Nice: Top 25 of things to see and do for a wonderful stay
This guide presents 25 ideas of visits and things to do to let you discover Nice for a wonderful stay, from the Promenade des Anglais to the castle hill, from the beaches to the museums of international renown and last but not least the local culinary specialties. Your stay will be unforgettable!
This guide is brought to you by Cathy & Rudy, Seasonal rentals in Nice.
The old town (le vieux Nice)
A very good starting place to explore Nice! While strolling the old streets giving way to the Cours Saleya you will see magnificent buildings, quaint litte shops as well as restaurants serving local food.
There is a vegetable and flower market every morning except on Mondays in the Cours Saleya. You can find every ingredient for a picnic of for a travel gift. Close by you will find the opera of Nice in the street Saint-François de Paule.
While you’re at it you can also visit the palace Lascaris, more details below.
The church Saint-Jacques-Le-Majeur in the Jesus street (rue du Jésus!), build by the Jesuits in the 17th century. After the pope Clément XIV threw out the Jesuits the church became parochial in 1801. The church is well illuminated at night, don’t hesitate to come back after sundown.
Don’t forget to visit the place Rossetti, very worthwhile, as well as the cathedral Sainte-Réparate, of the baroque period. The altar is beautiful, be sure to admire the ceiling!
Tasting the ice-cream
You will find tons of ice-cream vendors in old Nice, especially on the beautiful Rossetti place! Such competition pushes establishments to distinguish themselves on perfumes, on the fact of providing homemade cones. You can find yogurt-verbena, coco-ginger, raspberry-rose perfumes …
We prefer Azurro, prices are – a little – more reasonable than the competition (Fenocchio etc.)
Italian ice cream is back in fashion, good tasting!
Castle hill (Colline du château)
The Castle Hill Park is on a hill at the end of the old town. The name comes from the military fort that was there from the 11th to the 18th century. From there you have breathtaking views of the Bay of Angels, the harbor and the hills of Nice.
Among the best areas to see the views you have:
- The top of the hill, a view of the airport and the surrounding hills,
- Near the children’s playground, a view of the harbor and Mont Boron Hill,
- The Bellanda tower, magnificent view of the Bay of Angels,
- Belvedere next to the exit of the elevator,
- The cascade of the castle
You can walk or take the elevator. We advise you to take the stairs at least in one direction, so you could enjoy the splendid view from the Bellanda tower!
There is a terrace and a restaurant on the hill, it is also a great place for picnics!
Warning: the park opens at 8:30 am and closes at 8 pm from April 1st to September 31st and from 8:30 am to 6 pm the rest of the year!
The promenade des Anglais (the walk of the English …)
What would be Nice without its famous Promenade des Anglais? Historically a favorite among the English during the winter, it is now the tourist attraction par excellence! It extends 7 km from the airport to Castle Hill. Hard to believe in looking at it today but this imposing walk was only a modest dirt trail at the beginning of the 19th century!
If you are visiting Nice for the first time we recommend you do at least the part from the old town to the hotel Negresco through the Albert 1st Garden and the Palace of the Mediterranean.
In addition to numerous events (carnival, flower battles, marathon, Iron man, …), the walk is famous for its “blue chairs” and white pergolas, conducive to relaxation and contemplation.
You have the possibility to rent a bike, a scooter or rollers if you want to tackle the entire walk!
The place Masséna and the pedestrian zone
On the beautiful place Masséna, comes evening artists offer performances: mime, dance, music. You can go shopping in the Rue de France or in the luxury shops of Avenue de Verdun.
Next to Place Masséna you can admire the Fountain of the Sun with the imposing statue of Apollo.
You can also relax in the Albert 1er garden or in the garden of the promenade du Paillon. Children love to have fun in the water jets!
Avenue Jean Médecin
From the place Masséna you go up the Avenue Jean Médecin, the shopping street par excellence of Nice, following the tram rails. The Lafayette galleries are on your right. A little further you will see the Nice Etoile shopping center by continuing your way on your right you have the Basilica Notre-Dame de Nice.
Going further up you will find the market of the Liberation, with stalls of vegetables and fresh fish every morning.
Tasting the local food
It is on foot that you will be able to discover all the culinary flavors of the province. Old Nice will satisfy your gastronomic desires and you will have the opportunity to taste up to 20 different regional specialties.
Among the local specialties you will find among others:
- Salade niçoise: a very well-known specialty of Nice, based on tuna, tomatoes, salad, onions, peppers, anchovies, boiled eggs, olives from Nice and finally a vinaigrette based on olive oil, niçoise well sure!
- Pan bagnat (wet bread in nissard): a sandwich version of the Salade niçoise, all in a very typical round bread.
- The pissaladière: a kind of pie with onions and anchovies. Excellent as an aperitif or as an appetizer!
- Little Stuffed vegetables (farcis Niçois), tomatoes, zucchini, onions and aubergines filled with a stuffing.
- The socca: very well known, made from chickpea flour. The best is in old Nice, a good socca should not be dry inside but slightly creamy …
- Panisse: also made of chickpea flour but fried!
- The stew from Nice: beef is excellent with ravioli.
Organized tours usually include a visit to a market, grocery store or grocery store in the area. You will see how locals prepare and serve their food every day. Of course, you can taste it as you go.
It is better not to make this visit with very young children, the mediaeval streets are narrow!
Taking a tour in a taxi bike
Take a taxi bike ride around the city! It is a very pleasant way – without getting tired – to discover Nice and its points of view. Tours are offered including Place Masséna, the Opera House, the Old Town and the Matisse Museum. The circuits last between 30 minutes and 2 hours. They can pick you up at your hotel / apartment and drop you off at the end of the visit.
Have a nice tour!
Go sunbathing / swimming
If you have the chance to visit Nice during the summer season it is highly advisable to spend a half day at the beach. Even in low season the sun is often warm enough to laze on the pebbles. If you are looking for sandy beaches you will be disappointed, it will go to Villefranche or Cannes! Otherwise what more pleasant than to picnic with a view of the big blue!
The parks of Cimiez
Cimiez is residential, you will not find many shops and restaurants. Nevertheless, there is a lot to visit!
- Cimiez Bullring Park
- The arena of Cimiez), at the entrance to the park
- The gardens of the Cimiez Monastery with panoramic views of Nice from the Bay of Angels.
- The archaeological museum of Cimiez with its ruins of the Roman era:
This is the site with the Roman baths of the Roman city called Cemenelum. You will find cloakrooms that men share with women, as well as toilets, swimming pools, hot and cold baths, a market, a cemetery, a cathedral, etc. The piping was very elaborate for the time! You can also walk part of an ancient road, still in good condition after millennia!
Do not forget to visit the amphitheater, gladiator field … The capacity was 5000 spectators
- Henri Matisse Museum located in the park.
- Marc Chagall Museum
To go to Cimiez from the center take bus 15, 17 or 20.
Henri Matisse museum
This museum is devoted to another painter who had chosen to settle on the Côte d’Azur. You will admire paintings, drawings, curtains and vases belonging to Matisse.
The 17th century villa that houses the museum is also worth a look. Henri Matisse stayed near the museum in what was then the Regina Hotel.
The museum is open all week except Tuesdays.
Marc Chagall museum
The Marc Chagall Museum contains a series of 17 biblical paintings containing messages from the books of Genesis and Exodus. You will also find a mosaic and a stained-glass window created by Chagall. It is one of the first museums dedicated to an artist still alive. Chagall participated in the design of the museum. You can go with slightly older children because the museum provides details about the works and the lives of the artists in a relatively small setting. Although the descriptions of the works on the walls are in French, you will discover tablets with descriptions in English. An audio guide is also available in several languages. A film about Chagall’s life alternates between French and English.
The children will not be bored here!
Take bus 15 from the center.
The Russian Orthodox Church
This is the most important Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia!
It deserves it’s place in this guide even if it is located off the beaten track. The contrast between its architecture, Mediterranean vegetation and palm trees is striking.
The church opened in 1912 and was sponsored by Tsar Nicholas II.
Family outing par excellence: The Phoenix Park, an exceptional site at the entrance to Nice with 7 hectares of children’s garden and equipment, with more than 2500 plant species, a unique tropical greenhouse of 7000 square meters on 25 meters of high, a zoological park of great diversity, and space … a lot of space …
Around the central pond of Phoenix Park, home to pelicans, swans, ducks and turtles in freedom, there are twenty or so themed gardens and spaces for discovery and games.
Labeled “Family Plus”, the Phoenix Park is committed to families and children to do everything to ensure a suitable reception and a successful visit. Throughout the year, events for children follow one another during the school holidays. And children can enjoy free access playgrounds available to them: slides, turnstile, games springs, rocking carousels.
The baroque palace Palais Lascaris is interesting on a rainy day (or not …). It is 17th century and can be visited all week except Tuesday. The connoisseurs recommend visiting the noble floor first for its ornaments of the 18th century and for the pharmacy of 1738 (!). You will also find a beautiful collection of musical instruments. The palace is magnificent with splendid frescoes and tapestries.
Modern Art museum (MAMAC)
The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is the ideal place to cool off on hot days during the summer. Open from Tuesday to Sunday, closed on Mondays. You should know that many visitors find the architecture of the building and the views of the interior more interesting than the works on display …
To you to make your opinion. Do not miss the panoramic view of Nice from the roof of the building.
Enjoy the visit.
Little touristic train
You can visit the center of Nice by taking the small tourist train with audio commentary (in French, English, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian, Japanese), departure from the Promenade des Anglais in front of the monument in the garden Albert 1st!
Here is your route: the flower market, Place Masséna, the old town, the Esplanade Front de Mer, the Baie des Anges, the Promenade des Anglais, the Albert 1st garden … Here is a good way to discover the city of Nice!
Anecdote: we do not stop the progress, the little train of Nice became electric! The disadvantage is that due to the lower power of the electric motor it does not go up on the hill of the castle, it will have to walk or take the elevator …
The shopping avenue par excellence is Avenue Jean Médecin, from Place Masséna. You will find all international brands but also Galeries Lafayette, the Nice Etoile shopping center, as well as typical French shops and sidewalk cafés.
The pedestrian zone, the rue de France or the luxury shops of the Avenue de Verdun are particularly conducive to shopping, but here you must have a well-stocked wallet!
In old Nice, Cours Saleya, the market with flowers, fruits and vegetables is a real Mediterranean market, warm and full of life (except Monday, from 6am to 1pm).
Handicrafts and flea markets, Cours Saleya, lovers of old furniture and trinkets, as well as lovers of curiosities will be filled in this market where we find all kinds of objects (Monday)
Handicraft night market, Cours Saleya, ideal for a nocturnal artistic walk or to buy various rare objects (from mid-May to mid-September from 18h to 00h30, except Monday)
Libération: At the edge of the tram, market gardeners are waiting for you in the cool morning. You will find fruits, vegetables, flowers, very beautiful fish and some products of local producers: honey, cheeses …
Find rest in the shade of the Vigier public park
Completely unknown to tourists the Vigier Park, close to the Reserve and the restaurant “Coco Beach” (destroyed by fire in 2017!) Is the perfect place to take a nap or read a guide in the shade of palm trees in the hot hours! The right side of the park is the calmest, the children playing rather in the left part.
Coastal walk from Nice to Villefranche
This magnificent ballad, ignored by tourists, is in two parts and allows you to go from Nice to Villefranche sur Mer, mainly by following the coast.
- We start from Coco Beach, climb up to Cape Nice via a series of stairs through the rocks of the Maeterlinck Palace
- The suite is located on the descent after the Maeterlinck Palace via stairs and allows you to reach the port of Villefranche Darse.
The ballad is not very long, if you want to go to the end you will need between 1:30 and 2:00, depending on your starting point. You can obviously do one of the two parts only. If you want to do only the 2nd part you can take the bus N ° 100 from the port of Nice, then get off at the stop “Hospital Anglais” stop. The starting point of the ballad is upstream at 200m in a big bend.
To return to Nice, take the bus N ° 81 or 100 to Villefranche sur Mer.
Walk from the Promenade des Anglais to Coco Beach
For those who want to discover Nice on foot here is a walk that will make you discover the main attractions of Nice.
The walk starts in the old Nice and Cours Saleya, then continues along the Promenade des Anglais to the venerable Hôtel Negresco, completely restored and the Villa Masséna (which houses the museum Masséna which is worth a look). Retrace your steps of 300m then take the rue du Congrès. Then the first street on your right and you are in the pedestrian zone, the ideal place for shopping or to drink or eat something on one of the many terraces.
At the end of the rue de France you arrive at Place Masséna, with on the other side the fountain of the sun with a statue of Apollo 7 meters high.
Anecdote: “prudes” have already obtained a reduction in the size of the sex of Apollo, it was apparently jealous 😉
Continue along the promenade du Paillon, where is the mirror of water. This takes you directly to Garibaldi Square, recently renovated.
If you are hungry, the old Nice is right next door, you can go to enjoy a socca or a good ice cream from Azurro on the place Rossetti?
After your meal, return to Piazza Garibaldi Square and head towards the port via Cassini Street.
Go around the harbor by the Quai des Deux Emmanuels and take the Boulevard Franck Pilatte to the Reserve. It is here that Brice de Nice has taken up residence 😉. Next you have Vigier Park and Coco Beach.
From Coco Beach, you can go for a walk along the coast, possibly to Villefranche sur Mer. From there, you can return to Nice by bus N ° 100.
At the end of the day if you still have some energy you can visit the castle hill via the stairs or by taking the elevator. Ideal to see the sunset!
Mont Boron and its forest park
Views even more breathtaking than that of Castle Hill. Ideal during sunsets, it offers an exceptional view of the south of the city and the Bay of Angels and beyond!
Many nuns go there for a moment with friends, lovers or family. Ideal to discover the city and unknown to most tourists.
If you still have some energy you can walk up, otherwise you are advised to take the bus. You can also go down Villefranche-Sur-Mer on the other side of the hill. You can always take bus 100 or 81 to return to Nice.
The climb begins with stairs near the public garden Vigier which is located on the other side of the port of Nice. The view surprises you at every turn! It will take you 15 minutes to reach the park.
Fort Mont Boron is not very interesting. Go around the defense walls. However, you have a 180 ° view!
More interesting, you can also visit the Fort of Mont Alban, in very good condition. This massive fort was built between 1557 and 1560. The interior is not visited.
It is better to bring water and a picnic; the place is ideal! Enjoy your meal.
This is the very first jazz festival in the world, in 1948! Yes, it is in Nice, and not in America, that the first jazz festival in the world was born, for the first time in February 1948, at the end of the Carnival. And it was in a place dedicated to “great music” that it took place in part: The Opera! Another establishment, the Municipal Casino, on Place Masséna, now disappeared, lent its Belle Époque decor to this first resounding, many of whose concerts were broadcast live by French radio. It must be said that the greatest were there, starting with Louis Armstrong, the undisputed star of this first edition, alongside other stars: Claude Lutter, Stephane Grappelli, Django Reinhardt. During the closing night at Negresco, the party ended at dawn with a steamy jam after the singing tricks of Suzy Delair and Yves Montand.
Nowadays the festival takes place in the green theater, next to the Albert 1st garden.
The carnival of Nice
It is the largest carnival in France, well known abroad. It takes place for 2 weeks in February. The carnival attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year to attend parades, corsos and flower battles.
Expect celebrations, surprises, colorful costumes, make-up, glitter and gold, floats and parades, flowers, puppets and huge fireworks display to close the festival. On the Côte d’Azur, the Nice Carnival is Europe’s response to the Rio Carnival 😉
Do not miss this opportunity to treat yourself. Remember to book in advance (via internet), tickets are selling like hotcakes!
Published on: 6 August 2019 - Filed under: To visit