Monaco: Three-Day Travel Itinerary

Monaco is home to possibly the most glamorous jet-set scene in the world. Just the name Monte Carlo conjures visions of a glamorous bygone era. Along with European hideaways like Lake Como, Gstaad, and St Moritz, this cliffside Mediterranean port has been a timeless playground for the see-and-be-seen crowd for more than 150 years.

In modern Monte Carlo, the tax-free principality surrounded by France and the Maritime Alps, that glamour can still be intensely felt. But amid all the hubbub, when you visit Monte Carlo it’s still possible to while away the afternoon over a café crème, amble along the harbor among the yachts, and experience the slow-paced, yet refined, Monégasque savoir-vivre. 

Home to a Grand Prix track, a grand casino, and a busy harbor filled with mega-yachts, Hollywood aura is everywhere. Wondering where to begin? Iconic Riviera has you covered with our three-day Monaco travel itinerary, covering the best of Monaco, written by a Monaco resident and true insider:

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First day: A culture encounter

To begin with our travel itinerary for Monaco, you can engage in the rich heritage and culture in this opulent and luxurious city. Here’s where to visit on the first day:

Park & Museum: Exotic Gardens & Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology

Make your way down the winding pathways of Jardin Exotique. You can see exotic plants and succulents here in this garden while enjoying stunning views of Monaco and the sea.

Next, head to the Musée d’Anthropologie Préhistorique. The display includes archaeological findings, artifacts, and fossils. The Museum is also a research institute, carrying out excavation work and laboratory studies.

The collections retrace, throughout the era of the glacial and interglacial periods, the major stages in the evolution of the human race. They show that the Côte d’Azur was also a great place to live for our ancestors, even one million years ago.

At the bottom of the Exotic Garden’s cliff, there is a large cave (called “Observation Cave”). Opening at 100 meters above the sea level and dipping down almost to sea level, a fascinating underground cave is specially equipped for visits. You’ll need a jacket, and is gets quite cold in the cave.

Open Times: The museum is open all year. From May 15 to September 15 it’s open from 9am to 7pm, and from September 16 to May 14 it’s open from 9am to 6pm.
Tours: Specialists guide the tour of the cave, included in the Exotic Garden entrance ticket. 
Dress: You must bring a jacket to tour the caves, as the temperature inside is quite chilly.
Website: Visit the official website for the Jardin, Caves, and Museum.
More Reading: See our guide to Monaco’s best parks & gardens.

ART MUSEUM: VILLA PALOMA

Villa Paloma, Monaco (travel itinerary)

Near the hillside of the Jardin Exotique is this villa with a pearly-white cast. It is part of Nouveau Museé National de Monaco. It hosts contemporary art exhibits, often with themes focusing on environmental issues.

The Villa Paloma was one of the finest patrician residences in the Principality. It was badly damaged during World War II, but subsequently restored. The gardens have also been restored to their original splendor. The Villa’s garden was entrusted to the capable hands of Octave Godard, the most gifted of the students of the famous landscape artist Edouard André [1840- 1911]. Godard created one of the “antique-style” gardens which he was famous for. The stained-glass windows in the large entrance hall were made by the Master Glazier Fassi Cadet, of Nice.

Open Times: Open every day when exhibitions are on, from 10am to 6pm. Closed on January 1st, May 1st, 4 days of the Grand Prix, November 19th and December 25th
Cost: Full price NMNM ticket (Villa Paloma + Villa Sauber) €6. Combined ticket NMNM / Exotic Garden / Anthropological Museum: €10
Free entrance every Sunday. Free guided tours with reservation.
Website & Exhibitions: There is a list of current exhibits on their official website.
More Reading: See our guide to where to see art in Monaco and our guide to the best art museums on the French Riviera.

Princess Antoinette Park

Experience fun and relaxation in this beautiful garden park. Kids can play in the playground or with farm animals in the kiddie zoo, while you play mini-golf. Weave your way down from the top of the park to the bottom.

Since Monaco is so safe, adults can relax in the “Zen Palace” while their kids play. This is foremost a playground for kids, as there are many play areas with swings, slides, roundabouts, and many others. An olive grove is in the center of the park. There are places to play ball games, table tennis, badminton, volleyball, skateboarding, and even an 18-hole mini-golf in the multi-purpose sports grounds.

Open Times: The park closes from August 28 to the September 6.
Special Event: On September 1, the Prince and Princess of Monaco and their family join the people of Monaco to celebrate the traditional “U Cavagnëtu” picnic in this park.
Website: Official website
More Reading: See our guide to Monaco’s best parks & gardens.

Prince’s Palace of Monaco

Monaco’s royal palace is located at the top of The Rock, overlooking the Mediterranean.

The palace, which was built as a fortress in 1162, was originally intended to become a fortress of the Republic of Genoa. This building has known during its history, bombing, and sieges by many foreign forces.

Take a regal tour in this princely residence that has been inhabited by the Grimaldi’s since the 13th-century, when they conquered the place in 1297, and has been the official residence of the Prince of Monaco since. The Grimaldi family governed the principality, first as feudal lords, and since the 17th century as sovereign princes.
 
During the nineteenth and early twentieth century, the palace and its occupants become the glamorous symbol of the jet-set crowd that is now associated with the splendor of Monte Carlo and the Côte d’Azur. To add to this theatricality, in 1956, the American movie star Grace Kelly becomes chatelaine after her marriage with Rainier III of Monaco. 

Today, the palace is the residence of Albert II, Prince of Monaco, and you can tour several staterooms. It is guarded by a 98-man force made up of highly trained French military men. Since 1817, the Prince’s riflemen have been charged with guarding the Palace, ensuring the safety of his Serene Highness the Sovereign Prince and the Royal Family. Every day at 11:55am at the Place du Palais, you can watch the changing of the guard — a solemn ritual not to be missed.

Tip: Point Google Maps to the ‘Place de Palais’
Open Times: You can visit the state apartments in the palace from April 2 to October 15. Visits will be closed during the winter and during the Monaco Grand Prix weekend.
Cost: Adults: €10, children (6-17 years) and students: €5
More info: You can witness the traditional changing of the guards ceremony every morning year-round on the palace square at 11:55am
Website: Official website

The Cathedral of Monaco

St Nicholas Cathedral is where Princess Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III had their church wedding ceremony in April 1956. Built with white stones from La Turbie in 1875, this Roman-Byzantine-style building houses the burial places of past princes.

The Cathedral of Our Lady Immaculate, but sometimes called Saint Nicholas Cathedral, or The Monaco Cathedral, is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Monaco and is where many of the Grimaldis are buried, including Grace Kelly and Rainier III.

A historic church of the Roman Catholic faith, it is also home to a grand four-keyboard organ. Spiritual concerts and services are accompanied by the harmonies of this magnificent grand organ. Take note of the altarpiece by the Niçois painter Louis Bréa dating from 1500 and the Episcopal Throne made of Carrara white marble from Tuscany, Italy.

Open Times: The cathedral is open from 8am to 7pm between May and September, and from 8:30am and 6pm October to April. On Sundays from September to June, the Monaco boys choir, Les Petits Chanteurs de Monaco, fills the halls with angelic sounds during the 10am mass.
Cost: Free admission (outside religious services).

Shop at Princess Grace’s Boutique

Princess Grace opened the ‘Boutique du Rocher’ gift and housewares shop in 1966, and it remains the place for locally handcrafted Monégasque and Provençal items. You can find embroidered tablecloths, hand-carved frames, children’s clothing, handmade soaps, colorful ceramic platters, and a range of other items that are perfect for gifting. Best yet, all proceeds go to The Princess Grace Foundation, which contributes to cultural projects that benefit children. 

Open Times: 10am to 7pm every day except closed on Sunday.
Social Media: Facebook
Website: The Princess Grace Foundation
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Second day: shopping, gardens, and the grand casino

After seeing the city landmarks, spend the next day in our travel itinerary enjoying the luxurious life that Monaco offers. Window-shop the extravagant shopping center, with its glamorous boutiques. Then, experience the thrill of playing a game or having a drink at the casino afterward.

One Monte Carlo & Little Africa Gardens

Monte-Carlo Shopping Promenade
Hotel de Paris (left) and One Monte-Carlo Shopping promenade (right)

Start your day in Casino Square, with a beautiful stroll and some bird-watching in the exotic Jardins de la Petite Afrique (Little Africa Gardens).

One Monte-Carlo shopping promenade is next to the park (to your right if you’re facing the Casino/sea), marked by a number of curved, modern buildings. It is a place to see the world’s top brands with the most opulent and upscale shops in the district.

These luxury labels have taken this as an opportunity to think big. Whilst some have dressed their boutiques with iconic pieces, artwork, limited editions and nods to the history of Monaco, others have meticulously designed their interior décor down to the last detail, setting the scene with marble floors, hand-sewn tapestries, imposing staircases and high-tech fixtures.

With stores spanning multiple floors, monumental window displays, lush verdant façades and staff keen to lavish attention on shoppers, it’s hard to resist the area’s appeal.

Open Times: The shops are open from 10am to 7pm every day except Sunday (they are closed on Sundays).
Cafe: The cafe (Mada One ) is open from 8am to 6:30pm daily, and from 10am to 6pm on Sunday.
More Reading: Check out our guide to the shopping centers in Monaco.

GALERIE METROPOLÉ Shopping center

Inside the Metropole Shopping Center

The Métropole Shopping Center is a glamorous shopping mall with marbled stairs and stunning chandeliers. This shopping center has 80 high-end shops, from fashion apparel to home interior labels. The difference is that exclusive, but lesser-known brands, are mixed in — so you can find a deal here-and-there if you look hard enough. A café and several restaurants offer gourmet cuisine under giant crystal chandeliers.

Open Times: The shopping center is open from 10am to 7:30pm every day except Sunday (closed on Sundays).
Website: The official website has a list of shops.
More Reading: Check out our guide to the shopping centers in Monaco.

The Japanese Gardens

A dream of Princess Grace, the stylized Japanese garden is an oasis of greenery. Here, everything is symbolic. Some of the arrangements respect Shintoist principles, such as the red arched bridge over koi ponds leading to the islands which represent the Gods. The zen garden, whose sea of gravel is raked into an ellipse, symbolizes perpetual motion.

These lovely Japanese-style gardens are just a short walk away from Metropolé, next to the sea. It has several meditation and tea houses with benches that you can sit and relax on. The stone lanterns and all the wood for the tea house and covered terrace was assembled in Japan and then transported to Monaco. This detailed garden provides a piece of tranquility among the bright lights and bustle of the city. Keep an eye out for the stone lanterns, bamboo fencing and idyllic meditation area, where visitors can enjoy the garden’s serenity for hours.

Open Times: The gardens open at 9am and remain open until 6pm from November to March, and 7pm from April to October.
Cost: Free
More Reading: See our guide to Monaco’s best parks & gardens.

Monte Carlo casino

Inside the entrance to the Monte Carlo Casino

Whether you gamble or not, peeping inside Monte Carlo’s legendary marble-and-gold belle époque casino is a Monaco essential. The walls and ceilings of the Casino de Monte Carlo are a sight to behold.

The Casino was designed in 1893 by Charles Garnier, the architect of the Paris Opera House, and has welcomed everyone from Napoleon to Churchill. Its ostentatiously beautiful exterior façade practically looks subtle when compared with the lavishly decorated salons, soaring columns, marble statues, and glittering chandeliers inside. Its marble paved “atrium” is surrounded with 28 Ionic columns made of onyx. The casino’s series of “Gaming Rooms” are marvelously decorated with stained glass windows, sculptures, and allegorical paintings.

If you are feeling lucky (and rich), try a slot machine or game in the Casino. If you fancy some fresh air, head up to the terrace; losing money is always a little less painful when gazing out at the sea.

Tours: Guided visits and group tours to the casino are available from 9am to 12:30pm. Gambling: Gaming opens at 2pm daily, at which time visitors to the casino must be 18 years of age, meet the dress code, and present ID.
Dress Code: Trainers (sneakers) are strictly forbidden and a jacket and tie is strongly recommended in the gaming rooms for men in the evening (and is compulsory for the salons privés). No shorts or flip-flops, jackets after 8pm.
Website: The casino’s official website.
More Reading: Check out our guide to the Monte Carlo Casino & Opera House.
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Third day: The Monagesque experience and the sea

Observe and participate in the vibrant Monaco way of living on the third day of our travel itinerary. See the local places where people meet and do their everyday business. Afterward, enjoy the sights and the sea on a beautiful beach.

The Farmers Market

the farmer’s market in place d’armes

La Condamine Market opened on 18 November 1880 and has been going strong ever since. The market is part of Monaco’s heritage. It represents the authentic heart of the Principality, where Monaco’s population likes to gather. Take a stroll around the morning farmers market. Mingle with locals and buy fresh products. It is one of the favorite places of real Monégasques.

It is a Southern market at heart. The spirit is sunny, underscored by the soft, warm shades of the market hall and terracotta paving scattered with small ceramic tiles graced with Provençal motifs.

La Condamine Market has twenty or so traders within its confines. There are also numerous market gardeners, florists and small local producers on Place du Marché. Here, you can find produce including Monegasque specialties such as socca, barbagiuans, pissaladière, and fougasse.

Open Times: The market is open every day, all year round, from 7am to 3pm. Opening hours for La Halle Gourmande : Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm to 9.30pm.
Location: In Place d’Armes square in the Condamine area, a 5 minute stroll inland from Port Hercule.
Tip: Almost all the vendors accept credit card, but bring some cash just in case.
More Reading: See our guide to the best markets.

port Hercule

THE PUBLIC SALTWATER POOL IN PORT HERCULE, MONACO

In the port, you can see the largest and most impressive yachts in the world up-close. It is a natural bay and the only deep-water port in the town. Circuit de Monaco runs around the port, where the famous Grand Prix takes place.

In warmer months, you can also go for a swim at Stade Nautique Ranier III. Built in 1961, the heated saltwater Olympic-size swimming pool has multiple diving platforms, and a giant water-slide. The pool turns into a skating rink from December to the beginning of March. From November to January, this area also hosts the Christmas Market.

Open Times: April 27 to June 14 from 9am to 6pm; June 15 to September 8 from 9am to 8pm; September 9 to October 13 from 9am to 6pm.
Cost: €3.30, or 10-visit card: €26.40. The cash desk closes 1 hour before closing. Children under 12 years old must be accompanied by an adult.
Location: By the boats in the center of Port Hercule, Monaco
Phone: +37793306483
Social Media: Facebook
Website: Official Website

ST CHARLES CHURCH

On the walk from the port to Eglise Saint-Charles, you will pass the clearly-marked Monaco Tourism Office, where you can learn more about the area.

St Charles church is a renaissance style building. The bell-tower is 30 meters high. Its inauguration was in 1883. It has nineteen stained glass windows.

Open Times: The reception is open on weekdays from 10am to 12pm and 4pm to 6pm as well as Saturday afternoon from 4pm to 6pm.
Ceremony: ‘Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament’ ceremony every Thursday from 5:30pm to 6:30pm.
Website: Official website

The Beach

The Larvotto beach area has a large promenade, with several restaurants on the sand. If the public beach is crowded, you can check the adjacent private beaches attached to The Meridien Beach Plaza and Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel . There is also a small public pebble beach on east side of Hotel Monte-Carlo Bay .

Cost: Larvotto beach is free to the public.
Tips: Unfortunately, the public Larvotto beach will be under construction for 2020 through 2022 seasons, so you’ll have to wait to see it!
More Reading: See our guide to the best beaches.

Check out our complete guide to Monaco public transportation.

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