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Monaco Day Trip

Monaco makes a great day trip from Nice. The legendary casino, the Prince's Palace where Princess Grace once reigned, the gardens, the museums, the nightlife: Monaco has it all. Highlights of Monaco include the Prince's Palace, Oceanographic Museum and Cathedral in Monaco Ville and the Casino in Monte Carlo. All can be easily visited on a day trip from Nice even though they're on opposite sides of the tiny country.

Ferry to Monaco

Clearly the most pleasant way to do a day trip to Monaco is by passenger boat. From mid-May through September there are departures three times a week: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The boat leaves at 9:30am, arrives in Monaco at 10:15 and departs for Nice at 5pm. The boat leaves from Port Lympia and the ride offers beautiful views of the entire coast from Nice to Monaco including Eze, Villefranche-sur-Mer and Cap Ferrat.

Driving To Monaco

Obviously, you can drive to Monaco, park there and visit the country. I don't advise it. Traffic into and out of Monaco is notoriously jammed up, especially during rush hours. Once you get in, the signs are confusing and detours for road work are common. It's a nightmare. Parking, although reasonably priced, is always in one of the many underground parking garages where another network of signs directs you to your destination.

Public transport is easier and less stressful!

Taxi to Monaco

A taxi from Nice to Monaco costs €60-€80 each way. It's somewhat cheaper to take an Uber but note that Uber is allowed to drop off passengers in Monaco but isn't allowed to pick up passengers in Monaco.

Bus or Train?

Price

The bus is cheaper at €2.50 plus if you buy a Ticket Azur (€2.50) it includes your tram ride to the bus. The train costs €4.10 from Nice train station to Monaco.

Speed

The train is faster at 20 minutes from Nice Ville station; the bus takes 50 minutes from Port Lympia or the Vauban bus station.

Scenic

Part of the Nice-Monaco train passes along the coast but there are several tunnels. Bus line 600 is spectacularly scenic. Following the Basse Corniche, the bus climbs over Villefranche-sur-Mer for a view over the entire bay and then descends to Beaulieu-sur-Mer for a glimpse of the Belle Epoque villas lining the road before going on to Eze-sur-Mer and Monaco. Line 602 takes the even more scenic Moyenne Corniche, passing by Eze village.

Convenience

The bus leaves from Port Lympia (stop Arson Fodère) behind the church and makes several stops in Mont Boron before depositing you directly at the Monte Carlo Casino or at the Place d'Armes near the Prince's Palace. The train leaves from any one of Nice's train stations (Saint Augustin, Nice Ville or Riquier) allowing you to choose the nearest one before going on to the Monaco station. Then there's a walk or short bus ride to Monaco Ville or Monte Carlo. The last bus returning from Monaco is at 20.24 whereas the last train is at 23.58. The 600 bus runs every 15 minutes or so while the train is every hour or half-hour depending on the time of day. The bus is likely to be more crowded during the summer whereas the train is only crowded during rush hours.

Monaco day Trip By Train

The Monaco-Monte Carlo train station at Place Saint Devote is a large, modern complex. It can be confusing. Of the six exits make sure to take the exit (sortie) "Parvis St Devote" or "Port Hercule".

Check schedules and buy tickets on thetrainline.

After walking through a tunnel, you'll find yourself in front of the charming Sainte Devoté church on Parvis Sainte Devoté.

Sainte Devote church, Monaco

Why not pop in for a look? This late 19th-century church was built on the site of a much older church and is dedicated to Devoté, the patron saint of Monaco.

Walking
From the Parvis Sainte Devoté look left and you'll see Monte Carlo up an incline. Look right and you'll see Monaco Ville, site of the Prince's Palace. It's about 10 minute (1km) walk either to the Casino or to Place d'Armes at the foot of the Monaco Ville where you can walk up a long but gentle staircase or take an elevator up to the town.

Public Transport
Bus lines 1 or 2 stop at the Parvis Sainte Devoté and go directly to Monaco Ville. It's a one-way road. To pick up the bus to Monte Carlo, turn left and walk a few hundred meters to the bus stop for the 2 or 6 buses which take you to the Square Beaumarchais stop next to the Casino.

Buses 1 and 2 link Monaco Ville with Monte Carlo. After you've finished visiting one place, hop on a bus to the other. Buses 3 and 4 link Monte Carlo with the Place d'Armes and the Condamine market where you can walk or take an elevator up to Monaco Ville.

Monaco Day Trip by Bus

To get to Monaco by bus you have two choices: the 600 line which takes the coastal route passing Villefranche-sur-Mer, Beaulieu, Eze-sur-Mer and Cap d'Ail before reaching Monaco; or the 602 line which takes the scenic Moyenne Corniche passing Eze Village before reaching Monaco. Bus 602 is more scenic and less crowded but is also much less frequent, running about every two hours.

Map of bus 600 route
Bus 600 route

Map of zou bus 602
Bus 602 route

To get to Monaco on bus 600, Take tram line 2 to Port Lympia. Pick up bus 600 from behind the church (corner of rue Fodere and rue Pacho). The bus runs every 15 minutes or so from Monday to Saturday, less frequently on Sundays. Note that the bus makes several stops in Mont Boron only for picking up, not discharging passengers. The bus stops at Place d'Armes, Monaco train station, the Casino and Place des Moulins before going on to Menton. For the return trip it's best to board at Place des Moulins before people crowd on at the Casino. Ask for a Ticket Azur from the driver which will include your bus or tram ride in Nice.

To get to Monaco by bus 602, take tram line 1 to the Palais des Expositions stop or to Nice's Vauban bus station. The bus deposits you at the tourist office stop near the Monte Carlo Casino.

Note that if you buy a ticket Azur for €2.50 from the tram ticketing machine in Nice, your ticket is valid for the tram and the ride to Monaco. Otherwise buy a separate ticket for €2.50 from the driver (€2.10 if purchased in advance).

Avoid bus 80 which takes the very unscenic autoroute from Nice Airport Terminal 2 to Monte Carlo and Menton. That bus although fast (50 minutes) and comfortable costs €19.

Suggested Itinerary for a Monaco Day Trip by Bus

Board the 600 bus, making sure to sit on the right for the best views! Step off the bus at the Place d'Armes, the first stop after the tunnel. Head to the roundabout, turn right and go downhill on ave du Port to

Condamine Market

Condamine market

Behind the colorful stalls selling fruit, vegetables and cheese is the Condamine food hall with stalls selling inexpensive snacks and meals. It's the best dining deal in all Monaco! It's a good place to pick up a sandwich for later.

Across the street are steps leading up the hill as well as a bus stop for the 1 and 2 buses to Monaco Ville, site of the Prince's Palace.

Monaco Highlights Map

Monaco Ville

Things to See in Monaco Ville

Monaco Ville

Wander the tidy streets. Most of these pastel houses date from the mid-19th century when they were either built or restored. When the Monte Carlo casino was built, Monaco became newly prosperous and made sure that the streets around the Prince's Palace made a good impression. The buildings house few residents and mainly have an official function whether as an embassy, library, school or administrative headquarters.

Street in Monaco Ville

Check out the view over the port and the Formula 1 racetrack that runs along the port.

View over Monaco's Port

Check out the Prince's Palace. If Prince Albert is in residence his flag will be flying.

Prince's Palace, Monaco

The part in stone on the right is the oldest part of the castle, dating back to the 13th century. Visit it if you like and it's open (more info here). Or, get there at 11:55am and check out the changing of the guard. It happens daily all year but the small ceremony expands during the tourist season from June to September.

Go on to the

Cathedral of Saint Nicholas

Monaco Cathedral

Built on the site of an older church, this struction dates from the late 19th century. The gleaming white stone was quarried nearby in La Turbie. Prince Ranier and Princess Grace were married here in 1956. It was the social event of the decade. The late Princess Grace is interred behind the altar. Also notable are several paintings by Nice master, Louis Brea which you'll see on the right as you proceed through the church. If you come late Sunday morning you might just see Prince Albert II and the royal family discreetly slipping out the side doorway after mass.

Nearby is the

Oceanographic Museum

Oceanographic Museum, Monaco

The museum was founded by Albert I, Prince Albert's great-grandfather who was fascinated by the sea. The museum is part of the Oceanographic Institute, also founded by Albert I, which conducts important research and monitoring of the Mediterranean sea.

More info here.

Where to Eat in Monaco Ville

Time for lunch? There's not a lot to choose from in Monaco Ville. Try Restaurant L'Aurore. This cavernous place does a booming business with tours mainly because the Italian-style food is good and reasonably priced. Just don't expect a calm, quiet experience at the height of the summer season.

Monte Carlo

After visiting Monaco Ville head to Monte Carlo. Either walk down the hill and across to Monte Carlo (about 650m) or take the 1 or 2 bus. I recommend the bus as the walk is not particularly scenic and involves a number of stairs, escalators or elevators. The bus takes you to the Square Beaumarchais next to the Monte Carlo Casino.

Things to See in Monte Carlo

Monte Carlo Casino

Monte Carlo Casino

The Belle Epoque Casino of Monte Carlo is almost synonymous with high living and glamor. The luxury cars parked outside are a sight unto themselves. And in the gaming rooms you almost expect to see Bond, James Bond (several of his movies were filmed here). Entrance to the Atrium is free after 10am. The interior is extravagantly decorated with onyx columns, ornate balconies and a glass ceiling. Access to the gaming rooms requires a fee, a passport and "smart" clothing. More info here. Fun fact: a passport is required because citizens of Monaco (Monagasques) are prohibited from gambling.

Monte Carlo Gardens
Monte Carlo Gardens

Stroll the beautifully-landscaped gardens that lead to the Casino for a touch of peace and quiet after the tourist brouhaha surrounding the Casino.

Window-shop

Tiffany's Storefront, Monte Carlo

Every major jeweler and designer has a shop in Monte Carlo from Tiffany's to Hermes to Chanel. I leave you to decide which is more fascinating: the luxury goods on display or the customers.

Metropole Shopping Center
Metropole Shopping Center

The entrance to this extraordinarily beautiful shopping center is from the Monte Carlo gardens. Crystal chandeliers, wide curving staircases and subtle lighting create an atmosphere of calm and luxury. There are 80 upscale boutiques and several restaurants that are only slightly less prestigious than the designer names on Monte Carlo's streets.

Formule 1 Hairpin Turn

Hairpin Turn, Monte Carlo
Monte Carlo's Formula I is the world's most prestigious race. One of the highlights is watching the drivers navigate the famous "hairpin turn". To see the spot, go downhill on the road running next to the Casino. Follow signs to the Fairmont Hotel which is where the famous turn happens.

After shopping, window-shopping and soaking up the atmosphere, head back to Nice either by train or bus. Bus 607 leaves from ave de la Costa at the top of the Casino gardens. Or, follow ave de la Costa north at it turns into ave des Moulins. Follow to Place des Moulins and board the bus there to be assured of a seat going back. Local bus number 6 connects Monte Carlo with the train station.

Where to Eat in Monte Carlo

There are loads of dining possibilities in Monte Carlo, most of them pricey. The absolute best is Le Louis XV-Alain Ducasse in the Hotel de Paris. This three-starred Michelin establishment is the finest dining experience on the Riviera. Book ahead and plan on "elegant dress" and a jacket at least for dinner.

The Cafe de Paris is an iconic spot marked by Belle Epoque architecture and a terrace opening onto the Place de Casino. The brasserie-style food is excellent and the decor eye-popping. A drink on the terrace is a wonderful finish to the Monte Carlo experience.

For more casual dining, I recommend Pulcinella at 17 rue du Portier, halfway between the Casino and the Grimaldi Forum. The Italian-style food is good and the prices are reasonable.

Or try Il Calcio 15 boulevard des Moulins which is a great place to grab a drink or enjoy a meal from the varied and reasonably-priced menu.

Getting Around Monaco

Public buses are frequent and efficient. A ticket for one ride is €2 and can be purchased on board. A day pass for €5.50 can only be purchased online here.

Related Pages

Monaco Travel Guide

Day Trip from Nice to Eze and Monaco

Monaco Highlights

Day Trips from Nice

Monaco Practicalities

Further Resources

Regional bus schedules

 

Last Updated June 19, 2024

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