Monaco Oceanographic Museum

The impressive 100-year-old cliff-side Oceanographic Museum of Monaco is locally known as ‘The Jacques Cousteau Museum’; the illustrious explorer of was the curator from 1957-1988, and Cousteau was the driving force behind the dynamic oceanographic displays that you see here today.  The Oceanographic museum is quite vaste, and has fantastic displays on every level.

Monaco Oceanographic tankHow 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 and either

  • 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 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.

By train – From Nice, 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€ off your museum admission!

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 4€/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 10am-6pm (Jan-March 5pm).  Open 7 days a week and only closed on Christmas day and the weekend of the Monaco Grand Prix.

Tickets

Monaco Oceanographic octopusTickets are 16€ for adults (but 2€ off if you show them your train ticket), 10€ for students and children under 18, 7€ for disabled persons, and free for children under 4.  As an option, it’s 6€ extra for the petting pool, where the kids can touch the marine life/shark tank.  To keep your teen occupied, there is an escape room available for 30 or 60 minutes for just under 50€/100€. All tickets can be purchased at the door or online here.

You can get a 2€ discount by showing your same-day TER train ticket.

Or, by a combo ticket for 30€, good for the museum plus a day on the hop on/hop off Monaco tourist bus, Le Grand Tour.

There is also a combo deal that is good for the Oceanographic Museum and a visit to the Classic Car Museum: this combo ticket is 21.50€ for adults, 12€ for students, children under 18, and disabled persons, and 10€ for children between 4-5.

How to see the Oceanographic Museum

Monaco Oceanographic eelSpend 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 2nd floor for the new turtle exhibition.  Then back to the main floor for the ‘petting pool’ if you bought that ticket.  Save the upstairs for last: it has a giant whale skeleton and lots of bones and fish in formaldehyde… and if your feet are just done and you have to skip something, this is the one.

Finally, go up to the rooftop (access by tiny elevator), where there is a play area for children with a climbing whale and giant tortoises, and for the adults, a restaurant with stunning views over Monaco.

Photo credits: Museum exterior by Stanimir Stoyanov, licensed under Creative Commons; aquarium photos by Best of Nice.

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