Monte Carlo is one of the most iconic places in the small independent city-state of Monaco on the Mediterranean.
It’s a rich man’s paradise, home to the Monte Carlo Casino, the Monaco Grand Prix and countless yachts and luxury displays.
Not only that, Monte Carlo can be an interesting base to explore not only the uniqueness of one of the smallest countries in the world, but also the spectacular coastline of the French Riviera, which, in addition to the seafront, surrounds the All sides of the city.
From Monte Carlo, there are endless day trip opportunities that will take you along the Cote d’Azur, from the bustling port cities of Nice and Marseille to the charming resort towns of Antibes or Cannes.
There are beautiful beaches, restaurants and cafes overlooking the Mediterranean, and of course the warm sunny weather that complements the scenery.
Across the border and east, you can even take a day trip to the Italian city of Genoa for a unique cultural and culinary experience, while inland there are winding mountain roads and quaint rural communities to explore the French interior.
Monte Carlo has many day trip opportunities and here are some of the best.
1. Not bad
Nice is one of the largest cities on the south coast of France, and this bustling, diverse and busy port is one of the most interesting day trips from Monaco.
Just half an hour from Monte Carlo, history, culture and gastronomy await visitors in Nice.
Start your day at the Promenade des Anglais, the long, wide boulevard that spans the Mediterranean and has long been the heart and soul of city life.
Immerse yourself in local life by exploring Nice’s old town, colourful and historic houses, charming museums and street market stalls.
La Turbie is located on the outskirts of Monte Carlo, although on the French border.
A 20-minute drive to La Turbie, located on the hills surrounding the city, offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape and across Monaco to the Mediterranean Sea.
It’s a small town, but there’s plenty to keep you busy all day, from crumbling medieval streets to stunning panoramas. There is also a famous Roman monument, built by Emperor Augustus to celebrate his victory over the Gauls, which is still well preserved.
Menton is just a few kilometers from Monte Carlo and just a few kilometers from the Italian border.
Closer to Italy, the town is transformed into a multicultural beauty, where unique influences from both countries come together skillfully to create a vibrant cultural and culinary scene, as well as gorgeous architectural design.
There are also some beautiful beaches here, tucked away on the southeastern corner of the French Riviera, which tends to be quieter and more peaceful than the famous resort towns to the west.
Halfway between Monte Carlo and Nice is the small but spectacular neighborhood of Eze. This is one of the most famous tourist attractions along the French Riviera, and it can get busy, especially during the summer months when large numbers of tourists fill the already crowded medieval streets.
Try to start early, but it’s always worth putting up with the crowds as this is a must-see destination.
Eze is known for its splendid hilltops overlooking the surrounding area and its rustic churches, houses and restaurants, some of which date back centuries, ensuring that anyone visiting will feel as if they have travelled back in time to another era.
5. Liberty City by the Sea
Today, Villefranche-sur-Mer is almost a suburb of the ever-expanding city of Nice, but it still manages to retain its own unique character and charm, well worth a day trip from Monte Carlo. This coastal town is built along Liberty Bay, where golden sands stretch along blue and turquoise waters. The town is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea on one side and beautiful, rolling green hills on the other.
An hour’s drive from the coast of Monte Carlo, Antibes has developed into one of the most popular resort towns on the French Riviera.
This is no surprise when you consider the absolutely stunning white sand beach in front of the town and the beautiful view of the Mediterranean Sea.
Combine the natural landscape of Antibes with interesting historical and archaeological sites and you have a destination that truly satisfies all conditions.
Cannes is world-famous for the iconic Cannes Film Festival that takes place in the city every year.
While this may be an impossible time of year to visit, with crowded streets and overbooked hotels, the city is absolutely quiet for the rest of the year, but it’s just as exciting to explore.
The long promenade is one of the most scenic spots along the French Riviera and a great place to stroll all day. Cannes has long been a popular tourist destination, and given its delightful demeanor, that’s unlikely to change.
8. St Tropez
Two hours west of Monte Carlo is the seaside town of Saint-Tropez. This stunning destination was one of the first locations along the French Riviera to become an internationally recognized tourist destination, and for good reason.
Despite being busier than ever, Saint-Tropez retains the small-town vibe that originally drew tourists here.
Enjoy cobblestone streets, explore churches and former military castles overlooking spectacular coastal views, and dine at one of the many restaurants for a taste of the region.
Toulon is also about two hours west of Monte Carlo by car. The big city may be better known for its naval base than its tourism, however, Toulon has a lot to offer. Visitors here have the opportunity to see a more authentic side of France that gets lost in the busy areas of the French Riviera.
Explore ancient fortresses, some of which were built hundreds of years ago, visit the restored old town in the center of Toulon, and visit an informative museum that will give you an idea of the city’s importance in French history.
You can explore the city’s old ramparts and even walk through the same gate that the infamous Napoleon Bonaparte and his army set off from Toulon when he was crossing the Mediterranean to conquer North Africa.
Marseille is the largest city in southern France and the second largest city in the country, after the capital Paris. This sprawling metropolis is a melting pot of cultures from across the Mediterranean, and influences from France, Italy, Spain, North Africa and even the Middle East are easy to spot on its bustling streets.
Despite its size, Marseille is a great place to experience modern French culture. You’ll find a mix of old traditions and new customs, the old port is a great place to observe village life, and for centuries has been where fishermen sell their catch in the morning. Throughout the city you will find modern developments as well as historic buildings.
Avignon is a three-hour drive southwest of Monte Carlo, but it’s worth a visit to one of the oldest cities in France.
Located on the Rhone, Avignon has some of the best-preserved examples of medieval fortifications in Europe. Expansive walls surround the city’s historic streets, while the famous bridge across the river is breathtaking.
The small village of Gourdon is a little closer to Monte Carlo, away from the coastline, in a beautiful marine Alpine setting.
Gourdon is built high up and is basically just a big rock. This unique location gives the medieval village a striking view that attracts tourists from all over the world, while the village itself has an excellent view overlooking the French Riviera below.
13. St Paul de Vence
On the edge of a mountain range away from the coastline is another equally spectacular medieval village, Saint-Paul-de-Vence.
This lovely village is in the same beautiful setting and has many great hiking opportunities through the pleasant hills. The cobblestone streets and rustic buildings of the village itself complement the unusually large number of modern art galleries established here.
Sanremo is located on the eastern border of the Italian coast. From Monte Carlo, this is a great day trip to experience life in Italy’s colorful and vibrant northwest region.
Enjoy some great food, great local restaurants and a glass of Italian wine, or enjoy the coastline or busy streets of this small city.
Continue along the coast from Sanremo and you will soon arrive at Genoa, the larger Italian city.
This is one of the oldest cities in Europe, and most of Genoa is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Area that recognizes this heritage. Spend a day exploring this remarkable heritage and learn about the importance of Genoa through centuries of Mediterranean history.
Where to Stay: The best hotels in Monte Carlo, Monaco
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