Best Things to Do in Nice in 3 Days- an Itinerary
This post was written by Julie
Between sea and mountains, Nice is the perfect place to spend a couple of days. The region at the French Riveria is full of charming villages, historical monuments, beautiful beaches, and breathtaking landscapes. So, don’t make the mistake of visiting for a day only – to experience the best of Nice you should spend at least around 3 days in Nice.
So you might be wondering about what to do in Nice in 3 days? Well, this a good question – with this Nice itinerary to you will get to visit the city´s highlights and a few places around it.
So, in this “3-day Nice itinerary” you will find out about the best things to do in Nice in 3 days and the most beautiful places to visit, but you will find some travel tips for Nice, so you are well prepared for the trip to this beautiful city.
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NICE ITINERARY – WHAT TO DO IN NICE IN 3 DAYS
Day 1 in Nice
La Promenade des Anglais
One of the best things to do in Nice is taking a stroll on this world-renown Promenade. On one side, you’ll find the Mediterranean Sea and its pebble beach, and on the other side, 5-star hotels, fine dining restaurants, and casinos.
The Promenade is around 4 miles long, starting at the Colline du Château and ending at the airport. Most of the interesting Nice sights are located between the Vieux Nice (the city center) and the Negresco Hotel. If the weather is nice, you can rent a bike or a pair of roller skates.
If you’re there during summer, you can also have lunch or a drink at one of the restaurants installed on the beach.
The Vieux Nice (Old Nice)
Take a stroll through the city’s historical center, notice the small paved streets, the colorful houses and the shutters, typical of the Mediterranean architectural style.
There you shouldn’t miss :
- the Cours Saleya and its market (every morning)
- the Palace of Justice Plaza
- the Rossetti Plaza (great place for ice cream)
- the Saint François Plaza
- the Massena Plaza (try to go at night so you can see the Jaume Plensa’s sculptures lighting up)
- Saint Jacques le Majeur Church
- Sainte Réparate Basilica-Cathedral
The Colinne du Château (Castle’s Hill)
From the Vieux Nice, you can go up to the Colinne du Château to get a beautiful view over the bay, the city, and the mountains. It’s just a park now, the fort that was there, got destroyed in the 18th century under Louis the 14th’s orders.
There are many different ways to get up there, it can be nice to go up from the Vieux Nice and go down through the cemetery. You can also take the elevator.
The Cimiez Arenas
Cimiez district is mostly residential but is known for its ancient Roman Arenas. Built during the 2nd century, they were extended a century later. It still is a small amphitheater that could host up to 5000 people. The arena is mostly in ruin now, but it’s nice, strolling around the structure and the park surrounding it.
You can also visit the Cimiez Archaeological Museum, retracing Roman history in the region and featuring the artifacts found in Cimiez.
In the Cimiez District, you should visit the Garden of the Cimiez Monastery, from which you’ll get a panoramic view of Nice and the Bay. There are also two museums in this area: the Henri Matisse Museum and the Marc Chagall National Museum.
The Russian Orthodox Cathedral
Not what you’ll expect to see in Nice, this cathedral is the biggest Orthodox church outside of Russia. The Saint-Nicolas-and-Sainte-Alexandra Church was built in the 19th century due to the presence of a large Russian community in Nice at this time. It’s open to the public so you can visit it.
So, if you have some more time on your first day in Nice (and skipped a place for two of this Nice itinerary) then you can also consider, visiting one of the museums in Nice.
There are a lot of museums in Nice you can visit depending on your taste. Here are some of the most popular :
- Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain de Nice: Nice Contemporary and Modern Art Museum ;
- Musée des Arts Asiatiques: Asian Arts Museum ;
- Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Palais Massena: Art and History Museum, located in a luxurious 19th-century villa ;
- Palais Lascaris: an interesting collection of musical instruments
- Musée des Beaux-Arts Jules Chéret: Fine Art Museum
To visit the municipal museums in Nice, you’ll need to buy the city’s Museum Pass (10€ for 24 hours) at any of the museums or online.
READ MORE: Beautiful landscapes in France
Day 2 in Nice
For the second day in Nice, there is a little day trip.
On day 2 of your Nice itinerary, trek to Villefranche-Sur-Mer via the Sentier du Littoral (littoral path). It takes around 2 hours, it’s accessible to everyone, but some parts are a bit tough, bring good shoes – it is surely one of the best day trips to take from Nice.
From the city center, take the bus 38 and get out at the Théodore de Banville / Lorrain stop. From there you should easily spot the beginning of the path.
Most of the trail goes along the coastline, through cliffs, creeks and breathtaking views over the turquoise water. If you don’t want to trek, you can simply take the bus 81 or 100 from Nice to Villefranche-sur-Mer.
Once in Villefranche, take a walk through the old town, the port, and the beach. You can also visit the Citadelle Saint-Elme, built in the 16th century to protect the state of Savoie from enemies’ raids.
After lunch, head for the Mont Boron, a beautiful pine forest. From the top, enjoy the view over Nice on one side, and Villefranche on the other. Go up from Villefranche by the Escalier de Verre (glass staircase); once up there, visit the Mont Alban Fort.
Built in the 16th century, the fort is one of the few examples of military architecture from this period left intact. The building is still really well preserved.
You can then either walk back to Nice, going down the Mont Boron on the west side or catch a bus there.
Day 3 in Nice
For the third day in Nice, it is time to head out and discover some of the beautiful surroundings of Nice.
On your day 3 of your Nice itinerary, visit the region’s cutest village: Eze. Perched on top of a cliff, the town is a famous seaside destination. Stroll around the small paved streets, gaze at the luxurious villa and take in the laidback atmosphere of this small village.
Have a look at the church, built in the 18th century on the model of a 12th-century church. Next, head for the city’s exotic garden and the ruins of a castle from the 12th century. Then go down to the beach via the Nietsche’s Path, where you’ll be able to enjoy the scenery and the spectacular view over the sea.
You can easily get to Eze from the Nice city center via the 82 bus. Head for Eze Village, not Eze Bord de Mer.
Your next destination is Menton, nicknamed the pearl of France. Known for its cute streets and picturesque seaside, Menton and its historic center are the perfect places to wander around. Near the shore, you’ll find many small craft shops selling local products and handicraft (the town is famous for its lemon).
Don’t hesitate to get farther away from the commercial streets and explore the village. Don’t miss the Saint Michel Basilica either and the cemetery « du vieux château,» from there the view is spectacular.
To get to Menton, take the bus 100 from Eze Bord de Mer.
From there, you can trek to Monaco through the Cap Martin and Roquebrune, it takes around three hours, or you can take the bus 100 from Menton to Monaco. The trek is really scenic and charming, and the path is accessible to any fitness level.
Spend the rest of the day visiting Monaco. There are tons of things to do there, here are a few you can choose from :
- The Rock (le Rocher): this neighborhood, located on top of a big rock, is full of 16th to 18th centuries villas. Don’t miss the Chapelle de la Visitation, the cathedral and the Palace ;
- The Monte Carlo Casino: a luxurious palace built by Charles Garnier in 1879 ;
- The Exotic Garden
- The Oceanographic Museum
- The Palais Princier: the Prince’s Palace, you can visit part of it. Try to be there during the changing of the carabinieri.
- The Monte Carlo district
To get back to Nice, take the bus 100 from the Monaco bus station.
TRAVEL TIPS FOR NICE
Here are a few travel tips for your first trip to Nice, France.
How to Arrive in Nice:
The easiest and fastest way to arrive in Nice is by flying. The international Nice Côte d’Azur Airport serves most European cities, North Africa, the Middle East and some destinations in the US. The airport is only 8km away from the city center, you can take the airport shuttle to get to the city, or you can just cross the street and take a city bus (way cheaper).
You can also get there by train or bus. The train station is right in the center and the bus terminal is at the airport. Both are great options if you’re not coming from too far.
How to Get Around in Nice
The region is well served by public transportation, you can easily get around by bus or train. For short distances, there’s no need to book in advance.
If you prefer driving, you can rent a car at the airport or at the train station. Here are some tips for driving in France :
- Speed limits are 130 km/h (80 mph) on the highways (110 km/h if raining); 90 km/h outside of cities on regional roads, and 30 to 50 km/h in the cities.
- Most highways charge you when you exit ;
- On highways, you can’t stay on the left lane, the left is only for passing;
- Gasoline is usually cheaper at supermarkets;
- Parking in city centers is never free, there’s usually one place on the street where you pay, get a receipt and put it on your car. It’s usually free on Sundays and at night (check you’re not in a market zone). Sometimes you can only park for a couple of hours.
- When driving in Nice or around, don’t put any of your belongings on the seats, always under.
Where to stay in Nice:
The best area to stay in Nice is the city center. You should book as soon as you can, hotels in Nice often get fully booked. Here are a couple of options you can check out:
Hôtel Ozz by Happyculture: nice hostel with 4 to 6-bed dorms, AC, lockers, and soundproof rooms. They also have a couple of private rooms. Check out rates here.
Hotel Aria: artsy hotel, mixing a contemporary decoration in a historical building, all rooms have AC and a cable TV, a buffet breakfast is available every day. Find out about prices and availability.
Hôtel Negresco: The Negresco is Nice’s most iconic 5-star hotel, there, ancient traditions and modernity combine to create a unique experience. You can find out about the rates and get more information here.
Best Time to Visit Nice
Nice can be visited year round, most winters are chilly but not too cold. July and August are usually the hottest and most crowded months.
If you want to enjoy the beach and warm weather without the hoards of tourists, try going from May to June or in September.
What to Eat in Nice (Vegetarian-Friendly)
- Socca: a type of pizza, only the dough is made of chickpea flour, and the toppings are a bit different. There are tons of different options as to what’s on it.
- Panisse: also made of chickpea flour, panisses are usually fried and resemble polenta fries.
- Pissaladière: an onion pie, traditionally made with anchovies, but you can easily find one without it.
- Pan Bagnat: a sandwich made with a round bread, it typically is filled with Salade Niçoise, but you can find a lot of different options.
Heading to places nearby? Then check out my Provence post!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Julie has been traveling full time since 2016 and is always on the lookout for great destinations and travel hacks.
She shares her best travel experiences on her blog Julie Around the Globe and aims to inspire others to travel more and to places less known.