A visit to the French Riviera wouldn’t be complete without a day trip to Monaco. It is the second smallest country in the world after the Vatican. Famous for its wealth and Formula 1 track around the city, Monaco is very unique.
The countless yacht’s and supercars are just a common feature amongst Monaco’s piers and roads. Funnily enough you get surprising used to seeing them around the city.
As with almost all of the French Riviera, it is easy to get to Monaco by train. Once in the country most things are within walking distance, however do expect lots of hills and stairs.
The train runs from most other cities so it easy to get to from Menton or Nice. Also the trains start early and run until nearly midnight, making a day trip to Monaco by train perfect.
Chapelle Sainte Devote
This church is an interesting contrast to its built up surroundings. Although the supercars and expensive 4×4’s in the carpark quickly remind you that you are still in this wealthy country.
A beautiful statue of Sainte Devote by artist Cyril de La Patellière. Sainte Devote is the patron saint of Monaco and Corsica. The legend goes that this Corsican woman who had devoted her life to religion was killed for her faith. When Christians saved her body and set out to Africa for a proper burial their ship was hit by a storm. A dove appeared and guided them to modern day Monaco where a chapel was built in her honour.
Racing is a big part of Monaco’s history. This statue is dedicated to William Grover-Williams and his 1929 win of the first Monaco grand prix. The statue is temporarily moved a few feet each year when the Monaco Grand Prix takes place. As the race takes place on the roads of Monaco, you will see people taking pictures standing on the roads and famous corners.
Monte Carlo Casino
Casino de Monte-Carlo is perhaps the most famous symbol of Monaco. You can pay to enter the casino and look around but no photography is allowed inside. If you do plan to go inside the casino remember they have a dress code.
Entrance fee: €10
Exotic Garden of Monaco
From the ticket office you can’t see how large the gardens are, so you might be put off by the €7.20 entrance price. But once inside you realise that the gardens span a large area and have such an impressive selection of exotic plans. Not only this but the gardens are a great place for a beautiful view over Monaco and the bay.
The new national museum of Monaco at Villa Paloma
We accidentally went into this museum thinking that it was the exotic garden of Monaco. It is on the way from the train station and had some interesting outdoor art displays. Our favourite is the colourful shoes with plants growing out of them.
Entrance fee: €6 (but free on Sundays)
Sunset over the harbour
I recommend staying until sunset on a day trip to Monaco. The harbour looks even more beautiful at night especially from the viewpoint at the Prince’s Palace. The famous Monte Carlo Casino is also extra impressive when it is lit up at night.
Amongst the many designer brands there are also lots of little boutique shops dotted around. This quirky one was our favourite on Rue Grimaldi.
Monaco is built into a very steep hillside which means that you have a lovely view of the sea from most places in the city. But it also means that walking pretty much anywhere involves hills and stairs. This meant looking up places on google maps was deceiving and walking was a lot more tiring than expected.
Monaco does have 79 elevators and 35 escalators but these are not always easy to find. If you or someone you are travelling with has mobility issues I would recommend looking ahead at the bus routes. Because Monaco is so small most bus routes regularly run past popular tourist attractions.
Best time to visit
For the French Riviera in general I think February is the best time to visit. Not only because of The Lemon Festival and Nice Carnival but because it is hard to find somewhere in Europe in February that has great weather without a lot of places being closed.
The French Riviera has an amazing train system. This means that from almost any popular city along the coast a day trip to Monaco is easy. I would highly recommend visiting this tiny country whilst in the area.