Exploring Monaco on a day trip

Monaco is the second smallest country in the world, a small independent city-state that’s famous for its wealth, luxury stores, and casinos. It is drawing large numbers of visitors from France and Italy and is perfect for a day trip from nearby cities like Nice. 

We had some expectations for our day trip to Monaco, and it turned out to be nothing short of sunny, picturesque, glamorous and filled with tropical vibes. Read more about our favorite places we visited below.

Port de Fontvieille, Monaco

Port de Fontvieille

Our first stop, right after we got off the bus from Nice, was the Port de Fontvieille. We had to pass first the Fontvieille Shopping Centre in order to get to see the local yachts and sailboats come and go from the harbor. Passing by palms, fancy apartment buildings, and even fancier boats, we almost reached the border of Monaco so we turned back to observe many people eating their lunch breaks outside in the lovely spring sun.

We thought that this was the best introduction to the vibes of Monaco. Also the best place to spend exploring on Bistra’s birthday.

Prince’s Palace of Monaco

The Prince’s Palace of Monaco is one of the most important buildings in Monaco and hosts state ceremonies and royal celebrations. Visitors come to tour the lavish state apartments, watch the traditional Changing of the Guard and explore the throne room, which has hosted state ceremonies since the 16th century.

The Palace was constructed in 1191 as a Genoese fortress and it’s been the Grimaldi family residence ever since. The castle has changed dramatically over the years, with internal transformations carried out to make it a luxurious residence.

During the sixteenth century, the Treaty of Tordesillas helped clarify Monaco’s position as a protectorate of Spain and allowed its rulers to focus on the more comfortable side of their palace instead of constantly having to defend it. As a result, many additions to the palace were made during this time.

As a result of these changes, the Prince’s Palace of Monaco has a mixture of medieval fortifications and classical facades. The Palace is a cultural icon and is steeped in history, yet it’s resolutely turned towards modernity.

We decided to admire the palace from outside only, so that we have more time to explore other epic landmarks of Monaco.

Port de Fontvieille and Prince’s Palace of Monaco, Monaco

Old City Monaco

If you only have a day to explore Monaco, Old City should be one of your top priorities. It’s a historic district that boasts cobblestone streets, colorful buildings and historic sites.

It’s also home to some of the city’s best restaurants and bars. These include local favorites for traditional Monegasque dishes, and places that serve a variety of dishes with a distinctly Provencal feel.

Located on a hill, Old Town is the perfect place to relax and unwind as you soak up the views of the sea and the surrounding cityscape. It’s a popular spot for a romantic evening out and a great place to find an authentic French restaurant with a twist.

Another place to visit in Old City is the Condamine Market, which is a great place to find fresh produce and delicious food at reasonable prices. It has a range of little eateries and cafes that are surrounded by colorful stalls selling everything from fruit and vegetables to chocolate and flowers.

For something a bit different, you can visit the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, which is a great place to learn about the country’s history and the maritime culture of the area. It has a number of displays covering the history of the oceans and a large collection of model ships, which you can take a closer look at in detail.

No matter how much time you have, make sure you wander around Old City, find your favorite corner, and imagine how much the state has expanded from old times to now.

Old Town, Monaco

Monaco Formula 1 Circuit

Monaco is known for being a glamorous and exciting place to visit, but it also hosts one of the most prestigious races in the world. The Monaco Grand Prix is held on the 3.337 km (2.074 mi) street circuit of Monte Carlo and La Condamine surrounding the Principality of Monaco’s harbor, usually in late May or early June.

We were lucky enough to visit Monaco during the preparation of Formula 1 and feel at least parts of the vibes. F1 in Monaco is on our bucket list, definitely another “league” of a race. Someday we will. You can read about our F1 experiences in Italy, Hungary, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Bahrain.

It’s an amazing experience to watch a Formula 1 race in this incredible setting, and there are many different vantage points to watch the action unfold. Some of these include views from a luxury yacht in the harbor, a hotel balcony terrace, restaurant seating near the finish line or one of the many grandstands along the street circuit.

The track is so challenging with its hairpin turns, the tunnel, etc. that it is considered to be a classic and unique of its kind and Gran Prix Monaco is a major event on the Formula One calendar. The race attracts a large amount of international media and fans, as well as some of the most famous and wealthy people in the world.

We specifically enjoyed the view of parts of the circuit, parts of old town, and Port Hercule from the road uphill. We took it to walk to the Monte Carlo Casino and if you want some postcard-views of Monaco, try to walk up there as well (Tebe in Costume Sculpture is a good place to target).

Monte Carlo Casino

The famous Monte Carlo Casino is one of the most popular attractions in the region, and has been featured in numerous movies. So we had to go there and see the highest number of fancy cars and the highest number of visitors taking selfies with a casino.

The main casino in Monte Carlo opened in 1863 to bring tourists and income to the tiny country and is still open to visitors today. However, the casino isn’t free to enter – you must pay for admission, and you have to follow a strict dress code.

Another attraction is the Monte Carlo Opera House, which sits right next to the casino. The opera theater was designed by Charles Garnier, the architect of the Paris Opera, and is a gorgeous addition to the building.

Day trip to Monaco from Nice

You can easily get to Monaco from Nice on a train or a bus. There are several stations and stops in Monaco. We used bus 607 from the eastern part of Nice to Place d’Armes in Monaco. On the way back, we walked back to the train station and caught a train.

Monaco Train Station

These were our favorite things to do and see during a day trip to Monaco. It is interesting to see a whole country (even though it is small) bathing in luxury. We recommend a visit if you are in the area and have a day to spend.

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