How Monaco is championing sustainable travel in 2022

Dive into this selection of green-minded activities and experiences — from exploring responsible food in Michelin-starred restaurants, wandering through nature-filled parks to bedding down in eco-certified hotels and using lower-impact public transport.

Monaco is a principality of many faces with vibrant, urban parks, opulent eco-certified hotels and delicious, sustainable restaurants.

Photograph by BVergely
By Visit Monaco
Published 28 May 2022, 12:00 BST

Opulent urban architecture, sun-bleached beaches and unparalleled luxury await those fortunate enough to travel to Monaco. Yet, the principality is also committed to responsible travel, having recently launched the White Paper on Sustainable Tourism, which aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Therefore, whether wandering through one of Monaco’s idyllic gardens, zipping around town on an e-bike, sampling some locally sourced seafood or reclining in the comforts of an eco-certified hotel, travellers can enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime getaway that’s good for both them and the planet. Here are the various ways to travel responsibly through this multifaceted city-state.

Left: Top:

Perched on the edge of a cliff above the Mediterranean, The Oceanographic Museum of Monaco is aiming to promote the vital significance of preserving the treasures in the marine ecosystem.

Right: Bottom:

More than 21% of the surface area of the principality is covered by green spaces. The Garden of the Villa Paloma, which is tucked away in an isolated location, affords stunning views over the whole of Monaco. 

photographs by BVergely

Discover its various parks, gardens and marine reserves

Home to 880 plant species, including 18 heritage species, as well as a variety of urban vegetable gardens, Monaco is teeming with diverse flora and fauna. In an area of a little less than one square mile, gardens and parks occupy more than 21% of the country’s territory, meaning there’s plenty of green to match those blue skies and seas.

Head to the new Heritage Trees Trail to discover 92 of the principality’s most remarkable species. Starting in the centre of town, the trail weaves past the Casino of Monte-Carlo and through several of Monaco’s most popular parks, including the Japanese Garden and Fontvieille Park. The Japanese Garden is a replica of a traditional ornamental garden, with a pond, islands, a waterfall, lanterns, bridges and even a tea house, while the latter is best known for housing the Princess Grace Rose Garden, built by Prince Rainier III in remembrance of his wife. 

For some truly spectacular views, visit the Greenhouses located at the Exotic Garden on the cliffs overlooking the sea. Set to reopen next year, the Exotic Garden is spread over an area of nearly four acres and has been one of Monaco’s most-visited tourist attractions since its opening in 1933. As an alternative, don't miss the St Martin Gardens, the principality’s first public garden with tropical Mediterranean plants, trees and sculptures which sit side-by-side in harmony with the sea. 

For an insight into the principality's long-standing commitment to protecting and deepening the knowledge of the oceans and marine world, visit the Oceanographic Museum to view more than 6,000 specimens, including sharks, seahorses, piranhas and clownfish. Take the guided tour to visit injured turtles at its onsite treatment clinic or opt for a responsible sea excursion with Whale Watching Monaco to discover marine mammals in the Pelagos Sanctuary for Mediterranean Marine Mammals. If time allows, scout out Monaco’s two protected marine reserves: the Larvotto zone, protected for its Posidonia seagrass bed, while the Tombant des Spélugues is home to a coralliferous cliff rich in Mediterranean red coral.

Enhanced by a breathtaking view of the horizon and the principality, Elsa restaurant serves up all the flavours of the Mediterranean.

Photograph by MONTE-CARLO Société des Bains de Mer

Explore culinary excellence 

Monaco plays host to a myriad of exciting Michelin-starred restaurants, brasseries and local eateries — many of which have green credentials that stretch beyond the vegetables on their menu. Elsa, for example, is a 100% organic and wild-caught fish restaurant certified by Ecocert, meaning everything on its menu is sustainably sourced from carefully selected producers. Stop by here to indulge in a mixture of delicious, elegant dishes created by the new chef Mélanie Serre.

The world-famous Café de Paris Monte-Carlo, meanwhile, became the world’s first-ever Green Globe-certified restaurant in 2020, due to its proactive policy to minimise waste and to raise customers’ awareness of responsible sourcing. Stop by here to sample its delicious all-day dining menu, including beef tartare, salad nicoise and duck terrine, or to simply soak in the ambience of its art deco, light-filled terrace.

Seafood is a must-order in Monaco, and numerous restaurants have signed up to the Mr Goodfish programme, which ensures responsible consumption of seafood products — only eating species that are not under threat. Stars’N’Bars is one local eatery that has secured this certification: all the brasserie’s homemade dishes use organic ingredients, and the menu is displayed on a digital tablet to avoid the use of paper.

With 400 self-service electric bikes and 43 smart stations, Monabike is an excellent way to zip around Monaco.

Photograph by BVergely

Use lower-impact, public transport

The size of the principality means there is no need to hire a car to discover the town. Rent yourself an electric MonaBike — with a one-off trip costing just €1 (£0.84) and a weekly pass available for €8 (£6.70) — these bikes aren’t only fast and healthy, but incredible value for money. There's also the option to get around by bus with the Monaco bus company (Compagnie Autobus de Monaco), who offer a range of Iveco E-Way and Diester powered buses with tickets and passes depending on your commuting needs, or you can opt to take the solar-powered waterbus from Port Hercule. For travellers who prefer their own independence, there is also Mobee, an electric car-sharing service where members can geolocate the nearest vehicle 24/7 using a smartphone app. 

The healthiest and greenest way to travel around Monaco, however, is on your own two feet. The Plan of the Principality guides you around the principality’s abundance of pedestrian walkways, lifts, escalators and travellators, helping you walk around without a great deal of effort in less than an hour. 

Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort is a luxurious, seafront hotel which juts out from Monaco's Larvotto peninsula into the Mediterranean. 

Photograph by MONTE-CARLO Société des Bains de Mer Done

Stay in an eco-certified hotel

Monaco has a great selection of hotels, of which more than 88% are currently certified with environmental certifications, but you needn't sacrifice luxury to ensure an environmentally friendly stay. The Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort boasts a variety of eco-credentials, such as an organic vegetable garden which serves the hotel’s two-Michelin-star restaurant The Blue Bay. Inspired by his grandmother’s Creole garden, head chef Marcel Ravin oversees all the hotel’s restaurants, so guests can rest assured their food will be both responsible and superlative. 

Another hotel that holds the Green Globe Gold Standard certification is Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel. Again, responsible dining is at the heart of any stay as the hotel houses Elsa restaurant mentioned above. In the mood for some pampering? The hotel’s magnificent spa has partnered with organic, luxury skincare brand PAOMA to offer some eco-ethical downtime. Guests can also enjoy open-air yoga, meditation and Pilates as the sea air freshens the senses and the pine trees sway overhead. 

For more information on Monaco’s White Paper on Sustainable Tourism, visit visitmonaco.com/environment. For more inspiration on how to travel responsibly through the principality, go to visitmonaco.com/a-responsible-getaway

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