Last updated on November 6th, 2018 at 11:12 pm
As a city with the 5th largest population in France, Nice is one of the most touristic places in France. Many actually end up living in this culturally diverse destination. We discovered that apart from the abundance of beautiful places to visit in Nice, the warmth of summer is nothing compared to the warmth of the people as they welcome tourists from all over the world. After all, Nice has been a tourist hotspot literally for centuries, but has magically maintained its charm and unique vibe, and there are many things to do in Nice that we will share with you in this post. There are also day trips from Nice to beautiful places like Montecarlo and Menton.
Nice is the perfect place to visit for those who enjoy coastal destinations, have equal love for France and Italy, are obsessed with art and have a hunger for incredibly fresh and delicious food. The city is the capital of the Alpes-Maritimes and is located in the southeast coast of France in the French Riviera. Nice is blessed by the sea and is one of the best places to experience all the fine things the Mediterranean has to offer. And if you want to discover more about the Mediterranean. Check our things to do in Mykonos, an amazing island in Greece.
Read here if you are heading to Paris after Nice!
We loved our stay in this part of France so much that’s why we made this Nice travel guide to help you out if you ever decide to visit this one-of-a-kind French city. Enjoy!
How to get to Nice
There are many direct flights to and from Nice not just for travelers to Paris but from other important European cities, New York, Canada, even North Africa and the Middle East. In fact, the Nice Airport is one of the busiest in the country. A flight from NYC to Nice lasts around 8 hours while coming from Paris only takes an hour and 30 minutes, there are cheap flight destiantions as Malta. Check SkyScanner.com to get the best airfare deals before you travel to Nice.
How to get to Nice from the airport
There is a shuttle going from the airport to Nice costing €6 for a 15-20 minutes ride. You can also hop on local bus routes for an affordable price of €1.50, on bus #70, #99, #23, #52 and #59 that will drive you to the city center. There is also an airport express bus which connects Nice with the airport for €6.
Another excellent option to arrive in Nice is through the train. Nice’s central train station is called Gare Nice Ville and is located at the Marseille–Ventimiglia railway. A direct TGV (high-speed) train from Paris to Nice travels for 6 hours and costs around €100. On the other hand, Trenitalia connects Nice to Milan, Rome and Venice. If you’re coming from Moscow, there are trains that run every week to Nice with stopovers in Minsk, Warsaw and Vienna. The trip from Moscow lasts almost 48 hours and may cost around €300.
The famous Eurolines, France’s own Lignes Express Regionaux (LER) and the modern company Ouibus have trips from Marseille, Toulon and Aix-en-Provence to Nice that typically lasts 3 hours. Traveling from Marseille to Nice can go for as low as €8 on the bus. If you are visiting Nice on a budget the best way to get to Nice will be by bus like we did coming from Marseille.
If you decide to do day trips from Nice, the bus #100 is perfect to go to Montecarlo in Mónaco. Just like that, you’ll be visiting another country in a 30-minute bus ride. You can also visit Menton with the same bus in a 45-minute ride. Tickets for bus #100 to Montecarlo and Menton cost only €1.50 and the views on the way are amazing!
Since Nice is a coastal destination, you can also travel on a ferry from the island of Corsica, Calvi and Ile Rousse. You can also rent one from your point of origin and take it for a weekend to Nice. Just make sure to call the port in advance to reserve a spot for your boat. Reservations are also necessary when taking the ferry.
If you’re coming from Aix-en-Provence or Cannes in the west, you can take the A8 autoroute to reach Nice. The same route is also used when traveling from Italy. On the other hand, those traveling from the east can take the route going to Nice from Menton. Either way, there are many panoramic views to see when traveling to Nice.
Transportation around Nice
Nice has a highly effective and cost efficient local bus network called Lignes d’Azur. It has several routes that go all around the city and is frequently used by locals going to and from work and school. Tourists often take the Transport Alpes-Maritimes (TAM) as it takes passengers around the Eastern Riviera from Cannes to Menton, crossing over main villages like Èze and Vence.
These two bus networks overlap around Nice and rides for both cost €1.50 for any distance. Lignes d’Azur tickets are accepted in TAM buses and vice versa. You can also purchase a multi-10 ticket – that means €10 for 10 journeys that can even be shared between several persons. It will definitely be worth the time and effort to research and ask the information center about bus routes in the city. Most buses in Nice only run until 8 PM except for the Noctambus, the city’s night buses that offer services from 9:10 PM to 1:10 AM. The TAM’s 100 line also has several buses throughout the night. There is a tramway to move around Nice that is quite convenient for traveling to and from the city center.
While the bus is a much cheaper way to travel, this also means that they can be pretty crowded and slow. You might even have to stand during an entire trip during rush hour, and that could really take a while. If you have extra money that you wouldn’t mind spending on transportation, you can take the train. The SCNF rail service connects all major coastal towns. You can get to Nice from Cannes for only €5, while travelers from other destinations like Ventimiglia and Monaco can also go to the city by train.
While taking a cab can be expensive, it is sometimes unavoidable. Still, there are ways to make sure that you will get a fair and honest price when riding a taxi. Just keep in mind that destinations in Nice don’t go for over €20 and a ride to the airport has a fixed rate of €35. You can also go to Cannes or Monaco for around €70 while a trip to St. Tropez can reach up to €250.
A great option to move around Nice is renting a bicycle. You can even get a guided bike tour for €15 lasting half an hour around the city. They will ride with you and will wait while you are taking pictures around the landmarks in Nice.
Best time to visit Nice
One thing that makes Nice the perfect escape in Europe is its Mediterranean weather. In fact, aristocratic families of England since the 18th century choose to spend their winters in Nice. While Nice is a year-round destination with its moderate rainfall and mild winters, we believe the best time to visit Nice is in September to October. Most tourists have already left the city during this time and the weather starts getting cooler, though warm enough to still stay at the beach all day. The end of September signals the coming of autumn and this is also the time when hotel rates start to drop. Click here to check accurate weather reports on Nice with AccuWeather.com.
ATMs & Currency in Nice
The city of Nice, like most European cities, uses the euro as its currency. It’s a very powerful currency, where €1 = $1.16 USD. Click here to check the exchange rate between euro and your own currency. You’ll be pleased to know that ATMs abound in Nice. They can be found at the airport and the train station and even on the corner of every second street. How cool is that? Amex, Mastercard and Visa are widely used in Nice.
Daily Budget to visit Nice
While many may think traveling to Nice can be costly, there are many ways to adjust your budget to explore this coastal city. I’m sure you’ll find the best deals for you like we did. You can get a decent meal in a budget restaurant for €15 or less, while a mid-range place goes for around €30-60. If you’re in Nice for a special gastronomical adventure, expect to pay €65-100. Finally, a bottle of beer can be bought for €3-7. If you are a coffee lover like Rachel you can have espresso and crepes starting around €1-3.
When going around Nice, €15 is enough budget for a week of using public transportation, depending on what places to visit in Nice you choose. For those visiting Nice’s municipal museums, you can get a one-week ticket for only €20 while treating yourself to a show at Opéra de Nice may cost around €20.
One other thing to consider for your budget is your accommodation. Fortunately, options are unlimited when visiting Nice. There are nice hostels, inns and budget hotels that go for €15-50. On the other hand, €60-80 means spacious apartments and comfortable hotel rooms. Between €90 and €300, you can find luxurious suites all around Nice. For those who want to stay at a cheap yet very comfortable private apartment, you can try AirBnB in Nice. There are places with spacious rooms and nice views that go for as low as €40. Click here to get €30 off your first booking with AirBnB.
Things to do in Nice
Walk around the Promenade des Anglais
One of the most famous spots in Nice is Promenade des Anglais, the coastal promenade that stretches 7 km on the city’s gorgeous seafront. The landmark got its name from the English expats and aristocrats who frequented the island and had it made in 1822. Today, Promenade des Anglais is a great place to walk, bike or skate around. It has many attractions, bars and restaurants, and offers the best views in the entire city.
See Place Massena
Located in Vieux Nice, the city’s historic quarter, is Place Massena. It is the largest square in the quarter and is loved by visitors for all the shops, street performances, jazz festivals and the rich history that Place Massena has to offer. If you’re visiting Place Massena at night, watch out for the lights in the statues representing the 7 continents as they change in color. Placa Massena is located near Jardin Albert I and Opera de Nice.
Go up Castle Hill
Castle Hill can be found at 93 m above sea level in Vieux Nice and is the site of the ruins of Chateau de Nice. It is one of the best places to visit in Nice because of the panoramic views of Promenade des Anglais, Bais des Anges, Port de Nice and the entire city in general. Climbing the stairs takes 10-15 minutes only but there is also the option of going on the lift for free.
Explore Vieille Ville
Found at the foot of Castle Hill is Vielle Ville, a historic part of Nice with a medieval vibe. Strong Italian influences are felt all over Nice’s Old Town as it used to belong to the Kingdom of Savoy before being part of France in 1860. Vieille Ville is where you’ll find famous spots like Place Rossetti, Cathedrale Sainte-Reparate, and the Cours Saleya Markets.
Visit Cathedrale Sainte-Reparate
The oldest and most ornate cathedral in Nice is Cathedrale Sainte-Reparate, a church that contains many artefacts of Saint Reparata, a 15-year-old Palestinian martyr. The cathedral has gone through many changes throughout the centuries, with Baroque and Latin styles incorporated in its construction. There are 10 chapels inside dedicated to other saints, so to visit Cathedrale Sainte-Reparate is sure to be a worthwhile experience.
Sunset at Promenade des Anglais Point of view
The view of Nice is perfect from this point of view. At the end of the beach you have to climb up a few stairs for 5 minutes and you will enjoy a cool sunset. It´s not too crowded and perfect to take shots of the dusk falling.
Shop at Cours Saleya Markets
No place in Vieille Ville is as vibrant and as integral to its identity as the Cours Saleya Markets. Cours Saleya is a square with an adjoining promenade filled with lively and colorful open-air markets. All things Mediterranean are sold here daily from the famous Marché aux Fleur (Flower Market) and the Marché aux Fruits et Légumes (Fruit and Vegetable Market), and the Marché a la Brocante (Flea Market) on Mondays.
Visit museums in Cimiez
One of the trendiest, historically-rich neighborhoods in Nice is Cimiez. It is home to two prestigious museums in the city, Musée National Marc Chagall and Musée Matisse, making it a hotspot for art enthusiasts from all over the world. Musée Archéologique de Nice-Cimiez can also be found here. Cimiez is one of the aristocrats’ top picks for the warm weather and its naturally elegant ambiance.
Do coastal walks in Nice
The French Riviera is among the most beautiful coastal destinations in the world. It is no wonder that coastal walks are one of the best things to do in Nice. You can explore Promenade des Anglais on a lovely afternoon or walk from the port of Nice to Villefranche at Sentier du Littoral.
Visit Parc Phoenix
A famous botanical garden and zoo in Nice is Parc Phoenix, a 5-hectare park located just in front of the city’s airport. The entrance is only €5 for adults and free for children below 12 years old. Here, you will see some tropical plants, a nice greenhouse, dancing fountains, an aquarium, a bar and many more. Parc Phoenix is open daily from 9:30 AM-7:30 PM and can be reached through local buses or tramline #2.
Go to the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain
The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (also known as MAMAC) is a landmark in Nice that opened in 1990 and is found near the Place Garibaldi. The museum boasts collections of European artists like Gérard Deschamps and Arman, as well as American artists like Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol.
Visit the Musée Matisse
Open between Wednesday and Monday, Musée Matisse in Arenes de Cimiez is one the best places to visit in Nice. Matisse is one of the most well-known French painters in the world and he lived and worked in Nice from 1917 to 1954. For €10, you can see the artist’s collection in the museum that’s composed of donations by Matisse himself and his heirs. There are numerous paintings, drawings, prints, illustrated books, photos, prints and personal belongings that can be found in this spectacular museum.
More things to do in Nice
Tour the Cathédrale Orthodoxe Saint-Nicolas de Nice
The largest Eastern Orthodox cathedral in Western Europe can be found in Nice. Saint Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral was only recently transferred to the Russian State but was originally built for Tsar Aleksandr II and the Russian community residing in Nice. The tsar of Russia who fell in love with Nice’s beautiful climate later on passed away in the French city. The iconic onion domes of Russian architecture can be seen in this unique destination in Nice.
See the music collection in Palais Lascaris
What used to be the home of the Lascaris-Vintimille family has been restored and turned into a Musée de France that features art and music from the 17th and 18th century. Palais Lascaris is an aristocratic civil baroque palace that is home to over 500 musical instruments. This is one of the perfect places to visit in Nice for classical music lovers as they can see some rare baroque guitars, saxophones made by Adolphe Sax and some 18th century records, among other things. It is open daily except on Tuesdays, between 11 AM and 6 PM. Admission is free!
Take a hike at Parc du Mont Boron
You surely won’t run out of fun things to do in Nice as this coastal destination is also home to a hilltop forest called Parc du Mont Boron. It is a picnic area that has 11 km of marked hiking trails, exercise circuits and, of course, it’s very own castle. Parc du Mont Boron is 190m high and overlooks Nice and Villefranche-Sur-Mer. From Fort Alban, you can also see the Cap Ferrat peninsula and the Esterel mountains. It is the ideal break from Nice’s beaches and can be easily reached on bus #14.
Visit Cap Ferrat
With gorgeous views of Plateau Saint-Michel, Cap Ferrat is a cape in southeastern France with beautiful villas owned by people who fell in love with the French Riviera. In fact, Cap Ferrat was named the second-most expensive residential area in the world right after Monaco. Here, you can see homes built for the comedian Charlie Chaplin, the writer Somerset Maugham and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
Go on a day trip to Montecarlo
Another day trip from Nice that you cant miss is Montecarlo. It’s only 30 minutes from Nice via bus #100 for €1.50. We took the stop at Menton, the final destination, and enjoyed the coast and waterfront views. You can go by train and by bus #100 Menton final destination for €1.50 as we did and enjoy the coast and beaches views. Montecarlo is quiet and it has a few things to do. And you will add one more country to your collection as we did even it was anecdotic staying for a few hours in Monaco.
Since walking around the port and go up to get amazing views of the city to relax in the beach. There are a few landmarks, churches, Oceanographic Museum depending on the time that you have in the city. In the city center there are a few restaurants close to the port.
Go on a day trip to Menton
The city of Menton is a small area located right by the Italian border and has charming pastel-colored buildings and gorgeous coastal views. It was originally part of Monaco when the city was bought by Prince Charles Grimaldi. Menton was known as a health resort frequented by the British who just can’t get enough of the sunshine. Going through it’s narrow, cobbled streets you’ll find Menton’s Old Town, Basilica St. Michel, some museums, a casino, a garden, a 2-star Michelin restaurant called Mirazur, and several beaches.
Menton is also known for its lemon. You can buy limoncello, a soap made from lemon peel and lemon-infused olive oil, or attend their Lemon Festival from February to March. You can reach Menton from Nice through bus #100 for €1.50 or through the train for €4. Menton Station is the last stop before reaching Italy.
If you have more time and you can do overnight, there are nice beaches to walk around, and enjoy the sunsets. A casino for gambling at the end of the day and restaurants to try best local food!
Where to stay in Menton
We recommended a day trip to Menton but if you can spend a couple of days as we had the chance you will love it so much! We found a beautiful and peaceful town and our choice for staying was Quality Hotel Menton Méditerranée well located, clean and friendly staff. The rooftop is perfect for a drink at the sunset while watching the views of the town. Great option to have dinner in the restaurant and you can check our pictures below:
Beaches in Nice
A nice destination within walking distance to the center of Nice is La Reserve, a public beach that’s filled with locals. One of the best features of La Reserve is its diving board that many teenagers enjoy jumping from, even though it is technically not allowed. La Reserve is a small pebble beach that can get pretty crowded but is definitely a must-see. Make sure to bring your own food to enjoy an entire day at La Reserve.
Another small and pebbly but accessible and public beach in Nice is Coco Beach. The area is famous its crystal clear waters. In the summer months, waves are quite strong but there’s a lifeguard available on the beach. Some days Coco Beach can be crowded as hell but on luckier days, you can have it all to yourself. Coco Beach is right next La Reserve.
Located at Baie des Anges, Castel Plage is the furthermost private beach in the area and is said to be the best one in Nice. There are comfortable loungers where you can eat, relax and just enjoy the view. The elegant restaurant in Castel Plage serves delicious food and has great service, as well. Castel Plage is one of the best places to visit in Nice, for sure.
Located right in front of Ruhl Casino and Le Méridien Hotel, Ruhl Plage is one of the oldest and most famous beaches in Nice. This private beach is a great destination for families as it has a swimming pool right by the sea and a lifeguard. Ruhl Plage was established in the 1920s, has very relaxing loungers and is home to a beachfront restaurant.
Riding the bus #81 for 25 minutes, you will reach an area with much finer pebbles that has two private beaches and a public beach. Beaulieu-Sur-Mer is also very attractive because of its calm waters as it is protected by a cove. It also has a quieter atmosphere compared to the more famous Nice beaches but the waters are just as excellent at Beaulieu-Sur-Mer.
Considered the oldest beach club in Nice as it dates back to the 1800s, it has now become an overlooked and underrated destination in the city. Opera Plage is a rocky beach with a nice restaurant, comfy sunbeds and parasols for €17, and is just a lovely place to spend the day.
Though not exactly in Nice, Villefranche-sur-mer (or Villefranche Plage) is only 20 minutes away from the city on the bus #81 or 100. Once you stop at Octroi, you’ll see a great spot perfect for those looking for a sandier beach, where pebbles are much smaller but not as fine as sand that gets stuck to you and your stuff wherever you go. There’s a famous ice cream kiosk and some restaurants right across the beach.
Another beach that isn’t technically in Nice but is only a 45-minute bus ride away is Plage Mala in Cap d’Ail. Located in Menton, the beach is the last stop before Monaco and is a really gorgeous destination and can be considered a hidden gem in the French Riviera. Plage Mala can be reached through a steep descent on some stairs but is totally worth it. Like the beach in Villefranche, the “sand” in Plage Mala has a great texture and is the perfect place for a picnic.
Food to try in Nice
The quintessential food in Nice is a simple savory pancake called socca, which is made chickpea, cooked with olive oil and can be charcoal-grilled or cooked in a wooden oven. Its thin crust and soft interior make it the perfect snack for children and a great beer match for adults.
Eat Salade Niçoise
Now a world-famous dish served in many restaurants all over the world, Salade Niçoise is another definitive dish in the city. The salad is made with tomatoes, black olives, radish, onion, artichokes tuna, anchovies and hard boiled egg along with olive oil. Salade Niçoise is a very filling meal in itself while another famous dish called Le Pan Bagnat is basically a sandwich version of the salad.
Want to eat a pizza that’s not really a pizza? Then don’t miss out on eating pissaladière, a local delicacy that’s also similar to a tart made from a focaccia-like dough with onion, garlic, anchovies and olives as its toppings. This delicious dish can be bought from boulangeries, or French-style bakeries.
Enjoy Ratatouille, a Nice original
Ratatouille is a well-known French dish made with a mixture of herbs and vegetables that actually originated in Nice. Ratatouille is usually cooked using eggplant, zucchini, carrot, tomato, garlic, onion, thyme, bay leaves and marjoram, and is the perfect side dish for veal or chicken.
The perfect summer drink, Rosé is a popular wine in Provence and can be found in all restaurants and bars in Nice. There are plenty of inexpensive local rosé that will surely fit your budget, while some of the best rosé wine in the world is Vin de Bellet that is produced in Nice itself.
Enjoy the seafood dishes of Nice
Your trip to Nice will not be complete without sampling the seafood the city has to offer. As a coastal destination, you will find all sorts of seafood dishes in restaurants, with many places specializing in sea urchin and oyster.
Where to stay in Nice
Our choice for our visit was Hotel Florence Nice. The location is great and you can do almost all the things to do in Nice that we are recommending in this post in 10-15 minutes walking distance from the hotel. Prices for a night are around €100 with a great breakfast included. If you have the opportunity to get a room with a balcony you will have the opportunity to enjoy sunset and sunrise in a quiet and perfect spot in Nice. There is a bar open 24 hours where you can get a drink or having your free coffee!
Check out our pictures in Hotel Florence Nice:
Festivals in Nice
Carnaval de Nice
Nice’s Mardi Gras carnival attracts millions of visitors every year as this 2-week celebration is one of the major carnivals all over the world. During this time in February, the city’s streets are filled with wonderful floats and figurines made with papier-mâché that follow a different theme every year.
Fête de la Musique
A spectacular and FREE event in Nice is Fête de la Musique, a summer solstice event that celebrates all genres of music with performances by folk bands, classical musicians, DJs and all other musicians you can think of. The French Ministry for Culture started the festival in 1982 and since then, June 21 has been officially referred to everywhere else as World Music Day. Attending this event is definitely one of the most memorable things to do in Nice.
One of the most important happenings in Nice is the Ironman triathlon, an annual swim, bike and run event. This world-famous race is a test of endurance and strength that attracts thousands of participants from all over the globe. The event begins at the Prom in the crack of dawn at 6 AM and usually ends at around 3 PM. Nice is known to be the “cradle of the European triathlon,” so witnessing (or even joining!) this event in June is sure to be a unique experience.
There you have it. That’s our full Nice travel guide for those who want to travel to this fantastic city in France. Nice is an exciting destination with a one-of-a-kind vibe, gorgeous seascapes and interesting culture.
Want to learn more about our Eurotrip? Check out our other travel guides to beautiful places like Lisbon, Madrid, Ibiza and Algarve. Watch out for our next destinations, Malta and Greece! Let us know what you think about this guide. Did we miss anything you love about Nice? Leave a comment below!