We’ve recently just returned from a short break in Nice. We had such a wonderful time that we just had to write about our trip and share some of our tips for making the most of your time there.
Nice has so much to offer every traveller – old world charm in its ‘Vieille Ville’, modern luxury, a world class beach and gorgeous weather, add in the cute towns and villages nearby and you have a pretty great place to spend a few days or even a few weeks!
This was our second trip to Nice, during our first trip a few years ago we spent a lot of time chilling out on the beach and exploring some of the tourist sites, this time we wanted to get out and about a bit more and discover a little more of the Cote D’Azur.
Some tips for visiting Nice
Getting around Nice
We found getting around Nice easy by foot or by public transport. When we are away we like to do a lot of walking, its helps us to get a feel for the place and work off all the bread we eat J Nice is a very easy city to walk around as most of the main sights are within walking distance of each other like the Promenade, Vieille Ville, Nice Port etc.
If walking isn’t your thing, the public transport system in Nice is fantastic. Ligne d’Azur is company in charge of public transport in Nice made up of about 40 bus and tram lines. Each 74 minute journey costs only €1.50. If you would like to travel for even cheaper you can buy a day pass for €5, a week pass for €15 or you can purchase a 10 trip ticket for €10. However these tickets don’t cover the airport bus or trips to Monaco or St. Paul de Vence. You can buy the single journey ticket and day pass off the bus driver but you will have to buy the week pass and 10 trip ticket at the machines beside the tram stops or at a Lignes d’Azur boutique. *Don’t forget to punch your ticket when you board a bus or tram or you could be fined!
Another way to get around Nice is by pedal power. Nice is a fairly bicycle friendly city and now it is easier than ever to rent a bicycle with Velo Bleu self-service share bikes, which cost €1 a day but you can only use each bike for a maximum of 30 minutes, this isn’t really an issue as there are stands dotted all along the Promenade des Anglais and throughout the city.
If you are arriving into Nice via the airport you can catch the Nice Airport Express Bus (follow the signs for the bus station when you enter arrivals) – take #98 Promenade des Arts if you want to get to the beach hotels or the old town and take #99 Gare SNCF if you want to go to the main train station. This bus costs €6 each way and you get the ticket from the bus driver. *While we were there we discovered that you can take a local bus to and from the airport too for the lesser cost of €1.50. Bus #52 #59 or #70 will pick you up or drop you off at the Aéroport/Promenade stop. (Just walk through the carpark at Terminal 1 in the direction of the Promenade.)
Places to stay in Nice
Hotels in Nice are quite expensive. For this reason we choose to use AirBNB for this trip. We were very lucky to get a gorgeous apartment just off Place Massena, the perfect location for such a short trip. If you are thinking of visiting Nice, I’d advise you to try and book a place near the beach, port or old town. If you choose one of these locations you are within walking distance of all the major sights, restaurants and nightlife.
Places to eat in Nice
There are so many places to eat in Nice especially around the Vieille Ville (old town) and the port. We ate in a few places during our stay – some good and some overpriced! Here are a few that we enjoyed:
Granny’s in the Old Town – we had a delicious breakfast of crepes and coffee here one morning.
So Green on Place Massena – if you are a little bit health conscious you have to come here and try the fresh juices – mmmmmmm!
El Merkado in the Old Town – this cool little tapas bar in the old town can get busy so be prepared to wait at the bar or make a reservation.
Continue reading for our guide of things to do in Nice if you only have 3 days.
Old Town (Vieille Ville) – Spend some time here just wandering the cobbled streets of Nice’s old town and admiring all the beautiful buildings, cafés, boutiques, restaurants and markets.
Marche aux Fleurs – (on Cours Saleya) The flower market is open in the Old Town Tuesday through to Sunday and its worth a walk through to admire the beautiful flowers. If you are in Nice on a Monday you are lucky, that’s when the antiques market takes its place and you can be sure to pick up a bargain or two. Come back to Cours Saleya as the sun sets and visit some of the bars and restaurants that come to life in the evening.
Promenade des Anglais – Be sure to take time to stroll along the Promenade during your trip. Dotted with rest stops it makes a nice walk at any time during the day or night.
Place Massena – Come here at night time to enjoy some street performers or come during the day to take some beautiful photographs of the stunning buildings surrounding the square, once the home of the rich and famous of Nice. There are also lots of cafés and restaurants located in the streets just off Place Massena and you will also find Galleries Layfette on the northern end of the square.
Castle Hill – You can climb up to Castle Hill or you can hop on the free lift form Rue des Ponchetters to enjoy the breath-taking views over Nice. *If you do decide to climb make sure to bring water with you, it’s a bit of a trek especially in the summer heat.
Beach – Spend some time just relaxing on the beach. With 20 public and 15 private beaches to choose from you will be spoiled for choice.
Day trips from Nice –
Nice is great location to explore the rest of the Cote d’Azur from and its excellent bus and train service make it easy to visit some other beautiful towns and villages along the French Riviera.
Eze – Only 30 minutes from Nice you will find the gorgeous hilltop village of Eze. To get here from Nice you need to catch the #82 bus from Max Barel station a few blocks from the port on Rue Barla. A few hours is enough time to wander the narrow streets and grab a coffee or a spot of lunch. Be sure to make your way up to the Jardin d’Eze (€6 or €2 if you are a student) to enjoy panoramic views over the Cote d’Azur. You could also take the Neitzsche Path down to Eze-Sur-Mer and then get the train back to Nice. (If you want to make your way to Monaco after Eze just hop on the #112 bus.)
Monaco – To get to Monaco, the second smallest country in the world, from Nice you get the #100 bus from the port which takes about 1 hour or you can get the train from the main train station in Nice. There’s so much to do in Monaco but be sure not to miss the Monte-Carlo port, Casino square, the Prince’s Palace and wandering around the narrow streets of Vieux Monaco.
Villefranche-Sur-Mer – About 20 minutes from Nice on the #100 or 10 minutes on the train Villefranche-Sur-Mer is a beautiful seaside village to spend a few hours (or a few days), either walking around the Old Town, sipping wine in one of the sea front bars or sunbathing on the beach. If you are coming here from Eze get off the bus at either the Corne d’Or or Col-del-Villefranche stops and enjoy the stunning as you make your way down the hill to the seaside.
All of the aforementioned places could be easily done in one day if you are pressed for time. Start with Eze in the morning, Monaco in the afternoon and Villefranche in the evening or vice-versa. I think Villefranche would be a good option in the evening, as you have you dinner in one of many restaurants on the seafront while enjoying views over Cap Ferrat as the sun goes down.
St. Paul-de-Vence – This was a place that I have wanted to visit for years since seeing it in a TV advert and it didn’t disappoint! St. Paul-de-Vence is very popular with tourists so if you would like to have it to yourself, go very early in the morning. It’s easy to get here, you just get the #400 bus from Nice, it stops all along the promenade but if you want to get a seat, get it from the Albert 1er stop near the Meridian hotel. There are a lot of small art galleries and museums in St. Paul-de-Vence and many artists like Chagall lived there in the past. *A nice spot to get a photograph is from the Maeght Foundation bus stop a 5 minute walk from the walls of the town.
Of course there are many more places to visit in the Cote d’Azur region like Cannes, Antibes and Menton or you could even go further afield and visit St. Tropez or more of the smaller towns and villages further inland like Valbonne.
So there you have an overview of what we got up to during our short time in Nice, have you ever visited the area? Where did you visit? What did you get up to? Please feel free to share any of your tips with us. Thank you.