Are you dreaming of a French Riviera getaway or city break? Two days in Nice is the perfect amount of time to spend here to get a break from the chaos of your daily life.
Use this 48-hours-in-Nice itinerary to help you jump right in! It also includes a travel guide for where to stay, what to eat, and tips for spending 3 days in Nice!
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Good to Know: this travel guide and itinerary for Nice, France, comes to us from Stephanie at UnknownEnthusiast.com.
A true Francophile, Stephanie has visited France six times…and counting! She’s a lover of the French language as well and loves sharing her tips for learning French as a second language.
Where to Stay in Nice
I would highly recommend staying in or near the Old City (Vieux Ville) section of Nice. Most of the attractions are near that area, and it is nice to be able to walk wherever you need to go.
Hotel Le Meurice is perfectly situated, just a block from the Jardin Albert I, the old town, and the Promenade des Anglais. It’s a budget hotel in an old building, with old French charm.
For a more mid-range option, the Palm Hotel Nice is still close to main attractions and is a stylish, recently renovated hotel.
Introduction to Nice & How Nice is Different than Paris
Nice, France is one of my favorite cities in France. It’s a larger city, although certainly nowhere as large as, say, Paris.
And unlike Paris, the vibe here is distinctly more laidback and Mediterranean. While you still get those delicious baguettes and pastries, and beautiful architecture, you also have palm trees, more sunshine, a beautiful sea view, beaches galore, and pastel-colored buildings.
It’s an idyllic city to explore, and also is perfectly situated to explore more of the French Riviera, if you so choose. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, let’s talk about the basics.
How to Get to Nice
You have a lot of options for arriving in Nice. There is an international airport about 15-20 minutes from the Old Town area.
You can take a taxi or Uber into the city, but it is also very easy and cheap to take the bus that runs between the city and the airport as well.
Alternatively, you can also fly into Marseilles, France, and drive or take the train over from there.
Marseilles is about 2.5 hours by car from Nice, but the trains run regularly between the cities, so it’s not out of the question to go this route, particularly if flights are significantly cheaper to Marseille than to Nice.
And of course, if you are traveling from other locations in France or Europe, the train is a great option for arriving in Nice.
Trains arrive regularly from many destinations at very reasonable prices. The train station (gare) is only 20 minutes by foot north of the coastline, so if you’re up for it, you could walk from the station into the main tourist area.
Otherwise, there is a tram line running north and south that conveniently takes you down towards the coast. Just remember to validate your ticket in the orange machines before entering the tram!
5 Dishes to Eat in Nice
There are many great traditional French foods, plus regional specialties to try in Nice! Here are a few of the ones you should add to your culinary bucket list:
1 Bouillabaisse: Bouillabaisse is a popular French provincial fish soup. It originated in Marseilles but is popular along the coast.
It’s known for its liberal use of provincial herbs and that there are several types of fish and seafood in the soup.
2 Socca: Socca is essentially a savory pancake made from chickpea flour! It’s a popular regional dish and one you need to try in Nice. It’s different but yummy!
3. Pissaladière: This is a dish similar to pizza, but with a thicker, puffier crust, and toppings like black olives and onions.
4 Gelato: Considering Nice’s proximity to Italy, it’s no surprise that there are a lot of delicious gelato stands around the city.
5 Fresh oranges from the market: Ok, hear me out on this. The fresh oranges that you can get from the daily outdoor market (The Marché aux Fleurs) were some of the best, most juicy, most flavorful oranges I have ever had the privilege of tasting.
Citrus is grown in the region, so you should definitely take advantage!
The Perfect 2 Days in Nice Itinerary
Here we go!
Nice Day 1
Morning: Start your day with a delicious breakfast of pastries from a nearby boulangerie (bakery). One of the best perks of visiting France is that there are boulangeries on practically every street corner!
After treating your taste buds and filling up, it’s time to start exploring and see all the things to do in Nice! First up, the Promenade des Anglais.
This is the jewel of Nice, it’s the spot everyone thinks of when you mention the city – basically, you have to start your tour of Nice here.
Promenade des Anglais
The Promenade des Anglais is a very wide, paved walking/biking path that runs along the beach. It stretches uninterrupted for 7 kilometers, and gives absolutely amazing views, both of the sea and the city.
There are many benches and places to sit, with palm trees running up and down the length of it.
As you walk down the Promenade, you will see the Hotel Negresco, a historic and iconic upscale hotel in Nice. You’ll also pass the Jardin Albert I and the Old Town.
When you reach Old Town, leave the Promenade des Anglais and head into the old city to explore.
Nice has a great European Mediterranean old town, with colorful buildings lining narrow streets, and delicious restaurants and interesting shops everywhere.
We particularly like the shop l’Atelier des Cigales for their Provincial pottery. We always bring home a couple of pieces with us!
Don’t miss Place Rossetti, a beautiful square in the middle of Old Town. The Cathédrale Sainte-Reparate de Nice faces the square (pop in for a quick visit, it’s a beautiful building), and then enjoy lunch at one of the cafés lining the square.
For dessert, there are several gelato stands set up, with a huge variety of flavors!
Afternoon: After enjoying the pleasures and beauty of the Old Town, make your way up Castle Hill for some stunning vistas.
Castle Hill rises on the Southeast end of Old Town and creates a point at the end of the Promenade des Anglais, where the land curves out to the sea.
While there isn’t actually a castle to see, you can climb up the hill for walking paths, a waterfall, a park area, a cemetery, plus gorgeous views back over Nice and out to the sea.
There are a couple of access points to Castle Hill from Old Town. One is via Mtn Menica Rondelley, which is on the north end of Old Town.
On the south end, there is a walking path that you can access just east of the intersection of Rue des Ponchettes and Quai des Etats-Unis.
Alternatively, you can also take the elevator up to the top – you can pick it up on Rue des Ponchettes. Look for the building with “Ascenseur du Colline” on it.
After exploring Castle Hill, head back down to the city via the Port side of the hill – the opposite side that you came up.
Follow the paths until you pick up Mnt Montfort and walk back down into the Port of Nice. This port is a lively and interesting place to walk around, looking at the boats and yachts that are moored there.
Dinner: Lou Pilha Leva
This restaurant offers fresh regional fare, including socca, which you must try!
It’s a fun, casual restaurant, that borders on being categorized as “street food”, as you order at the counter from the street and then eat at picnic tables set up on the street.
The vibe is chill and relaxed, and the food is hot and delicious.
Nice Day 2
Vélo Bleu Rental
Start the day on the Promenade des Anglais, again, but today, you’re renting a bike and pedaling down the promenade.
Vélo Bleu is the city bike rental service, and there are locations along and near the promenade.
Download the vélo bleu app ahead of time, and then it’s a very simple scan-and-go situation when you are at a rental station.
Then cruise down the promenade – there’s really nothing quite as idyllic as a morning bike ride along the sea, with the palm trees and the beautiful buildings of Nice lining the road!
Jardin Albert I
The Jardin Albert I tucks itself along the line separating the Old Town from the new town, starting at the Promenade des Anglais and heading north for several blocks.
This urban garden is a delightful conglomeration of a lot of different features.
You have open green space, sculptures, lots of park benches, a splash pad/fountain area (that occasionally turns into a water show), an inventive playground complete with wooden animal structures to climb on, and of course, walking paths throughout.
It’s a lovely place to stroll through, relax in, and people-watch!
In the middle of the Jardin Albert I greenspace is the Place Massena (the garden is broken up between streets with through traffic at a few places).
This square is an iconic area of Nice, with its distinctive red buildings with white arches on their street levels and the black and white checkerboard “flooring.”
On the far side of the Place is the imposing Fountain of the Sun, featuring a statue of Apollo in the middle.
Marché aux Fleurs
The Marché aux Fleurs is an outdoor flower and produce market on the Cours Saleya in Old Town.
This market is open from 6 am-5:30 pm every day except Sunday, and features a variety of food and produce, in addition to beautiful fresh flowers.
I suggest wandering around and looking at the produce and flowers for sale. If you see fresh oranges, I would definitely buy one or two to eat as a juicy snack!
If you are looking for some local souvenirs, you can often find items such as spices, lavender, soaps, and jams at the market.
You can either pick up lunch here at the market itself (look for the stands selling hot foods!), or at one of the cafes lining the street.
You can even just make lunch out of the remarkably fresh and ripe produce for sale!
Notre Dame de l’Assomption Basilica
Smaller than, but reminiscent of, the world-famous Notre Dame in Paris, the Notre Dame de l’Assomption of Nice is still an impressive and intricate basilica.
It has two towers on the front, stained glass, and soaring, pointed arches inside, many of the hallmarks of gothic architecture. It’s definitely worth a visit!
The church is about a 15-minute walk north of the Promenade. Conversely, there is also a tram that runs north and south along Avenue Jean Medecin, if you need a break from walking.
Finally, time to hit the beach! Most of the beaches in Nice are public and have many access points down from the Promenade des Anglais.
Note that Nice beaches are all pebbly, so you will for sure want to have some sandals to walk across the beach and in the water!
Dinner: Les Garcons
For your last meal in Nice, enjoy a nice atmosphere and delicious food at Les Garcons.
This restaurant in Old Town is a very typical French restaurant, with cozy tables and a dining room, and a menu that changes monthly.
For 30 euro you can get a starter, entree, and dessert – and the offerings are fresh and tasty!
What to Do in 3 Days in Nice (Because You Will Want to Stay Longer)…
One of the strengths of Nice is that it is perfectly situated for day trips to many surrounding provincial villages.
If you have a third day (and I strongly recommend you make sure there’s a third day!), you absolutely must visit a neighboring town!
While there is no end to adorable villages in Provence and the French Riviera to visit, I highly recommend a day trip to the charming town of Menton.
This village is just 5 miles from Italy and has an old town built into the hillside. Orange and lemon trees line the sidewalks, and clay tennis courts are found around the city. The city just has a relaxed, happy vibe.
The Old Town is wonderfully colorful, with buildings of red, pink, orange, yellow, and gold everywhere. Some of the beaches in Menton are sandy, which is a nice departure from the pebbly beaches you’ll find in most of southern France.
If you’d rather do something a little more adventurous and active, head the other direction to the city of Cassis, and do the hike to Calanque d’En Vau.
The Calanque National Park sits on the coast between Cassis and Marseilles and is filled with steep, narrow inlets from the Mediterranean (the Calanques).
The hike to d’En Vau takes about 2-3 hours round trip and has a steep descent at the end, but you are rewarded with stunningly gorgeous views of the turquoise water and steep, white calanque walls.
48 Hours in Nice is Only the Beginning!
I’ve traveled through France extensively, and Nice remains one of my very favorite cities in the whole country.
The mixing of traditional Frenchness + Mediterranean vibes cannot be beaten! I know you’ll love your time in this beautiful coastal city as well.
Don’t Forget about Travel Insurance!
Whenever I go on a trip, I always make sure to get travel insurance!
The company World Nomads is the travel insurance company I always look to first, and I happily recommend them!
I always make sure to get travel insurance whenever I’m going to be over one hundred miles from home, in large cities where tourists can be the target of pickpockets, and anytime I’ll be doing outdoor adventure or beach activities.
It makes my life easier knowing if something should happen, I’ll be able to take care of it!