Like all great travel destinations, it’s impossible to see absolutely everything a city has to offer in just 24 hours, but if that’s all you’ve got then here’s what to do in Monaco for a day.
From the iconic Casino to the famed Grand Prix Circuit, the luxury yachts in the harbor, and the Prince’s Palace, a day in Monaco will be one to remember. An in-person or app-guided tour can help you make the most of your day, but there’s plenty to pack into your 24 hours.
There are more millionaires per square yard in Monte-Carlo than anywhere else, so even window shopping could be considered an activity.
Take your pick of what to do in Monaco for a day from our list of top picks.
What to do in Monaco for a day
There are several different walking tours of the principality. Some are group tours, while others are self-guided, but a walking tour is an excellent way to make sure you don’t miss out on some of the more spectacular spots.
I’d recommend doing this first thing, directly after breakfast or arriving in Monaco. The sun gets hot in the summer and the earlier you start a walking tour, the cooler the experience.
The Formula One Walking Tour
The Monaco Grand Prix is synonymous with the gilded jet-setting, high-rolling image of the racing driver and their entourage, and the circuit in Monte Carlo is one of the most iconic of all.
- A guide will take a limited group all around the 3.3 km circuit (2.2 miles) F1 Walking Tour up and down several inclines. Monaco is situated on the side of a mountain, so be prepared!
- Tours start and finish at the Prince Rainier Car Collection Museum, which is a bonus. It is stacked full of historic race cars to either get you in the mood before the tour or take your breath away afterward.
The Self-Guided Monaco Walking Tour
Download and go! This tour comes in the form of an app and starts you off at the train station in the center of the city. Avoid the crowds and take it at your own pace.
- The tour is designed to take up to three hours, with stops at all the most visited and most important, unmissable spots that make Monaco what it is.
- Make sure your phone is fully charged and that you remember your earbuds or headphones. Watch where you are going. The tour can be quite absorbing!
The Casino in Casino Square has even been visited by James Bond, so it should be on every visitor’s visit list. In front of the building check out the supercars that are regularly lined up, every luxury marque you can think of will likely be there.
- Tours of the casino run from 9 a.m. until noon and cost just €10 per adult, half-price for kids.
- You are advised to dress appropriately, i.e. don’t turn up in your beachwear and it’s a good idea to leave your flip-flops at home!
- If you fancy a turn at the tables, bets start at €5 and are limited to €2,000 if you are tempted to try and break the bank!
The Prince’s Palace
At five minutes to twelve every day, the guard changes at the Prince’s Palace. This is the stunning centuries-old home of the ruling Grimaldi family, and the pageant of the changing of the guard is free to watch.
- It was built as a fort by the Genoese more than 800 years ago to defend the deep-water harbor directly below the rock but has since been turned into a palatial home.
- Tours start at 10 a.m., and the palace is open from April to October. Tickets are €10 for adults and €5 for children.
Top Tip: Buy a combined ticket for entrance to the Prince Rainier Car Collection Museum
Where to Go for Lunch
Once you’ve done your walking tour and built up an appetite, there are plenty of great places to eat in Monte-Carlo, and they’re not all priced for millionaires.
- The Cafe de Paris in Casino Square has a reasonable price list, and you can eat on the terrace and spend your lunchtime people-watching as tours come and go through the square, and supercars roll past.
- A Monagasque favorite is the covered market in the city center by the harbor. Here, there are local specialties you won’t find at the hotels and prices that won’t make your eyes water.
The Parks and Gardens of Monaco
After filling up on the foodie delights of Monaco, you can take a stroll through Fontveille Park and the Princess Grace Rose Garden, which is free to enter, or visit the Japanese Garden.
- There is a tea room at the Japanese Garden, which was designed using the rules of Zen gardening under the supervision of Princess Grace of Monaco.
- The park at Fontveille is on land reclaimed from the sea, a veritable feat of engineering, and is home to a wealth of contemporary sculpture.
- You might have heard of the Exotic Gardens of Monaco. Unfortunately, these will be closed in 2023 for engineering and maintenance work. The gardens are due to reopen in 2024.
The Oceanographic Institute
Inaugurated in 1910 by Prince Albert I, the Oceanographic Institute rises from the granite cliffs of Monaco right on the water.
- The Institute is wheelchair accessible throughout the building and is family-friendly with interactive exhibits and daily activity programs for kids.
- Avoid the queues by booking your tickets before you go. On hot, sunny days, the cool aquarium displays are very popular, especially in the afternoons!
The Cathedral in Monaco is where all the royal weddings take place in the Principality, and the funerals too. The American Princess Grace of Monaco is interred here alongside her husband, Prince Rainier III.
- The Cathedral is also a great place to cool off in the hot Mediterranean afternoons while on your walking tour.
- It was built on the site of an earlier chapel and has been associated with Christianity since the 14th century. The altarpiece dates from the 1500s while the building itself was constructed in 1875.
The Monaco Naval Museum
The principality of Monaco has a long seafaring history that is captured here in a collection of 250 model ships, some created by Prince Albert I, the oceanographer.
- Good for a short visit, it won’t take long to get around the displays, but the contents will take you on a global journey, from the Titanic to ancient Egypt.
If you have ever fancied yourself behind the wheel of a brand new supercar, then a stroll along the Carré d’Or, the Gold Road, will give you an idea of how much you will need to save or win at the tables of the Casino.
- The city hosts every luxury marque, from the German Porsche, Mercedes, and BMW, to the UK’s iconic Rolls Royce and Bentley motor companies.
- For fashion flowers, Dior, Givenchy, and Louis Vuitton all have a presence in the shopping streets of Monte-Carlo.
- If you are feeling hungry and need a millionaire’s boost on your tour, there are many chocolatiers and bakeries that offer gold-wrapped and silver-topped macarons. Delicious and affordable!
As the Sun Goes Down
For those fun selfies at sunset take a trip to the top of the rock in the old town where the harbor is laid out below. As the sun goes down the lights come on in Monaco, making the end of the day sparkle.
- Now is the time to start thinking about laying those bravura bets at the tables in the Casino. Gentlemen are expected to wear a jacket after 8 pm, but the building is air-conditioned, so you won’t get hot under the collar.
- The big hotels such as the Hermitage and the Hotel de Paris have world-class restaurants that are open to the public for fine dining. Again, there are dress codes to observe!
- Entertainment will be everywhere on the streets, with live performers, jugglers, musicians, and dancers in almost every square, bringing a festive atmosphere to Monaco in the high season.
Opera de Monte-Carlo
The Opera House at Monte-Carlo was built as part of the Casino complex in the late 1800s and has premiered many celebrated modern composers.
- There are tours during the day, and if you would like to see a performance, for 2023 there are only tickets available for the December performances of the Lloyd Webber Phantom of the Opera.
There is a lot to see and do in Monaco in a day, so it’s a good idea to plan thoroughly if you have a limited amount of time to spend. You don’t want to miss anything, but on the other hand, it is important to pace yourself and not overdo it!
Monaco is built on the side of a mountain, and while there are elevators to get you from one level to another, it’s worth remembering that you are on vacation and that this should be Mission Possible! Enjoy!