Heading to the French Riviera for a relaxing, sun-drenched vacation? Chances are that you’re going to visit Cannes, Monaco, and Nice, but what about the charming and quaint town of Villefranche-sur-Mer? How can you get from Nice to Villefranche-sur-Mer and what can you do once you’re there?
Like a lot of smaller towns and villages along the French Riviera, you’ve probably never heard of this amazing spot, but it’s well worth a visit, especially if you’re basing yourself in Nice.
Let’s dive in and find out how to get there from Nice!
How to Get from Nice to Villefranche-sur-Mer
So, you’ve decided that you want to visit Villefranche-sur-Mer, but you’re not sure how exactly to get there. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Let’s delve into the travel options between Nice and Villefranche-sur-Mer.
Nice to Villefranche-sur-Mer By Train
Probably the easiest way to get to Villefranche-sur-Mer from Nice is by train. From Nice-Ville train station, it only takes 7 minutes to get between the two destinations. Once you’re at Villefranche-sur-Mer station, you’re only minutes from the beach.
Grab your towels and your friends or family and head to the station for one of the most convenient beach day trips on the French Riviera.
Train tickets are super cheap, and if you buy them in advance, they could be as little as two euros. Definitely worth leaving the car and the stress of finding parking, when public transport is this easy, efficient, and cost-effective.
Looking for a cheaper way to get to Villefranche-sur-Mer? Both the 100 and 15 bus routes go between Nice and Villefranche-sur-Mer. If you’re down near Nice Port, you’re going to want to jump on the number 100 bus and if you’re near Promenade des Arts, then the number 15 route is going to be more convenient.
It does take double the time to get to Villefranche-sur-Mer than it does on the train, at 20 minutes for the journey, but at just 1.50EUR a ticket or one euro if you buy a 10 trip card, it’s by far the cheapest way to get around.
If you’re heading to Villefranche-sur-Mer on a weekday, there’s a bus every 15 minutes, otherwise, it goes up to every 20 minutes. Either way, you shouldn’t be waiting too long.
Check out this post for more detail on the exact bus stops you should get off at depending on where you want to visit in Villefranche.
Honestly, this isn’t the most convenient or cost-effective way if you’re traveling from Nice, but if you’ve rented a car and plan on traveling onwards away from Nice or want to check off a few small towns and villages, driving might be a better option for you.
Car rental costs (check prices here) are going to depend on your situation, location, and length of hire, but obviously, it is going to be more expensive than the bus or train tickets from Nice. You also need to factor in gas costs and parking fees.
Although there are quite a few parking options in Villefranche-sur-Mer, you’re going to have to pay for pretty much all of them.
Driving from Nice to Villefranche-sur-Mer is going to take you around 20 minutes, and is likely to follow the standard bus route. If there are a few of you traveling, you can always split the cost of the rental, gas, and parking to make it more affordable.
By Taxi or Uber
Flying into Nice and want to head straight to Villefranche-sur-Mer? You might be considering a taxi, rather than either hiring a car or having to travel into the Nice city center and change buses or trains.
Unsurprisingly it’s not cheap, with an average cost of 55-60EUR to get from Nice Airport to Villefranche-sur-Mer. That being said, it only takes 25 minutes to get there directly.
Even if you lined up your connections in Nice perfectly, it would likely take 30 minutes, and that’s with the inconvenience of having to change platforms or even stations with all your luggage.
Again, if you’re traveling with a few people and can split the taxi evenly, the cost isn’t as eye-watering. Another good reason for opting for a taxi from Nice Airport to Villefranche-sur-Mer is if you’re arriving late at night or super early in the morning.
Avoiding that rush hour public transport crush is always a good idea, and if you’re unsure of how to get around the city, you’re not going to want to try it in the dark.
Read this post to learn more about using Uber in the Nice area.
Personally, this is my favorite way to get from Nice to Villefranche-sur-Mer and I’ve done it many times and in all the different seasons. It’s pretty rare that you can just wander to a neighboring town for a day trip, but with the jaw-dropping hikes along the Cote D’Azur, it’s a definite possibility.
Of course, this option is entirely free, except for any supplies you want to buy for the journey. Water, hats, and sunscreen are all a must, as is sensible footwear like sneakers or hiking boots.
You’ll want to start your hike at Nice Port and then start heading east around the coastline. Experience outstanding views, soak up the rays, and get your heart rate pumping. All in all, getting to Villefranche-sur-Mer by foot should take around an hour and a half.
You can choose to stay on the main road and go to the center of Villefranche-sur-Mer, or you can walk along the coastline.
The coastline walk is a bit more difficult to find, but here are the walking directions from the Port:
From the main road, you’ll go down a set of stairs that will take you to the “Sentier du Littoral” which goes along the coastline. You can follow this as far as you’d like depending on your plan for the day. If you plan to walk back, I would walk to Plage de la Darse, spend some time on the beach, and then head back the same way.
If you want to spend some time in the center of Villefranche-sur-Mer, you’ll have to walk all the way to the center, then up a steep street to get to the bus stop that will take you back to Nice. Although it’s a bit of a hike, it’s so worth it to see all of this adorable town.
Of course, you can always get the bus or train back to Nice, or if you still have the energy and the daylight, why not catch a gorgeous sunset on the way back to the city?
If you are looking for a great way to see Villefranche-sur-Mer then try taking a boat! There are lots of tours that will get you from Nice to Villefranche-sur-Mer but here is the most popular one and its only about $20 per person!
This colorful coastal town has the best of both worlds. Featuring stunning crystal clear waters along its sandy beaches and exclusive harbors, as well as verdant greenery and rolling mountains, Villefranche-sur-Mer is a must-visit for any nature enthusiast.
Filled with independent boutiques, cafes, and restaurants, it’s a pleasant place to spend a day, away from the hustle and bustle of Nice. Villefranche-sur-Mer, like much of the area around the Cote D’Azur, is home to impressive 13th-century historic buildings, churches, and alleyways.
All in all, there is plenty to love about a day trip to Villefranche-sur-Mer.
Where is Villefranche-sur-Mer?
Technically Villefranche-sur-Mer is kind of on the outskirts of Nice. It’s located between Nice and Monaco and is super accessible from the city.
In fact, it’s under 10 miles from the center of Nice to Villefranche-sur-Mer, making it the ideal, low-effort day trip, regardless of whether you have a car at your disposal or are reliant on public transport.
Why Visit Villefranche-sur-Mer?
If you’re looking for a seaside resort vibe without having to drive for miles out of the city, Villefranche-sur-Mer is the perfect solution. Next to its beautiful harbor area – which is great for strolling around – Villefranche-sur-Mer has a couple of world-class beaches including Plage des Marinieres.
Looking for more history from your Riviera day trips? Head to Rue Obscura, a 13th-century alleyway, filled with original architecture and a distinctly medieval feel. Love a panoramic view?
Many of the parking lots and coastal hiking trails around Villefranche-sur-Mer double as designated viewpoints. Bring your camera and gaze out over the calm, open waters. Sounds relaxing, right?
8 Things to Do in Villefranche-sur-Mer
Villefranche-sur-Mer is one of the best villages in Southern France. Not sure what to do once you’re actually in Villefranche-sur-Mer? Why not check out one or two of the places on this list?
1. Chapelle Saint-Pierre
The whole of the French Riviera area is littered with architecturally and historically interesting places of worship and Villefranche-sur-Mer is no different. Chapelle Saint-Pierre is a small fishing chapel with delightful views across the harbor and bay. Take a peek inside at the impressive, ancient structure.
2. Mont Boron & Fort du Mont Alban
Although this hike is better done from Nice than Villefranche, it’s one of the best views of the town that you can get. If you want to check out a beautiful clifftop park with expansive views of the Mediterranean, this is absolutely the place to check out.
There’s even an old fort in the park that you can reach via a series of woodland trails. Craving time in nature? Add Mont Boron to your Villefranche-sur-Mer itinerary.
3. Musées de la Citadelle
Want to enjoy a museum while you’re in Villefranche-sur-Mer? The Musées de la Citadelle is a free museum that’s played a role in many wars over the years, including World War II, and is now home to a series of impressive bronze statues.
Whether you’re a history buff or into arts and culture, this affordable museum is a great spot to hit up.
4. La Darse Beach
More interested in what’s under the water than bobbing around on top of it? Visit La Darse Beach for some excellent snorkeling opportunities. A pebbly beach that’s near the Villefranche-sur-Mer harbor, it’s not the most comfortable to sunbathe on, but if you want calm waters to explore, this is an ideal place to come.
5. Rue Obscure
I’ve mentioned this briefly earlier, but if you’re wandering around the labyrinth streets of Villefranche-sur-Mer, you might happen upon the underground alleyway known as Rue Obscure.
With a dark and mysterious history attached to this particular area of the city, if you’re into true crime, perhaps take a guided tour of this area.
6. Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
Just around the bay from Villefranche-sur-Mer at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, you’ll find the exquisite Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. Formerly the home of the immensely rich and powerful Rothschild family, this seaside villa is a monument to opulence.
Wander around the highly decorated rooms before journeying out to the star of the show – the nine landscaped gardens. They’re so impressive that they’ve been named one of the Remarkable Gardens of France by the Ministry of Culture.
So, if you enjoy wandering around gorgeous mansions and manicured gardens in the sunshine, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere better.
7. Plage des Marinières
One of the main reasons that people journey from Nice to Villefranche-sur-Mer is for the luscious sandy beaches. Unlike the beach at Promenade Des Anglais in Nice, which is a pebbled beach, Plage des Marinieres in Villefranche-sur-Mer is coated in soft, golden sand that you can relax on.
Just steps from the main train station, this beach is ideally located for a convenient day trip. Pack up your towels, swimmer, and books so that you can kick back and relax.
The waters of the bay are nice and calm, providing safe swimming areas. This idyllic beach does get busy pretty quickly, especially in the more touristy summer months, so it’s a good idea to get there early and set up for the entire day.
8. Dining in Villefranche-Sur-Mer
If you’re spending all day exploring and discovering all that Villefranche-sur-Mer has to offer, you’re bound to work up an appetite. Lucky for you, there are plenty of amazing bars, restaurants, and cafes in the area that you can check out and enjoy.
With us being on the Mediterranean coast, you can’t come here and not experience the stunningly fresh seafood. Espuma, located along the Plage les Bains, specializes in seafood, pizzas, and cocktails, overlooking the beach.
DRY Restaurant & Cocktail Bar
Looking for a spot to sit with a nice drink and watch the world go by? DRY Restaurant & Cocktail Bar is located near the harbor and offers live music together with artisanal cocktails, wines, beers, and more. Chill here before heading elsewhere for food or treat yourself to an Instagram-worthy dish.
Searching for classic French fare with a focus on fresh fish? L’Oursin Bleu is going to be right up your street. Situated with the majority of the eateries by the Villefranche-sur-Mer harbor, you can easily sit and watch the boats come and go as you indulge in a delicious glass of French wine and crack the top of their specialty creme brulee.
Need a place to suit a lot of different palates? Lou Bantry with its stunning waterfront location serves a wide variety of crowd-pleasing cuisines at reasonable prices. There’s a good amount of vegetarian and vegan dishes as well as fresh seafood.
Also, if you’re not drinking, there’s a whole host of alcohol-free cocktails alongside the 10 euro carafes of local wine. Definitely a wallet-friendly dining location in Villefranche-sur-Mer.
Located at the entryway to Rue Obscure, this cute Italian restaurant makes you feel like you’re in a Tuscan back street, despite being in the heart of the French Riviera. Pick from the a la carte menu, or treat yourself and opt for the chef’s tasting menu. With so many creative and delicious dishes, you’ll be spoiled for choice!
Wanting a taste of Asia while you’re in Villefranche-sur-Mer? With Vietnam’s links to France and the amount of seafood in both cuisines, it’s no wonder that there’s an excellent Vietnamese restaurant in Villefranche-sur-Mer.
With a cozy vibe and a menu filled with classic favorites, if you’re needing a bit of variety and want to get away from the busyness of the waterfront, Le Mekong is a great spot to choose.
If you’re thinking of heading to the French Riviera, you’re going to be spoiled for choice when it comes to day trips. One of the best ones you can take if you’re staying in Nice is a visit to Villefranche-sur-Mer.
With amazing beaches, outstanding history, and an awesome foodie scene, all just a couple of miles from the Nice city center, it really is a no-brainer. You can thank me later!