Planning to visit the south of France? Nice (pronounced “Neese” in French) is usually the first destination as it is the biggest city on the Cote d’Azur, and it’s where the airport is located.
Located between turquoise sea and snow-capped mountains, Nice was the first European city I lived in, hence it is close to my heart. I am excited to share with you some great activities to do, and I hope you enjoy your stay!
WHAT TO DO?
Go for a walk on La Promenade des Anglais
This is the famous beach strip and boardwalk of Nice. It is a lovely stroll to go out for a walk, jog, skating or simply go people- watching. I especially like bike-riding down the entire 7km boardwalk. There are stations for city bike rentals all along the promenade. Pick one up at one end and drop it off at the other, or keep it for the day. A 24 hour rental is only €1,50 (≈$1.63)!
Visit the market
Located in Cours Saleya in the old town (le vieux Nice), there is a fragrant and colorful flower market called ‘Le Marché des Fleurs.’ It is open from 6am to 1pm every day. In the summer months they also have the ‘Marché d’Artisanat Festival Nocturne.’ The market is open at night and sells local handcrafted items. On Monday mornings, the Cours Saleya becomes a big open-air flea market!
It’s also the ideal place to have a glass of Rose or a delicious meal at one of the many terrace restaurants and cafes.
Discover the Old Town (Vieux Nice)
In addition to the markets, the old town – with its shady alleyways, colorful facades and typical Mediterranean shutters – is a walking tourist’s dream. Glaciers, crêperies and cafes all flow onto the squares, which are often lively until the early hours with talented street performers and laughing kids.
Hike to the Castle Hill
Castle Hill Park (le parc de la Colline du Château) is located on the hill overlooking Nice’s old town. It is a lovely stroll and it is totally worth the long stair climb to see the expansive views of the sea and the city. It’s also a view you’ve probably seen on Instagram or in travel books because it’s the most famous picture spot. **Hint – you can also cheat and take the elevator up 😉 But I recommend you take the stairs at least one way so you pass by the Bellanda Tower.
GO TO THE BEACH
Nice’s beach looks glamorous in photos, but with its big pebbles in lieu of sand, it’s not the most comfortable beach in the world! If you want a truly glamorous beach like you imagined in the south of France, I recommend you go to Villefranche sur Mer, Saint Jean Cap Ferrat, or, my favorite, Plage Mala in Cap D’ail.
If you’re a water sports lover, Le Castel Beach in Nice has many fun activities, including parasailing, SUP and tubing.
I like to describe Nice as a big outdoor shopping mall. It has two main roads full of shops. There is the Avenue Jean Medecin, which is the main shopping street – a sort of Champs-Élysées but with more sunshine! That’s where you’ll find the big brands like Zara, H&M, etc as well as an indoor shopping mall called Nice Etoile. Then there is Rue Massena, which is in the prestigious Carré d’Or of Nice. It’s a beautiful street full of shops, bars and restaurants. For those with an eye for luxury, the high end brands like LV and Chanel are on Rue Paradis – perpendicular to Rue Massena.
WHAT TO EAT
Eat a Gelato
One of my favorite things to do in Nice is to go eat ice cream! In the old town there are two famous gelaterias Fenocchio and Gelateria Azzurro, which are known for their weird flavours like avocado, fish, rose, lavender, etc, but they also have some super yummy flavours like baileys, pistachio, stracciatella and more!
*Note that they do not let you sample flavours, so if you go for a weird flavour, you’re all in!
Try Local Food
The “cuisine niçoise” is the pride of the niçois (inhabitants of Nice)
Obviously you can finally enjoy an authentic Salade Nicoise, a classic salad with tuna, tomatoes, vegetables, anchovies, hard boiled eggs in a local vinaigrette. Some other local specialties:
- Socca: this dish is made from chickpea flour and is one of the most famous dishes in Nice. Best place to try it is Chez Pippo.
- Pan Bagnat: a sandwich version of the niçoise salad.
- Others to try: panisse, farcis niçois, daube niçoise (beef stew), pissaladière
Eat a Kebab
I have some fond memories of eating Kebabs in Nice. They are economical and delicious! Specially after partying!
Some of the top restaurants in Nice include:
La Petite Maison – a typical Mediterranean restaurant located in the heart of the city.
Cafe de Turin – a favorite for seafood lovers! It has the ambiance of a brasserie combined with the freshest seafood. A great place to eat oysters and enjoy their ‘panaches’ which are menus that have a little bit of everything!
My absolute favorite (secret spot) is Le Plongeoir restaurant. It has breathtaking views and is the perfect place for a romantic sunset dinner. I celebrated my 30th birthday there, and it was an unforgettable experience.
We also enjoy going to Nice for authentic Mexican food (which you don’t find in Monaco). We like La Lupita, which has great Happy Hour Margarita offers! Another great place for Mexican is 100% Tacos, which is more of a street food for pick up type of place.
Nice has some lovely rooftop bars perfect for enjoying the sun and the views.
Le Meridien Hotel Rooftop Bar
Soaring above the Niçois skyline, it commands dazzling, widescreen views from the 10th floor.
Located halfway down the promenade, the view from La Terrasse is beyond comparison. This is a must-visit if you are here for the July 14 Bastille Day celebrations or one of the many firework shows on the beach.
We sometimes go to Nice just for the pub crawling. The typical ‘yachtie’ place to go is Ma-nolans – they have one pub in the old town of Nice and one in the port. Both are lively English pubs where you can get a beer and some typical pub fare, like fish and chips or burgers.
The best way to explore Nice is by foot – it’s easy to walk everywhere. There is also a brand new tramway that comes by every few minutes and is easy to hop on and off. Don’t forget to “composter” (stamp) your ticket or you may a get a fine!
If you really have to take a car somewhere, Uber is available, but you may have to wait a long time as there aren’t too many. Similar to Uber, but less expensive, is Heetch. You can download the app and use it just like you would Uber.
A fun way to explore the area is by using NiceCar. I would totally recommend you use it to drive up to Eze village for lunch!
If you want to go from Nice to Monaco, there is a low-cost concept called Solar Boat Cruises. Up to 6 people can cruise around for 1 hour as a great way to explore the coast! And it’s silent, so there’s no engine disrupting the sounds of nature!
For yacht charter experiences, contact me directly, and I’ll make sure to guide you to your next unforgettable experience!
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel La Perouse is a secret gem. It is perfectly located and gives you the ideal Mediterranean vibe!
This is THE MOST FAMOUS hotel in the South of France. It is the icon that symbolizes the French Riviera. It was built over 100 years ago and has a lot of history, including a collection of artwork and furniture from the 17th century.
Although I would personally not recommend staying there, I think is a great place to visit for the art gallery and to grab a coffee on the terrace.
There are also great city apartments that you can find on Airbnb. Make sure you choose the right location, preferably by the sea or by the shopping streets mentioned above – good areas are Massena, the port, the old town (vieux Nice) and the Promenade des Anglais. There are also some bad areas in Nice that are not safe so do some due diligence before booking!
VISIT SOME CUTE TOWNS AROUND NICE
From Nice you can either take the train, car or even go by boat to visit the charming and picturesque towns in the surrounding area, such as:
- Villefranche-sur-Mer: In my opinion the most beautiful views between Nice and Monaco are here. This is also a great place to grab lunch by the water or take a stroll through the The Villefranche Old Town, the darse (its port) and most importantly, the St. Elmo Citadel (Citadelle Saint-Elme)
- Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat: The peninsula of billionaires, where you find the most expensive real estate in France (or perhaps even Europe!) I love going ‘window shopping’ for luxury villas. There is also the famous Ephrussi de Rothschild villa, which you can visit and take gorgeous photos of the royal gardens. One of my favorite paths to go for a walk in the world is the the coastal walk tour of Cap Ferrat, which starts at Passable Beach. You can also swim in one of the pretty little coves along the way!
- Eze village: This small village perched above the sea is one of the most beautiful medieval villages in all of France.
- Menton: A small town on the Italian border, known for its lemon festival and sunshine. The old town of Menton is full of vibrant colors and a great place to buy Limoncello – made from the famous lemons of Menton!
- Antibes: With one of the largest luxury yacht ports and full of renowned restaurants, the old town of Antibes is also worth a visit. Another thing to do in Antibes: the Cap d’Antibes tour with its magnificent luxury villas is a beautiful place to go jogging!
- Cannes: The city where the famous film festival takes place every year! You can take a boat out to the islands off the coast of the city, including the famous Ile Sainte-Marguerite, where the famous Man in the Iron Mask was imprisoned. Great city for shopping too!
- The Principality of Monaco: Monaco, famous for the Casino de Monte Carlo and its glamourous lifestyle! Check out my MONACO TRAVEL GUIDE HERE
- Beautiful villages to visit around Nice: Peille, Saint Agnès (highest perched village on the coast), Coaraze and its sundials, and the ruins of Châteauneuf-Villevieille.