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  • Monte-Carlo-skyline-harbor-at-dusk - View of the Monte Carlo skyline and marina from the Hermitage Hotel.
  • flowers-monte-carlo-monaco - Bougainvillea in bloom in Monte Carlo, Monaco.
  • Grand-Casino-Monte-Carlo-at-night - The rich and wannabe-rich come out to play at Europe's most famous casino in Monte Carlo.
  • Monte-Carlo-battlement - A battlement-like structure in Monte Carlo.
  • Royal-Clipper-in-Monte-Carlo - Spend a day hobnobbing with the jet-setters of Monte Carlo during your Royal Clipper voyage.
  • Monte-Carlo-Grand-Casino - The Grand Casino in Monte Carlo, one of the stops on your Paul Gauguin cruise aboard Tere Moana.
  • tilt-shift-monte-carlo - Talk about a playground for the rich! A "Tilt Shift" photo of Monte Carlo made with tiltshiftmaker.
  • Monte-Carlo-SeaDream - Visit Monte Carlo, Monaco, on a SeaDream cruise.
  • Monte-Carlo-promenade - Along one of the main promenades in Monte Carlo.
  • Monte-Carlo-cupola-stained-glass - A decorative stained-glass cupola in Monte Carlo.
  • Hotel-De-Paris-Monte-Carlo-Monaco-Room - In the Monaco Room of Hotel De Paris in Monte Carlo.
  • Carnival-Breeze-Monte-Carlo-Monaco - Carnival Breeze docks in beautiful Monte Carlo, Monaco.
  • Carnival-Breeze-Monaco-panorama - Spend some time in beautiful Monaco when you cruise the French Riviera.
  • Azamara-Quest-Monte-Carlo-3 - Come for the turquoise waters and stay for the sights when the Azamara Quest docks in Monte Carlo.
  • Monte-Carlo-Grand-Casino-couple - Stop by the Grand Casino in Monte Carlo for a memorable port visit during a cruise aboard Tere Moana.
  • Monte-Carlo-view-from-Tere-Moana - Celebrate your voyage in style with an evening cocktail aboard Tere Moana after taking in Monte Carlo's lavish lifestyle.
  • Azamara-Quest-Monte-Carlo - Azamara Quest takes you to many shore-side activities in glamorous Monte Carlo.
  • Tere-Moana-Monte-Carlo-view2 - Get up close to Monte Carlo: Tere Moana's size allows her to dock alongside the exclusive private yachts in the harbor.
  • Monte-Carlo-lookout.jpg - A lookout in Monte Carlo.
  • Porsche-Carrera-GT-Monte-Carlo - A  Porsche Carrera GT outside the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo, Monaco.
  • waterfront-monaco - The waterfront of Monte Carlo.
  • Pagani-Huayra-sports-car-Monte-Carlo - A Pagan Huayra (pronounced wai-rah), an Italian sports car produced by Pagani, in a Monte Carlo showroom.
  • yachts-Monaco - Super-yachts in the marina for the Monaco Yacht Show.
  • monte-carlo-harbor.jpg - Yachts line the harbor in Monte Carlo, Monaco.
  • monte-carlo-harbor-1.jpg - The Monte Carlo harbor.
  • Monte-Carlo-megayacht.jpg - A megayacht in the harbor of Monte Carlo.
  • Monte-Carlo-waterfront-2.jpg - The Monte Carlo waterfront.
  • Azamara-Quest-Monte-Carlo-4 - Azamara Quest moors off Monte Carlo. After a big, beautiful blue while sailing, passengers hop off for fun on shore.
  • Monte-Carlo-raceway.jpg - The Monte Carlo raceway.
  • Monte-Carlo-waterfront.jpg - The Monte Carlo waterfront.
  • monte-carlo-panorama.jpg - A Monte Carlo panorama.

7 glamorous things to do & see in Monte Carlo

our guide

The vibe

Monte Carlo is synonymous with three things: high rollers at casino tables, the Formula 1 Grand Prix and Princess Grace, with maybe a James Bond movie or two thrown in for good measure. Travelers and cruise passengers can make the most of a day trip to this port city in the quirky principality of Monaco — the second smallest nation in the world behind Vatican City — with the following travel guide on what to do and see in Monte Carlo.

Cruise ships that call on Monte Carlo

Top reasons to go

  • Fulfill your James Bond or Princess Grace fantasies at the exclusive hotels and casinos.
  • Rent some fancy wheels and drive the Grande Corniche, or experience the Formula 1 Grand Prix circuit in a performance car or on foot.
  • Dine at 3-star Michelin restaurant Louix XV, helmed by chef Alain Ducasse.
Celebrate your voyage in style with an evening cocktail aboard Tere Moana after taking in Monte Carlo's lavish lifestyle.
Roger Paperno / Courtesy of Paul Gauguin CruisesCelebrate your voyage in style with an evening cocktail aboard Tere Moana after taking in Monte Carlo's lavish lifestyle.

Top things to do & see in Monte Carlo

Here are seven things to do and see in Monte Carlo — even if you're on a budget. Bring your best shoes, a coat and tie for men and a chic outfit for women to make the most of your visit and don't forget your own sense of style and glamour.

The Grand Casino

1

Head to the Grand Casino, the most famous sight in Monaco, to see how the top one percent play. You can take in the rich décor of the gaming rooms, adorned with sculptures, paintings and lavish marble and gold ornaments, without ever risking your money.

Feeling lucky? You can gamble alongside the well-to-do — Just know that the lowest bet accepted for blackjack is 25 euro (about $32).

Be aware: You'll need your passport to enter the casino, which opens at 2 pm, and entry fees vary depending on what you plan to do or see. The dress code is strict: Men must wear coats and ties, and casual or tennis shoes are prohibited, but even in casual clothes you can peer inside the casino.  

In addition to the Grand Casino, Monte Carlo has two other casinos. They have more casual dress codes and do not charge admission fees.

Hotel De Paris

2

Continue your exploration of the lives of the rich and famous at the exclusive Hotel de Paris, just outside the Grand Casino. During the afternoon and into the evening, tourists and locals alike can often be found there laughing, drinking and dining (be prepared for sticker shock). It's worth a visit, even if it's just for an afternoon snack, to take in the visually stunning lobby.

If you have money burning a hole in your pocket, have lunch or an early dinner in Le Grill de L'Hotel de Paris, which offers fish and meat dishes, first-rate service, panoramic views of the city — and a choice of 600,000 wines to accompany your entree (and no, that's not a typo).

Be aware: To enter the hotel, you'll need to dress smartly and say you're going to the bar or one of the restaurants. 

Do something Princess Grace-related

3

Actress Grace Kelly starred in 11 films before abandoning Hollywood to move to Monaco and marry Rainier III, prince of Monaco, in 1956. She became a beloved figure in the country, known for her congeniality, beauty and reserve.  Some choices for fans of Princess Grace:

Along one of the main promenades in Monte Carlo.
Rodrigo Soldon / Creative Commons BY ND 2.0Along one of the main promenades in Monte Carlo.
  • Le Bar at Columbus Monte-Carlo23 Avenue des Papalins Monte Carlo 00 377 92 059000. The cocktail lounge offers a chic outdoor terrace to nurse a cocktail, such as the signature drink, Grace, composed of rose liqueur, Champagne and rose petals. (Can you tell that the princess liked roses?) Fun fact: Formula One race car driver David Coulthard is a co-owner.
  • Princess Grace Rose Garden: Right next door, you'll find more than 4,000 rose bushes in bloom every spring in this section of Parc Fontvieille, which also features a small swan-filled lake. Go for a pleasant stroll to gear up for or wind down from a day of sightseeing.
  • The Prince’s Palace, or Palais du Prince, is located not far away in old Monaco-Ville. Still the official residence of the prince of Monaco, it's where Grace Kelly lived from 1956 until her death in 1982. Built in 1191 as a Genoese fortress, it has served as the stronghold of the Grimaldi family since 1297. The changing of the guard, a highlight, takes place each day at 11:55 a.m. There are guided tours of the palace throughout the day. While there, don't miss the breathtaking view of the harbors on either side of the palace.
  • Grace Kelly’s tomb: Walk along the coastal Avenue Saint-Martin, featuring pretty cliffside gardens, and you'll come to St. Nicholas Cathedral (aka Monaco Cathedral), built in the late 1800s. This is where Princess Grace and Prince Rainier married, and it's where Grace and generations of Grimaldis are buried.

Yacht basin

4

From the casino area, walk down the winding hill to the left (or right) and head to the yacht basin to stare at the super-yachts in the harbor. It's really a jaw-dropping sight. In the winter, the basin is festooned for a Christmas market and fair that's quite fun.

Monaco Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium

5

Walk through the yacht basin and follow the path along the sea and up to the Oceanographic Museum, with its world-renowned collections of marine life. The aquarium contains 4,000 species of fish and more than 200 families of invertebrates found in Mediterranean and tropical marine ecosystems. A number of interesting exhibits and films are available daily. The entrance fee for adults is 15 euro, with discounts for students with valid identification. If your limo is out of service, arrive there via bus number 1 or 2 from the train station.

Jardin Exotique

6

This exotic garden displays a collection of several thousand rare plants from around the world, many of them varieties of cacti. Guided tours (in French only) of the gardens and grottos (caves) are available for 8 euro for adults, 3.50 euro for children or students younger than 16. Take bus number 2 to reach the gardens from the train station or the Oceanographic Museum.

A Porsche Carrera GT outside the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo.
Carspotter / Creative Commons BY SA 2.0A Porsche Carrera GT outside the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo.

Exotic cars

7

Chances are good that you'll spot some exotic cars parked outside by owners who like to show off, with a gaggle of tourists gathered around, snapping pictures while posing next to the vehicles. Resist the temptation to jump into the driver's seat and hotwire that sucker. As an alternative, rent one of the legions of luxury cars — say, a Ferrari, Lamborghini or Bentley — for a few hours and take it for a spin up the stunning coastal roads. Don't forget your camera.   

Where to eat

Even a day trip in Monte Carlo can add up, so make sure you check the prices before ordering. For instance, a glass of Champagne — basically the national beverage in Monaco — can set you back as much as 40 euro ($52) at a trendy restaurant.

That said, you can still find plenty of good mid-range spots for lunch or an early dinner:

  • Beefbarquai Jean Charles Ray, 98000Quality cuts of beef come with high but worth it price tags. Wine selections are paired perfectly with the meat. Chic atmosphere and attentive staff. 
  • Baccarat4 Escalier Saint-Charles4 rue Terrazzani 93-30-16-38Mon-Sat noon-1:45PM and 7:30-11p.m. (until midnight Fri-Sat). If you're on a budget, grab a slice of one of their delicious gourmet pizzas. They taste best if you eat them while sitting on the outdoor terrace. Main courses are available from 10 euro-22 euro.

Where to drink

Here are some mid-range options:

  • ZelosTop Floor Grimaldi Forum Ave. Princesse Grace +377 99 99 25 50Showcasing panoramic views from the top floor of the Grimaldi Forum, the outdoor seating area offers the perfect spot to see yachts cruising into the harbor. Top models and the people who want to be with them dance the early mornings away here and we defy you not to do the same. Impressive cocktail list and bite-size treats. 
  • Jimmy'zLe Sporting Club Avenue Princesse Grace, Monte Carlo + 377 9216 20 00The ultimate night club in Monte Carlo, the famed Jimmy'z is frequented by royalty and the uber-rich, which isn't a surprise considering some of the hefty price tags. A beer can set you back upward of 20 euro. There are two entrances -one is two floors down in Le Sporting Club, the other at street level.
  • Travelators: You'll find steep hills throughout Monaco. Several elevators and travelators (moving walkways), all free, make it easier to explore the principality on foot.

Best time to go

Monte Carlo is pleasant year-round, with 300-plus days of sunshine per year. The famed Grand Prix, with race cars zipping right through the city's streets, occurs in mid-May each year.

Need to know

Documents: No passport needed, except to enter the Grand Casino. 

Currency: Euro

Language: French

Tipping: While tipping is not common in Monaco, a small tip of 5% to 10%, or a rounding up of the bill, is appreciated in restaurants and bars.

Safety: Monte Carlo is considered to be safe for travelers. As always, be aware of your surroundings and stay in public areas. Monaco has the largest number of police per capital and the whole place is rife with CCTV cameras. 

ShoreFox and Wikitravel contributed to this guide. 

Your take

Have you been to Monte Carlo? What was your experience like? Have any tips for first-time visitors?

Help improve this article! See anything wrong? What did we overlook? Be a co-creator!

Updated June 12, 2015 

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Gary Bembridge
I'm a longtime cruise fan and ship geek. While traveling the globe, I operate TipsForTravellers.com, where you'll find podcasts, videos and advice about cruising and traveling.

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