View of the Mediterranean Sea & Promenade des Anglais in Nice
The Promenade des Anglais and Mediterranean Sea in Nice
Nice is one of the most beautiful cities of the French Riviera. Located roughly between Cannes and the Italian border, Nice lies right beside the Mediterranean Sea. The city was named after Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, by the Greeks who founded the city around 350 BC. Today, Nice is considered to be the most popular city in France among tourists after Paris. It’s not difficult to see why: from its sun-filled avenues and lovely climate to its famous Promenade des Anglais and amazing location right on the Mediterranean coast, Nice makes a fantastic holiday destination!

In this article we’ll show you around Nice in just 48 hours to give you a sense of what holidaying in one of France’s most famous resorts looks like!

Day 1:

10 am – Discover Nice from Castle Hill

Start your visit of Nice at the Parc du Chateau (Castle Hill) right in the center of the city. This park is located on a hilltop, and it has some of the most striking panoramic views of Nice and the Mediterranean Sea. It’s best to visit the park early in the morning before it gets too hot, as it’s a bit of a climb to get to the top (you can also choose to take the elevator). The views at the top are absolutely worth the climb. Looking out over the city and sea is a great introduction to Nice: west of the park you’ll see the Vieille Ville or old town of Nice, to the east you’ll have a great view of the Old Port of Nice, and to the south you’ll see the magnificent blue water of the Baie des Anges. The old citadel that used to be located on the top of the hill is all but in ruins, but it’s still very pleasant to walk around Castle Hill. The park offers nice shade beneath the trees and features a beautiful waterfall. Bring some drinks and snacks to enjoy a morning picnic!

12 pm – Explore the Old Town of Nice

Picture of the Old Port, Nice
The picturesque Old Port of Nice
Walk down the hill towards the old town and city center of Nice. Here you’ll find the stunning red houses that are so typical for the Mediterranean coast, as well as wide squares and pretty fountains. Places worth seeing are the Cathedral Sainte-Réparate, the Palais Lascaris and the Théatre National de Nice. On the eastern side of Castle Hill you’ll find the picturesque Old Port of Nice. There are many cafes with terraces around the harbor where you can enjoy a cold beverage with a great view of the many boats in the port. You’ll also find many boutiques, cafes and restaurants all around the historic town, making it an ideal destination for lunch and shopping! While dining out in Nice can be costly, you can have lunch at some great restaurants for a budget price. Le Lodge on Rue Halévy just west of the Jardin Albert I offers fantastic lunch deals. If you’re looking for dessert, try Fennochio’s famous gelato at the Place Rossetti. The Cours Saleya is home to Nice’s famous flower market and green market that offers many local delicacies. You can visit both markets every day from 6 am to 5.30 pm (closes 1.30 pm on Sundays) except on Mondays, when the markets make way for an antiques flea market! During the summer there’s also a greenmarket on the square every evening. Here you can stock up on ingredients to prepare your own dinner at home.

3 pm – Stroll along the Promenade des Anglais and go Shopping

Image of the Promenade des Anglais beach in Nice
The pebble beach along to the Promenade des Anglais in Nice
One street you simply cannot miss on your visit to Nice is the Promenade des Anglais, located west of the old town. The Promenade is located directly on the beach, offering an amazing view of the Mediterranean Sea. The Promenade des Anglais translates to “Walkway of the English”, after the English visitors who came on vacation to Nice as early as the 18th Century. Even Queen Victoria came to holiday in the city! If you want to cool off  you can take a dip in the sea at the Promenade Beach, but note it is a pebble beach so be sure to wear sandals! There are several serene and sandy beaches in towns nearby Nice, but we’ll get to that later!

Picture of the Place Messena in Nice
Place Messena in Nice, the French Riviera
The streets just north of the Promenade des Anglais offer some of the best shopping opportunities in the city. From small boutique shops to big department stores such as Galleries Lafayette, you’ll find an exciting array of retail options. Rue Massena is one of the most popular shopping streets, and entirely pedestrian. Other famous shopping spots include the Place Massena, a huge square with a beautiful fountain, the Avenue Jean Médecin and the Nice Etoile shopping mall. There’s also a fabulous shopping mall called Cap 3000 just outside of the city. This mall is home to Galleries Lafayette Gourmand, a large food store where you can purchase anything from fresh produce to amazing wines.

7 pm – Go Home to your Vacation Rental Apartment

Preparing a French dinner yourself is not only a great experience, but it can also save you a lot of money! By staying in a vacation rental apartment in Nice you’ll have access to your own fully equipped kitchen. Try your hand at a traditional French meal such as the Salad Nicoise, which was named after Nice! For some culinary inspiration, see our recipes at Famous Southern French Cuisine. Enjoy your home-cooked dinner with a glass of local wine in your own vacation rental apartment and feel like a true Nice local.

Day 2:

10 am – Pay a Visit to the Cimiez Neighborhood

Image of the Cimiez Monastery in NiceFrom the city center of Nice you can easily catch a bus to Cimiez. Cimiez is home to the Ruins of Cemenelum, an Ancient Roman town that used to rival Nice. Nowadays, Cimiez is a district of the city of Nice, but you can still see the ruins of thermal baths, a Roman arena and an amphitheater at the Ruins of Cemenelum. The beautiful Cimiez Monastery is also well worth a visit, as you’ll have a great view of the city and the Mediterranean Sea from here. French artist Henri Matisse was buried in a cemetery near the monastery. Nice was very popular among many famous painters of the 19th and 20th century, because of its beautiful landscape and soft light. See how Henri Matisse was inspired by the city at the Musée Matisse located in a small park encircled by olive trees – and completely free to visit! Another beautiful museum in the neighborhood is the Musée Marc Chagall on the Avenue Docteur Ménard.

If you feel like going out into the countryside, a great alternative to visiting Cimiez is to take the Petit Train des Pignes to the picturesque valleys just north of Nice. The train ride itself is quite an adventure as both the train and the stations it stops at are old and historic. The train goes all the way to Dignes, but you can choose for yourself how far through the amazing landscape you’d like to travel.

2 pm – Take a Trip out of Town

Because of Nice’s ideal location, it’s very easy to take a daytrip out of town. There are several options to consider for a great afternoon of exploring the surrounding area. Monte Carlo and Monaco lies just 20 kilometers (12 miles) to the east of Nice, so you can easily catch a bus to the famous resort. Even closer is the town of Eze, located on the top of a hill and offering panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The city of Cannes, famous for its festival, and the town of Grasse, famous for its perfumes, are a bit further off but still great options for a day trip. You can even go across the border to visit Ventimiglia in Italy for a day!

Picture of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat across the bay from Nice
Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat on the peninsula across the bay from Nice has amazing
The closest destination of all is the town Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat on the peninsula just across the bay from Nice. This idyllic small town is a favorite holiday destination for the rich and famous, and offers many beautiful secluded beaches. Unlike the pebble beaches in Nice, these beaches are made of white sand and are well suited for both sunbathing and swimming. The beaches of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat are so nice that we’ve even included them in our Top 10 Best Beaches of the South of France! Enjoy an afternoon of lazy sunbathing and swimming at one of the public beaches.

9 pm – Watch the Sunset over the Mediterranean Sea

Whether you decide to spend the evening in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat or return to Nice, end the evening on a beach or the Promenade des Anglais to watch the sun set over the Mediterranean Sea and have the perfect ending to your holiday in Nice.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction to Nice! Have you ever been to a city next to the Mediterranean Sea?