The amazing 100-year-old cliff-side Oceanographic Museum of Monaco is also known as the Jacques Cousteau Museum, as the illustrious explorer was the curator from 1957-1988, and was the driving force behind the dynamic displays that you see here today.
How to get there from Nice
Tip: The museum is less crowded in the morning, and also during lunchtime… and if you time it right, you can watch the changing of the guard in front of the Palace at 11:55am daily.
By bus – Take the bus #100 to Monaco, and get off at Place d’Armes (which is a stop right at the entrance to a big tunnel, so you can’t miss it). Cross the street to Place d’Armes
- Walk up to the path to top of the Rocher (The Rock) which will take 15-20 minutes. It is all uphill, but you will be on the ancient path to the palace, passing through centuries-old gates and former checkpoints, and you will be rewarded with stunning views. Once up on top, the Palace will be on your right, but go left to arrive at the Museum, which is is on the cliff side.
- Take the local Monaco bus #1 or #2, which you catch at the bus stop just down from Place d’Armes. They come every 5 minutes, cost 2€ from the driver, and you stay on for one stop, which will take you up to the top, one short block from the entrance to the museum. If you buy a 1.50€ Ticket Azur before you leave Nice, you can use it on the bus 100, plus use it again for one free transfer on the local bus in Monaco.
By train – Take any TER train going to Monaco or Ventimiglia, which will cost 3.90€ and take around 30 minutes. You will know you’re there when you arrive in a giant cavern of white marble! You will want to take the escalator up, cross over and take it back down again, and then follow the signs for the pedestrian tunnel to the Port. Once you come out in the Port of Monaco, you can either cross the port and walk up to the Rocher (30 minutes), but better to take the local Monaco bus #1 or #2 (see above).
Don’t forget to hang on to your TER train ticket, as it will get you 2.50€ off your museum admission (see below)!
By car – Follow the signs to the Port, where you will go all the way to the end and around the point, parking in the Parking des Pecheurs, which will run you roughly 3€/hour. From here just follow the signs to a series of elevators and escalators that will pop you out right in front of the museum.
Hours: Summer (July-August) 9:30am-8pm, Spring and Autumn (April-June and the month of September) 10am-7pm, Winter (October-March)10am-6pm. Closed only on Christmas day and the weekend of the Monaco Grand Prix.
Tickets are 14€ for adults, 10€ for students under 18, 7€ for children under 13 and disabled persons, free for children under 4.
During the holidays it’s 5€ extra for the petting pool, where the kids can touch the marine life/shark tank.
You can get a small discount by showing your same-day TER train ticket:
- 2.50€ off admission to the Monaco Oceanographic Museum (regularly 14€)
- and 2€ off the Monaco Grand Tour hop-on-hop-off bus (normally 21€)
- and 2.50€ off admission to the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild and Villa Kerylos
Or, for 27€ you can have admission to the museum and a day on the hop on/hop off tourist bus, Le Grand Tour.
There is also a deal where for a few euros more (2-5€) you can buy a combination ticket that is good for the Oceanographic Museum and a visit to the Palace (April-Sept): this combo ticket is 19€ for adults, 11€ for teens under 18, 9€ for children 8-12 and disabled persons, and 7€ for children between 4-7.
How to see the Oceanographic Museum
Spend 10 minutes checking out the exhibits on the ground floor, then head down the stairs, straight into the tanks. At the giant fish tank, go to the left for the Mediterranean fish, and then go to the right for the tropical fish, including a very freaky eel (pictured). Then back up to the ground floor for the ‘petting pool’ if you bought that ticket. Lastly I would do the upstairs with the giant whale skeleton and lots of bones and fish in jars of formaldehyde. Then go up to the rooftop (access by tiny elevator), where there is a play area for children with a climbing whale, giant tortoises, a restaurant, and stunning views over Monaco.
- Back up to main History and Science Museums page
Photo credits: Museum exterior by Stanimir Stoyanov, licensed under Creative Commons; aquarium photos by Best of Nice.