Wondering what to do in Monaco if you are not a millionaire? Here’s your ultimate guide on how to spend one day in Monaco without breaking the bank!
Visiting Monaco is a must if you are in the South of France, and even though it is tiny, there are plenty of exciting things to see and do in Monaco in 24 hours.
It is an independent country from France, so a day in Monaco will allow you to experience a unique European principality.
Discover the glitz, glamour and wealth this minuscule country is known for and see the supercars and megayachts owned by the millionaires that call Monaco their home.
Even though Monaco is expensive, you can still enjoy the city’s simpler side without spending a fortune. From strolling through the park, watching the changing of the Palace guards or devouring a Croque Monsier from one of the roadside stalls, this historic principality has something for every budget to enjoy.
Do you need to arrange travel insurance, car hire or accommodation? Please check out my resources page to help you plan your trip.
Helpful Information About Visiting Monaco for a Day
Where is Monaco located?
Visitors often ask, is Monaco in France? The answer is no. It is located along the French Riviera and flanked on three sides by France, but it is a separate country.
How do you get to Monaco?
You could also book an organised Nice to Monaco day trip with a professional guide who will tell you more about the country than if you are on your own.
Flights from the UK are to Nice or direct to Monte Carlo Airport in Monaco and take approx two hours.
If you want to visit Monaco in style, how about a helicopter transfer from Nice – after all, this is the ultimate playground for the rich!
Is it worth going to Monaco?
If you are wondering what to do in Monaco for a day, you will be in for a nice surprise.
Despite being a tiny country, one of the smallest in Europe, the principality has many things to do and see. Visit the Prince’s Palace, wander in the Jardin St.Martin and look inside the Monte Carlo Casino.
Why is Monaco famous?
Monaco is most well known for its wealth. Home to the super-rich and an annual location for the Monaco Grand Prix and Yacht Show.
Monaco is a tax haven for the people who choose to live there, known as Monégasques; however, there are high corporation tax and VAT rates to pay for businesses in Monaco.
Is Monaco expensive?
Dining can be expensive, depending on where you choose. If you intend to shop in the many boutiques in the city, then be prepared to spend a considerable amount.
If you are only visiting Monaco for a day, take my advice, buy lunch from the supermarket, and picnic in a spot with a view.
How many days do you need in Monaco?
The country is tiny – it is the second smallest country in the world; therefore, you can see Monaco in a day.
Where to stay in Monaco
Please check out my hotel recommendations below if you want to stay longer and fancy spending a night in Monaco. As you can imagine, many 5-star Monaco hotels can be found in this millionaire’s playground. Still, places like the Hotel Columbus listed below are an alternative for those travellers on a tighter budget.
Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo – 5-star
Hotel Hermitage Monte-Carlo – 5-star
Port Palace – 4-star
Hotel Columbus – 3-star
Organised Day Trips to Monaco from Nice
Eight Best Things to Do in Monaco in 24 Hours
#1 See the Changing of the Guards at the Prince’s Palace
Every day at 11.55 a.m, you can make your way up to the Prince’s Palace and watch the changing of the guard.
Our ascent up to the palace was on foot, but you can also take the hop-on-hop-off sightseeing bus or the cute tourist train that takes you around Monaco. The panoramic views during the walk were sensational, with plenty of places to take photographs of Port Hercules.
The changing of the guard ceremony is held in the Place du Palais, the square in front of the royal palace. The palace has been the home to the country’s rulers for 700 years, and this ritual has remained the same for several centuries. See the cannons in the square dating back to the 17th century.
Prince Albert II of the Royal Family Grimaldi is Monaco’s reigning head, and the country is a principality. This means it is ruled over by a prince rather than a King or Queen.
Tours of the Prince’s Palace interior are available, although if you are on a day trip to Monaco, it will eat into your time.
#2 Stroll Around the Old Town
Near the palace, the Old Town invites you to explore narrow alleyways and pastel-coloured buildings. Check out the artisan galleries and gift shops and capture images of the stunning historical architecture only found in this part of the city.
#3 Enjoy the views from Jardin Saint Martin
If the prices at the restaurants in Monaco make your eyes water, then take my tip: buy a flan or baguette from one of the stalls by the palace and head to the Jardin Saint Martin.
One of the best places to visit in Monaco, the garden is laid out in a series of pathways on the southwest face of the Rock of Monaco.
We found a bench overlooking Port de Fontvieille and ate lunch there. This is one of the most beautiful viewpoints in Monaco and epitomises everything about this compact corner of Europe.
We wandered through the gardens and admired the flowers, views of the sea, and bronze sculptures scattered within the greenery. It is a peaceful place to take a moment, read a book, and escape the city’s hustle and bustle.
#4 Step inside the Royal St Nicholas Cathedral
St Nicholas Cathedral, also known as Monaco Cathedral, is right by the Jardin Saint Martin and has beautiful architecture inside and out.
It is the final resting place of the Grimaldi Royal family, most recently Grace Kelly and King Rainier III, and was built in 1875. It stands majestically on the country’s first parish church site, which dates back to 1252.
St Nicholas Cathedral is free to enter, so a good option if you are visiting Monaco on a budget.
#5 Admire the architecture of the Palace of Justice
Stand on the steps of the Palace of Justice for some great photos of the circular courthouse building and palm tree-lined walkway.
#6 See the famous Jaques Cousteau Oceanographic Museum
We continued along the coastline past Monaco’s famous Oceanographic Museum. It houses aquariums and interactive exhibits and is packed with everything you want to know about the ocean.
We decided to take a walk back to the town, but you can also hop on the tourist bus.
#7 Channel your inner racing driver at the Grand Prix Circuit
The Prince’s Palace watches over a statue dedicated to the five-time Grand Prix champion Juan Manuel Fangio. It sits on an intersection used during the Grand Prix when the city streets become one massive racecourse.
Watching it on the television will be even more exciting now that I’ve been here. The main promenade winds around the harbour, which is full of luxury yachts, but when you find out the country has the most millionaires per head in Europe, you can understand why there are so many high-end yachts on display.
#8 Spend a few Euros at the Monte Carlo Casino
The Monte Carlo casino architecture is Art-Nouveau style with stained glass, sculptures, and a gold and marble atrium. Visitors can gamble in the slot machine area (minimum bet is a euro) or the private table area, which demands a higher stake. We bet on the slots for fun and came out only a few euros out of pocket.
Outside the casino, supercars line up, all trying to outdo one another. We saw the luxury brands of Rolls Royce, Ferrari and Lamborghini, and half expected to come face-to-face with James Bond!
If you fancy a spin behind the wheel of a Ferrari, why not book a driving experience while in Monaco?
Final Thoughts on Taking a Trip to Monaco
Visiting Monaco for a day is great fun, and you will be able to see all the country’s main attractions without feeling rushed. It is easy to get the Nice train to Monaco and enjoy a two-centred trip on the French Riviera.
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