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Nice in one day may sound like a challenge, but in reality, you can see a lot of the main sites in that amount of time!
One of the most popular cities to visit in France, Nice sits along the French Riviera with Monaco and Italy nearby. It is sun-drenched and lovely, with plenty of beaches, restaurants, markets, art galleries, and more.
But, if you’re short on time, you can see a lot in just one day in Nice. Let me show you how!
I also had a 1 day Nice itinerary during my 7-day South of France trip that I took in the fall. We were flying out of Nice the next day, so we drove in from Cannes and explored this exciting town in just a 24-hour period.
Having visited Nice before, I knew some of the top things to do in just a day to get the most out of our trip there. So now I’m going to share it with you.
- Things to do in Nice in One Day
- 1. Stroll Along the Promenade des Anglais
- 2. Visit the Cours Saleya Market
- 3. Hike Up Colline du Chateau
- 4. Take a Photo at the #ILoveNice Sign
- 5. Lunch at La Favola
- 6. Wander Over to Place Massena
- 7. Explore the Beach
- 8. Dinner at Le 3e Restaurant Terrasse
Things to do in Nice in One Day
From epic views to lovely beaches, let’s get into how to visit Nice in one day.
1. Stroll Along the Promenade des Anglais
This promenade is a great way to start your day, as it is located along the beach. So you can take a stroll and see the beach, people watch and even see some lovely hotels and buildings.
You’ll also spot the Colline du Chateau, otherwise known as Castle Hill.
So begin your day of exploring Nice with a walk on the Promenade before heading into the Old City.
2. Visit the Cours Saleya Market
This is easily the most famous market to visit in Nice, and for a great reason! There is so much to see here! For starters, it is conveniently located in the Old City of Nice, and it sells anything from fresh fruits and veggies to lavender products and soaps.
You can also get fresh flower arrangements, and there are several charming shops to take a peek inside.
But, my favorite thing to get at the Cours Saleya Market has to be the socca. Socca is a chickpea flour pancake made with just chickpea flour, olive oil, and water. It is then baked in a pan until nice and crispy.
Top it with some salt, and you have a tasty snack to enjoy. I highly recommend grabbing a socca to enjoy by yourself or with friends before continuing your Nice itinerary.
The Cours Saleya Market is open every day but Monday from 6 am-1:30 pm.
3. Hike Up Colline du Chateau
Now that you’ve had a delicious local snack, it is time to “hike” or climb up the many stairs to get to the top of the Colline du Chateau.
Otherwise known as Castle Hill in English, this prominent site in Nice has been occupied since Celtic and Roman times, and was used as a military citadel from the 11th-18th centuries.
From the top of the hill, you’ll be able to visit the Foilles Archeologiques (an archaeological site), visit the lovely park, admire the artificial waterfall, and have some of the most epic views of the city.
Enjoy views overlooking Nice and the Promenade des Anglais and on the other side of the hill, you’ll see the Nice Port.
Note that there is an elevator if you don’t want to hike up the hill!
4. Take a Photo at the #ILoveNice Sign
After climbing down from Castle Hill swing by the #ILoveNice Sign to take a photo and admire the views over the Promenade des Anglais and the Mediterranean Sea.
This is a cute photo opp and a fun place to people-watch as well.
5. Lunch at La Favola
After taking that selfie, it is time for lunch! And, being so close to Italy, why not get a little Italian food?
I really enjoyed La Favola on my last trip to Nice, especially as it has great outdoor seating and delicious food. But let me warn you now: the portions are huge! So it may be a good idea to split your meal.
Start with an Aperol Spritz and dig into a delicious lasagna or seafood pasta. It is a great place to enjoy a slow lunch and watch the world go by.
Open Monday-Thursday from 12-2:30 pm and 7-10:30 pm. Open on Friday from 12-2:30 pm and 7-11 pm, on Saturday from 12-3 pm and 7-11 pm, and Sunday from 12-3 pm and 7-10:30 pm.
6. Wander Over to Place Massena
Located in the middle of Nice, this plaza has some great sights. The first is the Fontaine du Soleil. This fountain is comprised of a sculpture of the Greek god Apollo, who symbolizes the sun, and other statues that symbolize planets.
After that, you’ll want to walk along the Promenade du Paillon which is a lovely area with fountains, unique sculptures of people sitting on random poles, and lovely tile work. In the summertime, you’ll often see children running around the fountains on a hot day.
Then, you can walk over to the Jardin Albert 1er which has many pretty trees, art, and an open-air theatre.
7. Explore the Beach
I mean, if you only have one day in Nice, you at least have to see the beaches, right? This city sits right along the Mediterranean, so why not spend the last few hours of daylight soaking in the sunshine on the sea?
There are ample beaches in the area to choose from, including some beach clubs and some that are just public beaches. If you had a full day to relax on the beach, a beach club is always a lot of fun, but if you just want to sit and relax for an hour or two, then grab a towel and watch as the sun goes down together on the beach.
8. Dinner at Le 3e Restaurant Terrasse
Located in the Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de Mediterranee on their upstairs terrace, you’ll be entranced by the views overlooking the sea as well as the food.
We ended up staying here during our time in Nice, but the restaurant does have tasty things like a traditional Nicoise salad, bouillabaisse-style soup, sea bass, and more!
Be sure to pair it with a nice glass of Provence Rose and enjoy dinner with a view to end your Nice in one day itinerary!
If You Have More Time in Nice
If you have more than a day in Nice, France, the options are truly endless! For starters, you could see more of the museums in Nice such as the Musee Matisse, Marc Chagall National Museum, Musee des Beaux-Arts de Nice, and even the Modern and Contemporary Art Museum.
There are honestly so many great art museums to fill up another day in Nice.
Aside from that, you can take the time to visit nearby cities via train or bus like Eze, Cannes, or even Monaco.
There is also the option to spend a day at the beach. While there are plenty of beaches to choose from in Nice, if you want to take the short bus ride over to Villefranche-sur-Mer, you’ll be met with sand instead of pebbles on the beach.
Lastly, you could also use more than a day in Nice, France to explore more of the area via a day trip.
Some epic day trips from Nice include a full-day French Riviera tour, Gorges du Verdon and lavender fields tour during the lavender season, Cotes de Provence wine tour, and even a Provence countryside tour.
How to Get to Nice
Nice is an easy city to get to thanks to its nearby airport, called the Nice Cote d’Azur Airport. However, if you are adding this to a trip from Paris, then you can just take the train. A train from Paris to Nice is about 6.5 hours long.
Once you’re in Nice, it is a fairly walkable city. However, they also have buses and trams to help you get around. A one-way ticket costs €1.50 and a day pass costs €5.
Where to Stay For your 1 Day in Nice, France Itinerary
These are some great hotels to stay at for your Nice one day and night trip.
Budget: Hotel Villa Rivoli
Located outside of the Old City, Hotel Villa Rivoli is less than a 10-minute walk to the beach, and about 20 minutes to the Cours Saleya Market. Plus, this former Belle Epoque home has all the charms from its past and lovely rooms.
Mid-Range: Hotel Nice Cote d’Azur
This hotel is located in the heart of Nice and is close to the Basilique Notre Dame de l’Assomption and is about 15 minutes away from the Place Massena. This lovely hotel offers stunning rooms and even has a nice lounge bar for wine and cocktails.
This is where we stayed in Nice, mostly because I used points, but it is definitely worth a splurge. This 5-star hotel not only has the great restaurant we mentioned above, but they have an indoor/outdoor pool, gym, sauna, and Turkish bath, and has great room service. Feel pampered staying here. And as a bonus, it is right across the street from the beach and super close to everything.
Best Time to Visit Nice
If you can only see Nice in one day, you better make it count, right? So when is the best time to visit Nice?
I’ll be honest Nice really isn’t a bad place to visit year-round. Seriously. Yes, it is too cool to go for a swim from mid-October through mid-May (depending on the year). However, Nice doesn’t typically see a lot of rainfall, and even the winter months are comfortably cool.
But if beach time is what you’re after, you’ll want to be in Nice from late May through early October. Late May through mid-June and mid-September through early October (aka shoulder seasons) are great times to visit to enjoy the beach without as many people around.
We actually visited in early October and it was definitely warm enough for a swim. In fact, we were just in Cannes having a beach day the day before!
So there you have it, the perfect Nice in one day itinerary that’ll give you a taste of what this city has to offer, and most likely leave you planning your return visit ASAP!
Would you visit Nice in a day? What would you most like to do?
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