Monaco is one of the most luxurious and expensive destinations in Europe, and its business district of Monte Carlo is known to be the playground of the rich and famous. But don’t worry, a trip to Monte Carlo doesn’t have to break the bank. We’re here to help with a guide for how to do Monte Carlo on a budget, from the top things to do, through to the best cheap accommodation options and budget places to eat:
Things to Do
Monte Carlo isn’t all about riding fast cars and relaxing on superyachts. Here are some of the best things to do on a budget, from exploring the Old Town, through to relaxing on the beach and walking around the Grand Prix circuit.
Explore Monaco’s Old Town
Monaco’s beautiful Old Town offers exquisite views of the country and the ocean. Hop on the Bateau Bus, which is a water boat, to go from Monte Carlo to the Old Town. In the historic center, you can explore The Prince’s Palace of Monaco and its surrounding gardens. The Palace is the official residence of the Prince of Monaco and was originally built in the 12th century as a Genoese fortress. There are beautiful gardens encompassing the palace and entry to the gardens is free, however entry to the palace costs around $10.
Changing of the Guards
The Changing of the Guards ceremony takes place daily at 11:55 am at Palace Square, in front of the Prince’s Palace. This is when the palace guards change their shift and it’s great fun to watch this centuries-old custom.
Walk the Grand Prix Circuit
Monaco is known for the Formula 1 Grand Prix, and because the Grand Prix circuit runs through the city, you can spend an afternoon walking it. Stroll around the circuit and imagine what it must be like to speed down the city streets at 250 kph. Here’s how to walk the Formula 1 Monaco circuit.
Try Your Luck in a Casino
If you’re a risk-taker, why not do a spot of gambling at one of Monaco’s casinos, such as the Café de Paris or the Sun Casino. As your trip is on a budget, you can have a flutter with a small amount of money, and who knows, maybe you’ll get lucky. Dress to impress in order to enter the casinos.
Relax on the Beach
Larvotto Beach is the finest in the area and is free for the public to use. It’s a typical French Riviera style beach with clear blue water and small pebbles instead of sand. If you don’t want to spend money on renting a chair or sunlounger, bring a thick towel so you don’t feel uncomfortable on the pebbles. The beach is an easy walk from Monte Carlo. Don’t forget to bring a picnic to save money on food too.
How to Get Around
Monaco is a relatively small place, and in the district of Monte Carlo, you can see a great deal on foot. If you don’t fancy walking and want to explore Monaco’s other districts, there’s a reliable and cheap bus system that can take you just about anywhere in the city. Buy a day bus pass, which costs around $7, and you can hop on and off buses whenever you like.
Where to Stay
Accommodation can be expensive in Monte Carlo, and it might be a good idea to look at staying further out. However, if you want to be close to the action, here are the best budget options:
Hotel Olympia: This hotel sits in a perfect location, just a six-minute walk from the beach and a five-minute walk from the center of Monte Carlo. The hotel is set in a beautiful, historic building, and most of the rooms come with private, ornate balconies. Guests love the hotel’s traditional French breakfast served every morning. It’s a great budget option for your stay in Monte Carlo.
Hotel Capitole: For your stay in Monte Carlo, Hotel Capitole is a budget-friendly option. The three-star hotel boasts a great location, just 900 feet from the famous Monte Carlo Casino. It has nicely decorated rooms, many of which have balconies offering a beautiful view over Monaco. It’s also just a few minutes away from a beach, so you can take a morning dip. It’s a reasonably priced hotel that won’t break the bank.
La Terrazza de Pelargroni: This property is a quaint B&B located around 11 miles from Monte Carlo. It’s a little further out, however, it’s worth considering if you’re looking for something even cheaper than the prices in central Monte Carlo. The B&B has a spacious living room and a terrace you can relax on after a busy day exploring.
Where to Eat and Drink
For such an expensive destination, you’ll be pleased to know you can still find food and drink at reasonable prices. Head to the Place d’Armes market for a more local experience, where you can fill-up on street food. You can also find decently-priced restaurants, many of which offer a daily menu, with a starter and main for around $25. Rue Grimaldi is one of the best spots for mid-range restaurants that won’t break the bank.
In the evening, head to Brasserie de Monaco for its famous happy hour. Boasting a perfect, harborside location and with a drinks promotion that runs for several hours in the early evening, you can kick back and enjoy a cold one, and not worry about the damage to your wallet.