Monaco Grand Prix
20th – 23rd May 2021
Monaco is a square mile principality in the south of France. The nearest international airport is the Nice Cote d’Azur and it’s in Nice (about 40km from Monaco) where most visitors to the Monaco Grand Prix will base themselves for the weekend of the race and commute to and from Monte Carlo each day. It’s a short journey by bus or train and works out a lot cheaper than staying in Monaco.
Arrival in Nice for the Monaco Grand Prix
Cote d’Azur International – Monaco’s nearest Airport
In all about 60 airlines serve the Nice Cote d’Azur airport (NCE) from destinations in France, elsewhere in Europe and the rest of the world. Easyjet operate flights from the UK and elsewhere in France, Germanwings offers flights from a number of German cities and for any fans coming from the Middle East, Asia or Australia, Emitrates fly in and out of Dubai.
Kiwi.com lets you search for the lowest cost flights and shows you route combinations that often don’t show up on other search engines. If you miss a connecting flight due to delay the Kiwi guarantee means you can take the next available flight at no extra cost.
Transport from the Airport to Downtown Nice
For information on how to get directly from the airport to Monaco see below.
Airport express bus 99 operated by Lignes d’Azur leave from terminals 1 and 2 and take you to SNCF Nice Ville train station downtown.
Departures are every 30 minutes from 6am to midnight leaving terminal 1 from bay 8 and terminal 2 from bay 4, the trip to the station takes about 25 to 30 minutes. Returning to the airport you’ll find the clearly signed stop on Avenue Thiers to the right of the train station’s main exit.
Pay the driver €6 when you get on the bus. If you need to take another bus as well to complete the trip to or from your hotel you can use the same ticket as long as the whole journey is no more than 74 minutes. The schedule for route 99 can be found here.
Alternatively you can use the local bus service no.23 for just €1 departing from near terminal 1. Downtown the bus drops off and picks up at the Avenue Thiers and Boulevard Gambetta intersection, just a few minutes walk to the station. The service runs from about 6am to 9pm.
Arrival in Nice by Train
Nice is well connected to other cities and towns in France and elsewhere in Europe by train. France’s world famous high speed TGV trains service Nice main station, Gare de Nice-Ville, in just 6 hours from Paris.
Coming to the Monaco Grand Prix from the UK? Why not skip all that airplane malarkey and get a Eurostar / TGV combo for a total journey time of about 9 hours.
TGV trains need a compulsory reservation and you can save a lot by booking as early as possible. Tickets bought just a day before can be 5 times as expensive as if you buy earlier. Usually tickets go on sale 92 days before the date of travel.
You can search train schedules across multiple operators simultaneously to and from just about any station in Europe using Omio (formerly GoEuro) and purchase tickets for the same cost as buying direct from the train lines.
Arrival in Nice by Car
It’s certainly worthwhile having a car to explore the Riviera on the days you’re not at the track.
If driving from home isn’t an option there are numerous car hire companies at the airport and elsewhere in Nice, most of which can be searched on RentalCars.com and booked in advance to get the best deal.
Keep in mind that you’ll still need to use public transport for going to the Grand Prix – parking spaces in Monaco are about as rare as a royal flush at the Monte Carlo Casino.
Getting around in Nice
The historical centre of Nice and the beach is easily traversed on foot. Elsewhere there are over-crowded local buses, over-priced taxis and underused bicycles. There is also a tram system that makes a handy connection between the old town and the train station.
Bus fares are charged at a flat rate of €1.50 per journey, which can include onward or return journeys as long as it’s within 74 minutes of validating your ticket (do this in the machine as you enter the bus). Multi-10 tickets are good for 10 journeys and cost €10 and can be used by several people at once. Useful if you’re in a group.
Just be aware that the buses can be crowded and timetables are unreliable. Few services run after 8pm so always check when the last bus is on the route you’re using to get back after the day’s F1 sessions are over, and don’t get stranded.
Trams run until after midnight – perfect if you got the last train back from Monaco. To use the tram just buy a ticket from the machine at the tram station (€1.50) and validate it as you enter. Tram line number 1 connects the Gare de Nice Ville to the old town.
Taxi & Uber
If you get stranded you might have no other option but to use a taxi or Uber.
Always use a registered taxi and insist that the meter is on for the whole journey or agree a fare in advance. Taxi drivers in the region have a bad reputation for overcharging tourists, and at certain times of the year – like the Monaco Grand Prix weekend – the likelihood is even stronger.
Of course all that hassle is avoided by using Uber and seeing your fare upfront. It’s also usually cheaper than a taxi as well. If you’re a first time Uber user, F1S readers can get €10 off their first ride when signing up.
Probably overall the best way of getting around in Nice, Velo Bleu is the city’s initiative to be more green (or should that be blue?) and at a cost of just €1/day it’s hard not to like it. Go to www.velobleu.org for a map showing where the stations are.
Getting to the Monaco Grand Prix
Wherever you’re staying in the region you can almost bet that it is short train or bus ride away from Monaco. Ticket fares are generally inexpensive, but some routes do get very busy at certain times at this time of year. Transport strikes are also common so try to have a back-up plan in place that preferably isn’t a taxi.
…from central Nice
There’s something magical about arriving in Monaco by train. After an impossibly gorgeous jaunt past picturesque seaside towns the train enters a pitch black tunnel, leaving the ordinary world behind. You emerge moments later in Monaco’s subterranean train station, right in the heart of this playground of the super rich and the most iconic Formula 1 venue of them all.
TER local trains depart from Nice train station (Gare de Nice-Ville, Avenue Thiers) about every 30 minutes, though more trains run at peak times over the Grand Prix weekend to accommodate fans going to and from the track.
You don’t need a reservation, just turn up, buy your ticket, validate it at one of the yellow machines and jump on a train. Buy tickets from one of the SNCF machines at the station or an SNCF staff member. A few of these are drafted in on the Grand Prix weekend to deal with the extra numbers and you can buy tickets from them with cash or card.
You can also buy tickets in advance at Omio.com and while there is no risk of tickets selling out it does save a bit of time and queuing on the day.
Tickets bought at the station won’t have a time printed on them so as long as you haven’t already validated it you can use the ticket for any train that day. If you buy your ticket on Omio it will be an eticket so you won’t have to validate it but you will have to take the train at the time displayed on the ticket.
You can expect the station to be packed with F1 fans on Saturday and Sunday. There’s no seat number on your ticket so grab a window seat on the coastal side if you can, though for many it will be standing room only.
- The single journey fare costs €3.90.
- Journey time from Nice to Monaco takes about 18 – 25 minutes.
- The first train departs for Monaco at 05:47. On the return journey, the last Nice bound train leaves Monaco at 23:07.
- Returning, look out for the extra signage in the streets of Monaco. Large banners with a French flag direct fans to Nice bound trains.Buy a return ticket in the morning to avoid waiting in line for a ticket again in the afternoon.
- Don’t rush back to Nice. Hang around in Monaco to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy a more relaxed journey home.
- Make use of the toilets in the station; they are a lot less crowded than the sparse temporary facilities elsewhere.
…from Nice International
If departing from the airport directly to Monaco, the Nice St Augustine train station about 500m from T1 reaches Monaco’s main station Monaco-Monte Carlo (SNCF) in about 30 – 40 minutes.
At Terminal 1, exit the arrivals hall via Gate 1. Walk along the pedestrian walkway under Promenade des Anglais bridge. Go straight at the roundabout so that you are heading straight down Lindbergh Avenue towards the railway line. Turn left and walk parallel with the track until the traffic lights. Cross under the railway and turn right onto Edouard Grinda Ave. where you’ll see the station entrance.
Monaco’s main station Monaco-Monte Carlo (SNCF) is a short walk from the circuit.
If you’re staying in Nice’s old town its almost easier to get the bus to Monaco. Bus 100 leaves from Le Port, just a short walk away, and takes roughly an hour to reach Monaco before continuing to Menton.
The route is just as scenic if not more so than the train and only costs €1.50 (pay the driver as you get on). It’s also just as crowded as the train so get to the bus stop in good time – if the bus is full it will leave even if there are still people waiting to get on.
First bus to Monaco departs at 5.35am and the last bus returning to Nice leaves at 09.05. The route schedule can be found here but take this as a guide only; the times are unreliable on a Grand Prix weekend and the route the bus takes through Monaco differs due to road closures.
Driving & Parking
Parking in Monaco is going to be tricky unless you have a hotel booking which includes parking. It’s strongly advised to leave the car in Nice and jump on a bus or train or if you prefer, a taxi will set you back about €70 one way, off-peak.
If you really want to drive, Monte Carlo can be reached by car on the A8 Motorway. From Nice the journey will take about 40 minutes. Take Exit 56-Monaco and follow signs for Monte Carlo. Be aware that there are many unannounced road closures and diversions in the area over the race weekend.
Getting around in Monaco
The best way to get around Monaco during the Grand Prix weekend is on foot. Everything is well sign-posted for pedestrians with signs pointing the way to each grandstand from the moment you arrive in Monte-Carlo train station, and you won’t have to walk further than about 15 minutes to get to your grandstand. Conveniently Monaco’s hilly streets are connected by a network of escalators and elevators that take the effort out your walks around the principality.
It can be worth picking up a walking map of the town and familiarizing yourself with the shortcuts. These are available from the information center in the train station or just about anywhere else in the region and from newsagents around town for a small fee.