Planning a Trip to Monaco: Living Like a Movie Star, Spending like a College Student

Monaco seeks to disprove those who say “size matters.” Second to none in class and style, the tiny, two square kilometer Principality of Monaco is an independent city-state surrounded by French territory. Known as a private getaway for the affluent, mainly due to the no-income-tax rule for residents, Monaco calls to mind stacks of dollars, euros, pounds, pesos, or rupees. Housing the famed casino, Hôtel de Paris, and pavilions abundant with designer brand storefronts, the Monte Carlo neighborhood is the glam capital of the world. Stick to the army of tourists, avoid unwanted glances, and do a lot of eyeballing. They can’t charge you for looking inside, right? Aside from Monte Carlo and the accompanying Grand Prix, however, Monaco has a stunning Old Town with a royal palace built on Le Rocher, which overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. The entire city-state can be knocked out in one day, if done properly. Get prepared, dear budget backpacker: you’re entering high roller town.

Getting There and Getting Around if You Don’t Own a Yacht:

Getting to Hallstatt is easiest by train. Trains stop at many towns surrounding the lake; Hallstatt’s station is across the lake from the town itself. A ferry runs back and forth between the station and the center of town, and is both a convenient and fun way to start your visit (€2.50 one-way). Buses also loop from Hallstatt back and forth between Obertraun and Bad Goisern.

Monaco is divided mostly into four different areas. Towards the western part of the city-state, on the Rock of Monaco, is Monaco-Ville, the old, fortified part of the city. Here, you’ll find the Prince’s palace and some of the cheaper restaurants and shops. To the west of Monaco-Ville is Fontvieille, the newest areas, that houses the stadium of AS Monaco (yes, even this city-state has a football team. is is Europe). North of Monaco-Ville is La Condamine, which is right at Port Hercule. This is the starting point of the famed Grand Prix. Finally, east of Condamine is Monte-Carlo. Popularized by Selena Gomez, Monte-Carlo is the most luxurious and famous area of Monaco where you’ll find the famous Monte- Carlo Casino and Hôtel de Paris.

Given Monaco’s small size, you can save a ton by walking. Some parts of the city—like the palace—are built on a rock, so you’ll spend a good portion of your day on an incline. Monaco does have a transport system for people who don’t own private helicopters or yachts. The public bus transportation consists of five bus lines. A one-way ticket is €2 on-board the bus and €1.50 if purchased in advance at a machine. e buses usually run from 6am-9pm. A night bus operates from 10pm-4am. ere is also a boat bus that crosses the harbor for €2.

What to do once you’re there:

Get the best of Monaco without breaking the bank with these college-student approved suggestions.

Casino de Monte Carlo

Pl. du Casino; 92 16 20 00

Backpacking at the casino. Luxurious casinos frequented by millionaires isn’t what comes to mind when you hear the word “backpackers.” But we’ll be damned if we don’t try. Here’s how to get in: Pass the fortified barrier of Ferrari and Lamborghinis parked outside. Avoid the snarky glances of doormen as they check your bag. You belong here. Act the part. Be Jay Gatsby. Be James Bond. Once you’ve played this small melodrama in your head, realize you’re surrounded by mobs of tourists like yourself who want to see how the 1%  lives. So, come early to explore the golden-clad walls, marble pillars, and magnificent chandeliers all while listening to the history of the casino with an audio guide. From 2pm onwards, the casino is 18+ and the gambling commences in a different renowned salle.

Oceanographic Museum

Av. Saint-Martin; 93 15 36 00

You’ve got some (fancy) fish to fry when you’re done with the Casino. Monaco is strangely filled with families and children who are young enough to be reckless, but not old enough to gamble. Meet the middle ground: the aquarium on the bottom floor of the Oceanographic Museum. The fluorescent corals, lionfish, and Mexican salamanders were pretty dope, but we actually enjoyed the upstairs museum Prince Albert envisioned as being a palace worthy of the ocean’s treasures. This museum was also built into the side of the Rock of Monaco and therefore has a killer view of the ocean. See old time oceanographer’s paraphernalia, including preserved ginormous and freaky-looking creatures. But, yeah, we’ll go see the aquarium too because, you know, we’re all kids inside.

person sitting on chair while eating cooked food
Kristine Guillaume | Lets Go Yum. Photo: Sarah Brown @sarahdesignsco

Crêperie du Rocher

Oberer Marktplatz 53; 0676 534 85 19

Treat yourself to the high-glam breakfast that they don’t serve on yachts. To be honest, they probably still serve crêpes on yachts. We have no way of knowing. But when you’re this close to Italy and France, the cheapest foods around are easily going to be either pizza or crêpes. Accept and embrace it. Luckily for us, Crêperie du Rocher specializes in these foods, as well as pastas, sal- ads, and ice cream for good measure. Right near the Royal Palace in the narrow streets of Old Town, the restaurant has tables on the patio so you can people-watch while enjoying a pizza. Break your preconceived notions of “thin pancakes” by trying the large variety of savory and sweet crêpes ranging from salmon to the classic Nutella and bananas. It’s the perfect way to not break the bank in Monaco.

Make time for some spiritual healing after your weekend of glamorous consumerism.

Jardin Japonais

5 Av. Princesse Grace; 93 15 22 77

The extravagance, the cars, the casinos. They can get tiring. And there’s no better place to recharge and refuel than in this small, serene (read: less ostentatious) Japanese Garden. Filled with a tiny red bridge, stone paths, and blossoming flowers, this free (key word: free!) garden transports you to a simpler place. After walking through the pavilions and getting rejected from the Hôtel de Paris, it’s great to feel welcomed somewhere with open arms. Walk around for a couple minutes admiring the precision of the garden and characteristic Zen. You’ve now recharged enough to enter high-end stores and not care what people think. Or maybe you’ve decided you’re better off without them. Good for you.

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