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Best Things to Do in Nice, France

01/03/2024

Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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Visit Nice, French Riviera

Nice is one of the most beautiful cities to visit in France and I am sure you will love it. It is located on the French Riviera in Southern France, bathed by the Mediterranean Sea.

There’s no bad time to visit Nice, and you will enjoy the city all year round. Summer in Nice is beach time, ice cream, and apéritifs in rooftop bars, while winter in Nice comes with mild temperatures, the famous Carnival of Nice, and quirky festivals in the neighboring towns.

Nice is one of the 2024 Summer Olympics cities, so it’s the perfect excuse to discover or re-discover the city. If you are wondering what to do in Nice, go on reading. This article lists the best things to do in Nice, France, and our best tips for your sightseeing in Nice.

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What to Do in Nice, France

Hotel Negresco - Nice

There are many things to do in Nice to keep you busy for a while. Nice is also a great base for exploring more of the French Riviera on day trips. Because of its international airport, Nice is also a good starting point for a fun French Riviera road trip.

From glamourous beaches to traditional markets, this Nice things-to-do list has something for every traveler. Stay two days in Nice to visit the main sites and enjoy the beach, and more days if you plan to visit other places nearby on day trips.

1. Enjoy the Views from La Colline du Château

Castle Hill - Nice

La Colline du Château (Castle Hill) is a rocky hill located on the Eastern side of Promenade des Anglais, overlooking Old Nice and the Port. This hill is one of the best things to see in Nice, and it offers incredible views of Nice, the Baie des Anges, and the Alps in the distance.

In the 11th century, a citadel occupied this hill, but King Louis XIV’s soldiers entirely dismantled it in the 18th century. Today, it is a beautiful park great for a stroll and one of the best places to visit in Nice for its impressive views.

The access to La Colline du Chateau is through the stairs. There’s also a free elevator located at the end of the Promenade des Anglais. Don’t miss the archaeological remains and its surprising waterfall!

2. Visit the Old Port

Harbor Nice

The Old Port, located in Old Nice, is another of the best places to see in Nice and a wonderful place for a stroll. Nice’s Old Port is a colorful and busy place, with about ten quays and various markets selling local products.

Built in the 18th century, this port is one of the French Riviera’s main infrastructural hubs. It accommodates both the ships operated by ferry companies and private yachts for tourists.

3. Get Lost in Nice’s Old Town

Place Rosetti and Cathedral - Nice

Exploring the Old Town is one of the top things to do in Nice, France. Vieux Nice is the city’s historic district, an ensemble of narrow streets, colorful architecture, and picturesque piazzas.

In Vieux Nice, you will also find cultural venues, beautiful Baroque churches, and many shopping opportunities and restaurants.

The list of beautiful places to visit in Nice’s Old Town includes the Cathedral Sainte Reparate on Place Rossetti, the notable museums of Lascaris Palace and Galleries des Pochettes, and the Opera of Nice.

On Place Rossetti, you will also find Fenocchio – one of the best ice creams in Nice. However, its popularity (and long lines) is pushing locals to other great alternatives, like Azzurro in Rue Sainte Reparate.

4. Visit Cours Saleya’s Markets

Flower Market - Nice

Located in the historic district, Cours Saleya is the largest pedestrian area in Vieux Nice and one of the few places that still keeps its local and traditional charm. The place is great for a stroll, and it is well known for its colorful flower stalls (my favorite part), but there are also stalls selling antiques and local food.

This market opens from Tuesday to Sunday, from 8 am to 12.30 approx, and is a must-see in Nice, France. Here, you can also get the best socca in town (a local staple similar to Italian farinata) at Chez Theresa, a colorful (and always busy) stand. The socca is made in their bakery at 28 Rue Droite in Old Nice, and a boy brings it to the stand in Cours Saleya on a black bike.

5. Stroll along the Promenade des Anglais

Nice - French Riviera

A stroll along the Promenade des Anglais is one of the best things to do in Nice. This seaside promenade is Nice’s main landmark, famous beyond the French borders.

The name of this promenade honors the English aristocracy, who, in the 19th century, acquired a taste for vacationing in Nice in winter to escape England’s coldest months and had the idea of building this 7-kilometer avenue by the sea.

Along the Promenade des Anglais, you will find Nice’s beaches with their legendary blue lounge chairs, the Museum of Asian Arts, the Palais de la Méditerranée, and the equally iconic Hotel Négresco.

The Promenade des Anglais is also used to host popular city events like the Prom Classic or the Carnival of Nice.

6. Lazy Day at the Beach

If you are wondering what to do in Nice, France, for a relaxing day, consider one of the beaches in Nice. The city’s seafront is bordered by pebbled beaches, public and private, and they are a great place for a lazy day sunbathing and a couple of dips.

To avoid contact with the stones, the beaches are fitted with lounge chairs, and it is highly recommended to use special shoes to walk on the beach or take a bath.

The public beaches offer limited facilities, while the private beaches have luxurious amenities (changing cabins, towels) and bars and restaurants with seaside service. Some of these private beaches, like Blue Beach and Beau Rivage, are amongst the most glamorous beaches on the French Riviera.

7. Take a Boat Tour from Nice

Explore Nice and the French Riviera from another perspective, from the water!

Do you need to unwind after a busy day of sightseeing? Then, book this sunset boat tour that departs from Nice and explores Villefranche-sur-Mer and the preserved nature of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat under a beautiful orange light. During the boat tour, you will be able to snorkel and taste delicious Nice specialties in a relaxed and joyful atmosphere – Click here to book this sunset boat tour from Nice

If you prefer to sail during the day, this guided boat tour explores the French Riviera’s coastline from Nice to Monaco. Admire Villefranche-sur-Mer, Monaco, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Eze, and Cap d’Ail from the water, with some stops for swimming or snorkeling – Click here to book this morning boat tour from Nice

8. Or Rent a Boat in Nice

Why follow other tourists if you can craft your own boat tour with your family or friends? Rent a boat in Nice, with or without a skipper, and plan a day out admiring the city from the water or visiting places like Cap Ferrat and Cap d’Ail. With its azure waters, colorful towns, and natural wonders, the French Riviera is the ideal destination for sailing.

The boating season in the French Riviera runs from April to October. Given that Nice is a very popular holiday destination, there are plenty of boats available to rent. Keep in mind, however, that during the high season in the summer, there are many tourists in the city, so I recommend booking well in advance to find the perfect boat for you. And if you don’t have a boat permit, don’t hesitate to ask for the services of a professional skipper – Click here to rent a boat in Nice

9. Visit the Museums of Cimiez Hill

Cimiez Monastery - Nice

If you are looking for a cultural day in Nice, what to do? I suggest visiting Cimiez Hill, a calm neighborhood on the hills of Nice with a serene atmosphere far from the Old Town’s hustle and bustle.

Located 2km north of Vieux Nice, Cimiez is a beautiful place for a stroll. It also has some Nice tourist attractions, like the Cimiez Monastery, Nice’s Archaeological Site and Archaeological Museum, the Chagall Museum, and the Matisse Museum. The historical monuments of Valrose Castle and Regina Palace are also located in Cimiez.

Cimiez also hosts popular city events like the Gourd Festival or the Nice Jazz Festival.

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10. Take a Food Tour

Food Tastings and Picnic on Castle Hill

A food tour is a great way to learn about food in Nice and taste some specialties. During my last trip to Nice, I took this top-rated Nice food tour that explores the market of Cours Saleya and some gourmet shops (olive oil, truffles, candied fruits,…), with tastings along the way.

Lara, our guide, was great. She told us a lot of things about Nice’s food and culture in general and adapted her explanations to our interests. The tour ended with a picnic on Castle Hill, where we tasted some musts of Nice, like pissaladière, pan bagnat, socca, cheese, and cold cuts washed down with local wines – Click here to book this food tour in Nice

Adrenaline-Packed Things to Do in Nice, France

This list of fun and adrenaline-packed activities in Nice is ideal for those who want to see Nice from another point of view.

11. Explore the Underwater World in Nice

Photo Courtesy: Chango Diving – Manawa (c)

Discover the superb seabed of the French Riviera from Nice! Explore appreciated diving sites of the Mediterranean Sea, such as the Grande Baie or the Coral Cave.

If this is your first time, join this diving school in the port of Nice for an unforgettable first dive. You will leave by boat from the port of Nice for a half-day group session and take turns diving. Being in the company of other trainee divers, you will have time before or after your first dive to snorkel or simply enjoy the sun on board the boat.

The second part of the dive is dedicated to the underwater walk and the exploration of the surrounding sea bed – Click here to book your first dive from Nice

If you want to get your SSI Open Water Diver certification to become an autonomous diver and be able to dive down to 20 meters deep, then book this Scuba Diving SSI Course, which includes theoretical lessons and 8 dives in a protected environment.

12. Fly Over the Baie des Anges

Discover the Angels Bay, one of the world’s most beautiful views, from the air!

Embark on a parasailing flight to take height and admire the beautiful city and its famous Bay as you have never seen it before. You will fly in front of the Old Nice and will be able to admire from above the bays of Villefranche and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, a magic moment to live alone, in a duo, or in a trio!

The tour of the Bay of the Angels takes off from the Beau Rivage beach and is about 2 km long. It takes around 10 minutes, enough to fill up with sensations! – Click here to book a parasailing flight

Things to Do in Nice for Long Stays

If you decide to stay in Nice for more than two days, consider taking a day trip or a guided tour to explore other beautiful places in the French Riviera.

13. Take a Day Trip from Nice

Nice is an excellent base for exploring other beautiful places on the French Riviera on day trips. The list of beautiful day trips from Nice includes Villefranche-sur-Mer – a picturesque Old Town and beach with pebbles on the small side –, Éze-Village, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Menton, or Monaco.

Discover the Côte d’Azur on this guided driving tour of the French Riviera. Visit the village of Èze, and explore Monaco, Monte Carlo, and Antibes.

Further on the west, Cannes and Antibes are two beautiful cities on the French Riviera worth exploring, and they are easy to reach by regional train.

If you prefer to explore inland, this Provence Countryside guided tour visits lovely towns like Grasse, Gourdon, and Saint-Paul-de-Vence and has excellent reviews.

14. Take a Wine Tour

Vin de Bellet AOC (Nice – Provence Wine Region)

The Côtes de Provence Appellation is very extensive. You will, of course, discover in this appellation producers of rosé wine (90% of the wine production) but also of fruity and quite full-bodied red wines and aromatic and fruity whites.

If you have a car, I recommend exploring the vineyards of Bellet AOC, planted on the steep slopes of the hills around Nice. Bellet has excellent red wines (assemblies from Braquet, Folle Noire, Cinsault, and Grenache Noir grape varieties) and white wines (assemblies from Vermentino, Chardonnay, Clairette, Blanqueiron, and Bourboulenc grape varieties). The Bellet AOC wine production is not big (around 50 Ha only) so it is rare to find these wines out of Nice. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste and buy these great wines!

In Bellet, Château de Bellet and Domaine de la Source offer different visits with tastings in French and English. Book in advance!  

If you don’t have a car, this full-day Côtes de Provence wine tour from Nice visits three award-winning wineries in the Provence Wine Region, where you can taste a variety of fine wines.

And there you have it: what to see in Nice, things to do, and top tips for a wonderful stay in the capital of the French Riviera. So, what are you waiting for?! Book your trip to Nice today!

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