48 Hours in Monaco – How to Get The Best From Your Trip

48 Hours in Monaco – How to Get The Best From Your Trip


Monaco might be small, but it is perfectly formed. The Principality of Monaco lies on the Mediterranean sea and is bordered by France, with Italy also within easy reach. Monte Carlo is often mistaken for the capital of Monaco, but it’s actually one of the four government districts. The advantage of its compact size, at 1.95 square kilometers, is that it’s very easy to explore. I recently visited and am sharing my tips on how to get the best from your trip with 48 hours in Monaco. Having said that, there’s so much to see that you might well want to stay longer.

WHAT TO SEE
The Casino 
is a spectacular Belle Epoque building that also houses the Opera House. Designed by Charles Garnier, the famous architect of the Paris Opera House, it was opened in 1875. The interior is as impressive as the outside, with huge chandeliers and stained glass. When visiting, remember to take your passport and for men, to wear a jacket and a tie. The entry fee varies depending on which rooms you are visiting.

Montecarlo casino by night
The Cathedral 
is often known as Saint Nicholas, and is the place where Prince Rainier and Princess Grace were married. Built in 1875 on the site of a 13th century church, it’s located in the old town.

Monaco Cathedral view
Also in the old town, nicknamed The Rock (or Le Rocher in French), don’t miss the changing of the guard, every day at 11.55 am.

Montecarlo changing of the guard
The guards stand watch over the Prince’s Palace, an imposing building that definitely merits a visit. The State Apartments house stunning 16th century frescoes. The old town itself has some picturesque cobbled streets lined with restaurants and gift shops.

Monte-Carlo old town street
Monaco is famous for its association with Formula One racing. The circuit is in the heart of the city and you can retrace the steps of so many racing drivers yourself if you come with a car. The Automobile Club de Monaco celebrated 125 years of racing passion in June 2015.

Automobile Club Montecarlo
The Exotic Gardens contain thousands of rare plants, as well as a grotto. The Princess Grace Rose Garden is located within Fontvieille Park, and has recently been remodelled and extended. There are 8,000 rose bushes and 300 different varieties.

Princess Grace Rose Garden Monte-Carlo
La Condamine holds the Port of Monte-Carlo, and the new Yacht Club designed by Sir Norman Foster and Partners. It takes centre stage in Monte-Carlo’s remodelled harbour.

Monte-Carlo Yacht Club
The Oceanographic Museum is a must-see, containing a world-class aquarium with 4,000 species of fish. There’s even the possibility of stroking a shark with a special tank where the (thankfully very small!) sharks swim up to you if they want to be stroked. There’s a terrace restaurant and well stocked gift shop.

Monte Carlo Aquarium visit
The Zoological Gardens are fun to visit if you have children with you, or even just if you are a big kid like me – who could resist this meerkat!

Parc Animalier Monte-Carlo
Another interesting attraction is HSH The Prince of Monaco’s Vintage Car Collection.  There are almost 100 classic cars, Formula one race cars, and a very rare pink Mercedes Benz 300 SL Gullwing Coupé. The Lexus LS600h Landaulet is an ecologically advanced hybrid that was used for the marriage of Prince Albert and Charlene in 2011. Prince Albert is passionate about limiting climate change and whilst we were in Monaco, we saw him and his family participating side by side with local people on a World Climate March.

Monaco car collection
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
You’ll be spoilt for choice in Monaco, as there are so many excellent restaurants specializing in fish and meat, to suit all budgets. We particularly enjoyed Les Perles de Monte-CarloBeef BarMaya Bay and the Brasserie de Monaco. With over 300 days of sunshine every year, you may even be able to eat outside as we did a couple of times, despite it being December.

Where to eat in Monte-Carlo
WHERE TO SHOP
Monaco has some very luxurious shops and is the perfect place for a spot of retail therapy. The Monte-Carlo Pavilions are striking pebble-shaped pop up shops in the Boulingrins Gardens, next to the Place du Casino. You’ll find a range of luxury brands here including Bottega Veneta, Lanvin and Miu Miu. There are many more in the nearby Carré d’Or (Golden Quarter, literally translated) including jewellers and antique dealers.

Montecarlo luxury shopping
The Metropole shopping gallery is opposite the Casino Gardens, and houses 80 boutiques.

Metropole shopping centre Montecarlo
GETTING THERE
By plane
  Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport is 14 miles from Monaco and serves more than 86 worldwide destinations.
By helicopter – Monaco’s Heliport, on the seafront, reduces that journey time to just 6 minutes from the airport to the centre of the Principality.
By train – There are regular trains from Monaco/Monte-Carlo station to a variety of destinations including Nice.
By car – Around 30 minutes drive from Nice International Airport.

GETTING AROUND
Monaco has an extensive network of buses but to really travel in style, I recommend hiring a car at Nice Airport. We chose Auto Europe and were really pleased with our luxurious Audi A4, which had plenty of boot space, air conditioning and ample acceleration. No we weren’t trying to outdo the Formula One drivers, but there are a few hills where it definitely came in handy! Pick-up was easy but the system for returning the car was particularly efficient. We just drove into the designated car park area at Nice airport, handed over the keys and someone inspected the vehicle, then we were on our way.

Auto Europe car Monte Carlo Beach Club
WHERE TO STAY
Monaco has a range of hotels for different budgets, all within easy reach of the main attractions. We stayed at the Columbus Monte-Carlo, which has a fantastic location overlooking the sea and the Princess Grace Rose Gardens. It has the added advantage of not being situated within the main Formula One racing circuit. This means that hotel guests can come and go freely during the race, and many racing drivers choose to stay here. Our newly redecorated deluxe room had a balcony with a Rose Garden view, air-conditioning, soundproofing, a flat-screen TV, safe and complimentary wifi. We particularly liked the substantial roof terrace, also overlooking the garden, and the spacious lobby lounge.

Hotel Columbus Monte-Carlo review
Have you ever visited Monaco and Monte-Carlo?

  • Monaco looks gorgeous! I’ve never been but I have friends who have and they absolute loved it!

    http://thecourtneydiaries.com

  • I would love to see the beautiful interior of The Casino you’ve described, it sounds breathtakingly beautiful!

    Gabrielle | A Glass Of Ice

    x

    • I’m so glad that we went in there, it was a bit surprising to see slot machines in one of the very grand rooms but there’s also blackjack and roulette too

  • Corinne C

    Monaco is such a beautiful country! We drove through once on a school trip on the way from Nice to Italy. I took so many photos of it. Stunning.

    Corinne x
    http://www.skinnedcartree.com

  • What a gorgeous place! Thanks for all the details and tips. I have to go someday!

    http://Leftbankgirl.blogspot.com

  • Alyssa Monique Bustillo

    It is so nice to go there. I would. Someday 🙂

    Comfy Christmas X Banggood Wishlist ~ Styleccentric Fashion’ | BLOGLOVIN

    XOXO Alyssa

  • Monaco looks so beautiful! I’d love to see that church where Grace Kelly got married 🙂 I would have totally loved that zoo too- the meerkat is adorable

    Rachel xx
    http://www.thedailyluxe.net

    • The zoo is really good as they leave lots of areas for the animals to go and hide in if they don’t want to see visitors

  • Paola

    Perfect guide… I love Monaco and Montecarlo!!!
    Happy WE beauty!
    Kisses, Paola.

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  • Angie SilverSpoon

    I’ve been twice, it’s so beautiful and clean! I’d love to go back with Mr S

    • It’s very clean, isn’t it! Also very safe at night yet there are a few lively bars so it’s not boring

  • So nice to finally read your post about Monaco. As I’ve mentioned before, I am going to visit in January (only for a day unfortunately) and now I can already see that I will probably not be able to see everything. The car exhibition would definitely interest me and the Casino as well, of course!

    http://www.LUXESSED.com

    • It’s hard to fit everything into a day but you can see a lot of the major sights. We didn’t get time to visit the Exotic Garden which I hear is amazing

  • This is such a great guide, love your tips! My cousin was in Monaco last year and loved it, I would love to visit myself one day! That shopping area looks nice 🙂

    http://www.mintnotion.com

  • Lucy

    I haven’t visited but this definitely makes me want to visit. Looks beautiful and such a great review Lucy x

  • Amazing post Suze!! I really want to go to Monaco as it has been on my must visit list for so long. xx

    http://thelondonthing.co.uk/

  • Looks like a marvelous time! Your photos & video of Monaco somewhat remind me of Luxembourg City. :]

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  • Monaco is my favorite european destination! Loved everything about it!

    The Fashion Matters- Fashion & Travel Magazine

  • Ellie Adams

    Monaco looks absolutely breathtaking. It’s never been at the top of my list but it definitely is now!

    Elle
    http://www.theellenextdoor.com
    xx

  • I love Monaco, Suze. I miss walking the narrow streets of the old town, around the Royal Palace. There is so much charm and glitz in this place! And all those Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Bugattis… Ah, and Café de Paris…

  • I love Monaco, such a glam place!

  • Gorgeous photographs! I visited during the Summer and there are so many places I didn’t see! I love the photos of the classic cars! A favourite of mine 🙂

    Laura http://www.shehearts.net xx

  • Alex Coles

    As someone that lives in Monaco, I have to say that this is one of the best Monaco articles I have read in a long time. Really complete and useful. Thank you!

  • Very beautiful impression of Monaco! Complete and very useful! I’ve been to Monaco a long time ago. This makes me want to revisit…

  • Stanislava E.

    I really hope to visit it soon! Pretty photos!

    sunandsany.com

  • Emily Ray

    Ooh, this is perfect timing as I just booked my trip to Monaco the other week! Going in May over a bank holiday weekend, so can’t wait to get exploring 🙂

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  • Wow! You packed a lot into your two-day trip! Sounds like we should maybe revisit Monaco :-). That vintage car collection looks cool. Not sure we’d trust ourselves in the shopping pavilion though… Could be some serious credit card damage :-).

  • This is a brilliant post, I’ve just booked to go to Nice in May but I’ll no doubt be visiting Monaco too so very helpful on what to see and where to eat! xo

    http://rachelnicole.co.uk/