Monaco is a very small place - no more than a mile from end to end. Most visitors to the Principality simply opt for leg power and the many lifts (US: elevators) to get themselves around. However, as coastal towns go, Monaco is exceptionally hilly. It's on a mountainside. So if you plan on visiting many tourist stops you should probably consider taking a bus.
Very useful when going up hill - when going down hill it's more fun to take the stairs. It's well worth studying a map - pick one up at the Tourist Office - and locating the useful ones. Favourites include:
From the Larvotto to the Place des Moulins
In the summer when coming back from the Larvotto, cross the sea road and start walking towards the Casino and you will see a lift on your right, opposite the green roofed Grimaldi Forum. It'll take you up to the Place des Moulins. Follow the Boulevard des Moulins past all the shops to get to the Tourist Office and the top of the Casino Gardens.
From the Port to the Casino
Instead of walking up the hill, skirt the port, walking along the quayside and then up the road to the tunnel. You will pass crowds of people getting on and off coaches. This is the Loews - Grand Hotel - Centre de Congres tunnel. Just on the right, follow the people disappearing underground. It'll lead you to a lift which takes you up a few floors to the roof of the Loews Hotel, just below the Casino. Gets too busy in the peak tourist season.
From the Port to the Train Station
There's an entrance just to the left of the Eglise de la Sainte Devote, in the north-east corner of the port and a pedestrian underpass for access from the quayside.
From the Port to the Oceanographic Museum
I wish I had a dollar for every time I've been asked if there's a lift up to the Museum and Palace. There is, but not many people know about it. Walk to the end of the old port and then around the Rock, by the sea, to the Quai des Pêcheurs car park. At the back of the car park, you'll find a lift to the top, and then an escalator which comes out right at the Oceanographic Museum! This is also the way to the Cinema d'Ete or open-air cinema.
Buses (needs updating)
Monaco buses are clean, fast, safe and efficient. There are currently 5 lines covering the whole Principality. They run from about 7.30 a.m. to 8.30 p.m.
- Line 1: Monaco-Ville to Saint Roman
- Line 2: Monaco-Ville to Jardin Exotique
- Line 4: Condamine to Larvotto
- Line 5: Fontvieille to Hopital
- Line 6: Fontvieille to Larvotto
- Monaco-Ville is the Old Town on the Rock with the Palace, Oceanographic Museum and Cathedral.
- Saint Roman is the eastern end of Monaco, near the Tennis "Monte Carlo Country Club".
- Jardin Exotique is the Cactus Garden and bus depot.
- Fontvieille is the new town, with the Stadium and Carrefour Shopping Centre
- Larvotto is the beach area.
- Condamine is near the Place d'Armes - behind the port area.
All buses, except the number 5, go past the Tourist Office in Monte Carlo. This is a good place to change buses. Look at a bus stop to see where they go or ask for a map at the Tourist Office. You can changes buses within half an hour and use the same ticket: just say "correspondence" to the driver and he should understand.
Single ticket = €1
10 journey card = €6 (can be used by several people)
1 day unlimited tourist pass = €3
Water-bus (new 2007)
Crosses the port from the south side near the cruise ship terminal to the north side near the ice cream parlour. Runs every 20 minutes. Same price as the town bus and you can use the same tickets.
Monaco is car friendly. There are safe and clean public car parks everywhere. If you stay less than an hour there is no charge. The first hour is only charged if you stay more than an hour. So the car parks are useful for making quick stops. If you shop at the Carrefour shopping centre ask for a parking ticket which will give you a second free hour.
On-street parking in the tourist areas is all pay-and-display. If you park in a restricted zone you are unlikely to get clamped but quite likely to get a fine (€40) or towed (€150).
Casino - Avenue de Monte Carlo
Fontvieille - Columbus Hotel - Avenue des Papalins
Train Station - lower exit St Devote
Train Station - top exit - Avenue Prince Pierre
Hospital - Avenue Pasteur
Larvotto - Beach Plaza Hotel - Avenue Princess Grace
Metropole Hotel - Avenue de la Madone
Monte Carlo Grand Hotel - Avenue des Spelugues
Place des Moulins
Port - Avenue President JF Kennedy
Port - New jetty - cruise terminal
Post Office - Square Beaumarchais
Phone: (+377) 93 15 01 01
Monaco is difficult for wheelchair users, especially in the tourist areas of Monte Carlo and Monaco Ville. Land is mostly on a steep slope and planners have made few concessions to wheelchair users when building the dozens of lifts in the Principality. Access to most lifts is via stairs.
Getting To and From Monaco
Driving to Nice Airport by motorway takes about half an hour, with no jams, and is the most convenient way of getting to the airport. There's a toll, as on all French motorways. To get there, head out of Monaco at the top, going West, and just keep going. You'll be led straight onto the motorway. Half an hour later, on the other side of Nice and just after the second toll, follow the signposted exit to Nice Airport. Terminal 1 is mostly International, Terminal 2 mostly serves France and Easy Jet. There are regular shuttles from one terminal to the other.
There's a reliable hourly bus going to Nice Airport from Monaco which stops right at the top of the Casino Gardens, in front of the Park Palace building. At the same bus-stop, you can also catch a bus to Nice itself and the other coastal towns of Eze, Beaulieu and Villefranche. Enquire at the Tourist Office, which is also at the top of the Casino Gardens, but across the road and a little to the left as you are facing the Casino. The airport bus doesn't run very late, if your flight comes in after 9 pm, chances are it won't be running. Costs about €20.
You don't hail taxis in the street in Monaco but have to go to a taxi rank (list above) or phone one. Taxis in Monaco are very regulated and there aren't enough of them to go round. If you need to go to the airport, book at least a day ahead. There are bookable minibuses - picking up several passengers on the way - which are a bit cheaper and work well.
A taxi to or from Nice airport is going to cost very roughly €80 (not checked recently).
The train station is at top of the Sainte Devote Valley (above the church in the north east corner of the Port).
There are currently five entrances.
1. the main entrance is at the top. The number 4 "Gare" bus will take you there. (see picture)
2. a tunnel next to Sainte Devote church
3. you can also walk up past the church and enter the station that way
4. there is an entrance at the old station, up the road from the Place d'Armes.
5. you can now (2008+) also enter the station half way along the platform, from the new complex on Rue Grimaldi.
The station is new and worth a visit if you are interested in architecture. It hangs precipitously across the Sainte Devote valley, with a bird's eye view of the port. Monaco train tracks are now completely buried underground in tunnels in the mountainside.
All trains running from France to Menton and/or Italy and beyond (and vice versa) are obliged to stop in Monaco. The line to Italy was out of action for a while following a tunnel collapse, but it should be fixed by now. There is just one coastal line, so you can only go in two directions - east or west. In Nice there's a separate line and station that heads up to the ski resorts, with great views.
Nice Airport does not have a train station.
The most exhilarating way to enter the Principality from Nice airport is by helicopter. Totally recommended if you want to splurge or are in a hurry. It's not that much more expensive than a taxi, so well worth considering and if you've never been in a helicopter before, simply breath-taking. Around dusk is a great time to arrive. Try to hang back when boarding and sit next to the pilot for the best view. If you're on your own he may even let you leave the door open for extra freshness. One helicopter came down in the sea on its way to Monaco from Nice in heavy winds in 2005 killing everyone on board. So they may have tightened up security.
The heliport is on the sea side of Stade Louis II in Fontvieille. A free shuttle will take you to your final destination, or pick you up if you're leaving. Flights leave every 20 minutes or so. Although the journey only takes about 5-10 minutes, by the time you've boarded, waited for your flight at one end and your bags at the other, it's not significantly faster than a taxi to or from the airport, unless there's a jam on the motorway. Usually you can just turn up at the heliport in Monaco, or the counter at Nice airport, and they'll put you on the next available flight - no need to book. It's also roughly the same price as a taxi - about €90 last time I checked.
You can also hire a heli for half an hour spin. 4 people = €250? (not checked). These are the two companies based in Monaco:
Heli Air: (377) 92 050 050
Monacair: (377) 97 97 39 01
The summer brings a steady stream of visitors to the Principality by ship. The terminal is on the new south jetty of Port Hercule.
Office de Tourisme = Tourist Office
Gare = Train Station
Autoroute = Motorway
Centre commerciale = Shopping centre
Aéroport = Airport
Où est…? = Where is…?