Traveling to Monaco for a day and you’re not sure how to spend your time in the municipality? Then you’re definitely in the right place because this detailed guide covers all the top sights in Monaco!
The fabulous destination on the French Riviera is one of the most exclusive places in the world. Monaco is world-famous for its glitz and glamour, the casinos, and million-dollar yachts docked at the harbor, and this itinerary explores all of that.
But we don’t focus on just that – we also include the attractions that allow tourists to learn more about the history and traditions of the municipality, so you’re truly getting the whole Monaco experience by following this itinerary!
Walking is the best way of getting around Monaco. The entire municipality of Monaco is smaller in size than both Hyde Park and Central Park, so you get the idea of just how close together everything is. It takes 45-50 minutes to walk from one end of the country to the other, so you can easily explore all the tourist attractions on foot.
The Monaco bus is also a good option for tourists. It’s an inexpensive way of getting around the country and it’s the best alternative to walking. There are five bus lines in the municipality and they travel to all the different neighborhoods where the attractions and landmarks are. A day pass for the bus costs just some 5.5€.
Taxis are frequent in Monaco, but they’re pretty expensive, especially when compared to the bus. They’re also not much faster, so it’s best to avoid riding taxis if you can.
Renting a car to drive around Monaco is possible, but it’s not recommended. It’s honestly a waste of money when you can just walk to most places, plus it’s generally not much quicker than the bus. Also, keep in mind that Monaco is a tiny place – one traffic jam is enough to wreak havoc in the entire municipality, and you definitely shouldn’t spend your one day in Monaco stuck in traffic.
The most popular time to visit Monaco is between May and August. Summers in the city are quite hot, and they boast ideal weather for endless beach lounging. However, this is also when the municipality sees the largest number of tourists, so you might want to avoid a summer visit if you want to avoid crowds.
May is when motorsport fans from all over the world travel to Monaco to watch the Formula 1 Grand Prix. The streets in the city are closed during the race and the sessions leading up to it, so again, you might want to plan your visit so that it doesn’t coincide with the race weekend if you’re not that into F1.
Consider visiting Monaco in April or September-November if you want to get the full experience but without the hordes of tourists. The municipality has a rather mild climate with minimal rain, so the weather should be pleasant and enjoyable even during spring and fall.
Because Monaco is such a small place, it’s best to explore its attraction in the order they’re located in. Start by exploring either the east or the west side first, and then just start going towards the opposite part of the town.
It’s also possible to do this itinerary in reverse – start it with a morning swim on the city’s prettiest beach and end with a fabulous view of the Monaco sunset skyline.
Let’s kick off the day in Monaco by heading to France for a little while. Tête de Chien – or Dog’s Head – is an observation deck on a rocky promontory offering spectacular panoramic views of Monaco.
If you’re an avid hiker, you’ll be glad to know that it’s possible to hike from Monaco to this fabulous viewpoint. The alternative is to travel by car, but it doesn’t make much sense to rent a car just for this attraction. Getting a taxi is a good option, but taking an Uber is even more convenient and usually cheaper.
The only thing is that Uber doesn’t work in Monaco, so you will need to walk into France. Just cross the border into Cap-d’Ail, the small town adjacent to southwest Monaco. Your Uber app should work perfectly fine, and from there it’s about a 20-minute drive to the rocky promontory.
The view of Monaco from Dog’s Head is out of this world. On a clear day, you can also see the south of France and parts of Italy from the viewpoint! However, it’s worth noting that there’s not a lot of shade here, which is why it’s best to visit early in the morning, especially if you’re in Monaco during the summer.
After you’ve experienced the best panoramic view of Monaco, it’s time to start exploring the municipality’s attractions. Head back to Monaco in a cab or an Uber, and head straight to Le Rocher. This is the part of Monaco that extends into the sea and it’s aptly nicknamed The Rock.
The Prince’s Palace is the first proper attraction this Monaco itinerary explores. It is the official residence of the Sovereign Prince of Monaco and it is the home of Prince Albert II, the successor of Prince Rainier III.
Because the Monaco royal family actually lives in the palace, it’s not always open for tours. It’s possible to visit the courtyard whenever, while state rooms are open only in the summer. The Cars Collection of H.S.H. the Prince of Monaco is also open seasonally, and it’s a must-see for all car lovers.
The Old Monaco Museum – or Musée du Vieux Monaco as the locals call it – is a local history museum open between June and September. If you happen to visit Monaco during the summer season, you should definitely make plans to tour this museum. It is just a few minutes away from the Prince’s Palace on foot, so you can easily walk there.
The museum is open only on Wednesdays and Fridays between 11 AM and 4 PM, but the upside is that there’s no entrance fee. It’s entirely free of charge, so it’s one of the best things to do for all travelers on a tighter budget in Monaco!
The main function of the museum is to preserve the Monaguesque identity, and it manages to do so with its impressive collection. It was founded in order to preserve the material heritage of the municipality of Monaco, and in 1974, it was inaugurated by Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace (Kelly).
Spanning three floors, the museum’s collection tells the story of the history and traditions of Old Monaco. Visitors can see paintings, costumes, furniture, ceramics, and many other objects on display at this wonderful museum.
The Monaco Cathedral is about 2 minutes south of the Old Monaco Museum, so you can just walk there when you’re done exploring the free museum’s collection. It’s also known as Saint Nicholas Cathedral, and just like the museum, it doesn’t have an entrance fee.
The Cathedral of Monaco is an iconic symbol of the municipality. It’s a Roman-Byzantine building that was constructed in the late 19th century with white stone from La Turbie, a small town in France very close to Monaco.
It’s worth noting that some items inside the cathedral are even older than the building itself, with the retable dating back to the year 1500. The Episcopal throne from white Carrara marble and the Great Altar are other notable objects inside this magnificent church.
When you’re done exploring the Monaco Cathedral – which shouldn’t take more than 15-20 minutes- head towards the Oceanographic Museum. It’s about a five-minute walk from the church, so you can quickly get there on foot and enjoy beautiful seaside views along the way.
This museum has an entrance fee, which is anywhere from 10€ to 20€ for adults, depending on the season and promotions. You don’t have to buy the tickets day in advance – the Oceanographic Museum rarely gets very crowded, and you can usually just get the tickets at the entrance.
The museum was founded by Prince Albert I, who was a navigator and an oceanographer. It boasts a large collection of fauna species, as well as numerous maritime objects. The aquarium within the museum is home to more than 6,000 species, while the objects in the museum’s other collection include everything from model ships to pearls.
Port Hercules is the only deep water port in the municipality of Monaco, and it’s only a few minutes away from the museum. The port is the center of Monte Carlo in many different ways – it’s where you’ll find the best nightlife in the municipality, as well as the best restaurants and bars.
Hercule Port is also an iconic part of this city. It doesn’t matter during which season you’re visiting the municipality – there are always luxurious yachts docked at the harbor.
Walk around the piers and admire the huge vessels and the smaller boats. You can also take a water taxi here to the opposite side of the harbor – it’s not a bad idea since the next attraction is in that part of the city, plus it’s a great way to experience a view of Monaco from the water.
If you really want to explore Monaco attractions in order, you should stop at the Casino de Monte Carlo before you visit the Princess Grace Japanese Garden. However, the casino is best experienced at night, especially if you want to gamble, so we saved for the end of this Monaco day trip itinerary.
The Princess Grace Japanese Garden is about a 20-25 minute walk from Port Hercule. It is a bit far away, but the upside is that you get to see a lot of Monaco while you’re walking from one attraction to the other!
The garden is absolutely stunning. It’s best known for its Japanese-style landscaping, which includes ponds, a bridge, and a tea house. This is truly a hidden gem in Monaco and the best thing about it is that it’s entirely free of charge! There’s no entrance fee, so you can visit whenever you want and you can spend as much time as you like admiring the beautiful scenery.
When you feel like it’s time to travel back from Japan to Monaco, start making your way north to Larvotto Beach. It’s about a five-minute walk from the beautiful Japanese Garden, and it’s easily one of the most popular attractions in the municipality.
Sunset on the beach is a great way to end your stay in Monaco, which is exactly why we saved it for the end of this itinerary. It’s an artificial beach but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful. It boasts palm trees, a seaside promenade, a volleyball court, and beautiful views no matter where you look.
It’s worth noting that this beach is very popular with both locals and tourists in Monaco, so it tends to get very crowded during peak season. That’s another reason why it’s best to visit it in the evening – it’s still warm enough that you can go for a swim, but most crowds will disperse by late afternoon/evening.
The famous Monte Carlo Casino is best experienced at night, so you’ll want to visit it after you’ve already explored all the attractions you are interested in. You’ll need to head back to Monte Carlo from Larvotto Beach – it’s about a 15-minute walk along the seaside promenade, but that’s only if you don’t need to stop at your accommodation to change clothes.
The dress code for the famous casino is (smart) casual, but you can dress up as much as you like. It’s only recently that they became more relaxed about the rules – previously, men were obligated to wear a jacket with a tie, while women needed to wear dresses.
You should visit the famous casino even if you have no intention of gambling. It’s a symbol of Monaco in many ways, and it’s extremely important for the economy of this beautiful municipality.
There are also quite a few famous restaurants and bears near the iconic casinos, so there are plenty of things to do in the area even if you’re not that into gambling. You can try traditional Monaco food in the nearby restaurants, admire the night-time harbor views, or even gamble at the famous Casino Café de Paris!
The Monaco Grand Prix is an annual Formula 1 race that usually takes place in May. It’s considered the most elite race on the F1 calendar, as well as one of the three races one needs to win to obtain the Triple Crown of Motorsport – the other two are the Indy 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The Monaco GP is an exclusive event that attracts a myriad of motorsport fans to the municipality for the race weekend. Tickets are very expensive and hard to come by, but you can watch the race from almost anywhere. If you’ve got accommodation in the central part of the city, you might just be able to watch it from your window.
Locals will usually watch the race for free either from their homes or from the surrounding hills, which offer a great view of the entire street circuit. It’s customary for them to chain lawn chairs to trees and railings so that they have a guaranteed spot come Sunday. The race can also be watched from the boats in the marina, but the F1 Paddock Club is definitely the most luxurious way to experience this iconic race.
On the other hand, if you have no interest in watching the race and your trip to Monaco happens to take place during the Grand Prix, consider rescheduling. The streets are closed off for the race and many of the businesses in central Monaco are inaccessible during the event, which can last for several hours.
Wherever you can find an empty room. The entire Municipality of Monaco is some 2 square kilometers, and it takes about 45 minutes to walk from the east to the west end of the country. It genuinely doesn’t matter where your accommodation is located because everything is very close together.
That being said, you should look for accommodation that’s within your budget. You won’t find any cheap or very affordable stays in Monaco, but you will find various unique stays. Get a room at one of the hotels in central Monte Carlo if you want to be able to watch the Grand Prix in May, or consider staying on one of the boats if you’re up for a one-of-a-kind experience.
Travelers who are on a tighter budget should consider staying in Beausoleil. The small French town is adjacent to Monaco and it has more affordable accommodation options. Although it is located in a different country, you can just walk across the border and catch the Monaco bus.
There’s a dress code. It’s not an extremely strict dress code meaning you don’t have to walk around the city in formal wear, but you can’t just wear anything either. Visitors should know that it’s not allowed to walk through the town in beachwear even if they’re returning from the beach.
Also, the famous Monte Carlo casinos have dress codes – they’ve become more relaxed over the years and they allow casual and smart casual attire, but they won’t let you in if you’re wearing shorts or sporty clothes.
Carry your passport on you. Especially if you want to visit the casinos – locals aren’t allowed to gamble in Monaco but foreigners are. You will be asked to provide some sort of identification at a casino entrance, so you should carry your ID, passport, or driver’s license if you plan on gambling in Monte Carlo.
Expect high prices. Around 30% of the population in Monaco are millionaires, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that this is one of the priciest places on Earth. Everything is expensive, from bread to fine wine, and you will pay a small fortune for a fine dining experience in Monaco. If you’re trying to explore the municipality on a tighter budget, McDonald’s is one of the few options you have.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!