Nice is the largest city on the French Riviera and it is a fantastic setting for a truly unforgettable holiday. The city is known as a top destination for the international jet set crowd, and with good reason—in Nice, you can easily combine the exciting elements of a city break with the relaxed atmosphere of a beach holiday. Have a great time discovering everything there is to experience in Nice with this Finnair travel guide.
Sights in Nice
The pebble beach that runs all the way from the town centre to the airport invites you to soak up the rays of the warm Mediterranean sun and cool down in the clear ocean. There are several sandy beaches nearby too, such as in Villefranche-sur-Mer and Antibes, which are especially popular with families. The iconic Promenade des Anglais winds along the shoreline, making for a pleasant stroll. Take a break along the walkway in the leafy botanical garden of Parc Phoenix and admire interesting pieces in the Museum of Asian Art. Other top places for art lovers include Musee Matisse, the Musee des Beaux-Arts and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. Stroll around the Old Town for a glimpse into historic Nice, with quaint homes and boutiques set along the maze-like streets and alleys. The whimsical and art-filled Nice Cathedral can be found in the Old Town too. Visitors interested in religious history and architecture shouldn’t miss Monastère de Cimiez. Established in the 800s, the historic gardens are a highlight. There are several options for terrific views of Nice, including from the peak of Mont Boron (where you’ll also find the remains of an old fortress), along the cliff walk from Coco Beach and from the top of Castle Hill, which is also known as Colline du Chateau. Sports fans would enjoy a match at the Allianz Riviera Stadium, the home ground of OGC Nice. At nighttime, the Old Town has many bars and restaurants to suit most moods and preferences.
Things to See and Do Near Nice
- Eze – A small mountain village en route to Monaco, places of interest include a lovely cactus garden, a perfumerie and independent art galleries. Walk down the path to Eze sur Mer for pleasant vistas.
- Monaco – This tiny principality is just 21 km (13 miles) from Nice. Stroll through the medieval streets of Monaco-Ville, admire the luxury yachts in the two ports, marvel at Monaco Cathedral, see the route of the world-famous Grand Prix, visit the grand Prince's Palace, appreciate art at the Marlborough Fine Arts Gallery and experience a thrill at the Grand Casino.
- Grasse – This commune offers varied outdoor activities, such as hiking, horse riding, golf and mountain biking, and the area also has a long perfume-making heritage.
- Antibes – A popular summer playground within easy reach of Nice, Antibes boasts sandy beaches, a delightful Old Town, a bustling port and the Picasso Museum, located where the famous artist once lived.
Shopping in Nice
Nice has a staggering amount of high-end goods and luxury fashions, catering to the wealthier clientele that descend on the city in the summer months. There are also other stores to suit more modest budgets and shopping is a popular activity in this part of the French Riviera.
- Avenue Jean Medecin – The main street for shopping in Nice, where you can find stores selling fashions, music, books, electronics, gifts and almost anything else you can think of.
- Nice Etoiles – A large shopping centre; many famous brands can be found across the mall’s levels.
- Cours Saleya Market – Located in the Old Town, this market sells fresh products and flowers every day, except Mondays. On Mondays, the area is transformed into a large second-hand market where you may find vintage items, antiques and interesting souvenirs among the general brick-a-brack.
- Galeries Lafayette – A prime retail outlet for people seeking a large selection of clothes and accessories.
Food and Drink
- Salade Niçoise – Now found on menus across the world, this local salad is a must-try when in its birthplace. The fresh salad combines hard-boiled egg, tuna, anchovies, green beans, tomatoes and olives.
- Socca – Commonly available from street vendors, this flatbread is made from chickpea flour.
- Seafood – Unsurprisingly, seafood is abundant in Nice. Oysters and sea urchins are particular delicacies that are fairly unique to this part of France.
- Pan Bagnat – This tuna sandwich makes for a quick and tasty lunch on the go.
- Daube Niçoise – A type of thick stew, this filling meal contains braised beef, bacon, tomatoes and a liberal helping of red wine.
- Ratatouille – An ideal local option for vegetarians, this vegetable stew is made using courgette, aubergine, bell peppers and tomato.
- Wine – There are several top-class wineries and vineyards within easy reach of Nice, meaning that wine menus in the city are extensive with numerous options to suit even the most discerning wine connoisseur.
Transport in Nice
Although a large, spread-out city, the great public transport in Nice makes it fairly easy to travel around the area. Rental cars are a popular option for people planning to visit several destinations along the French Riviera, although it is possible to reach most places by bus. Rented cars are not recommended for use within the actual city centre, however, due to a lack of parking spaces and congested roads.
- By foot – Despite the city’s large size, many major tourist attractions are in a fairly concentrated area and easy to travel between on foot. Most sights are within a 20-minute radius of each other, including the Old Town and major shopping areas.
- By bicycle and eBike – Cycling is gaining popularity as a mode of transportation in Nice. The terrain in the city is, however, quite hilly, so cycling is more popular on the outskirts. There are several rental shops around the city.
- Buses - Lignes d'Azur is the main bus network in Nice, operating around 100 routes and serving locals and visitors alike. The inter-urban network of Transport Alpes-Maritimes is perhaps of more use to holidaymakers, though, as it runs between Nice and other cities, towns and villages along the French Riviera. Buses are relatively cheap and you can buy single-ride tickets or blocks of multi-journey tickets. There are limited night services.
- Trams – Primarily used by commuters, Nice’s tram line serves several of the city’s suburbs. While buses often stop operating in the evening, tram services generally run until after midnight.
- Taxis – Taxis in Nice can be quite pricey and you generally need to pre-book a ride or go to the main taxi ranks rather than hailing a vehicle in the street. If the meter is not being used, agree a rate before starting the journey.