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Visit Nice, France
In southern France, all the roads lead to Nice, blessed by Mother Nature and graciously adorned with beautiful baroque architecture.
‘Nissa La Bella,’ the city of Angels and capital of the French Riviera, is also the perfect starting point for a French Riviera road trip, 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 France, what to do in Nice for two days? 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 very particular art of living.
So follow us to the land of colors and the sun; we have the perfect Nice itinerary for a memorable weekend in Nice, France.
Weekend in Nice: Where to Stay?
If you visit Nice in the summer, look for a hotel in Nice with a swimming pool. Although the city has beautiful beaches, a hotel with a swimming pool offers much-needed refreshment after a long day out.
For your 2 days in Nice, we recommend staying central, close to the proposed sights. The area between the train station and the sea is central and safe.
Hotel Négresco: this historic hotel is the best option for a luxury weekend in Nice, with an unbeatable location facing the Promenade des Anglais. Each room and suite is decorated individually with period furniture, and some also come with great views over the Mediterranean Sea. For a supplement, you can also enjoy the private beach Nepture in the Promenade.
Hotel La Pérouse Nice Baie des Anges: nestled into the Colline du Château, this 4-star hotel comes with the best view of Nice, over the Baie des Anges. The rooms are huge, with elegant Méditerrranean décor and a bathroom with Italian marble. Some of them also come with a private balcony with great ocean views. The pool area and patio restaurant are also beautiful.
Hotel Florence: this is one of the two hotels in Nice to get the European eco-label. The main facade is nothing special, but behind it, there is a true wellness bubble, perfect for your weekend in Nice. The 50 or so rooms are decorated in a contemporary style, and the most expensive rooms come with a terrace. The location is great too, at only 5 minutes on foot to Place Masséna and just a 10-minute walk to the Promenade des Anglais.
How to Spend 2 Days in Nice – A Detailed Nice Itinerary
What to do in Nice for a weekend? Here’s the list of best things to do in Nice in 2 days for a great Nice city break.
Two Days in Nice: Day One
La Colline du Château
Let’s start this Nice itinerary 2 days bright and early from the Colline du Château. Located at one of the ends of the Promenade des Anglais, the Colline du Château – or Castle Hill in English – overlooks Old Nice and the port.
This rocky hill once housed a fortified citadel built in the 11th century, hence the name. Today it is a lovely wooded park, ideal for a stopover or a refreshment near the big waterfall or even a 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 French 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 wonderful, and you will be treated to a real festival of colors with the turquoise sea and the red roofs of Old Nice!
If you don’t want to take the stairs to the top of the hill, there’s a (free) elevator at the end of the Promenade des Anglais.
The Port of Nice
From the Colline du Château, you can descend to the Old Port, which houses luxury yachts and small fishing boats. A stroll in this area is delightful, with the colorful boats lined up along the quay, the red and yellow buildings, and the Colline du Château in the background.
Exploring the Old Town is another of the best 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 red, orange, or yellow, with the laundry hanging from the windows. The green or blue shutters are often closed (it’s hot outside!), but be sure that small treasures are hidden behind the walls.
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, at rue Droite. This 17th-century private mansion is a gem of Baroque art with frescoed ceilings, woodwork, and original furniture. Today, it hosts contemporary exhibitions, and a beautiful collection of old musical instruments staged across the halls.
Baroque Perfection at Place Rosetti
In the center of the Old Town, there’s Place Rosetti, with the pretty Sainte Réparate Cathedral. This religious building 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 vinegar.
All the Streets Lead to Cours Saleya
Don’t worry about getting lost in Old Nice because all the streets lead to Cours Saleya, the main pedestrian street.
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, church, courthouse, and 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!
Before visiting the Promenade des Anglais, let’s make a detour to admire the elegant Place Masséna, the main square in the city, and a 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.
Place Masséna is also the starting point of avenue Jean Médecin which is Nice’s main shopping street with luxury boutiques and department stores.
If you are looking for another ice cream (after all, you are on holiday!), 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 them by the sea!
Stroll Along the Promenade des Anglais
You cannot miss the legendary Promenade des Anglais when you visit Nice, which stretches for seven kilometers along the Baie des Anges. It is a charming place for a stroll in the afternoon, especially between the (also legendary) Hôtel Négresco and the Colline du Château.
Admire the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea and enjoy the sea breeze, which makes the hottest days of summer more bearable. Here, you have some of the fanciest beaches on the French Riviera, but the place is not ideal for swimming because the beaches are made of large pebbles.
You will also see some stunning hotels and buildings with architecture very typical of Nice along the promenade. The legendary palatial Hôtel Négresco 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.
Two Days in Nice: Day Two
The second day of this 2 days in Nice itinerary also starts from the heights, from Cimiez Hill. This district is full of treasures, like the archaeological site surrounded by olive trees of more than 2,000 years old!
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, there’s the Cimiez Monastery on the hill with its pretty gardens, very popular amongst the neighbors for a Sunday stroll. 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 his Fauvist style’s expressive color and form. 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 coceived 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.
Afternoon in Villefranche-sur-Mer
From Cimiez Hill, walk down to the train station for a short ride (8 minutes!) to Villefranche-sur-Mer, one of France’s most beautiful harbor towns.
In Villefranche, 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 – 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.
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.
TIP: you can also experience Villefranche-sur-Mer and Cap Ferrat from the sea on this top-rated sightseeing cruise starting from Nice!
Practical Information for your Nice City Break
How to Travel to Nice
BY PLANE: Nice-Côte d’Azur Airport (NCE) is one of the main international airports in France, and it covers many international destinations in Europe, Africa, Asia, Middle East, and America via regular or seasonal flights – Click here for flight schedules and prices. Check here how to travel from Nice airport to the city.
BY TRAIN: Nice is well connected with other main cities in France. Count on taking it 5h 45 min for a Paris-Nice, 2h 40 min for a Marseille-Nice, and 4h 40 for a Lyon Nice. Click here for schedules and prices.
Since spring 2021, the sleeping train Paris to Nice is back on track with daily service in both directions (book well in advance).
2 Days in Nice: Where to Eat
LA ROTONDE: Apart from its 2-Michelin star restaurant, Le Négresco has a 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.
LE CYLIANO: this brasserie with an outdoor terrace has an interesting menu with Provencal accents. It is at 13 Cours Saleya.
LE SAFARI: this restaurant located at 1 Cours Saleya is an institution of Old Nice, and it offers a menu full of delicious local specialties.
L’OURSIN BLEU: If you like fish and seafood, this place 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.