Situated in the Bay of Angels, Nice is located halfway between the movie city of Cannes and Monaco, the smallest country in the world. This city is renowned for its elegance and charm, where the Mediterranean spirit of the coast meets the ever-present French charm. With sparkling beaches, picturesque neighborhoods, medieval villages, and over 300 sunny days a year, Nice is a favorite destination for many. If you plan to visit the French Riviera, Nice should take the primary space on your itinerary. In this article, you will find the very best things to do in Nice that will make your trip unforgettable!

Admire the 360° view from Castle Hill

What better way to begin your exploration of the city than by taking in one of the most magnificent views you will ever witness?

Castle Hill, situated at the end of the promenade, between the Old and New Port, provides one of the most breathtaking views of the city and the Mediterranean coast. This hill, also known as “Colline du Chateau” in French, is a serene escape for anyone who wants to avoid the hustle and bustle of the city. There are several ways to reach the summit of Castle Hill. Most visitors climb the stairs to reach the viewpoint, but you can also take the elevator next to the beach. Don’t worry, there are several spots where you can take a break on your way up!

Once you reach the top, there are various snack bars and shops to explore. Here you can also see a waterfall fountain, ruins of a military fortress from the 11th century, and the Old Port of Nice.

Take a long stroll down the Promenade des Anglais

Surely, one of the top things to do in Nice is to take a long stroll at the Promenade des Anglais. This beautiful, 7-kilometer-long promenade is the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Nice. It’s the heart of Nice’s social life, where you can find many luxurious hotels, restaurants, cafes, bakeries, and beautiful beaches. It’s a gathering place for travelers, beach lovers, sports enthusiasts, and families.

The southern part of the promenade is the center of bicycle paths, surrounded by kiosks, palm trees, and the iconic blue chairs that offer tourists a chance to relax and enjoy the breathtaking view of the “Bay of Angels” (Baie des Angles).

Explore the beaches

If you plan to spend your summer in Nice, the beaches will probably be your go-to spot. There are several public and private beaches in the area to choose from. The most popular beaches in Nice include Castel Plage, Blue Beach, Coco Beach, and Plage Publique del Opera. These beaches are mainly located along the Promenade des Anglais, making them easily accessible. Most of them are open from April to October.

Keep in mind that a day at a private beach can be quite expensive. The entrance fee to a private beach can cost from 10-20 euros, with umbrellas and sunbeds costing an additional 15-20 euros. Bringing food to a private beach is usually not allowed, so be prepared to purchase refreshments from the available beach bars. Although it may seem pricey, the luxurious experience of sipping a refreshing cocktail on a sun lounger while enjoying the beautiful view is worth it.

Here’s an extra tip: while the turquoise water may be irresistible, it can be quite uncomfortable to enter since most beaches in Nice have pebbles instead of sand. These small rocks can hit your legs when the waves come! Soon you will realize that water sandals are your best friends!

Discover Place Massena

Just 100 meters away from Promenade des Anglais and the Old Town lies the heart of Nice – Place Massena.

The square is within walking distance from other famous buildings in the proximity – Gare de Nice Ville, Notre Dame de Nice, and Galleries Lafayette. The square is surrounded by beautifully designed, red buildings. The fountain in the middle “Sun Fountain” – with 5 bronze horse sculptures and a marble statue of Apollo makes Place Massena easily recognizable. The square hosts various events and is equally interesting to visit during the day and at night. It is also an important transportation hub that offers multiple options to travel to other destinations.

It is a wonderful crossroads to “people watch” and the gateway to a lovely garden with playful fountains for children and strolls in the garden walkway.

Spend some “coins” at the Avenue Jean Medecin

Avenue Jean Medecin is a popular shopping destination in Nice. This bustling street offers diverse shops to cater to every budget. It has a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, making it an ideal place to browse for cute souvenirs, local handicrafts, and regional products. You can take a break and enjoy a snack or coffee, shop at the Etoile shopping center, or simply take a stroll through one of the busiest areas in the city.

Galeries Lafayette Nice Masséna is another shopping paradise. This unique shopping center with over 600 brands under one roof. The structure boasts Turin-style arcades and a red-ochre facade, making it an attractive place to visit. This shopping center sells some top global labels, making it a must-visit for travelers who enjoy spending on the best.

Cap3000 is the newest shopping mall in Nice. It is a picturesque shopping center situated along the beautiful Cote d’Azur coastline. It offers an opportunity to combine shopping with a day at the beach, making it an ideal location for a fun-filled day out. check it out!

Wander through the streets of Old Town

The Old Town of Nice (Vieux Nice) is a beloved destination for tourists and locals alike. After a long day at the beach, everyone flocks to the Old Town to indulge in Nicosian cuisine in a romantic atmosphere.

The area boasts narrow streets, colorful buildings, and several small squares filled with restaurants and cafes, making it a perfect place for a stroll. Here you will find some of the most stunning churches in the city and cutest corners. Spending some time exploring charming corners, handicraft shops, and boutiques featuring locally-made products is, beyond doubt, one of the most fun things to do in Nice.

It’s also where you can sample the most famous local dish, socca, a pancake made from chickpea flour, water, and olive oil, in a romantic atmosphere, especially after sunset.

Visit the Cathedrale Sainte-Reparate

Strolling through the charming streets of the Old Town, surely you will come across another beautiful site to see – Cathedrale Sainte-Reparate.

Although not as large as some cathedrals you will find, for example in Italy, it provides a quick peaceful escape from the continuing happenings outside the walls.  It was built in the 16th century under the patronage of Saint Réparate and in the 17th century redesigned in the spirit of the Baroque movement. Although not very noticeable from the outside, once you step in the Baroque interior is amazing. The chapels on both sides are incredibly beautiful.

Shop like a local at Cours Saleya

Marché aux Fleurs Cours Saleya is a local flower market in Nice, located near the Old Town.

Every morning at 9 am (except Mondays when it is closed!) this place becomes one of the most vibrant, buzziest places in Nice! It is like walking through a rainbow of colors while inhaling the exploding scents emanating from thousands of extraordinary floral arrangements and flowering plants. Strolling through all those vivid colors flowers, sounds, and aromas makes one of the unforgettable things to do in Nice!

Besides flowers, you can buy fruits and veggies,  products such as lavender brought fresh from Provance, spices, and handmade goods. The smell of the socca freshly prepared by the locals will surely make your tummy growling!

Visit the Russian Orthodox Church

The Russian Orthodox Church in Nice is a must-visit attraction, even if you’re not particularly religious. The building’s architectural beauty alone is worth the visit. It’s especially interesting for Russian visitors as this church is important Russian diaspora’s heritage.

The church, also known as the church of St. Nikolaja, was built in 1912 and is located near the main railway station and Avenue Thiers, on Tsarević Boulevard (Boulevard Tzarevich). For over 150 years, Russians have been present in Nice and its surroundings, leaving their mark with their works. Today, the Russian Church offers a peaceful oasis from the hustle and bustle of the nearby city.

Have a look inside the Hotel Negresco

The Hotel Negresco in Nice is an iconic hotel renowned for its outstanding architecture and rich history. This magnificent belle-époque building, with its recognizable pink domed roof, stands proudly on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. The hotel’s fine suites showcase five centuries of French history through art and furnishings, where portraits of Kings and Queens coexist with more contemporary works by Sosno, Dali, Gruau, Moretti, and Nike de Saint Phalle.

It all started with Henri Negrescou, who was born in Bucharest. As the director of the Municipal Casino in Nice, he envisioned a fabulous palace to attract wealthy clients. The hotel became a popular destination for the elite during the French Riviera’s golden age. The scene changed dramatically during World War I when the hotel was temporarily converted into a hospital.

Whether you can afford to spend a night in the deluxe suite or just treat yourself to a drink at Le Bar Relais, you will be a part of an extraordinary history.

Become an art expert in city museums

Nice is a city that successfully blends the old and the contemporary, especially in the art scene. Whether you’re an art lover or not, make sure to set aside some time to visit the city’s museums. The Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain is a must-see for its large collection of contemporary art, with a focus on New Realism and Pop Art. The Musée Matisse is the center of 17th-century art, while the Musée National Message Biblique Marc Chagall houses paintings of biblical motifs with bright colors subordinated to the dark appearance of the museum.

Discover Cimiez Neighborhood

If you’re in Nice, you should check out Cimiez – it’s an ancient and charming neighborhood in the city’s north.

In Roman times, Cimiez was known as Cemenelum and had some incredible Roman structures. Today, you can explore the ruins of the amphitheater – Arènes de Cimiez, and even walk through the beautiful gardens nearby. You’ll see olive trees and French men playing petanque – it’s quite a sight!

There’s also a quiet and lovely church nearby called the Monastery of Cimiez. The ceilings are covered in colorful paintings of religious scenes, and there’s even a small museum right by the entrance. And don’t forget to take a stroll through the Monastery gardens – they’re so peaceful and gorgeous. You can even catch a breathtaking view of Nice from the very back of the gardens.

Enjoy a walk at the Port Lympia

This Port Lympia or Port of Nice is a lovely spot and home to numerous large cruise ships and luxurious yachts.

It’s a great place to take a stroll and admire the boats. Unlike other ports in the area, this one is a working port, making it more interesting to explore. Aside from the boats, there are other attractions to see, such as the flea market and the war memorial carved into the cliffs. There are also plenty of bars and restaurants where you can relax and enjoy the sunny and warm weather.

Getting to the port is easy – you can take the bus and then take a scenic walk back to the main part of Nice either by going up Castle Hill or following the road around the headland to the Quai des Etats-Unis. The area is bustling with lots of holidaymakers in and out, and it’s visually stunning with plenty of restaurants, shops, and coffee bars to enjoy amidst beautiful scenery.

Book a walking tour

If you enjoy exploring new places on foot, then a walking tour would be the perfect choice for you.

Nice offers many free walking tours that come as an excellent introduction to the city. During these tours, you can learn about the city’s history, and culture, and discover unique sights. The best part is that the guides are usually locals, who can provide you with in-depth knowledge of the city’s best corners and restaurants to dine at.

You can find many free walking tours online that offer the same experience as the paid ones. However, it’s advisable to book them in advance to avoid any last-minute hassles. Some walking tours even include professional tour guides along with food and wine tasting.

Eat like a local

If you’re visiting Nice, don’t miss the opportunity to taste some of its legendary gastronomic dishes. One of the must-tries is the unleavened bread made from chickpea flour, served in various styles. For those who prefer fast food, there is a unique type of pizza called fougasse. And of course, wine! The French are known to drink a glass of wine after their lunch, and you can find an excellent variety of wines in Nice. From the famous wine center of Bordeaux to sweet and fruity ones like Baltet, you can try any wine of your choice.

Some Local French Food to Try in Nice:

  • Pissaladière – a pastry covered with sweet caramelized onions. Instead of cheese or toppings, there is a harlequin pattern of anchovy fillets and niçoise olives. 
  • Salade niçoise.– This salad is a staple in French cuisine. It usually consists of tomatoes, peppers, beans, radishes, garlic, olives, tuna, anchovies, and lots of olive oil, as well as chicken or fish
  • Pan bagnat is a sandwich that is a specialty of Nice. The sandwich is made of whole wheat bread, enclosing the classic salade Nicoise.
  • Petits farcis – stuffed vegetables sun-ripened tomatoes, round zucchini, and thin eggplants.

Try some unusual gelato flavors

What is a perfect way to explore a new place? With a cold serving of delicious ice cream in hand, of course!

If you’re visiting Nice and wondering where to find the best ice cream, you should know that Nice’s Old Town is the place to be. That includes a great selection of ice cream parlors.

If you’ve ever traveled to Italy and had gelato there, you might not expect to find ice cream that measures up anywhere else. However, let me tell you that ice cream in Nice is equally delicious! Besides the traditional flavors, you can treat your palate to some unusual flavors of ice cream and sorbets. Don’t miss out on trying the ice cream at the pastry shop on Place Rossetti, or Fenocchio where you have a huge selection of over 90 different flavors. Ready to chewing gum taste?

Take part in a food tour

Knowing all the culinary delicacies available here, going on a food tour can be one of the coolest things to do in Nice! These tours usually offer a wonderful experience of the Old Town. Done by the local tour guides who know the hidden gems of Nice, a food tour can be a great chance to discover unique shops and have high-quality food and wine. At the same time, you will get some great advice and recommendations for the rest of our time in Nice!

Check out some food tour websites:

If this does not fit your budget, what about creating your food tour? Choose a few dishes and do some research where they are served and fun is guaranteed. Plus, you will save a good amount of money!

Explore the city on the wheels

Do you want to explore the city, but walking a lot is not your thing? Then, why not take the hop on and hop off bus?

Starting at the entrance of the Hotel Albert Premier, the bus takes you to all the main city attractions including Villefrance-sur-mer, and back. The round trip costs around 25 EUR and takes 60 minutes. Another option is to rent a Vello blue bicycle. It’s a local bike-sharing program that allows you to rent e-bikes from more than 180 bike stations around the city. The first hour of the ride costs only 1.5 euros, and the subscription is flexible.

You can also opt for a Velo taxi, an electric taxi where a professional will pedal for you. This is an excellent opportunity to discover Nice’s history and heritage as you are taken through the city by a professional driver. You can hear anecdotes, important dates, and major monuments, and learn about the city’s cultural richness. Your guide can also adapt your sightseeing itinerary as per your preferences. Embark on an unforgettable experience that takes you out of the usual channels to access the city’s forgotten secrets.

Have a drink at the rooftop bar

Whether you want a coffee or a cocktail, having a drink with a view is one of the must-do things when in Nice. You will be amazed by the panoramic view of the Old City on one side and the shimmering sea waters on the other. Several hotels along the promenade have rooftop bars, but don’t expect cheap prices!

Some of the best rooftop bars are:

Farago on the Roof – Lush and naturally elegant, the rooftop terrace comes with both comfy lounge seating and dining tables, all surrounded by an outstanding panoramic view.

Calade Rooftop Restaurant at Radisson Blu – located at the Promenade des Anglais.

Bella Ciela Nice Bar & Rooftop: Located on the 8th floor, right in the heart of the city, the rooftop comes with a colorful, chic, and beautiful new look, where you can indulge in breathtaking views over the Nice rooftops. 

Go on a day trip to Villefranche-sur-Mer and Eze Village

Although Nice is a beautiful place that is worth spending your entire vacation in, taking a day trip to other places along the French Riviera is a must-do. The proximity of other well-known destinations along the coast, plus the convenience of the trains in Nice, makes any side day trips easily doable.

But what if you don’t have a lot of time? In that case, a day trip to Villefranche-sur-Mer and Eze Village is something that you will enjoy! They are only a 10-minute train ride away from Nice, and the ticket costs no more than 10 EUR. Villefranche-sur-Mer is a small harbor town with picturesque houses and small restaurants along the scenic coastline. Just 10 minutes away, at the top of the hill, is located Eze Village – a medieval village filled with narrow streets, stone houses, and the most picturesque scenery. Check out what to do there in a day here.

How to get around Nice?

Nice is a great place to explore on foot. Most of the things to see are walkable distance, plus the weather is usually on your side (it’s more often sunny than not) and in some areas – like the atmospheric Old Town – cars are not allowed. There’s plenty to look at, from stunning architectural gems and colorful facades to cute cafés and quirky boutiques. The best way to find your favorite spots to eat and shop is on foot.

But sometimes we need to use the “wheels”, right?

Luckily, Nice offers several transportation options to choose from:

By tram

Trams are the most convenient mode of transport in Nice as they are eco-friendly and offer quick and easy connections to most sites. To purchase a tram ticket, you need to use the machine available at any tram stop. Tickets are not sold on the tram. You can buy a single SOLO ticket for 1.50 euros or 10 tickets at once for 10 euros. Please note that you will receive only one ticket with 10 entries, not 10 separate tickets. Additionally, you can purchase a day pass for 5 euros or a 7-day pass for 15 euros.

By bus

The bus is the best way to get around Nice when the tram doesn’t go where you want it to. For example, if you’d like to go to the Chagall Museum, or the Matisse Museum, or visit Cimiez Hill, then you need to take the bus.

Ligne d’Azur is the company in charge of managing the public transport system in Nice. It makes available a network that consists of more than 40 bus and tram lines. Buying a bus ticket can be done at the vending machine or via the app Lignes d’ Azur Tickets.

By taxi

Considering how easy and efficient the tram and bus system is in Nice, it’s not necessary to use a taxi. Moreover, taxis can be quite expensive. But if you need one, you can find taxi stands all over the city. Uber is also a great option, as it is easy and simple to use, with no cash involved. This means that if you’re unsure about the price, it’s much less of a hassle than taking a taxi.

By bicycle

Bicycles may be the best way to get around Nice with new bicycle lanes all over the city and a nice long one on the Promenade des Anglais. But you must be ready to go through the process of signing up.

The Velos Bleu bicycles I mentioned earlier. Anyone can rent them for an hour or a day, or much longer. You pick it up at one of the many Velo Bleue stations and can drop it off at another station.

By train

If you intend to do any side trip, trains will be your first option. And just the other option, trains are equally easy to use. Most of the other cities along the French Riviera are only half an hour’s train ride away from each other. Traveling by train is perfect for those who want to sit back, relax, and see a bit more of the countryside and the region that surrounds Nice.

Looking for the best French Riviera 4-day itinerary? Check out my post for some great tips!

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