Need a traveller’s guide to Monaco? Mary Rose McLean has you covered
If you’re thinking about going to Monte-Carlo, it’s always useful to have an insider’s view of where to stay and what to do. Mary Rose McLean offers her traveller’s guide to Monaco.
Looking for a traveller’s guide to Monaco? Wondering whether Monte-Carlo is for you? Get the inside track from Mary-Rose McLean, who lives and works in this exclusive principality.
For glamour, luxury and excitement, there are few cities to rival Monte-Carlo. It’s where the rich and famous come to play, and where the fanciest superyachts gather at race time. But it’s not just about Formula 1 and the nightlife of the glitterati. Monte-Carlo is tiny by most standards, but it certainly packs a lot in.
Monaco covers just 200 hectares, making it the second smallest country in the world. If you’re wondering about the smallest, it’s the Vatican City in Italy. But it certainly doesn’t have a small attitude!
A simple traveller’s guide to Monaco
Even the weather loves Monaco, with an average of 300 days of sunshine and a friendly climate. It’s also stunningly beautiful, with scenery to die for and an enviable position comfortably nestled between France and Italy. But these aren’t the only reasons why you will fall in love with Monaco and make it your prime holiday destination.
If this is your first time visiting the principality then the first thing to consider is where to stay. The hotels in Monaco offer a combined capacity of more than 2,500 rooms, and there are plenty of luxury options to choose from. Many opt for the Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo, which is situated in the centre of Monte-Carlo in the Place du Casino. Or, for a more intimate stay, there is the elegant Hotel Hermitage Monte-Carlo, which offers gorgeously preserved Belle Epoque décor, the last word in service and delightful food.
There’s also the Fairmont Monte Carlo, which is a unique resort, offering luxury accommodation for conventions and for holidaymakers. One of the biggest hotels iN Europe, it has 596 rooms and suites, 18 meeting rooms, an in-house casino and a shopping arcade. It also boasts Fitness Monte Carlo, which is a wellness centre with a difference. Recently refurbished, it offers guests the chance to enjoy world-class gym facilities while taking in a spectacular view over the Riviera. If that doesn’t motivate you to work out while on holiday, nothing will!
These are all very popular places to stay in Monaco, but they all require a certain budget. However, if you thought Monte-Carlo just isn’t possible on a budget, I’m pleased to tell you that’s not the case. There is still a lot on offer in Monaco as a whole for the traveller on a budget.
Budget accommodation in and around Monaco
It may seem that you can only enjoy Monaco if you have a high budget, but as someone who lives and works here, I can tell you there’s plenty to do even if you need to be more careful. There are reasonable places to stay, although it’s worth noting they do tend to fill up quickly so book in advance.
The Hotel de France and Hotel de Versailles are located adjacent to the Place d’Armes square and are just a few minutes’ walk from the harbour. You can land a double room here for around 100 Euros in the cheapest season, although prices climb sharply during the Formula 1 Grand Prix and the Monaco Yacht Show. And while there are cheaper places to stay further out of the principality, you would be staying in the centre of Monte-Carlo and would be able to walk everywhere.
Alternatively, there are a number of cheaper places to stay in Beausoleil, which is still in walking distance of Monte-Carlo Casino and the Grimaldi Forum. Nice is also a good option if you don’t mind travelling into Monaco. Public transport is very reasonable and easy to use, so it can be well worth it.
What to do in Monaco for every budget
While there are plenty of high-end restaurants to visit, casinos to gamble in, parties to go to and endless ways to spend money, there are also lots of things to do that don’t cost much. I would always urge visitors to walk or take a bus up to the Old Town on the ‘Rock’ and enjoy the views. I like to go earl in the morning or later in the day, which is when the crowds are at their thinnest, but it’s always worthwhile.
Watch the changing of the guard ceremony at 11.55am sharp – it’s on every day and a sight worth seeing. You can visit the public gardens and the cathedral for free, or if you’re happy to spend a bit head to the Palace for a behind the scenes tour. This costs less than 10 Euro. The Oceanographic Museum is more expensive at 14 Euro, but absolutely worth it.
From here you can jump on the Bateau Bus (floating bus) to the Monte-Carlo side of the Principality. While you’re on your way, take in the glorious views of the Med a, the countryside and the yachts. This boat ride is a great way to get around and to take a tour of the harbour.
When you reach the other side, head to the Hotel de Paris and Monte-Carlo Casino to take in the beautiful buildings, gardens and the fabulous Metropole shopping centre. It’s always fun to try out one of the casinos, and it’s free to try some of the slot machines in the main casino. If you want to get into the private part of the Casino, you will need to bring ID, dress smart and pay about 10 Euros.
Finally, finish off your sightseeing by sunbathing on the beach at Larvotto. There are a number of private, members only sections, but there are also public sections. If you’d rather relax in a garden setting, stroll through the Japanese gardens, which are found between the Grimaldi Forum and the casino.
These are just a few things you can do in Monaco without spending an enormous amount of cash. It’s the perfect place to visit for travellers of all types, whether you’re on your own and on a budget, or you want to treat the family.
Keep up with the top stories from Reader’s Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.