Things to do in Nice: The 15 Best places to visit and highlights
You’re planning to visit Nice during your next trip to France?
Between sea and mountains, Nice, the city where I was born and where I spent more than 20 years of my life is full of tourist attractions and great activities to do.
In order to help you plan your stay, I have created a guide of the best things to do and see in Nice and around. At the end of the article, you will also find itineraries to visit Nice in 1, 2, 3 days or even a week as well as my list of the best place to stay in Nice depending on your budget.
Let’s get started with the 15 points of interest!
- Things to do in Nice: The 15 Best places to visit and highlights
- Visit Nice: The 15 Must-See Attractions!
- 1. The Promenade des Anglais
- 2. Discover the Old Town of Nice
- 3. Enjoy an Italian ice cream
- 4. Have a go at Nice local food
- 5. Nice Castle Hill
- 6. Going to the beach in Nice
- 7. Cimiez neighbourhood
- 8. Nice Russian Orthodox Cathedral
- 9. Nice Carnival
- 10. Rest in the shades in Park Vigier
- 11. Do the Nice coastal walk
- 12. Nice walking tour: From the Promenade des Anglais to Coco Beach
- 13. Take a stroll at the Mont Boron
- 14. Go to the Phoenix Park
- 15. Visit Nice museums
- Things to do in nice when it rains
- Things to do around Nice
- What to do in Nice for a day
- What to do in Nice for 2 days
- What to do in Nice for 3 days
- A week in Nice
- Where to stay in Nice?
- Nice tourist map
- You’re traveling in France? These articles will help you!
- Visit Nice: The 15 Must-See Attractions!
Visit Nice: The 15 Must-See Attractions!
1. The Promenade des Anglais
It’s impossible to talk about Nice without mentioning the famous Promenade des Anglais (English Promenade). Formerly a favourite resort for English people during winter months, it’s today the most famous tourist attraction of the city.
This world-famous 7km promenade runs from the Castle Hill (La colline du Château in French) to Nice airport.
If you are coming to Nice for the first time, I strongly recommend you to at least walk on the part that goes from the old town of Nice to the Negresco hotel, passing through the Jardin Albert 1er and the Palais de la Méditerranée.
If you want to do the whole Promenade des Anglais, it’s best to rent a bike or rollerblades!
2. Discover the Old Town of Nice
Another must see in Nice is its old town with its shady alleyways, colourful facades and typically Mediterranean shutters.
Impossible to talk about Nice Old Town (le Vieux Nice) without mentioning the Cours Saleya, where is held almost every morning (except on Monday) the famous market and flower market. On Monday morning, the Cours Saleya becomes a big open-air flea market! It’s also the ideal place to have a drink or eat something at one of the many terraces.
When you visit the Old Town of Nice, I also recommend you to see:
The Courthouse Square (Place du Palais de Justice)
The Rossetti Square (Place Rossetti) and its home made ice creams shops, I will tell you more about them below
The Saint Francis Square (Place Saint François) and its small fish market
It’s also possible to go to the Castle Hill through the Old Town. I will tell you more about it a bit further.
3. Enjoy an Italian ice cream
While you are in the Old Town of Nice, you should take advantage of it to enjoy a traditional Italian ice cream. I recommend “Azzurro”, which is located on Rossetti Square, not far from another ice cream shop that is well known by tourists but less good, Fenocchio.
The quality of the products used is much better at Azzurro, and their cones are home made, it has absolutely nothing to do in terms of taste! Needless to say that eating ice cream is one of my favorite activities when I come back to Nice 😋
4. Have a go at Nice local food
Visiting Nice also means discovering the local food specialities, the “cuisine Niçoise”, during your stay, which is the pride of the niçois (inhabitants of Nice)
- Socca: It’s one of the most famous culinary specialities of Nice and one of the most representative of the city. Made from chickpea flour, you will find very good ones in the old town of Nice. Ideally, a good socca should’nt be dry, but slightly creamy inside.
- Panisse: Another speciality made from chickpea flour, most often fried. A delight!
- Pissaladière: A “pie with onions and anchovies”, that’s how we could sum up the pissaladière! Try it during your stay in Nice! (Available also in an anchovy-free version)
- Salade niçoise: The great classic of Nice: Tuna, tomatoes, salad and other raw vegetables, anchovies, hard-boiled eggs, olives niçoises and of course olive oil vinaigrette (from Nice too, otherwise it’s sinful).
- Pan Bagnat: This is a sandwich version of the niçoise salad: tuna and/or anchovies, raw vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, niçoise olives and olive oil, all in a round bread.
- Farcis niçois (Stuffed vegetables), daube niçoise (Beef stew) etc.: In Nice, we like everything that is “Niçois”, so we have a Niçoise version of many dishes. It’s the same as the classics, but better. (Surely thanks to the “niçoise” olive oil ……. well, except for the stew, probably, or some people have been hiding things from me!)
5. Nice Castle Hill
The Castle Hill park (le parc de la Colline du Château) is located on the hill overlooking Nice Old Town. It owes its name to the military fortress that overlooked the bay of Nice from the 11th to the 18th century. The main interests of this park are the stunning viewpoints it offers on the city, the Bay of Angels (Baie des Anges), the harbour and the mountains.
Here are the 5 best viewpoints of Nice Castle Hill
- At the top, with a view of the airport and mountains
- Close to the children’s playground area, view on the harbour and the hill of Mont Boron,
- Bellanda Tower: View on the Bay of Angels
- Belvedere near the exit of the elevator
- Cascade du Château, an artificial waterfall, but still very pretty!
You can walk up and down the castle on foot or use the elevator. I recommend you to take the stairs for at least one of the way as this allows you to pass by the Bellanda Tower lookout I mentioned earlier.
If you go down on the other side of the castle, you should take a walk through the castle cemetery, which also offers a beautiful view of the city. It’s even better if you can do it at the end of the day to enjoy the sunset!
You understood it, the Castle Hill is really one of the best places to visit in Nice (and my favourite in the town center for its amazing view!).
ohh, and one more thing: It’s also possible to go to the Castle by taking the Nice mini-train tour! The departure point is on the Promenade des Anglais, in front of the centenary monument of the Jardin Albert 1er.
6. Going to the beach in Nice
If Nice beach looks good in photo, with its big pebbles, it’s not necessarily the most comfortable beach in the world!
As far as swimming is concerned, it’s the same thing. In Nice, the water gets very deep very quickly, so it’s not really an ideal spot for snorkeling or playing in the water for example.
For this reason, I recommend you go to Villefranche sur Mer or Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. I will tell you more about theses cities later in this article.
And if you like to get a tan for hours on the beach, you can go to one of Nice private beaches, like Castel beach (Castel Plage), located at the foot of the Castle Hill. Other beaches allow you to do nautical activities like parasailing, stand up paddle or tubing!
7. Cimiez neighbourhood
Cimiez neighbourhood is at first a residential place, so you will not find many shops or restaurants. Nevertheless, you have some nice points of interest to visit:
- Cimiez Arena Park (parc des arènes de Cimiez)
- The Cimiez arenas (les arènes de Cimiez), located at the entrance to the park
- Cimiez monastery gardens (jardins du monastère de Cimiez), from which you will have a panoramic view of Nice and the Bay of Angels.
- Cimiez archaeological museum and it’s Roman ruins.
- The Henri Matisse museum, which is located in the arenas park.
- Marc Chagall National Museum
8. Nice Russian Orthodox Cathedral
Nice Russian Orthodox Cathedral, listed historical monument, is the most important Orthodox worship religious building outside Russia. It thus clearly deserves its place in this list of the best places to visit in Nice!
Even if quite far from what you were expecting to do in Nice, it’s worth a look, even just to appreciate the contrast between the architecture and the Mediterranean vegetation, or even the palm trees just around the corner!
It’s also possible to visit the inside of the cathedral.
9. Nice Carnival
Nice Carnival, largest carnival in France and one of the world’s most famous, takes place every year in February for 2 weeks. Every year, the festivities attract several hundred thousand of spectators, coming to enjoy the monumental floats and the famous flower parade (also called flower “battle”) on the Promenade des Anglais.
10. Rest in the shades in Park Vigier
Totally unknown by other tourists, the park Vigier, close to La Réserve and the “Coco Beach” restaurant is the ideal place to take a nap or read a book in the shade of palm trees, during the hottest hours of the day. The right part of the park is always very quiet, as the children are mostly playing in the left part of the park.
11. Do the Nice coastal walk
This walk, that most tourists don’t know about is in 2 parts and allows you to walk from Nice to Villefranche sur Mer, while following the sea for 90% of the time.
- The first part starts from Coco Beach and takes you up to the Cap de Nice by a series of stairs, to bypass the cliffs of the Materlinck Palace (Palais Materlink).
- The second part of the coastal path begins with a descent down the stairs in the big turn after the Materlinck Palace. It allows you to reach the port of Villefranche Darse.
The walk isn’t very long, if you want to do it all the way from Nice, count about 1h30-2h depending on where you start from. It’s also possible to make only one of the 2 parts. If you only want to do the second (30-45 minutes), you can take bus number 100 from Nice harbor to the “English hospital” stop. The beginning of the coastal walk is about 200m further on, in the big turn.
To get back to Nice, take bus 81 or 100 in Villefranche sur Mer.
A section allowing passage through the cliffs was being studied, which would allow to walk from Nice to Villefranche-sur-Mer entirely by the seaside, but it seems that the project is unfortunately at a standstill.
12. Nice walking tour: From the Promenade des Anglais to Coco Beach
For those who wish to discover the city on foot, here is an itinerary that will allow you to pass by the must-see places in Nice.
Start your Nice walking tour in Nice Old Town and the Cours Saleya, then continue on the Promenade des Anglais to the Negresco Hotel and Villa Massena (which houses the excellent Massena Museum). Go back for about 300m and take the Congrès street (rue du Congrès). Then, take the first street on the right, and you will arrive in the pedestrian zone, a good place to shop, have a drink, or eat in one of the many restaurants.
At the end of the street, you will reach Place Massena, with the Sun fountain (fontaine du soleil) located at its south, in the centre of which is a 7m high statue of Apollo. On your right is the Jardin Albert 1er with its monumental arch of 115.5 degrees.
Continue along the Promenade du Paillon, where the Nice water mirror is located. This park leads you directly to Garibaldi Square.
As it will certainly be lunch time, if you would like to taste a Niçoise speciality like socca, I recommend you to briefly go back to the old town of Nice located 2 steps away to fill your stomach! And why not finish with a good ice cream from Azzurro, on Rossetti Square?
After the meal, go back to Garibaldi Square and head toward the port of Nice by Cassini street.
Go around the harbor by the Quai des Deux Emmanuels and take Boulevard Franck Pilatte, which will lead you to La Réserve (it’s on this beach that Brice de Nice lives, in case you know the movie!), Parc Vigier and Coco Beach, in that order.
From Coco Beach, you can continue along the coastal path, and even reach Villefranche sur Mer. In this case, you will need to take the bus number 100 to go back to Nice.
Finally, at the end of the day, you can go to the Nice Castle Hill, walking up the stairs or using the elevator, in order to enjoy the sunset!
Other itineraries are available on the city of Nice website (in french).
13. Take a stroll at the Mont Boron
Mount Boron is a Mediterranean forest located on the east of Nice. It’s also the place where you can find the very photogenic Fort Mount Alban. It offers many walks with beautiful views of the Bay of Angels and the Bay of Villefranche.
You should really go to the Mount Alban Fort, at the top, the view is amazing! For me the best place in Nice. Going there is a great activity with a rewarding view!
To get to Mont Boron, take the city bus number 14 from Nice.
14. Go to the Phoenix Park
The Phoenix Park (Parc Phoenix), also called “Nice Floral Park” is a botanical and zoological garden located near Nice Airport, in the Arenas district. On 7 hectares, you will find a very high biodiversity, both fauna and flora, with aviaries, marsupials, porcupines, otters and a pond.
One of the major attractions of the site is the large greenhouse, which has several tropical climates with tropical plants and various bird specimens including pink flamingos. In the park, you will also find a children playground area. Phoenix park is a great place to spend an afternoon with your family in Nice!
The entrance fee for the Phoenix Park is 4 euros per person. Discounts are available for families and students.
15. Visit Nice museums
I have already talked about a few of Nice museums, especially in the paragraph about the district of Cimiez, but there are many others worth seeing. Here are my 5 favorites!
- Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Nice, called MAMAC, near the Garibaldi Square.
- Asian Arts Museum, located right next to Phoenix Park
- The Museum of Art and History of the Massena Palace, a superb “Belle époque” style mansion on the Promenade des Anglais.
- The Palais Lascaris, in Nice old town, has a very beautiful collection of musical instruments, and some of them are really unusual!
- Jules Chéret Fine Arts Museum, located in the magnificent setting of Villa Thompson, on Baumettes hill.
And as a bonus, if you like photography, I recommend the Charles Nègre photography museum, which is small, but offers high quality exhibitions. Moreover, it’s located in the Nice old town, so you don’t need to need to go far away to find it!
Good to know: In Nice, it’s not possible to pay museum’s admission fees one by one, you have to buy the “Nice Museums Pass”, which gives you access to all the municipal museums:
- 24h pass: 10 euros
- 7 days pass: 20 euros
You can find more information about the museums included in the Nice Museums Pass on the official Nice museum website
Things to do in nice when it rains
Us, Niçois (inhabitants of Nice), don’t dare to talk too much about it, but sometimes… it’s raining in Nice. Yes, for real! Well, that’s not what you’ll see on postcards.
If, in a pure moment of bad luck, this happens during your vacation on the French Riviera, I have prepared a list of activities to do in Nice if the weather isn’t good:
- Visiting one of the many museums in Nice: When it rains, it’s certainly the first thing that will come to your mind. I’ve made you a list of the best ones a little higher up in the article. Don’t forget to take the Nice Museums Pass.
- Bowling: There is a quite large bowling alley in Nice, which also has a few arcade video games: the Nice Acropolis bowling alley, here is the address: 5 Esplanade Kennedy, 06000 Nice
- Ice skating: head for the Jean Bouin ice rink, close to the Acropolis and bowling for a short gliding session! There is also a swimming pool in the same building. All equipment can be rented, gloves included.
- Play an escape game: it’s a fun experience to do with family or friends. There are several in Nice, including “I Lock U” and “Fox in a Box”, which are in the city centre. A great activity to do in case of bad weather.
- Going to Monaco and visiting the Oceanographic Museum: it’s simply one of the best museums in the region.
- Play laser tag: The only laser tag game of Nice is located in the plain of Var (Plaine du Var), at the Lingostière shopping center
- Cinema: There are 3 cinemas in Nice city center : The Pathé Masséna, the Pathé Paris and the Varieties. The first two are located on Avenue Jean Médecin, and the third on a perpendicular street, the Avenue Victor Hugo.
- Experience video games in virtual reality: It’s raining? Well, this is a great opportunity to try out virtual reality. A VR playground,”Game Over”, opened in Nice. Here is the address: 14 boulevard de Riquier – 06300 Nice
- Go to the fair: If you are in Nice in December, you will have the opportunity to go for a walk in Luna Park, a temporary amusement park. As most of it is located indoor, in the exhibition center (Palais des Expositions), it’s a great activity to do when it’s raining in Nice
Things to do around Nice
If you’re going to Nice, I strongly recommend that you go for a trip around Nice, as the area around the city is full of beautiful places to discover. Here are someone of my favourite places to see around Nice:
- Villefrance-sur-Mer: A very pretty little Mediterranean town. Don’t miss: The Villefranche Old Town, the darse (it’s port) and most important, the citadel St. Elmo (Citadelle Saint-Elme), also simply called “Villefranche citadel”.
- Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat: The peninsula of billionaires, with incredible luxury villas like the villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. To do: the coastal walk tour of the Cap Ferrat, which starts from the beach “Passable”. You can also swim in one of the pretty little coves along the way!
- Eze village: This small village perched above the sea is one of the most beautiful villages in France. Also worth a visit: the exotic garden of Eze.
- Menton: A small town on the Italian border, known for its lemon festival and sunshine. The old town of Menton is quite pretty.
- Antibes: Known first and foremost for its Square fortress (Fort Carré), a 16th century military fort by the sea, the old town of Antibes is also worth a visit, with excellent restaurants. Another thing to do in Antibes: the Cap d’Antibes tour and its magnificent residences.
- Cannes: The city where the famous film festival takes place every year. Don’t miss: The walk on the famous “Croisette”! and the visit of Lerins islands
- The Principality of Monaco: Monaco, famous for it’s luxury lifestyle! To see: The palace, located on Le Rocher, the Casino de Monte-Carlo, the Oceanographic Museum and if you like beautiful cars, Prince Rainier III old car collection.
- Beautiful villages to visit around Nice: Peille, Saint Agnès (highest perched village on the coast), Coaraze and its sundials, and the ruins of Châteauneuf-Villevieille. There are of course many other things to do around Nice, this being a non-exhaustive list, which should still keep you busy for a good week.
What to do in Nice for a day
If you only have one day to visit Nice, I recommend that you take a walk around the area, with the itinerary I describe at #12 of this top. Nice is not very big, so a walking tour is clearly the best way to discover the city!
And if you don’t want to walk all day, you can in the afternoon:
- Go to the beach
- Visit some museums in the city centre, such as the MAMAC, the Palais Lascaris or the photo museum, very close to each other.
- If you choose to visit museums, don’t miss the Masséna Museum in the morning, as you will pass by!
No matter which itinerary you choose, go to the Castle Hill at the end of the day, you won’t regret it, it’s a must see in Nice.
What to do in Nice for 2 days
In 2 days in Nice, you will have the time to visit the surroundings! In addition to the first day described above, here is one of my favorite itinerary, very little known to tourists:
- Start in the morning with the coastal path (#11), which goes from Nice to Villefranche-sur-Mer. It’s a really beautiful stroll by the water!
- Visit the Villefranche old town, its port, its pretty beach, the magnificent St-Elmo citadel and its free mini-museums.
- As it will certainly be lunchtime, you can eat in one of the seaside restaurants or in the old town.
- Then, I recommend that you climb up the hill of Mont Boron, a very beautiful pine forest with many amazing viewpoints on Nice on one side, and on the bay of Villefranche on the other.
- From Villefrance-sur-Mer, start by going to l’escalier de verre ( Google map link – Glass stairs, it’s just a name, it’s not made of glass!), about 15 minutes walk.
- Then go to the Fort of Mont Alban, for the great view on the bay of Villefranche, then turn back to the southern part of Mont Boron, which overlooks Nice.
- To return to Nice, you can walk down (30 to 45 minutes) or take bus 14 from the Plateau du Mont Boron.
What to do in Nice for 3 days
To be done in addition to the 2 previous days. Spending 3 days in Nice is having time to make another unforgettable excursion in the surroundings: a superb itinerary that will take you from Eze village to Monaco, passing by Menton. Make sure you have good shoes, as the paths are quite rocky.
- First, take the bus 82 from Nice to Eze village.
- Visit this magnificent perched village and the exotic garden of Eze
- To go back down to sea level, take the Nietzsche Trail, which offers a magnificent view on the sea and surrounding cities. It will take you to Eze Beach.
- Then take the bus number 100 of the “lignes d’Azur” to Menton.
- Visit the old town, and grab something to eat!
- Then, walk around Cap Martin along the seaside trail.
- Continue with the Promenade Le Corbusier, which will take you from Roquebrune to Monaco
- Visit Monaco, and to finish, take bus number 100 from Monaco bus station to go back to Nice.
Another busy day around Nice!
A week in Nice
You have a week in Nice? You’re really lucky! You will be able to visit a lot of things around Nice, and discover the majority of the places presented in this guide. In addition to the previous days, here is an itinerary:
Day 4: to avoid the impression of running everywhere, make this day a little more tranquil: In the morning, head to the Hill of Cimiez with its park and museums (#7). For the afternoon, you can go to the beach in Nice, stroll again in Nice Old Town, have a drink on the Cours Saleya or shop on Avenue Jean Medecin.
Day 5: let’s go to Antibes with the bus 200 or by train from Nice, to see the Fort Carré, the old town and the Cap d’ Antibes. To mix once again with swimming for a successful day!
Day 6: a day trip to Cannes (bus 200 or train), coupled with a boat expedition on the Lérins islands.
Day 7: take the 81 bus from Nice to Saint-jean-Cap-Ferrat, do a tour of the Cap (in part or in full) and, most important, relax in one of the small coves, the beach of Passable or the one of Les Fosses.
This itinerary of one week on the French Riviera is the best way to get a good overview of the region!
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 100€ per night, buffet breakfast for 11€. 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!
In Nice, hotels nights can quickly become quite expensive. So a good solution can be to use Airbnb to rent a room or a full appartment! With Voyage Tips, you can benefit from a 25€ discount on your first booking. If you already have an account, don’t hesitate to create a new one to get the 25 euros. This rebate will then be automatically applied to your first booking above 69 euros.
Nice tourist map
I have made for you a tourist map of Nice, listing all the must see attractions and activities as well as the 2 itineraries I talked about. You can display the map legend by clicking on the top left button, the one with a little arrow on it.
You’re going to travel to Nice? What do you plan to visit?
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!
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