Spending a day trip going to Monaco if you’re staying within a few hours of this tiny, beautiful country. Monaco, the 2nd smallest country in the world only to Vatican City, is 2 km² of pure bliss on the French Riviera. To say it’s beautiful fails to capture the truth, that Monaco is without question one of the most stunning port cities in Europe, and a place you must go.

Monaco isn’t often a travel end-destination, however, and is often visited on a day trip from nearby cities along the French Riviera, such as Nice or Cannes. With that in mind, it’s often that there’s a possibility that you’ll be spending one day in Monaco, if that is indeed your plan. However, if you only have a one day trip in Monaco, you can see plenty that this beautiful, small country has to offer!

Here are a handful of things that, if you have only one day in Monaco, you simply must see!

How to Get There

Monaco is located on the eastern edge of the French Riviera, only about 15km from Ponte San Ludovico at the French-Italian border. It’s a set-away location – somewhat French but uniquely its own both in terms of history, culture, and even royalty.

Getting to Monaco on a day trip from neighboring cities such as Nice and Cannes along the French Riviera is fairly simple, with Nice being only a 20 minutes train ride away, and Cannes being only slightly longer (just over a half-hour). The tickets are cheap, and you can be in Monaco from one of these locations before you can even settle in on the train!

It’s the same path from the opposite direction if you’re coming to Monaco from the east – in the direction of the French city Menton, or Ventimiglia in Italy. Some opt for car rental to enjoy the view along the Ligurian Sea – and it is indeed beautiful – however the drive is also quite harrowing and dangerous, not to mention much slower.

If you opt for train travel, you’ll arrive at Gare de Monaco, located at the crown of the city’s hill. Looking down as you exit the station, Monaco’s beauty is apparent. Ports, boats, crystal blue water and utterly adorable shops, restaurants, and cafes are seemingly everywhere. You immediately fall in love!

As the map shows, as you work your way into the Monaco capital of Monte Carlo, you’re in the middle of it all. Now all you have to do is figure out what you want to see and do!

Casino Monte Carlo

Whether or not you’re someone that really wants to gamble, the Casino Monte Carlo is something you should absolutely see. Opened since 1863, it’s not only a casino, but also a place of musical and theatrical entertainment (Opera de Monte Carlo) and the offices of Les Ballets de Monte Carlo – the ballet organization of Monte Carlo. 

It presents an incredibly beautiful setting – mixed of 19th century architecture with elements of early deco, and should absolutely be seen if you only have one day to spend in Monaco.

Port Hercules

Just strolling along Port Hercules in Monaco, the primary port where million-dollar yachts and sailboats breeze in year-round, is a vacation-maker. It’s among one of the most stunning places in Europe, with sky-blue waters, gilded structures abound, and peaks reaching high behind from Mont Agel.

Port Hercules is a playground for the rich, and you can feel like a celebrity walking the docks.

Prince’s Palace

The Prince’s Palace is in fact a complex perched high above Port Hercules, and is perhaps the one must-see excursion if you have only one day in Monaco.

Aside from the primary palace – Grimaldi Fortress, which dates back to the 13th century, there are numerous important structures at the Prince’s Palace. Also present is St. Nicholas Cathedral, where Monaco royalty over the centuries are interred – including American film legend Grace Kelly, the former Princess of Monaco who married Prince Ranier III in 1956. As film buffs who deeply respect classic American films of the 1940s and 1950s, it was special for us to see the former home of Princess Grace – someone who Tracy has especially admired for her humanitarianism, class, and intelligence.

It’s a beautiful complex, lined internally with small alleys, quaint restaurants, and idyllic scenery. From the edge of the complex, you can view Port Hercules and the vista high above stunning Port Fontvieille, and enjoy a feeling of true bliss.

Port Fontvieille

This is why you come to Monaco, if even for a day. The beauty of Port Fontvieille is incredible, especially when viewed from the backside of the castle complex. While less famous than its counterpart along the French Riviera in Monaco, Port Hercules, Port Fontvieille is a little more secluded in terms of geography, and is an area that takes on fewer tourists, as it’s a smaller port than Hercules.

However, if you take the time to wind down the narrow alleys to the hotels and residential condos that line the Port, you’ll note that it’s incredibly serene, peaceful, and the “tucked-away” nature of its location only adds to its allure.

Stroll the City of Monte Carlo

While the seaside views on your day trip to Monte Carlo are impressive, the city, itself, is as charming of a modern city as you’ll find perhaps anywhere.

Sidewalk cafes, boutique stores, wineries, and small pubs are everywhere – calling you to relax and watch the day go by. You’ll enjoy a unique cuisine, French that’s heavily influenced by the nearby Italian border. Boeuf Bourguignon in a thick wine reduction with penne? Yes, please!

In total, you really can’t go wrong in Monaco. It’s stunningly gorgeous, and aimlessly meandering the streets and ports are enough for anyone to enjoy.