Nestled on the French Riviera, Nice is a city that exudes charm and elegance. Known as “Nice the Beautiful,” this city is the second-largest on the Mediterranean coast of France and boasts a rich history that dates back to its founding by the Greeks around 350 BC.
The city’s stunning seafront Promenade des Anglais, named after the English aristocrats who frequented the area in the 18th century, offers breathtaking views of the Baie des Anges. With its mild Mediterranean climate, vibrant arts scene, and unique blend of French and Italian culture, Nice has long been a favorite destination for tourists seeking a taste of the Riviera’s glamour.
In 2021, UNESCO proclaimed Nice a World Heritage Site, recognizing its historical significance as a winter resort town. Whether exploring the old town’s narrow streets, visiting the renowned Marc Chagall and Henri Matisse museums, or simply relaxing on the pebbled beaches, visitors to Nice are sure to be captivated by its timeless beauty.
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Attractions and Things to do in Nice
1. Old Town (Vieux Nice)
Old Town, also known as Vieux Nice, is a charming neighborhood filled with narrow winding streets, vibrant markets, and historic buildings. It’s a great place to explore on foot, offering a glimpse into the city’s rich history and culture.
Travel Tip: Spend some time wandering through the local markets, especially the Marché aux Fleurs Cours Saleya, where you can find fresh flowers, produce, and local delicacies.
2. Promenade des Anglais
The Promenade des Anglais is a stunning seafront walkway that stretches along the coast, offering breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a popular spot for walking, biking, and people-watching.
Travel Tip: Rent a bike or simply take a leisurely stroll along the promenade, and don’t forget to stop at one of the many beachside cafes for a refreshing drink.
3. Castle Hill of Nice
Castle Hill is home to the ruins of an old fortification, cathedral, and other historical buildings. The steep climb to the top offers panoramic views of Nice and the surrounding area.
Travel Tip: Wear comfortable shoes for the hike up to Castle Hill, and be sure to bring a camera to capture the incredible views.
4. Place Massena
Place Massena is a central square in Nice known for its stunning architecture and lively atmosphere. It’s a hub for shopping, dining, and entertainment in the city.
Travel Tip: Visit Place Massena during the evening when the square is beautifully illuminated, and enjoy some local cuisine at one of the nearby restaurants.
5. Marc Chagall National Museum
This museum is dedicated to the works of artist Marc Chagall and houses a large collection of his paintings. It’s a must-visit for art enthusiasts.
Travel Tip: Check the museum’s schedule for temporary exhibitions and guided tours to enhance your experience.
6. Cathedrale Saint-Nicolas a Nice
The Cathedrale Saint-Nicolas is an exotic and colorful cathedral that houses many historical and religious objects. Its unique architecture and interior design make it a fascinating place to visit.
Travel Tip: Take a guided tour if available to learn more about the history and significance of the cathedral’s artifacts.
7. Musée Massena
Musée Massena tells the history of Nice through paintings, sculptures, and furnishings from the late 18th century onward. It’s a great place to learn about the local history and culture.
Travel Tip: Allow enough time to explore the museum’s extensive collection, and consider joining a guided tour for a more in-depth understanding.
8. Phoenix Parc Floral de Nice
This beautiful garden is home to a wide variety of plants and an Asian museum displaying artifacts from various Asian countries. It’s a peaceful place to enjoy nature and art.
Travel Tip: Visit during the spring or summer when the gardens are in full bloom for the most picturesque experience.
Unique Activities in Nice
1. Perfume Making Workshop
Dive into the world of fragrances with a perfume-making workshop in Nice. Learn the art of blending scents, create your own signature fragrance, and take home a unique souvenir from your trip.
Day Trips from Nice
A mere 20-minute train ride from Nice, the glamorous principality of Monaco offers upscale casinos, the iconic Prince’s Palace, and the Monte Carlo harbor. Wander the narrow streets, and soak in the luxury that this small country exudes.
Travel Tip: Opt for the train over driving as parking can be a challenge in Monaco, and the train ride along the coast offers stunning views.
Renowned for its annual film festival, Cannes also boasts beautiful beaches, La Croisette Boulevard, and a vibrant nightlife. Visit the old town, Le Suquet, for a panoramic view of the city.
Travel Tip: Take the train to Cannes; it’s efficient and lets you avoid potential traffic snarls, especially during peak tourist seasons.
Perched high on a cliff, this medieval village offers breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea. Explore its botanical gardens and the remains of its 12th-century castle, then visit the renowned Fragonard perfume factory nearby.
Travel Tip: Wear comfortable walking shoes as Eze’s charming streets are steep and cobbled, making it a unique but challenging exploration on foot.
Where to stay in Nice
Nice, a stunning city on the French Riviera, offers a wide array of accommodation options to suit every traveler’s needs. With over 3270 hotels, the city is known for its luxurious beachfront properties, budget-friendly options, and everything in between. Whether you’re looking for a lavish stay or a cozy family-friendly hotel, Nice has something to offer. The city’s hotels are often adorned with modern amenities and are located close to major attractions, providing convenience and comfort to visitors.
1. Best Reviewed Hotel
Hôtel Apollinaire Nice (★★★★)
- Description: Located in Nice city center, this 4-star hotel offers free WiFi access and a 24-hour front desk.
- Price: €324 per night
- Rating: 9.0 (Superb)
2. Most Luxurious Hotel
Radisson Blu Hotel Nice (★★★★)
- Description: Situated on the Promenade des Anglais, this 4-star hotel features a private beach and a rooftop swimming pool with panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea.
- Price: €397 per night
- Rating: 7.9 (Good)
3. Budget Hotel
Premiere Classe Nice – Promenade des Anglais (★)
- Description: A budget-friendly 1-star hotel opposite the Mediterranean Sea on the Promenade des Anglais.
- Price: €89 per night
- Rating: 5.4 (Average)
4. Hotel for Family
Best Western Plus Hôtel Massena Nice (★★★★)
- Description: A 4-star design hotel in the heart of Nice, just 200 meters from the beach, offering air-conditioned rooms equipped with a flat-screen TV and free WiFi access.
- Price: €264 per night
- Rating: 8.2 (Very good)
5. Hotel for Couples
Hôtel Byakko Nice (★★★)
- Description: Located in the center of Nice, this 3-star hotel is a 5-minute walk from the SNCF station and within walking distance of the Promenade des Anglais, the beach, and the Old Town.
- Price: €204 per night
- Rating: 8.3 (Very good)
6. Hotel for Solo Travelers
Campanile Nice Aéroport (★★★)
- Description: A 3-star hotel located on the Promenade des Anglais, opposite Nice-Cote d’Azur Airport, offering rooms with free Wi-Fi access.
- Price: €113 per night
- Rating: 7.5 (Good)
Did you know? Facts about Nice
- Nice is nicknamed “Nice la Belle,” meaning ‘Nice the Beautiful,’ and is the second-largest French city on the Mediterranean coast.
- The area of today’s Nice contains Terra Amata, an archaeological site displaying evidence of a very early use of fire 380,000 years ago.
- The Promenade des Anglais, a famous promenade along the Baie des Anges, was conceived by wealthy English tourists in the 18th century and became a symbol of the city.
- The city has attracted notable painters like Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, and Niki de Saint Phalle, whose works are commemorated in museums like Musée Marc Chagall and Musée Matisse.
- Nice’s appeal extended to the Russian upper classes, and the city has connections to Russian history, including the Russian Orthodox Cemetery where several notable figures are buried.
- UNESCO proclaimed Nice a World Heritage Site in 2021 as “Nice, Winter Resort Town of the Riviera.”
- The city has the second-largest hotel capacity in France and is the second most visited metropolis in Metropolitan France, receiving 4 million tourists every year.
- Nice’s airport serves as a gateway to the region and is the third busiest airport in France.
- The clear air and soft light of Nice have attracted international writers, including Friedrich Nietzsche, who wrote “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” in the city.
- In 1900, the Tramway de Nice electrified its horse-drawn streetcars and spread its network to the entire département, connecting the city to nearby areas like Menton and Cagnes-sur-Mer.
FAQ about Nice
What is the Significance of the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France?
The Promenade des Anglais is a famous promenade along the Baie des Anges in Nice. It was initially conceived by the English aristocracy in the 18th century and has since become a symbol of the city, attracting tourists from around the world.
How Can I Explore the Artistic Heritage of Nice, France?
Nice has been a source of inspiration for renowned painters like Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, and others. You can explore their works at museums such as Musée Marc Chagall, Musée Matisse, and Musée des Beaux-Arts.
What Historical Sites Can I Visit in Nice, France?
Nice is rich in history, with sites like the Terra Amata archaeological site, the ruins of Cemenelum in Cimiez, and the medieval city walls. The city’s history spans from ancient Greek settlements to modern times.
How Can I Experience the Cultural Diversity of Nice, France?
Nice’s cultural heritage is influenced by Italian, French, and other European traditions. You can experience this diversity through local cuisine, architecture, and events. UNESCO proclaimed Nice a World Heritage Site in 2021 as a “Winter Resort Town of the Riviera.”
What Transportation Options Are Available in Nice, France?
Nice offers various transportation options, including a tramway network that spreads across the entire département from Menton to Cagnes-sur-Mer. The city also has the third busiest airport in France, serving as a gateway to the region.
What Are the Key Events in Nice’s History That Shaped the City?
Nice’s history is marked by significant events like the Siege of Nice in 1543, annexation to France in 1860, and liberation during World War II. These events have shaped the city’s cultural and political landscape.
How Can I Enjoy the Natural Environment of Nice, France?
Nice’s mild Mediterranean climate and beautiful coastal location offer opportunities for beach activities, hiking in the French Alps, and enjoying the soft light that has appealed to many artists.
What Safety Measures Should I Be Aware of While Visiting Nice, France?
While Nice is generally a safe destination, it’s essential to be aware of general safety guidelines. Notable incidents like the 2016 truck attack on the Promenade des Anglais remind travelers to stay vigilant and follow local authorities’ instructions.