Wow, what a nice city… Now that awful pun is out of the way (I’m sure the locals are sick of those jokes) I can take you through my experiences in the city of Nice.
Located along the French Riviera, Nice has been a stopping point for me on two occasions. Back in 2015 I was taking the Euro rails from Barcelona to Milan and stopped in Nice for a night. The second and most recent time was in 2019, was when I was visiting Monaco (my 50th country) and I decided to spend another day exploring Nice.
Unlike me, most people go on holiday to just Nice as the weather is pleasant and warm all year round to enjoy a vacation.
However, if you want to fill some time outside of laying on the beach then you have come to the right place.
Nice’s history dates back to the year 350 BCE, and the city has a rich history behind it with occupation exchanging several times over the centuries.
When you land at Nice airport you can get a tram into Jean-Médecin (which is the central part of the city) for €1.50, which will take you just under 30 minutes. If you wish to catch a taxi that will cost you around €20 and take you around 10 minutes.
On your trip to Nice, you can start at Promenade des Anglais, which extends for 7km from the airport to Old Nice. It is a great spot to hire a bike, go for a run or a walk and just enjoy the beautiful views of the Mediterranean, with some beautiful sculptures and monuments along the way.
Nice beach itself seems fairly uncomfortable to lay on due to it having large pebbles rather than white sands.
If you continue walking east along the promenade you’ll reach the highest point for cars to drive around the coastline, where you’ll get an amazing shot of the coast and you can stand and enjoy the view for ages.
Just around the corner, if you continue walking to Port de Nice Lympia, you’ll come across the Monument aux Morts, which honours the citizens of the region who died in WWII.
Along this promenade there are plenty of opportunities to have a drink or a bite to eat as you enjoy the views of the Mediterranean.
By the promenade you can do a small hike up to Fouillies Archéologiques, which has three turrets you can walk between as well as the Bellanda Tower, which also gives you more great views of the French Riviera.
Nice Old town is right by the promenade. In this quarter of the city you will find narrow cobblestone streets with pastel coloured architecture, cafes, restaurants and pubs all outdoors for you to enjoy the weather while socialising.
On Cours Saleya (street) you will see a daily market selling wines, cheeses, soaps and other locally made goods (and some from Asia) for you to take home as a reminder of your travels.
Operá de Nice is also along this street. It was built in 1885 and does have performances for you to watch on your stay. Information can be found on their website.
Other points of interest are the religious buildings in this quarter, such as the Chapelle de la Miséricorde de Nice built in the 1700s, Church of Gesù – an ornate 1600s building with frescos within, and Chapelle de la Très-Sainte-Trinité et du Saint-Suaire de Nice.
All are vibrant in colour and allow you to go inside and tour. Nearby is Nice Cathedral, which is in the baroque style and contains three large organs. You might be all churched-out by the end of your trip, with countless more within Old Nice itself.
Take your time walking through the old town – although small, there is a lot to see and you’ll be surprised by the different kinds of architecture.
If you exit the old town by the Fountain of the Sun you will get a chance to walk through Masséna Square, which links with Les Bouddhas de Jaume Plensa, which has areas for pedestrians, cyclists and the tram system to go through.
There are countless water fountains here for the kids to play with and cool off (adults welcome too), along with strange men sitting on large poles across the entire square.
This links up with Avenue Jean Médecin (where you would get off on the tram for central Nice), which contains never-ending shops for those that are looking to buy things on their travels.
Along Avenue Jean Médecin you will also come across another place of worship, Basilique Notre-Dame de l’Assomption. This neo-gothic church was founded in 1864 and has some amazing stained glass windows and two large towers at its front.
The main train station is at the end of Avenue Jean Médecin. This station can take you anywhere along the French Rivera, and even to Milan in Italy. If you are spending a while in Nice, tickets to places like Éze, Cannes and other smaller towns along the coast that are worth a visit can cost you as little as €5 one way.
As I was only in Nice for the day there are some more stops you should add to your list when visiting.
St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral looks amazing (from pictures online), with its vibrant colours and architecture.
The Crypte Archéologique de Nice is an underground area showcasing the ancient city that once stood in Nice centuries ago.
If you are a lover of contemporary and modern art then don’t forget to stop by the Modern and Contemporary Art Museum (MAMAC), which could certainly keep you occupied for a couple of hours.
And there you have it. Nice is an amazing place for a relaxing holiday, as well as a great place to explore and an opportunity to be used as a hub to other destinations.