At first glance, Monaco and budget are two things that just don’t seem to go together in the same sentence – but believe it or not, it IS possible – and we’ll show you how to make the most of this beautiful tiny country while still on a budget…
Get In Monaco on a Budget
Whether it’s a trip planned months in advance or a spur of the moment last minute break, getting to Monaco is easy and often quite cheap – the closest airport is Cote d’Azur Airport in Nice, where you can often find some great deals as many budget airlines operate there (Jet2, EasyJet, Air Berlin, Air Baltic etc). From there you can either take a bus or train to Monaco (the Express Transfer bus costs €30 return).
Free Things To Do In Monaco on a Budget
Explore The Rock
The Rock is the name of Monaco’s old town, a small but charming quarter on top of a monolith with beautiful views overlooking the city and its harbors on both sides of the rock.
The narrow streets lined with cafes and pastel colored buildings add to the cozy atmosphere, and the gardens facing the ocean give the old town that picturesque touch.
It’s well worth walking up to The Rock in the evening to take in the breathtaking views during sunset and visit the Saint Nicholas Cathedral which is lit up beautifully at night. Meanwhile mornings are also lovely, and at 11.55 am sharp you can watch the changing of the guards in front of the Palace.
Go to the Beach
On a hot day Monaco’s pebble beach and crystal clear turquoise water is a great place to cool down and relax under an umbrella. The public beach is free to enjoy.
Relax in the Japanese Gardens
The lush green gardens and Koi ponds in the Japanese Garden is an oasis among the concrete jungle of high rise buildings in the city. It’s a great place to wander around, and beautifully designed just like an authentic Japanese Garden.
Stroll along the Harbor
Monaco’s harbors are quite special, lined with one impressive three-story super yacht after the next, perfectly polished shining in the sunlight, stretching to the length of a whole house. The enormous sailboats and yachts really brings out the essence of Monaco and its wealthy residents.
Visit the Casino Square
Even if you’re not interested in losing your money at a Casino, the Casino square is still worth visiting if only to marvel at the extravagant buildings, manicured gardens and shiny Lamborghinis parked outside. At €10, the entry fee to the Monaco Casino isn’t very steep, but you still have to wear a suit jacket and tie to get in (although the Casino sometimes offers to lend you a tie).
Monaco is a small country and super-easy to get around, so we would suggest doing it on foot.
We had planned to take advantage of the cheap and extensive public transport, but found that it was never actually necessary – and even though it’s a hilly city, most stairs have escalators!!
Walking from one side of the country to the other takes under an hour, and you will want to stop along the way anyway. However, if you prefer taking the bus, or will do a lot of “back-and-forth” traveling, you can buy a day-pass for only €5, or a one-way ticket for €2.
Where To Eat
The cheapest area to eat and drink in Monaco is around the area surrounded by the harbor and rue Grimaldi, as well as Place d’es Armes (which also has a morning market and a supermarket with cheap food).
The Old Town also has restaurants and cafes with some good prices, although we found drinks slightly more expensive there than downtown – besides many places in the Old Town close around 6pm.
Try the “Monaco” drink (€2.8), a pink girly beer mixed with grenadine syrup and lemonade or soda, it’s delicious!
Our favorite place was “Crock’ In” (22 Rue P. Caroline), a family run cafe with friendly staff and cheap sandwiches and Paninis (from €3.50).
Where To Sleep
Hotel Columbus is one of the best value hotels in Monaco (with rooms starting from €170). It’s located with ocean-front view in laid-back Fontveille, about a ten minute-walk from the Center of town and five minutes to supermarkets and shops.
Columbus Monte-Carlo Hotel, Monaco (REVIEW)
During our stay in Monaco we checked into the Columbus Monte-Carlo Hotel, a charming hotel located by the Fontvieille harbor – one of the newest quarters in Monaco, constructed almost entirely on artificially reclaimed land.
Only a five minute walk from the busy city center, there is a calm and relaxed atmosphere in Fontvieille, something which is appreciated especially during the famous Grand Prix in May.
It has become somewhat of a tradition among many of the top Formula 1 racers to stay at this hotel during the Monaco Grand Prix every year, and they say it brings them good luck.
Whether it’s luck or a really good night’s sleep, the winners of the 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 races all stayed at this hotel during the race..!
With a fresh and young attitude, the hotel has a chic and relaxed environment, where beautifully glamorous and barefoot elegance sit easily side by side – rather than feeling that we were staying in a museum and had to dress up in suits and tie just to hang out in the lounge, we felt at home right away.
The rooms are bright and modern with a Riviera style and a touch of Scandinavian designs in white, blue stripes and wood – the hotel is located near the heliport and in some packages a helicopter transfer to the airport (7 minutes) is included in the price.
Even if it isn’t, you might be surprised to find that it’s not only faster than a cab but even cheaper to take the helicopter to the airport over taxi – the Columbus Monte-Carlo Hotel is one of the best value hotels in Monaco, and we would recommend anyone planning a visit to Monaco to stay there.
Extra Hotel Details:
- Columbus Monte-Carlo Hotel
- Address: 23 Avenue des Papalins 98000 Monaco
- Prices: from €162, includes breakfast, free shuttles within Monaco & access to fitness suite.
- Phone: T: +377 92 05 90 00
- Website: www.columbushotels.com