Discover all of the most exciting things to do in Nice France for your upcoming vacation!
Nice, the 5th most populated city in France, lies along the Mediterranean Coast. You’ve more than likely heard of it, or maybe seen pictures. It's one of the top tourist destinations in the entire country. A gorgeous city, it has a cosmopolitan vibe as well as plenty of beaches and sun.If you want to make the most of a vacation, regardless of the destination, investing the majority of your time into the most exciting and enriching things to do is the answer. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the 19 things to do in Nice France.
1. Indulge in the Local Delicacies
Indulging in the unique delicacies that one can only find while visiting certain regions is one of the pluses of a great vacation. In Nice, the food is to die for. One of the most well-known dishes is what the locals call bouillabaisse. A Mediterranean fish stew recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation. If you are a salad lover, you will want to have one with every meal. Nice is also home to some of the tastiest candied calissons in all of the world, in case you have a sweet-tooth. Seafood is of course also easily found in this coastal town. There is definitely no shortage of food stands and restaurants in the area, so don’t be afraid to wander around and try something new!
2. Hit Nice’s Best Beach Bars
As with any coastal vacation, spending some quality time at the best beaches is mandatory. That said, while Nice has a beautiful coast indeed, it is far from the bahamas. There are large stretches of sand, however, most of the shore is littered with fine pebbles. An impressive area of scenic beaches lie off of the Promenade des Anglais. Bars, restaurants, boardwalks, and sun umbrellas stretch along the water for a couple of miles. Many of the beach bars and other establishments located directly on the coast are seasonal, some are even private.
3. Have Dinner at a Fine Dining Restaurant
Credit: Le Bistro Gourmand / Facebook
For couples, fine dining is one of the things to do in Nice France that you absolutely do not want to miss out on. As a major contributor to the French cuisine, the city has quite the array of tasty dishes to offer. One classic dish from the region is Ratatouille, vegetable stew with aubergine, courgettes, peppers, and tomato. Additional signature fine dining selections include fougasse bread, Salade Nicoise, onion tarts, local wine and much more. Les Sens, Le Sojur Cafe, and Le Bistro Gourmand are a few of the most highly rated fine dining spots in Nice.
4. Explore Parks in the City
One of the most relaxing things to do in Nice France is to explore the city’s parks. One the east side of the city, you will find the Parc de la Colline du Château, with its panoramic views of the French Riviera. This is an excellent spot as any to capture some photography. Another great park worth visiting while in Nice is the Parc Phoenix. The seven hectare park sprawls out over the western side of Promenade des Anglais. The park has a small entrance fee, although children get in for free, Themed zoo areas are peppered around the park, including over 2,500 species of plants, several gardens, and one of largest modern greenhouses.
5. Enjoy the City’s Beaches
The beaches of Nice are undoubtedly gorgeous. However, they may not be just quite everyone’s cup of tea as far as for strolling or sunbathing. Many of the private locations have cleared away sections of pebbles and replaced them with sand and sun lounging equipment. The ocean is great for swimming, through it is not the safest for small children as it normally has a pretty strong current. The shelves along the beach are a bit steep as well. An alternative to walking down more suitable beaches for swimming is talking a timely stroll down the Promenade des Anglais. The city’s grand walkway spans the perimeter if Nice for nearly four miles and is dotted with hundred-year-old palaces.
6. Discover Art and History Museums
For those interested in fine art, as well as the more historical side of Nice, spending a day discovering the many art and history museums the city has to offer is perhaps one of the most pleasing things to do in Nice France. Near the center of town is the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, featuring over 1,300 pieces of art from over 300 artists. The Marc Chagall Museum is another must-see. Decorated with mosaics and stained glass windows, the museum contains nearly 500 pieces from Chagall including his most popular masterpiece collection based on Genesis and Exodus. Other noteworthy of Nice’s museums is the Museum of Asian Art.
7. Allianz Riviera Stadium
Credit: Allianz Riviera Stadium / Facebook
Aside from the cuisine, beaches, and the attractions along the French Riviera in general, the Allianz Riviera Stadium is an excellent way to spend a few hours. From may until August, the stadium is open to football fans. The facility is large enough to house 35,000 people and is home to the OGC Nice club. If sports is your things, you definitely want to catch a game at Allianz Riviera Stadium if you have the chance.
8. Visit the Cathedrals, Churches, and Chapels
Taking the time to visit the vast number of religious locations in the area is one of the most rewarding things to do in Nice France for those who are religious. Cathedrals, Churches, and Chapels lie from one end of the city to the other, dating back as far as several hundred years. Among the most frequently visited holy haunts of Nice are the Art Deco domed Church of Sainte-Jeanne d'Arc, the classic Baroque Saint-Michel Church, and the biggest Catholic church in all of Nice, Notre-Dame.
9. Coastal Hiking Along the French Riviera
Credit: Paul Rysz
Nature lovers will enjoy an afternoon of hiking along the coast of the French Riviera. Many routes are available, however, perhaps the most scenic is the trail from Coco Beach past Mont Boron and around the seaside to the nearest village and back. If you want to make a long day of it, pack a lunch for a seaside picnic and some swimming, and then end the evening by grabbing some bites and drinks at a local restaurant or pub.
10. Visit the Many Monasteries
A city steeped in rich religious architecture, Nice is home to several old Monasteries dating back all the way to the 9th century. The most prominent of Nice’s monasteries sets on the Boulevard de Cimiez, the Franciscan Monastery and Church. The monastery was established over 1,200 years ago by the Benedictines. Several centuries later, the grounds underwent massive renovations during the gothic era of the 14th and 15th centuries. This particular monastery also happens to be home of the oldest (in use since the 1550’s) and most impressive gardens in Nice.
11. Roam the Streets of Old Town
Credit: Matt Kieffer
The Old Town neighborhood in Nice is the oldest historically protected area of the city. The cobblestone streets and open squares originate from the 1600’s. It is home to several iconic landmarks including Castle Hill and the Baroque Cathedral of Saint Reparata. The area is packed with souvenir shops, specialty shops dating back centuries, ice cream stands, bars, and scores of places to grab a bite to eat and an open-air market. One tourist favorite is the street-food known as Socca, something between a pancake and flatbread consisting of chickpea flour. You can find Socca from several vendors in the city’s Old Town.
12. Check out the Cours Saleya Market
For those who enjoy authentic open-air markets, the Cours Saleya Market is a one of a kind. In fact, you may have seen it in the classic film “To Catch a Thief,” directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The famous market is open from sunrise (around 6 a.m.) until the early afternoon (around 1:30 p.m.) every day. On Mondays specifically, the market transforms into an antique bazaar for the day. Everything from pastries, vegetables, and cheese to fish, flowers, and jewelry are available at Cours Saleya Market.
13. Adventure in Castle Hill and Cimiez
For those searching for the most picturesque view of the Mediterranean sea, adventuring to Castle Hill and Cimiez are a couple of the best things to do in Nice France. The areas date way back to the late BC era and the Roman city of Cemenelum. It is in these parts of the city that you will be likely to run into Franciscans friars. These areas of Nice is littered with gardens, cafes, and old architecture, and fine art.
14. Attend the Nice Carnival
If you want to plan your vacation to Nice around an excellent family-oriented event, consider attending the Nice Carnival. The Nice Carnival takes place during the middle of the winter time. It is one of the world’s largest and oldest carnivals, period. Established eight centuries ago, the Nice Carnival attracts well over one million annual visitors. The event lasts for multiple weeks over the end of february and beginning of march. During the carnival, hundreds of musicians, dancers, and other performers put on shows throughout the Place Massena city center. The carnival consists of food, parades with floats and giant puppets, candy, costumes, masks, confetti and more. A noteworthy mention is the 80,000 plus fresh flowers cut locally for the carnival.
15. Catch the Jazz Festival
Another world famous festival hosted in Nice, at the Théâtre de Verdure, is their annual Jazz Festival. The Nice Jazz Festival is over seven decades old and is the first official jazz festival in the world. After all these years the jazz festival is one of the most frequented tourist attractions on the entire French Riviera. The festival draws artists such as The Roots, Louis Armstrong (in the past), Ella Fitzgerald (also in the past), and Dr. John. If you love Jazz, keep the middle of July free for this week-long festival.
16. Romantic Walk Aroe Portund the Nice Port
Lovebirds will not want to pass over the opportunity of a slow tempo romantic stroll around the Nice port. Whether you plan to spend the day sailing, or simply sipping a frappe and watching the boats glide in and out of the city’s port, this is one of the most romantic things to do in Nice France for couples. The area, obviously located along the seaside, is freckled with cafes, seafood restaurants, a wharf, food stands, and even a bustling train station.
17. Explore Old Forts
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Some of the coolest tourist-type things to do in Nice France is to explore old forts and such. The area surely has enough of them to spend an entire afternoon visiting them all. Perhaps the most impressive of the aging fortifications in and around Nice is the Fort du Mont Alban. The structure originates from the middle of the 1500’s and remains open to tours all summer long. For historians, there aren’t many cooler things to do in Nice France than spend a day exploring these old forts and ruins.
18. Visit the Local History Museum
During the early 1900’s the Duke of Rivoli gifted what is now a local history museum to the public of Nice France. Inside the museum, you will witness what a Belle Epoque mansions looks like up close. The grounds also house gardens designed by Edouard Andre. Art, artifacts, and more await the curious history-buff within. One of the most noteworthy relics displayed at the local history museum is the death mask of Napoleon Bonaparte, as well as its mate, a tiara belonging to the Empress Josephine.
19. See the Monuments
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
If the main tourist attractions are too crowded for your comfort, consider making your way around the city and seeing all its monuments. Near Promenade des Anglais, an impressive monument originating from 1893 represents the decree that declared the Comte de Nice as part of France, as well as the creation of the Alpes-Maritimes department. It commands a fantastic view of the Mediterranean Sea. The Monument aux Morts (1924 to 1928) is another awesome stop to make while touring Nice. History-buffs and nature-lovers alike will love this grand WWII monument. Its built directly into the side of an impressive rock outcropping 150 feet tall. The monument is nearly a century old, it was built over the course of the years between 1924 and 1928. It is a sign of recognition to the 4,000 Nice residents that perished in the first World War.
Whether vacationing with the family, or visiting for business, there are all kinds of things to do in Nice France!
The best part is that many of the best things to do in Nice France are free; strolling through the french riviera, visiting historical sites and monuments, as well as beaches, hiking, and so much more. There are mountains, beaches, waterfalls, and other absolutely gorgeous landscapes for nature lovers as well. Nice is a city full of wonder and a magical vibe. You don’t want to miss out on this little pearl of a city situated on the Mediterranean coast. The fine dining, French pastries, and rare French wine alone will be worth it!
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