Monaco and the Mediterranean go hand in hand. The Principality was built by seafarers and sailors around the perfect deepwater Port Hercules that hosts cruise ships, luxury yachts, and classic motorboats.
Out on the water, on a Monaco boat tour, it is easy to see what drew in the founders of Monte Carlo. Above the harbor is the protective rock on which sits the Prince’s Palace and the old town, a secure spot on the steep-sided, mountainous Riviera coastline.
The authorities in Monaco are keenly aware of how their city-state appears from the sea, as so many visitors approach it from this direction. It is the backdrop to seaborne activities and adventures year-round, and a Monaco boat tour is a unique way to appreciate it for yourself.
Whether you are a salty sailor, swimmer, water sports fan, or just fancy some superb sightseeing, there will be a Monaco boat tour for you.
Boat Tour Monaco: Embark on a Seafaring Adventure
All terrific sea-going adventures start in some romantic, exotic port, and Port Hercules won’t disappoint. There are probably more millionaires per mooring here in the port at Monte-Carlo than anywhere else.
The good news is that you don’t have to be a business tycoon, a celebrity, or even royalty to join them on the water.
The harbor is almost its floating city within a city, with a unique character. Surrounding it are the Belle-Epoch arches and domes of the most luxurious Monaco hotels, and behind them, the mountains that rise over the entire skyline.
Breakfast On Board
For a terrific Riviera cruise from Nice to Monaco, there is a boat tour that promises swimming, sightseeing, and breakfast, too. See the sights and the beautiful Mala Caves, a jewel in the rocky Riviera coastline.
See the mega-yachts in Monaco and count the coves and secret shores that line the Cap Ferrat. Masks and snorkels, as well as a continental-style breakfast, are included in the price.
Another Monaco boat tour that takes in the iconic port and incredible views of the Riviera from the sea also leaves from Nice. A tour guide will let you in on some of the lesser-known stories associated with this coastline and take you through the efforts being made to protect the incredible flora and fauna.
The trip includes a visit to Mala Caves, Cap Ferrat, and the protected bay of Villefranche, where there will be time for a dip in the turquoise waters!
A Ferry Good Day Out
The ferry from Cannes is a superb way to introduce yourself to the delights of Monaco. As it is a public service it is open to all and is the least expensive tour option. You won’t get a tour guide pointing out the sights, so take your book or open up your phone app instead.
The best part is that you will arrive in Monaco from the Mediterranean with an entire day ahead of you for sightseeing, discovery, and delight.
A Brief Encounter
If you can’t spare an entire day out on the water, then perhaps just a short trip from Port Hercules would be in order. At two in the afternoon, a boat tour sets out and takes in all the top sights, from the Casino to Larvotto Beach.
The tour takes a little over half an hour, so it is ideal if you have limited time to spend, and it may well tie in with other tours that are on offer, thereby maximizing your precious time. This tour from Cannes, which will take you to the mountain village of Eze, on the way to Monaco, picks you up directly from the port when it is time to go home.
Cruising by Monte Carlo: Casino Views and Coastal Wonders
When you are walking through the tiny streets of the old town, or seeking out luxury in the Carre d’Or it is hard to imagine or see where everything is as the city’s hotels tower above you. But out on the water, the city gains context. It all falls into place.
The old and the new sit comfortably side by side, from the Oceanographic Institute that towers over the rocky headland below the old town to the glamorous spread of Larvotto Beach. Views of the Principality’s treasured landmarks have been carefully curated by planners so that the unique character of Monaco can be properly appreciated at sea level.
The Secluded Beaches: Monaco’s Hidden Waterfront Escapes
The rocky coastline of the Riviera boasts several secret spots, great for snorkeling, swimming, or just splashing about. Your captain will be able to take you to secluded coves or beaches, some only accessible from the sea.
Let them know when booking what your expectations are so that the boat operator can help you make the most of your time, in or on the water.
Some, like Fisherman’s Beach, are accessible by a concrete staircase close to the Oceanographic Institute. It’s not a well-known spot and often has only a handful of visitors.
Luxury Yacht Sightings: Spotting the Floating Mansions
One of the most fascinating things to do on the water is spot the floating chateaux, the yachts that might rival Monaco itself for the price per foot of real estate. Some of them house entire cohorts of staff, from chefs and chambermaids to captains and their crew.
At certain times of the year, you may be able to go celebrity spotting on the Mediterranean, too. During the week that culminates in the Monaco Grand Prix, there will be Formula One drivers relaxing in the sunshine.
When the Cannes Film Festival is on, just a little way along the coast, expect to see familiar faces from Hollywood up on deck with a glass of champagne.
Eco-Friendly Boat Tours: Exploring Monaco with a Conscience
Ever since the founding of the Oceanographic Institute, Monaco has been a steadfast supporter of the marine eco-system, and the need to manage emissions and the impact of shipping. To that end, it has become a champion of electric boats and developing environmentally friendly tours.
As an example, at the port, you can take a solar-powered boat bus from one side to the other!
Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Boat Tour Experience
- Always turn up in plenty of time. If you take the ferry from Nice to Monaco you will need to be on the quayside at least a full half hour before the published sailing time to ensure boarding. Don’t leave it too late or they will turn you away.
- Always be clear when hiring a private tour about your expectations to avoid disappointment. Sailing, whether on a motor or wind-powered tour, is not a quick way to get where you want to go. If you have a desire to swim off the coast, the tour will have to be tailored to suit and may take longer!
- Some tours have age restrictions that mean they are not suitable for younger children. This may be simply because of the style of the boat. It’s a good idea to check before you book.
- The sun is stronger in the afternoon and the reflected glare off the sea can contribute to your tan, so make sure you have enough sunscreen on board. Perhaps book a morning tour instead?
- In Spring and Autumn, the Riviera sometimes experiences heavy weather, which might mean that the boat tour becomes a rocky experience. If the sea swells are too high, the tour might be called off by the captain or the tour company, so always keep another date in mind in case of cancellation.
Night-time Cruises: Monaco Under the Stars
For pure, unadulterated romance, you can’t beat an evening under the stars, seeing the twinkling, glittering lights of Monaco reflected in the Mediterranean. On feast days and festivals, there might even be fireworks!
Throughout the Summer, it can feel like every night is carnival night, so getting away on the water on a night cruise can sometimes be a relief, a moment to catch your breath and whisper something meaningful to your significant other before diving back into the Monaco forever-party.
Conclusion: Reflecting on the Monaco Boat Tour Experience
Monaco is one of those destinations that has to be seen to be believed and seeing it from the water has to be one of the most memorable ways to bear witness to this Riviera phenomenon.
There are boat trips and tours to suit every taste and every budget, whether you are a student or something big in business, a water sports aficionado, or a family out for fun and sun.
FAQ: Monaco Boat Tours – Your Questions Answered
What are my options if I can’t swim?
Most small boat operators will supply life jackets and will insist that children and all non-swimmers wear them.
Can I bring my service animal?
Sadly, service animals, such as seeing-eye, or hearing dogs will not be accommodated on smaller boat tours. If you want to experience Monaco from the water the animal will have to be either left ashore or instead, take the ferry from Cannes.
Are Monaco boat tours wheelchair accessible?
The ferry is the only tour that can be recommended for persons who are mobility impaired.