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Guide

How to visit Monaco on a budget

visiter monaco petit budget
Monaco has a whole host of places to visit free of charge - © Monaco Tribune

Here are a few tips to help you make the most of the Principality without breaking the bank.

While Monaco tends to be associated with luxury and huge fortunes, the country can still be affordable for those on a slightly tighter budget. What to see, where to stay, where to eat, how to get around… here’s a quick overview of Monaco’s best deals.

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1. Pick the right time of year

larvotto
Even in the off season, the climate is still mild in Monaco – © Government of Monaco

Like any self-respecting tourist destination, Monaco has its high and low seasons. So, to avoid skyrocketing prices and hordes of tourists, we would advise you to avoid the summer period. Similarly, we would also strongly advise against May, because of the Grand Prix.

We therefore recommend that you plan your visit in September or October when you can enjoy the Indian summer, or between November and April, since the climate is still mild.

2. Choose accommodation outside Monaco

monte-carlo-bay
There are many hotels in the Principality, but they are usually expensive – © Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort via Facebook 

Between the lack of accommodation to rent in the Principality and expensive luxury hotels, it’s hard to spend the night in Monaco if you’re coming from far away. Fortunately, there are other options. Monaco is surrounded by the French border, beyond which are its neighbouring towns.

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You might want to take advantage of the wider range of hotels or holiday rentals in Beausoleil, Cap d’Ail or Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, and come into the Principality on foot.

Otherwise, you could  opt for accommodation in Menton or Nice – or, why not, in Italy – and come in by TER regional trains or Zou! regional buses.

3. Get around by bus or on foot

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Compagnie des Autobus de Monaco (CAM) buses cover the whole of the Principality – © CAM

Good news! Given its surface area of just two square kilometres, the Principality is easy to visit on foot. Some places may seem like a steep climb, but are in fact accessible by lift. Sometimes these are well hidden, so do keep an eye out for signs or just ask a local for directions.

Sore feet or showery weather?  Not a problem, there is an excellent bus network throughout the territory. Single tickets (valid for 30 minutes) cost €1.50. You can get them on the free Monapass phone app or place your bank card directly against the terminal on the bus (up to five times on a given day, and one card per person).

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And whether you’re travelling by bus or on foot, remember to download the Citymapper app, which will tell you exactly where to go, which bus to take and where to get off. Don’t forget that only Monaco Telecom and Orange (or affiliated) users have optimal internet access. If you are with another operator, best download these apps and plan your trips in advance.

4. Eat at the La Condamine market

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La Condamine market is open every day – © Monaco Town Council

For a reasonably-priced, gourmet, local meal, the best option is La Condamine market. Located at the foot of the Rock, on the Place d’Armes, the market is where Monaco’s workers and their families gather. In the food hall, you’ll find a number of stalls serving Mediterranean specialities made with local produce at low prices: Italian pasta, fish, socca, pissaladière, pizzas, roast meat, Lebanese cuisine… to eat in or take away. It can be hard to choose!

Most of the stalls take luncheon vouchers, including French ones. The market is open every day from 7am to 3.30 pm and from Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm to 11pm.

5. Visit the free must-see sights

Nouveau Musée National de Monaco - Villa Sauber
The Nouveau Musée National de Monaco (New National Museum of Monaco) is open to the public free of charge every Sunday – © NMNM / Villa Sauber

You can enjoy Monaco to the full without blowing all your savings at the Casino! Here are a few places to discover for free (or at very low prices), and that are an integral part of Monaco’s cultural heritage.

Le Rocher:

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  • Monaco Cathedral
  • Saint-Martin gardens
  • Place du Palais (changing of the Prince’s Carabinieri guard every morning at 11.55 am sharp)
  • Palais de Justice (Law Courts)
  • Princess Grace Irish Library
  • Fort Antoine (apart from during show times)
  • The Sculpture trail

Monte-Carlo and Larvotto:

  • The Casino Gardens
  • The Japanese Garden
  • The Métropole Shopping Centre
  • The New National Museum of Monaco (Villa Paloma and Villa Sauber), free of charge every Sunday
  • St. Paul’s Anglican Church
  • St. Charles’ church
  • Larvotto beach
  • Carmes’ chapel

Fontvieille:

  • The Princess Grace rose garden
  • The Saint Devota Chapel
  • Musée des timbres et des monnaies (stamp and coin museum): adults €3 / children aged 12-18, pensioners and students €1.50
  • Musée d’anthropologie préhistorique de Monaco (Prehistoric Anthropology Museum of Monaco): 1 euro / free for children under 5)
  • Port de Fontvieille and Port Hercule
  • Sacré-Coeur church