Nice, France is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, yet there are a ton of things to do there that most people have no idea about! After living here for over a year, I’ve put together a list of all the unique and best things to do in Nice, France that will get you to all the main tourist points plus off-the-beaten-path spots that only locals know about.
I’ve tried to put this list in an order that you can follow like an itinerary if you choose to do that, meaning that activities that are near each other are put next to each other in the list.
For example, things to do by the Promenade des Anglais, the Port, the Cap de Nice, Mont Boron, Place Massena, and even some bus trips you can take from Nice.
1. Colline du Chateau (Castle Hill)
Castle Hill has to be number one on this list, not only because it’s the most iconic view of Nice, but because there is SO much to do on this little hill that most tourists completely miss!
- Bellanda Tour
- Memorial to the Victims of Terrorism in Nice
- Jewish Cemetery and Holocaust Memorial
- Cemetery du Chateau
- Panoramic Viewpoint of Old Nice
- Main Viewpoint (Point de vue Colline du Chateau)
- Nice Port Viewpoint (Point de vue Port de Nice)
One of the best parts of the Colline is that you can get to it from Old Nice, the Promenade, and the Port. Not all of the entrances are always open, but each entry gives you a different view of Nice.
The first entrance is the most popular one and is right off the Promenade and leads up to the Tour Bellanda. It’s called “Montee Lesage.”
The second most popular entrance is from the Port side of Nice and goes up “Montee Montfort.”
Then you have two entrances in Old Nice. The first is “Montee du Chateau” (which happens to be right on top of one of my favorite streets in Nice: Montee Auguste Kerl.
The second entrance from Old Nice is probably the least well-known and is at “Montee Menica Rondelly.”
Finding each entrance and how it connects to all different sides of Nice is why the Colline is the #1 thing to do in Nice. Viewpoints from all sides, plus the official viewpoints that are listed above, you absolutely cannot miss this on your trip to Nice!
2. Walk Along the Promenade
The Promenade des Anglais, also known as the Promenade des Anges to commemorate the deaths from the terrorist attack in 2016, is 7km or 4.34 miles long. From beginning to end, you are along the beautiful coast of Nice with the insanely blue water below.
The walk is gorgeous and can take you from the Old Port of Nice all the way to the end of the long stretch of pebble beach.
There are a few things along the Promenade that you will want to keep your eye out for:
- Miniature Statue of Liberty
- Neuf Lignes Obliques Statue
- The Blue Chair Monument
- Le Negresco Hotel
- Hotel Amour Beach Sign
3. Take a Photo at the #ILOVENICE Sign
The #ILoveNice Sign is right at the beginning of the Promenade and always attracts tourists who want to take a picture with it. However, even if you aren’t into taking a picture with the sign, this corner of the Promenade has some of the best views of the whole beach.
So don’t skip this area even if you don’t love the sign!
4. Rent a Bike & Ride Along the Promenade
One of the best ways to experience the Promenade is by bike and Nice makes that incredibly easy to do! Since 2020, they have implemented a yellow bike lane that goes along the side of the Promenade.
There are plenty of places to rent a bike here as well, check out this post for all the best places to rent a bike in Nice!
5. Swim at the Beach
This one may sound obvious, but there are tons of beaches to choose from in Nice!
There are at least 16 different beaches that go along the Promenade. The list below starts with the beaches closest to the Colline du Chateau and includes the Google Maps link as well.
The ones closest to the Colline are the more popular beaches and the first 4 beaches are my personal favorites!
- Castel Plage
- Plage des Ponchettes
- Plage Publique de l’opera
- Plage Beau Rivage
- Plage du Centaire
- Plage de Carras (#1)
- Lido Plage
- Sporting Plage
- Plage Blue Beach
- Neptune Plage
- Plage du Forum
- Plage Florida
- Plage Publique Magnan
- Plage de Ste. Helene
- Plage de Carras (#2)
- Plage Publique de la Lanterne
Apart from the beaches on the Promenade, there are a few more to find on the Cap de Nice, which is right past the Old Port of Nice.
Here are the beaches you can find on the other side of Nice in order:
Although these are the only three beaches listed on Google Maps, there are tons of little areas to layout and jump in the water in between these three.
If you are looking for a bit more adventure, then heading to these beaches is definitely more for you than the beaches along the Promenade. You can jump from rocks, hike along the Cap de Nice to find little areas with beautiful glittering water and places to layout.
However, since these beaches are much smaller, if you want to claim a good spot, you’ll want to get there before noon.
If you’re just looking to beach hop and cliff jump, then don’t worry about when you get there!
6. Old Port (Port Lympia)
A lot of focus when traveling to Nice is on the west side of the city, where the Old Town and main shopping centers are as well as the main beaches.
However, Port Lympia is an absolute gem and a gorgeous part of the city you shouldn’t miss.
I’ve lived in the Old Port for almost 2 years now and there is so much to love about this area. Not all of the places below have a lot of reviews, but the views from each spot are AMAZING and you won’t regret visiting them.
Here are a few spots in the Old Port that you’ll love:
- Quai Lunel
- Statue of Charles-Felix de Savoie
- The Notre-Dame du Port Church
- Boat Dock of the Port of Nice
The Quai Lunel is basically just an extension of the Promenade that goes into the Port. It passes by the Statue of Charles-Felix de Savoie, which also has a small seating area with benches.
The statue is placed in front of the Colline and the colorful buildings behind it, which makes it so much more beautiful.
I definitely recommend walking all the way around the Port. You can even walk inside of the Port itself (you don’t only have to stay on the sidewalk) and get closer to the boats below.
Once you make it to the boat dock, you’ll be able to see those adorable and colorful boats with the backdrop of the Colline.
Port Lympia is also the starting point of many boat tours. Check out this post for a list of the best ones!
7. GET A HEART-SHAPED ORIGINAL ITALIAN PIZZA (LES AMOUREUX)
The pizzeria “Les Amoureux” in the Old Port of Nice went viral for its heart-shaped pizzas and I can attest that they are absolutely worth the hype.
This place is so popular that there is a line even before they open. They are closed Sunday and Monday and are only open from 7-10 pm on the other days.
However, if you are a fan of real Napoli-style pizza, it is totally worth the wait to go here. Also, the owners are Italian, so if you speak Italian, it’s a great opportunity to practice!
8. Walk Along the Coastal Path at Cap de Nice & Cliff Jump
There is a lesser-known path in Nice called “The Coastal Path” or the “Sentier du Litteral” that wraps around the Cap de Nice. You are literally walking along the water, passing by tons of beautiful places to stop and layout or jump off into the ocean!
9. Lay Out at the Plage de la Plateform
At the end of the Coastal Path, you get to the “Plage de la Plateform” or the Platform Beach, where there is a large cement platform with room to layout and even a step ladder to go swimming from there.
It takes about 9 minutes to walk to the end of the Coastal Path, which ends at the Plage de la Plateforme.
You can either head back the way you came, or there is a seriously steep set of stairs that will take you up to the Avenue du Cap-de-Nice.
Once you get to the top, you can head to the left (unlike what it shows on the map below) and you can walk down a winding road called Avenue Jean Lorrain and get some of the best views of the Port. I’ll go into that walk in the next point.
10. Walk or Bus to the Pink Castle with Views (Chateau De L’Anglais)
If you already plan to walk around the Cap de Nice and you want a bit of a workout, walk up and down Avenue Jean Lorrain to get some incredible views of the Port of Nice from above.
There is a big pink castle, called the Chateau de L’Anglais, that sits at the top of Avenue Jean Lorrain.
There are a couple of ways to get to these views, and there are multiple viewpoints as well!
You can walk from the bottom of Avenue Jean Lorrain, up to Villa Beau.
Then from Villa Beau, you walk up to the Belvedere du Mont Boron viewing platform for more amazing views. From there, walk down the Boulevard du Mont Boron, turn right on Boulevard Carnot, and then left to walk down the Avenue Jean Lorrain.
The most important thing is to get the views while walking down the Avenue Jean Lorrain, so all of these walks are just if you want to see more viewpoints along the way!
If you don’t want to walk up to anything, you can take bus #15 from Port Lympia straight to the top of the street.
You can also take a bus from different areas throughout Nice, but you may need to take a bus change. Just type in “Chateau de l’Anglais” and choose public transport on Google Maps to get there by bus.
11. Hike to Villefranche-sur-Mer
Did you know that you can actually hike to Villefranche-sur-Mer from the Cap de Nice (I love that I always feel safe to do things like this in Nice!)? It’s a beautiful coastal walk that starts near the Maeterlinck bus stop and ends at Pointe Madame.
It takes about 20 minutes and is 1.4 kilometers long one way.
You don’t walk along the freeway the whole way, you’ll come across some stairs to go down (you can see the green dotted line below on the map, that’s the actual hike). So you’ll be walking directly next to the water instead of on the streets above it.
Make sure to go down those stairs towards the “Vestiges bunker allemand” that is marked on Google Maps. Then follow that coastal path all the way to Villefranche-sur-Mer.
You can end the hike at Pointe Madame if you want and head back the way you came, or you can walk another 1.3 kilometers (about 17 minutes) into the center of Villefranche-sur-mer.
It’s an absolutely gorgeous little town with incredibly colorful architecture right along the water. Although it’s not in Nice itself, it’s a must-do while you are in Nice!
There are a couple of ways to get back to Nice from there, depending on which part of Nice you are staying in. You can take the TER train back to the center of Nice, but this is more expensive than a bus.
However, there aren’t many buses that leave directly from Villefranche-sur-Mer, so you’ll need to walk probably 15-20 more minutes in order to get to one. The bus stops are all along the Boulevard Napolean III, which is above the town.
If you’re willing to walk to one of the bus stops, you’ll be rewarded with an amazing view over Villefranche-sur-Mer, plus a cheaper trip back to Nice.
12. Visit Off-the-Beaten Path Viewpoints at Maeterlinck
Whether you plan to hike to Villefranche-sur-Mer or not, you can still head to the Maeterlinck to get views of the sea below and a small view of Villefranche-sur-Mer in the distance.
13. See the Panorama View at Mont Boron
Yes, there is another incredible viewpoint of Nice from above! You can find a panorama view of Nice at Mont Boron.
You can either take the bus (the closest bus stop is Chemin du Fort) or you can park at the Parc du Mont Boron.
14. Walk around Parc du Mont Boron
After the panorama viewpoint, you can walk to the Parc du Mont Boron, which is a beautiful nature area that is perfect for a picnic or a walk.
There is also a super beautiful walk right next to the panorama view that is one of my favorite areas of Nice because it feels like you’ve left the coast altogether and gone to the forest.
I’ve dropped a pin on the walk, which starts here on Google Maps.
15. Hike to the Fort du Mont Alban
From the Parc du Mont Boron, it only takes 8 minutes to hike to another insane viewpoint of Villefranche-sur-Mer. This hike/walk is well worth your time since it has both a view and a fort to visit!
The view literally took my breath away, and you can spot Villefranche-sur-Mer below.
16. Hike Around Parc du Vinaigrier (Multiple Viewpoints)
Another great area to walk around and find viewpoints is the Parc du Vinaigrier. You can get to this park by hiking down the back of Fort Alban into Col de Villefranche and then across the street to the Parc du Vinaigrier.
This should only take about 20 minutes (to get to the start of Parc du Vinaigrier) from Fort Alban.
Google Maps doesn’t recognize that there is another entrance to the Parc, so I’ve dropped a pin here so you can find the right entrance from Col de Villefranche.
If you want to split up the hikes, you can bus straight to Col de Villefranche by taking buses 33, 80, or 82. It’s difficult to find these routes by using Google Maps, so download the Lignes d’Azur app instead to make sure your timetables are right.
Pro Tip: After you download the Lignes d’Azur app, don’t use the “Current location.” Instead, look at the circles on the map that represent bus stops.
Once you find the name of the closest one to you, type that directly into the “Start Location” and “Destination” search bars. For some reason, this shows more accurate bus schedules.
The first viewpoint in Parc du Vinaigrier is a bit difficult to find, but as you can see below, it is definitely worth the search!
As you head up and enter the Parc du Vinaigrier from Col de Villefranche, there are little paths that lead off to the left.
There is no marker, unfortunately, but if you really would like to find the viewpoint above, you’ll need to head a few minutes down those little paths until you find it.
It’s not too far in and should take less than 5 minutes to find. But if you aren’t interested in the hunt, you can continue up the path until you get to the official viewpoint of the park.
At the top, there is a viewing platform with a little map that shows you what small towns you are seeing below.
To get back to Nice from Parc du Vinaigrier, you keep hiking down the other side of the park (so you don’t go back the way you came) until you get to a bus or tram stop that will take you back to where you are staying.
Definitely use the Lignes d’Azur app if you can’t find a good route on Google Maps.
You can choose to go back the way you came, but there are even more beautiful views and some olive trees on the way back down the other side that you don’t want to miss!
17. Visit the Garden of Arenas Cimiez
As if Nice didn’t have enough, there are also Roman ruins that you can visit at the Garden of Arenas in the neighborhood of Cimiez.
There is a Roman amphitheater here that used to hold up to 5,000 spectators. It is free to enter and easy to get to by bus. The stop closest to the Gardens is called Arènes / Musée Matisse.
18. Try a Traditional Dish of Nice: Socca
Socca is a thin savory pancake made from chickpea flour that can be found throughout Nice usually sold by street vendors. Don’t miss out on trying this delicious Niçoise treat!
19. Shop at the Antique Market: Les Puces de Nice
Les Puces de Nice is an antique market right next to the Port. It’s a great place to visit with a few vendors and lots of antiques to look through.
It’s quite expensive, so if you are looking for a vintage bargain, there’s another market (Cours Selaya) that I’ll cover in a bit!
The “Puces de Nice” is open every day except Sunday and Monday. The hours are 10 am to 6 pm.
20. Place Garibaldi
Place Garibaldi is a beautiful plaza a bit more inland and between the Port and Old Nice. It’s the city’s oldest major gathering place and has a beautiful statue/fountain of Garibaldi.
There are a few cafes in this area, plus a Monoprix if you wanted to grab a snack!
The carousel isn’t set up or running year-round, but this Place is worth visiting regardless! The yellow buildings and arches that surround the Place make it such a beautiful stop in Nice.
21. Stroll Around Old Town 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.
Besides those main areas, you definitely should spend as much time as you can wandering the streets of Old Nice.
A few streets and areas that you shouldn’t miss in Old Town:
- Place Rossetti
- Rue Rossetti
- Rue Saint-Augustin
- Montee Auguste Kerl
- 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!
22. Grab Some of the Best Gelato in France at Gelateria Azzurro
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 take my breath away every single time.
23. Peruse the Market at Cours SaLeya
The Market at Cours Saleya is a flower and fresh produce market that runs on a street parallel to the Promenade des Anglais. It is open every day except Monday, usually from 6 am to 5:30 pm.
This blog post goes into the specifics of the market and other markets in Nice so you can make sure you don’t miss this one!
24. Visit the Market at Place du Palais de Justice
The Place du Palais de Justice hosts a couple of other markets that usually happen every Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm. The hours may vary, so the safest bet is to go in the middle of those hours and not right when it opens or closes.
The 1st and 3rd Saturdays have vendors selling all types of books. The 2nd Saturday is for paintings and homemade items and the 4th Saturday is for postcards.
25. Experience a True French Taco
Ever had a French taco? Throw out any idea you may have of what a taco is and prepare yourself for this crazy meal.
A French taco is basically a tortilla with creamy cheese, your choice of meat, and French fries, all put into a panini press, for about 6 or 7 euros per taco.
They tried to introduce the French taco to the American market but it flopped, so getting one in Nice (or Europe) might be your only chance to try it!
Unfortunately, a few of the best taco places have closed down, but you can still find French tacos at the end of Saint-Jean-Medecin at Planet Tacos. You also might be able to find a smaller local shop, so keep your eyes open.
UPDATE: I found a new favorite French taco place in the Port called “King’s Tacos”. The owner is so nice and you can get a huge taco for only 5 euros! For a classic taco, ask for the one in a tortilla, with chicken tenders and cheese sauce (fromagere).
26. Promenade du Paillon Park
The Promenade du Paillon Park leads up to the beginning of Place Massena and is a great place to picnic or bring kids to play. There are playgrounds and even a splash pad!
It’s a beautiful park that stretches across a few streets.
It’s usually used for special events, like hosting a pool during the summer and an ice rink in the winter, Christmas events, Tour de France, etc. It’s free to enter unless there is a specific event going on that requires payment for entry.
27. Head to the iconic Place Massena & Fontaine du Soleil
The Place Massena is sandwiched between the Promenade and the shopping street Saint-Jean-Medecin. It’s surrounded by pink buildings with arches and has black and white tile crisscrossing throughout the whole area.
The Fontaine du Soleil (Fountain of the Sun) is at one side and the start of the shopping street on the other.
Place Massena definitely stands out architecturally with its unique design.
28. Shop at Saint-Jean-Medecin & Rue Massena
Looking to shop while you’re in Nice? You’ll want to head to Saint-Jean-Medecin right off Place Massena!
This is where you’ll find all the major stores like H&M and Zara as well as a few great European favorites like Decathlon and Monoprix.
To the left of the beginning of Saint-Jean-Medecin, there is another walking street with outdoor eating and more shops as well called Rue Massena.
29. Notre Dame de l’Assomption Basilica
Towards the end of Saint-Jean-Medecin, you can find the Notre Dame de l’Assomption Basilica, which looks like a more white-washed version of the Notre Dame in Paris.
The hours at the Basilica are 9 am to 12 pm, then 4 pm to 7 pm.
Unfortunately, this was the site of a terrorist attack in Nice in 2020, so you might see flowers or memorials outside the cathedral to commemorate it.
30. Visit St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral
As you get to the end of Saint-Jean-Medecin, you will see an overpass that you’ll need to go under in order to get to St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral. (This is where the Domino’s is as well, fun fact lol)
If you would like to go inside, make sure you are wearing the appropriate clothing to enter the cathedral. It’s open every day, but the hours vary.
31. Take a Bus to Villefranche-sur-Mer
Earlier in the list, I mentioned that you can walk to Villefranche-sur-Mer (which I highly recommend!) but if you’re short on time, you can definitely bus there instead.
These last few items on the “Things to do in Nice” post are a few day trips that can be easily done with Nice as a base. They aren’t technically in Nice, but you can get there and back to Nice with no problems!
From Port Lympia, you can take bus 15 to Schifanoia or Ange Gardien.
It might seem like there aren’t any buses if you are using Google Maps, but try using the Lignes d’Azur app and only using the exact bus stop names in the destination search bar.
As of right now, the number 15 bus stops at the Promenade des Arts bus stop, Garibaldi, and Port Lympia in Nice and you’ll want to get off at Schifanoia or Ange Garden.
Schifanoia will give you a bit of a longer walk, but better views!
If you are willing to walk a bit longer, hop off at Madone Noire for the full panorama walk.
Unfortunately, the bus doesn’t drop you off directly in Villefranche, but you have an amazing view of the town below and the beach while you walk down the steps from the highway.
32. Bus to a Hilltop Village Nearby
You can make your trip to Nice super unique by spending a day or two going to one of the amazing hilltop villages in the area.
There are a few villages that you can reach by using public transport in Nice like Peille, La Turbie, and Aspremont.
To get a full list of villages, check out this post! Most of the villages on the list have a specific blog post that will tell you how to get to that village and what to do there.
33. Bus to Eze Village
34. Take the Train to Monaco or Menton
For a slightly more expensive thing to do from Nice, you can take the TER train from Nice to Monaco or Menton. Both can easily be done from Nice without needing to stay overnight in either place!
Anything I missed? Let me know what you did in Nice and I’ll add it to the list! (: