Things to do in Cannes: The 20 Best Places to Visit and Highlights
You’re planning to visit Cannes during your stay on the French Riviera?
In order to help you plan your stay, I have written this guide of the 20 best things to do in Cannes, with all must-see attractions and points of interest.
In this article, you will find all the best places to visit such as La Croisette or the Palais des Festivals, as well as lesser known attractions known only by locals.
And at the end of the article, you will also find itineraries to visit Cannes in 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 days (or more!) as well as my selection of the best hotels depending on your budget.
So, what are the best things to do in Cannes? Where to stay?
Let’s find out!
- Things to do in Cannes: The 20 Best Places to Visit and Highlights
- Visit Cannes: 20 Must-See Attractions
- 1. Croisette
- 2. The Palais des Festivals of Cannes
- 3. The legendary luxury hotels in Cannes
- 4. Le Suquet
- 5. Forville Market
- 6. The painted walls of Cannes
- 7. The Old Port
- 8. The Lérins Islands
- 9. Cruise from Cannes
- 10. Shopping in Cannes
- 11. La Croix-des-Gardes
- 12. Flight over Cannes
- 13. Take a private boat trip from Cannes
- 14. The beaches of Cannes
- 15. Les Allées de la Liberté
- What are the things to do around Cannes?
- How many days to visit Cannes?
- Visit Cannes in 1 day
- Visit Cannes in 2 days
- Visit Cannes in 3 days
- Where to stay in Cannes
- Where to stay in Nice
- Where to eat in Cannes
- How to get to Cannes
- Rent a boat in Cannes
- Tourist map of Cannes
- FAQ – I’ll answer your questions about Cannes
- You’re traveling in France? These articles will help you!
- Visit Cannes: 20 Must-See Attractions
Visit Cannes: 20 Must-See Attractions
This is the emblematic landmark in Cannes: la Croisette.
This long seafront promenade is lined with pine and palm trees, luxury shops and legendary hotels. It’s, with the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, one of the most famous boulevards of the French Riviera and the world.
Well developed and maintained, you will also find beautiful sandy beaches, ideal for sunbathing, swimming and having a drink on the terrace of one of the trendy establishments located there.
And if you want to try out some water activities during your stay in Cannes, you can choose between (click on the links to book):
- A wakeboard session
- Wakesurfing, a new trendy activity involving surfing on a wave created by a boat
- Flyboarding to try some acrobatics above the water
- A jet ski ride lasting 30 minutes to 2 hours to discover the Lérins islands for example.
2. The Palais des Festivals of Cannes
A visit to the Palais des Festivals is unmissable experience in Cannes.
This is where the Cannes Festival, the world’s largest film festival, takes place every May.. It awards the best films with the prestigious Palme d’Or trophy.
The event is a meeting place for the biggest international stars and celebrities, for whom the climb up the steps under the flashes of the photographers, is considered a consecration. Designer dresses and jewellery made by the greatest jewellers are of course on full display!
These steps have become a myth in Cannes, and you will certainly think of yourself as Angelina Jolie or Leonardo di Caprio by posing for a quick souvenir photo at the top of the steps.
3. The legendary luxury hotels in Cannes
On your walk along la Croisette, be sure to admire the magnificent façades of the emblematic 5-star hotels in Cannes.
Who knows, you might catch a glimpse of one of your favourite actors or singers having breakfast on the balcony!
The most famous luxury hotels in Cannes include:
- The Majestic Barrière Hotel, which has a style characteristic to the 1920s, has a heated swimming pool, a spa, restaurants and luxury boutiques. You can book a night at the Majestic in Cannes by clicking here.
- The Martinez hotel was built in the 1930s and was the largest hotel in the region. If you want to spend a night in this beautiful hotel during your trip to Cannes, book here!
- The Intercontinental Carlton Cannes, built in 1909, is one of the most renowned hotels in France. To stay in this mythical luxury hotel, click here!
4. Le Suquet
You must continue this guide to Cannes by visiting the Le Suquet district.
Le Suquet is the oldest district in Cannes. Built on a hill, the old town of Cannes offers a nice view of the bay and la Croisette.
You can also stroll through the steep medieval streets and enjoy the authentic atmosphere, shops and restaurants.
Things worth seeing le Suquet during your tour in Cannes:
- The Castre museum, which is located in the ancient castle built by the monks of the Abbaye Saint-Honorat. The site, listed as a Historical Monument, has collections of Provencal paintings, Mediterranean antiquities, primitive art and musical instruments from all over the world.
- The square tower, where you can climb to the top to admire the 360° panorama
- The Notre-Dame de l’Espérance (Church of Our Lady of Hope), at Castre Square, a 17th century Gothic building
- The tour du masque de fer (iron mask tower), where, according to legend, the man in the iron mask took refuge after his escape from Sainte-Marguerite island
- Rue Saint-Antoine, with its shops and restaurants
5. Forville Market
The Forville market has now become a real tourist attraction in Cannes.
Every morning, from Tuesday to Sunday, you can walk the paths of this covered market and discover the stalls of market gardeners, cheese makers and fishmongers. High quality local products are on offer!
The Forville Market is located at the foot of le Suquet Hill, behind the Cannes Town Hall, not far from the Old Port.
6. The painted walls of Cannes
The painted walls tour of Cannes depicts the city’s cinematic history.
Several facades and walls display beautiful frescoes dedicated to the seventh art. There are 16 of them spread throughout all the districts of Cannes.
You can admire:
- “Hotel de la Plage”, at 7 rue Saint-Dizier
- “Charlie Chaplin”, 10 Boulevard Vallombrosa
- “Cinéma Cannes”, at the Cornut Gentile Square
- “Plein Soleil Alain Delon”, Avenue Francis Tonner
- “Marylin Monroe”, at 16 Boulevard d’Alsace.
All the painted walls and their location can be found here.
7. The Old Port
To continue with this list of things to do in Cannes, you must go on a short trip to the Old Port and the Quai Saint-Pierre.
Here you can admire some of the moored luxury yachts. The Old Port area also has good fish and seafood restaurants.
Throughout the year, the Old Port comes alive through festivals such as the famous “Régates Royales” where exceptional sailboats compete in a race in the Bay of Cannes.
Just before the regattas, there is also the International Pleasure Festival where the curious crowd comes to admire hundreds of boats.
8. The Lérins Islands
If you are out of things to do in Cannes, you must visit the Lérins islands.
Reachable in just 15 to 20 minutes by boat from Cannes, the Lérins Islands are the ideal destination for enjoying nature and swimming close to the city.
They are also very popular with families, as they are well equipped for picnicking and cars are not allowed. You can therefore walk safely and quietly.
The Lérins Islands archipelago is made up of 2 islands:
1) Sainte-Marguerite Island is the largest of the 2.
An 8 km path, on the seafront and under the pine forest, allows you to walk all around the island. There are also spots for swimming in several places. It takes about 3 hours to go round the whole island on foot and more if you count picnics and photo breaks.
On the island, you can also visit the Royal Fort for €6. This former prison where the intriguing man with the iron mask was imprisoned, now houses the Sea Museum.
Finally, the island has a mini village with a few restaurants.
2) Saint-Honorat Island is the smallest of the Lérins Islands.
There is an abbey founded by Cistercian monks in the 5th century and still occupied by the community. You can visit the chapels, the abbey, the abbey church or the Monastery Tower.
The monks also have an ancestral vineyard, producing excellent wine. You can get it at the shop next to the pier.
You must explore the island on foot, as it can be done in just an hour.
There is also a restaurant and snack bar on the island.
To go all around Lérins islands during the day, you can also rent a kayak. You will be able to walk peacefully near the water and stop to swim whenever you want.
To rent a kayak, just click on the following button:
9. Cruise from Cannes
Another nice activity to do during your stay in Cannes: a mini-cruise.
From Cannes, you can choose between (click on the orange links or the green button to book):
1) A guided cruise of La Corniche d’Or to discover the red rocks of the Massif de l’Esterel plunging directly into the sea.
Information and reservations on the official website.
2) A combined cruise on Sainte-Marguerite Island (with stopover) + exploring the Corniche d’Or
3) A return cruise to Monaco with a stopover time of 5 hours to visit the city
4) A sea shuttle to Saint-Tropez (Book here!) and take a stroll for a few hours around the city before returning to Cannes.
You can also opt for a zodiac shuttle to go faster.
5) A catamaran cruise with lunch and a swimming break around the Lérins islands.
You will find all the information about this cruise and you can book it by clicking on the button below:
The catamaran cruise is also available without lunch, click here to book!
7) A zodiac boat trip at sunset with snorkelling at the Lérins island ecomuseum which consists of 6 submerged statues between 3 to 5 metres underwater.
It’s really a great idea for an unusual activity at Cannes.
To book, click the green button below:
10. Shopping in Cannes
If you want to enjoy your trip to Cannes by whipping out your bank card, here are the best places to shop:
- Along la Croisette and rue des Etats-Unis, if you’re more of a luxury boutique person and haute couture house person like Chanel and Dior
- Rue d’Antibes for more affordable fashion boutiques such as Zara or designer brands
- Le Carré d’Or (between la Croisette and rue d’Antibes), rue du Commandant André, for jewellery shops
- Meynadier street, a pedestrian street with numerous shops and souvenir shops.
11. La Croix-des-Gardes
During your visit to Cannes, you must take a little climb and go to the Croix-des-Gardes.
This 80-hectare natural park has a path fitted out with gazebos where you can walk peacefully with beautiful views of Cannes, the Lérins Islands and the Esterel massif.
12. Flight over Cannes
To discover Cannes, you can also opt for a flight over the city on a small private plane.
This unique experience allows you to enjoy panoramic views of the whole city and the surroundings. The pilot is ultra-professional and will even explain the different controls of the aircraft in addition to giving you explanations about the places you see.
To book your Cannes flight, just click on the button below:
These flights over Cannes are also available in a helicopter. You will have several options. Just click on the links to get details and book:
- A shared panoramic flight in a helicopter. Several circuits are available: flight over la Croisette, over the Esterel massif, flight to Monaco or flight over Saint-Tropez.
- A private helicopter flight. Here too, you can choose your tour.
- An introductory flight where you will have a theoretical course to learn how the aircraft works and then fly the helicopter in tandem with your instructor!
13. Take a private boat trip from Cannes
In addition to the various boat trips I mentioned above, there are 2 other options that will allow you to discover the surroundings of Cannes by boat, away from other tourists.
To enjoy a VIP experience, you can:
1) Book a private boat trip from Cannes
I think this is the best way to make the most of your day at sea in Cannes!
You rent a boat with a captain, and he will take you to the most beautiful corners of the French Riviera.
Motor boat, sail boat, catamaran or even a yacht: you can choose the right boat for a dream day!
You must rent your boat with captain as early as possible, as you can imagine that this type of VIP day at sea is very much in demand, and it would be a shame if none are available!
You will find all the boats with captain in Cannes by clicking on the button below:
2) Rent a boat to discover the surroundings of Cannes
If you have a boat licence, the 2nd solution for a great day at sea is simply to rent a boat!
Simply click on the button below and book your boat immediately:
14. The beaches of Cannes
It’s impossible to visit Cannes without going for a walk on the beach!
Cannes and its coastline is home to nearly 8 km of beaches, so you have a wide variety of choices.
There are many private beaches in Cannes, most of which are located between the Cannes Palais des Festivals and the Cap de la Croisette (Palm Beach).
All of the most beautiful luxury hotels in Cannes, such as the Martinez or the Carlton, have chic and trendy Beach Club hotels. However, it costs at least €80 a day just for a deckchair.
If you just want to lay down your towel and enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere, you must go to one of Cannes’ public beaches. There are only 2 public beaches on la Croisette (the beach of the Palais des Festivals and that of la Croisette Est).
The others are located after the Cap de la Croisette (towards Juan-les-Pins) or after the port of Cannes, towards Boulevard du Midi and towards Mandelieu.
15. Les Allées de la Liberté
To finish this tour of Cannes, you must take a walk along the Allées de la Liberté, a shaded and pedestrian square where the people of Cannes engage in ultra-competitive boules games.
Several markets are held there:
- The Cannes flower market: every morning of the year except Mondays
- The crafts market, which is organised every weekend and where you will find local artisans: jewels, paintings, sculptures…
- The second-hand goods market: every Saturday / the first Sunday and the third Sunday of the month.
What are the things to do around Cannes?
If you have decided to visit Cannes for a few days, in addition to your visit to the city, you will have time to go and discover the surroundings.
Here is my list of the best places to visit in the vicinity of Cannes. I’ve selected 5 of them, all easily accessible by train, car or during organised day trips.
Antibes is an excellent choice for a day around Cannes.
The city can be reached in 25 minutes by car or in 15 minutes by train for a round-trip costing less than €10 (information and reservations here).
What are the things to do in Antibes?
- A walk in the old town, excellent experience with lots of restaurants and small shops
- Abundant local products at the Provencal market
- Visit the city’s museums: the Peynet museum, the Picasso museum or the archaeology museum
- Enjoy the beaches
- Walk around the Cap d’Antibes
- Go to Marineland in Antibes.
To visit Antibes, you must read my dedicated article right here: The 20 Best Things to Do in Antibes.
Among the cities to see absolutely around Cannes, there is of course, Nice!
These two emblematic towns of the French Riviera are just 45 minutes away by car or 35 minutes away by train.
In Nice, you must absolutely see:
- The Promenade des Anglais for a walk on the legendary avenue
- Old Nice with its colourful façades and numerous shops/restaurants
- The castle hill for a beautiful view of the city.
And as there are many other things to do in Nice, read my dedicated article: The 17 best things to do in Nice.
Still near Cannes, you must visit another unmissable city of the French Riviera: Monaco.
You can reach it in 1 hour by car or train.
Places of interest to see in Monaco:
- Le Rocher and the Prince’s Palace
- The Oceanographic Museum – Ticket for sale here!
- The Monte-Carlo district and its famous Casino
- Monaco’s exotic garden
Want to know more about Monaco? I’ve written a detailed article: Monaco: the definitive guide.
Towards Cannes, about 35 minutes away by car, lies the town of Grasse.
Grasse is considered to be the global perfume capital and has several renowned perfumeries such as Fragonard, Molinard and Galimard. Most of them are open to the public where you can learn all about the manufacturing of perfumes and even create your own and take it with you.
And to learn more about the history of this very specific industry, you can also visit the International Perfume Museum.
If you don’t have a car, you must take a day trip from Cannes with transport and guide included.
The trip includes not only the visit to Grasse and the Fragornard perfumery factory, but also a visit to the mediaeval village of Valbonne and the fortress of Gourdon. All this will end with a small wine tasting!
Book your trip to Grasse now right here:
Let’s conclude my selection of unmissable places near Cannes with the mythical city of Saint-Tropez.
It is located an hour and a half’s drive from Cannes and is therefore the ideal place to visit for a weekend in PACA, for example.
A small coastal town on the French Riviera, Saint-Tropez is known for attracting the international jet set and for its lively nightlife.
As you go on your stroll, you’ll be able to explore its citadel and its museum and then stop off to swim on the city’s trendiest beach: Pampelonne beach.
If you don’t have a car, you can easily get to Saint-Tropez from Cannes by taking the sea shuttle. This will allow you to enjoy a small, pleasant cruise.
The round trip can be booked here:
21. Other organised trips from Cannes
In addition to these very famous cities to see around Cannes, I have selected 2 really nice organised trips:
1) A day to visit the wine estates around Cannes.
You can discover the best wines of Provence by visiting the cellars of the Château Saint-Martin, the Château Font du Broc that produces the famous Côtes de Provence and finally the Château Sainte-Roselyne.
And of course wine tasting is included in the schedule!
Book this trip in Provence by clicking on the green button below:
2) A trip to discover the Italian Riviera.
Your guide will take you to Sanremo and Bordighera, with their famous markets, and to the charming village of Dolceacqua.
Click here to book:
How many days to visit Cannes?
One day is enough to visit Cannes and walk around the city.
On a weekend in Cannes, you can enjoy day trips to nearby towns.
Here’s the itinerary to visit Cannes in 1 or 2 days:
Visit Cannes in 1 day
Here is the itinerary you must follow if you have chosen to spend a day in Cannes:
- A walk along la Croisette where you can enjoy the seafront and admire the luxury hotels
- Picture at the top of the red carpet of the Palais des Festivals
- Visit to the Old Port
- Lunch at Forville or the Old Port
- See the “Cinema Cannes” painted wall
- Explore the Suquet district
- Climb to the Croix-des-Gardes or shopping
Visit Cannes in 2 days
For a 2-day stay in Cannes, continue from the day 1 itinerary.
On day 2, you have several choices:
- Trip to one of the Lérins islands to walk, have a picnic and swim
- A mini-cruise
- A visit to the surrounding towns: Antibes, Nice, Monaco, Grasse or Saint-Tropez.
Visit Cannes in 3 days
If you have decided to go 3 days or more to Cannes, you won’t even have to choose. All you need to do is spend a day on each trip I’ve discussed in this guide.
Where to stay in Cannes
Here is my list of the best hotels to stay in Cannes according to your budget. Just below, I’ll also give you the best hotels in Nice if you would prefer to stay in the city and visit Cannes from there.
- Hôtel La Villa Tosca: located 5 minutes on foot from la Croisette. Recently renovated double room from €70, breakfast at €13. Strong points: location in the city centre, proximity to the train station, warm welcome.
- Best Western Premier Mondial: located on Rue d’Antibes. Warm and comfortable double room from €110, breakfast €20. Strong points: excellent breakfast, comfortable beds. It’s my favorite for its excellent value for money in Cannes!
- Hôtel Le Canberra: located on Rue d’Antibes, 5 minutes from the beach. Bright and spacious double room with garden view from €160, breakfast at €22. Strong points: swimming pool, comfort, location.
- Radisson Blu 1835 Hotel & Thalasso, Cannes: located in the Old Port, on the edge of the pier. Double room with elegant decor overlooking the old town or the sea and free access to the Spa, from €170, breakfast €35. Strong points: the rooftop with a magnificent view, spa, swimming pool. One of the best places to stay in Cannes.
For a higher budget, here are the most beautiful 5* hotels in Cannes:
- Five Seas Hotel: located 100 metres from the Palais des Festivals. Double room and suites with contemporary decor from €235, breakfast included. Strong points: roof-top swimming pool, spa, extremely friendly staff.
- Hotel Martinez – in the Unbound Collection by Hyatt: located on the Boulevard de la Croisette, this emblematic luxury hotel offers contemporary Art Deco-style rooms with a lounge area from €270, breakfast €42. Strong points: private beach, the gourmet restaurant (2* in the Michelin Guide), calm atmosphere, professionalism of the staff. This is our recommendation for a luxury stay in Cannes.
- InterContinental Carlton Cannes: also located on la Croisette, this legendary 5* hotel in Cannes offers elegant and bright rooms starting at €275, including breakfast. Strong points: private beach, breakfast on the terrace, comfortable beds.
- Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic Cannes: this splendid luxury hotel is located on la Croisette. Spacious double room with panoramic view of Cannes or the sea from €350, breakfast included. Strong points: free private beach, wellness centre, delicious breakfast. One of the most beautiful palaces to stay in Cannes.
Where to stay in Nice
- Hôtel Ozz by Happyculture: Located about 15 minutes from the beach on foot. Nice place, very friendly staff, great location and comfortable beds. Only 20€ per night in dormitory. Double room at 55€. This is the best hostel for a budget stay in Nice!
- Hôtel Brice Garden: Located in the hear of Nice, 5 minutes walk from the beach and Promenade des Anglais. Very well furnished and clean room from 80€ per night. Excellent value for money. Friendly and welcoming staff. The best value hotel if you want to stay in the city center! Needs to be booked as soon as possible, lots of demand.
- Hôtel le Saint Paul: Located 50 meters from the Nice harbor, in a quiet area, with an amazing sea view. Large bright room from 95€ per night, buffet breakfast for 12€. Plus: free private parking. My favorite in Nice!
- Hôtel Le Royal Promenade des Anglais: Located right on the Promenade des Anglais in a historic building. Prestigious room decorated in a classic style, very bright, from 135€ per night, breakfast at 15€.
- Hôtel Negresco: Located on the Promenade des Anglais, this exceptional hotel is simply the best in Nice. The rooms are magnificent, the view is stunning, the staff is amazing and the restaurant is one of the best in town. It’s the best choice for a luxury stay in Nice!
Where to eat in Cannes
- The restaurant “La Palme d’Or”: the restaurant of the hôtel Martinez has been awarded 2 Michelin stars, it is considered the most prestigious places in Cannes.
- Le troquet à Soupes: located at Rue Meynadier. This tiny restaurant offers excellent homemade dishes made with quality products. Special items include homemade soups in winter and gaspacho/salads in summer.
- La brouette de Grand-Mère: the place to go if you want to enjoy authentic homemade local cuisine. €49 flat rate with all-you-can-eat appetisers, main course + dessert + water + 1/2 bottle of wine. Reservation recommended.
How to get to Cannes
Cannes has an airport but is more focused towards business aviation, so you will have to land at Nice airport.
Since flight prices for Nice vary greatly, it is a good idea to compare them as soon as possible. To do this, you can use our flight comparison tool, in partnership with Skyscanner. You can rest assured that you will get the best rates.
Here are the options to go to Cannes from Nice:
1) Private transport from Nice airport. Reservations must be made in advance by clicking here:
2) Bus: take the 200 line which goes directly to Nice airport.
3) Train: it takes only 35 minutes to get from the Nice station to Cannes.
You must check the train schedules and fares and can book your tickets here:
It might be worth renting a car when you arrive in Nice and keeping it for the duration of your stay on the French Riviera.
The most reliable way to compare prices and see all available offers is through Rentalcars.com .
Compare car rental prices in Nice and Cannes now:
Rent a boat in Cannes
If you want to rent a boat for a nice day at sea during your stay in Cannes, you should book it with Samboat.
Motorboats, sailboats, yachts, small boats without a license, with or without a skipper: they simply have the most complete offer for boat rental!
So, what are you waiting for to book your boat trip in Cannes? 😊
Tourist map of Cannes
To help you visualise the city a bit better, I have created this tourist map of Cannes, with all the best places to visit and things to do in Cannes and its surroundings.
You can display the map legend by clicking on the top left button, the one with a small arrow on it.
FAQ – I’ll answer your questions about Cannes
When to go to Cannes?
You can visit Cannes all year round.
All things to see, activities (except water sports) and even boats for the Lérins islands are available at any time.
If you want to go to Cannes to enjoy the beaches, the best option is to go there between June and September.
What are the things to do in Cannes when it rains?
What are the things to do in Cannes with your family?
What are the things to do in Cannes in the evening?
If you feel like partying during your stay, there are many bars, nightclubs and even casinos.
The places to go in Cannes:
- The Radisson Blu Hotel’s “360” lounge-bar restaurant, which I mentioned in my article
- The Fouquet’s gallery bar for its excellent cocktails
- The Martinez bar, considered a real institution of the city
- The Gotha Club, which hosts some of the world’s biggest DJs and is a place where you may come across international stars
- The Bâoli, to party with the glitterati
- The Casino Barrière Les Princes or the Casino Barrière Croisette.
If you need help planning your stay in Cannes, don’t hesitate to ask me your questions in the comments section below.
🚗 Rent a car
🗽 Book entrance tickets and guided visits
🏄 Book your sports activities
🚤 Book your rental boat
🌍 Take a travel insurance
🙎 Book a tour
🚅 Book your train tickets
✈️ Book your flight
France travel Guides
- Buy the Lonely Planet France guide on Amazon.com or on Amazon.co.uk
- Buy the Rick Steves France guide on Amazon.com or on Amazon.co.uk
You’re traveling in France? These articles will help you!
Discover all our articles about France: All Voyage Tips articles about France are listed here.
- Itinerary: 1 Week in French Riviera – the definitive guide for your 7-8 days trip
- Antibes: Top 20 best places to visit
- Cannes: The 20 best things to do and activities
- Monaco: 25 Best places to visit
- Nice: 15 things you must do and see
Other French Cities
- Annecy: 12 things to do and see
- Honfleur: Top 15 things to discover
- La Rochelle: Top 15 things to do and must-see attractions
- Lyon: 21 Best things to do
- Marseille: Top 33 best things to do and see
- Nantes: The 15 best things to do
- Reims: Top 15 things to do and see
- Rennes: The 15 things you must do!
- Strasbourg: The 25 must-see attractions