The second smallest country in the world
Our second day of this weekend trip to Nice, we spent it for taking the short bus drive to the capital city of Monaco, tiny Montecarlo. Getting here from Nice is as simple and easy as to take a public bus for just 1 Euro! And the views you will get along the way are amazing too. Make sure you sit or locate yourself on the right hand side of the bus, this is where you will get the views of the coast and mountains for the whole of the journey. Around 40 minutes journey and you will be there.
There are few stops within Monaco itself, being one of the best to get off at the one near the Castle, which is the old town also known as Monaco Ville or The Rock, and start your visit from there. Of course note that the castle is high up in the mountain, and the bus stop is down in the road. Just ask the driver which one you need to get off or check this in a map.
For a day trip, you have more than enough time to do and see everything. It’s in fact a very small place, so the only area where you will spend more time is by the Castle and Royal Palace, which is the most historic area. The views from here are the best you can get of the whole bay. When you start going uphill and start getting the views, don’t rush to make pictures along the way, you will soon be on the top and realise from there you can have even better views.
After this, make you way down, around the Cathedral, then the Oceanographic, and then comes a park where you get some more great views. From the bottom, there is a nice and charming street to your left. If you walk this up, you will find small and cosy coffee places serving great and cheap food, and plenty more restaurants with quite an expensive menus.
Then move to the small harbour, and continue your way towards the Casino. You will need to climb uphill once again, but this time will be smoother. Along the way you will pass many luxurious hotels, and great views towards the Castle at the opposite hill. Now you would have arrived at the number one tourist (and for no tourists as well) attraction, the Casino. You can get inside, no matter what you are wearing, so don’t be shy if you are in shorts and next to you people in Armani suits. You cannot make pictures inside though, and there will be a point where you cannot continue any further. These are the private rooms for the very rich and famous.
If you stand at the front of the casino, you have nice views of the gardens and fountains uphill. Make your way through the gardens until you reach the main road at the top. The views along the way of the casino keeps getting better. The once you are in this road, you have the bus stop to get back to Nice straight in front of you. There is really nothing else you can see in Monaco, apart of wandering around the streets and certainly watching from time to time the super cars passing by. Being so small and straightforward, this is one of the easiest cities you can visit, where distances are small, and every sight is near each other and mostly along and near the port.
For more information about Monaco check Wikipedia and Wikitravel sites. France and Monaco’s currency is the Euro (EUR). Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
What to see and do in Montecarlo
- Monaco Ville – The Rock This is the name that receives the original settlement and old town of Montecarlo. Perched on a hill surrounded by the main port down below its north side, and the sea along the east and south.
-Oceanographic One of the grandest buildings and largest museum in the city, built right by a cliff in 1910 in Baroque Revival style. The main facade overlooks the old city, while the back directly over the Mediterranean Sea.
-Cathedral of Our Lady Immaculate Completed in 1903 in Romanesque Revival style. Built in the same place of the first parish church in Monaco once built in 1252.
-Royal Palace The highlight within Monaco Ville, having its main facade opening to the largest square within the old town. Originally built in 1191 by the Genoese, it was destroyed and reconstructed several times during history, becoming one of the most uncommon in Europe in terms of including fortifications all over the complex.
-Streets All so charming and narrow, connecting the Royal Palace Square with the eastern tip near the Oceanographic.
- Quartier du Port The central section of Montecarlo, home large hotels and the main luxurious marina.
-Formula One Grand Prix The whole city is one of the world’s most famous and best circuit. No need to wait for a Grand Prix to happen, you will get to see extravagant cars every now and then as you walk the streets, especially along the port area.
-Harbour Quite emblematic and well known, home to luxurious yachts from the rich and famous. There are great views of the rest of the city and the mountains from the promenade.
- L’Hermitage Continuing northeast after the port, it is the most exclusive part of Montecarlo. Here are several grand historic hotels apart from great exclusive new ones, and the remaining of the city’s major sights.
–Opera Or Salle Garnier. Built by the same Charles Garnier who also designed the magnificent Paris Opera. It opened its doors in 1879. It sits side to side with the gorgeous Casino next door, creating one of the most beautiful spaces in the city with regards to the architecture.
-Casino Since 1863, the symbol of the city, one of the world’s most historic. An institution on its own.
-Jardins de la Petite Afrique Located at the front of the Casino and the Opera, are the largest public gardens within the city.
The easiest way to reach Montecarlo is from neighbouring Nice. It is merely 40 minutes away one from another. You can either take a train or a bus. For example the bus number 100 leaves Nice from Garibaldi Square, very frequently day and night, and drops you off across multiple places in the city of Montecarlo, like the Casino. And once there, there is no need for any other transport at all. It’s very small and distances are really short.
The nearest airport is also Nize, and so the nearest major railway station where you can reach anywhere across France in no time with the high-speed trains. However, Montecarlo has its own railway station with very frequent connection to Nice and Marseille farther south along the coast, and direct link all the way to Milan in the north of Italy.
We definitely did not stay in Montecarlo overnight, and even if we would be willing to pay that very high prices for a modest hotel, I would not even like to stay in here. On a much much better choice, there is Nice next door. A pretty big and nice city with lots more to do, specially if going out in the night. A good and reasonable point to start your search is by checking some of our preferred affiliate hotel search engine such as Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, Otel.com, Agoda, Opodo or Ebookers.
However, no one argues the selection of properties in Montercarlo is stunning in terms of luxury and boutique quality. These buildings are also awesome from the outside making their own sight to see while walking the city. But for now, surely we are not up for going to a exclusive party in suits and drinking the most expensive champagne. Nevertheless, the choice is there and for everyone.