Monaco is a principality on the French Riviera near France’s border with Italy, which is why a Monaco day trip from Nice is the perfect excursion. World famous since the marriage of Grace Kelly to the Prince of Monaco Rainier III in 1956, Monaco is the epitome of wealth and riches.
Easily accessed within 20 minutes from Nice, come marvel at the yachts, admire the street fashion and gaze on, or get involved, at the roulette tables of the Monte Carlo Casino. Whether you’re seeing Monaco on a budget or there to splash out, you can’t miss this bite-sized beauty.
There are a few different ways to travel from Nice to Monaco, and each route gives a stunning perspective as you arrive.
If you don’t want to travel alone, or just prefer being part of a group, there are a few options of organised tours for a Nice to Monaco day trip.
You can take this full-day tour, where you’ll drive along the windy coastal roads, stop by the historic village of Èze, visit the Fragonard perfume factory and take in the views of Monte Carlo.
Alternatively, you can revel in the glitz and the glamour with this night-time tour from Nice! See the stunning buildings of the belle époque lit up spectacularly, as you drive to Monaco, and see the principality in another light. You can also book a similar small group tour here.
If you’re short on time you can also go on a half-day tour to see the highlights but that won’t leave a lot of time to explore on your own.
One of the best ways to visit Monaco from Nice is by train. You can buy your tickets online or at the central Nice-Ville train station, or Nice-Riquier, slightly further out of the city.
It costs around €4 one-way and takes you on a 20-minute journey along the incredible coastline and through the stunning French town of Èze.
The trains are spacious and clean and start from 05.40 every morning, but keep in mind that the last train back from Monaco on weekdays is 21.05, so don’t leave it too late if you intend to get the train back as well. You can view train schedules here.
It’s very easy to take a Monaco day trip from Nice by bus and you get the chance to experience the beautiful views of the Mediterranean Sea from the winding coastal roads as well.
Zou! run regular schedules, beginning early in the morning in the Normandy Square and leaving approximately every 15 minutes. You’ll also need to download the Zou! application to reserve your ticket online.
Since Monaco is all about showing off, what better way to arrive in the super-rich microstate than by boat into the glamorous harbour with yachts on all sides?
You can take a ferry from Nice to Monaco harbour, leaving at 09.30 daily, and returning at 17.00 so you can comfortably spend one day in Monaco exploring the streets or casinos.
The journey takes around 45 minutes and gives you an incredible view of the palace atop of the rocky hill and the sparkling city adjacent. You can book tickets here.
Given the many public transport options, it’s not necessary to rent a car for your Nice to Monaco day trip, however, it does of course grant you the freedom to visit at your own leisure.
There are three main roads if you want to drive from Nice to Monaco; the A8 toll road through the hills, the M6007 through Èze, and the M6098 along the coast; each route has spectacular views over the Mediterranean as you arrive in the swanky seaside state.
There’s a 24-hour car park in Place d’Armes, near the palace, so you can easily leave the car and walk into the city rather than struggle to find a parking spot in the narrow streets. If you need to rent a car for your trip you can browse Rentalcars.com which compares prices across major companies.
At just 202 hectares, you can see most of what Monaco has to offer in one day as it’s all very close together.
The most striking points of the Monaco skyline, as you arrive by car, train or ferry, are the Prince’s Palace of Monaco (home to the Grimaldi family), the Hercules Port, and the Opera House, and these are, rightly, the most important stops on your Monaco itinerary.
The train station and port are central, so you can easily start your day trip to Monaco from Nice at either end of the country. However, it makes sense to start in the old town if Monaco and watch the Palace’s changing of the guard before heading down for lunch near the port and finishing with an evening in the casino.
There are, of course, plenty of museums, activities and things to do in Monaco that you’ll spot as you walk along the streets from stop to stop; just take in the scenery and enjoy! You can also take a historical walking tour if you have travelled here independently.
Le Palais des Princes de Monaco and Monaco-Ville
The first stop on your Nice to Monaco day trip should undoubtedly be the quaint, colourful streets of Monaco-Ville, perched on top of the large rock to the South.
As you walk up the ramp towards the Prince’s Palace, you’ll see an impressive gateway, and an even more impressive panoramic view of Monaco, with the Port Hercule front and centre.
At the top, you’ll also have a view of Monaco’s only other Port, Fontvieille, looking south towards the AS Monaco football stadium. The streets in Monaco-Ville are few but pretty, with souvenir shops, cafés, museums and art shops tucked away around corners.
The very informative Museum of Old Monaco is in this district, or you can visit Saint Nicholas Cathedral, or Cathédrale de Monaco. Many of the princes of the almost 800-year Grimaldi reign have been laid to rest in this cathedral, including Prince Rainier III and his wife, Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco.
Entry to the cathedral is free, however, visitors must have their shoulders covered and no shorter than knee-length shorts to enter.
At 11.55 every day, you can see the Palace’s changing of the guard ceremony. A wonderful sight, the guards, head to toe in white perform a slick routine to change shifts, much to the enjoyment of visitors.
You can visit the palace from April to October, for €10 for adults, with discounts for children and students. You can buy tickets for the palace here, as well as tickets to see the Prince’s car collection and the Oceanographic Museum. Other highlights in the palace include the State Apartments and the Throne Room.
Walking back down the ramp, Port Hercule is next on your one day in Monaco itinerary. As you walk around the harbour, you’ll pass a race car statue dedicated to Juan Manuel Fangio, the first post-war winner of the Monaco Grand Prix as part of the Formula One World Championship.
This road around the port is part of the world-famous Grand Prix race track, so it’s definitely worth following for F1 fans.
In the city streets of La Condamine district to the left, with the harbour on your right, you can find plenty of eateries for all tastes and budgets, so stop and have lunch in the sunshine, or keep it in mind for the evening.
You can also sit in the Brasserie de Monaco and watch the yachts come and go or try to spot celebrities as sportscars enter and exit the dock. It’s the perfect place for people-watching.
Continuing along the road around Port Hercule, you’ll begin an incline, with beautifully ornate buildings to your left and the incredible yachts of the super-rich to your right.
There is a perfect panoramic view of the port from the observation deck with the Tebe in Costume statue, although the view is so outstanding it’s tempting to take a new photo every few steps.
Follow the road up to reach one of the most lavishly decadent areas you’ll ever see.
Casino de Monte Carlo and Opera de Monte Carlo
From your previous stop, walk along the Boulevard des Moulins until you reach the Monte Carlo District.
The Monte Carlo district is one of the most opulent areas of Monaco, with the famous Casino standing proud at the head of the Place de Casino and the Opera de Monte Carlo just behind it. Whether you decide to go in them or not, the buildings of this area are beautiful and definitely worth a visit on your one day in Monaco.
Walk along the promenade in front of the 19th-century opera house and enjoy overlooking the sea and ornamental gardens. Within the gardens, there is a small walkway dotted with footballers’ footprints, so you can walk with the stars, from Cristiano Ronaldo to Didier Drogba, to the legendary Diego Maradona.
The opera house has many different cultural events throughout the year, with operas, concerts, choirs and recitals all part of their regular schedule. You can see what’s on here.
Passing back through the Parc Spélugues, you’ll find the main attraction in Monaco: the Casino de Monte Carlo. Built with the opera house in the 19th century, this building was influential in creating the rich hub that Monaco is today. All kinds of people come from all over the world to try their chances at the tables in such a famous location, so it’s no wonder that entry can be quite strict.
Walk around the square and marvel at the sports cars that pass through the square, glance over the luxury fashion brands in the windows of the small shopping centre or sit in the Café de Paris and take it all in. There’s plenty to see in the area, so before you head to the opera or the casino, have a good look around.
If you want to go to the casino in the afternoon, the dress code is more relaxed than in the evenings, although you should still dress relatively formally, and trainers or sandals and shorts are generally forbidden.
In the evening, suits and cocktail dresses are the best choices to guarantee entry, however, you can go in the late afternoon before the evening crowd show to make sure you can get in if you’re wearing more casual clothes. Then you can simply sit at a table and try your luck or wander around with your cocktail and see how the other half live!
While it is very small, there is actually plenty to do over one day in Monaco. Whether you have your own car and want to explore the surrounding area further, or simply want to cover every inch of Monaco, there’s a great deal to get your teeth stuck into.
If you’ve decided that Monaco in a day is just not enough, there are a number of brilliant museums in the microstate, covering everything from cars to the oceans, to modern art.
Visit the Francis Bacon Art Museum to get an indepth look into the troubled painter’s life through his early works and personal belongings
Look in at the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco – Villa Sauber to see a huge collection of contemporary art, or join in with one of their workshops
Head back to the Oceanographic centre to explore Prince Albert’s collection or see the 6,000 marine creatures in the aquarium
Marvel at the huge collection of vintage cars in the Collection Automobiles de S.A.S. le Prince de Monaco in Port Hercule
Tours in Monaco
You could also take a couple of tours to learn more about some things of cultural significance in Moncao.
For instance, you could walk the 3.3km Monaco Grand Prix race track with a tour guide to learn about the history of the race. Alternatively, take a guided tour around AS Monaco’s home ground, the huge Stade Louis II.
Near to Monaco, and easily reachable by train and bus, is the small town of Èze. This hilltop destination provides stunning views of the surrounding Provencal area from the Château d’Èze and nearby Jardin Botanique.
It’s home to a Fragonard factory, so once you’ve explored the streets, you can learn about France’s perfume history and take a free, guided tour of the factory to see how their cosmetics come together.
The train from Nice to Monaco actually continues on through Menton, to Ventimiglia, an Italian town on the border with France. So why not take in the Riviera from the Italian perspective, over an Apérol and fresh pasta?
Where to Stay in Nice
Nice Garden Hotel – Located right off the Promenade des Anglais, this 3-star hotel is great for mid-range travellers using Nice as a base. They have a number of lovely rooms available along with an unbeatable location for exploring all this coastal French city has to offer. Click here to check availability
Palais Saleya Boutique hôtel – Those looking for a luxury stay in Nice to ensure they’re well-rested for their day trip to Monaco will love this high-end hotel. Located in the city centre, there are a number of lovely rooms to choose from and a great location close to Nice’s top attractions. Click here to check availability
Aparthotel AMMI Vieux Nice – Situated in the old town of Nice, these apartments are perfect for those who want their own flat while exploring the French Riviera and Monaco. There are a number of different apartments on offer, all ranging in size, and there is also breakfast available daily. Click here to check availability
Hostel Meyerbeer Beach – Budget and solo travellers will love this highly-rated hostel in the centre of Nice. Offering both traditional dorms and private rooms, they also have excellent common areas and good self-catering facilities for guests to use. Click here to check availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Nice hotels!
Going on a day trip from Nice to Monaco is a great way to spend your time while exploring the French Riviera. This micro-state has a lot to offer visitors and it’s well worth spending a day exploring it.
Are you looking to visit Monaco? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!