Amazing Day Trips from Nice: Best Nice Day Trip Ideas
Nice is a great base to travel around the French Riviera. This blog shows you the best day trip ideas from Nice.
French Riviera, the sun-kissed shores of the Mediterranean, is an amazing destination to travel to year round. Nice, the capital of the French Riviera, is a vibrant city to be based in while you explore the French Riviera.
From glamorous coastal cities to medieval hilltop villages, the French Riviera offers excellent an range of options for all types of travelers. Not only can you explore Southern France, you can also easily travel to neighboring countries such as Monaco and Italy from Nice.
From Nice, you can indulge in the extravagance of Monaco, take a perfume class in Grasse, relax in a cute sea-side village, or explore one of the most famous villas in Southern France.
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Where is Nice?
We all know that Nice is located on the Mediterranean coast of Southern France in the French Riviera, but where exactly is Nice in relation to everything else?
Based on the map of the French Riviera above, you can easily see that Nice is actually pretty east along the coast, not too far from the Italian border (the solid black line).
Some of the closest major cities near Nice include Monaco, Mento and Ventimiglia to the east and Cannes and Saint-Tropez to the west. While those are obviously great day trip spots from Nice, there are a lot of smaller scenic villages between Nice and these major cities.
Just to give you a sense of distance, here are how far things are from Nice:
- Monaco to Nice: 20 km (12.4 miles)
- Menton to Nice: 29 km (18 miles)
- Ventimiglia (Italy) to Nice: 40 km (25 miles)
- Cannes to Nice: 34 km (21 miles)
- Saint Tropez to Nice: 112 km (69.6 miles)
As you can see, most of these towns are not too far from Nice, making them a great day trip option from Nice.
Do you need a car to go outside of Nice?
You can get around the French Riviera easily without a car.
The bus network is also very extensive and well established. Buses are generally cheaper than trains and can reach more destinations that trains cannot. Buses are flexible and affordable, making them another great way to travel around Nice.
Best Nice Day Trip Ideas
Most of the day trips in Nice are either along the coast or in the mountains so you can do an array of different things!
If you like art, then you should head towards Antibes or Saint Paul de Vence. If you enjoy the beach then Saint-Tropez might be the day trip you are looking for. If you enjoy nature there are a couple of places you can go to hike and see beautiful lakes.
The map below shows you the locations of some of the best day trips from Nice that you can take.
One of the most popular (and perhaps famous) day trips from Nice is Monaco, the sovereign city-state located on the French Riviera.
Monaco is the second smallest country in the world with just 0.78 square miles in land mass but it is well known as one of the most glamorous and extravagant countries in the world.
Since there is no personal income tax in Monaco, many rich people have made Monaco their residence. Monaco is a country with the highest concentration of millionaires and billionaires.
One of the most famous attractions in Monaco is the Monte Carlo Casino, having been featured in a number of James Bond movies.
Perched on the top of a hill on Grande Corniche, La Turbie is one of the charming villages near Nice in the French Riviera.
One of the most famous attractions at La Turbie is the Trophée d’Auguste (Trophy of Augustus). It is a Roman monument dating back to 6 BC. It was built by Augustus to commemorate his victories over the local tribes in the region.
The original trophy was destroyed but it was partially restored at the beginning of the 20th century. From the Trophy you can have an amazing view of Turbie church, the village of La Turbie, Monaco and saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.
Besides the Trophy, you can explore the small village of La Turbie, check out the church Église Saint-Michel de La Turbie and have a sip of coffee at a local cafe.
You can always combine La Turbie with Monaco and make it a longer day trip from Nice.
Distance from Nice: 12 km (7.5 miles)
How to reach Eze from Nice: Train or Bus 82 and Bus 112
Eze is a beautiful hilltop medieval village 5 kilometers from Nice; it is one of the easiest and most popular day trips from Nice.
Eze is a charming village with narrow streets, cute shops, beautiful gardens and sweeping views of Cap Ferrat and the surrounding area.
It is also a village to a number of tourist sites, such as the Jardin Botanique d’Eze with exotic plants from all over the world (and an amazing view).
Saint Paul de Vence
Distance from Nice: 20 km (12.4 miles)
How to reach Saint Paul de Vence from Nice: Train to Cagnes sur Mer station then bus 400 OR bus 400 from Parc Phoenix near the Nice airport
Another charming hilltop village on the French Riviera is Saint Paul de Vence.
The village dates back to the 9th century when it was built as a defensive stronghold. Its strategic position on a hilltop provided a vantage point for surveillance over the surrounding area.
Known as an artistic haven, Saint Paul de Vence has attracted numerous artists and writers. As you wander through the narrow streets of saint Paul de Vence, you will find a large number of art galleries and art museums. Many art lovers go to Saint Paul de Vence to admire works by artists like Joan Miro, Alberto Giacometti and Georges Braque.
As you walk around Saint Paul de Vence you will also come across numerous viewpoints with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The best way to enjoy Saint Paul de Vence is to walk around, check out art galleries and relax at a cafe or outdoor restaurant.
Distance from Nice: 9 km (5.6 miles)
How to reach Villefranche-sur-Mer from Nice: Train or bus 15 to Octroi or walk from Nice (1.5 hours each way)
Located between Nice and Monaco, Villefranche-sur-Mer is a picturesque coastal town on the French Riviera.
The town dates back to the 14th century when it was founded by the Duke of Provence. Its strategic location on the Mediterranean coast made it a key defensive stronghold throughout history.
Today, Villefranche-sur-Mer maintains its medieval charm with its narrow, winding streets, colorful houses, and a well-preserved 16th-century citadel.
To best enjoy Villefranche-sur-Mer, you should explore the historic old town and its charming narrow streets, often dotted with plants and flowers as well as cafes, restaurants and boutiques. The main square, Place de La Paix, is great for people watching and checking out markets and local events.
Another great spot to check out is the Citadel of Saint-Elme, which stands atop a hill overlooking the bay. Built in the 16th century, the citadel now houses the Town Hall and several museums, including the Volti Museum, dedicated to the works of the renowned French sculptor Antoniucci Volti.
Other things to do in Villefranche-sur-Mer include strolling along the promenade and relaxing on the beach.
Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
Distance from Nice: 9 km (5.6 miles)
How to reach Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild from Nice: Bus 15 to Passable/ Rothschild. Train is not recommended
If you are looking for a dreamy villa in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat, then look no more than Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, also known as the Villa Ephrussi.
Built between 1905 and 1912 for the French socialite Beatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild, the villa was one of her winter residences.
Since Beatrice was an art collector, she filled the villa with paintings, sculptures and period furniture. In fact she collected the best art pieces from each era so when visiting you would see an interesting mix of arts from different periods.
One of the most beautiful features of Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild are the gardens. There are 9 gardens at the villa, each with a different theme. The most famous garden is the French Garden, it is also the main garden of the villa.
You can actually combine Villefranche-sur-Mer and Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild into a long day trip.
Distance from Nice: 45 km (28 miles)
How to reach Grasse from Nice: Bus 650 from Nice airport to Gare Routiere; Train to Grasse station then bus 651 or walk 20 minutes uphill
Grasse is known as the perfume capital of the world. Perched on top of the hills above Cannes, Grasse has a rich history in the fragrance industry and many famous perfume museums are located in Grasse.
Grasse has a long history with perfume and it started back in the 16th and 17th century when the leather industry was thriving in Grasse and perfume was used to cover up the smell of leather. After taxes on leather became too high, business men turned to perfume production instead.
If you are visiting Grasse in early August, you will experience Fête du Jasmin, an annual festival to celebrate harvesting. You will see jasmine flowers everywhere and fireworks at night. There will also be floats and street parties during the festival.
Distance from Nice: 33 km (20.5 miles)
How to reach Cannes from Nice: Train (30 minutes) or bus 620 from the Nice airport (much longer)
Cannes is a large town on the French Riviera famed for the International Film Festival and its beaches.
The Cannes Film Festival is held every May, attracting celebrities, filmmakers and those in the film industry across the globe to Cannes. If you are visiting Cannes in May the city may be busier than usual.
One of the best things to do is to walk on Promenade de la Croisette, a 3 km boardwalk along the beach. From there you can walk to Palais des Festivals, where the International Film Festival is held. As you walk more west, you will come to Le Suquet, Cannes’s charming medieval neighborhood.
In Le Suquet, you can explore the beautiful cobblestoned streets, visit Marché Forville, a famous local produce and flower market, see Eglise Notre-Dame d’Espérance, a hilltop Gothic style church and visit Musée des explorations du monde, a museum in a castle.
Distance from Nice: 23 km (14 miles)
How to reach Antibes from Nice: Train (25 minutes) or bus 620 from the Nice airport (50 minutes)
Antibes is a charming seaside town on the French Riviera about 30 minutes by train from Nice.
There is nothing like exploring the old town, Le Vieil, in Antibes. As you walk through the narrow and winding cobblestone streets and pass by pastel colored buildings, you will surely discover an array of cute restaurants, cafes, bakeries and small stores.
One of the most popular places to stop by in the Old Town is Marché Provença, a colorful market with fresh produce, flowers, spices and food stalls.
When you are tired from exploring the Old Town, check out Plage de la Gravette, a beautiful public sandy beach right by the old town. Other beaches worth visiting include Plage de la Garoupe, Plage de la Salis and Plage du Ponteil.
Distance from Nice: 30 km (18.6 miles)
How to reach Menton from Nice: Train (34 minutes)
Located next to the border with Italy, Menton is a colorful coastal town. This town with 30,000 inhabitants is also known as the “City of Lemons” because of its enormous lemon plantations which are used to make Limoncello.
It used to belong in Italy, which is why the city kept its tradition of making Limoncello, more of an Italian drink than French. Every year Menton hosts the Lemon Festival, where lemons are used to build different statues.
Some of the best things to do in Menton include discovering the picturesque old town and see Saint-Michel-Archange Basilica, visit the Cimetière du Vieux Château and Point de vue du Port for a panoramic view, relax on the beach, walk the promenade (Prom. du Soleil),
Menton is also known for its gardens. Some of the most famous gardens in Menton include Jardins Biovès, Jardin botanique Val Rahmeh-Menton, Fontana Rosa, Les Colombières, and Serre de la Madone.
Gorges du Verdon
If you are looking for a nature getaway from Nice, then you would love Gorges du Verdon. Gorges du Verdon is a beautiful natural wonder located about 2.5 hours away from Nice by car.
As the name implies, this natural wonder is a 25 km (15.5 mile) gorge, often referred to as the Grand Canyon of Europe.
The gorge itself is beautiful and you can rent canoes and kayak on the Verdon River to enjoy the gorge.
In addition to the gorge, when you visit, you should also stop by the 2 nearby towns, Castellane and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, labeled as one of the most beautiful villages in France.
If you visit during the summer months you may also be able to stop by a lavender field with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. In addition, you certainly should not miss the Lake of Sainte-Croix, the third largest lake in France although it is a man-made reservoir.
Lastly, depending on how much time you have, you could hike at Gorges du Verdon although it is better to do this if you are spending the entire weekend there instead of as a day trip from Nice.
Distance from Nice: 70 km (44 miles)
How to reach Saorge from Nice: Train to Breil-sur-Roya then bus 25 to Saorge Village
One of the lesser known small villages on the French Riviera is Saorge, located in the Roya Valley in the Mercantour National Park near the Italian border.
Saorge is a dreamy medieval village known as the “French Tibet”. Perched on the hillside of a rugged mountain in an amphitheater style (houses are stacked on top of each other), Saorge offers the ultimate escape from the bustling city of Nice and Monaco.
From the village you get an amazing view of the valley and the surrounding mountains. In Saorge you will find narrow winding streets, stone houses and charming squares.
Saint-Tropez is one of the most glamorous coastal towns in the French Riviera. Known for its luxurious lifestyle and celebrity sighting, Saint-Tropez is a the perfect day trip (or weekend trip) from Nice if you want some beach, luxury, and relaxation.
Saint-Tropez became well known internationally when it was featured in the movie “And God Created Woman“. A trip to Saint-Tropez is not complete without visiting its iconic harbor where you will find some impressive boats and luxury yachts.
Just a few minutes from the harbor is Saint-Tropez’s picturesque old town, where you will find St. Tropez Church, museums (such as Gendarmerie Nationale and Musée de l’Annonciade), art galleries, luxury boutiques like Chanel (with a pool!) and Hermes, beautiful squares like Place des Lices.
If you want a nice view of Saint-Tropez, look no further than the Citadelle, minutes away from the chic Dior Des Lices cafe.
Of course a visit to Saint-Tropez is not complete without going to its sandy beach. Some of the best beaches near Saint-Tropez include Plage de Pampelonne, Plage Port Grimaud, Plage de Tahiti and Plage de la Bouillabaisse. Some of these beaches are not in Saint-Tropez itself but in Ramatuelle, so you may need more time in Saint-Tropez if you want to go to some of these beaches.
Summary of Nice Day Trips
Nice is a wonderful base to explore the French Riviera. There are so many choices when it comes to day trips from Nice. This section summarizes the best day trips from Nice that you can take based on your interest.
Day trip from Nice for those that love shopping and anything luxurious:
Day trip from Nice for those that love art:
- Saint Paul de Vence
Day trip from Nice for those that love coastal towns and the beach:
Day Trip from Nice for those that love medieval hilltop towns:
- La Turbie
- Saint Paul de Vence
Day Trip from Nice for those that love nature and hiking:
- Gorge du Verdon
Other Southern France Blog Articles
If you are planning a trip to South of France, be sure to check out my other blog articles:
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