Monte Carlo is one of the most iconic places in the small, independent city-state of Monaco on the Mediterranean Sea.
This is the realm of the rich and the wealthy, the home of the Monte Carlo Casino, the Monaco Grand Prix and countless yachts and displays of extravagance.
More than this though, Monte Carlo can make for an interesting base to explore not only the peculiarities of one of the smallest countries in the world, but also the spectacular coastline of the French Riviera which surrounds the city on all sides except for the seafront.
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 Marseilles to the charming resort towns of Antibes or Cannes.
There are beautiful beaches, restaurants and cafes overlooking the Mediterranean and of course, warm sunny weather that complements the scenery marvelously.
Across the border, to the east, you can even day trip as far as the Italian city of Genoa, for unique cultural and culinary experiences, while inland there are winding mountain roads and quaint rural communities to explore in the French interior.
There are a lot of day trip opportunities from Monte Carlo, and here are the best of them.
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 to make from Monaco.
Located just half an hour down the road from Monte Carlo, history, culture and great food are all waiting for visitors in Nice.
Begin your day on the Promenade des Anglais, a long and wide boulevard which straddles the Meditteranean and has long been the heart and soul of life in the city.
Explore the old quarters of Nice, the colourful and historic houses, the intriguing museums and the streetside market stalls to immerse yourself in local life.
2. La Turbie
La Turbie is found just on the outskirts of Monte Carlo, although across the border in France.
Just a twenty-minute drive away, La Turbie is located in the hills that surround the city, offering great vistas of the surrounding landscapes and of all of Monaco out across to the Mediterranean too.
This is a small town, but there is plenty here to keep you occupied for the whole day, from the ramshackle medieval streets to the stunning panoramas. There is also a famous Roman monument built by the Emporer Augustus to celebrate victory over the Gauls, which still survives to this day.
Menton is located a few kilometres away from Monte Carlo and just a few kilometres from the Italian border.
The proximity to Italy has turned this small town into a multicultural beauty, with distinct influences from both countries merging masterfully to create a dynamic culture and culinary scene alongside flamboyant architectural designs.
There are some lovely beaches here too, and being tucked away in the southeastern corner of the French Riviera, it tends to be much quieter and more peaceful than the better-known resort towns to the west.
Halfway between Monte Carlo and Nice is the small but utterly spectacular community of Eze. This is one of the most well-known tourist sites along the French Riviera and it can get busy, particularly during summer, when busloads of visitors fill the already cramped medieval streets.
Try and start early, but it’s always worth enduring the crowds because this is a must-see destination.
Eze is renowned for the glorious hilltop that overlooks the surrounding area, and the rustic church, houses and restaurants, some of which date back centuries and ensure that anyone visiting feels as if they are stepping back in town to another era.
Villefranche-sur-Mer is almost a suburb of the ever-expanding city of Nice these days, but it’s still managed to retain its own distinct character and charm and is well worth its own day trip from Monte Carlo. The coastal town is built around the shores of the Bay of Villefranche, where golden sands extend along blue and turquoise waters. The town is framed on one side by the Mediterranean and on the other by gorgeous, rolling, green hills.
Antibes is located an hour along the coast from Monte Carlo and has grown to become one of the most popular resort towns along the French Riviera.
That’s no wonder when you take into the account the absolutely stunning white sand beaches that front the town, alongside beautiful views over the Meditteranean.
Combine the natural spectacle of Antibes with the interesting historical and archaeological sites and you have a destination that really does tick all the boxes.
Cannes is famous the world over for the iconic Cannes Film Festival which is held in the city every year.
While this can be an impossible time of year to visit, with packed streets and overbooked hotels, the city is decidedly quieter for the rest of the year but is just as exciting to explore.
The long promenade is one of the most scenic along the French Riviera, and a wonderful place to spend the day simply strolling along. Cannes has long been a popular tourist destination and that’s unlikely to ever change, given its delightful demeanour.
8. Saint Tropez
Two hours to the 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 internationally renowned as a popular tourist destination, and for very good reason.
Although it’s busier than ever, Saint Tropez still retains the small-town atmosphere that drew visitors here in the first place.
Enjoy the cobbled streets, explore the churches and former military castles that overlook spectacular coastal scenes, and dine in the many restaurants to taste some local flavours.
Also located around two hours to the west of Monte Carlo is Toulon. This large city is perhaps better-known for its naval base than for its tourism industry, however, there are many great attractions to visit in Toulon. Visitors here have the chance to see a more authentic side of France that is lost along the busier stretches of the French Riviera.
Explore the old fortresses, some of which were built hundreds of years ago, visit the restored old town in the centre of Toulon, and enjoy the informative museums that will give you a sense of the importance of the city in French history.
You can explore the old walls of the city and even walk through the same gate where the infamous Napolean Bonaparte and his army departed from Toulon, when he set out across the Mediterranean to conquer North Africa.
Marseilles is the largest city in southern France and the second largest city in the country, after the capital of Paris. This sprawling metropolis is a melting pot of cultures from across the Mediterranean, with influences from across France, Italy, Spain, North Africa and even the Middle East being easy to spot on the bustling streets.
Despite its size, Marseilles is a fantastic place to experience modern French culture. You will find a mixture of old traditions and new customs, with the old port being a wonderful place to observe rustic life as it has been for centuries, where fishermen sell their catch in the mornings. Across the city, you will find modern developments alongside historic buildings.
Avignon is located a long three-hour drive to the south-west of Monte Carlo, but it’s well worth the journey to see one of the most historic cities in France.
Found on the River Rhone, Avignon has some of the best-preserved examples of medieval fortifications in Europe. Extensive walls surround the historic streets of the city, while the famous bridge that crosses the river is stunning to see.
A little closer to Monte Carlo, the small village of Gourdon is located away from the coastline in the beautiful surroundings of the Maritime Alps.
Gourdon was built in an elevated position, on what is essentially just one large rock. This distinctive location gives the medieval village its dramatic outlook and attracts tourists here from across the world, while the views from the village itself over the French Riviera below are outstanding.
13. Saint Paul de Vence
Located on the edge of the mountains that rise away from the coastline is another equally spectacular medieval village, Saint Paul de Vence.
This lovely village is found in equally lovely surroundings and there are many great hiking opportunities through the pleasant hills. The cobbled streets and rustic buildings of the village itself are complemented wonderfully by the unusually large number of modern art galleries that have been established here.
14. San Remo
San Remo is located across the border to the east, along the coast of Italy. It makes for a great day trip from Monte Carlo, allowing you to experience life along the colourful and vibrant north-west region of Italy.
Enjoy some excellent cuisine, great local restaurants and perhaps a glass of Italian wine, or enjoy the coastline or the busy streets of this small city.
Carry on further along the coast from San Remo and you will soon arrive at the larger Italian city of Genoa.
This is one the most historic cities in Europe, and much of Genoa is encompassed within a UNESCO World Heritage area that recognises this heritage. Spend your day exploring this remarkable legacy and learn of the importance of Genoa through centuries of Meditteranean history.