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What to Do in Nice in Winter (+ Seasonal Tips)

28/02/2024

Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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Winter in Nice

Located in the heart of the French Riviera, Nice is one of the top-picked summer destinations in France. However, Nice makes for a perfect spot for escaping Europe’s colder countries in winter thanks to its sunny weather and mild temperatures. Besides, Nice in winter sees no crowds, so you can experience the town’s most authentic side. 

Nice is also a cultural town, the second city with the highest number of museums in France after Paris, and boasts a mouthwatering cuisine and is an excellent base for fantastic day trips.

Let’s discover all the best things to do in Nice in winter to make your Nice winter holiday truly unforgettable.

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What’s Nice in Winter Weather Like?

The winter weather in Nice is very pleasant compared to Northern France. The temperatures in Nice in winter vary from 5C (41F) to 14C (57), but sunshine is important (yay!).

On average, there are 25 days a month without rain in Nice in December, January, and February.

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Things to Do in Nice in Winter

Nice - French Riviera

1. Explore the Old Town without the Crowds

Visiting Nice in the winter means you can stroll through the Old Town without having to zigzag through tourists.

Walking the cobblestone streets of Vieux Nice while admiring the colorful buildings in pretty much total silence in an unparalleled way of experiencing the most authentic town’s vibe.

Stop by the central Place Masséna, enter the richly adorned Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate, and walk inside the Musée du Palais Lascaris, all without crowds, for an over-the-top holiday!

If you need some guidance, this Nice free walking tour is available all year round.

2. Sunny Stroll along Promenade des Anglais

Nice is particularly known for its stunning seaside promenade, the Promenade des Anglais. This gorgeous 7-km-long street is lined with tall palm trees and colorful buildings on one side and the cobalt-blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea on the other.

Running from La Colline du Château to Nice Airport, the promenade used to be the favorite spot of wealthy English people wintering in the town in the 1820s. They came to Nice looking for some winter sun!

The seaside promenade is wonderful to walk or bike in winter; if you feel courageous enough, you can also take a swim during the warmest winter days!

While on the Promenade des Anglais, stop by the iconic 5-star Hotel Negresco for some drinks. The Hotels Negresco is one of France’s most iconic hotels, hosting international artists and royalty for nearly a century. With its original walnut paneling from 1913 and stunning 1683 tapestry, its historic bar is an intimate place for enjoying a drink. At night, it comes to life to the beat of jazz, pop, and soul.

3. Visit the Chagall Museum and the Matisse Museum

Nice has many museums you can visit, making for an excellent pastime during winter.

The first museum we suggest is the Musée National Marc Chagall (open daily except Tuesdays). Housed in a modernist building, the museum displays more than 1,000 works of the famous artist. The best part of the museum’s collection is the 17 large canvases of the Biblical Message donated by the artist himself.

The other unmissable museum in Nice is the Musée Matisse (open daily except Tuesdays), hosted in a stunning 17th-century Genoese-style villa. Besides the beautiful location, the museum boasts one of the world’s largest collections of Henri Matisse’s works. The French painter lived in Nice, and some of the exhibited pieces were created in town, like the gorgeous “Tempête à Nice” and “Nu Bleu IV.”

4. Hike up to Castle Hill and Take in the Views

A must-do activity perfect for Nice’s mild winter temperatures is hiking La Colline du Château (Castle Hill), which used to house a citadel until 1706.

The main reason to visit Castle Hill is to admire the breathtaking views over Nice’s Old Town, the Bay of Angels, and the town’s harbor. Once you have taken in the vistas, you can stroll around the park to see what’s left of the castle.

On your way up, you can hike the 400 steps to the top or use the convenient elevator. We suggest you opt for the hike as it’s pretty manageable, and you will pass a beautifully landscaped waterfall and the ruins of the old cathedral.

5. Discover Nice’s Local Food

A perfect winter activity for winter in Nice is sitting somewhere cozy and trying the delicious local cuisine. The food you will find in town is something special, a wonderful mix of Provençal food and dishes specifically from Nice.

From the popular Salade Niçoise to the filling Daube Niçoise, you can taste Nice’s cuisine in many eateries in town. Three excellent restaurants offering delicious local dishes on their menu are Restaurant Lou Balico (20 Avenue Saint Jean Baptiste), Restaurant L’Escalinada (22 Rue Pairolière), and Restaurant Lu Fran Calin (5 Rue Francis Gallo). Take your pick!

Another of the best things to do in Nice in winter is visiting the Cours Saleya, the famous local market that is also held in the wintertime. Pick and taste the best seasonal produce and cheap eats like the famous socca, locals’ favorite staple. The food section is available daily (except Monday) from 6 a.m. to 1.30 p.m.

If you fancy a different experience, join a food tour. This food tour with an expert guide will lead you to the streets of Old Nice and its lively local market to pick and taste the best food in Nice.

6. Take a Day Tour

A great way to make your trip extra special is taking a day trip to other places in the idyllic French Riviera to enjoy them without the crowds!

Choose the beautiful city of Cannes and Monaco for a luxurious day trip. In Cannes, you will find high-end shopping venues and a pretty Old Town and Port to explore on a sunny day, while Monaco boasts the iconic Monte Carlo Casino.

A fantastic day trip from Nice is also the medieval hilltop town of Èze, with a lovely botanical garden and charming vistas of the French Riviera.

Menton is also a beautiful city to explore, famous for its colorful Italian-style architecture and its lemons.

And why not the best of the French Riviera in one day? Discover the beauty of the French Riviera on a full-day tour from Nice with pickup. Soak up the glamour that attracts the rich and famous in Cannes, Monaco, Monte Carlo, Eze, Saint-Paul de Vence, and Antibes.

7. Enjoy the Regional Winter Festivals & Events

Many fantastic festivals and events animate Nice and the towns nearby during winter.

Nice is fabulous during the Christmas period. The best part of Nice in December is the Christmas Market, which includes many fun activities for the whole family, like the Christmas Village and a skating rink.

Unmissable is the Carnival of Nice, which is among the world’s major carnival festivals. Every year, the Carnival has a unique theme, and the 2024 edition will be held from 17 February to 3 March.

The other must-see festival we suggest you attend if you visit Nice in February is the Menton Lemon Festival, which you can enjoy from 17 February to 3 March 2024.

If you travel to Nice in January, you can drive the Route du Mimosa. This scenic drive runs from Gasse to Bomes-les-Mimosas and is covered in mimosa flowers in full bloom from January to March. Click here to compare car rental prices from Nice.

8. Day trip to the Snow with Nice SkiBus

You might not know that not far from Nice are excellent ski resorts that make for a nice change of scenery from the lovely Mediterranean setting of the French Riviera towns.

If you visit the French Riviera in winter, you can spend a fun day in the snow taking advantage of the Nice SkiBus, which will lead you to fantastic ski slopes for a cheap round-trip price (y. 1 item of luggage + skis allowed). You will get from the beach to snow-capped mountains (La Colmiane, Auron Nice, and Isola 2000) in around two hours!

Enjoy the kilometers-long ski slopes and have fun sledding with your kids for the day, or stay a little bit longer by booking a cozy chalet while enjoying a raclette or fondue.

And there you have it, what to do in Nice in winter, plus our top tips. So, what are you waiting for? Book your winter getaway trip to Nice today!

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