Nice can be considered the capital of the French Riviera, a city that is always on the move, always partying, and that will amaze you with its trendy clubs, picturesque bistros and crowded restaurants.
Nice has always stood out for its festive atmosphere, artistic panorama and multiculturalism, values that have always underpinned its thousand-year history. Despite the tragic attack in Nice in 2018, the city has returned to shine brighter than before, holding true to its multi-ethnic vocation.
The city is crowded at any time of the year: it may be the retro charm of the old town, the elegant belle époque architecture, the languid life around the port, the many art museums or the wonderful walks along the sea, but Nice is a city to discover in every season.
The city of Nice boasts many attractions, museums, churches and galleries to visit. If you plan to stay a few days, you might consider purchasing the French Riviera Pass: this is a 24, 48 or 72-hour card that allows free entry to the main tourist sites and activities, not only in Nice but also on the French Riviera.
The old town is an enchanting postcard-perfect sight, a maze of pastel-coloured alleyways teeming with small shops and vendors. The resemblance to Genoa is striking and you will immediately feel at home.
You will feel as if you were stepping back in time to the 18th century: the old palaces and Baroque churches such as the Cathedral of Saint Reparata, the old Jewish ghetto in rue Bénoit Bunico, the palace of the prefecture, home of the Princes of Savoy, and Cours Saleya, one of the liveliest and most colourful squares in Nice.
In the heart of the old town, the shops overflow with typical products and the numerous markets will enchant you with their inviting aromas of olives, fragrant bread and essence sellers.
Our advice? Let yourself be guided by the glimpses and ‘get lost’ in the labyrinth of alleyways to discover the many corners to photograph.
The Promenade des Anglais is the most famous promenade on the Côte d’Azur, a magnificent seafront promenade surrounded by a beautiful urban setting, full of beautiful period buildings, arcades and small squares overlooking the bay.
Its seven kilometres are a favourite destination for runners and rollers, who come in search of a place of peace and serenity to keep fit. But above all, it is a favourite spot for the inhabitants of Nice and tourists, who run along it to enjoy the magnificent panorama, to sit under pergolas and admire the expanse of the blue sea.
Don’t forget to admire the Promenade des Anglais at dusk, when it lights up with beautiful sunsets.
Surrounded by beautiful pastel-coloured arcaded buildings, Place Massena is one of Nice’s focal points. At the centre of the square is the statue of Apollo in the Fountain of the Sun, reflected in the characteristic chequered pavement.
Here you will find the largest concentration of shops for shopping, as well as many cafés and restaurants under the arcades, ideal for a relaxing break. At night, the square lights up to create a magical atmosphere, thanks in part to a recent installation entitled‘Conversation in Nice‘: statues by Jaume Plensa, representing the continents illuminated in bright colours.
From the square starts the Promenade du Paillon, an immense 12-hectare park that begins at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and ends at the Promenade des Anglais. The garden has become a meeting place for families and the citizens of Nice thanks to the presence of games, spaces dedicated to culture and art, as well as being the setting for many events.
The Matisse Museum, one of the most visited in the city, is located in the Cimiez district, inside the Ville des Arènes, a magnificent residential building from the second half of the 17th century.
The famous exponent of Fauvism moved to Nice in 1917 due to health problems but was enchanted by the colours, the views and above all the light of the French Riviera, which became an endless source of inspiration for him, as well as his definitive residence until his death in 1954.
The museum dedicated to Matisse has created a tour that follows his artistic evolution through more than 236 drawings and around 70 sculptures, together with photographs and significant objects that belonged to the artist. A journey through Matisse’s life covering all his artistic production and cultural influences.
The Marc Chagall Museum is by far the jewel in the crown of Nice’s cultural scene: it is the largest collection of works devoted to the Belarusian artist.
In fact, it is a monothematic museum, strongly desired by Chagall, to bring together in one place all the works centred on the Bible, 17 canvases that make up the Biblical Message, as well as 400 paintings, drawings, sketches, pastel and tempera works. This is an immense and exhaustive collection of Chagall’s artistic vocation and of his turbulent life divided between the United States, Europe and Palestine.
The Nice Archaeological Museum is located in the Cimiez district and narrates the splendour and economic and cultural development of ancient Cemenelum, the Roman capital of the Alpes-Maritimes founded by Augustus in 14 BC.
The museum boasts a large and fabulous collection of tools, jewellery, grave goods and everyday objects from the Roman period. Along with a visit to the museum, you can also admire the Roman amphitheatre and thermal baths, arenas and cobbled streets, wonderful vestiges of the Roman Empire.
The Old Town of Nice holds hidden gems, historical palaces of incredible beauty. The most prestigious is certainly the Palais Lascaris, a marvellous example of Baroque civil architecture.
After extensive restoration in the 1970s, it is now home to the Museum of 17th- and 18th-century art and music, as well as being included in the prestigious list of France’s museums and historical monuments. Its sumptuous rooms will take you on a journey back in time to the old aristocratic Nice.
Nice flourished above all during the Belle Epoque period, when artists, nobles and intellectuals took refuge in this corner of the Côte d’Azur to lounge, create, paint or simply enjoy the views of this wonderful city. The Promenade des Anglais is the symbolic place of this golden age: it is a succession of luxury hotels, elegant villas and refined boutiques.
Villa Massena, built between 1898 and 1901 by the Danish architect Hans Georg Tersling, reflects all the opulence of the nobility linked to Napoleon. Today, after a long restoration process, it can be visited, along with its magnificent gardens, designed by landscape architect Edouard Andrè.
This curious, colourful church, in the style of St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, was built in 1912 for the many Russian nobles who escaped the harsh Russian winters to winter in the mild temperatures of the French Riviera.
Today, it is one of the most visited monuments in the city, as well as being the largest Orthodox church in Europe outside the borders of Russia. If its interior is particularly interesting to visit, the colours and shapes of the façade and towers impress tourists with their originality.
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article
Nice is not only a city to visit, but above all a city to experience: browse in its shops, taste the specialities of the local cuisine, stroll through its alleys and take relaxing breaks in its wonderful cafés.
This is the largest carnival in France, as well as one of the most famous and oldest in Europe. In fact, since 1873, in February and for a fortnight, the city comes alive with the Carnival of Nice: a gigantic street party with huge, colourful floats, glittering costumes, a parade enlivened by more than 60 dancers, acrobats and circus performers.
During the parade, the bataille de fleurs, the battle of the flowers, takes place, during which hundreds of fresh buds are thrown from the top of the floats, followed by the symbolic burning of the carnival king and the spectacular fireworks that close the festivities.
Don’t miss this joyful atmosphere that attracts thousands of people from all over the world.
For the best view of Nice, climb the Castle Hill. From here you can take in the whole city and the long Promenade des Anglais.
Whether you decide to tackle the long flight of steps or take the lift up, once at the top you will be enchanted by the colour of the sea and the view. A beautiful natural park awaits you, a maze of paths surrounded by greenery with panoramic walks over the different parts of the city, a scenic waterfall and areas equipped for families: the ideal place to escape the chaotic noise of Nice and admire beautiful sunsets.
Another exceptional vantage point is the summit of Mont Boron, a dense Mediterranean forest just outside the centre and accessible by bus n°14.
From the Fort du Mont Boron, one of the city’s main defensive garrisons, you can embrace the whole of Nice at a glance and the Baie des Anges and Baie de Villefranche on the other.
In the heart of the old town, Cours Saleya is where you will find the best markets in Nice. Don’t miss the Marché aux Fleurs, a real riot of bright colours and heady scents: it takes place every day from 06.30 to 17.30, except Mondays and public holidays. Get your camera ready!
Also in the same square is the Marchè aux fruits et lègumes, declared one of the most picturesque markets in France. Here you can sample all the delicacies of the city and region: olives, cheeses, breads, cold meats and fish. You will also find excellent local products such as soaps and intoxicating essences to take home as souvenirs.
If, on the other hand, you love brocantage and antiques, your day is Monday, also in this square. You can browse among the stalls of antique, curious or simply vintage objects, looking for some bargains not to be missed.
Nice cuisine is exquisitely Mediterranean and offers flavours and dishes very similar to the Ligurian tradition, such as Socca, the Niçoise version of the chickpea farinata served in Liguria.
We also recommend you try the Pissaladière, a kind of rustic cake with anchovies and onions. Or the Pan Bagnat: this is nothing more than a niçoise salad in an extra-large sandwich version: tuna or anchovies, raw vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, niçoise olives, all encased in soft, fragrant bread.
For all oyster aficionados, there is only one place to go in Nice: Café Turin, which for over 100 years has been offering its customers the famous Roumégous Oysters, which come from the Marennes-Oléron basin. This historic brasserie is a true institution in the field of oyster-culture.
How to accompany the oysters? Obviously a pastis de Nice, an aniseed-scented alcoholic aperitif typical of the Côte d’Azur and Provence.
The city of Nice is an ideal destination to discover with children: sunny, colourful, with lots of pedestrian areas, plenty of parks but above all beaches.
From the Promenade des Anglais, the colourful markets and the castle hill, your children will find nooks and crannies where they can have fun and play.
This large park in the heart of Nice is a must-see for those travelling with children: the 12 hectares of greenery are the result of a long process of urban redevelopment that has transformed this area into a public space designed especially for families.
In fact, the play area is truly impressive, dedicated entirely to the sea: children can climb and slide on huge dolphins and wooden turtles, play pirates with a large vessel, conquer the tree house and hide in the skeleton of a whale. A marine world of bizarre creatures such as manta rays, groupers and giant octopuses.
And to top it all off, on hot summer days, children won’t be able to resist the 128 jets of the large pool along the promenade.
A must-see for nature-loving children is Parc Phoenix, a seven-hectare zoo and botanical park with 20 gardens, 2500 plant species, a lake designed by Japanese architect Kenzo Tangé and many spaces where you can see flamingos, ducks, pelicans, black swans, caimans, exotic birds and iguanas up close.
But the highlight is definitely the Diamante Verde (Green Diamond), one of the largest greenhouses in Europe that will take you on a discovery tour of 6 different tropical climates: your children will be amazed.
If, on the other hand, you really want to make your children happy and spoil them a little, then you really must go to the Florian Confectionery and Chocolate where, since 1921, candies, sweets and chocolate have been produced from exclusively local ingredients.
You will be enchanted by the heady fragrances, the bright colours and the opportunity to taste real delicacies including the house speciality, the delicious candied and sugar-coated orange and lemon peels or chocolate.
Nice Airport is located just 7 km from the city centre and is a very convenient way to reach this enchanting Côte d’Azur destination. From here, you can rent a car to discover all the places in the region.
If you prefer to travel by train, the SNCF provides 20 daily connections from major French cities and 11 regular connections from abroad to Nice. The TGV (high-speed train) also arrives in Nice and connects it with Paris in 5 hours and 30 minutes. There is also a car-train service, which operates between the main French cities: vehicles are transported on special car trains while their owners take the train of their choice in parallel: TGV, Corail, Night Train (with or without couchettes).
Moving by train within the region, we recommend TER2N trains: these are double-decker trains with very fast journey times: you will arrive in Cannes in 26 minutes, in Monaco in 25 minutes, in Antibes in 17 minutes.
The following are the most popular tickets and tours in Nice that we recommend you don't miss.
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Nice is the beating heart of the Côte d'Azur, just 33 km from the Italian border.