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Nestled on the edge of the French Riviera, uber-chic Monaco—noted for its millionaire visitors, incredible yachts, elegant casinos and Formula 1 Grand Prix—makes a fun base for exploring the world’s flashiest coastal strip. There is much to see by car nearby, including the beautiful resorts of Nice and Cannes.
The roads are in good condition but are usually busy as Monaco is a small place. Signage (in French and Monégasque) is good, with all landmarks and attractions noted, as well as nearby destinations like Nice and Menton.
Driving licences: you can drive here with a UK licence, but should also have an International Driving Permit if your licence doesn’t have a photograph. The law states that drivers should have held their licence for one year before they can drive here.
Which side does Monaco drive on: the right.
Rural areas: 43mph (70kph)
Built-up areas: 31mph (50kph)
Alcohol limits: 0.05 per cent blood alcohol, which is less than the UK’s 0.08 per cent limit.
Driving age: 18 years, but usually 21 years to hire a car.
Seatbelts: compulsory for all passengers, while children under 10 years must be seated in the rear.
Mobile phones and GPS: it is against the law to hold a mobile phone to your ear while driving, but using a mobile phone with a hands-free kit is allowed. Portable GPS devices (including iPhones) must have a car kit. GPS is most useful for getting in and out of the principality.
Cost of fuel in Monaco: petrol and diesel are slightly cheaper here than in the UK.
Car hire and fuel payment: credit cards can be used to pay for fuel and car hire, but be sure to notify your card issuer that you will be using your card overseas.
Insurance: third-party insurance is compulsory to drive here though major car hire firms usually provide fully comprehensive insurance. Excesses are not always included.
Traffic and parking: driving in central Monte Carlo can be difficult due to congestion, while parking - both on meters and in pay-and-display car parks - is often a chore to find.
International services arrive in Monte Carlo from the French Riviera (Cannes, Antibes and Nice), Paris (Gare de Lyon) and Menton, as well as Ventimiglia in Italy. The high-speed TGV service from Paris takes 6 hours, 30 minutes. Monaco-Monte Carlo Station is a short distance from the marina. There are no domestic train services but the touristy Azur Express trolley is a fun way to see the principality’s sights. It takes in the port, the Grand Casino, the Old Town and the Prince’s Palace with commentary.
The main taxi ranks are at the railway station and on Avenue de Monte Carlo. Taxis operate 24 hours and are the fastest option for getting about, but cannot be hailed so head to one of the ranks, call ahead or ask your hotel. Most of the large hotels provide taxis and courtesy services. Taxi fares start at around £2.70 and increase by around £1.40 per kilometre travelled.
Rapide Cote d’Azur is a comfy bus service that plies this region of France, including the Riviera. Main services come in from Nice every 15 minutes, costing around £0.80, while a pricier (around £15) shuttle runs direct from Nice International Airport. It departs every 30 minutes and serves all the big hotels in Monaco. There is a useful bus service within Monaco, the Autobus Monaco, which has various routes and single fares of around £1.60. It runs from early morning to 9pm and tickets can be purchased from drivers or machines. A night bus also operates.
Cruise liners call at Port Hercule (the main marina), while large vessels moor at sea. Ferries arrive in nearby Nice from northern Corsica. For cruising the coast, head to Port of Cap d'Ail, just west of the principality.
France’s Nice Cote-d'Azur International Airport is the closest air gateway, at just under 25 miles from the centre of Monaco. It receives daily flights from London. Buses connect Nice’s airport with Monte Carlo, as do taxis. Alternatively, travellers can arrive in Monte Carlo by helicopter from Nice for between £80 and £300 (up to £550 during the Cannes Film Festival).
Monaco is only a couple of miles across so most sightseeing can be done on foot, by taxi or with the Azur Express. Main landmarks are the incredible casino (Le Grand Casino de Monte Carlo) in the centre of Monte Carlo and the harbour marina.
Another must-see landmark is the 13th century Prince’s Palace which faces the stunning Fontvielle Harbour. It is home to the Napoleon Museum of Souvenirs, while at the water’s edge is the Oceanographic Museum. Monaco-Ville is best for views over the whole principality, while the Japanese Garden and beaches are farther north.
The French Riviera is a major draw for Monaco visitors and most people take a drive here. Nice, Antibes, Cannes and Saint-Tropez are all within easy reach, or you could head east into Italy or north for Côte d'Azur skiing. Main Nice attributes are its beaches, English Promenade and Belle Époque houses.
Monaco has a fabulous climate, lying as it does on the edge of the French Riviera. It is sunny year-round and especially warm, though busy, from June to August and pleasantly cool in winter (December to February). Average summer temperatures are 25°C (77°F), with highs well into the 30s (°C). Winter is mild, though wetter, and when hotel rates and roads are easier going.