2 Days in Nice Itinerary: Top things to do
What to do in Nice? What to see in the surroundings? I’ll tell you in this complete guide all the things to do and see as well as the must-see sites not to be missed to visit Nice in 1 day, 2 days or during a long weekend.
This guide, which I wanted to be as complete as possible, presents all the sites to see and things to do in Nice during a day, a weekend or a stay of several days. This represents a lot of information and the article is quite long (it’s even the biggest I’ve written on the blog). The idea is therefore to draw from the different activities to compose your own visit itinerary. The summary will be useful for you to navigate more easily in the article.
French Riviera Pass
The Nice Côte d’Azur Metropolitan Tourist Office has created the French Riviera Pass. This city card allows you to discover the most important tourist sites and activities in Nice and the Côte d’Azur. There are 3 cards with or without transport included: French Riviera Pass 24h (26 / 30 €), 48h (38 / 46 €) and 72h (56 / 68 €).
If you only have one day to visit Nice and you don’t plan to see museums or do paid activities, it’s not worth taking this city card. You will see that in the long list of things to do in Nice that I mention below, almost everything is free.
Day 1: Old Nice
The old town is the historic heart of Nice. It is the oldest and most typical district, where most of the tourists are found, but also the people of Nice who like to enjoy the cafes, bars, restaurants and shops of Old Nice. I could write a whole article as there are so many things to say, but I will try to show you the essential things to see, especially if you only have one day to visit Nice. In this case, make the old town one of your priorities. Vieux-Nice is also a very nice area to stay in Nice.
This street, which crosses Old Nice parallel to the sea, is one of the most important arteries of the old town. In addition to many restaurants (mostly touristy), it hosts the food and flower market every morning (except Monday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. when the market gives way to second-hand goods dealers). It’s a nice sight if you like to walk around the markets, all the fruits are neatly arranged and displayed under colorful tents, it’s very photogenic. On the other hand, most of the people of Nice do not do their shopping on the Cours Saleya because the prices are quite high (prefer the Liberation market).
The Cours Saleya is a very popular place to go out in Nice and especially to have a drink on the terrace. Among the places I like to have a beer, there is “Le Bateleur” at n°12 and “AKATHOR” at n°32.
At Place Pierre Gautier located halfway up the Cours Saleya, you will face the Prefectural Palace, now the residence of the Prefect. This palace, which dates from the 16th century, belonged to the Dukes of Savoy. It was then the royal residence of the kings of Piedmont-Sardinia until the attachment of the County of Nice to France in 1860. It is from this date that the prefecture of the Alpes-Maritimes was installed there (today it is located in Nice West). The prefectural palace can only be visited during Heritage Days in September. I had the opportunity to go there and the interior is worth a look if you ever come to visit Nice at this time.
Chapel of Mercy
At the corner of Place Pierre Gautier and Cours Saleya is the Chapel of Mercy (known as the Black Penitents). It is considered one of the ten most beautiful Baroque buildings in the world. The chapel with its yellow façade is only open the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month from 2.30 to 5 pm. Visiting the chapel is free, but you have to pay €2 to visit the sacristy.
Narrow streets of Old Nice
After getting your fill of colors and smells at the market, leave the hustle and bustle of the Cours Saleya to enter the alleys that make up the heart of Old Nice. I advise you to leave the shopping streets where the majority of tourists are concentrated to survey the top of the old town at the foot of the hill of the castle. It is in these alleys that you will find calm, in the shade of beautiful colorful facades, flower pots and laundry drying in the sun.
Pass by the rue de l’Ancien Sénat to see the last laundry in Old Nice, where in the past the women of Nice came to wash their clothes. If you are attentive you will see at the corner of rue Colonna d’Istria / rue de l’Abbaye and rue Droite / rue de la Loge, a cannonball fixed on the facade. These balls were fired by the Turkish fleet allied to the King of France François I during the siege of Nice in 1543.
The straight street that crosses the old town is home to several art galleries and the Palais Lascaris. This former 17th century aristocratic residence in the Baroque style is the best preserved in the city. It has been restored and converted into a museum of old musical instruments. I strongly advise you to pay a visit, more to admire this magnificent residence than for the collections themselves. The museum palace is open every day (except Tuesdays) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is €5 (free for residents of the Nice Côte d’Azur Metropolis).
St. Francis Square
Heading north from Vieux-Nice just before arriving at Garibaldi beach, you will pass by Place Saint-François. This is where the fish market has taken place every morning since 1930 (except Mondays) around the dolphin fountain. This is an opportunity to get to know Micheline, the emblematic local fishmonger in her 100% nissart style! Place Saint-François is bordered by the old Hôtel-de-Ville, a Baroque-style communal palace built in the 16th century and listed as a historical monument. Just next to the palace, the Franciscan church in the process of rehabilitation (archaeological excavations have brought to light elements dating from the 13th centurycentury) will become the new theater of Nice.
Place Rossetti and Sainte-Réparate cathedral
You cannot visit Nice and the old town without going through Place Rossetti, the most picturesque place in Old Nice. Bordered by ocher and yellow facades and decorated with a fountain, it is one of the liveliest places thanks to the presence of numerous ice cream parlors and restaurants. The party is not in full swing in the photos, but I took them at the end of October, which explains the calm compared to summer (and the shade in the alleys).
Place Rossetti is next to the Sainte-Réparate cathedral, the patron saint of Nice (celebrated every year on October 8). Its construction began in 1650, then several elements were added over the centuries (such as the campanile). It is classified as a historical monument with its Baroque style interior and exterior. Sainte-Réparate Cathedral is open from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. from Tuesday to Sunday.
St. Francis Tower
The Saint-François tower is part of the landscape of Old Nice, you see it especially when you are on the side of the Promenade du Paillon. It was built in the 13th century as the bell tower of the Church and of the Franciscan convent, before becoming a clock tower after the Revolution. Since 2019, an internal helicoidal staircase of 288 steps has been used to climb the 50 m to its summit. From the top the 360° view of Nice is magnificent, it is one of my favorites with those of the castle.
The Saint-François tower is only open on Saturdays and Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. (last climb 30 min before). During the summer period, access is also possible on Fridays from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Price: €6 (reduced €2.50), payment by credit card only. Access is from rue de la Tour behind place Saint-François.
I’ll give you a tip if the tower is closed during your visit to Nice, or if you don’t want to climb all the steps. From the rooftop of the Hôtel Aston located at 12 bd Félix Faure, you will have a similar view for free (provided you have a drink on the terrace anyway).
Place du Palais and surroundings
Panoramic view of Nice from the Saint-François tower
Place du Palais and surroundings
Place du Palais, which takes its name from the Palais de Justice, is the largest square in Old Nice. It is bordered by the Rusca Palace built in 1775 and the Clock Tower destroyed and rebuilt several times (the current version dates from 1718). Those who knew the Place du Palais with the fountain will be surprised to see that it was demolished in 2021 to be replaced by a sculpture of a metal olive tree. Every Saturday a market is held on the square where you can unearth old books, original works, rare editions and postcards.
Rue Saint-Francois de Paule
Not far from the Place du Palais, rue Saint-François de Paule is home to several buildings not to be missed in Nice. Among other things, there is the Opera with its superb facade (1882) and just opposite the Saint-François-de-Paule church (1775). From the street looking east you will see the Chateau waterfall. Among all the shops push the door of the Maison Auer (at n°7, opposite the Opera) which since 1820 has seen 5 generations of confectioners-chocolatiers pass by. The Florentine-style interior has incredible charm.
You cannot visit Nice without going through the superb Place Garibaldi, the most beautiful and emblematic of the city. Built in 1773, it is surrounded by Nice buildings with yellow facades and trompe-l’oeil decorations. In its center stands a statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the revolutionary who participated in the unification of Italy and who was born in Nice. The square is open in the direction of Turin which was connected to Nice by the Royal road.
Place Garibaldi is the perfect place to sit on a bench or a terrace and contemplate the comings and goings of passers-by. Take a good look at the prices before sitting down on a terrace, some establishments charge quite high prices (and yes, we are on the Côte d’Usure ). The Café de Turin specializing in seafood is one of the emblematic restaurants of the square (present since 1908). Unfortunately it is no longer the restaurant I knew in my youth, it has become quite expensive and mainly aimed at tourists.
On the south side, Place Garibaldi houses the chapel of the Holy Sepulcher (or of the blue penitents) built in 1782 in a style mixing baroque and neoclassical. The chapel is currently closed for work, I will update the blog when it reopens scheduled for 2022.
Right next to Place Garibaldi is the Archaeological Crypt. It contains the remains of one of the main entrances to the city discovered during work on the tramway in 2006. It is possible to visit the crypt on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Price €6 (reduced: €2.50), reservation required. It’s quite interesting for people who are interested in the history of the city (I had visited it when it opened), but as a tourist it is not one of the essential things to visit in Nice.
Castle Hill Park
Here is another site to tick among the things to do in Nice. This is the Parc de la Colline du Château which overlooks Old Nice. So I prefer to warn you right away, don’t look for a castle wondering why you haven’t seen it, there are more. There are only a few remains that will not help you to imagine what the fortress was like. For that I advise you rather to look at this 3D model which gives a good idea of the Château de Nice in medieval times. It was Louis XIV who destroyed our castle in 1706 along with all the fortifications and the citadel. The County of Nice which belonged to the Duchy of Savoy was not yet part of France (it was the case only from 1860).
Picnic area, children’s playground and waterfall
Today it is above all for its large wooded park that the people of Nice take refuge on the Colline du Château. A picnic in the grass under the shade of pine trees is one of the locals’ favorite weekend activities. There is also a large play area for children. It is a very calm and relaxing place, if you come in the morning you will come across groups of people doing yoga.
But if I invite you to go up here, it is mainly to admire the most beautiful views of Nice. Overhanging the sea from 92 m, you can enjoy a panorama over the whole city and the Baie des Anges on one side, and over the port and Mont Boron on the other.
The Castle Hill is home to an artificial waterfall fed by water from the Vésubie canal. This aqueduct also supplies the city with drinking water. During your visit to Nice you will hear a cannon shot every day at noon. It is not a real cannon but an air chestnut fired by an artificer from the hill of the castle, a tradition that dates back to 1862.
The Château grounds are open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. from October to March and from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. from April to September.
How to climb Castle Hill :
- By car : it is possible to drive up to the car park next to the cemetery. But frankly, I don’t recommend it. Already it is not easy to find a place and in addition in a city where everything can be done on foot (or almost) it would be a shame to leave the car.
- By the stairs : from the Promenade des Anglais you can take the stairs that go up to the Bellanda Tower and then to the top of the Colline du Château. This is the route that I recommend because you will enjoy the pretty view on the way up. It is possible to go up and down by several routes, stairs lead to the top of Old Nice or in the direction of the port.
- With the lift : for people with reduced mobility, those traveling with a stroller or if you simply don’t feel like facing a hundred steps in the heat, it is possible to take a lift (free of charge). It is located here next to the staircase that goes up to the Bellanda Tower.
The most beautiful viewpoints in Nice
It is from the top of the Parc de la Colline du Château that you will see the most beautiful panoramas of the city of Nice. As you head to the east end after the large playground for children, several belvederes offer a splendid view of the port of Nice.
But the most beautiful panorama over Nice isn’t there yet, so I’ve saved the best for last. To find out, you have to climb to the highest point of the hill, on the platform where there is a snack bar ( contact details ). It’s just above the waterfall. This pretty pebble esplanade with balustrades will offer you the most beautiful view of Nice, at least it’s my favorite, I’ll never get tired of it. From up there you can see all of Old Nice, the Promenade des Anglais lined with its famous palm trees, the beaches of the Baie des Anges and almost the whole city up to the airport.
The Bellanda Tower was built in 1825 to recall the memory of the castle fortress. It stands on the site of a tower of the lower enclosure destroyed by French troops in 1706 with the rest of the defences. The Bellanda Tower is part of a new perception of romantic gardens, mixing real and fake ruins (as on the entire Castle Hill).
The interior of the tower, called “The Bellandarium”, retraces via a scenography of characters in reconstituted clothes, the men and women who lived on this hill from antiquity to the present day. The Bellandarium is open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. (free entry). I assure you if you come to visit Nice during the week and it’s closed, you won’t miss much.
If you don’t climb to the top of Castle Hill, at least take the stairs to reach Bellanda Tower. From the platform you will have a magnificent view of Nice and its beaches. The staircase to go up to the Bellanda Tower is located at the end of the Quai des Etats-Unis just before arriving at Rauba Capeu where the sculpture “I LOVE NICE” is located.
Day 2: Promenade des Anglais
How can we talk about things to do in Nice without mentioning the world-famous Promenade des Anglais . Strolling and sunbathing on the Prom’ (as we say at home) is one of the favorite activities of the people of Nice. Many people jog there or simply come and sit on one of the blue chairs. It must be said that the setting is particularly beautiful between the sea, the palm trees and the Belle Époque facades.
The Promenade des Anglais is 7 km long from the airport to the beginning of Old Nice. I advise you to go at least as far as Villa Masséna and the Negresco, the most famous hotel in Nice. This walk is one of the essentials to do if you come to visit Nice.
United States Dock
From the Albert 1er garden , which leads to the green corridor, the Promenade des Anglais becomes the Quai des Etats-Unis heading east. Continuing your walk you will pass in front of a replica of the 1.35 m Statue of Liberty signed by the sculptor Bartholdi, the same one who made the one in New York. The quay extends to Rauba Capeu which offers one of the most beautiful views of the Mediterranean. It is here next to the sundial that the famous sculpture # I Love Nice is located. She became popular on social media (when I took the photo there was a ribbon to celebrate Pink October). Rauba Capeu means “hat theft” in Nice, because of the strong wind that there can be. Don’t worry, it’s quite rare for there to be wind in Nice, nothing to do with Marseille for example.
It is the central square of the city which makes the connection between the Promenade des Anglais, Old Nice, the pedestrian zone, the Promenade du Paillon and the avenue Jean Médecin. It is therefore impossible not to go through Place Masséna if you plan to visit Nice. Created in 1840, it has continued to evolve, its current appearance dates from 2007 with the commissioning of line 1 of the tramway. Place Masséna is surrounded by Nice buildings with red facades, and to the south is the Fountain of the Sun with the statue of Apollo. As for the funny characters perched on their masts, it is a work by the Spanish artist Jaume Plensa entitled “Conversation in Nice”.
Promenade du Paillon (green corridor)
La Coulée Verte is an urban park 1.2 km long and 12 ha located between Old Nice and the city center. This large wooded area invites you to relax and stroll. The Promenade du Paillon brings together trees and plants from all over the world, a water mirror with 128 water jets and a large play area for children. It is a popular place for families for its setting and the largest playground in the center with 3 separate areas by age. In summer, children like to cool off on the mist plateau and the water mirror.
To the south of the green corridor at the level of the Albert 1er garden is a bandstand from 1868. On Sunday there is a free concert by the Municipal Orchestra. The Promenade du Paillon won the grand jury prize at the Victoires du Paysage 2014.
Opening hours : October 1 to March 31: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. / April 1 to September 30: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Walk to Coco Beach
If you have enough time to visit Nice, I invite you after going around the quays to continue your walk to Coco Beach and the start of the coastal path towards Villefranche-sur-Mer. This promenade by the sea passes in front of the Club Nautique de Nice and its small beach, then the famous restaurant Le Plongeoir whose terrace is installed on a rocky outcrop. You will then walk along small creeks accessible by stairs, very popular in summer with locals for swimming. Arrived at the Jardin Félix Rainaux you will enjoy a beautiful panorama of the Mediterranean. It is from here that the coastal path begins. If you feel like it, count 2.4 km and 45 min walk to reach Villefranche-sur-Mer.
Mont Boron and fort of Mont Alban
Mont Boron Park is located on a hill to the east of the city on the border of Villefranche-sur-Mer. It is a pleasant place to walk, play sports (several sports courses) or have lunch with the family around a picnic in the shade of the trees.
At the top of the hill stands the fort of Mont Alban, a military fortification built between 1557 and 1560. This work was one of the major points of defense of the county of Nice, making the connection between the hill of the castle and the citadel of Villefranche . Its position allowed it to dominate the bay of Nice and the bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer.
Fort du Mont Alban can be visited on Sundays in July, August and September at 10am, 11am and 12pm. The price is €6.10 per person (€2.5 reduced price and free for children under 18). Reservation required on the Heritage Center website.
Mont Boron offers some of the most beautiful panoramas on the Côte d’Azur. On the fort side of Mont Alban you embrace the entire bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer with the peninsula of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. On the other side you will discover a superb view of the hill of the Castle, the port and the entire Baie des Anges. The belvedere is at a bend in the road ( coordinates ).
It is easier to get to Mont Boron by car, you will find a small car park at the end of the road at the Fort du Mont Alban. Otherwise, by bus, take line 33 to the “chemin du fort” stop. It is also possible to climb on foot via many stairs, which will take you a short hike (see section “visit Nice in 2 days”).
Russian Church: Saint Nicholas Cathedral
The city of Nice has the largest Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia. The Saint-Nicolas cathedral, classified as a historical monument, was built in 1903. The reason for this construction is tragic. While on vacation with his parents in a villa they had rented here in 1865, Tsarevich Nicolas Alexandrovitch died at the age of twenty following meningitis. His father then bought the land to build a mausoleum (which can be seen behind the church) in homage to his son. It was only several decades later that construction work on the cathedral began.
This contrasts with the churches that we are used to seeing in Nice, the style is the one found in the buildings in Moscow. The interior has a very rich decoration adorned with multiple icons, frescoes and carved woodwork. Visiting Saint-Nicolas Cathedral is free, except for guided tours (€10) which take place every day from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. (except Thursdays). Guided tours in the morning are by reservation only ( find out more ).
The Russian Church is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. except for the office, which takes place on Saturday evening, Sunday morning and the mornings of ecclesiastical holidays.
The ancient ancient city of Cemenelum was founded on the hill of Cimiez by the Romans in the 1st century. The remains of this city are grouped together in the Nice Cimiez archeology museum. You can discover three complete thermal complexes, streets, a residential area and an amphitheater. Don’t expect anything exceptional like in Rome. The rather poorly preserved amphitheater is one of the smallest in Gaul.
With the fall of the Roman city in the 6th century, the hill of Cimiez mainly became a place of cultivation of olive trees. There are still many of them in the garden of the Arènes de Cimiez. Many families from Nice come to picnic here on weekends. Every year, the May Day takes place there , where the culture and language of Nice are given pride of place.
During the Belle Époque the hill of Cimiez became the holiday resort of the English aristocracy. Several palaces were built, the most famous of which is the Excelsior Regina Palace where Queen Victoria of England stayed. Today these palaces have been converted into apartment buildings which have helped to make Cimiez a posh residential area.
Cimiez monastery and gardens
Behind the Arènes garden is the monastery of Cimiez , a 15th century Franciscan monastery . In addition to the church and the cloister that can be visited, it is the superb garden (former vegetable garden of the monks) that attracts visitors. It is the oldest garden on the entire Côte d’Azur. I went to take the photos in November to write this blog article, so obviously the garden of the Monastery of Cimiez was not very flowery. I’ll do it again in the spring
It is quite complicated to park in the Cimiez district, especially at weekends. I advise you to go there by bus from the city center by taking line 33 or 70 (Arènes Musée Matisse stop).
The hill of Cimiez has an enchanting and peaceful setting that I love. But if you only have one day to visit Nice, I advise you to focus on the other districts closer to the city center (unless you want to come to the Matisse museum).
Visit Nice: the museums
The city of Nice has many museums and it will take you more than a few days to see them all. The idea is therefore not to go around all the museums, but to introduce you to the most important ones so that you can choose the one that interests you the most. This could be useful if it rains during your weekend in Nice.
The museums are free for the inhabitants of the Nice Côte d’Azur Metropolis with the Nice museums pass (pass to be done beforehand with identity card and proof of address).
For tourists, there is a “3-day museum pass” for €15 which gives access to all municipal museums and galleries for 72 hours. This is particularly interesting if you want to visit at least two museums during your stay in Nice.
All museums are open from May 2 to October 31 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from November 1 to April 30 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Matisse Museum : located inside the Arènes de Cimiez garden, this museum is dedicated to the painter Henri Matisse. He spent many years of his life in Nice where he produced most of his work. Price: €10 / Closed on Tuesdays.
- Chagall Museum : this national museum is located at the bottom of the Cimiez hill (25 min walk from Place Massena). It is dedicated to the painter Marc Chagall. Price: €8 (€10 if exhibition) / Closed on Tuesdays.
- Palais Lascaris : this palace built in 1648 is the most remarkable monument of Nice’s civil baroque. It is located in the heart of Old Nice. It houses a collection of decorative art and fine arts from the 17th and 18th centuries as well as a collection of musical instruments. Price: €5 / Closed on Tuesdays.
- Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMAC) : located next to Place Garibaldi, this large museum with a marble facade presents a collection from the 1950s to the present day through more than 1,300 works by 300 artists. Price: €6.10 / Closed on Mondays.
- Villa Masséna : the museum housed in this architectural masterpiece on the Promenade des Anglais presents the art and history of the Riviera from Nice’s attachment to France until the end of the Belle Époque. Price: €10 / Closed on Tuesdays. The memorial to the victims of the attack on the Promenade des Anglais on July 14, 2016 is located in the garden of Villa Masséna.
- Museum of Fine Arts : this museum presents a collection of works covering the entire history of art from the 16th to the 20th century. Price: €10 / Closed on Mondays. To get there, take bus 38, stop: Musée Chéret.
- Museum of Photography Charles Nègre : located in Old Nice between Cours Saleya and the Palace of the Prefecture, it offers temporary exhibitions of the biggest names in photography. Price: €5 / Closed on Tuesdays.
History and sports museums
- Archaeological Museum of Cimiez : the collections relate to the ages of metals, antiquity and develop until the High Middle Ages. The museum allows access to the site of the ancient city of Cemenelum. Price: €5 / Closed on Tuesdays.
- Terra Amata Prehistory Museum : this museum of human paleontology is dedicated to the prehistoric site of Terra Amata which has yielded the oldest homes in the history of humanity, dating back 400,000 years. Price: €5 / Closed on Tuesdays.
- National Sports Museum : the latest of Nice’s museums, it is located in the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice West. It houses one of the largest sports collections in the world. It is quite out of the way from the city center and the journey by public transport is a bit long. Price: €6 / Closed on Mondays. Reservation.
Where to go to the beach in Nice
If you come in summer, going to the beach is one of the essential things to do in Nice, if only to cool off. For this you will have the choice between the many public and private beaches installed along the 7 km of the Promenade des Anglais. I prefer to warn you if you don’t know it yet, but in Nice there are only pebble beaches. And when it comes to stones, we’re closer to rock than gravel 😀 Well, I’m exaggerating a bit, but if you don’t want to hurt your feet (going up from the water can be fatal) or burn your toes on the way to the shower, water shoes will be your best ally. So yes it’s ugly but frankly when I go swimming in Nice I never go barefoot.
Another point, the bottom of the sea is quite sloping and after 5 meters you no longer have your feet. As a result, the beaches of Nice are not ideal for young children (plus you can’t even make a sandcastle). This is why many families prefer Villefranche-sur-Mer beach with its calm waters and gravelly sand.
Regarding the beaches of the Promenade des Anglais, they are all more or less identical. The rule being the further you go from the city center, the fewer people there are. The busiest beaches are those opposite Old Nice and the pedestrian area. When we want to swim in Nice, we usually go to the public beach between the Palais de la Méditerranée and the Negresco (but in general we go to the beaches of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, much more to our liking).
The harbor beaches at Coco Beach
On the other side of the port you will find small beaches or coves, mainly frequented by locals. Grandpas and grandmas have their habits at the Bains Militaires beach right next to the Nautical Club. They swim there all year round. It became famous because it was here that the film Brice de Nice was shot .
Continuing after the restaurant Le Plongeoir you will find the beaches of the reserve, 4 small stretches of pebbles where you will have to come early to have a place. The rocks are fitted out with a few concrete platforms, ideal for a tanning session.
If you don’t see many people in the photos or the facilities on the private beaches, it’s because I took them at the end of October (and yes, even at this time you can swim in Nice). In summer, the coast has a completely different face!
Sports activities in Nice
You stay several days to visit Nice and you wish to alternate visit and sporting activities? Thanks to the presence of the Mediterranean Sea and the nearby mountains, many water sports await you. The Alpes-Maritimes has many canyons, it is one of the best regions for canyoning.
Activities at sea departing from Nice
- Discovery of diving : take advantage of your stay in Nice to do a first dive (70 €)
- Parasailing : a great classic in summer on the beach, activity possible from May to October (60 €)
- Snorkeling excursion : discover the underwater landscapes of the bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer (40 €)
- Baptism of Apnea : baptism of apnea a few minutes from Nice (65 €)
- Session Flyboard : machine that allows you to fly over water (99 €)
Mountain activities from Nice
- Rafting down the Vésubie : rafting on the Vésubie river north of Nice (€55)
- Riolan canyon : the Riolan canyon is one of the most beautiful canyoning routes in the Alpes-Maritimes (€75)
- Canyon des Gorges du Loup : superb canyon descent with a very experienced guide (€59)
- Planfae canyon : discovery of the Planfae canyon during a supervised canyoning descent (€60)
Carnival of Nice
Every year in February the most important carnival in France takes place, and one of the biggest in the world after those of Venice and Rio. It is with the battle of the flowers which takes place in the same period, the major event of the winter in Nice.
The 17 floats circulate on a route between Place Masséna and the Promenade des Anglais, going around the Albert 1st garden. Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to see it for free (when I was a kid it was something else…). You will therefore have to buy a ticket to see the Nice Carnival, either in the grandstand (€32) or in the pedestrian zone (€5 to €12 depending on the day and parade). Tickets can be purchased on site or online. You will find all the information on the official website.
If you choose to visit Nice in February, don’t miss this unique event. It is at the same time that the lemon festival takes place in Menton .
The next edition of the Carnival of Nice will take place from February 10 to 26, 2023 on the theme King of the Treasures of the World.
What to do in Nice when it rains
Despite our reputation as a sunny city, it can happen if you are unlucky that it rains during your stay in Nice. In this case, in a region that is mainly geared towards outdoor activities, it can be difficult to find what to do in Nice when it rains. Here are some ideas to keep you busy, hoping the rain stops soon 🙂
- Visiting one of the city’s many museums could keep you busy for a rainy weekend.
- Go to the cinema. The city has several in the city center including a brand new IMAX 4DX complex at the Gare du Sud Liberation district (5 min by tram from Place Massena).
- Take an oenology course (2 hour course allowing you to taste 6 different wines).
- Create your own perfume. The region with Grasse as the world capital of perfumes has several perfumers.
- Go shopping. The NICETOILE shopping center on av Jean Médecin has 90 shops. In Saint Laurent du Var opposite the airport is Cap 3000 with more than 100 shops.
- Go to the skating rink. The Jean Bouin complex located to the east of the city offers a large swimming pool and an ice rink. Schedules and prices on this site.
- Go to the Casino, relax at the spa, …. in short, everything that is done indoors in other cities as well.
Visit Nice with children
Children will be delighted to visit Nice, most of the things not to be missed take place in the fresh air outside. Here are some ideas for more specific activities to occupy your children during your stay in Nice.
- Castle Hill : in addition to its breathtaking panoramas, the Castle Park offers a large playground for children with a giant spider.
- Promenade du Paillon : the green corridor also has many games for children classified by 3 age groups, in addition to a water mirror with jets.
- Beach : a must in Nice if you come in summer, children will be delighted to enjoy the sea.
- Eat an ice cream : with many ice cream parlors in the city, give your children a little break by enjoying an ice cream (see the good addresses below).
- Carnival : if you come to visit Nice in February, your children will be delighted to take part in the Carnival, one of the most beautiful in the world.
- Laser Game : this laser game located in the city center offers children up to 12 years old wild games in a futuristic setting.
- Escape Game outdoor Harry Potter : this outdoor family game will transport you to the magical world of Harry Potter (from 10 years old).
- Archery Tag : subtle mix between archery and paintball. Starting from 7 years old.
- Parc Phoenix : this 7-hectare botanical and animal park located to the west of the city (near the airport) with play areas and a mini treetop adventure course is sure to please children.
Where to eat Nice specialties
You cannot visit Nice without tasting the cuisine of Nice. The specialties of Nice are numerous and for the most part known throughout the world. Unfortunately, the further you get from Nice, the more the recipes become eccentric. Here are the most famous dishes of Nice gastronomy:
- Niçoise salad : certainly the most famous dish but too many times abused by the addition of ingredients that have nothing to do with it. The real recipe contains only: mesclun, tomatoes, spring onions, heart of celery, small purple artichokes, small green peppers, long radishes, black olives from Nice, tuna in olive oil, salted anchovies, hard-boiled eggs and leaves of basil.
- Socca : culinary specialty made with chickpea flour cooked over a wood fire on large round plates. It should neither be too oily nor too dry and even in Nice few places do it really well. I recommend 2 addresses located at the port: Chez Pipo and Socca d’Or.
- Panisses : it is the same recipe as socca, but panisses are eaten in the form of large fries that are fried in oil. The advantage is that you can make them at home, unlike socca (the panisses are sold in pancakes that you cut up).
- Pissaladière : a bed of long-cooked onions, pissalat (dough made from salted sardines and anchovies) and olives from Nice on bread dough. Often the pissalat is replaced by anchovies placed directly on the onions.
- Chard pie : Niçoise culinary specialty made from Swiss chard which can be sweet or savory. It is often found in its sweet form. Finely chopped chard leaves are mixed with pine nuts and raisins, and the dough is covered with icing sugar.
- Pan bagnat : our best friend in the summer to go to the beach. The pan bagnat is a Nice sandwich in a round bread impregnated with olive oil and with as ingredients those of the Niçoise salad. Our pan bagnat has been copied all over the world with more or less eccentric recipes… sacrilege!
- Stuffed Nice : these are vegetables (tomatoes, zucchini, onions, peppers) that are stuffed with a meat-based stuffing (although there are vegetarian stuffed foods today).
- Gnocchi, ravioli, stew , …: many recipes come from elsewhere but we put them in the Niçoise sauce 🙂
Nissarde Cuisine Label
This label was created to defend and promote authentic, homemade Niçoise cuisine. It is awarded to restaurateurs who work to promote the cuisine of Nice by committing to respecting the recipes, the quality of the products and the raw materials used.
If you want to taste the real cuisine of Nice, I invite you to eat in a restaurant with the label “Cuisine Nissarde”, this will allow you to avoid tourist traps. In Nice there are 15 restaurants that you will find in this list. For my part, I recommend Acchiardo and Lu Fran Calin in Vieux-Nice and La Ratapignata in Nice-Nord. I have eaten there many times and have never been disappointed.
The best ice cream parlors in Nice
Eating homemade ice cream is one of the things to do in Nice. The city has many ice cream parlors, but not all of them are equal in terms of quality. Fenocchio, which offers more than 100 flavors, is well known to tourists, as evidenced by the long queue in summer. For my part, I prefer to go to Azzuro located just next door.
- Arlequin, 9 av Malausséna : some of the best Italian ice cream in Nice (there is a second address on av Jean Médecin called Cesar Milano).
- Azzuro, 1 rue Sainte Réparate (place Rossetti) : this ice cream maker offers the best ice cream in Old Nice with homemade cones.
- Yes jelato, 5 Rue de la Préfecture (place du Palais) : another ice cream parlor that I like in Old Nice where you can taste excellent ice cream with seasonal fruits.
- Néron Glacier, 15 place Saint François : this new glacier wins many votes among ice cream lovers. I haven’t tested it yet but I’ll give you my opinion.
What to do around Nice
There are so many towns and villages to see around Nice that it would take more than a week to visit them all. I will therefore present the main tourist sites and especially those which are easily accessible without a car. For your displacements I advise you to use the TER. The Grasse – Cannes – Ventimiglia line passes through all the seaside villages of the Côte d’Azur. It is also an excellent solution to go to the beaches around Nice (in July August it is hell to find a parking space).
- Villefranche-sur-Mer : it is the city located just next to Nice, the SNCF station is above the beach. Villefranche is renowned for its superb harbor and its beach, as well as its citadel.
- Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat : this is one of our favorite places, the peninsula has superb beaches as well as several hiking routes. I wrote a complete article to visit Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.
- Village of Eze : it is one of the most famous and touristic villages of the Côte d’Azur, and it is true that this perched village looks proud. It is complicated to park there (an underground car park is under construction), prefer bus n°82 from Nice.
- Cap d’Ail : for swimming or hiking on the coastal path. Mala beach in Cap d’Ail is one of the most beautiful on the Côte d’Azur (the village is nothing interesting). To get there, take the train, the SNCF station is a 15-minute walk from the beach via the coastal path.
- Monaco : the principality acclaimed by the jetset and the rich of this world attracts tourists. Monaco has many underground car parks but they are expensive during the day, again prefer the train, or the longer bus n°100 from Nice.
- Menton : the last town in the County of Nice before the Italian border, beautiful Menton is worth a visit. If you go there in February you can attend the Lemon Festival. It takes 39 minutes to get there by TER (€5.50).
- Antibes : on the west side of the department, the town of Antibes with its fortified city and its beaches is worth a look. Cap d’Antibes offers a superb coastal path and pretty coves for swimming. The SNCF train station is a 10-minute walk from Old Antibes.
- Cannes : the city that hosts the most famous film festival in the world is also famous for its sandy beaches along the Croisette. Other than that there isn’t much. The islands of Lerins located off Cannes are splendid, to see absolutely. Count 30 to 40 min depending on the TER (7.20 €).
Accommodation in Nice
It brings together the best addresses classified by budget according to each district.
- €71: Mini Suite Miro Five Stars Holiday, this 30 m² apartment located in the Musicians district is good value for money. It is fully equipped for a stay in Nice and has a small balcony with a lovely view of the courtyard.
- €74: GALLO – New Modern Loft Old Town Massena, located near Place Rossetti while remaining quiet, this fully equipped 28m² apartment is one of the cheapest accommodations in Old Nice.
- €94: Telerues, this 25 m² studio will be of interest to families with one child as it is designed for 3 people. It is also equipped with a kitchen and a washing machine. Very well located including the station if you come by train.
- €115: SMARTBNB studio, with its mezzanine and modern decoration, this 20 m² studio has it all. Close to the port, the Castle Hill and public transport, the beach is a 10-minute walk away.
- 184 €: Superb Sea View apartment, located in the port area, this 75 m² apartment has a view of the boats and the quays, which makes it so charming. It is planned for 4 people, perfect for couples of friends and large families.
- €285: LUX VIEW, this 67 m² apartment has a terrace and a swimming pool on the roof with a view of the sea. Very well located in the pedestrian zone, two minutes from the Promenade des Anglais beach and restaurants.
Practical information for visiting Nice
How to get to Nice
Nice is located at the southeastern end of France on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Although it is the fifth largest city in France, it is not as easily accessible as Marseille, Toulouse or Lyon due to its geographical position. We still don’t have a real TGV line (which stops in Marseille) and the plane remains the fastest way to come to Nice, especially from Paris.
- Plane : many low-cost airlines offer flights to Nice.
- Train : the SNCF offers TGV tickets at low prices. It is the most ecological solution if you are not in a hurry. From €40 for a round trip from Paris to Nice by train (around 6 hours).
- Car : a car is not necessary to visit Nice, but if you want to discover the surroundings and the rest of the Côte d’Azur, it will come in handy. The town is served by the A8 motorway which is quite congested between Cannes and Monaco.
How to get from the airport to the center of Nice
Good news for those who wish to avoid the exorbitant prices of taxis (€32 for 6 km), tram line 2 has been connecting Nice Côte d’Azur airport with the city center since 2019. Trams run between 5am and midnight to and from the airport. The price of a ticket is 1.5 € and allows you to make a connection with line 1.
How to get around the city
With the 3 tram lines and the bus network you can reach all the must-see sites in Nice. Most are located in the city center and easily accessible on foot. For all information on timetables and stops, go to the Lignes d’Azur website (or download the application).
If you plan to use public transport often during your stay in Nice (connection with the airport, accommodation outside the centre, visit to the Cimiez district), buy a 10-trip ticket for €10 on arrival . There is also a pass valid for 1 day for 5 € or 1 week for 15 €.
When to visit Nice
You can visit Nice all year round, thanks to its mild and sunny Mediterranean climate, even in winter it is always sunny! Well it’s true sometimes it rains but you will be unlucky if it lasts more than a day.
- Summer in Nice : this is the period when the most tourists come, mainly to enjoy the sea. If you have the possibility, avoid July and August, when the towels are stuck tightly on the beach.
- Winter in Nice : the climate is pleasant, it is never very cold and there is often sunshine. In winter you can see the Carnival and the Battle of the Flowers which take place in February. It is also the flowering period of the mimosa in January. You can even go skiing (many resorts 1 hour from Nice).
- Spring in Nice : it’s a transitional period when you’re never sheltered from the rain (in April and May). If you want to avoid the crowds, do not come during the Cannes Film Festival and the Monaco Grand Prix which take place at the same time at the end of May.
- Autumn in Nice : we call it the Indian summer here, it’s still sunny and warm and you can always swim at the beach. After with the climate change, this year (2021) we had a slightly rainy month of September and October November with beautiful weather (period when I took all the photos in this blog post).
If I had to give you some advice, come on vacation in June, September or October. These are the best times to visit Nice and the French Riviera. If you want to come in winter, choose February for your stay in Nice in order to enjoy the festivities.
So ready to visit Nice? If you have any questions about things to do in Nice, feel free to ask them in the blog comments. As a native of Nice, I will be happy to share my advice and tips with you.
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