After living in Nice, France for almost 2 years now, I can confidently tell you that yes, Nice, France is ABSOLUTELY worth visiting. With pristine beaches, medieval villages perched on hilltops, incredible viewpoints, and French pastries galore, you won’t regret for a minute your trip to Nice, France. Here are all the reasons Nice, France is worth visiting and is one of the best places in Europe to spend your vacation!
1. So Many Perfect Day Trips
Nice is an excellent base to travel the Cote d’Azur from, as well as basically all of Europe. Not only does Nice have some of the cheapest accommodations on the Côte d’Azur, but it is also the most centrally located.
Basically, any type of day trip that you can dream up is possible from Nice, whether it’s pristine beaches, medieval towns, or mountains with tons of hiking.
Day trips you can do from Nice, France include:
- Eze Village
- La Turbie
- Sanremo, Italy
- Genoa, Italy
- St Paul de Vence
Those are just SOME of the day trips that you can do from Nice (check out this post for my full list!), not even including some of the nature destinations like Isola 2000 or Mercantour. There are so many options for every type of traveler.
By the way, if you plan to move to France or just want to understand the French better, definitely read this book or this book before your trip! Trust me, it will make your transition and understanding of French culture so much better.
2. Romantic Hilltop Towns
If you’re looking for a bit of adventure plus some of the most incredible views in Nice, you can hike (or take a bus/car) to the hilltop towns in the area.
I spent almost every weekend for a few months while living in Nice just hiking to gorgeous hilltop towns in the area. And even after all that, I still had about 10 on my list that I haven’t been to yet! Before moving to Nice, the only hilltop town I was aware of was the popular Medieval town, Eze.
But now when I think of Nice, I picture a lot more than just gorgeous light blue water. If you truly want to feel like you are walking through a fairytale (which Europe is absolutely AMAZING at, seriously!) then make sure to add a few of these hilltop towns to your itinerary.
3. Pristine Beaches
Nice has a long strip of beaches along the Promenade des Anglais (the main boardwalk) with water so clear that you can see the individual rocks under the water. There aren’t any sand beaches in Nice, but the pebbles make the water even more clear than if they were sand beaches.
Some of my favorite beaches are just around the corner in Villefranche-Sur-Mer and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat which you can reach super easily by bus from Nice. You can even walk along a paved path that wraps around Le Cap de Nice and arrive in Villefranche-Sur-Mer on foot.
Start learning French before you leave for France! I’ve been using italki (I’m taking 3 classes per week right now) for years and it helped me negotiate rent and much more during our move! Try out a class and you’ll thank me later. They’re usually $9 or less!
4. Clean, Beautiful Water
A bit obvious with the name “Cote d’Azur” but it must be said, the water in Nice is gorgeously clear, and on most days the water is a light blue color that I’ve only seen in a few parts of the world (Nusa Penida in Bali & Uluwatu, Bali!)
5. Tons of Hikes
Not only can you spend your days hiking from one incredible hilltop town to another (we once walked through 4 towns in one day and it took about 9 hours!) but you can also hike through incredible mountainscapes.
The famous GR52 which ends in Menton, France is one you would need to train for as it’s over 70 miles and a week of hiking but passes through the gorgeous alps behind Nice and some incredibly gorgeous lakes.
It’s only a cheap bus ride away from Isola 2000, where you can hike around the ski resort and get a taste of mountain life. You can capture a perfect reflection of the giant mountains surrounding the lakes there, and if you’re brave enough, you can climb some of them and actually cross the border into Italy!
Mercantour is another (slightly longer) bus ride away but it is definitely worth the trip for those searching for great hikes and adventure on their vacation.
6. Cheap Public Transportation
An amazing perk of Nice, France is how easy it is to get around for only 1 Euro. By buying a public transportation card with 10 trips instead of 1 at a time, you save a bit of money on each trip and you can travel all over the city of Nice for just 1 Euro!
This includes bus trips to Villefrance-Sur-Mer, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Beaulieu-Sur-Mer, and Eze Village. For trips a bit further, there is a train that goes right along the coast all the way to Italy that you can take although it’s more expensive.
7. It’s Not As Expensive As You Think
If you are writing off Nice as a vacation spot, don’t! It can definitely be done on a budget (trust me, that’s the only way I do things!) It’s the cheapest place to stay on the Cote D’Azur and with the cheap public transportation,
Obviously the longer you stay, the cheaper your stay will be. So I recommend staying for at least 1 week and then traveling from Nice (all of those amazing day trips I included above!) in order to save money on accommodation.
You can definitely stay in an Airbnb in a really good location for under $300 per week, which averages to $42 per night. This is more expensive than traveling in Eastern Europe, but pretty average for Western Europe.
8. A Gorgeous Old Town: Vieux Nice
France has some of the most beautiful towns in the world, and Nice is no exception. The Old Town of Nice (or Vieux Nice) is a breathtaking part of the city with colorful buildings influenced by Italy’s architectural styles more than France’s.
During the summer, you can find the best gelato in town in Place Rossetti (my favorite is AZZURRO Italian Gelato!) then you can head up Rue Rossetti to get the best possible view of the old town. This street and view takes my breath away every single time.
Besides those main areas, you definitely should spend as much time as you can wandering the streets of Old Nice. A few other streets that you shouldn’t miss in Old Town are Rue Saint-Augustin, Montee Auguste Kerl, and the Rue des Serruriers.
Those are some of my favorite streets, but I’m sure after seeing Old Nice for yourself, you will find a few of your own!
9. Viewpoints GALORE
If you love hunting for all the best viewpoints in town, you’re going to love Nice. La Colline du Château (or Castle Hill) is the most famous viewpoint area in Nice, which is the hill between Old Town in Nice and the Port. If you’ve seen photos of Nice from above, it was most likely from the top of the Colline!
At the very top, you can capture a photo of the entire Baie des Anges (the Bay of Angels) with the Promenade and the gorgeously blue ocean.
Even though that’s the most famous viewpoint, you can also get incredible views facing the opposite way as well towards the Port of Nice.
We lived in the Port area right next to La Colline for the whole year and I think the Port is VERY underrated and is one of the more beautiful spots of Nice!
My advice would be to hike up from the main entrance and then make your way down the other side so you get views of the Port from above!
Besides the Colline, there are tons of other opportunities to get a great view, including the hike to Fort du Mont Alban which affords one of the most insane views of Villefranche-sur-Mer and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat below.
When I first hiked here, I thought I was just hiking to a cool castle, and then was absolutely blown away by the views.
Other hikes with amazing views in the area include the Parc du Vinaigrier, the hike from Aspremont Village, a view of the snowy mountains behind Nice and the sea below at the Cime de Baudon, more views at the top of Mont Chauve, and the impressive views of Peille Village and Peillon.
If you’re not into hiking to get to the views, you can take a bus to the Parc du Mont Boron which will drop you off near this panoramic viewpoint of Nice. You can also take the bus to Villefranche-sur-Mer and get off around this bus stop to get an incredible view of the bay below!
10. Tons of Great Shopping
Even if you’re someone who isn’t much into the beach, Nice has Avenue Jean Medecin and Le Carré d’Or area with both luxury stores and restaurants as well as the usual stores like H&M and Zara.
Rue Massena is a walking street where you can find stores and cafes and it’s a beautiful area to walk around.
11. There’s Never a Bad Time to Visit Nice
Nice is an incredible destination year-round. The best time to visit Nice completely depends on what you plan to do on your trip.
If you’re looking for a warm time of year so that you can go swimming in the French Riviera, May and September would be perfect months to avoid tourists but still get in the water.
Although there are rainier months in Nice, the city gets over 300 days of sunshine a year, so chances are you’ll find a sunny day to come to visit.