Looking for the best things to do in Nice in 2024? I’ve got the most detailed, comprehensive recommendations for you!
Welcome to Nice, the jewel of the French Riviera where the relaxed Mediterranean vibe effortlessly blends with impressive architecture, palm-lined streets, and expansive sea views.
This beautiful, bucket list city in France has one of the best old towns I’ve ever visited, full of hidden squares, colorful hues, tiny streets, and cafes and restaurants everywhere. The beaches stretch on forever in Nice – kilometer after kilometer of wide open beaches for lounging or sea bathing.
Plus, Nice makes for the perfect home base for exploring the French Riviera – as the trains quickly and easily take you up and down the coast.
I’ve explored Nice on three separate occasions, spending more than two weeks soaking in its unique atmosphere. And while I’ve crisscrossed the French Riviera and explored many regions of France, Nice holds a special place as one of my favorite spots in the whole country.
The city’s laidback ambiance offers a refreshing departure from the bustle of many big cities – the vibes are intoxicating! In this post, I’m sharing the best things to do in Nice, based on my personal experience in the city.
I hope you love it too!
Travel Resources to Quickly Plan Your Trip
Top Excursions and Activities in Nice:
- Provencal Specialties Food Tour (sample 20+ local foods, olive oil, and wine)
- Tour de France Wine Tasting Experience (sample 5+ wines with a guide)
- Towns of the French Riviera Day Trip (very small group, visit 5+ cities)
- Private 1 Hour Mediterranean Boat Cruise (can expand to more than 1 hour)
Top Hotel Options in Nice
- Hotel Albert Premier (centrally located, budget option)
- Palais Saleya Boutique Hotel (lovely and right in Old Town)
- Westminster Hotel and Spa Nice (beautiful hotel, right on Mediterranean)
- Don’t forget travel insurance! I always purchase insurance from Insure My Trip – get a free quote here
29 Amazing Things to Do in Nice, France
I’m here to help you find the best things to see and do in Nice, including unique experiences, top points of interest, best museums, gardens, churches, and more! This post is really a deep dive into the city, showcasing the varied experiences that await you in Nice.
Top Experiences to Have in Nice
Food tours have long been one of my favorite types of experiences to have in a city, and this food tour featuring Provencal specialties was no exception. I did this tour on my most recent trip to Nice, and even though I’ve visited Provence multiple times, I was still exposed to many new foods.
We walked around the market and sampled different produce, olives, and prepared goods. We visited a historic candy shop and tried various candied fruits and nuts – traditional for Christmas time.
We stopped by a cheese stand and enjoyed the most delicious charcuterie board, complete with fresh tomatoes and grapes from the market.
We ate unique Nicoise cuisine like tarte de blettes (a pastry made with swiss chard), socca (a chickpea crepe), and petit farcis nicoise (stuffed vegetables). We sampled Provencal olive oil and balsamic vinegar, sipped local white wine and rosé, and tried many other little foods and treats beyond what I can mention here.
And all this was done with the most delightful guide and in a small group setting, learning about Nice’s history and culture as you eat your way through the city.
It’s seriously a must-do when in Nice.
Check availability and rates for this Nice Foodie Tour here
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Of course, maybe you’re more interested in French wine than Provencal cuisine, or you just to spend an afternoon sipping some of the best wines in the world (there are over 27,000 wineries scattered all around France, producing over 200 wine varieties!)
If that’s the case, then this French wine tasting is for you! In the back of a wine shop right in Old Town, an expert sommelier guides you through the process of smelling, tasting, and savoring 5 different selections of wine (including red, white, and rosé).
In addition, your sommelier will explain the region the wines come from, notable features, and the production process to grow the grapes and create the wine.
This experience lasts 2 hours, so it’s easy to add to your Nice itinerary.
Check rates and availability for this wine tasting here
There’s nothing like being out on the azure blue, glistening water of the Mediterranean, and the coastline of the Riviera is gorgeous – filled with rocky coves and inlets to explore, and beautiful villas to admire as you dangle your feet in the sea.
You have a couple of options for private boat tours from Nice:
One Hour Private Tour: This option is a one-hour, private cruise in a solar-powered boat. You’ll sail along the coast of France, passing by several quaint villages and expansive villas.
Half Day Private Boat Tour: Alternatively, there’s an option for a half-day boat excursion, for just your own party. From Nice you’ll sail towards Cannes or Monaco, with time to jump off the back of the boat and swim or snorkel in the Mediterranean waters.
While going to local restaurants are fun and delicious, we’ve really, really loved doing cooking classes while we travel. They offer such a unique insight into the regional culture, and you learn some new skills, plus you get to chat with a local, which is so interesting!
This cooking class in the countryside of Nice is perfect for enjoying a provincial afternoon. Surrounded by olive trees, you’ll pick produce and herbs from the garden as you create a delicious French Mediterranean meal.
Your host, Marie, will guide you through the process of preparing the French dishes, and then you’ll all share the meal together out on her terrace, overlooking the countryside.
Check availability for this French provincial cooking class
While I love wandering a city by myself, doing a walking tour with a knowledgeable local is undoubtedly a great way to really learn about the city, its history, and all those interesting hidden gems and tidbits that only a local can tell you about.
This guided walking tour of Old Nice is a fantastic option – the tour guide is energetic, engaging, knowledgeable, and really brings the Old City to life with stories and anecdotes (They don’t have over 800 5-star reviews for nothing!)This will definitely be 2 hours well spent.
Check rates and availability for this walking tour here
Top Attractions in Nice
6. Stroll The Promenade Des Anglais
The Promenade des Anglais is one of the most iconic spots in Nice – this extensive promenade stretches for miles along the coastline and is lined by palm trees and beautiful buildings.
The promenade is very wide, with plenty of space to stroll, sit, relax, and indulge in the greatest of all pastimes: people-watching. There’s also a dedicated bike path that is used by many bikers.
You can access all the beaches directly from stairs leading down from the promenade – making the area a central hub for seaside enjoyment.
For a more fast-paced experience, hop on a city bike, easily accessible through the Velo Bleu app. Download the app in advance, input your personal details, and then all you need to do is scan the QR code at one of the many bike stations around the city.
Stephanie’s Pro Tip: Go for a leisurely walk or run during the daytime to soak in the sun and stunning sea views, and then come back at night to enjoy the magical hues of a sunset stroll. We usually come to the Promenade multiple times during our visits to Nice!
As you stroll, watch for the iconic Hotel Le Negresco, located right off the Promenade. This historic hotel is almost like a palace, designed with opulent luxury in mind.
Make sure you walk right to the eastern edge of the Promenade, right under Castle Hill. Here, you’ll get an incredible view back over the Promenade, the sea, and the city, and you can snap a picture with the I Love Nice sign.
Walking the promenade is one of my absolute favorite things to do in Nice – there’s just such a great vibe and the views can’t be beat.
7. Castle Hill
Castle Hill is a tall hill that looms over Old Town, on the far eastern edge of the Promenade des Anglais. While the castle itself is long gone, the hill still offers several interesting things to do.
To start, there are incredible, sweeping views over the Promenade des Anglais on one side and the Port on the other. There’s a waterfall in the middle of the hill, as well as archeological ruins, a children’s playground, walking trails, and a large Christian and Jewish cemetery at the back of the hill.
There are several access points to Castle Hill, but I’d recommend going up the stairs that are right by the Hotel Suisse, just off the Promenade. Explore the hill as much as you want, and then descend on the opposite side of the hill to the port (more on that next).
This map illustrates these two paths:
8. Port Lympia
The Port of Nice, also known as Port Lympia is one of the most important harbors on the French Mediterranean. I love a leisurely stroll through the port – it’s a charming combination of speedboats, fishing boats, sailboats, and larger yachts against the painted background of the colorful buildings surrounding the port.
When you finish exploring the port, swing back west via the Promenade and see an impressive war memorial carved into the hill cliff. The Monuments aux Morts (or the Monument of the Dead) is dedicated to the fallen of World War I.
9. Place Massena
Place Massena is a central square between the Jardin Albert I and Old Town. It boasts gorgeous neoclassical architecture and the prominent Fontaine du Soleil, which features a statue of Apollo.
Red and ochre buildings surround the expansive square, and the ground is adorned with a distinctive black and white checkerboard pattern. It’s a unique and absolutely stunning square!
10. Relax in the Jardin Albert I and the Promenade du Paillon
Nice has a long street of gardens that runs north from the Promenade des Anglais and separates Old Town from the Carré d’Or neighborhood of New Town.
This area has a little bit of everything and is an absolutely delightful greenspace in Nice.
The Jardin Albert I sits between the sea and Place Massena and has walking paths, manicured lawns, flowers and plants, and several large sculptures.
Just north of Place Massena is the Promenade du Paillon. This part of the park is long and skinny, and has a lot of fun features. Don’t miss the Fontaine Miroir d’Eau – a shallow reflecting “pool” with a grid of fountains that are turned on and off throughout the day. Essentially an elevated splashpad, this area is open for visitors to walk and splash through.
We also love the imaginative playground with play structures shaped like sea creatures, and the various sculptures throughout the garden. There is also a wide variety of plants, from flowers to palm trees, both local and exotic, and lots of benches to sit down and relax, or enjoy a picnic lunch.
11. Hit the Beach
Spending time at the beach is a top activity in Nice no matter when you visit.
Of course, the water feels great in the hot summer months, but even in cooler weather, there are always still people enjoying the sunset or evening waves, sharing drinks, or having a picnic.
There are miles and miles of beaches to choose from along the coastline, with private beach clubs interspersed with public beach areas. Anyone can rent a sun lounger + umbrella or eat at one of the beachside restaurants at the beach clubs along the shore.
Stephanie’s Pro Tip: Except for one tiny section, the beaches in Nice are rocky – which means that if you want to lay out, a good thick towel is very helpful, and you DEFINITELY need some sturdy sandals or water shoes, even for wading. Those rocks do not feel good on your bare feet, trust me!
12. Explore Old Town
Old Town is the soul of Nice – one of the most historic parts of the city, a labyrinth of narrow, winding streets that invite exploration. I love Nice’s old town so, so much. I’ve explored so many old towns in France and Europe in general, and Nice’s is just top-notch – so cute and charming, and actually pretty large.
As you wander, you’ll stumble onto numerous beautiful squares and historic churches. The buildings, painted in golden, orange, pink, and red hues create picture-perfect moments around every corner.
Old Town is also home to many top-rated restaurants and cute boutiques or specialty shops, with small wicker tables spilling out onto the streets, and enticing smells layering in every alley.
Place Rossetti is my personal favorite of the many charming squares in Old Town – I love the fountain, the little cafes, the regal cathedral (more on this below), and the plethora of delicious gelato stands.
Stephanie’s Pro Tip: Fenocchio has dozens of flavors and is a popular gelato shop at Place Rossetti, (and I do like their gelato), but you can’t miss the creme brulée gelato at Azzurro, just a few steps from the cathedral.
13. The Marché Aux Fleurs Flower and Produce Market
This charming flower market was first established to sell flowers to perfume makers in the region, but today has blossomed into a sprawling, bustling market selling all kinds of delectable food products.
The Marché aux Fleurs is located on the Cours Saleya, near the sea in the Old Town, and in addition to flowers, offers fruit, vegetables, and lots of local food specialties.
Think rows of olives, candied flowers, cheese and dried meats, local honey and jam, nougats and candies, and even some hot Provencal dishes prepared for immediate consumption.
The market is popular with locals and tourists alike and is a great place to pick up some local specialties to bring home with you.
The market is open every morning except for Mondays. On Mondays, the Cours Saleya hosts an antique market, filled with all sorts of fascinating antiques, old dishes and china, jewelry, art, and cute little French trinkets. The last time I was in Nice, I was absolutely enamored with all the old tea sets!
Discover More of the French Riviera
Besides being an engaging city on its own, there are a ton of incredible options for day trips from Nice to unbelievably adorable coastal towns and hill villages nearby. The tiny country of Monaco is also just a short train ride away, and there are also many vineyards where you can go on a wine tour.
You definitely need to take advantage of everything the French Riviera has to offer and go on a day trip or two (or seven!) from Nice.
Here are a few excellent day trip options:
14. Day Trip to Monaco
If you’re interested in all glitz and glam, consider this small group tour to Monaco. You’ll get transportation, plus an in-depth guided tour of some of the most interesting spots in the city, with a lot of behind the scenes information and local tidbits.
Check rates and availability for this day trip here
15. Whirlwind Tour of the French Riviera
This full day, action-packed, quick hit best of the Riviera tour introduces you to 6 different bucket list cities and villages on the French Riviera.
Enjoy visiting spots in France like Antibes, Cannes, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Eze, La Turbie and Monaco. You’ll have about an hour in most of these spots (with a longer stop to see more sites in Monaco), plus a few stops between the cities for a photo-op at great views.
Of course, hitting 7 cities in one day means that each stop is more of an overview than a long, lingering exploration of each city, but it’s perfect for anyone who wants to see and experience the variety that southern France has to offer.
I’ve visited all of these spots, and they are all different, yet all so charming in their own way.
16. Riviera Villages + Monaco
Another fantastic option is a combination of small villages and glitzy Monaco. In this day trip, you’ll first visit the village of Eze, a charming hilltop village that overlooks the sea (and is one of my top favorite villages).
Then you’ll head to La Turbie, a hidden gem hilltop village known for the insane view over Monaco. Finally, you’ll head down into Monaco, visiting the Prince’s Palace, several sites around Old Town, and ending with a visit to the Monte Carlo Casino.
Check rates and availability for this day trip here
17. Wine Tour to French Countryside Vineyards
During this idyllic wine tour, you’ll explore 3 different vineyards in the vicinity of Nice. Enjoy a behind the scenes look at the intricate process of wine-making, as you tour the vineyards and the wine cellars. Following the tour, you’ll be treated to a wine-tasting session guided by a seasoned sommelier.
You’ll get a long stop for lunch in a nearby quaint village in the middle of the day before continuing on your wine tour. The rural landscapes and vineyards are truly captivating, with spectacular views.
Museums to Visit
Good to Know: If you plan to visit a couple of the museums in Nice, it’s worth purchasing the Nice Museum Pass. this pass costs 15 euro, is valid for four days, and gets you into *most* of the museums and galleries in Nice.
18. Musée Matisse
Henri Matisse was a painter and sculptor who was an influential part of the modern art movement. Matisse spent many of his later years working in Nice, and ended up dying in the city.
The Matisse Museum in Nice houses one of the world’s largest collections of Matisse’s works of art. Matisse experimented with many different styles and mediums, and there is a large variety of paintings, sketches, sculptures, and stained glass on display.
I also liked the look into Matisse’s life and the personal touches included in the museum – including a large display map showing Matisse’s travels throughout his life, and Matisse’s actual art cabinet, filled with tubes of paint and various tools.
- Hours: 10am-5pm or 6pm (depending on the season), closed Tuesdays
- Price: 12 euro
19. Chagall Museum
Marc Chagall was a Jewish man from Belarus, who ended up spending most of his adult life in France. He generally painted in the modern style, and was a master at using vivid, evocative colors in his works. He lived for a long period at the end of his life in the town of Vence, not far from nice, and is buried in Saint-Paul-de-Vence.
The Chagall Museum in Nice is dedicated to the Biblical series done by the painter. Almost all of the paintings depict Biblical scenes, and are large scale and really beautiful. There are also other mediums displayed – such as stained glass, a painted harpsichord, and a mural on an exterior wall.
I personally really enjoyed this museum and the works of art displayed here – they felt very peaceful and soothing.
- Cost: 8 euro (and this museum is not included in the Nice Museum Pass)
20. Villa Massena Museum
The Villa Massena is my favorite type of museum – where the building itself is grand and beautiful, and an exhibit in its own right.
André Masséna was born in Nice and became a high-ranking military officer during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. In fact, he was one of Napoleon’s most trusted commanders throughout his reign.
Villa Massena was purchased by his grandson, and dedicated to the city in remembrance of the famous French commander. The park around the manor is free and open to the public.
The main level is full of opulent and luxurious historical grand rooms. You can walk through the dining room, library, entry hall, as well as a few sitting rooms. Marble columns, chandeliers, large paintings, mosaic floors, carved friezes, decorative accents, and sculptures adorn the rooms
Upstairs is more like a true museum, with several rooms about the nobility of Nice, as well as exhibits about Napoleon and Josephine, including their clothing, death masks, paintings, and some personal items.
There are also some exhibits and a lot of pictures of what Nice used to look like and how it used to function in the 1700-1800’s, which I found fascinating.
The informational signs are only in French, so unless you can read French, this is a good place for Google Translate.
21. Archeological Museum of Nice Cimiez
The Archeological Museum has inside exhibits with objects, statues, and columns recovered from the Roman occupation of Cimiez.
Outside, you can walk through the Roman thermal baths that filled this area.
To be frank, this museum was only so-so for me. I personally wasn’t overly interested in the items displayed inside, and for the most part, the thermal baths outside are in a pretty advanced state of ruin. The picture above is definitely the coolest part of the archeological site.
However, if you’re someone who thinks about the Roman Empire on a regular basis, you probably would be more interested in this museum. And if you’re already up in Cimiez and already have the Nice Museum Pass, then it might be worth some time to pop in and take a look. I want to mention it so you know it’s an option, but I wouldn’t call this a must-do in Nice.
22. Discover Roman Ruins in the Cimiez Neighborhood
Cimiez is a beautiful, upscale, and ancient historical neighborhood in the north part of Nice. During Roman times, this area was called Cemenelum and had a number of classic Roman structures.
Today, you can visit the Arènes de Cimiez, the ruins of an old Roman amphitheater, and walk through the adjacent gardens, a wild park filled with olive trees and old French men playing petanque.
Churches to Visit
Like most of Europe, Nice has no shortage of gorgeous, interesting churches to visit. Even if you’re not religious, I think it’s still worth stopping into some of these churches and cathedrals to admire the beautiful architecture and soaring spaces.
23. Cathedrale Sainte-Reparate
Cathedrale Sainte Reparate is located in Nice’s Old Town, in Place Rossetti. The exterior is lovely, with a detached bell tower that gets perfectly framed between the streets leading into the square.
Inside, however, will definitely take your breath away. Intricate gold leafing, marble columns and flooring, elaborate friezes, and a tall domed ceiling make this a truly stunning cathedral.
24. Eglise Saint Jacques Le Majeur
Eglise Saint Jacques le Majeur is a bit of a hidden gem church in Nice. Tucked away on a small side street in Old Town, this church is smaller than the Cathedral Sainte Reparate, but if anything, it’s even more ornate.
Much of the ceiling is painted blue, and intricate sculptures adorn the arches and columns – it’s absolutely lovely.
25. Notre Dame de l’Assomption Church
Notre Dame de l’Assomption of Nice resembles the famous Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, just at a much smaller scale. While smaller, it is still an impressive and intricate basilica.
It has many of the hallmarks of Gothic architecture, with two towers on the front, beautiful, grandiose stained glass windows, and soaring, pointed arches inside.
- Hours: 9am-12pm, 4-7pm daily
26. Russian Orthodox Cathedral
Also known as the Cathédrale Saint-Nicolas de Nice, this cathedral is an unexpected glimpse of Russia in the heart of Nice. It was built for the sizeable Russian community that had settled in Nice by the beginning of the 20th century (the church was completed in 1912).
The outside has the striking onion domes associated with the Russian Orthodox churches, and the inside is ornately decorated with colors, gold leafing, and paintings on the walls and ceilings.
27. Monastery of Cimiez
The Monastery of Cimiez is located just adjacent to the Arenes de Cimiez and the gardens of the Arenes de Cimiez and is a lovely, quiet church in the northern neighborhood of Nice.
The monastery ceilings are covered in colorful paintings of religious scenes and there’s a tiny museum in the cloisters just next to the church entrance.
Definitely don’t miss the beautiful Monastery gardens, which are lovely and peaceful. In the very back of the gardens, you can get a fantastic view out over Nice!
28. Sample Nicoise Cuisine
Nicoise cuisine reflects the city’s coastal culture, as well as the historical influence of trading routes, which introduced many foreign ingredients that are now a staple in Nice’s food culture.
A few dishes you absolutely must try in Nice include:
- Salade Nicoise, a refreshing green salad featuring tuna, olives, and anchovies
- Socca, a thin savory chickpea pancake, often eaten as street food
- Pissaladiere, a pizza-like dish with anchovy paste, onions, and olives
- Pan Bagnat, a sandwich brimming with tuna, vegetables, and a hint of garlic
Beyond these iconic dishes, Nice’s culinary scene heavily involves fresh seafood, aromatic herbs, and locally sourced produce, creating a wide variety of delicious foods to try.
Get aaaalll the details about the foods you need to try and the best restaurants in the city in my guide to what to eat in Nice.
Or, book your spot on my favorite food tour to sample a huge selection of high-quality regional specialties.
29. Swing by Villefranche & Cap Ferrat
Just outside of Nice is the village of Villefranche-sur-Mer and the peninsula of Cap Ferrat. Villefranche is truly one of the most delightful villages on the Riviera, full of pastel-colored buildings and a quaint waterside walkway. It also has one of the few sandy beaches in the region.
Just next to Villefranche is Cap Ferrat, a peninsula full of gorgeous villas, rocky coves, a teeny tiny village, and a long, coastal walkway.
The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, located on Cap Saint Jean Ferrat, is open to visitors, and offers a beautiful, pink villa with beautiful interior decor and architecture, and 9 different themed gardens.
Finally, walking the sentier du littoral (coastal walkway) that lines the perimeter of the peninsula is an excellent way to spend an afternoon – it’s about 6 miles/10km to do the whole walkway, and the views are gorgeous!
I would consider all of these places hidden gems near Nice.
Map of Nice Attractions
Where Should You Stay When Visiting Nice?
Choosing where to stay in Nice can influence what type of trip you have in the city, depending on whether you want to be oceanside, right in Old Town, farther away off the tourist track, or if you want to stay at a hotel with a pool in Nice.
Both of these guides (linked in the paragraph above) highlight the best areas and hotels in Nice for all types of travelers.
How Long Should You Spend in Nice?
I think that two full days is a perfect amount of time to hit up all the fun things to do in Nice, although you can see many of the top sites with just one day in Nice. I would plan for another 1-3 more days for day trips to nearby cities and villages!
What to Do In Nice – The Wrap Up
Is Nice worth visiting? My answer is a resounding HECK YES. After traveling extensively through France, it remains one of my absolute favorite places to visit.
Whether you visit for the beaches, the architecture, the food, the laid-back vibe, or the access to other points in Provence, you will not be disappointed with all that Nice has to offer.