When you think of the tiny principality of Monaco, your first thoughts are likely to be of souped-up sports cars, decadent shopping, and glamorous casino gaming. However, not everyone who steps foot in Monaco is a multi-millionaire. As the handy guide at VisitMonaco.com explains, most of the visitors to the city-state arrive overland from nearby (and more affordable) French destinations such as Nice, Cannes, and Lyon.
Although Monaco is, by many measures, the most expensive destination in the world, owing largely to the fact that there are over 12,000 millionaires living in a space that is just over one square mile in size, you don’t need to win the lottery to have a magical experience there. Follow these super-savvy tips if you want to experience a billionaire’s playground on a pauper’s budget.
Probably the most dramatic way to save money in a place like Monaco is to avoid the high season. If you’re visiting in the height of summer, or during major international events such as the Grand Prix, then expect to shell out several times more for accommodation than you would in low season. The cheapest times to visit are the fall and winter months, with many hotels offering (relatively) generous bargains to anyone willing to trek over there in December.
The Best Things Are Free
Simply existing in Monaco can seem like you’re just constantly setting fire to your wallet. However, there are plenty of completely free activities in Monaco which are often the best way to experience this unique corner of the world. Explore the stunning Old Town on foot, perhaps equipped with a baguette from the supermarket. Sunbathe on the Larvotto Beach. Watch the Changing of the Guard at the Palace. Explore Princess Grace’s Rose Garden and feel like royalty. All of these things won’t cost you a dime.
Avoid the Big Casino
Obviously, the Casino de Monte Carlo is one of the most iconic sites in the city. However, there are ways you can enjoy the glamour of the roulette, poker, and baccarat without having to pay the ruinous minimum wagers it demands. For example, all you need is an internet connection and a cellphone to enjoy the Monte Carlo-style table games at Aspers.com, which offer plenty of bonuses and free plays without forcing you to adhere to a formal dress code. This way you can feel like James Bond from the comfort of your hotel room.
Lunch Tastes Just as Good as Dinner
Monaco is a culinary connoisseur’s dream destination. This is slightly marred by the fact that dinner for two will easily set you back a couple of hundred euros. Avoid these painful prices by eating out for lunch, when you can expect to enjoy the same food for a fraction of the price. The team over at InYourPocket.com has compiled a handy list of top-notch restaurants that offer lunch menus to suit even the most cash-strapped traveler’s budget. If even these are out of your reach, you can always go back to that supermarket baguette.
As you can see, a trip to Monaco can be done on a budget. Just remember to take a moment amid all of the penny-pinchings to stop and soak up the magical vibe of this truly unique place.