In this article, you will read about the 21 best things to do in Nice France. Anyone who sets foot in Nice immediately understands why the city is nicknamed “Nissa la Bella”. Located between the sea and the mountains, about thirty kilometers from Italy, in the Alpes-Maritimes department, Nice enjoys an exceptional location on the Côte d’Azur. About thirty kilometers from the Franco-Italian border shared between sea and hills, Nice has its own identity and is one of the most beautiful places you can visit during the year. It is a fascinating city, both rich in history and heritage. Visiting the Côte d’Azur means discovering a magnificent French destination that stretches from Menton to Marseille.
Even if it does not have a clear and indisputable delimitation, the one nicknamed the French Riviera includes many towns on the coast, 14 natural parks, Roman ruins, medieval villages, and an exceptional seabed. Don’t see the Côte d’Azur as just a place to spend the summer holidays either. Sure, the towns of the French Riviera are sunny in the summer months as tourists stroll the promenades and beaches, but winter on the French Riviera is one of the best-kept secrets of France, the first ski resorts being only two hours drive from the coast. To not miss any of the wonders of the city, here are the 21 essential things to do in Nice.
21 Best Things to do in Nice France
- Old Nice
- The Promenade des Anglais
- The Cours Saleya market
- The Bay of Villefranche
- Castle Hill
- The Matisse Museum
- Nice carnival
- Saint Nicholas Cathedral
- Sainte-Marguerite Island
- St. Francis Tower
- The Lascaris Palace
- A boat trip
- The Arènes de Cimiez and the Parc des Arènes
- Parfumerie Molinard
- Place Massena
- Cremat Castle
- The beaches of Nice
- The Hard Rock Café in Nice
- Mont Boron
Old Town of Nice
Capital of the Côte d’Azur, Nice is one of the most recognized and liveliest cities on the Côte d’Azur. Stroll the Promenade des Anglais and spend some time wandering around Old Nice, then head up Castle Hill for impressive views of the city, harbor, and mountains. Art lovers will appreciate the Chagall and Matisse museums and, of course, luxury shopping, nightlife, and world-class restaurants will hold no secrets for you. Le Vieux, as the locals call it, is the historic center of the city of Nice. Once you have set foot there, you will understand why it is the most attractive area of the Baie des Anges.
Old Nice, one of the best things to see, comes in red, yellow, and orange, colors that are, almost every day of the year, accentuated by the Mediterranean sun. A true small village within the city, it offers its visitors many shops, some typical, others modern, numerous restaurants, and terraces, but also bars and art galleries. It is here that you will probably feel the Provençal influence and the gentle way of life of the South the most. Old Nice must be on your list of things to see in the city, especially in summer, when the heat is oppressive since its alleys are a real haven of freshness.
The Promenade des Anglais at Mediterranean coast of Nice
Visiting Nice via this avenue along the Baie des Anges for nearly 7 km is a must-do in Nice. This name dates back to the 18th century, during which many European aristocrats settled there on holiday. Although all nationalities crossed paths, the English were relatively numerous there. It is also said that the Prom ‘was financed by one of them: the Reverend Lewis Way. Today, the Promenade des Anglais is one of the most famous avenues in the world. Lined with palm trees and its legendary blue chairs, it goes from the Colline du Château to Nice airport, passing by luxurious hotels. It is now an emblematic meeting place where fans of jogging, rollerblading, and even Segways meet.
Cours Saleya market in Nice
In the middle of old Nice, you will find this very lively pedestrian street. Perhaps it is these floral scents that have drawn you here. It is indeed on this course that the market for early vegetables and flowers is held. It is a real Mediterranean market where local products and bouquets of colors form a perfect harmony. Warm and full of life, the Cours Saleya market is ranked among the exceptional markets in France and is therefore one of the essential things to do in Nice. Florists and greengrocers will welcome you every day except Monday when they will give way to flea markets and lovers of old furniture and trinkets. Take a stroll, stopping to people-watch from one of the waterfront cafes and restaurants, or join a Nice sightseeing tour or food tour to benefit from the insights provided by a local guide.
Villefranche Bay Nice
Live a fascinating and unforgettable experience, surrounded by idyllic landscapes, during a sightseeing cruise along the French Riviera. Sail towards the bay of Villefranche-sur-mer, while admiring coastal towns, lush landscapes, and impressive villas from the waters of the Mediterranean. A one-hour, relaxing, and rewarding ride, complete with commentary from your guide. This is one of our suggestions in the list of 21 best things to do in Nice France.
Eze Village near Nice
With its winding cobbled lanes, mix of medieval houses, and shaded courtyards lined with traditional cafes, Èze is a tranquil village above the glamorous resorts and golden beaches of the Côte d’Azur. This hilltop town is undeniably picturesque, offering panoramic views of the Mediterranean, and its timeless charm has made it a firm favorite on French Riviera itineraries.
Castle Hill of Nice
One of the most incredible things to do in Nice. Don’t look for the castle, it was unfortunately destroyed in 1706 by order of King Louis XIV. The hill on which it stood is very popular because, culminating at 93m high, it offers a breathtaking panorama of the Baie des Anges. There are 3 ways to access Castle Hill: on foot, it goes up a little, but the reward once at the top will be all the more beautiful, with the free elevator available to visitors or with the small Nice tourist train.
Its Belvedere is really the spot to enjoy a splendid view of Nice and as long as you do, try to be there for the sunset, the landscape will then be sublimated. Beyond its magnificent viewpoints, the Colline du Château is a really pleasant place to walk. Do not miss to admire the waterfall there, built on the ruins of one of the old dungeons in 1885, it is imposing (it is also visible from Old Nice) and constitutes a real haven cool during the summer. In short, you will have understood that the Colline du Château is a must. Rising above the eastern end of the Quai des Etats-Unis, the 300-foot Castle Hill (Colline du Château) offers fantastic views of the UNESCO-listed old town of Vieux Nice.
Matisse Museum in Nice
Are you a fan of art and passing through Nice? So nothing better than visiting Nice by taking to the heights of the Villa des arènes, on the archaeological site of Cimiez. You will discover one of the most important world collections of the French painter. This cultural site is labeled “Musée de France”. Here, art and nature mingle and make it possible to trace the life of Henri Matisse, his evolutions, and his career. Having ended his life in Nice in 1954, the artist himself participated in the enrichment of this collection. Paintings, sculptures, engravings, drawings, and other personal objects. What better way to enter into the intimacy of the creative work of this artist with undeniable genius? It is in the Villa des Arènes, built between 1670 and 1685, that the museum is located, which houses, among other things, paintings, sculptures, engravings, drawings, photographs, but also objects that belonged to Matisse.
The Carnival of Nice
Every year for a fortnight in February, Nice organizes the biggest carnival in France and one of the biggest in the world. The streets are animated by more than 1000 musicians and dancers, and hundreds of thousands of spectators from all over the world. During this period, a traditional battle of flowers takes place on the Promenade des Anglais and giant and colorful floats roam the city, day and night. This authentic event will leave you with unforgettable memories and will make you discover another facet of the city. The Nice carnival and the sun of the Côte d’Azur will manage to make you forget winter.
Cathedrale Saint-Nicolas a Nice
The city of Nice has the largest Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia. The Saint Nicolas Cathedral, classified as a historical monument, was built in 1903. The reason for this construction is tragic. While on vacation with his parents in a villa they had rented here in 1865, Tsarevich Nicolas Alexandrovitch died at the age of twenty following meningitis. His father then bought the land to build a mausoleum (which can be seen behind the church) in homage to his son. It was only several decades later that construction work on the cathedral began. This contrasts with the churches that we are used to seeing in Nice, the style is the one found in the buildings in Moscow. The interior has a very rich decoration adorned with multiple icons, frescoes, and carved woodwork. The sublime cathedral was classified as a historical monument in 1987 and is labeled “Heritage of the 20th Century”. The interior, adorned with icons, frescoes, and woodwork, is richly decorated and transports you to Russia in an instant. Suffice it to say that it would be a shame to miss out.
Sainte-Marguerite island in Cannes
Located about 800 m off the coast of the city of Cannes, on the Côte d’Azur, Sainte-Marguerite Island is particularly known for its prison (Fort Royal) in which the famous Man in the Iron Mask was detained. Embark on a ferry to Sainte-Marguerite Island! You will spend the day in an exceptional and idyllic setting, between nature and culture. If you wish, you will visit the maritime museum to learn more about the history of the region.
St. Francis Tower
The Saint-François tower is part of the landscape of Old Nice, you see it especially when you are on the side of the Promenade du Paillon. It was built in the 13th century as the bell tower of the Church and of the Franciscan convent, before becoming a clock tower after the Revolution. Since 2019, an internal helicoidal staircase of 288 steps has been used to climb the 50 m to its summit. From the top the 360° view of Nice is magnificent, it is one of my favorites with those of the castle.
The Lascaris Palace of Nice
It is in the heart of Old Nice that you will find the Palais Lascaris. Its monumental staircase and its luxurious lounges make it a true representation of the Baroque style of Nice. Built-in the 17th century, it was originally the property of an important family of Nice nobles, the Lascaris-Vintimille. The Palais Lascaris, both a Museum of France and a historical monument, now houses one of the most important collections of musical instruments in France. If you like beautiful palaces and are interested in music, you should love discovering the 500 instruments in this museum.
Boat Trips in Nice
Once you have toured the beaches of Nice, another must-do awaits you: a boat trip! Indeed, by renting a boat in Nice, you offer yourself the possibility of admiring “Nissa la Bella” from the sea. You can also set sail for a coastal trip to discover marine mammals or to reach Monaco, Saint- Tropez, the Lérins Islands, and even Corsica. Spend the evening aboard a quiet boat powered by 100% solar energy. For an hour, sail on the waters of the Mediterranean, and discover the points of interest not to be missed on the coast. You will also have the opportunity to drive the boat under the guidance of your skipper.
The Arenes de Cimiez and the Parc des Arènes
It is in this district of Nice that you can discover the remains of a Roman amphitheater. This 2nd-century historic monument, which can accommodate up to 4,000 people, is nevertheless one of the smallest Roman amphitheaters in France. Once you have taken the time to admire this Roman building, be sure to discover the Parc des Arènes. A real haven of peace in Nice in the heart of century-old olive trees. Plan a small picnic, the setting is ideal.
Since its founding in 1849 in the province of Grasse in southern France, the world-class Parfumerie Molinard (Maison Molinard) has been creating famous fragrances for men, women, dignitaries, and even soldiers for over 150 years. Travelers can embark on a unique tour of the Molinard perfumery that begins with a film exploring the company’s history and ends with a trip to the 1930s where visitors can witness the making of perfumes in its literal sense. more traditional. The guided tour winds through Molinard’s beautiful reception area and into the soap room, where years ago a single person created hundreds of handmade soaps. The distillery remains one of the most incredible stops on the tour, as it is one of the few perfume factories in the world to avoid modernization. Travelers will pass through the Creme Room to learn about packaging and production before the final stop at the Sale Room, where a well-curated exhibition showcases 16th, 17th, and 18th-century perfume collections.
Place Massena in Nice
If you spend some time in Nice, you will quickly become familiar with Place Masséna (Place Masséna). It’s the massive, open square at the bottom of Avenue Jean-Médecin; a little further is Old Nice and the Mediterranean. Stroll under the porticoes in bad weather or enjoy the sun on its wide walkways. It ends with a beautiful fountain framed by faded cherry red buildings, a favorite of photographers of all skill levels. During the day, Place Masséna is a busy pedestrian/tram junction, and it can feel like barely controlled chaos as people scurry, stroll, or simply stroll along its dizzyingly tiled surface. At night it’s a little less crowded, but many are more distracted as the large human-like sculptures on top of the poles change color like lava lamps.
Nice to Tourrettes-sur-Loup by train, taxi or car
Tourrettes, a hilltop village in the Var department of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, regularly makes all the lists for day trips from Nice. Visit Tourrettes-sur-Loup villages is one of the best things to do in Nice France. This is exactly what visitors dream of when they talk about “discovering” a place in the south of France that feels like their own. The older, pedestrian-only part of town is a warren of narrow streets lined with stone houses, many with ground-floor shops that could empty the wallet of even the most budget-conscious traveler. With brightly painted doors and perfectly grown creeping vines and flowering plants that would make Martha Stewart swoon, even an hour spent in Tourrettes offers plenty to take in. The intoxicating smell of violets is everywhere, and the outer roads also provide limits – a panoramic view of the valley below and the nearby hills.
As far as historic French castles are concerned, the Château de Crémat is just a child, built at the beginning of the 20th century. But it’s been designed to feel like it was there long before the city of Nice sprawls below, with a mix of architectural styles and a creamy exterior that reflects the magnificent light of the Riviera. Those wondering if it’s worth a visit should look no further than their taste buds. Château de Crémat was built specifically for its surrounding land, which is entirely occupied by picturesque vineyards which produce quality wines. Guided tours of the chateau are free, and wine tastings are offered for a tasting fee.
The beaches of Nice
In summer, you won’t resist the call of the Mediterranean! Take your bathing suit and take a dip in the Baie des Anges. Nice beaches are pebble beaches so it’s not always easy to get into the water, but once you get there, you won’t regret it. There’s nothing like bathing here in the middle of the azure blue of the Mediterranean. You will be spoiled for choice since nearly 40 private and public beaches are listed in Nice. For a quiet and less crowded place, we recommend Coco Beach, a sort of magnificent little cove between the rocks.
The Hard Rock Café in Nice
The Hard Rock Café is an essential and trendy place in all major cities! This restaurant chain created in London in 1971 now has 265 establishments around the world, in a very rock’n’roll atmosphere. In Nice, it is located on the unmissable Promenade des Anglais and extends over several floors. Dine amidst great rock-related collectibles and check out the Rock Shop. Don’t forget to take home an iconic, limited-edition Hard Rock Café Nice t-shirt.
Mont Boron culminates at more than 190m high and dominates the entire Baie des Anges, the Massif de l’Estérel and the bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer. To take advantage of it, several options are available to you: climb it on foot, get there by bus using line 14, or by car via the forest path leading to the fort of Mont Alban. Moreover, take the opportunity to discover this military building built in 1557 and classified as a historical monument. If you have time, the Mont Boron forest park offers several kilometers of paths for beautiful and long walks in the heart of the pine forest. At the foot of Mont Boron, there is also a 35-m-long prehistoric cave that can be visited. Also, discover the educational space dedicated to it and the room dedicated to archaeological professions.