Things to Do in Monte Carlo

Panorama photo of Monte Carlo, Monaco

One of the smallest countries in the world, Monaco is only 2 square kilometers, filled with extravagant, luxurious places in Monte Carlo that the rich and famous love to visit. Hobnobbing with the jet set on their million dollar yachts, rolling the dice at the Casino, or having the prime front row seats for the Monte Carlo Grand Prix, the opulence of Monte Carlo is seen everywhere. Even if you aren’t lucky enough to be in that top percentile of wealth, there are plenty of other things to do in Monte Carlo.

Casino de Monte CarloMonte Carlo Casino

The Monte Carlo Casino is the one place that everyone thinks about when they mention Monte Carlo. If you are staying in Nice, France, the bus will drop you off right in front of the Monaco tourist center where you can pick up your official passport stamp. Make sure you bring your passport with you if you want to enter the Casino which is located a short walk behind the visitors center. It will cost you €17 if you’re going to go on the casino floor. It is free though to enter the lobby. The lobby is impressive. When you walk in the first thing you notice after your bags have been searched, are the hundreds of glittering stars hanging down reflecting the lights. They are very pretty, but they are also obscuring the beautiful stained glass windows on the ceiling. Unfortunately, there are no photos allowed to be taken inside the building.

If you don’t want to pay to enter the casino, there are other ways to enjoy the ambiance. Next to the casino is an outdoor cafe where you can sit and drink a coffee. This is a perfect spot to see all the high priced vehicles driving by the casino.

Grand Prix de MonacoWilliam Grover Williams

Walking along the Route de la Piscine, which follows around Port Hercule, I stumbled upon this monument. Monte Carlo is famous for its Grand Prix every summer. And this particular sculpture is William Grover-Williams who happens to be the inaugural winner of the Monte Carlo Grand Prix. The Monte Carlo Grand Prix is one of the most prestigious automobile races in the world and is held in May. The race is run on a narrow course in the streets of Monaco, with numerous elevation changes and tight corners as well as a tunnel, making it one of the most demanding tracks in Formula One racing. This race circuit is also one of the longest consistent courses in racing making it a must visit event for racing fans!

Monte Carlo Harbor – Port HerculePort Hercule - Monte Carlo Harbor

The Monte Carlo harbor is an impressive sight to see with all the billions of dollar yachts anchored. I spent a pleasant afternoon stroll walking along the harbor admiring the boats and imagining what it would be like to live in that life. One of the largest yachts in the harbor was getting a ‘boat wash” not quite the same as a car wash but, kind of fun to see. If you don’t want to walk around the harbor you can also get a boat taxi to take you across the port. Cleaning a yacht in Monte CarloYachts anchored in the Monte Carlo harbor

Stars ‘n’ Bars RestaurantStars 'n' Bars Restaurant

With Monte Carlo being so expensive, it was difficult to find something reasonably priced to eat for lunch. I ended up finding this restaurant, Stars ‘n’ Bars, along my harbor walk. I could see this place being very busy among the younger crowds after work. It has a very fun vibe and a good selection of food. Plus, I got a kick out of their menu being on a tablet. The hamburger was only €16.Stars 'n' Bars menu tabletStars 'n' Bars hamburger and fries

Musée océanographique de MonacoOceanographic Museum

The walk along the water is absolutely breathtaking.  Going around each corner of a building, led me to another fantastic view of the sea or the city of Monte Carlo. I kept saying “WOW” every few minutes. Rounding this last corner gave me this view of the Oceanographic museum built in the cliff with the sun shining off one of its windows and the waves crashing into the rocks below. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m – 6 p.m. Tickets are €16.

The highlights are plenty in this museum, but the biggest is the Shark Lagoon which is 6 meters deep and is filled with different types of sharks and marine life swimming side by side separated only by the Djibouti reef. This is the first reef in aquariology that is home to reef-building coral which has been growing and developing for the past 20 years. Some other highlights are the “Oceanomania” exhibit. This exhibit is filled with skeletons, fossils, diving equipment, and all sorts of different historical marine items including a giant whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling. This is a great place to bring kids to learn about marine life and history due to a good number of interactive displays throughout the museum. Heather along the Mediterranean Sea

Jardins de Saint-MartinSt. Martin Gardens

The St. Martin gardens are just west of the Oceanographic Museum and south of the Prince’s Palace. One of my favorite things to do when I travel is to walk through gardens. I love photographing flowers and just breathing in the floral scents permeating through the air. This particular garden impressed me with its many winding paths, views of the sea, and the incredible art sculptures. Most garden art sculptures consist of Greek gods or goddesses that don’t elicit any feelings, but this garden was different. These sculptures spoke to me about love, connection, and togetherness. It was lovely to see and experience. Soldier and woman embracingLovers embracing in a bed of flowers

Prince’s Palace of MonacoPrince's Palace

The Prince’s Palace is the official residence of the Sovereign Prince of Monaco. You can visit and tour the State Apartments April through October (hours are 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m). I wasn’t lucky enough to do this since I visited in January, but I was fortunate to catch the changing of the guards. This just means I will have to go back and explore deeper.

Things to Do in Monte Carlo

This is only a small portion of things to do in Monte Carlo. Prices are higher here than other places in Europe so, plan accordingly. But, even if they are higher, it is nice to splurge a little on yourself to see how the other half lives. Either way, you can find ways to enjoy yourself in Monte Carlo for a day or longer for whatever budget you have.

Some of the places I missed were seeing the cacti at the Jardin Exotique, Monaco Cathedral, soaking up the sun at Larvotto Beach, climbing up to Le Rocher, Opera de Monte Carlo, checking out the Collection de Voitures Anciennes, and smelling the flowers in Princess Grace’s Rose Garden. This just means I need to come back to Monaco and spend more than a few hours here.

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Further Reading

If you would like to see more of my nomad travels, check out my post on my first month of traveling full-time: One Month of Nomad Travel. If you are coming to France for a visit, check out this post:

  • How to visit Paris in Three Days!
  • Èze Village – A Captivating Town Waiting for You to Discover

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