There’s never a dull moment in the second tiniest country in Europe, which is technically a sovereign city-state in the middle of France.
Year-round good weather and Instagrammable beaches make Monaco one of the most coveted summer destinations in the south of France. Whether you visit for a day or treat yourself to a week of high-end, lavish life, it will seem like the tiny prince-ruled kingdom is always on party mode with Monte Carlo as the epicenter of it all.
Monaco is all about the glitz and glam, fast cars, wealthy celebrities, and royal family drama. The European territory that’s not bigger than a square mile is jam-packed with activities and attractions built for luxury. Even for travelers on a tight budget who just want to see the views, tours of Monaco offer a unique experience.
Ocean & Beach Tours
The French Riviera is one of Europe’s favorite beach destinations, and Monaco is no exception. Although it has more pebbles than soft sand, the free public access Larvotto Beach is famous and, unfortunately, also crowded. If you’re too late to catch an open spot in the sand, at least the beachfront makes a great Instagram shot. Private beaches will have the most sand available.
For the sea lovers who prefer to skip the beach, there are many leisure activities connected to the ocean, from exploring exotic species at the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco to going on private yacht cruises. Tour providers will be able to organize affordable ways for travelers to get the luxury experience without breaking the bank.
Images of classic and costly cars come to mind when we think of Monaco. Prince Rainier himself was an avid collector of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Rolls Royces, and others. His car collection of more than 100 vehicles can be visited at the Collection de Voitures Anciennes museum.
Come late May, and everyone in Monaco focuses on the Formula One Grand Prix, not only because it’s one of the principality’s most popular events, but because the circuit actually runs through town. Get a better view of the two-mile track circuit from the top on a helicopter sightseeing group tour.
Even if you’re not that into gambling, you can’t say no to a sneak peek of Casino de Monte Carlo when in Monaco. Considered one of the most beautiful belle époque buildings in Europe, the Casino opens its doors to curious visitors every morning.
To be one step closer to one of the most famous royal families in the world, don’t miss out on visiting the official residence of the Grimaldi family. Palais Princier de Monaco is mostly off limits except for the state apartments that you can visit on private tours.
Planning Your Trip
Best Time to Visit Monaco
Monaco is typically an expensive destination, so if you’re looking to travel on a budget, your best option is to go between September and November. There won’t be much happening at the time, but you’ll still get a glimpse of all that high-end luxury that this European principality is all about.
If hitting all the major events is vital to you and you want to be right in the middle of the action, things start to heat up in May (with the famous Formula One Grand Prix) and continue to be lively until the end of August. Prices and crowds are at their highest in the summer.
What to Look for in a Tour to Monaco
Most all-inclusive tours include Monaco as one of the stops in a broader European itinerary, usually including surrounding countries like Italy, Switzerland, and France. Considering its tiny area, and if all you want is to have a glimpse of what upscale living is like, this is an excellent value-for-money option.
Read the details of what’s included in the tour and, for the sake of convenience, make sure the package includes flights from and to your country of origin.
Typical Tour Cost
Depending on duration and number of countries visited all-inclusive tours that include stops in Monaco can range from $270 to $3000 per person. Some cheaper packages don’t include flights, meaning that you have to support the costs of traveling from your country of origin (or where you’re traveling at the moment) to the tour starting point.
Packing Tips & Gear Rental
Weather is relatively mild in Monaco, even in the winter time. Average temperatures hardly fall below 59 degrees Fahrenheit in the coldest month, January, and highest in summer is close to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Pack different pieces that you can layer and coordinate, and plan for chilly mornings and afternoons if you’re traveling in the spring and autumn. In the warmer months, pack for the beach and the occasional boat ride.
While the atmosphere is pretty relaxed in Monaco, pack a few dressier outfit options if you find yourself dining out at a high-end restaurant or in the mood for trying your luck at the Casino (you must be over 18 to enter).
Power sockets in Monaco are type E and F and voltage is 230V. There’s a chance your hotel might have power adapters and converters, but it’s recommended that you bring your own.
If you’re already traveling in Europe and bought a local SIM card, check with your network if Monaco is included in their free roaming service. Since the summer of 2017, roaming is free between European Union countries, and you won’t be charged extra fees for using mobile data and making calls to or texting other EU numbers. However, Monaco is not officially part of this list, so is up to the carrier to decide on whether to charge or not.
Other Tips for Travel in Monaco
Monaco is part of the Schengen area, so there is no need for a visa unless you’re staying for more than 90 days. Make sure your passport is valid for at least three months past your date of leaving the Schengen area.
French is the official language, but others that are widely spoken include Monégasque (a local dialect close to Italian), Italian, and English. Monégasque is taught in schools, and you’ll notice that street signs in the old town are written in this local dialect as well as in French.
The local currency is the Euro and money exchange is available at banks, exchange services, and hotels. Most restaurants and cafes accept card payments but keep some cash in hand for smaller expenses.
Monaco doesn’t have an international airport. Book flights to the nearest airport, Nice Côte d’Azur, 13.7 miles away. From there, you can reach Monte Carlo by car or train.
Health & Safety
There are no special vaccinations needed, but it’s advised to check the status of your recommended vaccines. Make sure they’re up-to-date before traveling. Emergency services are usually free, but always confirm if payment is required for treatment first. As a precaution, buy travel insurance with overseas coverage if your tour provider isn't already providing it.
If you must carry prescribed medication, make sure you keep it in the original package with your doctor’s prescription. If and when needed, over-the-counter medicine is available without issue.
Considering its size, Monaco has the largest police force in the world with over 500 officers serving a population of 32,000, including the resident royal family. There are no major security problems, which grants Monaco the title of the safest country in Europe.
Unless while at the beach, walking around topless, barefoot, or wearing nothing else but a swimsuit is prohibited by local law. You’ll probably get away with a slap on the wrist, but it’s more likely you’ll be fined.