Like the sound of sparkling seas, cobbled streets, and sandy beaches? Then you will love Nice. Once a seaside retreat for the European elite, today the city welcomes visitors from all over the world who are looking for their own French Riviera experience.
There are so many things to do in Nice it can be hard to narrow down your options, which is why we have put together this handy guide. What will be first on your list?
1 – Admire the views from Castle Hill
Dominating the city skyline between the port and the Old Town, Castle Hill should be the first stop on your Nice visit. Walk along the defensive wall ruins while admiring the dazzling vistas, and discover the resting place of famous aristocrats in the cemeteries.
Want to save your legs? Electric bike tours are heaps of fun and will help you power up the hill without breaking into a sweat!
2 – Explore the Old Town
Take a walk in the Old Town to get your bearings and learn about the history of this enchanting traditional neighborhood. Wander down narrow streets lined with tall tenement houses, stopping at markets to sample local cheeses and buy artisan souvenirs. Take a free walking tour to discover hidden places and interesting facts about Nice.
On most Old Town tours, you can take a breather in leafy squares and pop into the St. Reparata Cathedral to see the colorful dome and ornate interior.
3 – Stroll along the Promenade des Anglais
Stretching for 7 kilometers along the shoreline of Nice, the Promenade des Anglais is a popular place for a sunny stroll. Formerly the haunt of English aristocrats who came to take the sea air, today the prom is a magnet for walkers and cyclists.
For something different, why not take a Segway tour? You can stop at several famous sights along the route, from parks and museums to casinos and of course beaches.
4 – Take a day trip to Villefranche-sur-Mer
Just a stone’s throw from Nice, the colorful hillside village of Villefranche-sur-Mer commands a spectacular position on one of the prettiest bays in the French Riviera.
Day trips to Villefranche-sur-Mer are all about exploring the historic town and citadel, then chilling out on the beach with a picnic. You can also take a snorkeling tour in the clear, shallow water to discover curious Mediterranean marine life.
5 – Savor the scent of lavender in Provence
The vast swathes of mesmerizing purple dancing in the light summer breeze are one of the most iconic sights in France. Provence day trips from Nice let you experience these famous lavender fields for yourself.
Visit dramatic gorges, turquoise lakes, and sleepy villages on your floral quest, as well as lavender processing plants where the sweet perfume is created.
6 – Sample the local food
Let your taste buds tingle while discovering the unique flavors of Niçoise cuisine on food tours in Nice. Visit markets and delis in the Old Town and get to know the culture of this foodie city.
Trying finger-licking treats like Calisson (sweet almond candy), Socca and Pissaladière onion tarts are truly the tastiest things to do in Nice. You can sample cheese and olive oil too, all washed down with a glass of Provencal wine.
7 – Unleash your artistic soul at Musée Renoir
Find out about the life and works of one of France’s most famous artists at the Musée Renoir. Just a short hop on the bus to Cagnes-sur-Mer, Renoir’s former home is now a museum.
Stroll around the enchanting estate, admiring paintings, sculptures, and photographs by the artist himself. Keep an eye out for his paintbrushes and the color pallet used for his final works.
8 – People watch in Place Masséna
Place Masséna is the main square in Nice, and a great spot to hang out and watch the world go by. Most city tours start here, beside the trickling fountains and grassy lawns.
Surrounded by arcaded ochre buildings and boasting a striking central checkerboard design, the square is one of the most photogenic highlights of the city. See if you can spot the seven statues that represent the continents of the world.
9 – Tour the French Riviera
Dive headfirst into the glitz and glamor of the south on jam-packed French Riviera tours. Prepare to be dazzled by the bright lights of Monaco and tour the Formula 1 circuit, then pretend to be movie stars as you walk the red carpet at Cannes.
Ramp up the charm with a visit to the old town of Antibes, and traverse winding coastal roads to the medieval village of Eze, home to perfume and panoramas.
10 – Visit the Marc Chagall National Museum
Artists will agree that one of the most culturally interesting things to do in Nice is visiting the Marc Chagall National Museum. Home to the largest public collection of art by Chagall, the museum has a biblical theme.
Marvel at the 17 life-sized paintings based on the Old Testament, and watch a film in the concert hall to discover more about the life of this famous French painter.
11 – Take a day trip to the Verdon Gorge
Head to the hills for a dose of dramatic landscapes and fresh mountain air on a day trip to Verdon Gorge. The canyon is one of the biggest in Europe, boasting imposing limestone cliffs, vast rocky plateaus, and a river snaking through the forested gorge.
Before returning to Nice, swim in the turquoise waters of Lac de Sainte Croix, or explore medieval alleyways in the village of Moustiers Sainte-Marie.
12 – Walk from Nice to Villefranche-sur-Mer
Blow away the cobwebs with an invigorating hike along the coast between Nice and Villefranche-sur-Mer. From the starting point off the Avenue Jean Lorrain in Nice, take the scenic path up to the Cap de Nice – a rocky cape with incredible Mediterranean views.
As you continue to Villefranche-sur-Mer keep an eye out for hidden coves with impossibly blue water. Reward your efforts with lunch overlooking the harbor or the beach.
13 – Cruise along the coast by yacht
Set sail on the sun-soaked Mediterranean and explore the magnificent coastline in style. There are several relaxing boat tours in Nice on offer, all of which sail past sandy beaches and hillside villas, giving you a unique perspective of the city.
Drop anchor in glitzy Saint-Tropez and star-studded Monaco, or stop at Cap Ferrat to explore coastal paths and tour glamorous mansions.
14 – Explore Saint-Tropez on a day tour
Discover the jewel of the French Riviera on a Saint-Tropez day trip. Amble through the cobbled streets of the historic town and make your way up to the citadel with its colorful houses and old-world charm. Can you spy any movie filming locations?
Feel the sea breeze in your hair as you sail around Saint-Tropez Bay, taking in the glamorous yachts bobbing in the harbor and of course the beach.
15 – Sample the local wine
One of the most fun things to do in Nice is to go wine tasting. There are several small-group and private wine tours in Nice, many of which take in the rolling countryside surrounding the city.
Head to a family-run winery to discover the secrets behind the grape-to-glass process, and taste vintage wine under the expert guidance of local experts. Finish on a high with a picnic surrounded by lush vineyards.
16 – Walk on the wild side in Phoenix Park
This tropical park makes a great family day out. Part zoo, part botanical garden, Phoenix Parc is an oasis of calm popular with both visitors and locals.
Let the kids burn off energy in the playground, then say hello to the ostriches and lemurs strutting around in the zoo. Enter a world of rainforests and butterflies in the giant pyramid glasshouse, or pop into the Museum of Asian Art.
17 – Visit Cimiez Monastery and gardens
Embrace the peace of Cimiez Monastery as you stroll around the manicured rose gardens, enjoying sweeping views over Nice. This 11th-century architectural gem began life as a Benedictine monastery, before being converted into a hospital after the French Revolution.
Today it is a parish church with a museum featuring artwork and frescoes from the monastery. There is even a replica monk cell so you can see what life was like for these devout residents.
18 – Feel the thrills at theme parks in Antibes
Scream in delight as you zoom along roller coasters over at Antibes Land Park, and take on the Adventure River if you dare. Meanwhile, younger explores love Kid’s Island with its animal encounters and pony rides.
19 – Explore the Musée du Palais Lascaris
Standing proud in the heart of the Old Town, the 17th-century Lascaris Palace is the most iconic historic monument in Nice. Push open the doors to this family museum and discover an aristocratic world packed with richly decorated rooms and opulent frescoes.
The star of the show is the enormous musical instrument collection, with some exhibits dating back to the 16th-century. Will you be able to name them all?
20 – Go Parasailing over the Bay of Angels
Looking for exhilarating things to do in Nice? Then strap in and steady your nerves as you go parasailing over the stunning bay. After taking off from the beach you will be soaring over the blue waters in no time.
Parasailing in Nice gives you the best views over the Old Town and the surrounding coast. See if you can spot Cap Ferrat and Villefranche Bay from your lofty perch.
21 – Get your glamor on in Monaco
For a dose of the high life, take a day trip to Monaco from Nice and experience the glitz of this glamorous principality. Watch the changing of the guards at the palace, try your luck in the casino, or drive a circuit at the Grand Prix.
Want to ramp up the luxury? Then swap the car or bus ride for a helicopter tour and enjoy privileged aerial views of this unique Mediterranean enclave.
22 – Power through the waves by jet ski
Did you know you can jet ski in Nice? This beautiful part of the Mediterranean is the perfect place to skim across the water, enjoying a unique view of the glittering French Riviera.
Unleash your inner thrill-seeker as you power across the Bay of Angles at full throttle, riding solo or with a friend. Tours depart from nearly Saint-Laurent-du-Var, with jaunts to Monaco and Cannes both on the cards.
23 – Drive coastal roads in a sports car
Fancy driving along the winding Riviera roads in a classic Ferrari or a shiny Lamborghini? Sports car experiences in Nice are your ticket to the next level of adventure when it comes to road trips.
Roll the top down and feel the sun on your back as you journey on legendary coastal roads to medieval hilltop villages. Or cruise along the Promenade des Anglais and be the talk of the town.
24 – Create your own perfume
Set your senses on fire with an artisan perfume workshop in Nice. Find out about the secret ingredients that make French scents so refined, and discover the history behind the trade from expert perfumers.
Have a go at blending different fragrances and oils to create your very own signature scent – what will you call it? Take home a vial so you can wear it back home to remind you of your magical Nice vacation.
25 – Ride the Train des Merveilles
Chugging along by train through Provence and the Côte d’Azur regions is one of the most scenic things to do in Nice. Hop on board the Train des Merveilles for a journey through some of France’s most stunning countryside, including the enchanting Roya-Bévéra Valley and Mercantour National Park.
Enjoy commentary from a local guide and learn about the traditions and culture of the rural areas passing by your window.
26 – Stroll the Sentier du Littoral in Cap Ferrat
Enjoy an easy walk around Cap Ferrat, one of the most exclusive parts of the French Riviera. Begin your wander at the Port of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and meander along the peninsula towards the beautiful bay of Plage de Passable.
The trail traverses rocky limestone outcrops and curves around scenic headlands, with plenty of shimmering coves along the way. Take a quick dip if you want to cool down!
27 – Discover the Musée National du Sport
Enjoy an interactive visit to the National Sports Museum, where innovative exhibits and carefully curated displays tell the story of French sports through the ages. Marvel at historic equipment and chart the Olympics journey from its beginnings in 1896 through to today.
Your National Sports Museum tickets include entry to the main exhibition halls, and for a small additional fee you can visit the temporary themed shows too.
28 – Browse the flower market
Admire the dazzling pops of color and inhale heady scents as you stroll through the flower market in Nice. Located near the old port in the historic part of the city, the vibrant market displays feature in many social media posts and vacation photo albums.
Feeling hungry? Then try some of the tempting local delicacies on sale at the food stalls, and enjoy a glass of wine with your lunch.
29 – Visit the Villa Masséna Musée
Journey back through time and discover old-world Nice at the Villa Masséna Museum. The building itself is a real gem, with original décor and architecture painting a picture of this Belle-Époque villa at the height of its glamor.
Once the domain of princes, today the museum is home to an exquisite collection of paintings, marbles, and furnishings. Check out the Napoleon memorabilia, which includes a vest and death mask from the man himself.
30 – See the sights on a hop-on hop-off bus tour
Taking a hop-on hop-off bus tour through the city is without doubt one of the most popular things to do in Nice for first-time visitors. It gives a great overview of the Old Town highlights, as well as the seafront and surrounding area.
Jump off wherever you choose, and explore everything from the cathedral and Villefranche citadel, to the port and Promenade des Anglais.
31 – Admire the Musée d’Art Moderne Et d’Art Contemporain
The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is home to eclectic creative displays by artists from France and further afield. Famous names include Francis Bacon and Andy Warhol, and exhibitions range from American pop art to French minimalism.
Mind blown? Then head up to the observation deck with its 360-degree views of Nice for a sense of real-life perspective.
32 – Watch a show at Opéra de Nice
Spend an evening being entertained at this cultural institution in Nice’s historic quarter. The Artistic performances and concerts at Opéra de Nice have been wowing crowds for over 100 years, with the impressive building dating back to the late 19th-century.
Whether you love a bit of an aria or prefer to watch ballerinas teetering on their tiptoes, there is always something on to make your Nice visit extra special.
33 – Relax in Parc du Mont Boron
Separating Nice from Villefranche-sur-Mer, Mont Boron is home to lavish villas and the well-preserved Fort du Mont Alban which was used during World War II. Stroll along the multiple walking trails and relish the stunning city and sea views from this elevated forest park.
You can reach the summit by bus, but hiking up from the town is even more fun. Just take some water and a picnic to enjoy at the top.
34 – Try a cooking class
Take a bunch of garden herbs, mix with a good dose of Provencal tomato sauce, and throw in a pinch of Old Town charm. What do you get? A cooking class with a difference!
Learn how to rustle up traditional French delicacies like potato gnocchi and chocolate fondant, and discover culinary secrets that have been passed down through the generations.
The best bit? You get to eat your creations afterward while enjoying the city views.
35 – Party at Nice Carnival
Jiggling your hips to the carnival beats is one of the most fun things to do in Nice. This colorful festival is held each February with a different theme every year. It features parades with lavish floats that trundle through the city streets and along the Promenade des Anglais.
There are plenty of activities for spectators at the Nice Carnival, as well as musical entertainment and of course lots of tasty local food to try.
36 – See Cathédrale Saint-Nicolas de Nice
Surprisingly, this Orthodox cathedral was commissioned by the last emperor of Russia, Tsar Nicholas II. The Romanovs enjoyed their visits to the French Riviera, taking walks on the promenade in their finery.
As you would expect, the Cathédrale Saint-Nicolas is opulent inside, with rich furnishings, intricately carved woodwork, and plenty of religious icons. You can take a guided tour to learn about the history of this architectural masterpiece.
We hope you have enjoyed reading about these fun things to do in Nice and that you now know what to see on your Riviera vacation. Take a look at our list of best day trips from Nice to find other places to visit in Provence.
Need somewhere to stay? Then check out the best hotels in Nice to make your trip run smoothly.
If you are traveling by plane, make sure you book your airport transfers in advance to minimize hassle on arrival. Or if you want to cruise along those coastal roads, take a look at the local car rental companies to start your visit in style.