After a wonderful week aboard the Regent Seven Seas Explorer, I decided to extend my stay in Monte Carlo before heading back home. Sure, 24 hours in any place, let alone a luxurious hotspot like Monte Carlo can seem daunting but I was more than up for the challenge. Here are a few tips for making the most of your whirlwind trip through Europe’s second smallest (but grandest) country.
How to spend 24 hours in Monte Carlo
Go for a walk
To be fair, this is the first thing I do in any city but there’s something really special about exploring Monaco on foot. That, plus I had just been on a cruise for a week and needed some serious exercise. That said, you may want to hop on a bus at some point. I opted for Le Grande Tour aka the hop-on-hop-off bus since it stops by all the major monuments. If you do decide to stick to a walking tour, take advantage of the seven public (and free to use) escalators dispersed throughout the city. There’s also a small pedestrian-only ferry that leads to Port Hercule on the opposite bank.
Be strategic about sight-seeing
If you only have 24 hours in Monte Carlo, you’ll need to be really smart with your time because, well, you don’t have much of it! The Palais Princier (Prince’s Palace), pictured below, is a great starting point. I decided to take in the view from the outside but the interior serves as a museum complete with state apartments and chandeliers for days. Since the palace is at a higher elevation than the port, you’ll have an amazing view from the top, so bring your camera! Surrounding the palace is a pedestrian-only series of streets, packed with quaint cafes, souvenir shops and restaurants serving up fresh fare.
Stop and smell the roses
With all this sight-seeing, you deserve a break and luckily, Monte Carlo has some of the prettiest gardens in Europe (IMO). One of the easiest gardens to reach is the Casino Gardens and Terraces, partly because it’s located next to the city’s biggest attraction, which you’ll want to visit anyway. The French style garden of lawns is just uphill from the casino; don’t worry, it’s worth the climb! There’s also plenty of fountains set alongside the “Little Africa” garden. Since you’ll be at a high elevation again, you’ll get quite the view. It’s also the perfect lunch spot, should you pack a picnic.
Pay attention to the details
With so much to see and do in Monte Carlo, it’s easy to overlook the small details. From the The Prince’s Palace and the Monte Carlo Casino to the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco and the Monaco Cathedral, the real treasures are in the details. Resist the urge to push on to the next attraction and instead, take an extra moment to notice the small details that make these monuments truly great. For the most part, many buildings boast a Belle Epoque architectural style. Then there are the balconies, colorful ceramics and turrets that serve as chic accents. Oh and pictured below? The famous Hermitage Hotel!
Save some energy for the night
I spent my entire day exploring the city solo so I was eager to meet up with the reps from Visit Monaco for dinner, along with a few fellow journalists. What I assumed would be a casual dinner and then me heading straight to bed turned out quite different. One of the tourism board reps gave me a driving tour of the city and I have to say, it’s simply magical by night. We swung by the casino to see it lit up before taking a detour to the palace and then back to our starting point. While you might not get an impromptu driving tour, you can still save a little energy for an evening stroll.
What’s your pro tip for touring a city in 24 hours? Tell me in the comments below!
This post is in collaboration with Visit Monaco who served as my tour guide during my stay. All opinions are my own.
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