Things to do in Nice

The ultimate things to see in Nice

Superb culture, set against a backdrop of blue skies, sparkling sea and sub-tropical greenery - Nice is an instant charmer.

  1. Stroll around Vieux Nice
  2. Enjoy wonderful views from the Parc de la Colline du Château
  3. Stroll down the Promenade des Anglais
  4. Visit Musée Matisse
  5. Head to the Russian Orthodox Cathedral
  6. Make the most of the festivals
  7. Enjoy a scenic railway route
  8. Indulge in the distinctive cuisine of Nice
  9. Take up a new watersport

Nice oozes utter coolness. With a chilled, laid-back vibe with plenty to see, this city has strong appeal with its sandy spaces and intriguing architecture.

In collaboration with
Rough Guides

1. Stroll around Vieux Nice

For the perfect introduction to Nice, wander around Vieux Nice, the old town. This is one of the prettiest things to do in Nice. Vieux Nice has been much gentrified in recent years, but the restaurants, boutiques and little art galleries still coexist with humble shops. The backdrop of the area is like something out of a postcard. There’s washing strung between the tenements, and away from the showpiece squares a certain shabbiness lingers. Place Rossetti is the central square, where the soft-coloured Baroque Cathédrale de Ste-Réparate sits.

Best for: Exploring pretty streets in the oldest part of town

While you're there: There are cafés to relax in, and a fabulous ice-cream parlour, Fenocchio , with an extraordinary choice of flavours.

2. Enjoy wonderful views from the Parc de la Colline du Château

One of the most rewarding things to do in Nice is to enjoy its glorious scenery. For initial orientation, fantastic sea and city views, and the scent of Mediterranean vegetation, head for the Parc de la Colline du Château. It’s where Nice began, as the ancient Greek city of Nikaïa, hence the mosaics and stone vases in mock-Grecian style. Despite the name, there’s no château, just wonderful views over the scrambled rooftops. Enjoy spotting the gleaming mosaic tiles of Vieux Nice and the trailing promenade des Anglais.

Best for: Sweeping views of Nice

While you're there: Everyday at noon, a resounding boom announces the midday cannon shot fired from the Colline du Château.

3. Stroll down the Promenade des Anglais

A popular thing to do in Nice is to take a walk down Promenade des Anglais. It was created by nineteenth-century English residents for their afternoon strolls. Today, along with lots of traffic, it boasts some of the most fanciful turn-of-the-twentieth-century architecture on the Côte d’Azur. At numbers. 13-15, the Palais de la Méditerranée is now a luxurious casino, and the splendid Art Deco facade is all that remains of the 1930s original.

Best for: A lovely wander

While you're there: Several good restaurants line the promenade. If you’re looking for a foodie stop, try Vieux Nice.

4. Visit Musée Matisse

The seventeenth-century villa lying between the Roman excavations and the arena is the Musée Matisse. Matisse spent his winters in Nice from 1916 onwards. Then from 1921 to 1938 he rented an apartment overlooking Place Charles-Félix. It was here that he painted his most sensual, colour-flooded canvases of odalisques posed against exotic draperies. As well as the Mediterranean light, Matisse loved the cosmopolitan aspect of Nice. He loved the presence of fellow artists Renoir, Bonnard and Picasso in neighbouring towns.

Best for: Art enthusiasts

While you're there: Take your time in the grounds of the museum.

5. Head to the Russian Orthodox Cathedral

One of the best things to do in Nice is to take a look in the Russian Orthodox Cathedral, an example of Nice’s flamboyant architecture. It’s a beautiful building with five onion domes and glazed tiles, holding a striking contrast to the modern apartment blocks around it. When entering, note that men should not be bare chested, and women should have both head and shoulders covered (scarves can be borrowed near the entrance).

Best for: Vibrant architecture

While you're there: On the grounds you will find a small chapel, built on the spot where the son of Alexander II, Grand Duke Nicolas Alexandrovich, died.

6. Make the most of the festivals

Nice is home to numerous festivals throughout the year. Nice’s LGBTQ scene is active, and for LGBTQ visitors the city has a relaxed feel. And with that comes the annual Pink Parade which takes place in early summer. The Mardi Gras Carnival opens the year’s events in February, with the second week of July taken up by the Nice Jazz Festival. These festivals are fantastic to attend if you’re in the city at these times.

Best for: Fun festivals

While you're there: Nice lets its hair down for the annual Carnaval which involves street dancing, masked balls and parades of floats.

7. Enjoy a scenic railway route

The Chemins de Fer de Provence is one of France’s most scenic railway routes. The route meanders from the Gare de Provence on Rue Alfred-Binet (at least 4 daily; 3hr 15min). The line runs up the Var valley into the hinterland of Nice to Digne-les-Bains, climbing through spectacular scenery as it goes. There are also steam train excursions on Sundays from May to October. Tempted to look for Nice holidays? Why not stay at B4 Nice Park Hotel - it’s only a short walk from Rue Alfred-Binet? A perfect location for the Chemins de Fer de Provence route.

Best for: Railway enthusiasts

While you're there: Why not hop on the train to Monte-Carlo and head to the casino for some evening fun?

8. Indulge in the distinctive cuisine of Nice

Nice is home to a fusion of Pronvençal and Italianate influences. This goes back to the town’s Savoyard past and its market-gardening tradition. For lunch, enjoy a ratatouille, a hearty, luscious mixture of tomatoes, onions, garlic, courgettes, peppers and aubergines. Given the Côte d’Azur’s glorious coastline, this area is known for its seafood. You might opt for a fresh salade niçoise, (salad with tuna, olives, peppers, green beans, eggs and anchovies).

Best for: Traditional cuisine

While you're there: Make sure to try some sardines in Nice - they’re a speciality here.

9. Take up a new watersport

Thinking about what to do in Nice with its clear water and fine sand? Look no further. Watersports are plentiful here, such as on Plage Beau Rivage Nice and Plage de Carras. Jet skis, parascending and water skiing are available at several of Nice’s private beaches. For dinghy sailing classes and hire, try Plongée Aigle Nautique, a watersports centre on the eastern edge of the Vieux Port.

Best for: Water lovers

While you're there: Relax on one of Nice’s many beaches, such as Blue Beach.

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