Monaco Photo by Matthias Mullie

Monaco Driving Guide

Monaco is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit

2023-12-15 · 17 min

Monaco, the world's second smallest independent state after the Vatican, is known for its luxurious and affluent social landscape. This city-state is famed for its extravagant Casino de Monte Carlo and the high-octane excitement of its annual Formula One Grand Prix.

Despite its reputation, Monaco offers more than just glitz and glamour. You'll come across a fascinating mix of modernity and tradition, with palaces, a quaint native village, and the bustling Monte Carlo business district.

When you're touring Europe, make sure to visit Monaco to experience its perfect mix of contemporary elegance, cultural richness, and timeless natural beauty.

Go on a Day Trip in Monaco

When visiting France or any part of Europe, don't miss the chance to add Monaco to your travel plans, even if only for a brief visit! The state's size is a significant advantage, allowing you to explore its entirety in just a day or two, thanks to short travel distances and picturesque routes.

Visiting Monaco by car or public transport will certainly not allow you to fully feel the unique atmosphere of the principality. However, it will give you the chance to visit some of its most interesting attractions in a short time without tiring walks during the hot summer..

Tomas Bobrowski, a journalist, shares in his post Visiting Monaco by Vehicle, published on the French Riviera website.

So, pack your bags and set off on an adventure to discover the lesser-known facets of Monaco, where history and modern elegance blend seamlessly.

Let's Take a Closer Look at Monaco

Monaco, distinguished by its government district of Monte Carlo, stands as the world's second-smallest and most densely populated independent country. While French is the official language, English and Italian are widely used, making travel convenient for non-French speakers. Learning basic French phrases is beneficial but not essential for exploration.

Geographic Location

Situated on the French Riviera in Western Europe, Monaco boasts five quarters and ten wards, bordered by the Alpes-Maritimes department and the Mediterranean Sea. With its predominantly hilly terrain facing the Mediterranean, Monaco experiences a hot-summer Mediterranean climate characterized by warm, dry summers and mild winters. The city's unique maritime influences ensure a climate with constant breezes.

Languages Spoken

French serves as Monaco's official language, supplemented by Italian, especially among Italian nationals. Monegasque, the historic vernacular, is spoken by a minority, while English is prevalent, catering to the diverse expatriate population.

Land Area

Covering a mere 2.1 square kilometers, Monaco is subdivided into three quarters: Monaco-Ville, Monte Carlo, and La Condamine, each with distinct roles. Fontvieille, the newest zone, accommodates light industries.


With evidence of Stone Age settlements, Monaco has a rich history known to Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, and Romans. Governed by the Grimaldi family since 1297, it faced various influences, from Sardinia to French, while maintaining independence. The principality endured Axis occupation in World War II before regaining independence.


Since 1911, Monaco has operated as a constitutional monarchy, with the Prince of Monaco as the head of state and a Minister of State heading the government. France oversees Monaco's defense, and the principality maintains a robust police force, including a specialized unit for maritime surveillance.


Monaco, a tourism-centric destination, welcomed 363,000 visitors in 2019. Renowned for its casino, world-famous car events, and business conferences, Monaco is a hub for luxury tourism. Cruise ships frequently dock in its harbor, attracting a diverse array of tourists drawn to the city's pleasant climate and opulent offerings.

International Driving Permit FAQs

Driving in Monaco can be seamless with the right documentation, including an International Driver’s Permit (IDP). This permit is crucial in bridging language barriers between drivers and local authorities. Here's what you need to know about obtaining an IDP for your journey in Monaco:

Which Countries Recognize IDP?

An International Driving Permit (IDP), issued by the International Driver’s Association, is recognized in over 150 countries, making it a valuable document for driving in Monaco and beyond. This complements your local driver's license, offering widespread acceptance.

You can choose the duration of the permit's validity, ranging from one to three years, depending on your travel needs.

Can I Apply for an IDP online?

Applying for an IDP is an effortless online process through the International Driver’s Association's website. Simply fill out a form with your details, and upload a photo of your current driver's license, and a passport-sized photo of yourself.

Once you accurately enter your information, select a package, pay the required fee online, and submit your application. The cost for a one-year IDP, including shipping the physical copy to your location, is $49.

How Long Does It Take to Get an IDP?

Upon approval, a digital copy of your IDP will be emailed to you, but note that most authorities require a physical copy. For applicants in the US, anticipate receiving your IDP within seven days, while international addresses may take up to 30 days.

Stay updated on your shipment’s progress by tracking it through customer service channels.

Renting a Car in Monaco

Exploring a new destination by car is an ideal way to travel faster between destinations. Renting a car in Monaco, however, involves considerations like vehicle type, budget, and insurance. Below is a guide to choosing the best car rental in Monaco and essential tips for a smooth rental process:

Choosing a Car Rental Service

Europcar, a prominent international provider, is notable for its commitment to environmental sustainability through its Green Program. Sixt is another international option offering a variety of vehicles for rent.

For those seeking a luxury experience, Top Car Monaco provides an array of high-end cars, including the opportunity to drive a Ferrari along Monaco's Formula-1 circuit. Luxury Services in Monaco caters to tourists and business clients, offering a selection of prestigious vehicles.

Required Documentation for Car Rental

To rent a car, you'll need a valid driver’s license. Some rental companies may require proof that you've held the license for at least a year. Non-European license holders entering Monaco must present an International Driver’s Permit (IDP), especially if the license is in the non-Roman alphabet. Additionally, a credit card is required for rental transactions.

Vehicle Options Available

Monaco's streets are home to luxury vehicles, and rental services offer everything from sports cars to convertibles. You can opt for standard vehicles for city exploration or indulge in a luxurious driving experience with sports cars, including the chance to drive a Ferrari on the Formula-1 track.

Costs of Car Rentals

Car rental costs in Monaco average around $58 per day, varying based on vehicle type, insurance, and additional services like GPS or Wi-Fi. Here are some estimated rates for different types of vehicles:

  • Economy: $24/day
  • Compact: $30/day
  • Intermediate: $42/day
  • Full-size SUV: $77/day
  • Luxury SUV: $111/day
  • Audi Sportback: $94/day
  • BMW Premium SUV: $154/day
  • Ferrari 488 Spider: $1,600/day
  • Porsche 911 Carrera: $1,023/day
  • Maserati Quattroporte: $842/day

Age Requirements for Renting

Drivers must be at least 21 years old and hold valid driver’s licenses for at least one year. However, drivers under 25 may face a young driver surcharge. Discounts may be available for longer rentals, such as a week-long booking.

Car Insurance Options

Insurance is a crucial aspect of car rental, offering peace of mind during international travel. Most rental companies include basic insurance in their packages. Additional coverage options are available, and it's advisable to review these carefully to understand the extent of the coverage.

Car Insurance Policies

Typical insurance included in rental packages is third-party liability insurance, covering damages to other parties involved in an accident. Other policies, such as Collision Damage Waiver and Personal Accident Protection, offer additional coverage for vehicle damage and passenger injuries. It's important to thoroughly understand the terms and conditions of each insurance policy before choosing the best car insurance in Monaco.

Understanding Monaco's Road Rules

For a seamless driving experience in Monaco, being well-versed in the local traffic laws is crucial. Monaco is vigilant about road safety, and overlooking these regulations can lead to penalties or accidents. Here are the key road rules to keep in mind while navigating Monaco’s streets:

Minimum Age for Driving

In Monaco, the legal driving age is 18 for residents. However, tourists must typically be at least 21 years old to rent a car. It’s advisable to check with your car rental agency for specific age requirements and additional conditions.

Driving Orientation

Driving in Monaco requires you to keep to the right-hand side of the road. This standard rule aligns with most European countries, making it easier for drivers from right-hand driving nations. However, those accustomed to left-hand driving must familiarize themselves with this orientation to ensure safety and compliance.

Alcohol Consumption and Driving

Monaco enforces strict drunk driving laws. The legal blood alcohol limit for drivers is 0.05%. Given the prevalence of nightlife and social events, it’s essential to avoid driving if you’ve consumed alcohol. The penalties for drunk driving can range from license confiscation to fines or imprisonment, depending on the offense's severity.

Mobile Phone Usage

Using hand-held mobile devices while driving is prohibited in Monaco. Using a hands-free system is mandatory if you need to take a call. Violation can lead to hefty fines.

Use of Turn Signals

Effective communication with other road users is essential, especially at intersections, roundabouts, and when overtaking. Always signal your intentions well and ensure you deactivate your turn signal post-maneuver.

Parking Regulations

Understanding parking rules is critical. There are designated parking areas for residents, night-only, and employee parking. Public parking spaces are available for a fee, often free for the first hour.

Avoid parking in unauthorized zones to prevent your vehicle from being towed. If your car is towed, you must retrieve it from the Fontvieille Police Station and potentially pay additional storage fees if not claimed within 36 hours.

Preparedness for Driving

Before setting off, ensure your rental car is in optimal condition. Check for any damage and report it to the rental agency to avoid unwarranted charges.

It’s also mandatory to carry a red warning triangle and a high-visibility vest for emergencies, with fines imposed for non-compliance. Continually assess your physical and mental state before driving.

Seatbelt Usage

Seatbelts are mandatory for all passengers, with special regulations for children. Kids up to 10 years old must be seated in the back with appropriate restraints. Children over 10 can sit in the front passenger seat, provided they use seatbelts.

Adhering to these regulations will keep you safe and ensure a smooth and enjoyable driving experience in Monaco. Whether cruising along scenic coastlines or exploring the narrow streets of Monte Carlo, respecting local driving laws is key to a memorable visit.

In Monaco, both manual and automatic car transmissions are popular. Your choice depends on your driving comfort and preference. Check with your car rental provider for options and select the one you're most comfortable with.

Speed Limits

Monaco maintains a uniform speed limit of 50 kph across all roads, with changes indicated by road signs. Due to its compact size and the potential for congestion, particularly during peak tourist seasons, it’s crucial to adhere to this speed limit.

While sports cars capable of higher speeds are common, safety and legal compliance are paramount.

Speed Measurement Unit

Traffic signs in Monaco indicate speed limits in kilometers per hour (kph). Look out for these signs and abide by the 50 kph limit to avoid accidents and penalties.

Roundabouts and Overtaking

At signed roundabouts with the words “Cédez le passage” or Yield, the roundabout traffic has priority. If there are no such signs seen, vehicles entering the roundabout have priority. When overtaking, do so on the left to ensure ample space. Be aware of vehicles that might overtake without signaling.

Traffic Signage

Traffic signs in Monaco are primarily in French, accompanied by universal symbols. Familiarize yourself with these signs to navigate safely:

  • Warning Signs: Indicate potential hazards like curves, uneven roads, slippery surfaces, pedestrian crossings, and animal crossings.
  • Priority Signs: Govern right of way at intersections, with signs like ‘Stop’, ‘Yield’, and indications of priority roads.
  • Regulatory Signs: White with black or red letters, these signs dictate what drivers must or must not do, such as ‘No Entry’, ‘No Overtaking’, and specific speed limits.
  • Information Signs: Usually blue with white print, providing general guidance about parking, pedestrian zones, bus stops, one-way roads, and more.

Right of Way Rules

In Monaco, the general rule is to give way to vehicles approaching from the right at intersections unless marked otherwise. This also applies to vehicles entering main roads from smaller streets.

Overtaking Laws

Overtaking is done on the left, and signaling your intention well in advance is crucial. Allow ample space when passing bicycles, and avoid using the horn unless necessary for safety.

Understanding and respecting these standards and rules will ensure a smooth and safe driving experience in Monaco. Whether you’re cruising along scenic routes or navigating the bustling streets of Monte Carlo, staying informed and cautious is key to enjoying your drive in this glamorous principality.

When driving in Monaco, knowing how to handle various situations on the road is crucial, as this ensures your safety and helps maintain the principality's driving decorum. Here's a guide on how to respond to common driving scenarios in Monaco:

Driving Etiquette in Monaco

Handling a Car Breakdown

If your car breaks down, safety comes first. Wear your visibility vest, and place a warning triangle about 30 meters behind your car to alert other drivers. If the problem is minor and fixable, you can attempt repairs on the roadside.

Otherwise, move your vehicle to the side of the road to minimize traffic disruption. For night-time breakdowns, extra visibility tools like beam deflectors are helpful. Contact local police for assistance or inform your rental agency of the situation.

Dealing with Police Stops

Monaco has a high police presence, so if you're stopped, comply promptly. Attempting to flee is futile and will only escalate the situation. On-the-spot fines are common for traffic violations.

If you cannot pay immediately, you may be escorted to an ATM or, in extreme cases, have your car impounded. Adhere strictly to traffic laws to avoid such encounters.

Asking Directions

While many in Monaco speak English, knowing basic French phrases is beneficial. Approach locals or police officers politely for directions. Some helpful French phrases include:

  • Bonjour” - Hello
  • S'il vous plaît” - Please
  • Comment vous appelez-vous?” - What’s your name?
  • Oui” - “Yes”
  • Non” - No
  • Excusez-moi” - Excuse me
  • Pardon” - Sorry
  • Je ne comprends pas” - I don’t understand
  • Que veut dire ça?” - What does that mean?
  • Plus lentement” - More slowly.
  • Où est…?” - Where is…?
  • C'est combien?”- How much is it?
  • Où sont les toilettes?” -Where are the toilets?
  • La carte/le menu, s’il vous plaît.” - The menu, please.
  • Nous voudrions commander maintenant.” - We would like to place an order now.
  • Merci beaucoup” - Thank you very much

At checkpoints, be prepared to show your IDP, passport, visa, and driving license. Stay calm and cooperative during any vehicle inspections or document checks. Bribing officials is strongly discouraged and can lead to severe consequences.

Responding to Accidents

In an accident, prioritize safety by moving to a safe location and warning others with your red triangle. If another vehicle is involved, both parties should complete a “constat amiable” form to document the incident.

Taking photos of the scene can be useful for insurance purposes. Call the police and, if needed, an ambulance. Do not leave the accident scene unless necessary for medical reasons, and inform your car rental provider about the incident.

Driving Conditions in Monaco

Understanding the local driving dynamics is crucial for tourists exploring the best things to do in Monaco. Being well-informed about the local driving conditions enhances safety and enriches the overall driving experience in this luxurious enclave.

Monaco's Road Safety

Monaco is renowned for its stringent traffic monitoring and rigorous safety standards. Accidents are relatively rare despite its high-profile status and the presence of luxury vehicles. However, as in any urban setting, challenges such as speeding, drunk driving, and signal neglect remain issues.

As a visitor, it’s vital to avoid mishaps, as accidents can involve not only vehicle damage but also legal repercussions and fines.

Vehicle Landscape in Monaco

Monaco's streets showcase affluence, with high-end brands like Ferrari, Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Porsche dominating the roads. While the city-state is synonymous with luxury cars, various vehicles like minivans, are also commonly used. The Place du Casino in Monte Carlo is a prime spot for spotting the most exclusive and expensive cars, ranging from Bugatti Veyrons to Rolls Royce Phantoms.

Toll Roads and Road Infrastructure

Travelers will be pleased to know Monaco's 77 kilometers of roadways are toll-free. However, if you're entering from France, the Autoroute 8 (A8) is a toll road. The road infrastructure in Monaco is well-maintained and signposted, making navigation smooth. While traffic can be heavy, especially around Monte Carlo's casino area, the roads are generally in excellent condition.

Unique Aspects of Driving in Monaco

Monaco's compact size means that areas like Monaco-Ville are best explored on foot due to restricted vehicle access. Additionally, certain roads may be closed or restricted during events like the Formula 1 Grand Prix. Consider these events when planning the best time to visit Monaco. Driving at night is generally safe, but extra caution is advised due to active nightlife and the potential for pedestrians on the roads.

Cultural Nuances of Driving in Monaco

Monaco has its share of drivers who may not always adhere strictly to traffic rules like any bustling city. Late signaling by drivers can occur, so alertness is key. The principality's strict law enforcement ensures a relatively orderly traffic environment and provides a more serene driving experience.

The Top Destinations in Monaco

Often synonymous with opulence, Monaco offers a myriad of experiences that go far beyond its casinos and luxury vehicles. Here are some of the best places to visit in Monaco that you shouldn't miss:


Monaco-Ville, sometimes called Monaco City, is not just a historical and statistical district; it's the epicenter of Monaco's political and judicial life. Home to the Prince's Palace, town hall, and key government institutions, it's perched on a headland thrusting into the Mediterranean, offering stunning panoramic views.

Monte Carlo

Monte Carlo, the epitome of luxury and excitement in Monaco, is more than just casinos and races. It's a district teeming with energy and entertainment, attracting visitors worldwide.


Fontvieille represents Monaco's innovative spirit, a district reclaimed from the sea. It's home to lush parks, light industries, and the marina, offering a different perspective of Monaco.

Jardin Exotique de Monaco

Explore the Jardin Exotique de Monaco, a mesmerizing botanical garden showcasing a vast collection of succulents and exotic plants. Nestled on a cliffside, it provides not only a serene escape but also breathtaking views of the Mediterranean.

The Oceanographic Museum

Dive into marine wonders at The Oceanographic Museum, founded by Prince Albert I. With impressive aquariums, marine exhibits, and a turtle sanctuary, it offers an educational and captivating experience, emphasizing Monaco's commitment to ocean conservation.

Get an IDP to Explore Monaco

Monaco is more than just casinos and car races; it's a splendid destination with various attractions and experiences. Arm yourself with an IDP and dive into Monaco's opulence and hospitality, even during a short stay. Enjoy your journey!


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