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10 Best Things to Do in Nice in One Day

On the French Riviera, Nice is one of the best cities to visit in the South of France. With its 7km seafront walkway, named La Promenade des Anglais, its pebble beach, cafes, restaurants, boutiques and historical landmarks, Nice is one of France’s coastal gems.

In Nice’s old town, the maze of colourful buildings, narrow cobbled streets and artisan shops will enchant you and is a great place to try some local French delicacies.

If you only have one day to spare and want to experience a classic French Riviera destination, Nice needs to go on your travel list!

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Frequently Asked Questions About Nice

Where is Nice? 

Nice is in France on the French Riviera.

How do you get to Nice?

Direct flights to Nice from the UK take approx 2 hours.

Is it worth going to Nice?

Yes! Nice has a cosmopolitan vibe with many things to experience, from the Old Town to the harbour’s modern yachts.

What is Nice most famous for?

Nice is well-known for its 7km La Promenade de Anglais coastal walk.

Is Nice very expensive to visit?

It can be as there are many top-rated restaurants and hotels in Nice. However, don’t let that put you off, as you can also visit without breaking the budget if you research where to eat and drink before arriving.

How many days do you need in Nice?

Visitors can experience Nice in a day; however, book a few nights if you want a more leisurely trip. I can recommend  La Villa Victor Hugo in central Nice. You can also experience some of the best locations on the French Riviera, such as Cannes and St Tropez, on fabulous day trips from Nice.

10 Best Things to Do in Nice in 24 Hours

#1 Walk along La Promenade des Anglais

In the 18th century, the English aristocracy spent their winters in Nice. The English proposed that beggars arriving in town should work on constructing a seafront walkway, and once completed, it was named “Le Promenade des Anglais” translated as “English Walk”.

The promenade stretches as far as the eye can see, with the ocean on one side and hotels, restaurants and shops lining the other. We grabbed a coffee in one of the cafes that line it and just people-watched.

view of the promenade Anglais

#2 Check out the markets at Cours Selaya

If you enjoy markets, one runs daily selling flowers and local produce in Cours Selaya. It becomes an antique market on Mondays, and there is an arts and crafts market in summertime evenings.

Coeurs Salaya Market

#3 Take a photo with the #I Love NICE sign

Continue towards the #I LOVE NICE sign before climbing to Castle Hill. Stop here, take a photo, and enjoy the view out to sea.

The I Love Nice sign on La Promenade des Anglais in Nice, French Riviera

#4 Climb up to Castle Hill

It was a hot day, and we could see people stopping for breath on the way up. As we looked up at the number of stairs we had to climb, we felt slightly deflated. We then spotted what looked like a shutter in the rock’s corner, near the Hotel Suisse.

On inspection, we found it was a free-to-use elevator that went to the top, and with spirits raised, we boarded and in minutes, were on Castle Hill admiring the views over the town.

Looking down from Castle Hill across the rooftops of Nice in the French Riviera
 

#5 Enjoy the views from the top of Castle Hill

Colline du Chateau (Castle Hill) was the city’s original site, but today there is no castle at the top; the citadel was dismantled by the soldiers of the French King Louis XIV in 1706.

Even without a castle, the hill offers unparalleled views across the city to the sea and is a quiet place to spend a few hours. There are some old ruins, and investigations are underway with an archaeological dig.

Enjoy wandering along the pathways before grabbing a snack at the café during high season.

Views over the harbour are impressive. The French Riviera is the epitome of wealth and glamour, and you can spot luxury yachts all around. I imagined what it must be like to own one and vowed to buy a lottery ticket once I got home.

Nice Harbour with a Mega yacht

#6 Take a moment of calm at Nice Cemetery

Not everyone’s choice of somewhere to visit while on the French Riviera, but I love the solace of a cemetery. To wander around, read the epitaphs and see how far back they date is so interesting, so when I found out that Cimetiere du Chateau Nice was on the hill, I just had to go.

The people of Nice created the Christian cemetery in 1783 after new laws prohibited burials inside churches. It stands in place of Nice’s old citadel.

The Most Beautiful Cemetery in France

The oldest tombs, from the 19th century, feature some of the finest funerary monuments in Europe and are spectacular to view. A Jewish cemetery is situated next to a Christian one, replacing one used since the Middle Ages in central Nice.

There is also an area for non-Catholics, created in 1845. Named one of the most beautiful cemeteries in France, I think it is a serene place to wander around and pay your respects to those who have passed.

The Cimetière du Château in Nice on the French Riviera

#7 Wander Around Nice Old Town

Leave the cemetery and take the pathway that leads down to the old town. Here you will find colourful houses lining cobbled streets, restaurants and lots of ice-cream shops!

Place Rosetti, the central square, is overlooked by Nice Cathedral, known as Cathedrale Sainte-Reparate and was completed in 1699. Constructed in a Baroque style, it has a high altar and many side chapels dedicated to different saints. It is an impressive building and well worth a visit.

 

#8 Enjoy eating out in Nice

A host of pizza and pasta restaurants lined the streets, but we wanted something more traditional. However, it was a struggle to find anything not aimed at mass tourism, even with the assistance of Google!

We finally found a tapas bar in one of the converted fishing buildings that line the area by Cours Saleya. Our desert was a giant macaroon filled with ice cream from Angea, which was unusual and delicious.

#9 Pass by Opera de Nice

We passed by to admire the Opera House. It is a magnificent building dating back to 1885 and hosts operas, ballets and classical concerts.

In 1776 a privately owned wooden theatre occupied this site, but in 1826 the city of Nice bought it and set about rebuilding a brand new theatre. Sadly, a fire raised it to the ground in 1881 and claimed 200 lives, after which the present Opera House was built.

A monument to those lost in the fire is in the Cimetière du Château.

The Opera Hall in Nice on the French Riviera

#10 Admire the colourful buildings at Place de Messena

Back in the newer part of Nice, you will find Place Messena, which is like the city’s focal point, and its centrepiece is a beautiful water fountain sculpture, Fontaine du Soleil (Fountain of the Sun).

Close by is the largest green urban space in the city, Promenade du Paillon. It is filled with fountains, a children’s play area, sculptures, and pretty informal garden spaces for Nice’s residents and visitors to enjoy.

Fountains and Water alongside Buildings

We agreed that Nice had so much to offer the day visitor.

Its monuments and architecture are beautiful, and its parks and beaches are a joy to discover.

Nice is the perfect place to spend one day.

My honest opinion of Nice

What month did I travel?

I travelled in mid-March.

How was the weather?

It was sunny and pleasantly warm.

Would I recommend the hotel?

Yes. La Villa Victor Hugo was a perfect base in Nice. It was a boutique hotel with a quirky interior. The hotel staff were friendly, and our room was a decent size with an all-important comfortable bed. The breakfast was good.

Would I recommend Nice?

Most definitely. I loved the architecture, the old town with its colourful buildings and the Promenade D’Anglais. If you have more than one day to spend on the French Riviera, then I would recommend a trip by train to the village of Eze or the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, both fabulous places to explore.

If you decide to spend longer in Nice, you may like to take a guided tour of the French Riviera.

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World of Lina

Wednesday 1st of April 2020

I was in Nice 4 years ago and also did most of the things you suggest! Great post :)

WhereAngieWanders

Wednesday 1st of April 2020

It's such a great town I would love to return.

Sylvie

Wednesday 1st of April 2020

Wow, Nice is definitely on my bucketlist now! 24 hours in... is a great blog post idea too!

Michelle Segrest

Wednesday 1st of April 2020

This is a truly helpful post and the images are stunning! I feel like I was right there with you in Nice! Thanks so much for sharing!

Lerato

Wednesday 1st of April 2020

Nice seems like an amazing place. Definitely adding Nice to my France bucket list

WhereAngieWanders

Wednesday 1st of April 2020

It is a beautiful part of the world