Monaco’s Transportation Options
In this Iconic Riviera guide, we will give you a run-down of the different modes of transportation you can take as you travel to and around the Principality of Monaco.
Situated along the French Riviera at the foot of the Maritime Alps, Monaco offers easy access by car or air. Numerous private companies offer exclusive transportation such as cars, limos, and taxis, even yachts. Here’s everything you need to know:
Monaco’s Public Elevators & Walking
So long as you’re staying in the Condamine, Monte-Carlo or Larvato areas, you can walk pretty much anywhere you’re going within 20 to 30 minutes. Note that staying in Fontvieille or a the far east border of Larvato typically adds about 20 minutes to your walk when going to Monte Carlo.
Since Monaco is so steep, there are many “ascenceurs publiques” to help make it easier to get around. In fact, the Principality has 79 elevators, 35 escalators, and 8 travelators. Knowing where the public elevators are will save you some sweat and get you to your destination faster.
They are a bit hidden, and a bit maze-like, but you can download and print a map of every “Ascenseur Public” here or see all the elevators on this map. If you’re staying in Monaco for any length of time, it would be worth the time to learn their locations and destinations.
Monaco by Air
The closest airport is the Nice-Côte-d’Azur airport, which is a 30-minute drive.
To get to Monaco from the airport, you can catch an Uber (for around €80 for up to 4 passengers), take a train (for around €12 per person, but you’ll need to walk or Uber to the nearest train station ) or the airport #100 bus (for around €25 per person).
Uber is what locals normally take, as it’s usually the fastest and easiest. That said, if you arrive during rush hour, definitely opt for the train or helicopter, as traffic getting into Monaco in the mornings and coming out in the early evenings can create sometimes serious delays (and I mean serious — up to two hours!)
The Monaco Heliport offers shuttle services via Monacair to and from Nice airport. The price per person is about €160 but depends on the timing, and includes a taxi shuttle within Monaco.
Monaco’s Car / Ride Options
If you have a car, then the main highway is the fastest way to arrive. However, we recommend you take the scenic route closest to the water, as it is much more picturesque.
What Kind of Car to Rent
There is a Hertz, Budget, Sixt and Avis in Monaco, so if you’d prefer to pick up your rental in Monaco, you can. If you decide to drive, we recommend renting a small car. Top-to-down is the way to go, if you can score a convertible Fiat 500 (after all, it’s the city of the Grand Prix and where some of the James Bond movies were filmed). Smaller cars are much easier to maneuver and park on the narrow and windy streets –and parking garages– of the French Riviera. If you’re going to go on day trips to some of the French resort towns, then you’ll definitely need a small car to get through the tiny medieval roads.
However, unless you have a specific need for a car – for example, mobility/disability problems, renting in a remote rural location, or planning on touring the back-country – it is generally a mistake to rent a car in Monaco for local travel. The French Riviera has some of the worst traffic and one of the highest traffic accident rates in France, and the toxic mix of French car driving enthusiasm with many powerful motorcycles and youths on small scooters makes holiday motoring often an unrewarding experience.
There’s lots of beautiful places to visit in the surrounding area (like Èze, Villefranche, Antibes, Nice, etc.), so having a car can be useful. That said, the roads can be narrow and intimidating to many drivers, and the train can get you to most places.
Once you’re in Monaco, you can park in any of the “Monaco Parking” lots for one hour for free (after that, the rates are posted, but reasonable – about €25 max if you lose your ticket).
This is a really useful map of Monaco — the parking section allows you to check real time availability of parking spaces by car park.
Be aware that parking a car in many areas of Monaco is notoriously difficult, and equally so in many surrounding towns. Along the French Riviera, people park everywhere, between trees, poles and sometimes even on sidewalks. They routinely bump each other in order to get in and out of tight spaces.
Uber is easy, safer, more affordable, and better in every way than regular taxis, but unfortunately, thanks to Monaco’s strong local taxi lobby, Uber is banned in Monaco. Uber can drop you in Monaco, but can only pick you up in France. That said, you can hail or schedule an Uber ride from anywhere in the surrounding areas of France, including Cap d’Ail (which borders Monaco to the west), Beausoleil (the area which borders Monaco on the north, which you can walk to), and Roquebrune (which borders Monaco to the east).
It can sometimes take a while to get an Uber from near Monaco as there are not many Uber cars in the rural areas of the French Riviera, and you’ll need to wait until a car coming from Nice is dropping someone off nearby.
Monaco’s taxis are a headache. They are very expensive (expect about €100 to get to Nice, as opposed to €35 via Uber if you catch it at the edge of Monaco). They usually only accept cash. Service is inconsistent. Wait times are inconsistent (they are often late when scheduled or hailed via the Monaco Taxi app). That said, they can be hailed from hotels and at taxi stands in places like casino square. But we prefer walking.
If you’re staying for more than a few days, you also have the option to rent a one-person car called a Mobee. These one-seater cars are based on the principle of “free-floating”, allowing you to pick up and return the vehicles anywhere in Monaco. You’ll also get free parking on-street and in the 14 partnering parking lots. You can find cars and parking through their app.
Monaco by Bus
From the airport, take Bus # 100, which you can catch at the airport and at several places in Monaco, including by Place d’Armes, the farmers market square in the Condamine. Here are the airport bus website and schedule.
Local Monaco Bus
Within Monaco, the bus is the best way to get around.
Monaco’s public bus line is not only budget-friendly (€2 per trip) but also very accessible and perfectly clean. It operates from 7am to 12:20am every day. On Fridays and Saturdays, the service extends from 12:20am to 4am.
You can buy yourself a ticket when you get on the bus, but it’s slightly cheaper to buy the ticket from strategically placed ticket machines where a single journey will be at a discount, or you can buy 12 journeys for the price of 6. When boarding the bus you pass the ticket over the electronic reader. It’s as simple as that. If you have to change lines, you do not need to use up another ticket as long as the changeover takes no longer than 30 minutes.
There are maps, live arrival time screens, and automated ticket machines are at each stop, and the buses stop at all major tourist destinations. The Monopass app is the best way to get tickets, schedules and maps, but you can also check out this useful map of Monaco that shows all the bus stops and places to buy tickets.
A hop-on-hop-off red tourist bus called Le Grand Tour is also available and loops around the major tourist attractions in the Principality. Using your €23 day pass, you’ll be free to hop on and off the bus at any of the twelve 30-minute stops to explore the many places of interest along the route, which travels along the water and up the Rock. The tour lasts approximately one hour not including stops (which are 30 minutes each).
Monaco by Train
Train is the best, fastest, and easiest way to travel along the French Riviera. With stops in every seaside town, and lovely views along the way, it’s the area’s preferred mode of transportation. All trains in France and Monaco are operated by the French-owned SNCF.
The Local Train
The Regional Express Train, or TER, connects most towns, including Grasse, Cannes, Nice, Monaco, to Ventimiglia, San Remo and Turin in Italy. In the other direction, you can take this train to Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, Lyon, and other destinations in France. Here’s a map of the destinations.
Trains run about every 30 minutes and most of the stations sit within walking distance of the town center, or offer a bus service from the station. Tickets are cheap and you can purchase them from machines at each station, just be sure to stamp your ticket in one of the validation machines before hopping on board.
The train is not available late at night and in the very early morning, so check the schedule online if you’re a night owl. Tickets are cheap and you can buy them online, at the console in the station, or (usually) on the train.
High-speed TGV Train
The high-speed TGV train connects Marseille to Paris in only 3 hours for as little as €50 (but the average ticket price is €84) each way. Take the local train to St. Charles station in Marseille (which takes about 3 hours and 15 minutes), where you can transfer to the TGV and take that to Paris. The whole trip will take less than 7 hours.
Monaco ‘s mode of transportation includes an electric bicycle rental system called MonaBike. You can grab a bike at any of the many stations around the Principality and with a fully charged battery.
The bike has 60 km of range and travels up to 25 km / h without noise or vibration. You’ll need to sign up online to use it, then use the Monopass app to manage your account and find available bikes.
Monaco by Sea
The transportation system in Monaco also includes access through the sea. The two ports are Port Hercule and the seaport in Fontvieille, where seasonal ferries provide services going to nearby towns like St-Tropez and Nice.
The Boat Bus
A shuttle ferry known as the ‘Bateau Bus’ is also available and runs from one side of Port Hercule to the other. It is a solar-powered ferry making rounds between Quai Antoine 1er in Monaco-Ville (by The Rock) and Quai des États-Unis in Monte Carlo (by the Yacht Club).
Scheduled to be operational soon: The Maritime Shuttle goes between Nice and Cap d’Ail / Monaco, linking Port Lympia in Nice to the port of Cap-d’Ail , on the border of Monaco (Fontvieille). Covering a distance of around 15km, on a sunny day in good conditions, the journey only takes 35 minutes. At peak times, there is a shuttle every half hour. It transports up to 1,200 people every hour with 34 rotations each day.
Monaco One (for Locals)
This option is only for those lucky few who have a boat in the Monaco port, or in Ventimiglia’s (Monaco-managed) port. The Monaco One catamaran links Port Hercule in Monaco to the port of Cala del Forte in Ventimiglia, Italy in just 15 minutes at 45 knots. It takes up to 12 passengers on board in perfect comfort. Trips must be booked in advance by calling +37797773009. It is available every day of the week, and bookings may be cancelled up until two hours before the booked departure time.
Monaco’s Transportation ‘Monopass’ App
Download the Monopass app (on iPhone and Android) to make getting around a lot easier. Buses, electric bicycles and public road parking are covered in the app, allowing you to find maps, subscription choices and payment options, as well as real-time traffic information and route suggestions.
The app is free to all and users can now use it to access their MonaBike (bike share) account and current tickets, as well as convert their CAM (bus) subscription into a digital pass. Single-trip tickets can also be paid for on the app.
Up-to-the-minute information directing users to the nearest means of transport, including transit timetables and the closest bike stations, are available, as well as the means to pay for road parking on the spot.
For CAM (bus) users, this app allows them to integrate flawlessly into CAM’s new ticketing system. In addition to being able to make payments on the app, the new system allows for contactless debit card payments to be made on the bus, gives the best prices based on former trips made, and for Pass Sud Azur holders, a “zonal multimodal subscription” for the French Riviera and Monaco, which was launched in 2020, to easily purchase and validate their ticket in the Principality.
Other destinations: If you’re planning on going to other destinations, be sure to read the guide to transportation for that town/city (click on the town in the menu and you’ll see it listed). Enjoy your trip to Monaco!