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Nice, France
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The 13 best things to do in Nice

From peaceful flower markets to medieval castles, here's our guide to the French Riviera's shining jewel

Isabelle Aron
Written by
Isabelle Aron

In many ways, Nice takes the crown as the ultimate summer destination. Certainly it’s the shining glory of the French Riviera. It has it all, from stunning sandy beaches to quaint little villages and some fantastic markets to stroll through. That’s probably why it’s made a bit of a name for itself as a prime spot for celebs, high-flyers and other seekers of luxurious living. 

But the best things to do in Nice aren’t just star-studded extravagance. You’ll find something for every budget here, from art exhibitions for as little as €10 to medieval castles you can hike to for no money at all. Plus there’s infinite free ways to spend your days, like wondering through flower markets and sipping on cheap local wines. Whatever you’re here for, we’ve got you covered. Here are the best things to do in Nice on all budgets. 

🏖️ The best beaches in Nice
🍴 The best restaurants in Nice
🛍️ The best shops in Nice
🏨 The best hotels in Nice
🏘️ The best Airbnbs in Nice

Planning your next trip? Check out our latest travel guides, written by local experts.

Best things to do in Nice

Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain
Photograph: Shutterstock

1. Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain

What is it? Nice’s modern art museum, home to a vast collection of pop art, realist art and more, from the 1950s to the present day. You’ll find pop art legends Andy Worhol and Roy Lichtenstein here, to name a few, as well as realist artist Yves Klein, who lived in Nice. 

Why go? Not only are the exhibitions always great here, but the building itself is a marvel. You’ll find outdoor sculptures, three floors of artwork, and a rooftop exhibition space where you can catch fantastic views over the city. Oh, and a general ticket is just €10. 

Promenade des Anglais
Prosag Media

2. Promenade des Anglais

What is it? This 7km paved promenade was paid for by wealthy English expats who liked to wander along the seafront in the 1800s (hence the name). Hundreds of years later and the view is just as beautiful.

Why go? Mooch along this stretch to soak up the sights of the gorgeously blue Mediterranean sea, stopping at one of the many bars and restaurants by the beach along the way. ‘The Prom’, as it is known to locals, is where the Nice Carnival takes place every February.

Musée Matisse
Musée Matisse

3. Musée Matisse

What is it? Matisse lived in Nice for nearly 40 years, and this museum is home to one of the world’s largest collections of his work.

Why go? Trace the career of one of France’s most famous artists, with paintings, drawings, sculptures and his famous paper cut-outs all on show at Musée Matisse. Matisse died in Nice in 1954, and you can also visit his grave in the Monastère Notre Dame de Cimiez cemetery, near the museum.

Hotel Negresco
Megan Carnegie

4. Hotel Negresco

What is it? This historic hotel on the Promenade des Anglais is more than 100 years old. With its pastel-pink, domed roof, it’s an iconic building you can’t miss.

Why go? A room here will set you back at least a couple of hundred quid per night, but there’s no need to stay at the hotel to experience it. The bar shakes up awesome cocktails with everything from Old Fashioneds and Negronis to their own signature creations, including the ‘Royal Negresco’ with Kirsch, raspberry syrup and Champagne.


5. Voyageur Nissart

What is it? A welcoming, family-run restaurant serving provençal classics in a less touristy part of town.

Why go? Stuffed courgette flowers, sautéed lamb and, of course, Niçoise salad are just some of the dishes available here. And with loads of set menu options from reasonable prices, it won't break the bank either. The restaurant is near Nice station, so it's a good spot to try if you're coming or going via the station or heading out on a day trip.

Beer District
Beer District

6. Beer District

What is it? The south of France might be better known for its wine, but hopheads can rejoice as craft beer has made it to Nice, thanks to the arrival of this bar.

Why go? With 16 microbrews on tap and loads of bottled beers from all over the world, beer lovers are spoiled for choice here. Not sure what to go for? Staff are happy to advise, and they’ll offer samples too. Cheers to that.

Le Shapko

7. Le Shapko

What is it? You can hear live jazz, funk and soul every night of the week at this buzzy bar in the centre of the old town.

Why go? The space is set over two floors, so you can grab a spot on the balcony overlooking the stage or get close to the band downstairs. Get there early for happy hour from 7pm until 9pm and (if you’ve got the stamina) dance into the early hours as the band’s set develops into a lively jam session.

What is it? Founded in 1947, this is one of the city’s oldest wine bars. With local wines and varieties from across France, this is the place to be if you want to sample the region’s finest booze.

Why go? Some of the wines are available by the glass, but once you find your favourite, you might be tempted to stay for a bottle. Luckily, they also serve tasty food to soak up all that booze. Nab a seat under the shady terrace and settle for the long haul.

Marché Aux Fleurs Cours Saleya
Lisa Del Sol

9. Marché Aux Fleurs Cours Saleya

What is it? An incredible flower market in the Old Town dating back to 1897. These days, there is also fruit, vegetables and street food, but it’s the impressive floral display you’ll see all over your Instagram feed.

Why go? Even if you don’t buy any flowers, you can happily mooch around this lovely market admiring all kinds of flora. There are also plenty of things to buy that can travel home without wilting – dried herbs and spices, unusual teas and dinky jars of tapenade – as well as bread and pastries to munch on as you wander.

Chez Pipo
Chez Pipo

10. Chez Pipo

What is it? The local cuisine is more than just Nicoise salads, y'know. This cute spot near the port specialises in socca, a Provençal, pizza-style snack made from chickpea flour and cooked in a huge stone oven.

Why go? Chez Pipo has been serving up socca since it opened in 1923, so it is one of the most popular places to sample this local delicacy. It can get busy, but if you have to wait, you can grab a drink and watch them preparing the socca – it is quite the operation.


11. Badaboom

What is it? Overdone it on the cheese and baguette? Switch things up at this veggie and vegan spot near the port, where creative dishes are served from an open kitchen.

Why go? Start with a healthy smoothie or matcha latte before feasting on colourful acai bowls topped with berries, vibrant salads and raw cakes at this independent café. Whether you’re veggie, vegan, or just craving some fruit and veg, you’ll find something delicious here.

Parc de la Colline du Château
Photograph: Shutterstock

12. Parc de la Colline du Château

What is it? Colline du Château translates to ‘castle hill’, and while the medieval castle was destroyed by Louis XIV in 1706, the hill still stands. And at 93 metres above sea level, it offers glorious, panoramic views over the city.

Why go? Tackle the climb to the summit of this hilltop park, and you’ll be rewarded with sweet views along the way. You’ll pass an impressive waterfall and, once you reach the top, there’s a lovely park where you can rest your legs. Settle on the grass for a picnic or grab a bite from the café. If you don’t fancy the climb, there’s even a lift you can take.

Bonne Journee Photography

13. Antibes

What is it? If you fancy a change of scene, take a day trip to the lovely resort town of Antibe. Set on the French Riviera between Cannes and Nice, it takes less than 15 minutes by train to get there from Nice.

Why go? There’s plenty to explore – relax on the beach, admire the port’s amazing yachts or enjoy panoramic views from Fort Carré, an impressive 16th-century port. Don’t miss the Picasso Museum, housed in an old castle where Picasso once lived.

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