The gateway to the French Riviera and capital of luxurious summertime fun in Europe, Nice is a beautiful city set on the Mediterranean Sea. Located in the southeast corner of France, where the Alps, the sea, and the Italian border converge, this area of the country is a wonderful place that is well-known around the world.
Nice isn’t difficult to get to. The Nice Cote d’Azur Airport is connected with a wide array of European destinations by both budget and full-service carriers and also has direct links to long-haul destinations like New York and Dubai. The city’s main train station has high-speed links to Paris and regional service to stops throughout the coast and into Italy.
I am lucky enough to live on the French Riviera just 15 minutes from Nice, and I’m pleased to share my take on the best attractions, the restaurant scene, and day trips not to be missed during a visit. There are endless things to do in this part of France, so it’s important to have a good idea of what you want to do during your limited stay in Nice.
Below, we’ll get into the top things to do in Nice, France. You’ll also find some tips on nearby towns (and even countries) to visit, as the beauty of the French Riviera certainly doesn’t stop in the city. Read on to properly plan your perfect Nice itinerary.
Join the jet set on a one-hour sightseeing cruise of the French Riviera. Get wonderful views of Nice, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and Villefranche-sur-Mer as you cruise along the coast. See the millionaire yachts of the rich and famous contrasted with the lovely landscape of the Côte d'Azur. Visit Villefranche-sur-Mer and discover its colorful bay. marvel at the magnificent villas of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. This is a great way to see some of the most beautiful sights on the French Riviera.
Looking for a delicious way to experience the city of Nice? Join a small group on a walking food tour and enjoy samples of some of the best regional cuisine and wine that Provence has to offer. Your gastronomic guide will take you through the old town, or Vieux Nice, stopping at different markets, delis, and specialty food shops along the way. Learn about the Italian influence on Provencal cuisine and how to make an authentic Niçoise salad.
Nice is a beautiful city to explore, and there's no better way to do it than with a 1-day or 2-day pass for the open-top hop-on and hop-off sightseeing bus. You can jump off and on as often as you like, so you can tailor your sightseeing to your own interests and schedule. Plus, you'll enjoy city views from the open-top upper deck. Don't miss sights like Place Garibaldi, Promenade des Anglais and more.
Table of Contents
- Best & Fun Things to Do in Nice, France
- 1. Castle Hill Park
- 2. Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
- 3. Visit the Picturesque Old Town
- 4. Walk or Ride the Famous Promenade des Anglais
- 5. Saint Jean Cap Ferrat
- 6. Nice Carnival
- 7. Matisse Museum
- 8. Visit Monaco
- 9. Villefranche sur Mer
- 10. Cours Saleya
- 11. Archaeological Museum of Nice
- 12. Phoenix Park
- 13. Place Massena & Avenue Jean Médecin
- 14. Asian Arts Museum
- 15. Èze
- 16. Train des Merveilles
- 17. Learn All About Perfume
- 18. Take a Boat Tour
- 19. Mont Boron
- 20. Antibes
- 21. Cannes
- 22. Have a Beach Day
- 23. Menton
- 24. Gorges du Verdon
- 25. Wine Tasting & Vineyard Tours
- What is Nice, France known for?
- What are the best things to see in Nice, France, in one day?
- Are there places to visit in Nice, France, with kids?
- Most significant landmark – The Promenade des Anglais
- Best park – Castle Hill Park
- Best free activity – French Riviera Beaches
- Best activity for kids – Phoenix Park
- Best activity for adults – Day trip to Monaco
- Best food – Le Plongeoir
- Best nightlife – Waka Bar
- Best all-around accommodation – Le Meridien Nice
Best & Fun Things to Do in Nice, France
There are plenty of things to do in Nice, and even more just a short train, car, or bike ride away. Let’s take a look at some of the best of Nice and the French Riviera.
1. Castle Hill Park
Let’s start with one of the best places in Nice for views of the city and the sea: Parc de la Colline du Chateau, or Castle Hill Park. This historic monument is located on a large hill that sits between the city’s port and the old town.
There are various points to begin a walk up Castle Hill, but I find the most convenient to be at the top of Rue Rossetti in the old town. From there, it’s a leisurely stroll uphill through the Mediterranean forest, though the path is always paved. Most people capable of a moderate incline won’t find this walk to be difficult.
Along the way, you’ll find plenty of points to stop and admire the panoramic views of the Mediterranean and the historic center of Nice. The other side of the hill has similarly beautiful views of the port. Attractions at the top include a large waterfall, a historic cemetery, some monuments and archaeological ruins, and a café.
A walk around Castle Hill is easily combined with a day in the old town, thanks to their close proximity. You can also book a Nice walking tour, such as this one, combining both places, which offers the advantage of having a knowledgeable guide to really give you the city’s full story.
See Related: Best Warm Winter Destinations in Europe
2. Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
Address: Place Yves Klein, 06000 Nice, France
If you’ve been to southern France before, then you know it’s full of art galleries and museums, as some of the world’s most famous artists have painted scenes of the Riviera. One of the most famous Nice museums is the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, or the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.
The MAMAC is located in the Place Garibaldi, behind the Parc de la Colline du Chateau and the old town in a beautiful, modern building. It’s within walking distance of these and the other main Nice attractions.
For fans of modern art, this museum is definitely worth a visit. Its collection dates from the 1950s to today and mainly comes from Europe and the United States. They are categorized by different art movements, such as the European New Realists, the School of Nice, American Pop art, and American minimalism.
This neighborhood has many restaurants and shops, as well as easy access to the rest of Nice, making it a good choice for accommodation. It’s also close to the Nice Acropolis and Palais de Congrès, where large events are held, in case you are in town for something specific. The Campanile Hotel Nice Centre Acropolis is close to the museum and has all the comforts you need.
3. Visit the Picturesque Old Town
It would be a sin to visit any European city without wandering through the narrow cobblestone streets of its old town, and Nice is no exception. It’s a compact neighborhood between Castle Hill and the Promenade du Paillon and just beside the famous Promenade des Anglais.
The old town is full of typical French cafés and brasseries, creperies, and pizzerias – don’t forget, Nice was historically part of Italy, which is still just a short distance away! There are also countless fruit and vegetable markets and boutique shops. Don’t forget to stop for ice cream, as it’s not hard to find.
The magnificent Cathédrale Saint-Réparate de Nice sits in the Place Rossetti, a sort of center of the old town. The cathedral’s construction dates to the mid-1600s, with its large bell tower being added about a hundred years later.
There’s plenty of good food, shopping, and history to be had in the old town, so you might consider taking a walking tour to get the full experience. If you want to stay in this neighborhood, there aren’t a ton of hotel options due to the age of the buildings. But there are plenty of vacation rentals, like this apartment, which has extra space and a panoramic view for a great price.
See Related: Best Day Trips from Strasbourg, France
4. Walk or Ride the Famous Promenade des Anglais
The crown jewel of Nice has to be the Promenade des Anglais, the seaside road and path extending for nearly five miles from Castle Hill to the Nice Airport. It’s lined with palm trees and serves as an icon of the city.
Many tourists and locals alike simply like to walk the Promenade des Anglais to enjoy the Mediterranean breeze and the electric blue color of the sea here. Another popular activity is to rent one of the bikes available all over the sidewalk and cruise the coast. The city has installed plenty of public chairs along the route as well to take a break and enjoy the view – they are also great for eating ice cream.
I recommend walking or riding the Promenade des Anglais towards Castle Hill, where it curves to the right slightly and starts to incline up a bit. At the top, you’re rewarded with panoramic views of the beautiful beach. This is also where you’ll find the Instagram-famous “I Love Nice” sign.
There’s a great e-bike tour of the coastlines of Nice, Villefranche sur Mer, and Saint Jean Cap Ferrat – the latter two will be discussed in more depth later – that starts on the Promenade des Anglais. One of the most popular bars in Nice, Waka Bar, can also be found on the Promenade.
My top recommendation for accommodation in Nice is the Le Meridien Nice, which has a great location on the Promenade des Anglais. Don’t miss their rooftop bar, either.
5. Saint Jean Cap Ferrat
You’ll hear several different comparisons of towns that are the “Beverly Hills of the French Riviera,” but Saint Jean Cap Ferrat is truly the closest thing, in my opinion. This town occupies a long peninsula just minutes to the east of Nice and is full of the most ridiculously luxurious mansions you can imagine.
However, don’t expect to see many of them for yourself – most are guarded by large fences and landscaping or by private security teams. The rich and famous of France, and the whole world, escape to Cap Ferrat for their little private piece of the French Riviera.
One of the top attractions here is the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, which is open for visitation. This massive mansion dates back to the early 20th century and was built by Beatrice de Rothschild, wife of rich banker Maurice Ephrussi. It captures Italian Renaissance architecture and is meticulously decorated, and today serves as a museum.
My favorite thing to do in Cap Ferrat is to hike its coastal path. While you can technically start in Beaulieu sur Mer and walk the entire peninsula, the best part starts at its tip and follows its western side. You’ll catch unbelievable sea and mountain views and even have opportunities to jump into the water.
Do you want to stay among the rich and famous? The Four Seasons Grand-Hôtel du Cap Ferrat is among the mansions and the choice of accommodation for people who don’t have one – though it’s not for budget travelers.
See Related: Most Beautiful Small Towns in France
6. Nice Carnival
Many travelers seem to think that there’s no reason to visit the French Riviera in the winter. That is wrong not only because of our mild weather, but also because one of the best events of the year takes place in the season – Nice Carnival!
Every February, the city puts on its own carnival, rivaling those of Brazil, Venice, and New Orleans. For two weeks, the Place Massena and the loop around it hosts parades with colorful floats, dancers, and music. Every year brings a new theme and new excitement to the festival.
One particular event that locals and tourists love is the Battle of Flowers, during which parade marchers wear special costumes and give over one hundred thousand flowers to the audience. This tradition comes from the Nice region’s historical industry of growing flowers sold in France and beyond Europe.
Tickets are required to access the Nice Carnival, as opaque fences will be put up around the route. I highly recommend buying them in advance, as they sell out quickly. In 2022, I had a creative solution to having no tickets – we sat at the bar at the Le Meridien Nice, ordered drinks, and watched it from above!
Worth mentioning is that the Menton Lemon Festival takes place at the same time and makes for an absolutely fantastic combination with the carnival. But that will be for another article!
7. Matisse Museum
Address: 164 Avenue des Arènes de Cimiez, 06000 Nice, France
One of the many famous artists who spent time in the south of France was French painter Henri Matisse, who lived in Nice for several decades. The city created the Matisse Museum in one of its most historic buildings to showcase what has come to be among the world’s largest collections of the artist’s work.
The museum is in the neighborhood of Cimiez, set a bit further back from the sea than the main part of the city. The building is a seventeenth-century villa called Villa des Arènes, which itself sits among the ruins of an ancient Roman amphitheater. Therefore, this is a great place to visit not only for art fans but for history buffs as well.
Its collection is made up of more than 30 paintings, more than 400 drawings, and nearly 60 sculptures made by Matisse. There are also photos, documents, and some of the belongings of the painter. Most were donated by Matisse himself and, by later, his family and the French state.
Admission to the Matisse Museum isn’t very expensive, and this is an interesting way to learn about an important figure in Nice’s recent history. It’s also easily combined with the Archaeological Museum of Nice just next door and the Roman ruins that are on the grounds.
See Related: Best Military Museums in Europe
8. Visit Monaco
Of the many day trips possible from Nice, if you can only choose one, I recommend making it to Monaco. If you aren’t familiar, Monaco is a tiny principality between Nice and the Italian border, meaning you’ll be visiting a whole new country on this day trip.
Monaco is the playground of the ultra-rich and is known for its luxury lifestyle and pristine upkeep. Lamborghinis and Ferraris aren’t anything out of the ordinary here. Designer stores line the streets, mega-yachts line the ports, and everything is oh-so-clean.
The Principality is governed by Prince Albert II, who, just recently, opened part of his royal palace for tours, which I highly recommend. Other than that, you’ll want to explore Monaco Ville and its Oceanography Museum, visit the Monte Carlo Casino, and take in all the amazing views from places like the Jardin Exotique.
There are plenty of experiences to book in Monaco, such as a Lamborghini or Ferrari driving experience (so you can try to fit in). You can also book a Monaco by-night walking tour to see the country after dark, which is a special experience in its own right.
If you want to make Monaco more than a day trip, there are several hotels here – and as you might imagine, they are amazing and expensive. The Hôtel Hermitage Monte Carlo is one of the most famous, located directly next to the famous casino and in the perfect location.
9. Villefranche sur Mer
Another wonderful day trip from Nice is to the seaside village of Villefranche sur Mer, and it’s also one of the most convenient. The town is just on the other side of the Cap de Nice, which forms the western boundary of the city.
Villefranche is on the inside of a long, narrow bay surrounded by mountains. It has a charming old town with numerous restaurants serving local cuisine along its small port. A long, sandy beach is a summertime favorite for locals.
You can visit Villefranche on a guided foot tour, by biking along the coast, or even by hiking to the town – a coastal trail goes almost all the way around Mont Boron, which separates it from Nice. There’s also a short sightseeing cruise that departs from Nice and goes to the bay of Villefranche, and seeing everything from the water can be even more special.
While this town has some excellent seaside restaurants, one of the best on the Côte d’Azur is located just off the road between Villefranche sur Mer and Nice. Le Plongeoir is an upscale restaurant directly on the seaside serving Mediterranean dishes and exceptional cocktails. I highly recommend a dinner here if you love good food and views.
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10. Cours Saleya
While the Cours Saleya is within the old town of Nice, it deserves its own section on our list. This pedestrian street runs parallel to the Promenade des Anglais and is where the most popular outdoor markets of the city are held.
There are actually a few different markets depending on when you visit the street. The flower market, or Marché Aux Fleurs, is the most popular and is held Wednesdays thru Sundays until early afternoon. The various vendors of the city display their fresh flowers for sale, again invoking Nice’s history as a flower-producing city.
There’s also the food market, which is held at the same time as the flower market. Alongside the flower vendors, the farmers and artisans put out their fresh fruits, vegetables, olive oil, jams, and other products. Don’t forget to try socca, the most popular regional food in Nice.
On Mondays, there is no flower or food market, but instead a flea market with all kinds of antiques and some souvenirs. As you can see, there’s always something happening on the Cours Saleya, so be sure to take a walk down this lovely street!
11. Archaeological Museum of Nice
Address: 160 Avenue des Arènes de Cimiez, 06000 Nice, France
As mentioned, the Matisse Museum shares the space of the Roman ruins of Cimiez with the Archaeological Museum of Nice, which also makes for an interesting visit. The ruins are only the beginning of the rich history of this region that stretches back thousands of years.
The site was once the center of the ancient city of Cemenelum, which was the capital of the Alpes Maritimae region. The earliest structures are three thermal complexes, streets, some houses and shops, and the large amphitheater, dating from between the first and the third century. A cathedral and baptism facility from the fifth century are also preserved.
Nice and the surrounding area were ruled by many different nations throughout its history, including the Greeks, the Romans, the counts of Provence, and others. All of them left their influences, as well as their artifacts, which are still being discovered today.
There are few things as cool as exploring places and seeing objects from two thousand years ago, and southern France is full of them. The museum also holds artifacts such as sculptures, masks, vases, jewelry, and more from BC times. They were excavated from sites in and around Nice.
See Related: Best Gardens in Europe to Visit
12. Phoenix Park
Address: 405 Promenade des Anglais, 06200 Nice, France
For those who want to spend some time among the animals and plants, Parc Phoenix is your place in Nice. Thanks to the recent completion of the tram line, the park is easily accessible from the rest of the city if you don’t want to walk or ride the Promenade des Anglais.
The park is a botanical garden and zoo combined, housed under a large glass structure, with further gardens and water features outside. There are more than 2,500 plant species and 2,000 animals living here, and it’s a great place to take the kids or a significant other.
While you won’t find elephants or tigers at this zoo, there is a huge variety of birds in particular. They live with plenty of reptiles, amphibians, and insects. My favorites are the colorful residents, such as parrots, flamingos, and royal cranes.
Some of the plant exhibits include the Valley of Grasses, Citrus Fruits, the Collection of Palm Trees, and Fragrant Plants. Most are native to the Mediterranean area and are truly a feast for your eyes and nose.
13. Place Massena & Avenue Jean Médecin
The Place Massena and its perpendicular Avenue Jean Médecin make up the city center of Nice. Surrounded by the old town, the Promenade des Anglais, the Promenade du Paillon, and the Albert I Gardens, this square is the heart of the city.
Unlike some other main squares in Europe, the Place Massena is wonderfully open with a ton of space. The Fontaine du Soleil, or Sun Fountain, is a local icon with its statue of Apollo and steps down into the old town. On top of the street lights in the square are another icon: glowing statues of a kneeling man, an art installation known as The Buddhas by James Plensa.
Place Massena is lined with cafés and restaurants – I’m a fan of Monsieur Albert in particular, a local take on hot dogs (I know, I’m a typical American living in France…). As you walk up Avenue Jean Médecin, you’ll find plenty more brasseries and creperies, along with a ton of shopping.
If you’re in town during the holiday season, the Albert I Gardens, just next to the square, are where the city’s famous Christmas Market takes place. I recommend getting some hot wine and socca and enjoying the lights around the Place Massena.
See Related: Best & Most Beautiful Cities in Europe to Visit
14. Asian Arts Museum
Address: 405 Promenade des Anglais, 06200 Nice, France
Surprised to find something like the Asian Arts Museum on the French Riviera? In fact, this collection includes some very impressive and valuable pieces from across China, Japan, India, and Southeast Asia.
The museum is located within Parc Phoenix, and the tranquil surroundings complement its position on a small lake. The striking architecture is symbolic. Four cubes are on the bottom and symbolize the four civilizations mentioned above, the large cylinder that sits on top of them represents heaven, and the rotunda and pyramid in the center represent Buddhism which unites them all.
Each civilization is represented in a different thematic group. They are all beautiful, but I particularly like the Japanese art, in which each object has both a functional and an aesthetic purpose. Buddhism is represented throughout, as it is seen as the bridge over the jungles, mountains, and seas that connects Asia.
There is even a tea ceremony room to complete the mini-trip to Asia you’ll take in this museum. The best part is that admission to all of it is free!
Another of the most popular day trips from Nice is Èze, a medieval hilltop town about 30 minutes east of Nice. It’s famous for its ancient stone streets and buildings, panoramic views over the coast, exotic gardens, and historic perfume factory.
There are several options to get to Èze. You can drive or take the bus to the village, both of which are fast and easy. However, the more adventurous travelers might prefer to take the train to the station on the seaside below and hike up the mountain.
The famous trail is called the Chemin de Nietzsche and starts just down the road from Èze sur Mer station, which is found near the beach. The trail runs up the mountain to the old village and, while moderately challenging, offers amazing views. I highly recommend this hike if you don’t mind getting some exercise.
Once in Èze village, you’ll find that it’s very compact and walkable. You’ll be able to cover all of the adorable streets relatively quickly and then make your way to the Jardin Exotique, where more views await in tranquil gardens. The famous Fragonard perfumery offers free tours just outside the village.
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16. Train des Merveilles
If you plan to take day trips without a tour to neighboring towns and villages on the Riviera, you’ll most likely be traveling on the beautiful coastal railroad. But few visitors know about the amazing rail line through the Alps that heads away from the sea, on which the Train des Merveilles runs.
It means the train of wonders, and that is a good way to describe it. Beginning from the Nice Ville train station, it travels up the mountains through some very isolated but beautiful villages of the Paillon, Roya, and Bévéra Valleys. Although it’s a distance of fewer than 60 miles, the voyage gains more than 3,000 feet of elevation, making this railway an incredible feat of engineering.
The best villages to stop off at include Breil-sur-Roya, which has a transport eco-museum about the line; Saorge, which is a stunning hilltop village; and Tende, the end of the line and a gateway to hikes through the Mercantour National Park. From Tende, most adventurers like to trek to the Italian mountaintop border, which is spotted with ancient forts.
The Train des Merveilles departs just after 9am every day, arriving in Tende about an hour and a half later. In the summer months, a guide rides on the morning departure and provides the audience insights about the line and the region for no extra charge. To have a guide to yourself on the train and for a scenic hike in the mountains, you can book a full-day tour.
17. Learn All About Perfume
As we’ve mentioned a few times now, the French Riviera has a history of producing flowers, and some especially fragrant and unique plants grow here. For that reason, it is home to some of the best perfumeries in the world, which for centuries have perfected scent extraction methods and produced high-quality perfumes.
Fragonard is perhaps the best-known, with its main factory in the town of Grasse, about 45 minutes from Nice. They also have a factory and laboratory in Èze. Both offer free visits and informational tours about the perfume-making process and history, as well as direct sales of their products.
But Fragonard is not the only perfume maker, and you’ll find more factories and boutiques all over southern France, including in Nice. Molinard is one that offers a perfume-making workshop in Nice, where you can even design your own scent.
18. Take a Boat Tour
When you visit Nice, you are going to want to enjoy the beautiful sea in one way or another. Luckily, there are plenty of boat tours, ferries, and sunset cruises available all over the Riviera.
Solar-powered electric boats are becoming popular for sightseeing trips, as the calm Mediterranean and sunny weather create ideal conditions for this type of cruising. From Beaulieu sur Mer, a port town just east of Nice, you can take a daytime sightseeing tour or an evening sunset cruise on one of these eco-friendly vessels.
You could also choose to take one of the several daily ferries offered by Riviera Lines from Golfe Juan or Cannes to Sainte Marguerite Island, just 20 minutes away. This uninhabited island is home to an ancient prison where the Man in the Iron Mask was held, and it also offers some amazing beaches.
Finally, many people are dying to visit the glamorous city of Saint Tropez on the other end of the Riviera. But, driving there is a nightmare due to the unbearable traffic. Get around that problem by taking a round-trip boat transfer from Nice, during which you’ll skip the headaches of the road and get some amazing views of the Côte d’Azur from the water.
19. Mont Boron
Address: 4 Boulevard Maurice Maeterlinck, 06300 Nice, France
Nice really likes putting parks at the top of hills – Castle Hill isn’t alone. On the other side of the port from it is Mont Boron, an even larger and taller one. While most visitors like to walk to the top, there is parking available if you choose to drive up.
The Fort of Mont Alban, a 16th-century military fortification, towers over the city at the top, guarding it against potential invaders. You can visit the fort and enjoy the panoramic views it offers today, both over the port of Nice and Villefranche sur Mer.
With such great views, the spaces around the park are where more rich and famous people have their French Riviera villas, including Sir Elton John. But while there are residences here, you won’t find much in the way of food and drink, so bring sufficient water.
I recommend going down the hill on the other side and combining it with a visit to Villefranche, especially if the weather is good and you can cool off on its beach. If you go back the way you came, consider a visit to the Grotte du Lazaret once you get back down on the Nice side – this is a cave in the mountainside where prehistoric remains have been found.
Call me biased, as Antibes is my home, but I can’t think of many better things to do on the Côte d’Azur than spend a day in Antibes. It’s a town with rich history, beautiful beaches, and plenty of things to do, just 20 minutes from Nice by car or train.
Start in the old town, which is just a short walk from the train station and beside the harbor that is the world capital of superyachting. You can walk the old city walls along the sea to Billionaire’s Quay (yes, that’s its name) and see ships that look like a floating Four Seasons.
You’ll also want to walk the streets of the old town, visit the Provencal Market, visit the Picasso Museum, and enjoy wonderful local food. If you walk or take the bus a bit further down the Cap d’Antibes, there’s a lovely coastal hike from La Garoupe Beach to Billionaire’s Bay (once again, yes, that is its name).
During the summertime, Antibes has some exceptional beaches. To the east, the neighborhood of Biot has a rocky beach similar to the one in front of the Promenade des Anglais, which is one of my personal favorites. To the west, the neighborhood of Juan les Pins has miles of golden sand alongside a lively strip of bars and restaurants.
Besides Nice and Saint Tropez, the town on the French Riviera that most foreigners are familiar with is Cannes, home of the famous film festival. It’s another glamorous, high-end destination that is cool to see in person.
If your trip is during the month of May, you might be able to see the Cannes Film Festival for yourself. While you’d need some connections to get into a film screening or awards ceremony, the town is still open for walking around, and you can go right up to the red carpet. In 2022, I was lucky enough to catch the stars of the new Elvis movie in person.
Even outside of the film festival, it seems like there is always something to see in Cannes. A yachting festival takes place at the end of the summer, where hundreds of superyachts line the bay. But you will probably see many of them there during the rest of the summer, too.
22. Have a Beach Day
One of the great things about the Côte d’Azur is that we can have beach days for most of the year. In fact, I am writing this after a morning of swimming in mid-October, and the water was perfect!
Nice has miles of wide pebble beaches and azure water. The rocks that make up the shore range from very small to about the size of a fist, which is interesting if you haven’t seen anything like it before. It can be uncomfortable to sit on, so try to find a chair or cushion for the shore.
While most of its shoreline is a free beach, there are quite a few private beaches run by restaurants and bars, which can be a good solution. They offer sun loungers and umbrellas for a reasonable price, and you can order food and drinks as you please.
There are amazing beaches surrounding Nice as well, so don’t hesitate to jump on a train for your beach day. As mentioned, Juan les Pins is great if you prefer a sandy beach, while Villefranche sur Mer has a beautiful one as well.
See Related: Best Things to do in Normandy, France
Menton is the last town in France before you cross the border and switch to the Italian Riviera. It’s just under 40 minutes from Nice by car or train, and it is definitely worth a visit if you have time.
This border village is known for its lemon and citrus production, as they grow giant lemons on the mountainside farms. In fact, you’ll notice that most of the buildings in the old town are painted yellow and orange in tribute to this heritage, and its bus service is called Zest.
You’ll find plenty of interesting lemon products in artisanal boutiques around town, such as lemon liqueur, lemon olive oil, and lemon cosmetic products. If you visit in February, the two-week Menton Lemon Festival has parades, giant sculptures made of thousands of lemons, and vendor stands all around town. I highly recommend this if you are here at the right time.
Besides all of the citrus, Menton has a wonderful old town on top of a hill centered around a historic church. The beach here is also very nice, and you can take a stroll into Italy if you feel like it, just because.
24. Gorges du Verdon
This is our furthest day trip from Nice on the list, but it is very much worth it if you want to see the stunning natural beauty of France’s Grand Canyon. The Gorges du Verdon are in a national park nearly two hours from Nice, and you will definitely need either a car or a guided tour to get here.
There are many highlights here: the dramatic gorge surrounded by cliffs that the Verdon river flows through, the Lake of Saint Croix and its electric blue color, and the miles of lavender fields that grow around them every June and July. You can drive along the top of the gorge and admire it from above or rent a kayak on the shore of the lake and paddle through it.
After that, don’t miss a stop in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, named one of the most beautiful villages in France and just minutes from the lake. Get some lunch there, and make your way into the picturesque lavender fields if the crop is in season.
While the freedom of a rental car is great here, you can find many tours that visit all of these things, like this full-day excursion. There isn’t much in terms of accommodation in this area, so plan to do it as a return trip from Nice.
25. Wine Tasting & Vineyard Tours
Some of France’s best wine comes from the area surrounding Nice, as the warm, dry climate produces high-quality grapes. If you’re a wine person, you’ll definitely want to tour a local vineyard and taste the product.
While Nice is a large city and you won’t find many wineries among the buildings, you don’t have to go very far in the countryside for them. Nearby towns, such as Saint Jeannet, are wine producers and easily visited from Nice on a tour.
This full-day excursion will bring you to a nearby vineyard that produces local, organic wine and offers a look into its process. You’ll also get to try some, of course. Later, you’ll discover the villages of Gourdon, Biot, and Tourettes sur Loup, as well as one of the region’s nicest waterfalls.
What is Nice, France known for?
Nice is known as the main city of the French Riviera and the gateway to beautiful beaches, cultural attractions, and scenic day trips to mountain and seaside villages. It’s home to some fantastic local cuisine and interesting French and Italian history as well.
What are the best things to see in Nice, France, in one day?
Major Nice tourist attractions are the Promenade des Anglais, the quaint old town, and its massive pebble beach. When visiting Nice, it’s also a great idea to hop on a quick train ride to somewhere nearby, such as Monaco or Villefranche sur Mer.
Are there places to visit in Nice, France, with kids?
There are several Nice tourist attractions that are appropriate for both older and younger kids, such as having a fun day in the calm Mediterranean Sea at one of the many nearby beaches or seeing the wildlife at Phoenix Park. You can also take the whole family to the Oceanography Museum in Monaco for some great sea life fun.