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Cruise Destination Guide: Monaco

Monaco is a popular Mediterranean cruise destination, with thousands of cruisers visiting the port each year.  Monaco is in fact its own country; the second smallest state in the world, situated on the French Riviera and home to the famous Monaco F1 Grand Prix.  Despite being one of the smallest countries it is the most densely populated sovereign state in the world.  It’s a very safe place to visit as it has the highest ratios of police officers to people and per area in the world and when you visit, you will no doubt see police patrol vehicles on the street – do not be alarmed by this, it has a very low crime rate.

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I’ve created this blog post to help you make the most of your time in Monaco during your cruise.  I have visited Monaco twice on a cruise and it’s a great port for a leisure day exploring on your own.

Top Sights in Monaco

The top sights I would recommend you visiting during your time in Monaco can easily be done in one day.

  • Monte Carlo Casino
  • Cafe Paris
  • Monaco F1 Race Track
  • Prince’s Palace
  • Monaco Harbour

Hop-on Hop-off Bus

In my opinion, the best way to see Monaco in a day is to take a Hop On Hop Off bus.  Le Grand Tour HOHO bus stops right in front of the cruise terminal so whether your cruise ship docks or you use a tender, you will be well-placed to catch the bus immediately as you step on to Monaco soil.  This is also handy for when you’re making your way back to the cruise ship as you can take the bus back to the cruise terminal.


Bus tickets for Le Grand Tour of Monaco cannot be purchased in advance, tickets can be bought from the bus driver for 23€ per adult and 8€ per child; there is a concessionary rate for seniors (21€). 

A useful tip I discovered whilst queuing for the bus was that you can go to the Tourist Information Kiosk across the road and pick up a map and information leaflets that have a discount coupon for Le Grand Tour bus so grab one before you pay for your ticket!

I would suggest staying on the bus for a complete circuit and then hoping off at the stops you want to explore on the second loop.  The bus takes part of the F1 circuit (but in reverse).  Whilst we were on the bus we were able to pick out parts of the street track.

Monte Carlo Casino

Situated in Casino Square, The Casino de Monte-Carlo is one of the most famous casinos in the world and is featured in James Bond movies, including Never Say Never Again and GoldenEye.  

Casino Monte Carlo
The Casino de Monte-Carlo

If you want to go inside the casino, you need to ensure you’re appropriately dressed.  No shorts, trainers or flip flops are allowed and if you decide the visit during the evening, it’s recommended that men wear a jacket.

You’ll need photo identification to enter the casino and it’s strictly for people over the age of 18.  Admission is €10 per person and an additional €10 for entry to the private rooms. Group tours are available every day from 9am to 12 noon, except during the Formula 1 Grand Prix. Entry is

Entry is €10 per person for groups of 10 or less, €7 above 10.  To check that tours are available during your visit it’s best to check Casino de Monte-Carlo website.

If you want to gamble, tables open at 2pm.

If you don’t fancy a flutter, just admiring the building’s architecture is worth it as well as the array of spectacular cars parked outside.

The expensive cars parked outside Casino de Monte-Carlo
The expensive cars parked outside Casino de Monte-Carlo

Opposite the casino within Casino Square is a curved mirror, which can help to create some unusual photographs.

Casino Monaco
The casino in the convex mirror
Casino de Monte Carlo
A mirror image of Casino de Monte-Carlo

Cafe Paris

Situated adjacent to the casino in Casino Square is Cafe Paris, an iconic venue, well-known for excellent a spot of people-watching! It can get quite busy but if you’re fortunate to get a table, you’ll be sure to pay a premium with coffee costing around €6 and pints of beer an eye-watering €17!

Casino Square
Casino Square

F1 Monaco Grand Prix Race Track

One of the busiest times to visit Monaco is at the end of May when it hosts the annual F1 Grand Prix. I visited in April and preparations were already underway with spectator stands and street signs being erected – even the pits were being worked on to get ready for this glamorous and prestigious event.

The tight circuit with almost no overtaking opportunities is extremely hard to master, and for some drivers winning the Monaco Grand Prix is even more prestigious than winning the World Championship.

A street sign to promote the Grand Prix

You can even book cruises that coincide with the Monaco Grand Prix.

Monaco Grand Prix
One of the main grandstands for the Monaco Grand Prix

We took a nice downhill stroll from Casino Square along the race circuit towards the pits and harbour. For F1 fans, it’s quite exciting to see the route with its iconic landmarks and turns. When I was a child my Dad made us walk part of the circuit and years later, my partner (also a F1 fan) wanted to do the same! It was quite interesting to see the preparations, especially the pits.

F1 pits Monaco
F1 pits being constructed in preparation for the Grand Prix
Walking along the F1 Race Track Circuit

As I previously mentioned, the HOHO bus will take you around part of the F1 circuit and you can walk the rest or if your feeling guilty for all those calories eaten on the cruise ship, it’s possible for you to walk the entire circuit.

credit: flaneur.me.uk

Prince’s Palace

One of the prime stops on the HOHO bus route is the Prince’s Palace and this is a fantastic place to catch the daily changing of the guard ceremony as well as a spot of shopping and a fantastic view of the harbour.

The breathtaking view from the Prince’s Palace

The changing of the guard ceremony (Carabiniers du Prince) takes place at precisely 11.55am each day and can get quite busy with tourists so it’s a good idea to arrive early to get a good view. Do not walk away too quickly! We made the mistake of thinking that it had finished and walked away (losing our front spot) before another group of guards came marching around the corner!

Between April and October you can actually take a tour of the Palace and State Rooms. Tickets are very affordable, you can book your tickets online.

Carabiniers du Prince
Part of the Changing of the Guard, the later stages are much more exciting

Just opposite the Palace is a warren of charming little pedestrian streets filled with shops, which are perfect for souvenir shopping. Here, F1 fans can pick up merchandise but it’s also a great spot to grab a cheap eat.

Monaco Harbour

It’s true that Monaco is known as a ‘millionaire’s playground’ and nowhere demonstrates this better than in the harbour, called Port Hercules. Super yacht owners can pay up to $4,000 a night for a mooring and during peak times like the Grand Prix, mooring fees can soar to $100,000! Admiring the luxury yachts is a leisurely way to spend some time in the sunshine before making your way back to your cruise ship.

Time to admire the array of fancy yachts in Port Hercules

The ‘smaller’ yachts can be accommodated within the marina whereas the massive yachts that could be mistaken for small cruise ships must drop their anchors further out and tender to shore. After a quick Google search of these vessels I discovered that they are mainly owned by wealthy billionaires from Russia and Cyprus.

Monaco harbour
Port Hercules
monaco harbour
Port Hercules

Key Things to Consider

The Hop-on Hop-off is a great way to see Monaco and its major landmarks

Make sure you bag a good spot for the changing of the guard at the Prince’s Palace (and don’t leave before it ends!)

If you’re planning to go inside the Casino de Monte-Carlo, ensure you are appropriately dressed

Pick up your souvenirs in the little shops opposite the Prince’s Palace

Travel the iconic F1 Grand Prix circuit by HOHO bus or by foot

Currency: Euros

Crime rate is very low

Language: French but English is widely spoken

Best time to visit: April to September

cruise ship monaco
Back to the cruise ship!

Happy cruising!

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17 thoughts on “Cruise Destination Guide: Monaco

Add yours

  1. I would love to visit Monaco! It looks and sounds so lovely! We typically do not do hop-on-hop-off tours, but it sounds like it might be the best way to go there. Thanks for the tips- I’ll refer back when we make it there. 🙂 (Hopefully soon!)

    1. Thanks Leah, I don’t normally do HOHO buses either but this is a great way to see lots and catch the key places.

  2. I’ve not been to Monaco, even though it’s so close to reach from Italy, so enjoyed reading this. I’m happy to know the crime rate is low, and that it also costs €7 for a beer!! I’d definitely visit the casino, and will know to dress according to the dress code, thank you!

  3. This looks like such a cool place! We have actually never done the Hop-on Hop-off bus, even though they are in most of the cities we have been in. I guess it is because we just never knew what to expect! Thank you for the great info!!

    1. Thanks Victoria, we don’t do HOHO buses very often but it’s definitely a cost effective way to see Monaco if you are restricted to one day.

  4. I’ve always wanted to visit Monaco and see the fancy yachts! It’s great to hear the advice about the Hop-on Hop-off bus, and 23 Euro for an adult ticket is acceptable I think. I would love to visit the The Casino de Monte-Carlo too. Not to play but to see the inside of it.

    1. My friend went in to the casino to play because it was iconic and she likes to gamble but I think a lot of people just go inside to have a look around. The HOHO bus was worth it as you got to see everything.

  5. I would quite like Monte Carlo Casino, sounds jazzy. The Monaco F1 Race Track would be ace for my boyfriend too. The Monaco Harbour is where I’d get my celeb spotting done!

  6. I have done 2 cruises and agree with you it’s a great way to see a city where you don’t need more then a day or so. Monaco is a perfect example and I would surely look to cover it like this. There is a lot to see but mostly all can be fitted in a day. Being an expensive destination saving on hotel is a plus and good way to discover it. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Very true about accommodation in Monaco, a cruise is the best way to keep costs down as well as all the other cost like evening meals.

  7. I loved Mediterranean places and therefore Monaco is high on my wishlist. The beautiful sight of Monaco harbour is really wonderful and its view from Prince Palace is really worth. It is good to know that crime rate is very low and for visiting Monte Carlo casino we have to dress appropriately.

  8. I have only visited Monaco very briefly. As an F1 fan, I’d love to go for the Grand Prix but I always baulk at the prices for that period!!! The hop on and off bus looks perfect for getting around the key sights.

    1. Yes, it could be pretty pricey in Monaco but I have seen a cruise to Spain to watch the Grand Prix which is probably a cheaper option 😁

  9. Monaco reminds me a lot of Las Vegas. With the race track and the casinos being popular attractions, I automatically draw that parallel in my mind. I think it’s super interesting that you visited Monaco on a Mediterranean cruise. I would think that this rich country wouldn’t want to be overrun with cruise ships, but apparently I was wrong. I definitely want to visit the Prince’s Palace someday!

  10. I loved reading about the Hop on hop off bus tour. In fact that’s the best way to see a city. I usually prefer a hop on hop off bus tour for most of my international holidays. Its cheap and comfortable. Loved your piece.

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