25 Amazing Things to Do in Nice, France: Nice Bucket List and What Not To Miss

Wondering the best things to do in Nice? Here are 25 things to do in Nice France to add to your Nice itinerary!

Nice is the capital of the French Riviera (Côte d’Azur) and it is one of the most popular destinations on the French Riviera. Nestled between the ocean and mountains, Nice really has the perfect location.

It is not hard to see why Nice is so popular for domestic and international tourists, especially those from northern Europe during the cold winter season. Nice has the perfect weather, beautiful scenery, incredible food and proximity to other great places to visit along the French Riviera.

It doesn’t matter if you are visiting Nice for just one day, three days or one week, Nice offers enough things to entertain you no matter what you like.

Do you like museums and art? Check! Nice has world class art museums and galleries. Do you like the beach or water activities? Check! Nice has amazing private beaches and boat tours are frequent. Do you like hiking? Check! Nice has great (and not too difficult) hiking trails. Do you like food? Check! There are some great restaurants and Italian gelato shops in Nice. Do you like adventures? Check! There are many surrounding towns near Nice that you has so many options for adventure.

Regardless of what you like to do, Nice can offer you something! This blog will show you 25 things to do in Nice and help you plan your perfect Nice holiday.

This blog contains occasional affiliate links, where I receive a small commission on sales of the products/hotels that are linked at no additional cost to you. In addition, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

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Where is Nice?

Nice is located in southern France, along the Mediterranean Sea. It is located in the region known as the French Riviera, (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur). With its mild Mediterranean climate, Nice is the perfect destination for a European weekend getaway (or a week long holiday).

If you look at the map, Nice is actually very very close to Italy and it is pretty much right next to Monaco. People sometimes actually wonder if Nice was ever part of Italy due to its proximity to Italy and the heavy Italian influence on its architecture and cuisine. But no, Nice is part of France and was never a part of Italy.

Quick Nice Travel Guide

Here is a brief summary of things you should know about Nice before going there.

Currency: Euros

Plug Adaptor: You need the European travel plug (Type C and E). If you are from outside of the EU (including if you are from the UK), you will need an adapter for Nice.

Best Tours for Nice: While you can explore Nice on your own, there are certain activities that you need a tour for. Below are my top picks:

1. Perfume making class: One of the most popular activities in Nice is to make your own perfume. Book here.
2. French Riviera Day tour: This tour combines some of the best day trips into one, including Monaco, Eze, Saint Paul de Venice, Villefranche-sur-Mer and Cannes. If you are short on time, this is the best tour to take. Book here.
3. Cruise from Nice: If you rather enjoy the French Riviera from the Mediterranean sea, be sure to book this 1 hour sightseeing cruise from Nice. Book here.
4. Gorges of Verdon & Lavender Tour: Southern France is known for its lavender fields and the beautiful gorges of Verdon. While these are not in Nice, you can still visit with this day trip from Nice. Book here.

Best Places to Stay in Nice: Nice Old Town, Place Massena and the Port area are all good areas to stay in Nice. Some of the hotels you can consider include:
Hotel Le Negresco: the most famous luxury hotel in Nice on the promenade
Hotel Du Centre: located near the main shopping strets of NIce, it is central and within walking distance to the beach
Share Inn: very close to the beach. andfancy shopping area

25 best things to do in Nice, France

Below is a list of amazing things to do in Nice that you can consider when planning that perfect Nice vacation.

1. Explore Old Town (Vieux Nice)

nice old town narrow streets

Vieux Nice (Old Town) is one of the most popular and vibrant places to visit in Nice.

Get lost on the cobble stone streets and the narrow alleyways, admire the colorful Baroque style buildings, wander into local shops and people watch at cozy squares are the best ways to explore Nice Old Town.

You will see some of the most famous and historical buildings while wandering around Vieux Nice, such as the Nice Cathedral, Palais de Justice, Cours Saleya, Henri Matisse’s former home, Place Rossetti, etc. So be prepared to read upon the history and the significance of Nice Old Town before your visit.

Palais de Justice in Nice old town

The Old Town completely changes at night however, tourists and shoppers are replaced by party goers. you will find packed bars and night clubs. But be warned that night clubs in Nice can be quite small and crowded!

2. Walk the Promenade des Anglais

Promenade des Anglais

You cannot say you have been to Nice France without walking the Promenade des Anglais. This 5 mile (7km) stretch of promenade is literally the best and most relaxing thing you can do in Nice.

Promenade des Anglais dates back to the 19th Century. Its name actually came from the fact that European aristocrats, especially the ones from England, used to come to Nice in the winter time. In Nice, the locals call it “Prom”.

Starting at Nice Airport, the promenade goes all the way east to Castle Hill. Along the promenade you will see people walking, jogging, rollerskating or biking.

When you are strolling along the Promenade des Anglais, be sure to pay attention to the luxury hotel buildings next to it, especially Hotel Le Negresco, the most renowned luxury hotel in Nice.

3. Explore Castle Hill (Parc de la Colline du Château)

Castle Hill View

Interested in some views and maybe a little bit of hiking? Maybe no hiking? Castle Hill is on the eastern end of Promenade des Anglais and it is one of the most amazing things to do in Nice.

As the name implies, there is a “castle” ruin on top of the hill, overlooking the city, the Mediterranean coast, and the Nice Port.

Nice Castle hill

You can walk up the hill or you can take a lift up (hence no hiking). The view on top of Castle Hill is quite incredible on a nice day. Be sure to also check out the famous man made waterfall while you are exploring Castle Hill.

4. Visit Musée du Palais Lascaris

Musée du Palais Lascaris is a museum with collections of ancient musical instruments and other rare works. It is the second largest musical museum in France (only after Musée de la Musique in Paris).

The Baroque style building where Palais Lascaris is now located was built in the 1600s and it used to be the private residence of the Lascaris Vintimille family. It remained this family’s private property until the Revolution and it was eventually classified as a historical monument in 1926.

Interior of Musée du Palais Lascaris
Source: explorenicecotedazur.com

The museum is open to the public. Besides its collection of musical instruments, visitors will also be impressed by the beautiful interior of the building, including its famous staircase and period salons decorated with beautiful frescoes and tapestries. You will also find paintings, tapestries, ancient furniture and sculptures inside Musée du Palais Lascaris.

5. Shop at Cours Saleya Market

Cours Saleya Market in Nice

While you are exploring the Old Town of Nice, you inevitably will come across Cours Saleya Market, the most famous market in Nice.

At Cours Saleya Market, you will actually find 4 different markets with the most well-known one as the Flower Market. There you will find beautiful fresh seasonal flowers together with fresh produces.

Another important stall you will find at Cours Saleya Market is called Chez Thérésa, a socca (Nice specialty) stall that has been around since the 1920s.

Nice Flower Market at Cours Saleya

Cours Saleya Market is open Tuesday to Sunday. On Mondays instead of flower and produces, you will find a cool flea market selling antiques, jewelry, books, etc. And in the evening in the summer, you will find a vibrant summer night market at Cours Saleya.

6. Take a Photo at the #ILOVENICE Sign

I love Nice sign

As you visit Nice Port and stroll along the Promenade de Anglais, be sure to find the #ILOVENICE sign and grab a photo. You will usually find others trying to take the same photo, so patience is key here.

7. Marvel at Nice Cathedral (Sainte Reparate Cathedral)

Nice old Town with view of the Nice Cathedral

Nice Cathedral is a Baroque style Cathedral in the heart of the Nice Old Town. This cathedral was modeled after Santa Susanna in Rome (see the strong Italian influence here). It is dedicated to Sainte Reparate and was built in the 1650s.

The cathedral is very elaborate in design and beautifully decorated on the inside. Go inside to admire at the beautiful ornamentation and enjoy the cool and calmness away from the busy streets of Vieux Nice.

8. See Fontaine du Soleil

Fontaine du Soleil in Nice

At the center of Place Massena in Nice, you will find the famous fountain called Fontaine du Soleil (Sun Fountain). This is often the meeting place for visitors and you can also chill here to people watch. Apollo is at the center of the Fountain, symbolizing the sun with the bronze statues around him symbolizing planets.

There is an interesting story behind this fountain and it is not as glamorous as you think. Essentially when the fountain was first built featuring the marble Apollo, he was ridiculed (there was no horses and chariots, and people mocked the size of his penis). The statue of Apollo was even banished for a period of time even tho he eventually made it back and is now the center of the Fountain.

If you are spending a few days in Nice, inevitably you probably will walk by this fountain multiple times.

9. Visit the Russian Orthodox Church (Cathédrale Saint-Nicolas de Nice)

St. Nicholas Cathedral in Nice Russian Orthodox church

If you are in Nice and can only visit one church, then you have to see St. Nicolas Cathedral, the Byzantine style Russian Orthodox Church. It is one of the largest Russian Orthodox church outside of Russia.

This church stands in great contrast with the rest of Baroque style buildings and cathedrals in Nice. It is so unique that I had to go out of my way to visit this church.

Back in the 19th century, rich Russian nobility would spend time in Nice similar to the British nobles. After the death of Nicholas Alexandrovich due to meningitis, the Russian Tsar (his father) decided to build this cathedral in Nicholas’s memory.

This Russian orthodox church receives at least 200,000 visitors per year and you can visit the inside for free but donations are encouraged. If you are into photography, be sure to have a wide angle lens to capture photos inside.

10. Grab Italian Gelato in the Old Down

Due to its strong Italian influence, Nice actually has some pretty good gelato. If you are visiting in the summer, be sure to try a couple of the famous gelato spots (called glaciers in French) such as Azzurro, Oui jelato, Arlequin Gelati and Fenocchio in the old town.

11. Chill at the Beach in Nice

Nice beach umbrella chairs

The beautiful beaches of Nice is one of the main attractions of the French Riviera. The Mediterranean sea offers pebble beaches, intense blue sea and days of sunshine. You will see most of the beaches in Nice along the Promenade des Anglais along the Baie des Anges.

The beaches in Nice can be either public or private. How do you determine whether a beach is public or private in Nice? Private beaches are those that offer lounge chairs, umbrellas, food and cocktail services whereas public beaches don’t offer these amenities.

As you walk along the Prom, you will find patches of beaches that are not private, those are the public beaches.

12. Shop on Av. Jean Médecin

If you are looking to shop in Nice then Av. Jean Médecin is the street for you. You can find all the large chain stores such as Zara, Mango, H&M, Pandora, etc on this street. There are also super markets, department stores and some chain restaurants on this street.

If you visit at night, you will see all the lights and feel the liveliness of the city. If you want something modern after exploring the Old Town, Av. Jean Médecin is the place for you.

13. Enjoy Art at Marc Chagall National Museum

Marc Chagall National Museum

If you are a fan of art, especially the works of Marc Chagall, then you cannot miss the Marc Chagall National Museum in Nice.

The museum was actually designed when Marc Chagall was still alive and it was inaugurated in 1973.

As the name implies, Marc Chagall National Museum is dedicated to the paintings, sketches, stained glass window and sculptures by Marc Chagall. The museum is the largest public collection of his work and most of his religious works.

At the museum you can also see the small garden as well as stained glass windows. Keep in mind that this museum closes on Tuesdays and also between 1-2pm on the days they are open.

14. Explore Cimiez Area

Cimiez Roman Ruins

Cimiez is a hill just above Nice and it houses many museums and gardens.

You can visit Jardin des Arenes de Cimiez, which is a historical ruin of a Roman amphitheater, the Cimiez Monastery and its garden, Musee d’Archeologie (an Archaeological museum), Musée Matisse, and the tomb stone of Henri Matisse in Cimiez.

The Archeology museum is a fascinating museum dedicated to the history of the ancient city of Cemenelum and it has artifacts from the Neolithic period, Antiquity and the Middle Ages.

Matisse Musee

Musée Matisse is an art museum dedicated to the work of Henri Matisse, where you can see a large collection of his paintings, drawings, sculptures and other works.

The museum usually closes in January to March for climate control work, and they move the collections to Tokyo from mid Feb to end of May, 2024. During this time the museum will host exhibition by painter Djamel Tatah instead. So keep this in mind if you are trying to visit in the winter and spring months.

15. Go to Phoenix Park

Parc Phœnix in Nice

Located near the Nice Airport, Phoenix Park (Parc Phœnix) is a large 7 hectare park with more than 2500 plant species and 2000 animals (70 animal species). It has the largest tropical greenhouse in Europe and 20 themed zones.

Phoenix Park in Nice

The Park was opened in 1990 by the City of Nice and it costed over 400 million Euros and 26 months to construct on a former swamp. The park serves as a zoo, botanic garden, museums, and a playground all in one place. One of the highlights of Phoenix Park is Ile des Temps Revolus, an island featuring a bamboo forest.

Phoenix Park requires a ticket for admission. Kids under 12 can go in for free so it is a fantastic place to visit for families.

16. Hike on Mont Boron

Fort du Mont Alban

On the east side of Nice stands Mont Boron, a hill in which Fort du Mont Alban is located. Mont Boron is about 200m high and it separates Villefranche-sur-Mer from Nice. Apparently the British singer Elton John also has a villa on Mont Boron.

You should visit Mont Boron if you like nature and wants beautiful view of both Nice and Villefranche-sur-Mer. There are many different hiking trails on Mont Boron in the forest park Parc du Mont Boron.

It is easy to get to Mont Boron from Nice; you can take a bus, get a Uber or walk up Mont Boron on a nice day.

17. Enjoy Water Activities in Nice

Port of Nice

Since Nice is by the water, by nature there are a lot of great water activities you can do.

Some of the best water activities you can do in Nice include canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding if you want something chill and low key. Or you can go on a diving or snorkeling tour (there are many dive operators by the Port).

For the more adventurous, you can do flyboarding or jet-skiing as well as parasailing.

Lastly, you can always do a boat tour from Nice to see the city from the water, to sail to Cap Ferrat, Monaco, St. Tropez or even go on a fishing trip. Another fantastic place to visit by boat from Nice is Sainte Marguerite Island.

18. Stroll on the coastal path to Villefranche Sur Mer

Villefranche-sur-Mer in the French Riviera

Villefranche-sur-Mer is a coastal town on the French Riviera east of Mont Boron. There are many ways to visit Villefranche-sur-Mer but the most interesting and beautiful way is to walk from Nice.

The “trail” from Nice Port to Villefranche-sur-Mer is about 4 miles one way, taking around 2 hours. The trail is beautiful as it goes along the coast and you will get amazing views the entire time.

However this walk is not for those with mobility issues as there are some steep stairs to climb. The effort is well worth the reward though. If you visit Nice in the summer, you should try to do this walk early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

19. Be Part of the Nice Carnival

Nice Carnival celebration

If you happen to be in Nice in February, then you cannot miss the largest event of the year in Nice – the Nice Carnival.

The Nice Carnival is one of the 3 largest and most important carnivals in the world (the other two are Rio and Venice). The carnival dates back to the middle ages, but it was “officially” created as a carnival celebration in 1294. Since then every year Nice has organized this event.

Nice Carnival Flower Floats

There are about a million attendees every year that celebrate this 2 week Nice Carnival event. The Carnival takes place day and night and there is a different theme every year. You will see colorful floats and flower floats throughout the event. At night there are parades of Lights plus music bands and visual entertainments.

Tickets to the Nice Carnival needs to be purchased in advance.

20. Create Your Own Perfume in Nice

French Riviera is the land of Perfume and it became very popular in France in the 18th century. The small town Grasse in the French Riviera is the capital of perfume in France and even the world.

Now you can create your own perfume and scent in the French Riviera through a perfume making workshop in Nice or Grasse. During the class you can create your personalized fragrance from a handful of raw materials and learn how to make perfume. This unique activity is one of the best things to do in Nice; it also makes a personalized and unique souvenir from Nice and the French Riveria.

21. Try Nice Local Cuisine

socca nice specialty food

The French Riviera is known for its own signature dishes and it is different from the typical French food you would get in Paris. Some of the most well known Nice specialty include Socca, Pissaladière, Niçoise salad and Pan Bagnat.

Socca is a pancake made from chickpea flour and it is usually eaten hot and lightly toasted.

Pissaladière is a “pizza” topped with caramelized onion and anchovy.

Pissaladiere Nice specialty food

Niçoise salad is a classic Salad made from tomato, lettuce, tuna, anchovy, onion and hard boiled eggs.

Pan Bagnat is the sandwich version of Niçoise salad.

You can take a gourmet walking tour and try some of the best local food in Nice.

22. Rent a Sports Car and Drive to Monaco

Renting a Ferrari in Monaco

Monaco is known for the rich and famous and since Nice is pretty much next door to Monaco, why not experience what it’s like to drive a nice sports car along the French Riviera coast?

Now you can rent a Ferrari or a Lamborghini from Nice and cruise along the Promenade des Anglais and drive up to the medieval village of Eze. The experience is about an hour and you get a guide that sits next to you to help guide you and take photos for you.

If you are already in Monaco, you can also rent the luxury cars from Monaco instead.

23. Watch a Performance at Nice Opera

Nice has a beautiful opera house and it is one of the main performance hall in Nice. There are 3 types of performances at Nice Opera House: operas, classical music concerts and ballets. There are also experiences like Escape Room.

You can take a tour of the Opéra de Nice but a better way to see and experience the Nice Opera House is to attend a performance there.

You can find the calendar of performances on the official website of Nice Opera House and book your tickets ahead of time.

24. Do Amazing Day Trips From Nice

View of Monaco

Being the capital of French Riviera, Nice has access to amazing places nearby. Taking a day trip or two is a fantastic thing to do in Nice.

Some of the close by towns and cities that are accessible by bus from Nice include Èze, Monaco, Menton, Villefranche-sur-Mer and St. Paul de Vence.

You can also take tours to places a little further away and I recommend checking out these day trip ideas:

Check my blog on a full list of amazing day trips from Nice.

25. Take a Cooking Class in Nice

Cooking classes are always fun and a favorite activity for many visitors in Nice. Now you can learn to cook local food from a local during this Mediterranean cooking class. You will learn how to use local and seasonal ingredients to cook a three course meal then sit with others to enjoy the food you just made.

Is Nice Worth Visiting?

Nice is a family friendly holiday destination that is beautiful all year round. It has comfortable climate, beautiful beaches, incredible view points, delicious food and wine, world class museums and galleries, and easy access to nearby French Riviera towns, Monaco and even Italy. Yes Nice is worth visiting and perhaps one of the best places to visit in Southern France.

If you are planning to spend some time in Nice, be sure to check out my 3 Days in Nice itinerary.

Nice FAQs

Have a question about Nice? This section should answer all your questions about Nice if you are interested in spending a few days there.

How do I get to Nice?

Being one of the largest cities in the French Riviera, Nice has its own international airport as well as railway station.

It is very easy to fly into Nice and the Nice airport is very close to the city center by Tram. If you are traveling within Europe, you can take almost any airlines such as British Airways, Easy Jet, Vueling, Lufthansa, etc to fly into Nice (Nice Côte d’Azur).

You can also take the train to Nice-Ville Station. The train station is very close to the popular shopping street Av. Jean Medecin and is only a short walk to the Nice Old Town. If you do travel to other parts of France, you can take the TGV train from Nice-Ville Station and book your train tickets via Rail Europe.

How to get around Nice?

Nice is really easy to get around using public transportation, which includes buses and trams.

Buses in nice costs about 1.5 Euro per ticket, and you can buy the tickets from either the bus driver or a ticket vending machine. With the bus ticket, you can transfer to other buses within 74 minutes.

Nice has 3 tram lines, you can actually take the Tram from the airport to Nice city center. Again, it costs the same as a bus ticket with the same transfer privileges.

You can take buses and trains from Nice to other areas of the French Riviera and Monaco.

Read Next: How to get to Monaco from Nice.

When to Visit Nice (and When Not to Visit Nice)

Nice is one of those destinations that you can visit all year round. But the best months to visit Nice is spring (April and May) and early fall (October) to get the most pleasant weather.

If you are interested to see the famous Nice carnival, that takes place in February for 2 weeks starting mid February.

Summer is the worst time to visit Nice because of hot and humid weather and thunderstorms. November is also not that great to visit due to rainier and cloudy skies (and you can’t really go to the beach)!

How Many Days in Nice is Enough

As you can see, there are a ton of fun things to do in Nice, as well as the large numbers of day trips you can take from Nice.

You need a minimum of 3 days to visit Nice and do one day trip (perhaps to Monaco). If you want to explore Nice and its surroundings a little more in depth, then 5 to 7 days is a good amount of time to stay in Nice.

Do I need to Speak French to Visit Nice?

It’s always helpful to know some French when visiting Nice, but if you don’t, don’t sweat it. I don’t speak French and I got around Nice just find.

Without speaking French, you should definitely download Google Translate (make sure to download the language package) and you will need to do more research and get a sim card (or esim card).

Do I need a car in Nice?

You don’t need a car in Nice, since public transportation can pretty much get you everywhere in and around Nice. It’s actually inconvenient to have a car in Nice if you plan on exploring the Old Town.

Conclusion: The Best Things to do in Nice

  1. Explore Nice Old Town
  2. Walk the Promenade des Anglais in Nice
  3. Explore Castle Hill
  4. Visit Musée du Palais Lascaris
  5. Shop at Cours Saleya Market
  6. Take a photo at the #ILoveNice sign
  7. Marvel at Nice Cathedral
  8. See Fountain Du Soleil
  9. Visit the Russian Orthodox Church
  10. Grab Italian Gelato
  11. Chill at the Beach
  12. Shop on Av. Jean Médecin
  13. Enjoy Art at Marc Chagall NAtional Museum
  14. Explore Cimiez Area
  15. Go to Phoenix Park
  16. Hike on Mont Boron
  17. Enjoy Water Activities
  18. Stroll to Villefranche sur Mer
  19. Be Part of the Nice Carnival
  20. Create Your Own Perfume in Nice
  21. Try Nice Local Food
  22. Rent a Ferrari and Drive to Monaco
  23. Watch a Performance at Nice Opera
  24. Do Amazing Day Trips From Nice
  25. Take a Cooking Class in Nice

Read My French Riviera Blogs!

If you are planning a trip to the French Riviera, be sure to check out some of my resources to help you plan the perfect trip.

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