Having recently found myself basking in the beauty of Nice, I wanted to share all of the great things things there are to do. Whether you’re there for a day or ten, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with each corner you turn when you stumble upon a hidden alleyway, a cute cafe, delicious patisseries and bakeries, culture and history in the forms of buildings and churches, and, the seemingly never-ending boardwalk and bright blue ocean. Compiled here is the top 12 things to do in Nice that are not only fun, interesting, and delicious, but they’re also budget-friendly!
1. Wander Around The Old Town (Vieille Ville)
I loved every second I was in Nice during my far-too-short three day stay. One of my favourite things to do was wander around the Old Town; down alleyways, taking in the bright history-filled buildings and everything else in between. You’ll find lots of little cafes, bars, and boutique shops. If time is not an issue, explore as many streets as you can, as they are all unique. You can read more about the streets of Nice in my article, “Getting Lost And Loving It In The Streets Of Nice, France”.
2. Climb Up To Castle Hill (Colline du Chateau)
The views of Nice from Castle Hill is not to be missed. Though not much of a castle, once at the top, there is a large circular space where you can enjoy the view of the city; perfect for picture-taking. If you have more time, you can head up further into the park (Parc de la Colline du Chateau) where you’ll find tonnes of green space (a great spot for a picnic), as well as a hidden waterfall. I would recommend climbing up twice: once in the morning when the sun is out and again at night when the city lights up.
Note: The climb up isn’t difficult, however, for a small fee you can take a lift that will get you up the majority of the way if you’re unable to climb stairs.
3. Walk Around Place Massena & Place Garibaldi
Place Massena is essentially the center of Nice where you’ll only be a few steps away from the beach, plenty of shopping, restaurants and cafes, markets, and the Old Town. Place Garibaldi is similar to Massena in that there is a lot of shopping and al fresco dining in the area. Both squares will draw you in with their bright colors and bold designs, and are a great place to sit down and people-watch.
4. Visit The Cathedrale Sainte-Reparate
Located in the Old Town of Nice, this church was built in 1699 and is found next to a white clock tower in a smaller square filled with outdoor seating used for the surrounding restaurants. The unassuming appearance of the church’s exterior makes the grandiose of its Baroque interior that much more breathtaking once you step in.
5. Stroll Down Promenade des Anglais
Be sure to keep your head up and your eyes peeled when walking down the Promenade des Anglais, as you’ll be sharing the boardwalk with lots of people running, biking, and rollerblading down at all hours of the day. Taking for a leisurely stroll from one end to the other is completely doable, considering it’s only about 5 km long. As you walk down, you’ll be able to see the different sections of the beach as well as how the buildings and shops change in structure and purpose on the other side of the road.
6. Be A Beach Bum Along The French Riviera
If you’re in Nice during the summer months, you’ll find the beach absolutely packed with locals and tourists alike (head there in the early afternoon to grab a good spot). When you look out into the ocean, you’ll see crystal blue water for miles and miles. Despite its stunning appearance, this beach does have a few drawbacks. Namely, there is no sand, only rocks, making lying and sitting on the beach extremely uncomfortable. As well, getting into and out of the water is an absolute nightmare. There is a large dip where the beach ends and the water begins, and maneuvering your way on rocks is not fun at all. To save yourself the struggle, pack some water shoes and a thick mat to lie on before heading over.
7. Go Cliff Jumping
If bumming on the beach is too relaxed for you and you’d prefer something more adventurous that involves a bathing suit, you can go cliff jumping at the very end of the boardwalk (on the east side). I can’t say I took the plunge myself, but as I was peering down from the boardwalk it looked like a lot of fun.
8. Eat Like A Local
There are so many great little cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating that make for the perfect spot to grab some food and drinks. An absolute must is eating fresh French bread from a bakery – it is hands down some of the best bread I’ve had. Crepes are another must and can be found at just about any cafe. I’m not a mussel fan, but it was recommended to me to try the mussels at some of the restaurants along the pier. Thanks to France’s liquor laws, you can buy, bring, and consume a bottle of wine outdoors – a perfect companion to your day on the beach.
9. Lust Over The Yachts At Port de Nice Marina
Just beyond the boardwalk on the east side, you’ll find Port de Nice; a small marina filled with luxury yachts that probably cost as much as your house. Take a walk around the marina and you’ll find a handful of al fresco restaurants on the opposite side which offer a range of seafood dishes and tranquil views.
10. Get A Dose Of History At The Monument aux Morts
At the foot of Castle Hill and along your way to Port de Nice is where you will find this isolated French memorial that honors the 4,000 soldiers from Nice who lost their lives in World War I. Though I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to visit this monument, if you are heading to the port anyway you should stop and take a look as it is quite interesting.
11. Enjoy A Night Of Live Music And Dancing
For a university-style night out (it’s okay to relive these days once in awhile, right..), you should head to Wayne’s bar, a recommendation from some close friends who used to live here. There was a great live cover band who sang while we all danced on every surface – floor and picnic tables included – in the room. Wayne’s shuts down at 2:00 am every night since it’s located in the Old Town, so most people head off to one of the after parties along the beach afterwards.
12. Take A Day Trip To Monaco
Getting to Monaco from Nice is simple, convenient, and cheap, so if you’re able to spare a day of your travels, you should consider heading to Monaco. Known for its glitz and glamour, Monaco boasts the Grand Prix motor race, high-end casinos, luxurious hotels, fancy restaurants, and brand name shopping. Keep your camera on hand because it’s likely you might spot a celebrity in Monte Carlo, though that’s definitely not the only thing you’ll want to take photos of. With modern buildings, stunning architecture, and bright colors everywhere, you’ll constantly be snapping photos.
Note: You can hop on a public bus to get to Monaco from Nice. Take bus 100 for an incredible scenic ride that only takes 45 minutes and costs a few euros.