How to Spend 24-Hours in Monaco
Monaco is a luxurious independent state nestled along the southern French coastline. If you're visiting Nice, Cannes or Menton a day trip to Monaco is a great way to diversify your trip and help you tick another country off your bucket list. Monaco is easily accessible via bus or train from the south of France- I opted to take a train from Nice and was able to reach Monte Carlo in around 20 minutes. Another major advantage is that although Monaco is not a part of the EU there are no border formalities to worry about- simply disembark the train and start exploring.
Although relatively small in size Monaco offers a plethora of ways to fill your day. I began by visiting the grounds of the Prince's Palace, and took the scenic route up the hill to enjoy the gorgeous gardens and striking buildings along the way. My friends and I packed ourselves a picnic back in Nice (partially for the 'picnicking experience', but mainly due to our sheer fear of food cost in the notoriously expensive state). There were some lovely pockets of parkland overlooking the sea which make it a great place to stop for lunch, enjoy the surroundings and avoid steep restaurant prices if you're on a budget.
Both at a birds-eye-view and on the ground you’ll notice a distinct grandeur to the architecture right across the city, but becomes particularly noteworthy as you inch closer to the Palace grounds. Once you reach the Palace grounds don't be sucked in solely by the luxe building- the real showstopper is the striking view of the city: all of its lights, the yachts, the sweeping mountains... It's truly breathtaking and the creates the PERFECT photo opportunity for a happy snap.
Monaco can, unfortunately, be a vivid reminder of just how broke you are particularly when walking along a pier populated by hundreds of privately owned super-yachts. To make the most of the city, you are probably going to have to spent a little bit of cash and one of the most conventional places to do so is at the Monte Carlo Casino. Although the casino is world famous gambling isn't for everyone, so I will warn you that there is an entrance fee (quite a steep one at that) and limited tables with relatively high minimum bets. As someone who enjoys a game of roulette I found my visit to be a really enjoyable one (despite my 100 euro loss) as the building was beautiful, and it was of course a bit of a novelty to gamble there. If you're just wanting to take a quick look around, you'll still be expected to pay the entrance fee, and quite honestly it isn't worth it. If you don't intend to stay and play, it's probably best to admire the splendour of the casino from outside to save yourself from any buyers remorse.
Continuing on my theme of treating myself I next headed to Nikki Beach Monte Carlo- a trendy beach bar decked out in all white decor, located on the rooftop of the Fairmont Hotel. If you want to mingle amongst Monaco's elite holidayers, enjoy some overpriced rosé and take in another amazing view of the city it's definitely a great place to go. You don't have to be a guest of the Fairmont, so just take the elevator up, find a free seat or book a day bed for something slightly more special. The bar was even quite lively in off season on a very overcast day when I visited, so I imagine in the peak of summer there would be a fantastic atmosphere.
I really enjoyed my day in Monaco. There was something seductive about the luxurious micro-nation, offering every traveller a voyeuristic peep into a world most of us can only dream about. It's still reminiscent in many ways to the south of France, as far as culture, language and character, but with a gold-plated, diamond-encrusted finish. I would love to go back and spend a little more time exploring what else this tiny nation has to offer, but hopefully with a little more money in the bank (and maybe even my own super-yacht docked in the pier).