Monte Carlo, Monaco
Get to know what it’s like to visit this destination.
Getting To Know Monaco – Cruise Port Guide
Monaco, the playground of the rich and famous, and a port that’s massively popular on no fly cruise holidays to the Mediterranean. Our Monaco cruise port guide will give you all the hints and tips you need to make the most of your time in this fascinating port.
At just 2.1km2, Monaco is one of the smallest sovereign states in Europe and the second smallest in the world, which sits on the French Riviera and boasts one of the most impressive marina’s in the world – there are hundreds of super yachts to admire as you stroll around the harbour area.
Of Course Monaco is world-famous for one specific sporting event and that’s the Monaco F1 Grand Prix, which has been held annually in the streets of this fabulous place since 1929. It is without doubt one of the most prestigious racing events on the planet and the building of Circuit de Monaco takes on average six weeks to complete. It’s a demanding track, with tight corners, tunnels and serious elevation changes throughout. It’s often held around the month of May, so cruise passengers visiting up to several weeks before will be able to see some of preparation for the event. In fact, some cruise lines will plan their visits to coincide with races, allowing their guests the chance to get involved up close and personally.
Monaco has been in the possession of the Grimaldi family for more than 700 years and there is so much more to Monte Carlo than designer clothing, multi-million pound accommodations, gambling and fast cars, it’s a wonderful place to explore at any time of the year and there’s a lot for you to do. Many of the streets are incredibly steep, but walking really is the best way to enjoy this beautiful port. Jardin Exotique is filled with beautiful tropical and sub-tropical flora and fauna and is definitely worth visiting.
The Palais Princier (Prince’s Palace) is a must! This is the official residence of the Sovereign Prince of Monaco and it was originally built in 1911 as a Genoese fortress. If visiting the palace, then plan your arrival based on the changing of the guard, which happens every day at 11:55am. During the summer months it can get quite busy, so it would be best to explore earlier in the day (it will also be cooler) and maybe end your visit by watching the changing of the guard. Guided tours are also available and you absolutely must take a moment to admire the stunning views from either side of the palace.
The Cathedral of Our Lady Immaculate is not only a beautiful cathedral, it is also the resting place of many members of the Grimaldi family and American film actress Grace Kelly. She became Grace of Monaco in 1956 when she married Prince Rainier III and died at Princess Grace Hospital in 1982 following a car crash.
Monte Carlo is a great port to visit at any time of the year.
Smaller vessels can often come alongside at Port Hercules, but the majority of cruise ships will drop anchor and tender their guests ashore.
If you’ve visited Monaco before and are looking for something else to do, why not consider visiting the neighbouring towns of Villefranche, Eze or Nice
Local currency is the Euro
Restaurants, bars and cafes can be VERY expensive
There are dress codes for many of the casino’s, so check in advance if you intend to visit
Key highlights of Monte Carlo
- Prince’s Palace
- Monte Carlo Casino
- Jardin Exotique
- Place du Casino
- Marina walks
- Drive a Ferrari
- Oceanographic Museum
- The Cathedral of Our Lady Immaculate
- Formula 1 Walking Tour
Regular cruise line visitors
- P&O Cruises
- Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
- Celebrity Cruises
- Princess Cruises
- Viking Ocean
- Oceania Cruises
- Regent Seven Seas
Cruise Expert Insider 🔎 Monaco Port by Gary Bembridge
Monaco is a surreal, unique and strictly ordered place. Although small in size, it is the most densely populated place in the world. It is packed tightly with wealthy residents mostly looking to avoid and reduce paying tax in their original home countries. As a visitor, there is not a vast array of things to do, which is why some cruise passengers prefer to catch the frequent trains to Nice, but the few jewels are well worth exploring, especially if this is a first visit.
I have visited multiple times, and I never tire of strolling around this pretty and opulent port. Cruise ships dock at Quai Rainier III on the south side of Port Hercule, but as there is limited space in the busy parts of the season you may find you are moored outside and tender in.
It is easy to walk around, but I recommend catching the Hop-on Hop-off bus that departs just opposite the port. The bus saves waking up and down the hills and takes you to the 5 key things to see and do. First though, allocate time to roam around and gawped at the vast array of luxury yachts close to your ship. The catch the Bateau Bus (water taxi) which is included in the price across from where your ship docks to the pick-up point for the bus.
Once on the bus, get off at stop 5 in the focal square of the city where the famous casino and Hotel de Paris Monte Carlo are. It’s always busy outside, and owners of prestige cars park their vehicles outside the hotel for visitors to admire and take selfies with. You can pop inside the lobby of both the hotel and casino to have a look.
At Stop 7, there is one of my other favourites, which is visiting the State Apartments at the Royal Residence. A glimpse into the glamour and working life of the Grimaldi Royal family. These are only open to the public for part of the year, which varies so check before going.
At stop 8 there is a key must see, and something the Royal Family is proud of, which is the Musée Oceanographique. This is an aquarium but also a key marine research centre. Fascinating Place to visit.
Next get off at Stop 9 take a short walk to the Musée Automobile. This houses an enormous collection of cars by the late Prince Rainer II that he started in the 1950s and opened to the public in 1993. It includes Rolls Royce, Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghinis.
Eating and drinking around Monaco is generally over-priced. I tend to find a cafe around the harbour to soak up the view of the yachts and in the hope of celebrity spotting. In practice, that is less likely as the city mostly is home to business moguls, and quite a few retired tennis and Formula 1 drivers. Although, you could well spot people like Bono, Dame Shirley Bassey, Ringo Starr, Bernie Ecclestone, Boris Becker, Bjorn Borg and Lewis Hamilton.
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