monaco if you’re looking to enjoy the great climate of the region without the over-crowded tourist spots. The temperature hovers around 16⁰C-17⁰C with around 9 hours of sunshine every day. As the winters recede and the sea waters get warmer, beaches begin to get crowded as well.
Things to Do
Spend Time on the Beaches:
The beaches of Monaco are one of its highlights and sunbathing on the golden shores of the city is one of the most popular things to do here. During the summers, the beaches are packed with both tourists and residents relaxing on the pristine sandy coastlines and swimming in the warm Mediterranean Sea.
Watch the Formula One Grand Prix:
The most iconic event in Monaco is the annual Grand Prix racing event that takes place in May each year. It attracts visitors from all over the world and the streets of the entire state are shut down for the four days of the event as racing cars zoom through the 3.2 km race circuit. Tourists can explore the circuit themselves the rest of the year with the help of maps available at the tourist office.
Tour the Palais du Prince:
The Prince’s Palace is a 13th century fortress located at the top of the Le Rocher neighbourhood and is open to visitors for tours when the prince is not in residence. The palace is known for its exquisite architecture and brilliant themes of interior designs. If you plan a tour of the palace around noon, be sure to catch the impressive spectacle that is the Changing of the Guard, a traditional ritual of the Carabiniers du Prince at 11.55 am every day.
Explore the Parks:
Monaco has numerous lovely parks and gardens crammed into its tiny area. Jardin Exotique is one such garden situated in the Fontvieille neighbourhood that contains thousands of native and exotic species of flora. Its main highlight is the Observatory Cave with ancient stalactites and stalagmites. The Princess Grace Rose Garden was built in memory of Grace Kelly by her husband, Prince Rainier of Monaco. The garden boasts an astounding 4000 rose bushes of different varieties, which are best admired in the spring or summer season. Jardin Japonais and Jardin Saint-Martin are other beautiful parks worthy of a visit.
Where to Shop
Shopping in Monaco is best defined as luxury and opulence at its finest. Upscale shopping is what most travellers can expect from this city, which includes haute couture, jewellery, and perfumes among other fine items. The Metropole Shopping Centre features chandeliers and a stunning marble décor that is spread over three floors and where shoppers can purchase a variety of goods; other spots like the Fontvieille Shopping Centre and the YCM Gallery offer a shopping haven to buyers during summers. Golden Circle is another top destination for shopping enthusiasts where a bunch of elite stores can be found. Avenue Princess Grace is another great choice for fashion accessories and clothes. Visit Marche de la Condamine, Monaco’s street market, for the freshest local produce and souvenirs.
Where to Eat
Food in Monaco is just as pricey and glamorous as are its shopping venues. But it goes without saying that if you’ve decided to spend a little vacation in this glitzy city, there is nothing wrong with spending a little more on its fancy delicacies. Blue Bay is a one-star Michelin restaurant in Monaco that may easily be the best eatery in town. With classic French and Mediterranean cuisine, it is a must-visit for all food connoisseurs. Le Louis XV is also a Michelin-star restaurant that is vegan and vegetarian-friendly. Le Train Bleu and Ristorante Mozza are the best Italian places to eat.
There are also some-budget friendly options if pricey food at every meal is not your cup of tea. There are lots of bakeries here where breakfast and lunch can be enjoyed at very low rates. Head over to Chez Roger for some local favourites, or the Casino Supermarket for freshly prepared pizzas and baked goods.