17 Top Things to Do in Nice, France in 2022

Looking for the absolute best things to do in Nice, France? I’ve got you covered! Read on for all my top Nice recommendations.

While Paris has the moniker of “The City of Love”, it is far from the only romantic locale in France. Nice is a gorgeous, romantic and underrated city in France. In addition to its beauty, there so many hidden gems to explore, fantastic experiences to have, and memories to make in Nice. It really is a location that should be on everyone’s France bucket list.

Nice (pronounced “Neese”) is located right on the Mediterranean Sea, in a region of France known as the French Riviera, or the Cote d’Azur. Nice comes in at the 7th largest city in France, and while definitely not a little town, it has a much more laid back and relaxed vibe than larger cities like Paris or even Marseilles.

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17 Amazing Things to Do in Nice, France

Let’s jump right into the list of best things to do in Nice, but make sure you read to the end for a lot of helpful tips and information!

Here are my favorite things to do and see in the beautiful city of Nice, France:

1. Stroll The Promenade Des Anglais

A high up view of the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. You can see the Mediterranean on the left, then the beach, the wide sidewalk, and finally, the old town on the right. It's one of the best things to do in Nice.

The most famous attraction and jewel of Nice is the Promenade Des Anglais (the English Walkway) – a very wide boardwalk right along the Mediterranean. It extends for miles and has access points down to the beaches (which are beautiful, but rocky).

Along the path you will find people running, walking, biking, roller-blading, and (the greatest of all past times) people watching. And I recommend all of them!

Walking the promenade is one of my favorite things to do in Nice (and just may be my #1 overall favorite thing) – there’s just such a great vibe and the views can’t be beat.

Along the seaside, there are also numerous restaurants/bars on the beach where you can relax while watching the waves. City-side, there are mainly apartment buildings, but you will also find some restaurants and some of the iconic buildings of Nice, such as the Hotel Negresco. 

Keep your eyes open for this famous building!

With serene ocean views on one side and typical French Mediterranean buildings lining the other side of the street, it’s a location you can come back every day to enjoy. We walked on it multiple times and it was invigorating every time.

At least once, be sure to walk all the way to the point by Castle Hill – there is a great lookout spot with a picture perfect view of Nice.

You’ll find the best viewpoint back over the Promenade here

2. Vélo Bleu Rentals

The Vélo Bleu is the city-wide bike rental system for Nice and the surrounding towns. Renting a bike and cruising around for an hour is a really fun way to go sightseeing in Nice.

Renting a bike and using the system is really easy. Download the Vélo Bleu app on your phone before you go, and input your credit card information.

Then, when you’re in town, open the app to find the closest available bike rental spot, scan the QR code, and away you go! When you are done, you can return the bike to any open spot, not necessarily the one you picked it up from. It’s a really carefree way to experience the city and a bit of a hidden gem in Nice for tourists.

The price is very reasonable – it’s 1.50 euro to subscribe, and then the first 1/2 hour is free, the second 1/2 hour is 1 euro, and any hours after that are 2 euro/hr.

3. Explore Old Town

There are few things I enjoy as much as exploring an old town painted in orange and yellow hues, and discovering all the little gems tucked away. Tucked away in the narrow, winding streets are numerous restaurants, their enticing smells layering in every alley. Around every corner you’ll find cute specialty shops catering to a variety of tastes. Old Town is for sure one of the best places to visit in Nice.

We particularly like stopping by L’Atelier Des Cigales (The Cicada Workshop), a little shop selling handmade provincial pottery, and swinging by Place Rossetti for gelato or crepes. After your snack, drop into the Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate de Nice, a towering, stately cathedral off of Place Rossetti.

Throughout the winding streets of Old Town, you’ll find stores selling olive oil, spices and herbs, local made soaps, candy, and clothes – all really interesting and many are locally made products.

The whole neighborhood has a very distinct feel from the rest of Nice. Where much of the rest of the city feels open, airy, and bright, the Old Town is tighter and has darker, richer colors. You really feel you’ve entered a different place!

4. Take a Walking Tour of Nice

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, it’s history, and all those interesting hidden gems and tidbits that only a local can tell you about.

This guided walking tour is a fantastic option – the tour guide is energetic, engaging, knowledgeable, and really brings the Old City to life with stories and anecdotes! This will definitely be 2 hours well spent.

👉Book this guided walking tour here👈

Alternatively, a great option if you like the idea of having a guided tour but also like exploring at your own pace is this self-guided audio tour. Just download the app on the your phone before coming to Nice, pop in your headphones, and get an in-depth tour of old town while you wander!

👉Book this self-guided audio tour here👈

5. Marché Aux Fleurs (Flower Market)

marche-aux-fleurs-nice
marche-aux-fleurs-nice
Visiting the market is a can’t miss thing to do in Nice!

This charming flower market is place that locals frequent for their daily produce, but is also an attraction in its own right!

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, sea food, and other food products.

I think one of the funnest parts of vacations is trying to imagine yourself as a true local and markets are *the* place to do that. Whether you pick up some flowers for your room, browse goods to bring home as souvenirs (look for soaps, lavender products, jams, herbs, and olive oil), or grab something to eat, this is the place for you, and is definitely one of the best local places to visit in Nice.

After visiting the market, you can stop to relax and enjoy a drink at one of the many cafes lining the street as you watch others go about their day.

  • Hours: Open every day except Monday.

Read More: What to Eat in Nice for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

6. Jardin Albert I – Best Things To Do In Nice

The Jardin Albert I has a little bit of everything, and is an absolutely delightful greenspace in Nice. It starts right at the Promenade des Anglais and heads north and east for several blocks, hugging the edge of Old Town.

In this garden you can find plenty of grassy areas, as well as several fun features. There is an interactive fountain/splashpad area, a fantastically imaginative playground with the structures shaped like sea creatures, and various sculptures. There is also a wide variety of plants, from flowers to palm trees, both local and exotic.

Wandering through the garden, people watching, enjoying the respite from the city while admiring the beautiful surroundings is one of my favorite things to do in Nice – we always come through here a few times during our stay.

7. Place Massena

Situated right by (and almost inside of) the Jardin Albert I is Place Massena. This square is very distinctive, with a checkboard pattern on the ground, bright red buildings around the periphery, and a large fountain.

It’s a great photo-op spot and a definite must-see in Nice.

8. La Colline Du Château (Castle Hill)

As you walk east down the Promenade, you will see that it curves up and out towards the sea as it wraps around a hill. This hill — La Colline du Chateau, or Castle Hill — is great for exploring and is one of the best things to do in Nice.

On the west side, you can access the hill from the Promenade via (a ton of) stairs that start just to the left of Hotel Suisse. From the Port area on the east side, you can access it by a maze of short ramps and staircases.

Two ways to access the Colline du Chateau. As you come up the Promenade, look for Hotel Suisse, the stairs start just to the left of the hotel.

We’ve accessed it using both sides and I think both are interesting enough to recommend that you go up one way and come down another. Our favorite route is to go up the stairs from the Promenade and down into the port side – more on that in the next section!

On the hill, you have lots of points of interest to see, such as a cemetery, an old watch tower, and the ruins of an old church. There are also fun features like a waterfall and a park that many locals use. And of course you have absolutely gorgeous views back over the city and out to the sea.

castle-hill-nice
castle-hill-nice

9. The Port

The Port of Nice, also known as Port Lympia while much smaller than the nearby Port of Marseille, is nonetheless one of the most important harbors on the French Mediterranean. It’s for sure worth a stroll by and through the port, particularly as many very large and very fancy yachts are anchored here. Your yacht envy will definitely be triggered here!

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.

We happened to be there on VE Day (May 8) and there was a stirring tribute being done there by war veterans.

10. Musée Matisse 

This museum houses one of the world’s largest collections of Matisse’s works of art. That in and of itself makes it worth a visit, but the museum is located in an old, 17th century villa with an adjacent garden and grounds area.

The museum displays a sampling of Matisse’s paintings, sketches, scultpures, and stained glass. If you are an art lover, this is a great stop to make.

  • Hours: 10am-5pm, closed Tuesdays
  • Price: 10 euro

11. Hit the Beach

In the summer, hitting the beach is one of the best things to do in Nice. You can find large swaths of beaches all along the Promenade – there’s a lot of space to choose from. The beaches are filled with sunbathers and swimmers enjoying the refreshing Mediterranean water.

If you visit during the spring, fall, or winter months, it might be too chilly for laying out in your bathing suit or swimming in the sea, but there are always still people enjoying the sunset or evening waves, sharing drinks, or having a picnic. Since Nice rarely gets extremely cold, it’s generally a pleasant place to visit year round.

Tip: Do note that the beach is a rocky beach – which means that if you want to lay out, a good thick towel is very helpful, and you DEFINITELY need some rubber flip flops or other form of footwear to walk, even for wading. Those rocks do not feel good on your bare feet, trust me!

12. Notre Dame de l’Assomption Church

If you’ve visited Paris or even just seen pictures of the world famous Notre Dame in Paris, you’ll notice that the Notre Dame de l’Assomption of Nice looks like her little sister! 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. It’s definitely worth a visit!

The church is about a 15 minute walk north of the Promenade des Anglais. If you need a break from all the walking, you could also take the tram that runs north and south along Avenue Jean Medecin.

  • Hours: 9am-12pm, 4-7pm daily

13. Mediterranean Cooking Class

One of the absolute best things to do in Nice is sample the local cuisine!

While restaurants are fun, we’ve loved doing cooking classes while we travel. They offer such a unique insight into the regional culture, plus you get to chat with a local, which is so interesting! And of course, the food is always top notch!

This cooking class in the countryside of Nice is perfect for enjoying a provincial afternoon. Surrounded by olive trees, you’ll pick pick produce and herbs from the garden as you create a delicious Mediterranean meal.

👉Book your Mediterranean cooking class here👈

14. Food Tour of Nice

Or, if you’d rather dive into the restaurant scene of Nice with a knowledgeable local, consider a food tour of Nice, which will introduce you to a whole sampling of some of the best regional food the French Riviera has to offer.

Food tours in new cities are an excellent way to try many new foods (without having to cook!) and learn a lot of little tidbits about the dishes, the region, and the culture. We really love food tours!

👉 Check availability for this Nice food tour here👈

15. Russian Orthodox Cathedral

Also known as the Cathédrale Saint-Nicolas de Nice, this cathedral looks like it could be right in the heart of St. Petersburg! The outside has the striking onion domes associated with the Russian Orthodox churches, and the inside is ornately decorated with colors and and paintings on the walls and ceilings.

You can stop by the cathedral and explore the inside between 10am-6pm, and when a service is not currently in session. Note that no pictures are allowed inside.

While this is outside the area with the other main tourist sites in Nice, it’s walkable from the Jardin Albert I in about 25 minutes. Alternatively, you can pick up bus #8 that will take you up pretty close to the Cathedral. It runs fairly parallel to the Jardin Albert I and the Promenade du Paillon – check Google maps for the closest stop!

16. Private Mediterranean Cruise along the Coast

The beautiful coast of France from the sea!

What is more peaceful and romantic than enjoying the sun and waves of the Mediterranean while cruising along the coast of France? You have a few options for private boat tours from Nice.

The first is one hour, private sunset cruise in a solar-powered boat. You’ll sail the along hte coast of France, passing by several quaint villages and expansive villas.

You’ll set sail from the Beaulieu-sur-Mer port, a little suburb that’s just outside of Nice. From there, it’s on to cruising along the sea. Since this is a private tour, it’s just you – no one else to disturb or disrupt you (including the boat – since it’s solar-powered, it’s very quiet)

Dangle your feet in the water and watch the French countryside pass by as you watch the sunset over the sea. Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild in particular is a gorgeous place to see, but the entire coastline is charming and gorgeous.

👉Book your private Mediterranean cruise here👈

Alternatively, there’s an option for a longer boat excursion, for just your own party. From Nice you’ll sail towards Cannes or Monaco, riding along the coast and admiring all the beautiful villas and little spots. There’s time to jump off the back of the boat and swim or snorkle in the Mediterranean waters. This boat excursion lasts about four hours and is good for a small group of people!

👉Book this longer private Mediterranean boat excursion here👈

17. Go on a Day Trip

Besides being an interesting city with lots of places to visit on its own, Nice is really well-situated for day trips to surrounding coastal towns and hill villages. You definitely want to take advantage of that and plan a day trip or two – there are so many places to explore in Provence! These are some suggestions for places you could consideir visiting:

  • We love the village of Menton! You can see the border of Italy from Menton, and it has a particularly colorful and vibrant old town.
  • There’s also the Sentier Littoral (coastal path) in Antibes, where you walk on an interesting and scenic path that is literally right on the edge of the sea.
  • The glittering city of Monaco is another great option if you want to see the casinos and admire extremely expensive cars on the streets.
  • If you fancy a slightly more rigorous hike, just outside of Cassis is the Calanque National Park, where you can make the trek to the stunning calanque d’en Vau.
  • Alternatively, you can canoe, paddleboat, or swim in the La Gorge du Verdon, a deep canyon with turquoise water.

Note: Each of these above links takes you to an article I’ve written about the destination, which includes how to get there. However, this is just a very small sampling of what the Cote d’Azur has to offer. There are charming villages all over the region that you could spend weeks exploring.

Great Excursion Options for Exploring The French Riviera

If you want to hit several spots in one day, you may want to consider a small group tour of several towns in the area. These are some tours that are a great value and show some of the most beautiful and interesting locations in the French Riviera:

➡️If you’re interested in all glitz and glam, consider a 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.

👉Book this Monaco tour here👈

➡️Alternatively, this very small group tour takes you to several unique, exciting, and adorable spots in the French countryside, including Cannes (location of the film festival), Grasse (most Provincial perfumeries are located here), Gourdon (a hilltop village), and Saint-Paul-de-Vence, (one of the cutest villages in all of France!)

👉Book this Provence village excursion here👈

➡️Another fantastic option is a combination of small villages and glitzy Monaco. In this experience, you’ll first visit the village of Eze, a charming hilltop village that overlooks the sea. Then you’ll head to La Turbie, another hilltop village that is known for it’s amazing views 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 Monte Carlo.

👉Book this Riviera + Monaco excursion here👈

➡️Finally, a trip to France just begs for a visit to the famed French wineries. This tour takes you to a winery outside of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, where you’ll learn about French wine production and participate in wine tastings. Afterwards, you’ll have time to strol and explore the charming village.

👉Book this French vineyard + wine tasting tour here👈

Map of Nice Attractions

Practical Information for Nice

Here are some important details for your trip to southern France:

Where Should You Stay When Visiting Nice?

Where to stay can definitely impact your trip to Nice. I prefer to stay within walking distance of the majority of the attractions, with means staying near the old town and old port areas of Nice. You definitely don’t need to stay IN old town, but I like staying within a 10-15 walking distance of the old town area.

I actually have an entire post dedicated to where to stay in Nice (7 great areas to choose from, which area is best for which type of traveler, and best hotels and VRBO’s in each area)

Read That Post Here: 7 Best Areas to Stay in Nice (Plus Hotel and VRBO recs!)

My Top Picks!

However, if you just want my top picks for where to stay in Nice, I’ve got you covered below!

✔️(Budget) Hotel de la Mer: Located right on Place Massena, this hotel has stylish, comfortable rooms and friendly staff, and is steps from several big attractions in Nice. 👉Book Hotel de la Mer here

✔️(Mid-Range) Mercure Nice Marché Aux Fleurs: Near the flower market in Old Town, and facing the sea, this hotel delivers on location, lovely rooms, and beautiful views. 👉Book the Mercure Nice here

✔️(Luxury) Hotel Le Negresco: This is THE most famous hotel in Nice, and it absolutely delivers on the hype. It’s almost like staying in a museum, with the beautiful art, decor, architecture, and design throughout the main areas and the guest rooms in the Carré d’Or neighborhood. 👉Book Hotel Le Negresco here

✔️($ Vacation Home)View of the Port Apartment: This apartment is newly renovated in a historic building, with some touches of old world charm mixed with modern amenities. The real draw for this location, though, is the view – a stunning vista over the port from every window in the flat! 👉 Book on VRBO here

✔️($$ Vacation Home) Beautiful, Spacious Garden View Flat: This is really the French apartment of my dreams – it has parquet hardwood floors, a French style fireplace, guilded mirrors, decorative molding, full length windows, and a garden overlook in the Jean-Medecin neighborhood. Swoon. 👉Book on VRBO here

How Long Should You Spend in Nice?

I think that two full days in Nice is a perfect amount of time to hit up all the things to do in Nice. I would plan for another 1-3 more days for day trips to nearby cities and villages!

How to Get Around Nice

Nice is a very walkable city. The vast majority of these places you will not need a car to get to, just your own two feet!

If you do want transport within the city, there is the bus system, the trams, taxis, and Uber. I would not recommend renting a car to get around Nice. However, if you are doing day trips, you might want a car rental – more on that in the “How To Get Around on Day Trips” section farther below!

Nice Travel Essentials

These are a few of my favorite travel esentials, things that I always reach for on vacations and are perfect for a getaway to Nice!

Sandals: You’ll definitely need good footwear for exploring the city. These sandals are my absolute favorite summer footwear – they are cushy and supportive and feel fantastic straight out of the box (I wear the “gold cork” option). I have struggled hardcore finding good sandals to wear on trips when I’m walking a lot, and these are THE best, by a long shot!

Sneakers: Alternatively, if its chilly or you would rather wear sneakers, I have loved these white, faux leather sneakers. Again, they are super cushy and keep my feet happy during long days walking around. I wouldn’t wear these on vacation straight out of the box, though – give them a couple weeks to break in, and then you’ll be golden!

Purse: A crossbody purse is essential for travel. I always travel with this purse (and keep it zipped and in front of my body to prevent pickpocketing).

Power Adaptors: France uses type C plugs, so if you are coming from the US (or another country that doesn’t use type C), you’ll need power adaptors to charge your electronics. These ones are inexpensive and come in a set of three!

Dresses: A trip to southern France (especially during the summer!) just calls for some light and airy dresses. I LOVE this one and own it in two prints, (now that I’m thinking about it, maybe I need a third…). I also love this dress, it’s just so dang easy to wear.

Earrings: Finally, these rattan tassel earrings and these circle rattan earrings are so cute– they are perfect for a southern France trip.

Read More: 35+ Favorite Travel Essentials for Women: Outfits, Accessories, and Gear

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!

Securing some travel insurance is an important part of prepping for any international trip – you never know when something might happen, and your regular insurance generally won’t cover you overseas. Costs for a medical emergency on vacation can add up extremely fast, so it’s just better to be safe than sorry. (And If covid has taught me anything, it’s that you never know what could happen!)  

I like booking insurance at Insure My Trip, as they offer a variety of plans with different coverages to choose from, so you can find the right option for you. Plus, they have great customer support if you need help before, during, or after your trip.

Check rates at Insure My Trip here!

How to Get Around on Day Trips

Within Nice, you can absolutely get around just by walking, or possibly by taking the bus or the tram if needed. However, if you venture out on some day trips (which I highly, highly recommend you do!), you’ll need some other forms of transportation. We’ve done just about every mode of transportation in southern France – train, bus, and rental car – and there are pros and cons to each!

Car

Renting a car gives you the most flexibility, but it is also the most hands-on option (need to navigate, find parking, etc). Thankfully, driving in France is fairly straightforward, road conditions are good, and traffic on the freeways isn’t bad at all.

Driving in downtown Nice is a little hectic, but worth it to get the flexibility. Once you get out of the old town area and onto the highway, traffic is a lot less busy. We chose this option on our second trip to southern France because some places we wanted to hit weren’t easily accessible to train and much less convenient by bus.

If you stay near the Old Town, there are several car rental spots very conveniently located on Avenue Gustave V (search for Nice city, and not just Nice airport). This was perfect – we waited until we needed the car to pick it up instead of renting it from the airport and then having it sit in a street parking while we explored Nice, and it was super convenient to pick up.

Most cars in France are manual transmission, so if that’s going to be a problem you’ll want to make your car reservation as early as possible (there are a limited number of automatic cars) and be prepared to spend a little more.

👉Explore rental cars in Nice here👈

Train

If the places you want to visit are easily accessible by train this is an excellent option for getting around southern France. You don’t have to mess with parking, tolls, driving in narrow old towns, or navigating.

However, sometimes the train routes do not connect directly to the places you want to visit. Plus, there is always less flexibility when you aren’t driving yourself.

Bus

This is the cheapest option, but honestly, this is my least favorite option because it’s the slowest. Buses can take a long time! It’s a good option though if you don’t need to go far. For example, if I was staying in Nice and wanted to visit Villefranche-sur-Mer, the village riiiiiight next to Nice, I wouldn’t take the train. It’s close enough to just take the bus.

So, which one to choose?

I would choose a car if…

  • You want to get places really early or stay late
  • If you are planning on going a new place everyday or almost every day
  • If the places you want to visit aren’t easily accessible by train (no direct route or the direct route is much slower than the driving time)

I would choose the train if…

  • You don’t want to deal with the hassle of parking and navigating
  • You are only doing a couple of day trips
  • You want the experience of taking the train in France
  • The places you want to go are easily accessible by train from where you’re staying

I would choose the bus if…

  • You are on an incredibly tight budget
  • The places you want to visit are super close to where you are staying

Final Thoughts on Best Things to Do In Nice

Is Nice worth visiting? My answer is a resounding HECK YES. After traveling around a lot of places in France, it remains one of my top top best 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 the interesting and exciting things to do in Nice!

Need More France Inspiration? Check out these articles:

This was post updated August 2022

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