All our hotels in Monaco
The roots of this glitzy little principality stretch back several millennia to when its sheltered harbour was commandeered by the ancient Greeks. It subsequently changed hands between France and Italy several times over the centuries, before being acquired by the Grimaldi family in 1419. Apart from a short hiatus following the French Revolution, they have ruled over their pocket-sized domain ever since. Today people visit to explore the glamorous quartier of Monte Carlo, rub shoulders with bronzed celebrities on the beaches and enjoy the vibrant nightlife in Monaco bars. If you're looking to book Monaco hotels, our choices cover a 4-star luxury hotel with a swimming pool, plus family-centric apartment-hotels for longer visits. Wherever you decide to stay, the good news is that our hotels are all within walking distance of Monaco's big-hitting attractions.
What to Do in Monaco
One of the best things to do in Monaco is to take a self-guided walking tour. Distances are short and you can easily scan the principality from east to west on foot. But when people talk about 'Monaco', many actually mean Monte Carlo. The streets of this diminutive but fabulously wealthy district are lined with globally known designer boutiques, Michelin-starred restaurants and sophisticated nightclubs. Monte Carlo is home of the famous Casino; it's not only the heart of high-rolling Europe – the building is also exquisite, built in 1878 by Charles Garnier and decorated with sumptuous, multi-coloured marble, onyx, gilding, frescoes and chandeliers. Even if gambling is not for you, peep into the ornate atrium for a visual treat.
The neighbouring Opéra de Monte-Carlo is another of Garnier's glittering masterpieces – if you're lucky enough to get tickets for a concert or recital (our hotel concierges may be able to help organise this), we recommend that you dress formally for the occasion.
Other special things to do in Monte Carlo include a wander amid the exotic palms in the Jardins de la Petite Afrique or a stroll through the zen-inspired Princess Grace Japanese Garden, with its shady bamboo hedges, mini bridges and traditional tea house. And of course, a walk along the seafront will bring you to Port Hercule marina, where some of the most expensive and extravagant powerboats and mega-yachts in the world are just waiting to be admired.
Heading along the seafront promenade towards Monaco-Ville (also known as Le Rocher), the mellow-cream Prince's Palace sits high on a rocky crag overlooking the bay. In summer it's open for tours of its opulent apartments decked out with 15th-century frescoes and Louis XV gold furniture. Close by, across the landmark Place du Palais, is the snowy-white Saint Nicholas Cathedral, burial place of the Grimaldi royal family.
The tangle of streets around the palace reveals a cluster of museums, encompassing anthropology exhibits, naval history and the private car collection of Prince Rainier. Quite the most impressive is the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, housed in a spectacular Belle Époque mansion and showcasing The Shark Lagoon in Monaco's only aquarium.
Everywhere you look in Monaco, there's a view of the glittering Mediterranean Sea, and no recommendation of the principality's many tourist attractions would be complete without a mention of Monaco's best beach. Although most are owned by beach clubs, the sandy strip at Larvotto is free to everyone, a blissful spot for sunbathing and Monaco activities like hiring jet skis or hopping on boat trips along the Riviera coastline. Better still, Larvotto is backed by al fresco Monaco bars and restaurants, where you can sip a glass of fizz and watch the occasional movie star drift by.
For a glimpse into the 'real' Monaco beyond the tourist spots, pay a visit to Solarium Beach on the southern side of Port Hercules. This unusual new addition to the beach scene is a stepped, concrete floating jetty, popular with local swimmers and divers and also beloved of workers who come here to eat picnic lunches and catch an hour in the sun.
Best Restaurants in Monaco
Thanks to its cosmopolitan population, Monaco's restaurant scene ranges from award-winning haute cuisine in elegant Monte Carlo dining rooms to a whole host of restaurants, cafés and beach bars serving up dishes with global influences. In short, it's as easy to find sushi and tacos – especially in the casual harbourside eateries around Port de Fontvieille – as it is Provençal bouillabaisse in Monaco's restaurants.
Look a little deeper, however, and you'll learn that Monaco does have a gastronomic style of its own: a rich fusion of Provençal cooking and Italian flavours. The streets of Monaco-Ville turn up a multitude of places serving Monégasque specialities including barbajuan, a bite-sized puff pastry treat filled with ricotta and herbs; sweet fougasse bread decorated with nuts and raisins; and stocafi, a dish of dried cod spiced up with tomatoes and olives. The principality also offers its own take on dishes originating in nearby Nice, including pizza-like pissaladière and thin, chickpea socca pancakes.
Monaco may not produce its own wines, but it can choose fine vintages from across Provence to serve in its restaurants. And of course – this being Monaco after all – who can resist a glass of chilled champagne to accompany a leisurely lunch or dinner looking out over the Med?
The Best Monaco Hotels
One of the most prestigious areas to stay in the principality is along the seafront boulevards, so look for Monaco beach hotels with pools and romantic al fresco dining in restaurants with Mediterranean Sea views. Monaco hotel prices are sometimes more affordable in the hilly streets leading away from the beachfront; here we have accommodation options with swimming pools and spectacular views of the coastline from rooftop terraces. If you're on a business trip or looking to stay awhile in Monaco with the family, our other choice offers spacious apartments and studios – and still with the same fantastic views.
When to Visit Monaco
The mild winters and hot summers experienced along the Côte d'Azur make Monaco a pleasure to visit any time of year. However, Monaco tourism comes into its own between spring and early autumn – visit then to experience its buzzy vibe, beaches packed with tanned celebrities and sleek boats lining the marinas before their annual mass-migration to the Caribbean for the winter. And one of Monaco's main events is the annual Grand Prix, held in late May or early June, when motor-racing fans arrive in their thousands to line the steep streets and cheer the F1 drivers along.
Getting to Monaco
The nearest airport is Nice Côte d'Azur Airport (40 minutes by car – book an airport hotel if your plane is coming in late), which serves national and international flights. Taxi, limousines and helicopters are all available at the airport for your onward journey into Monaco, while AirportXpress shuttle number 110 departs Terminal 2 and runs to Monaco's seafront promenade.
Monaco is easy to access by rail, with SNCF's high-speed, direct TGV services arriving at Gare du Monaco from Paris, where there are Eurostar connections. Local trains cover much of the Riviera, and Trenitalia connects with Italian cities including Venice and Milan.
If you pick up a hire car at the airport, leave the tolled A8 autoroute at Exit 56/57 for Monaco.