5 great bars that won't break the bank in Monte Carlo, Monaco
A century-old brewery, an Italian place, a crêperie, an Irish pub and, believe it or not, a 5-star hotel bar
Monte Carlo is the capital of the Principality of Monaco. However, in truth, the concept of country and capital is quite fluid around here because Monaco is the second smallest country in the world – after the Vatican City – with an area of just 0.780 square miles. This place doesn't need any explaining or guessing. It is what it says on the cover, just as advertised, but not only for the reasons you might think.
my own picture
There are four key events in the history of Monaco. In 1854, Prince Florestan I legalized gambling and the casino was so successful that in 1869, the principality stopped collecting income tax from its citizens. Then, the first F1 Grand Prix of Monaco was held in 1929 and, cherry on top of the cake, Grace Kelly married Rainier III in 1956. That was the beginning of it all. The money had been there for a while, but now Monaco had the jet-set, too.
This place is not as elitist and expensive as people think it is. There are a lot of restaurants and bars where regular humans like myself can just have a drink or a burger without counting the cost. I had to find out the hard way, so what I thought I'd do is write down a short list of places where travellers can hang out without breaking the bank.
Brasserie di Monaco
In French (I had to Google this), the word Brasserie means both "restaurant with a relaxed setting" and "brewery". That means you can have locally-produced beer and chill out, too. Awesome. Now, the Brasserie is an institution of Monaco because even though the current venue is relatively new and modern, it originally opened in 1905 as a brewery. The Brasserie is located on Route de la Piscine, in Port Hercules.
You can go there for Happy Hour, you can dine in the restaurant, or enjoy after dinner drinks. I once remember sitting there, having a cheap beer, watching a French Cup (football/soccer) game between two second-grade teams I'd never heard of. That's the life.
One of the most common misconceptions about Monaco is that it is expensive. It can be, of course, but it can also be inexpensive depending on what you do and how you do it. Caffè Monaco, located near Port Hercules probably has the best happy hour deal, in terms of value for money and quality, in the whole of Monaco.
Their Happy Hour is amazing. From early afternoon until dinner time, you can have a selection of pizzas and drinks at half price, around €7 or €8. The restaurant is run by Italians and the pizza is phenomenal. And I don't mean phenomenal "considering this isn't Italy". I mean phenomenal, full stop.
Sephir 24 at the Fairmont Hotel
Ok, so this might be a bit more expensive than anything else here, but it's also worth it. It is located on the ground floor at the Fairmont Hotel, open to everyone, not just hotel guests, and the view of the Mediterranean is quite gorgeous.
You can dine in the restaurant and it's worth it, if your pocket are large enough, or you can just come by for coffee or drinks – that's a lot more affordable. Most people wouldn't expect this, but it is also a sports bar. It's a bit more than you'd pay in an equivalent location in Nice or Menton, but not by a great margin. They're not big on beers, but they do have a great selection of cocktails, wines and spirits. And then, I know I've already said it, there's the view.
Crêperie du Rocher
Photo by Kit Suman on Unsplash
Crêperie du Rocher is located in Old Town Monaco, the small medieval-style village that overlooks the port and the rest of the Principality from the hilltop. The residence of the Prince is here and that's probably part of the reason why you can't drive there unless you're on Monaco plates, and even then you need a special permit. But you can easily go on foot.
Most restaurants in the Old Town advertise their menu outside, and you'll recognize this crêperie because it is one of the prettiest, and also one of the cheapest. I'm going to have to admit this is actually how I found it in the first place. You can have whatever you like from traditional French crêpes with ham and cheese, to more modern stuff. And there are vegan options as well. More to the point, this is a place where you can just take it easy and have a beer, including Monaco's signature lager called, you've guessed it, the "Monaco".
If you're looking for a no-nonsense pub where you can sit down and enjoy a good ol' lager while watching sports or playing darts, this is the place for you. And yes, it's in Monaco.
McCarthy's is an old-fashioned style Irish Pub, not far from the Jardin Japonais and the Grimaldi Forum. It feels like the furthest you can get out of Monaco, without actually getting out of Monaco. The menu is a saga of burgers, finger foods and pizza, and there's a wide selection of drinks. They've got literally everything for everyone. Beer, white wine, red wine, rosé, Champagne, cocktails, hot drinks, soft drinks and an amazing selection of whiskeys from all over the world.