Short on time? Follow this link to a Google Maps version of our “One Day in Nice, France” travel itinerary with all of our favorite spots labeled! You can “follow” the guide, and the saved locations will automatically transfer to your own Google Maps account.
More posts from this trip:
Don’t mind me, just slow and steady over here–I’m making my way through the itinerary of our France and Italy trip we took last fall.
Quick recap: we spent 5 nights in the South of France, using Antibes as our base, and then 4 nights in Torno on Lake Como. It was our first international trip with our baby Charlotte, and we had the most amazing time. Looking back, both Tyler and I feel like this was our favorite trip ever besides our honeymoon. (Read our tips for traveling with a baby here).
We wanted this trip to be as low-key as possible while still experiencing all that each region had to offer. Antibes was a perfect base for exploring the South of France. It was relaxing and charming and so quaint (Check out our guide here).
We did, however, venture over to spend one day in Nice, France to explore the busier side of the French Riviera. We feel strongly that staying in a smaller town is the way to go in this area but were excited to stop in to see what all the fuss is about.
Nice is the fifth-largest city in France and the second-largest city in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region behind Marseille. Nice shows off the ridiculously blue Mediteranean on one side while cozying up to the foot of the alps on the other.
Also known as Nice la Belle (or “Nice the Beautiful”), this city has been attracting the rich and famous for hundreds of years and boasts nearly perfect weather year round. We had so much fun exploring and feel it is a must-see on any South of France itinerary.
We spent most of our day exploring Nice’s charming old town area which was to-die-for.
Here are a few of our favorite things we did/saw as well as a couple of suggestions for one day in Nice, France!
Where to park if you are spending just one day In Nice, France
It was a costly mistake not researching this ahead of time. If you’re driving yourself around the South of France (which we wholeheartedly recommend, by the way), you might want to consider doing a little parking recon before each of your day trips.
We had a fairly dramatic Italian Job moment on our way into Nice wherein we accidentally found ourselves driving through the very narrow, pedestrian-only laneways of old town.
(Sidebar: Tyler is normally SO good at driving in Europe and navigating all of the confusing signs and directions, but this was a weak moment lol.)
Charlotte was crying, Tyler was sweating bullets and speeding through the streets trying to find an exit, and I couldn’t stop laughing because we were getting yelled at in French on every corner. Finally he found a resident car driving through, so we followed him super closely and tailgated him through the gated way out. (Okay now reading that back it doesn’t sound that funny or intense, but it was dicey, just trust me.)
The point is this: if we had known where to park and had typed that into our Google Maps on our way into the city, it would have saved ourselves a lot of drama.
Park here for easy access (~10 minute walk) to the English Promenade as well as old town.
Get out on the water
A few clouds didn’t stop us from wanting to experience the coastline by way of a ferry boat, and it ended up being such a fun outing.
We reserved tickets online with Trans Côte d’Azur and paid at Quai Lunel on the Port of Nice just before we boarded the boat. This gave us the chance to check out all of the boats docked at the famous Old Port.
There are a couple of different options with this company like an all-day excursion over to Monaco, but we wanted something short and sweet because we knew Charlotte wouldn’t last super long on a boat. We did the coastal tour which lasted one hour and took us over to Villefranche bay and the Promenade des Anglais.
Tour Old Town
After a beautiful cruise up and down the coast, we made our way back towards the old town area.
We use, as we always do, Rick Steves’ walking tour (we brought this guidebook with us) to really get a feel for Nice’s vibrant (and almost Italian-feeling) old town while Charlotte napped on Tyler’s chest in the Ergo carrier.
Walk the Promenade des Anglais
Nice’s boardwalk is iconic, stretching a 7 km curve along the coast and boasting gorgeous palm trees and a ginormous pedestrian walkway throughout. We followed Rick Steves’ walking guide for this too, which took us by the Nice Massena which was so fun to see in person.
The water in Nice was truly stunning, and we walked with our mouths gaping all the way from old town to the The Negresco hotel.
The Hotel Negresco, by the way, is a must-see in Nice. Grab a drink at the cozy bar next to the lobby and take in the atmosphere.
Our advice is to rent a bike to cruise the promenade. By the time we started our walk, the temperatures had dropped a bit so we thought it might be too cold for Charlotte on a bike. However, biking was at the top of our list for Nice because the promenade seems to have been made for a leisurely sunny bike ride.
After a stop at the Hotel Negresco, we made it about halfway down the promenade back to the car when Tyler suddenly had the urge to jump in the water because “HOW CAN I SAY NO TO THE MEDITERRANEAN??!?”
In his defense, the water was literally glowing and looked heavenly. So he stripped down to his briefs and jumped in. And then of course Charlotte had to join him. It was adorable.
During the summer, there are tons of beach clubs and areas to lounge on the huge strip of beach.
I’m SO glad we spent one day in Nice, France. It’s truly such a unique city and fun place to explore.