Things to do in Nice: The 16 Best places to visit and highlights

Are you considering a visit to Nice on your upcoming trip to France? 

This city, situated between the sea and the mountains, holds special significance for me as it is my birthplace and where I spent over two decades of my life. It boasts a multitude of tourist attractions and exciting activities for you to enjoy.

To assist you in planning your stay, I have compiled a comprehensive guide featuring the top attractions and must-see sights in Nice and its surrounding areas.

In addition, I have included itineraries for various durations, such as 1, 2, 3 days, or even a week, allowing you to make the most of your time in Nice. Furthermore, I have curated a list of the finest accommodation options in Nice, tailored to suit your budget.

So, what are the most remarkable experiences to partake in while in Nice? And where would be the ideal places to stay?

Visit Nice: The 16 Must-See Attractions!

1. The Promenade des Anglais

The renowned Promenade des Anglais, also known as the English Promenade, holds such significance in Nice that it is impossible to discuss the city without mentioning it. Originally a favored retreat for English visitors during the winter season, it has now become the most renowned tourist attraction in the city.

Stretching over a distance of 7 kilometers, this globally recognized promenade extends from Castle Hill (La colline du Château) to Nice airport.

If you happen to be visiting Nice for the first time, I highly recommend strolling along the section that meanders from the old town of Nice to the Negresco hotel, passing through Jardin Albert 1er and the Palais de la Méditerranée.

Should you desire to experience the entire Promenade des Anglais, it would be optimal to rent a bicycle or rollerblades for a more enjoyable journey.

2. Enjoy an Italian ice cream

While exploring the charming Old Town of Nice, it would be a delightful opportunity for you to indulge in a classic Italian gelato experience.

I suggest visiting "Azzurro," a gelateria situated on Rossetti Square, which happens to be in close proximity to another ice cream parlor, Fenocchio, that is often frequented by tourists but falls short in terms of quality.

At Azzurro, the emphasis lies on superior ingredients, resulting in a remarkable flavor experience. Additionally, their homemade cones add an extra touch of excellence. Trust me when I say that savoring ice cream is one of my cherished pastimes whenever I return to Nice.

3. Discover the Old Town of Nice

An absolute must-visit in Nice is its captivating old town, boasting shady alleyways, vibrant facades, and charming Mediterranean shutters.

Discussing Nice's Old Town (le Vieux Nice) without mentioning the Cours Saleya would be incomplete. This bustling square hosts the renowned market and flower market nearly every morning, except on Mondays. On Monday mornings, the Cours Saleya transforms into a sprawling open-air flea market. It also offers a plethora of terraces where you can enjoy a refreshing beverage or indulge in a delicious meal.

While exploring the Old Town of Nice, I highly recommend exploring the following attractions:

  • Courthouse Square (Place du Palais de Justice)
  • Rossetti Square (Place Rossetti), home to the splendid Saint Reparata Cathedral and the city's finest ice cream parlor (more details to follow)
  • Saint Francis Square (Place Saint François) with its quaint fish market.
Furthermore, you have the option to access Castle Hill through the Old Town, which I will provide further information about shortly.

4. Nice Castle Hill

The park known as Castle Hill (le parc de la Colline du Château) is situated atop the hill that overlooks the historic district of Nice. Its name is derived from the military fortress that commanded views of Nice Bay from the 11th to the 18th century.

This park is a must-visit for its breathtaking vantage points, offering panoramic views of the city, the Bay of Angels (Baie des Anges), the harbor, and the mountains.

Here are the top five viewpoints at Castle Hill in Nice:

  1. The highest point, providing vistas of the airport and mountains.
  2. Close to the children's playground area, offering views of the harbor and Mont Boron hill.
  3. Bellanda Tower, offering a view over the Bay of Angels.
  4. A belvedere near the elevator exit.
  5. Cascade du Château, an artificial waterfall that remains visually appealing.
You can ascend and descend the hill on foot or use the elevator. I recommend taking the stairs for at least one of the ways, as it allows you to pass by the aforementioned Bellanda Tower lookout.

If you descend on the other side of the hill, I suggest taking a stroll through the castle cemetery, which also provides a beautiful city view. It's particularly delightful to do this towards the end of the day and enjoy the sunset!

5. Have a go at Nice local food

When you visit Nice, part of the experience is discovering the local culinary delights known as "cuisine Niçoise," which fills the inhabitants of Nice, known as niçois, with pride.

Socca: One of the city's most renowned and representative culinary specialties is socca. Made from chickpea flour, you'll find excellent socca in the charming old town of Nice. Ideally, a good socca should have a slightly creamy interior rather than being dry.

Panisse: Another delightful treat crafted from chickpea flour, often prepared by frying it to perfection.

Pissaladière: This can be described as a "pie with onions and anchovies." Don't miss the opportunity to try it during your stay in Nice! It's also available in a version without anchovies.

Salade niçoise: A beloved classic of Nice, this salad features tuna, tomatoes, lettuce, various raw vegetables, anchovies, hard-boiled eggs, and niçoise olives, all dressed in a vinaigrette made with olive oil from Nice (using any other kind would be sinful).

Pan Bagnat: This is a sandwich rendition of the niçoise salad, consisting of tuna and/or anchovies, raw vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, niçoise olives, and olive oil, all served within a round bread.

Farcis niçois (Stuffed vegetables), daube niçoise (Beef stew), and more: In Nice, we adore everything that carries the "Niçois" label, which has led to a Niçoise version of many dishes. They retain the essence of the classics but are somehow even better (probably thanks to the inclusion of "niçoise" olive oil). Well, except for the stew, perhaps, or maybe there are secrets being kept from me!

6. Cimiez neighbourhood

While primarily a residential area, the Cimiez neighborhood may not offer an abundance of shops or restaurants. However, there are several captivating points of interest to explore:

Cimiez Arena Park: A charming park known as "parc des arènes de Cimiez."

The Cimiez Arenas: Situated at the park's entrance, these arenas hold historical significance.

Cimiez Monastery Gardens: Discover the picturesque gardens of the Cimiez Monastery, providing a panoramic view of Nice and the Bay of Angels.

Cimiez Archaeological Museum: Immerse yourself in the museum's collection of Roman ruins and artifacts.

The Henri Matisse Museum: Located within the arenas park, this museum showcases the remarkable works of Henri Matisse.

Marc Chagall National Museum: An esteemed art museum dedicated to the artistry of Marc Chagall.

To reach Cimiez, you can conveniently take bus numbers 5, 33, or 70.

7. Going to the beach in Nice

While Nice beach may appear picturesque in photographs with its large pebbles, it may not necessarily be the most comfortable beach in the world.

When it comes to swimming, the situation is similar. In Nice, the water depth increases rapidly, making it less suitable for activities like snorkeling or water play.

For these reasons, I recommend visiting Villefranche sur Mer or Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. I will provide more information about these cities later in this article.

If you enjoy spending hours sunbathing on the beach, you can opt for one of Nice's private beaches, such as Castel beach (Castel Plage), located at the base of Castle Hill. Other beaches offer opportunities for water sports like parasailing, stand-up paddleboarding, or tubing!

Speaking of water sports, here are the top aquatic activities to enjoy during your trip to Nice.

 8. Nice Carnival

The Nice Carnival, the largest carnival in France and renowned worldwide, occurs annually in February, spanning a period of two weeks.

Each year, this celebration entices hundreds of thousands of spectators who gather to marvel at the grandiose floats and partake in the renowned flower parade, often referred to as the flower "battle," held along the iconic Promenade des Anglais.

9. Nice Russian Orthodox Cathedral

The Nice Russian Orthodox Cathedral, a designated historical monument, holds significant importance as the foremost Orthodox place of worship outside of Russia. Undoubtedly, it rightfully deserves inclusion in this compilation of the best attractions to visit in Nice!

Although it may not align with your initial expectations for Nice, it is still worth exploring, if only to admire the striking contrast between its architecture and the surrounding Mediterranean vegetation, including the palm trees just a stone's throw away!

Visitors also have the opportunity to explore the interior of the cathedral.

You can reach the cathedral on foot or by taking bus number 8.

10. The Nice coastal walk

This lesser-known walk consists of two parts and offers a delightful opportunity to stroll from Nice to Villefranche sur Mer, with the majority of the path running along the coastline.

The first segment commences at Coco Beach and leads you up to Cap de Nice via a series of stairs, enabling you to bypass the cliffs of the Materlinck Palace (Palais Materlink).

The second portion of the coastal path begins with a descent down the stairs at the prominent bend following the Materlinck Palace, eventually leading you to the port of Villefranche Darse.

While the entire walk isn't particularly lengthy, approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours are required if starting from Nice, depending on your chosen starting point. Alternatively, you can opt to undertake just one of the two parts. If you prefer to embark on the second part only, which takes around 30 to 45 minutes, you can conveniently take bus number 100 from Nice harbor and disembark at the "English hospital" stop. The beginning of the coastal walk is a mere 200 meters further on, at the prominent bend.

11. Nice walking tour: From the Promenade des Anglais to Coco Beach

For those interested in exploring Nice by foot, here's an itinerary that encompasses the must-see locations in the city.

Commence your walking tour in Nice Old Town and the vibrant Cours Saleya. Proceed along the iconic Promenade des Anglais, passing by the renowned Negresco Hotel and Villa Massena, which houses the excellent Massena Museum. After covering approximately 300 meters, turn right onto Congrès Street (rue du Congrès). This will lead you to a pedestrian zone, an ideal spot for shopping, grabbing a drink, or dining at one of the many restaurants.

As you reach the end of the street, you will arrive at Place Massena, where the Sun Fountain (Fontaine du Soleil) captivates with its 7-meter high statue of Apollo. On your right, you'll find Jardin Albert 1er, featuring a striking monumental arch spanning 115.5 degrees.

Continue your journey along the Promenade du Paillon, where you'll come across the Nice Water Mirror. This park will guide you directly to Garibaldi Square.

Since it's likely lunchtime by now, I recommend taking a short detour back to Nice Old Town, just steps away, to savor a Niçoise specialty like socca and perhaps indulge in a delicious ice cream from Azzurro on Rossetti Square.

After your meal, return to Garibaldi Square and head towards the Port of Nice via Cassini Street. Circumnavigate the harbor along Quai des Deux Emmanuels and proceed onto Boulevard Franck Pilatte, which will lead you to La Réserve (the beach where Brice de Nice lives, if you're familiar with the movie!), followed by Parc Vigier and Coco Beach, in that order.

From Coco Beach, you can continue your stroll along the coastal path and even reach Villefranche sur Mer. In that case, you'll need to take bus number 100 to return to Nice.

Finally, as the day draws to a close, ascend Nice Castle Hill by either climbing the stairs or using the elevator to relish the enchanting sunset views.

12. Boat trip from Nice

Apart from the Villefranche bay cruise I mentioned earlier, there are several other fantastic boat excursions available from Nice. You can easily book them by clicking on the provided links:

  • Enjoy an evening sea trip on a solar boat.
  • Embark on a boat trip from Nice to St Tropez, where you'll have free time to explore the town.
  • Take a boat tour to the Lerins Islands, including a visit to Sainte-Marguerite Island. Here, you can enjoy a walking tour of the island, swim in the crystal-clear waters, and have a picnic.
  • Opt for a round trip transfer from Nice to Monaco by boat, offering scenic views along the way.
  • Indulge in a 4-hour fishing trip, perfect for fishing enthusiasts.

In addition to these boat tours, there are two other options available that provide a unique opportunity to explore the surroundings of Nice by boat, away from the usual tourist routes.

13. Take a stroll at the Mont Boron

Mount Boron is a lush Mediterranean woodland situated to the east of Nice.

It is also home to the visually captivating Fort Mount Alban, which provides numerous hiking trails offering breathtaking vistas of both the Bay of Angels and the Bay of Villefranche.

A visit to the summit of Mount Alban Fort is highly recommended as the view is truly astonishing! In my opinion, it is the finest location in Nice. Exploring this area is an enriching activity that rewards you with magnificent panoramic views.

To reach Mount Boron, simply hop on city bus number 30 departing from Nice.

14. Go to the Phoenix Park

The Phoenix Park, also known as the "Nice Floral Park," is a botanical and zoological garden situated in the Arenas district near Nice Airport.

Spanning across 7 hectares, this park boasts a remarkable diversity of both flora and fauna, featuring aviaries, marsupials, porcupines, otters, and a beautiful pond.

A major highlight of the park is its expansive greenhouse, housing various tropical climates and showcasing tropical plants, as well as a variety of bird species, including the iconic pink flamingos.

Additionally, the park includes a designated children's playground area, making it an excellent destination for a family outing in Nice.

The entrance fee for the Phoenix Park is 5 euros per person, with discounted rates available for families and students.

To reach the park, simply take Tramway line 2 and disembark at the "Parc Phoenix" station.

15. Visit Nice museums

I have previously mentioned several museums in Nice, particularly in the Cimiez district, but there are numerous others that are definitely worth visiting. Here are my top 5 favorites:

  • MAMAC (Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Nice): Situated near Garibaldi Square, this museum showcases modern and contemporary artworks.
  • Asian Arts Museum: Located adjacent to Phoenix Park, this museum focuses on Asian art and culture.
  • Museum of Art and History of the Massena Palace: Housed in a magnificent "Belle époque" style mansion on the Promenade des Anglais, this museum offers a captivating collection of art and historical artifacts.
  • Palais Lascaris: Situated in Nice's old town, this museum boasts a stunning collection of musical instruments, including some rare and unique pieces.
  • Jules Chéret Fine Arts Museum: Set in the splendid Villa Thompson on Baumettes hill, this museum showcases the works of Jules Chéret and other renowned artists.

As a bonus recommendation for photography enthusiasts, I suggest visiting the Charles Nègre photography museum. Although small in size, it hosts high-quality exhibitions and is conveniently located in Nice's old town.

It's important to note that individual museum admission fees cannot be paid separately in Nice. Instead, you need to purchase the "Nice Museums Pass," which grants access to all municipal museums. The pass is available in two options: a 24-hour pass for 10 euros and a 7-day pass for 20 euros. For more information about the museums included in the Nice Museums Pass, you can visit the official Nice museum website.

Things to do in Nice when it rains

If, by unfortunate chance, you encounter bad weather during your vacation on the French Riviera, I have compiled a list of activities to enjoy in Nice:

  • Explore the museums: Take advantage of the rainy day by visiting one of the many museums in Nice. Check out the recommended ones mentioned earlier in this article and remember to acquire the Nice Museums Pass for convenience.
  • Play bowling: Head over to the spacious Nice Acropolis bowling alley, which also offers arcade video games. It is located at 5 Esplanade Kennedy, 06000 Nice.
  • Go ice skating: Visit the Jean Bouin ice rink near Acropolis and bowling for a delightful gliding session. The same building also houses a swimming pool, and all the necessary equipment can be rented, including gloves.
  • Experience an escape game: Challenge your family or friends to an exciting escape game. Nice has several options, including "I Lock U" and "Fox in a Box," conveniently situated in the city center. It's a fantastic activity to enjoy during inclement weather.
  • Visit Monaco and explore the Oceanographic Museum: Take a trip to Monaco and immerse yourself in the captivating Oceanographic Museum, regarded as one of the finest in the region.
  • Engage in laser tag: Located at the Lingostière shopping center in the Plaine du Var, Nice offers the only laser tag game in the area.
  • Watch a movie: Relax and catch a film at one of the three cinemas in Nice city center: Pathé Masséna, Pathé Paris, and Varieties. The first two are situated on Avenue Jean Médecin, while the third can be found on Avenue Victor Hugo.
  • Try virtual reality gaming: Make the most of the rainy weather by experiencing virtual reality at the Game Over VR playground located at 14 boulevard de Riquier, 06300 Nice.
  • Enjoy the fair: If you find yourself in Nice in December, take advantage of Luna Park, a temporary amusement park. As a significant portion of the attractions is indoors within the Palais des Expositions exhibition center, it's an excellent activity to enjoy during rainy days in Nice.

Things to do around Nice

If you're planning a trip to Nice, I highly recommend exploring the surrounding areas as they are filled with stunning places to discover. Here are some of my favorite places to visit near Nice:

Villefranche-sur-Mer: A charming Mediterranean town. Make sure to visit the Villefranche Old Town, the picturesque darse (port), and most importantly, the Citadel St. Elmo (Citadelle Saint-Elme), also known as the Villefranche Citadel.

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat: The peninsula of billionaires, known for its extravagant villas like the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. Don't miss the coastal walk along Cap Ferrat, starting from the "Passable" beach, and take a swim in one of the beautiful little coves along the way!

Eze village: A small village perched above the sea, recognized as one of the most beautiful villages in France. Don't forget to visit the exotic garden of Eze.

Menton: A charming town located on the Italian border, renowned for its lemon festival and sunny climate. Explore the pretty old town of Menton.

Antibes: Famous for its Square Fortress (Fort Carré), a 16th-century military fort by the sea. The old town of Antibes is also worth a visit, with excellent restaurants. Don't miss the Cap d'Antibes tour and its magnificent residences.

Cannes: The city famous for hosting the renowned film festival each year. Take a stroll along the iconic "Croisette" and visit the Lerins Islands.

The Principality of Monaco: Known for its luxurious lifestyle. Explore the Palace located on Le Rocher, the Casino de Monte-Carlo, the Oceanographic Museum, and if you're interested in beautiful cars, Prince Rainier III's vintage car collection. Check out my guide on Monaco for more details: "The 25 best things to do in Monaco."

Beautiful villages to explore near Nice: Peille, Saint Agnès (the highest perched village on the coast), Coaraze with its sundials, and the ruins of Châteauneuf-Villevieille.

Enjoy a boat trip to admire Nice and the Bay of Villefranche from the sea. Make sure to book your boat trip in advance.

Discover the wineries around Nice and savor excellent wines from the PACA region. You can find a list of wineries offering visits near Nice on this website.

If you want to experience the best of the French Riviera in one day, including Eze, Monaco, Antibes, and Cannes, consider joining an organized day trip.

What to do in Nice for a day

If you have limited time and only one day to explore Nice, I suggest taking a walking tour using the itinerary I provided in my previous response. Nice is a compact city, making it ideal for exploring on foot.

If you prefer a more relaxed afternoon, you can consider the following options:
  • Head to the beach and enjoy some leisure time by the sea.
  • Visit museums in the city center, such as MAMAC (Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art), Palais Lascaris, or the photography museum, which are conveniently located close to each other.
If you opt to visit museums, I recommend starting your day with a visit to the Masséna Museum, as it is along the way.

Regardless of the itinerary you choose, make sure to end your day by visiting the Castle Hill. It's an absolute must-see in Nice and offers breathtaking views that you won't want to miss.

What to do in Nice for 2 days

With two days in Nice, you'll have ample time to explore the surrounding areas. In addition to the itinerary provided for the first day, here's another lesser-known route that I highly recommend:

Begin your morning by embarking on the coastal path, which stretches from Nice to Villefranche-sur-Mer. It offers a scenic and captivating walk along the waterfront.

Once you arrive in Villefranche-sur-Mer, take the opportunity to explore its charming old town, picturesque port, beautiful beach, and the impressive St-Elmo Citadel. Don't miss the intriguing mini-museums available within the citadel.

For lunch, you can savor a delightful meal at one of the seaside restaurants or in the heart of the old town.

Next, make your way up the hill of Mont Boron, a stunning pine forest that provides breathtaking panoramic views of Nice on one side and the Bay of Villefranche on the other.

From Villefranche-sur-Mer, head towards "l'escalier de verre" (Glass stairs is just a name, it's not made of glass!) located approximately a 15-minute walk away. Then proceed to the Fort of Mont Alban, where you can enjoy an impressive vista overlooking the Bay of Villefranche. Afterward, return to the southern part of Mont Boron, which offers sweeping views of Nice.

To return to Nice, you have the option of walking downhill, which takes around 30 to 45 minutes, or taking bus 30 from the Plateau du Mont Boron.

What to do in Nice for 3 days

In addition to the previous two days, spending three days in Nice allows for an unforgettable excursion to the surrounding areas. This superb itinerary will take you from Eze village to Monaco, passing through Menton. It's advisable to wear sturdy shoes, as the paths can be rocky.

Begin by taking bus 82 from Nice to Eze village.
Explore the magnificent perched village and enjoy a visit to the exotic garden of Eze.
To descend to sea level, follow the Nietzsche Trail, which offers breathtaking views of the sea and the neighboring towns. It will lead you to Eze Beach.
Next, take bus number 100 of the "lignes d'Azur" to Menton.
Discover the charm of the old town and take some time to enjoy a delicious meal.
Afterward, walk along the seaside trail around Cap Martin.
Continue your journey with the Promenade Le Corbusier, which will guide you from Roquebrune to Monaco.
Explore Monaco and its attractions. To conclude the day, take bus number 100 from Monaco bus station back to Nice.

It's another eventful day exploring the beautiful surroundings of Nice!

A week in Nice

Having a whole week in Nice is truly fortunate! You'll have ample time to explore numerous attractions in and around Nice. In addition to the previous itineraries, here's a suggested plan:

Day 4: To enjoy a more relaxed day, head to the tranquil Hill of Cimiez in the morning. Explore the park and visit the museums in the area. In the afternoon, unwind at the beach in Nice, take another leisurely stroll in Nice Old Town, sip a refreshing drink at Cours Saleya, or indulge in some shopping on Avenue Jean Medecin.

Day 5: Take either bus 200 or a train from Nice to Antibes. Discover the impressive Fort Carré, explore the charming old town, and venture to the scenic Cap d'Antibes. Take advantage of the opportunity to swim and make it a memorable day.

Day 6: Embark on a day trip to Cannes, using either bus 200 or the train. While in Cannes, visit the iconic Fort Carré and wander through the enchanting old town. Enhance your experience by taking a boat excursion to the stunning Lérins Islands.

Day 7: Hop on bus 15 from Nice to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. Take a delightful tour of the Cap, either in part or in its entirety. Most importantly, relax and unwind at one of the secluded coves, such as the beach of Passable or Les Fosses.

With a week in Nice, you'll have the opportunity to enjoy a diverse range of experiences and create lasting memories.

Where to stay in Nice?

Ozz Hotel by Happyculture: Situated a short 15-minute walk from the beach, this hotel offers a pleasant atmosphere with friendly staff, an excellent location, and comfortable beds. Dormitory accommodations are available for just 20€ per night, while double rooms start at 55€. It's the ideal budget-friendly hostel for a stay in Nice.

Brice Garden Hotel: Located in the heart of Nice, a mere 5-minute walk from the beach and Promenade des Anglais, this hotel boasts well-furnished and clean rooms starting from 80€ per night. The value for money is exceptional, and the staff is welcoming and friendly. For those seeking accommodation in the city center, this is the top choice. Early booking is recommended due to high demand.

Le Saint Paul Hotel: Nestled in a tranquil area just 50 meters from Nice harbor, this hotel offers a breathtaking sea view and spacious, luminous rooms starting from 95€ per night. Guests can enjoy a buffet breakfast for an additional 12€, and the added perk of free private parking. Personally, it is my favorite choice in Nice.

Le Royal Promenade des Anglais Hotel: Positioned directly on the historic Promenade des Anglais, this hotel occupies a distinguished building. Its prestigious rooms are tastefully decorated in a classic style, exuding brightness. Prices start at 135€ per night, and a breakfast option is available for 15€.

Negresco Hotel: As the pinnacle of luxury in Nice, this exceptional hotel is located on the Promenade des Anglais. The rooms are truly magnificent, offering stunning views, while the staff is renowned for their professionalism and attentiveness. Additionally, the hotel features one of the finest restaurants in town. For a truly lavish experience, the Negresco Hotel is the ultimate choice in Nice.

Previous Post Next Post

Contact Form