Do you fancy cyan coloured waves, yummy French food and deliciously rich wines? Parfaite! All of these and much, much more are waiting for you in the lovely metropole of the Côte d’Azur: Nice! Scroll to the article below and check out a few hints of mine about the best things to do in Nice. Allons-y!
In my previous article (yes, the very long one!) I described all the things to consider when travelling to Nice. If you’ve already decided that this charming French town with a strong Italian influence will be your very next destination, check out the places to visit and things to do in Nice during your Côte d’Azur stay. It doesn‘t really matter if you travel to Nice solo, with your loved one, in a group of friends, or as family – you’ll still find lots to enjoy.
1. Visit the Castle Park
What better way is there to enjoy Nice’s beauty than from above? Castle park is a medium-sized park located 93 metres above Nice with stunning views of the famous Niçoise beaches and the old town on the right side of the park; while the fancy port is situated to the left.
You can easily walk there from one of the narrow streets of the old town but you can also take an elevator if you’re tired or jet-legged after your long flight. On the highest peak of the Castle park there is a cute fountain as well, its water is pretty refreshing during summer after a hike to the top!
2. Hike to the Mont Boron
For those who suffer from a special travel disease called ‘view obsession’ (apparently I am one such sufferer), Mont Boron is just the right medicine. This 191-meter-tall hill is located just after the port of Nice and right before a stunning village called Villefranche Sur Mer. The best way to get up there is to take the number 14 bus, which is very frequent and which you can hop onto from the many bus stops throughout the centre.
I tried to walk up Mont Boron on my own at first, but the route was not really built for pedestrians. There is also almost no shade on the way up so the 40 degrees heat wave made me too lazy and I decided to pay around 2 euros for a one-way trip instead. Why should you go up Mont Boron? Because you get nice fresh air up there, a little forest to chill in and amazing views across the eastern part of the French Riviera. Definitely one of the top romantic things to do in Nice for couple travellers! Mont Boron is my personal top thing to do in Nice!
3. Beach Round Trip
Hell yeah, beaching is definitely one of the top things to do in Nice! There are as many beaches in Nice as there are stars in the sky. Alright, this might be a little bit exaggerated but the Niçoise coast is famous for its long coastline. There are a few beaches in and around Nice, you just need to choose between the popular ones (in other words, the public ones) or the private areas. The public beaches are free of charge but the private ones can be a bit more fancy.
There is also the possibility to find quieter beach areas – as an example we saw a cool swimming spot just before the port. It wasn’t a regular beach so much as a rocky bay with access to the water. It might be less comfy but certainly is more adventurous! Don’t forget your water shoes, they will be very handy on the French Riviera’s stony shores. When hopping from a beach to another make sure to take a walk along the famous Promenade d’Anglais.
4. Get Crazy at Night
The night in Nice is always young and never short of parties! You have plenty of options to choose from – old town bars, beach bars and pubs, boat parties, dance class nights, port bars, hostels’ pub crawls, fancy nightclubs, and even the beach itself changes into a big open-air party directly after the last sunlight fades into darkness. However, be aware that partying in Nice costs money and the cheapest drink is around 7 euros.
5. Get Some Culture in One of the Musseums
Nice is not just sexy tanned bodies on the beach and hectolitres of vodka at night-time parties! This coastal diamond of the French Riviera is also a cradle of art & culture. Next time you visit tell yourself to swap a rosé afternoon in Nice for more sophisticated entertainment, remember you have over 20 museums to choose from in and around Nice. The most praised ones are the National Museum of Marc Chagall, Museum of Modern and Contemporary art and Museum of Matisse. Yes, your Nice experience can be seriously surrealistic and expressionistic!
6. Walk around the Old Town, Vieux Nice
The heart of Nice is located in the old town – Vieux Nice – which is soaked in fresh food aromas, tiny shops selling fragrant herbs, home-made clothes and luxury goods. Take a break in one of the cafeterias to taste the delicious French croissants with a strong coffee blend, explore the architecture which dates back three centuries, take a few snaps of the pretty Cathedral Sainte Réparate, Palais de Justice, get lost in one of the tiny narrow streets or go to Cours Saleya to buy fresh vegetables or fruits at the market. There are also many fabulous restaurants inside the Old town so treat yourself to some mussels and French ice-cream!
7. Have a Fancy Dinner in Nice
French gastronomy is considered to be one of the best cuisines on Earth! Juicy seafood, rustic meat dishes and the sweetest and the finest pastries can be all found in Nice. Even if you’re on a budget trip, you should sacrifice ‘a few euros’ for at least one proper French dining experience. Treat yourself to several courses, fresh bread and butter, zesty wine and attentive service.
It’s important to preselect the restaurant and if possible to book a table in advance. Believe in TripAdvisor reviews and prices – cheap mussels will really be just cheap mussels. If you get tired of French food – although I find that hard to imagine – there is also an unlimited list of many international dining places. You can choose from Indian, Lebanese, Italian, Spanish, American, Japanese and more. Food in Nice is great and it should really not be missed.
8. Take a Day Trip to Surrounding Places
There are many pretty villages and towns around Nice. Those who fancy a taste of the luxurious lifestyle, love to dream about meeting their future rich wife or husband, or long to see some Hollywood stars, should head west to Cannes or famous Saint Tropez which is also kid friendly – just in case you go for a family getaway.Scenery and nature lovers are advised to travel east and see one of the places built up a hill to take in one of the glamorous views of the French Riviera. You can choose from Villefranche Sur Mer, Èze, Cap d’Ail, La Turbie and many others. If you prefer hanging around lovely beaches check out Jean Cap d’Ferrat, Cap’ Martin or Menton.
In case you fancy visiting a totally different country on your trip, then why not take the train to Monte Carlo? There is also something for the hike lovers whose boots long for more kilometres – the Parc naturel régional des Préalpes d’Azur is a trekker’s dream.
9. Take a Rest in One of the Parks or Gardens
The central area in between the Avenue of Felix Faure, with Avenue de Verdun on the left and Boulevard Jean Jaures to the right is well-known for its expansive park called Promenade du Paillon, offering you lovely shade and water fountains during a hot day.
Miroir d’eau is one of the attractions which grabs most of the attention. It’s basically a shallow pool with fountains which reflects the surroundings so that it creates a mirror effect. Just around the corner you can pop in to the Fontaine du Soleil, and if you descend a bit lower you will find the Albert I Garden. Trust me that this is the perfect place to enjoy one of your Niçoise deserts!
I’m pretty sure you won’t get bored during your Nice stay! It’s a city with many indoorsy and outdoorsy options. The only thing to bear in mind is the fact that you won’t find much privacy in such a diverse and densely populated city. If you are looking for more peaceful places in French Riviera you should travel to one of the smaller villages around the area! Enjoy your French stay and don’t spend all your savings!