There are so many wonderful things to do in Nice, that it would be hard to even try to make a top 10 list. But there are some things one cannot resist even if they tried, like watching the sunset from the top of Castle Hill. But my rule as always is: Your holiday, your way. If you love museums and prefer to spend your holiday checking out museums, then that’s alright. If you are beach bum, you can beach it out all day! Here is my list of things that I like to do in Nice. Some are free and some, you have to pay a little bit.
1. Climb up to Castle Hill
For the best views of Nice, take the stairs up to Castle Hill. There is also an elevator for those who are unable, but if you are, your glutes will burn but will thank you later. It makes for a great workout, which means you can eat all the baguettes and not feel guilty. At the top, you will be rewarded with beautiful views of the city. There is also a waterfall at the top to cool you off. The views are gorgeous any time of the day, but I think maybe slightly better at sunrise or sunset!
ps. It is a park and therefore opens from 8am – 8pm during the summer. Opening/closing times may or may not be different during other seasons, best to check beforehand.
2. Hang out at the beach
Nice’s pebble beaches are an acquired taste. But if you are visiting during the hot summer months, sometimes your only relief from the heat is the Mediterranean. The only downside is that everyone will have the same idea and so it can get very crowded. But if you don’t mind spending a few then you can use the private beaches, which are often connected to hotels and have lockers and have showers, giving you that exclusive feeling. Ahh the good life!
3. Do a food tour or cooking class.
Nice gets approximately 300 days of sunshine, making for the perfect conditions to grow lots of food. And they grow plenty! If you are a vegetarian, this is your Valhalla! A food tour or cooking class that includes a visit to the market is a perfect way to begin your day for foodies.
4. Book a full day wine tour
Like I said, Nice gets 300 days of sunshine, and grapes love sunshine – which can be turned into wine. And you know how the French are about their wine. The Provence region is known for its rosé. So if you are a serious wine drinker like moi, then you want to devote a whole day learning about the process. The tours will include a full lunch, so don’t worry about drinking on an empty stomach. If you are short on time you can book a food & wine tour in town. There are several, but I highly recommend A Taste of Nice Food and Wine Tours. The tours are only 4 hours and the guides are very knowledgeable on Niçoise cuisine. There is a reason they are highly ranked on TripAdvisor.
5. Visit a museum
It may not compare to Paris, but the museums in Nice aren’t too shabby either. And for semi art-lovers who don’t want to spend hours looking at paintings from 2000 different artists, the museums in Nice offer a perfect alternative. The Henry Matisse or Chagall museum require at the most, 2 hours of your time. I promise you will still feel cultured afterwards.
6. Take a day trip.
Sometimes you need a break and want to see something different. One of the main advantages in visiting Nice is its location. It makes for an excellent base to explore the Cote d’Azur and surrounding areas. Villefranche-sur-Mer is only a 20 minute bus ride. You can even walk there! Monaco is a popular day trip; it’s only a 20 minute train ride from Nice. Saint-Tropez, Cannes, Grasse, and many more are all under 2 hours from town.
7. Visit the Cours Saleya market
The best time to go is in the morning before 9 am. The stalls start setting up around 8 am, there are very few tourists and locals around, and you feel as though you have the whole place to yourself. Grab what you need and head to one of the many cafés in the area for breakfast, then watch as people start trickling in.
8. Rent a yacht for the day.
Okay this is not exactly under my budget list of things to do, but depending on the number of people and the time of the year, it’s doable. Surprisingly, Nice doesn’t have too many places to rent a boat/yacht, in fact I only know of 1 place by the harbor, but there are many other towns around Nice where you can rent one for a couple hours/whole day for a reasonable price. ?You just have to do your research and book in advance. There is nothing like exploring the Cote d’Azur by sea!
9. Grab a drink and people watch.
The promenade des Anglais stretches for about 7 km while hugging the Mediterranean. Grab a seat at one of the many bars along the promenade, sip that famous Provence rosé wine, and watch people and the day go by. The French do it so well, and you know what they say: when in Rome or Nice in this case.
10. Walk from Vieux Nice to Cimiez
The distance is not long but you must be fit because you will be walking uphill, depending on how far up Cimiez Hill you want to go. But if you can make it, there is a great deal of things to do in the area. There are the remains of the Roman baths of Cemenelum, Matisse museum, Cimiez cemetery, Cimiez Monastery (has been home to Franciscan monks since the 16th century), and much more.