Are you planning a trip to southern France and trying to figure out where to stay in Nice? I’ve got you covered – read on for my top recommendations!
The Mediterranean city of Nice is one of my very favorite destinations in all of France. It’s got a golden-hued old town, a bustling port, neighborhoods with beautiful Belle Époque architecture, and the most enjoyable seaside pathway. Plus, it’s well-situated to visit many other cities and villages in the French Riviera.
But with all of these perks and different areas comes the question – where should I stay in Nice?
This article gives you an overview of what several different areas around Nice can offer you, and the pros and cons of staying in each place. I also recommend my favorite hotels and vacation rentals in each neighborhood, to help you narrow down the choice even more!
My Top 3 Picks: Best Hotels in Nice
Where to Stay in Nice: 7 Best Neighborhoods
Here, I share my top neighborhoods I would recommend you stay on your visit to Nice. Each section describes the neighborhood and its pros and cons, plus some recommended hotels and vacation rentals in that area.
Hopefully, this will help you narrow down where to stay in Nice on your upcoming visit!
1. Old Town – Perfect for First Time Visitors and Being in the Center of the Action
Nice’s Old Town is cute and charming and well-preserved in all it’s orange and yellow hues. Here, you’ll find many restaurants, cafes, and shops down the narrow, winding streets. Around every corner, you’ll find cute specialty shops catering to a variety of tastes (we’ve seen shops for olive oil, spices, lavender, handmade ceramics, and more).
Closer to the sea, you’ll find the Cours Saleya, where the Marché aux Fleurs occurs every day except Monday. In addition to flowers, you’ll find fruits, vegetables, seafood, cheese, and artesanal products (e.g. jam). If you’re staying in a VRBO with a kitchen, you can pick up food here for some fresh, easy meals at home.
Place Rossetti is a square in the middle of old town, with gelato shops and cafes, and the Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate de Nice.
The tall Colline du Chateau flanks the Old Town on the eastern edge.
While there is a lot of charm to the area, there actually aren’t a lot of hotels in the Old Town area. There’s maybe 6 or 7 total, and I chose my favorite 3 that are linked below. If you’re really interested in staying in this area but hotels are full, definitely check out the vacation rentals – there are a lot more apartments for rent than hotels available in this area.
- Pros: Right in the heart of the city, lots of character and charm, beautiful golden buildings, close to a lot of attractions
- Cons: Can be hard to drive in (if you’re driving), it’s definitely the most touristy area of the city.
- Best For: If you want to be in the heart of the action and close to everything, if you love staying in the most historic and charming part of town, if you like vacation rentals (few hotel options). This is a good spot for first time visitors.
Hotels to Stay in Old Town:
Where to Stay in Old Town – Vacation Rentals:
($) Charming French Style Apartment in Old Town: This apartment in Old Town is cozy, updated, and decorated in a French style. The location in is fantastic – set among the beautiful, colorful streets of Old Town. 👉Book on VRBO here
($$) Stylish, Newly Renovated Apartment on Rue Rossetti: This recently updated apartment is incredibly modern and luxurious. You’re on more of a main street in Old Town, and right around the corner from the main square (Place Rossetti). 👉Book on VRBO here
2. The Port: Where to Stay in Nice for Maritime Enthusiasts and LGBTQ Visitors
While the Port of Nice (formally known as Port Lympia) is small compared to the one in Marseille, it is still an important Mediterranean port and houses some incredibly large yachts and seaworthy vessels. This is still considered part of “Old Nice,” so the buildings maintain a historic charm. However, you will definitely see less tourists on this part of town.
The Castle Hill is on the western edge of the Port neighborhood, and there is easy access to the hill from here.
You can also visit the Eglise Notre-Dame du Port de Nice here, a stately and beautiful church from the mid-1800’s that is directly opposite the harbor.
Rue Bonaparte, and the area around it, are known for being the center of gay bars and restaurants in Nice, and Place du Pin is a popular gay hangout square. It should be noted, however, that Nice is a very LGBTQ-friendly city overall, not just the Rue Bonaparte area.
- Pros: A beautiful port, trendy, lots of gay-friendly establishments
- Cons: Not very many hotels (this could be a pro as well depending on your POV!) – many more options for vacation rentals than hotels close to the port. You’re also more removed from the Promenade des Anglais, which is a favorite spot in Nice
- Best For: This is where to stay in Nice if you like boats or the sea, want to be in Old Nice but slightly more away from the crowds, or want to stay in the gay neighborhood.
Recommended Hotels to Stay in the Port:
Best Vaction Rentals in the Port:
($) Appartement Segurane: Light and airy with a beautiful little terrace, this apartment has everything you need for a stay in Nice. It’s also very conveniently located not far from the popular Rue Bonaparte! 👉Book on VRBO here
($$) 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
3. Promenade des Anglais: Where to Stay in Nice for Beach Lovers and Strolling Enthusiasts
The Promenade des Anglais is one of my favorite spots in all of Nice. It is a very wide, very long, beautiful sidewalk lined with palm trees, pergolas, and benches that runs for 7 km right along the beach.
You can see people running, walking, skating, biking, hanging out with friends, and accessing the beach from the Promenade. Fancy a little bike ride yourself? Download the Velo Bleu app to rent one of the city bikes, available at many locations along the Promenade and throughout the city.
(Note that beaches in this part of France are pebbly, not sandy! Bring some good sandals for walking on the beach or wading in the water.)
Pros: You’re right along the beach, promenade, and have sea views. The bus and tram run along the Promenade from the airport, which is convenient.
Cons: The street along the Promenade des Anglais is a fairly busy street, both with traffic and pedestrians, so you’ll have some noise from that. Accommodations with sea views can be more expensive.
Best for: The Promenade is the best place to stay in Nice for people who want those ocean views, or easy access to the beach or walking path. It’s also great for people who want easy access to public transportation.
Recommended Hotels on the Promenade des Anglais
Recommended Vacation Rentals on the Promenade des Anglais
($$) Stunning Beachfront Apartment along Promenade: This flat just screams “I’m on holiday in the French Riviera!” Views directly over the sea, the modern amenities, and some classically French décor and architectural details make this a really good spot for close access to the beach. 👉Book on VRBO here
($$$) Waterfront Panorama Seaview Apartment Near Negresco: This apartment is set up really well for a family, has a lot of really nice spaces, and is steps from the ocean! 👉Book on VRBO here
4. Jean-Medecin: Best Place to Stay in Nice for Shoppers
The Jean-Medecin neighborhood of Nice is in the heart of all the best shopping. We felt like the style of this neighborhood was a mix between classic French architecture and American beach-town. Expect less color and more whites and light yellow.
The heart of this area is the Avenue Jean-Medecin, a wide, grand avenue for pedestrians and the city tram (no other automobile traffic allowed). On this avenue and in the streets nearby, you’ll find plenty of shopping opportunities, from independent boutiques to well known brands, to souvenir shops.
Of note is the famous Galeries Lafayette store, and the Nice Etoile mall.
At the southern end of Avenue Jean-Medecin, is the Place Massena, a beautiful square lined with identical red buildings, arches pedestrian passageways, and black and white checkerboard streets. At the north you’ll find the Basilique Notre-Dame de l’Assomption, the little sister of the grand Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.
Finally, the Jean-Medecin neighborhood includes the Jardin Albert I and the Promenade du Paillon, a long, skinny park that divides Old Town from the new town and offers greenspace, benches for sitting, a very cool children’s playground, and a water fountain/splash pad area.
This area is usually pretty bustling, either with shoppers or with park-goers who want to enjoy the fresh air and nature.
- Pros: Close to Old Town, close to the Port, close to a lot of shops and restaurants
- Cons: Some parts can be farther from the sea
- Best for: This is the best spot to stay in Nice for anyone who wants to be in the action and near the stores. It actually is also a good option for families with little kids if being near a park and playground is important to you.
Where to Stay in Jean-Medecin – Recommended Hotels
Where to Stay in Jean-Medecin – Vacation Rentals
($) Rigoletto Massena Apartment: This apartment is updated, modern, comfortable, and just around the corner from Place Massena and a tram station. 👉Book on VRBO here
($$) Beautiful, Spacious Garden View Flat: This is really the French apartment of my dreams – it has parquet hardwood floors, a French style fireplace, guilded mirrors, decorative molding, full length windows, and a garden overlook. 👉Book on VRBO here
5. Carre d’Or: Where to Stay in Nice for A More Laid Back Vibe, Families
Carré d’Or means “Golden Square”, and this neighborhood is the chic, more upscale part of town.
There are several pedestrian-only zones here, with a lot of restaurants, and designer and boutique shops.
Buildings tend to be built in the beautiful Belle Époque style. The Hotel Le Negresco is the most famous example of an upscale, beautiful, historic building. It iconically overlooks the Promenade des Anglais.
Musée Massena (art from the French Riviera) and the Casino du Palais de la Méditerranée are also in the Carré d’Or district.
- Pros: Beautiful area, close to tons of sites without actually being in the sites, close to the sea
- Cons: Honestly, not any big cons come to mind!
- Best for: If you want to stay in a more residential area that is beautiful, but still very close to the sites.
Recommended Hotels in the Carré d’Or Neighborhood
Recommended Vacation Rentals in the Carré d’Or Neighborhood
($) Fantastic Modern One Bedroom: Bright, airy, modern, and comfortable, this flat is close to everything and has beautiful parquet floors. 👉Book on VRBO here
($$) Villa on the Roof Apartment: Perfect for a family or group, this apartment oozes old world charm and has a charming and very large rooftop terrace, perfect for enjoying summer evenings on the French Riviera. 👉Book on VRBO here
6. Gambetta – Where to Stay in Nice on a Budget
Gambetta is a residential neighborhood on the western side of Nice, with a mixture of architectural styles (modern, Art Deco, and Belle Epoque styles).
Of course, being a residential neighborhood, there aren’t that many sites here, one of the main draw is wandering the streets like a local.
There are a few attractions in this neighborhood, though. You’ll find the Alsace-Lorraine Gardens (a small garden with a playground), the Musée des Beaux Arts de Nice (The Museum of Fine Art), and the Cathédrale Saint-Nicolas de Nice (The Russian Cathedral).
Gambetta is bordered by the Promenade des Anglais and the sea on the south, so there is still easy access to the beach. It’s about a 20-25 minute walk to the Old Town, otherwise, the bus regularly comes through the neighborhood.
This neighborhood does tend to have lower prices on accommodations, though prices aren’t dramaticallly lower (e.g. half the cost).
- Pros: A quieter neighborhood away from the busiest parts of the city
- Cons: Farther away from most sites, will require a walk in to visit attractions in Nice
- Best For: Best for families, people on a budget, and those who want to stay away from the main tourist areas, in more residential neighborhoods.
Recommended Hotels in Gambetta
Recommended Vacation Rentals in Gambetta
($) Maison Cournichée Apartment: This apartment is an amazing value, with a full, comfortable, and clean apartment with modern amenities for a really low price. 👉Book on VRBO here
($$) Appartement Le Victor Hugo: Cheery, full of light, and incredibly spacious, this rental is in a residential area, and is updated, modern, clean, with a cute little terrace. A variety of baby gear items are also available for a small fee in this apartment. 👉Book on VRBO here
7. Cimiez – Perfect for Families and Lovers of Roman History
Cimiez is a beautiful, upscale, and ancient historical neighborhood in the north part of Nice. It has a distinctive feel compared to the other areas of Nice. Instead of tightly packed apartment buildings, there is space between, and even some stand-alone homes in this area.
During Roman times, this area was called Cemenelum and had a number of classic Roman structures. Today, visit the Jardins des Arènes de Cimiez, the ruins of the Roman amphitheater and baths.
During the Belle Époque (the period of time before WW1), this area became a popular vacation with Europe’s royalty. The Ancien Hotel Regina was the most grand and popular hotel for the royals.
Visit the Monastery of Cimiez, and don’t miss the beautiful Monastery gardens and cemetery with views out over the city.
Several well-known painters (Chagall, Matisse) also worked in the area. You can see their works at the Musee Matisse or the Musée Chagall.
The bus conveniently connects Cimiez to Place Massena in Nice; it’s an easy 15 minute ride, or 25-30 minute walk down into the city.
This area is quiet and generally very residential, and definitely away from the main tourist crowds of Nice – perfect if you are with a family, want to get away from it all, or love Roman ruins.
- Pros: Lots of interesting and off-the-beaten path things to see in this quarter, good if you want to stay in a residential neighorhood away from other tourists,
- Cons: Pretty far from many sites, including the sea, and there’s a decent walk uphill into Cimiez
- Best for: Families, people who want to stay in residential neigborhoods, lovers of Roman history
Recommended Hotels to Stay in Cimiez
($$) Hotel Le Petit Palais: This hotel definitely gives off elegant villa vibes, with the traditionally and individually decorated rooms, the exterior architecture of the building, and the charming courtyard. You’ll enjoy views over the city and towards the sea, and a quiet area.
⭐Rating: 8.9/ 10 stars – read reviews here
Recommended Hotels to Stay in Cimiez
($) Appartement Liberation: This apartment has a large, wide balcony, and a light, open, and breezy layout. 👉Book on VRBO here
($) Appartement Parc Algéria: With views over the city , hardwood floors, and desks in the bedrooms, this is a good setup for families with children. 👉Book on VRBO here
- Where to stay in Nice for Families: Carré d’Or or Jean Medecin (close to everything, including the park), Gambetta (more residential), or Cimiez (also more residential)
- Where to Stay in Nice For First Time Visitors: Old Town, Jean Medecin, Carré d’Or
- Where to Stay in Nice for Beach and Sea Lovers (swimming or strolling): Promenade des Anglais (Beach), The Port (Sea Lovers)
- Where to Stay in Nice if You Want a More Local, Quiet Expeirence: Gambetta or Cimiez
- Where to Stay in Nice On a Budget: Gambetta
- Where to Stay in Nice to Be Close to the Most/Best Restaurants and Bars: Port, Carré d’Or, Jean Medecin, Old Town
- Where to Stay in Nice for the LGBTQ Area: The Port
Other Important Things to Know When Considering Where to Stay in Nice
When to Book Your Hotel (or Rental) for Nice
Nice is a popular destination, and so I would highly recommend you book your accommodations as soon as possible. Hotels and vacation rentals can really get booked up many months in advance, particularly if you are traveling between April through October, or December.
Book early so you can get your top choice for where you want to stay in Nice!
A Few Important Notes About Hotels in Nice
When choosing where to stay in Nice, keep in mind that generally speaking, hotel rooms in France are much smaller (we’ll just call it cozier) than hotel rooms in the United States. Because these are old buildings, the rooms are just a bit tighter and there is definitely less floorspace. This is just something to be aware of!
Expect elevators to also be very tiny – and not all places have elevators. I actually really love the teeny tiny elevators in France – they’re such a novelty!
On the same note, almost no hotels offer free breakfast. Almost every hotel *will* offer breakfast, but it costs extra. We rarely pay for the hotel breakfast, preferring instead to grab some pastries from the closest boulangerie as we start our day.
Read More: 20 Amazing Things to Do in Nice, France
Final Thoughts on Best Areas in Nice to Stay
Since Nice is just such a beautiful city across the board and there are so many great places to stay, it’s hard to go wrong, whatever you choose!
Check out all my other Southern France posts here!