Playground to the rich and famous, Monaco is enigmatic to many foreigners. Appearing as a sea of casinos, five-star resorts, and expensive yachts, the microstate seems almost like a theme park based on all things opulent and lavish. It certainly seems too extravagant for mere mortals to visit.
Even though a sizeable chunk of the local population is made of millionaires, you don’t have to be extremely wealthy or famous to visit Monaco. Anybody can go and have a total ball – you just have to know a few travel tips before you go! Keep reading to find out what they are.
UPDATE: 2023/04/21 13:13 EST BY KHYATI DAND
Some More Things To Know About Monaco
With a reputation for being the playground of the rich, Monaco can be an incredibly intimidating place to travel to for anybody not familiar with the ways of the creme de la creme of the world. This list was updated to include more tips for future travelers to equip them with the general dos and don’ts of the ultra-ritzy and glamorous Monaco.
14 Yes, You Can Gamble
A woman at a roulette table in a casino
This is the first thing that everyone wants to know about Monaco. Because gambling is illegal in so many countries, Monaco can seem like a totally different world. The Casino de Monte-Carlo is one of the most famous in the world and is worth visiting even if you don’t want to gamble at all. Remember, this is the very same casino that James Bond often visits!
While it’s not mandatory that you gamble, there will be a lot of wealthy people at this casino who will expect you to either join in or get out of the way.
13 Tipping Is Not Mandatory
Person holding a 100 euro bill
In a luxurious destination like Monaco, you would think that tipping would be not only compulsory but at an all-time high rate. But in reality, tipping isn’t mandatory in Monaco. Servers and staff tend to be very relaxed, and in most cases, it will be up to you as to whether or not you would like to leave a tip. Remember that hotel service (and most service charges) will already be included in your final bill.
If you do want to leave a tip for exceptional service, around 10 percent is considered to be appropriate. But there won’t be hard feelings if you don’t!
12 Stay Away During The Grand Prix
A yellow racing car
It’s one thing to specifically visit Monaco so you can attend the Grand Prix. But it’s another to unwittingly plan your vacation at the same time as this famous race is on, not realizing that everything is a hundred times more hectic in Monaco during the Grand Prix.
Many of the main streets will be closed off during the race. Not only that, but there will be far bigger crowds to contend with, and the whole place will seem much more confusing. You’re better off visiting outside the month of May when the race normally takes place.
11 Be Prepared To Pay A Lot
Monte Carlo harbour
One of the most important things to know about Monaco is that it’s not the sort of destination you go to if you’re looking to save money. There are plenty of locations around the world that are cheap as chips, but Monaco isn’t one of them. Around 32 percent of the local population are millionaires. Just let that sink in. Monaco is expensive to visit.
Most hotels and restaurants will charge much more than you’re probably used to paying, even by European standards. There are free things to do in the country, but in general, you should be prepared for some large bills.
10 It’s Really Small But Heavily Populated
View of Monaco
Before traveling to Monaco, it’s a good idea to become familiar with how big the country actually is: Only two square kilometers. To put it into perspective, there is only one country in the whole world that is smaller than Monaco, and that’s Vatican City which is contained within Rome.
Even though Monaco is super small, it is the world’s most densely populated country, with a total population size of around 37,800. Add on the flocks of tourists, and it can get crowded. Avoid traveling in the summer months and in May during the Grand Prix if you prefer fewer crowds.
9 You’ll Be Walking Everywhere
People outside Monte Carlo casino
Given that Monaco is such a small country, it should come as no surprise that the most common way to get around is to walk. This isn’t as easy as it sounds since the landscape is quite hilly. But still, other than catching the city bus or a boat, it’s often the only option you’ll have. There are taxis, but they tend to charge incredibly steep prices.
The city bus can be a cost-effective way of getting around that doesn’t challenge your body so much. But if the weather permits, walking will allow you to properly absorb the wonderful surrounding scenery.
8 Visit During The Warmer Months
View of Monaco
Although you might want to stay away between June and August if you don’t like crowds, the warmer months are the best time to visit Monaco. That’s why it’s so popular, then! And with its beaches and resorts, Monaco does tend to be a typical summer vacation. If you travel to Monaco in the winter, be prepared for cold temperatures.
To avoid the cold and crowds, the best option is to visit in early May before the Grand Prix or in September and October, when the weather is still balmy.
7 There’s A Dress Code
Woman in Monaco
Monaco is in the Mediterranean, so you’ll find that many locals have that relaxed Mediterranean attitude toward life. But at the same time, it’s one of the most prestigious places you can visit. According to Going Somewhere Soon, there is a dress code to abide by. The main thing to remember is that you can’t wear beach clothes around the town, even if you’ve just visited the beach.
Classier establishments will also have specific rules about what you can wear, so it’s always better to check before you go. Generally, make sure you’re not barefoot and are at least wearing a shirt!
6 Understand That Monaco Is Not France
A promenade with Monaco’s flags
A lot of travelers get confused between Monaco and France. It’s easy to assume that Monaco is just another region of France, considering the close proximity between France and Monaco. There’s also the fact that the majority of people speak French. But if you want to leave the best impression on the locals, don’t make the mistake of saying (out loud) that Monaco is part of France.
Monaco is an entirely separate country. It has its own language (although French is widely spoken), and locals may be a little miffed to hear that you don’t recognize their country as an individual territory.
5 Bring Your ID With You
The police of Monaco
As a rule of thumb, bring your identification with you when you’re out and about in Monaco. This can be a driver’s license or a passport. The main reason for this is that different rules apply to locals and foreigners in Monaco. The most well-known is that foreigners are allowed to gamble, but locals aren’t. They aren’t even allowed to set foot in the casinos.
So if you can’t produce an ID to show that you’re not a local, you probably won’t be allowed in the casino. And for many people, this is the major highlight of traveling to Monaco!
4 Monaco On A Budget Isn’t Impossible
Two people on a bike in Monaco
Admittedly, Monaco isn’t the easiest place to be thrifty with money. That said, it’s not impossible to go to Monaco on a reasonable budget. Visitors who can look past the grandeur of luxury five-star hotels will find that there are budget hotels and even hostels scattered around the city-state.
Because Monaco is walkable, commuting costs are next to none. Plus, Monaco may have extravagant restaurants that dish out flavors of the rich, but it also has plenty of food markets that serve freshly caught seafood on the cheap every day of the week.
3 Driving Isn’t The Best Idea
A car parked in Monaco
Tempted to take your own sports car out for a spin after watching Lamborghinis and Ferraris zip away on the streets of Monaco? Think again! Although luxury sports cars are easily available for rent — as are other non-sports cars — driving in Monaco is not as flashy as it may seem.
The small city-state can easily get congested, and its many tunnels and overpasses can make driving in Monaco an extremely tight and anxiety-inducing experience. Additionally, street parking is practically non-existent, so unless you plan to center your Monaco adventures exclusively around places that offer valet parking, driving is probably not the best idea.
2 There’s Much To Do Besides Gamble In The Casinos
People out the Monte Carlo Casino
Casinos may be the highlight of Monaco but it’s not the only thing that’s worth checking out. Monaco is also the land of museums, breezy gardens, and marvelous architecture. The Oceanographic Museum, for example, is over 100 years old and has one of the world’s oldest aquariums overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
Nearly a fifth of Monaco is occupied by lush gardens and parks. Plus, the cathedrals and chapels of Monaco are proof that opulent architecture isn’t just limited to luxury hotels; it’s everywhere in Monaco.
1 Can’t Find A Flight To Monaco? That’s Because There Is No Airport
A view of Monaco
Monaco is one of only five countries in the world to not have an airport which makes sense considering how small the city-state is. So how exactly do you get to Monaco, then? The closest airport to Monaco is the Nice Côte d’Azur Airport in France, some thirty-odd kilometers away.
From there, visitors have several options. For those who can afford it, helicopter services regularly run between the Nice airport and Monaco, connecting the two in under 10 minutes. As for the rest of the common folk, trains, buses, boats, and rented cars are the way to go.