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Visit Nice, French Riviera
In southern France, all the roads lead to Nice, blessed by the Mother Nature and graciously adorned with beautiful baroque architecture.
“Nissa La Bella”, the city of Angels and capital of Côte d’Azur, is the perfect starting point for your French Riviera explorations and we are sure it will only take two days in Nice for you to fall in love with it!
Wondering how to spend a weekend in Nice, what to do for 2 days in Nice? Sure, the Promenade des Anglais is a must but to reduce the city to its mythical waterfront would be too easy. When you take the time to explore it, Nice reveals interesting museums, a beautiful Old Town, and a very particular art of living.
So follow us to the land of colors and the sun, we have the perfect 2 days in Nice itinerary with gorgeous places to visit in Nice in 2 days.
What to Do in Nice in 2 Days Map
2 Days in Nice, Day 1
START EARLY IN THE MORNING FROM THE CASTLE HILL
1. La Colline du Château
Let’s start this 2 days in Nice itinerary bright and early from the Colline du Château. Located at one of the ends of the Promenade des Anglais, the Castle Hill overlooks Old Nice and the port. This rocky hill once housed a fortified citadel built in the 11th century and today it is a very beautiful wooded park, ideal for a stopover or a refreshment near the big waterfall or even picnic followed by a nap in the shade in summer.
This place offers incredible views of Nice, the Baie des Anges, and in the distance, the Alps! We always recommend starting early in the morning, when the light lights up the Promenade des Anglais and the Old Town. Nice under the morning light is really beautiful and you will be treated to a real festival of colors with the turquoise sea and the red roofs of Old Nice!
You can climb up to the Castle Hill by the stairs or by the (free) elevator at the end of the Promenade des Anglais.
AROUND THE PORT
2. Pay a visit to the colorful Port
From the Castle Hill, you can descend to the Old Town side or the harbor side. Let’s start with the Port, which is very cute with its red and yellow buildings and it houses both luxury yachts and small fishing boats. It’s very nice to walk east side in the middle of small boats of all colors with the Castle Hill in the background.
3. Stroll the Streets of Old Nice
Exploring the old town is another of the top things to do in Nice. Old Nice has an incomparable charm, reminiscent of that of small Italian cities. Its narrow streets are lined with tall buildings colored in red, orange, or yellow. Laundry hangs from the windows, the green or blue shutters are often closed, but be sure that behind the doors small treasures are hidden.
Push the doors of the small churches and admire hundreds of angels, paintings of saints, and the oh-so baroque marble altars.
When you had your dose of gildings and stuccos, pay a visit at the Lascaris Palace (#4), rue Droite. This 17th-century private mansion is a gem of Baroque art with frescoed ceilings, woodwork, and original furniture that hosts today contemporary exhibitions and a beautiful collection of old musical instruments staged across the halls.
5. Baroque perfection at Place Rosetti
In the center of the Old Town, there’s Place Rosetti, with the pretty Sainte Réparate Cathedral. It is also in Baroque style and well worth a short visit.
Even if it is very touristy, Place Rosetti is also the perfect place to take a break and enjoy a good ice cream. For this, we recommend two addresses: Fenocchio offers an unbeatable choice of delicious ice creams but it’s rather pricey. Gelateria Rossetti, just opposite, also has a good selection and it’s cheaper. And if you are in the mood for some shopping, next to Fenocchio there’s Maison Bremond (15 rue du Pont Vieux), a good address to buy local products such as oil, olives, tapenades, anchoïades, or vinegars.
6. All the streets lead to Cours Saleya
But don’t worry because all the streets lead to Cours Saleya, the main pedestrian street in Old Nice.
Located on the edge of Old Nice and a stone’s throw from the Promenade des Anglais, Cours Saleya is a bit the center of Nice’s (tourist) activity, with its market and restaurants. It really looks like a large village square with its brightly colored houses, its church, courthouse, and a bustling atmosphere!
Cours Saleya is also known for its colorful flower market which takes place every morning except Monday: the stalls are gorgeous! You will also find stalls of fruits and vegetables, without forgetting the stalls of biscuits, candied fruits, or marzipans . . . a temptation difficult to resist, you are warned!
By now you must be hungry and Cours Saleya is a good place to stop for lunch. The place offers a wide range of restaurants of different quality. We recommend Le Cyliano (13 Cours Saleya), with an outdoor terrace and a brasserie menu with Provencal accents. There’s also Le Safari (1 Cours Saleya) an institution of Old Nice and with a menu of yummy local specialties.
PLACE MASSÉNA AND PROMENADE DES ANGLAIS
7. Place Masséna
Before visiting the Promenade des Anglais, let’s do a detour to admire the elegant Place Masséna, the main square in the city, and spot for many public events. Located at the end of the Paillon Promenade, its checkered floor and the red –ochre buildings give the place a beautiful look.
If you did not eat in Cours Saleya, you will easily find a place to eat in this area. Place Masséna is also the starting point of avenue Jean Médecin which is the shopping street with luxury boutiques and department stores.
If you are looking for a second ice cream, head to Papilla (3, rue de l’Opéra), between Place Masséna and the Promenade des Anglais. Their ice creams are delicious and you can eat it by the sea!
8. Stroll Along the Promenade des Anglais
When you visit Nice you cannot miss the legendary Promenade des Anglais which stretches for 7 kilometers along the Baie des Anges. It is a very pleasant place for a stroll in the afternoon, especially between the (also legendary) Hôtel Négresco and the Castle Hill.
Admire the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea and enjoy the sea breeze which makes the hottest days of summer more bearable. The place is not ideal, however, for swimming because the beach is made of large pebbles.
Along the promenade, you will also see some very beautiful hotels and buildings with architecture very typical of Nice. The legendary palatial Hôtel Négresco (#9) is worth the detour alone: just like the Sacher Hotel in Vienna, the Ritz in Paris or the Astoria Hotel in Brussels, Hôtel Négresco is one of the legendary luxury hotels in Europe and the symbol of the French Riviera.
Apéro Time and Dinner
For the first evening of your weekend in Nice, you can spoil yourself in one of the restaurants along the Promenade des Anglais. The Négresco has a restaurant with two Michelin stars, ideal for a special celebration. The perfect plan, however, is their brasserie La Rotonde, where you can taste refined dishes with a reasonable bill at the end of the soirée. The dishes are delicious and the decor – an old reconstructed carousel – is wonderful.
Before or after a good meal at the Négresco (or nearby), enjoy an evening drink on the rooftop of one of the Promenade hotels: the view is magnificent (the prices too).
2 Days in Nice, Day 2
10. The Neighborhood of Cimiez and its Treasures
The second day of this Nice in 2 days itinerary also starts from the heights, from Cimiez Hill. This district is full of treasures, like the archaeological site surrounded by olive trees which dates back over 2000 years!
The ruins of the ancient Roman city with its thermal baths and its amphitheater belong today to the archaeological museum but you can get a glimpse from outside.
Matisse Museum or Chagall Museum?
Also on the hill, there’s the Cimiez Monastery with its pretty gardens, very appreciated by the neighbors, especially on Sundays. Right next to it there’s the Matisse Museum, located in an elegant 17th-century building surrounded by olive trees. Henry Matisse (1869-1954) was a revolutionary and influential artist of the early 20th century, best known for the expressive color and form of his Fauvist style. In 1917 he relocated from Paris to Nice where he spent the rest of his life in this same neighborhood.
An alternative for this morning is to visit the Musée National Marc Chagall, not far from Musée Matisse.
Marc Chagall (1887–1985) was a world-famous Russian-French painter and graphic artist. From 1966, he lived with his second wife in Saint-Paul de Vence, near Nice, where he died.
The particularity of this museum is that it was created and opened by Chagall himself and it hosts a beautiful collection of works related to religious themes. Here, you can have a quick lunch (snacks and light bites) in the museum’s beautiful garden.
On the second afternoon of your two days in Nice, we propose to leave for a while the hustle and bustle of the big city. From Chagall’s Museum, you can walk down to the train station for a short ride (8 minutes!) to Villefranche-sur-Mer, one of France’s most beautiful harbor towns.
Villefranche-sur-Mer is one of the best day trips from Nice but you can also visit for a few hours. Treat yourself to a delightful afternoon exploring the old town’s winding streets, with beautiful baroque architecture. Some interesting sites include the Chapel of St. Peter near the fishing harbor, decorated by Jean Cocteau in 1957, rue Obscure – an underground street built in the 13th century for soldiers to pass through more easily, or the citadel founded by the Duke of Savoy in 1554 to protect the harbor, a well-preserved reminder of the town’s medieval past.
From the harbor, you can see the Cap Ferrat peninsula, with some of the most beautiful palaces on the French Riviera, like the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, a magnificent Italian-style monument.
TIP: you can also experience Villefranche-sur-Mer and Cap Ferrat from the sea on this top-rated sightseeing cruise starting from Nice!
If you like fish and seafood, L’Oursin Bleu in Villefranche-sur-Mer is a great place for dinner near the water. The fish is fresh – you have the fish tank in the middle of the room – and it is prepared with fresh, seasonal ingredients.