© Casino de Monte-Carlo
Monaco is one of the most famous hotspots on the French Riviera and, while it is a lot quieter in the winter months, there is still plenty going on for you to enjoy.
With an average of seven hours of sunshine each day in February, there’s an excellent chance that you will experience clear blue skies and sunshine on your out of season break in Monaco. Temperatures tend to average around 15ºC in the daytime, dropping to a low of 5ºC at night. The sea sparkles in the crystal clear light, the snow-topped mountains glisten in the distance, and the city tempts you in with special deals on hotel rooms and international events to entertain you.
Monaco and the surrounding area hosts many entertaining events during the winter months. Highlights include the prestigious Monte-Carlo Jazz Festival in November or the wonderfully festive Christmas and New Year celebrations in December. In January, look out for the famous Monte Carlo Rally, an adrenaline-fuelled race around its famous winding roads or the International Circus Festival which brings some of the best circus acts in the world to Monte-Carlo. January is also when the Principality celebrates its patron saint day, on the 26th. February sees neighbouring Menton's Fete du Citron, where parades and entertainers celebrate the citrus fruit over a two week period. And next door in Nice, there is the world famous Carnival celebrations. Both events are easy to get to from Monaco by popping on the coastal train. In March and April, there's the arts festival Festival Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo, which features classical music concerts, exhibitions, film, theatre, fine arts and dance. Something for everyone!
Visit the sights
No trip to Monaco would be complete without a visit to the iconic Casino de Monte-Carlo, the setting of more than one James Bond film, and the beautiful Hotel de Paris. Even if you don't want to gamble, take some tea in the hotel and enjoy the sumptuous surroundings. A visit to the Prince's Palace is a must to admire the riches of the ruling royal family, although you'll have to be content with seeing it from the outside as the rooms are closed until April 2nd 2019. The Rock of Monaco and the Jardin Exotique with its caves below are also worth a visit. Historical art collections, as well as contemporary art, can be seen across the region, not forgetting, of course, those artists who were resident in the area such as Picasso, Signac, Matisse and Renoir. A day trip to Nice to see the works of your favourite artists is very easily done too. Take a look at our Must See Attractions for Monaco for more ideas of what to see.
Explore the perched villages
The marvellous perched villages of Provence-Alpes Maritimes are blessedly free of crowds in winter, and this makes it a great time to visit whether you’re exploring fabulous St Paul de Vence or enjoying the spectacular view from the cliffs of Eze. Many of the cafes and galleries are closed of course, but those who have had to use their elbows to move through the summertime throng would probably argue that this is a very reasonable sacrifice to make.
Go to Italy for lunch in the hills
In the forested hills behind San Remo you will find what’s lovingly known as the ‘Mushroom Restaurant’. Set above a rushing snow-melt river, the rustic Ca Mea restaurant serves up course upon course of delicious meats and pasta at long wooden tables in a warm cosy dining room with copper pans and strings of dried tomatoes and chillies hanging from the beams. Take a walk in the pretty village to work off your lunch, and then take the easy motorway drive back to Monaco. We promise you, it’s worth the trip.
Monaco is one of the few places in the world where you can wake up on a sunny winter’s day and drive 90 minutes to ski in the Alps, before driving back down to the coast to spend the afternoon lazing on the beach, looking back up at the mountains that you just skied down. Life doesn’t get much more wonderful than that. Try the main Cote d'Azur ski resorts of Auron, Isola 2000 or Valberg.