Monte Carlo: where James Bond gambled, Grace Kelly reigned, Formula One racers speed around turns, and wealthy celebrities preen in the spotlight. One of the most famous districts in the tiny principality of Monaco, Monte Carlo has become synonymous with luxury, opulence, and wealth. If you’re visiting Monaco, put this small but powerful district at the top of your list!
One of the best ways to see Monte Carlo – and the rest of Monaco, really – is by boat. On a Mediterranean cruise, you can take in the view of the majestic cliffs and luxury skyscrapers rising up before you as you steam into the harbour.
Looking for more southern Mediterranean hot spots? Check out Nice.
What to Do: Monte Carlo and the Surrounding Area
Casino de Monte Carlo
The crown jewel of the area, the Casino de Monte Carlo should definitely be your first stop. Made internationally famous by its many appearances in literature and film – most notably James Bond movies – this ornate Belle Époque building oozes opulence and sophistication, from the gilded gaming salons to the sweeping circular drive out front, where serious gamblers emerge from their luxury vehicles as the sun begins to set. If you’re not planning to gamble, don’t worry – there are tours available almost every morning.
Place du Casino, 98000 Monaco
Tel: +377 98 06 21 21
Hours: Open daily 2:00pm-4:00am. Group tours offered daily 9:00am-12:00pm.
Prices: Tour prices €10.00. Gambling prices…to be determined!
Opera de Monte Carlo
Directly adjacent to the casino (indeed, located in the very same building), the Opera de Monte Carlo is the next on the list to continue your morning of grandeur. Designed in the 1870s by Charles Garnier (the architect of Paris’s Palais Garnier), this magnificent venue has been staging exceptional performances of internationally acclaimed operas, ballets, and concerts. Inside the auditorium, the Salle Garnier, you’ll be greeted by an extravagant display of red upholstery, golden accents, intricate reliefs, and beautiful frescoes.
It’s unlikely you’ll have time to take in a show during your visit, but the opera theatre is well worth a look. The opera’s main entrances faces right out to sea, so don’t forget to take in the view.
Casino Monte-Carlo, Place du Casino, 98000 Monaco, France
Tel: +377 98 06 28 00
Hours: Tues-Sat 10:00am-5:30pm
Prices: Varies by performance.
Lunch: Café de Paris Monte Carlo
Before you leave the casino and opera, treat yourself to a luxurious lunch at Café de Paris Monte Carlo, a legendary brasserie with an unbeatable location. Enjoy succulent seasonal Mediterranean seafood in a traditional Parisian bistro setting while you gaze out the wide windows at the rich and fashionable coming to play at the casino!
Place du Casino, 98000 Monaco, France
Tel: +377 98 06 76 23
Hours: Open daily 12:00pm-3:00pm, 7:00pm-11:30pm
Next, make your way across town (it may sound far, but it’s only a 25-minute walk) to the Oceanographic Museum, which is perched on the cliff side overlooking the sea. Dedicated to learning, loving, and protecting our oceans, the Oceanographic Museum is full of fascinating exhibits. From the “cabinet of curiosities” from the marine world, to the ancient jaws of the largest shark ever found (the Megalodon), to the several thousand species of fish in the aquarium, there’s enough here to satisfy even the most passionate lover of the sea.
Avenue Saint-Martin, Monaco
Tel: +377 93 15 36 00
Hours: Open daily 10:00am-7:00pm
Prince’s Palace of Monaco
Just 15 minutes from the museum, you’ll find the stately Prince’s Palace of Monaco dominating the skyline from its impressive rocky promontory. As the name would suggest, this opulent fortress-palace is the official residence of the Prince of Monaco. In 1297 the Grimaldi family captured the fortress – and have ruled Monaco from it ever since (that’s over 700 years!)
Though a fully functioning palace and royal headquarters, there are some opportunities to take a peek into the princely life. The state rooms are open to the public during the summer months, giving ordinary citizens a chance to marvel at priceless paintings and frescoes, marble staircases, period furniture, and chandelier after dazzling chandelier. There are also occasionally open-air concerts given by the Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra in the palace courtyard, so be sure to check out the schedule available on the palace’s website.
Tel: +377 93 25 18 31
Hours: Open daily 10:00am-6:00pm
Jardin Exotique de Monaco
What better way to end your day than with a quiet garden stroll? As you head back from the palace, make a detour through the Jardin Exotique (a 20-minute walk to get there, or a quick 9-minute ride by pre-booked shuttle). Set up high on the edge of a cliff, this exotic garden features an array of succulents – plants that have adapted to extremely dry climates. As you wander through this beautiful setting, you’ll notice a number of flowering cacti and rocky grottoes. Of course, don’t forget to stop to take in the stunning view!
Jardin Exotique de Monaco, 62, Bd du Jardin Exotique, 98000 Monaco
Tel: +377 93 15 29 80
Hours: Open daily 9:00am-6:00pm
Dinner: La Salière
As you make your way back down toward the harbour, stop in for dinner at La Salière, an Italian-Mediterranean restaurant in the Fontvielle area with excellent views of the Port de Fontvielle. Enjoy mushroom risotto, pasta with prawns and aubergines, fresh swordfish, crispy thin crust pizzas, and a whole lot more as you take in the buzzing and beautiful harbour scene.
28 Quai Jean-Charles Rey, 98000 Monaco
Tel: +377 92 05 25 82
Hours: Open daily 12:00pm-2:30, 7:30pm-10:30pm
How to Get to Monte Carlo
Your ship will likely dock at the grandly named Hercules Port, where you’ll get the chance to stare with awe upon some of the luxurious yachts that are always in residence here. Though Monte Carlo is only about half a mile from the port, Monaco as a whole (albeit a small one) is extremely hilly and steep. Do yourself a favour and look into Monte Carlo cruise port transfers with Shuttle Direct – your knees will thank you! Even better, you won’t waste a single second of your day in Monte Carlo with our speedy service.
About Shuttle Direct:
Whether you’re in Monaco for one day or staying the week, Shuttle Direct can help make your travel plans run smoothly. As the number one provider of airport transfer services, we’re uniquely equipped to operate to and from airports, cruise ports, train stations, hotels, and other points of interest. Book your next transfer with us and see for yourself.