Nice is one of those places where you don’t really need a list of things to do, just being there and soaking in the beautiful surrounds is enough. It’s not so much about a list of sights, but experiences that will make your time in Nice special. After spending 5 beautiful weeks here, these were some of our favourite things to do in Nice.
Go To The Markets
When I think of Nice I think of the beautiful markets in the Cours Saleya, known as the Marche Aux Fleurs or Marche Aux Fruits et Legumes. When we first came to Nice a couple of years ago for a short trip, it was at the top of my list of things to do in Nice and also remained one of the most memorable markets I’d been to. This trip, we went to the markets every other morning and it became part of a lifestyle I loved for 5 weeks. Although the markets are pretty touristy, the locals still go too. If you want a more local feel, go earlier rather than later in the day. On Mondays this market is closed and makes way for an Antique Flea Market.
Another market that is less touristy but perhaps less charming is the Marche Aux Fruits et Legumes de la Liberation, another fruit and vegetable market in Nice. Located near the train station, it’s worth a visit if you have a longer stay. It’s also near a fantastic gelato shop, Arlequin Gelati, which is our favourite Gelato in Nice.
Walk Along The Promenade des Anglais
This is my happy place. A little dose of this every day will go a long way. The beautiful promenade des Anglais is a must to walk along, stare out at the ocean from and walk up to the point to watch the spectacular sunset from. Why not grab a velo bleu bike and ride along the promenade, or Chris’s favourite, skateboarding along it in the evenings.
Spend The Day At The Beach
The beach in Nice has the most stunning light blue colour, almost like blue fairy floss. It’s so inviting and refreshing. Along the promenade there are a mix of public and private beaches. We have tried both and loved both. Public beach is great if you want to spend a couple of hours, have a few swims and relax in the sun.
If you want to make a day out of it, the private beaches are great. On our first trip to Nice we went to Hi Beach, although I remember it being pretty expensive, we took our laptops, spent the entire day, relaxed on nice beach chairs, got cover from the sun when we needed it, got some work done on the beach and had food delivered to our chairs.
Another option is walking around past the port to some beautiful beaches, a bit more rocky and secluded, Plage Reserve and Plage Coco. Some of the best things to do in Nice is to simply do nothing at all but laze on the beach.
Walk Up To Castle Hill
If you want a little exercise and amazing views over Nice, then walk up to Castle Hill. You can see a platform from the beach, you can walk up here, but you can also keep going right to the top and get even better views.
Walk To Villefranche-Sur-Mer
You can reach Villefranche-Sur-Mer by train or bus, but we thought we’d try out the coastal walk. It took us about 2 hours, going pretty slowly and stopping along the way. We absolutely loved this walk, a lot of it was along the water or with views of the water, and it was so pretty I couldn’t stop taking photos.
So if you have the time, I’d recommend the walk, if not, it’s definitely worth getting the train/bus there for lunch, a wonder around the town and going to the beautiful sandy beach. This was one of my favourite things to do in Nice.
Day Trip Along The French Riviera
Nice is absolutely amazing itself, but one of the best things to do in Nice is visit it’s surrounds. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you the French Riviera is filled with places worth at the very least a day trip each. The hardest part is choosing between all of them. From the hilltop villages of Eze and Saint Paul de Vence, to the coastal towns of Antibes, Cannes, Saint-Tropez and whole other countries like Monaco and even Italy can be reached within half an hour.
Walk Around The Port
So many beautiful boats at the port, from giant ferries to mega yachts to cute little colourful boats. The Port area has a completely different feel to the rest of Nice too.
Shop At Place Massena/Avenue Jean Medecin
Place Massena is a beautiful open square bordered by parks, gardens and shops. It leads onto Avenue Jean Medecin, one of the main shopping areas in Nice and always has a buzzing energy.
Explore The Old Town
Vieille Ville, otherwise known as the Old Town of Nice, is one of my absolute favourite areas of Nice. Small winding streets, beautiful old buildings, home to the charming markets at the Cours Saleya, and brimming with delicious and cosy restaurants.
Discover The Squares
We already touched on the grand Place Massena, but there are some charming little squares throughout Nice.
Place Garibaldi is one of my favourites, bordering the Old Town of Nice. It’s full of people relaxing in the sun having a drink at one of the many cafes.
Place Rossetti is in the Old Town and is home to cafes, a cathedral and ice cream shops. It’s quite lively and worth a look in the Old Town.
Place Saint-Francois is another square in the Old Town. With a small local fish market most mornings, seagulls lurking overhead and bakeries and butchers surrounding, it has an unpolished charm about it.
Cimiez is a neighbourhood of Nice set atop a hill. It’s home to the beautiful gardens that are Jardin du Monastere de Cimiez, a monastery, some roman ruins and the Matisse museum. The walk to Cimiez took us about 45 minutes from the Old Town.
Nice is home to many museums, some of which include Chagall, Matisse and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. Take your pick!
Try The Local Dishes
Nicoise cuisine includes many speciality dishes like socca, Nicoise salad, gnocchi and fried zucchini flowers. The best socca we had hands down was at Chez Pipo. We had some delicious fried zucchini flowers at La Merenda and if you are able to cook, the gnocchi from Maison Barale is amazing. See where to eat in Nice here.
Have Dinner In The Old Town
What I love about the Old Town of Nice, is that it isn’t just pretty buildings and a place for tourists to come. The Old Town genuinely has some of the best restaurants in Nice. Not only are they delicious, but the atmosphere and setting could not get better.
Cook With Some Of The Beautiful Produce In Your Airbnb Apartment
The first time we came to Nice, we stayed in a nice hotel and loved it. I must admit though, when I went to the beautiful markets, there was so much I wanted to buy and cook with, but being in a hotel, we didn’t really have that option. This time around we stayed in a Airbnb apartment in the Old Town, and every other morning we went to the markets and cooked some delicious food. I even made a lemon curd crepe cake! Our time in Nice was filled with experiences I will never forget and being able to cook with the amazing produce was definitely one of my favourite things to do in Nice.