Last Updated on 22nd April 2019 by Sophie Nadeau
The glittering Côte d’Azur has attracted tourists for centuries, and not just because of the postcard-perfect towns or the wealth of history. Instead, visitors can also expect to enjoy plenty of sun, an excellent foodie scene, and a plethora of things to do. And when pondering on where to stay, consider basing yourself in Nice. to be found in the region After all, with excellent transport links, everything along the French Riviera is just a stone’s throw away. Here’s your guide to the very best day trips from Nice!
Things to know before going on day trips from Nice
If you’re looking to explore the French Riviera then congratulations: you’re about to embark on a trip to one of the most beautiful places in Europe, if not the world. Nice is a great place from which to base yourself to explore the wider region, with the small principality of Monaco and many of France’s top destinations all within an hour’s travel.
Before you go, you should know that while English is widely spoken, it’s only polite to learn a few words of the local language, French. In order to help you get by, I recommend bringing along a simple French Phrasebook like this one. Otherwise, since Nice is such a popular destination, you’ll want to book your accommodation well in advance so as to secure the best deals. Check the best accommodation prices in Nice here.
Finally, while you can take yourself on self-guided drives and day trips from Nice, it’s always nice to book an excursion so as to see multiple towns and destinations at once, without the stress of having to transfer using train and buses. GetYourGuide has a wide selection of excursions from Nice, though these are some of the best rated;
As the last large town before the Italian border, it should come as no surprise that Menton is a beautiful blend of Italianate meets French-inspired architecture. Home to quirky delights such as a port filled with colourful houses, several maritime-themed museums, and a cemetery perched high on the hilltop where a Château once stood, there’s no shortage of things to do in this beautiful settlement.
Nice to Menton: From Nice, it couldn’t be easier to reach Menton. The best way to reach the Southerly city is to take the train from Nice-Ville station. The journey takes around forty minutes and from Menton station, it’s around a ten-minute walk to reach old town Menton. Easily one of the most beautiful train rides in Europe, the tracks will take you along the French Riviera coastline and allow for gorgeous views of the glittering sea below.
Somewhere on the coastline between Nice and Cannes, the charming French resort of Antibes is best-known for its 16th-century Vauban-created fortifications (including the Château Carré), as well as the glittering Port Vauban area. Other highlights of Antibes include a Picasso Museum and La Garoupe beach.
Nice to Antibes: If you want to get to Antibes, then the easiest way to get there is on the train. The journey takes under fifteen minutes and costs just a few euros each way. I don’t recommend renting a car to reach Antibes as the public transportation between the two towns is great and parking can end up being pretty expensive!
Tucked high in the mountaintops, overlooking the glittering sea and still with a charming medieval feel, there’s no doubt that Èze is one of the best day trips from Nice. Fairytale views combine with ancient streets, with highlights of Eze being the botanical gardens perched at the very top of town, and several stunning chapels hidden amongst the maze of streets. While in the area, be sure to check out the Fragonard Perfume Factory on the fringes of the old town that offers free daily tours.
Nice to Èze: The easiest way (unless you want to climb up an actual mountain!) to get to the medieval hilltop village of Èze is by bus. Costing just €1,50 each way, the number of the bus is the #82 or #112. Don’t make the same French Riviera travel mistake I did and assume that the train station of ‘Èze’ is one and the same as the medieval town. Èze station is actually that of Èze Sur Mer, a resort town that’s about an hour’s hike away from Èze along the Nietzsche path (Chemin de Nietzsche).
There is perhaps nowhere along the French Riviera quite as famous as star-studded Nice. Best-known for its world-famous marina and sandy beaches, other things to do in Cannes include wandering along La Croisette (Canne’s boulevard equivalent to Nice’s Promenade des Anglais), enjoying the sights of the Vieux-Port, and visiting the Musée de la Castre, a museum located within the walls of a former medieval castle.
Nice to Cannes: From Nice, it couldn’t be easier to reach Cannes. You can either hop on the #200 bus from along the Promenade des Anglais. The trip (like any bus trip in the Nice region and its surrounds) costs just €1,50 per journey. With this being said, the bus takes longer than the train and, as the train costs just a couple of euro more than the bus, getting a train to Cannes from Nice-Ville station is probably your best bet.
Best-known around the world for being the second smallest country in Europe, this tiny principality is located along a small enclave along the Southern French coastline. Highlights of Monaco include spying the world-famous Casino de Monte Carlo, enjoying the old town in the streets surrounding the Prince’s Palace of Monaco, and gawking at all of the super yacht’s parked in one of Monaco’s two ports.
Nice to Monaco: A visit to Monaco can easily be combined with a trip to nearby Menton and Èze-Sur-Mer. While the train from Nice-Ville to Monaco station takes around half an hour and costs just a few euro, alternatively you can take the ferry between the two cities for a more unique experience. Book your ferry tickets in advance here.
An easy day trip from Nice, Grasse can be found in the hills above Cannes. Often alleged to be the unofficial ‘perfume capital of the world,’ this is one French destination where you’ll discover plenty of perfume-themed attractions like the Musée International de la Parfumerie and the chance to create your own perfume. Otherwise, meander through the old town, enjoy the Mediterranean cuisine in one of Grasse’s many restaurants, and see the 12th-century Notre Dame De Puy.
Nice to Grasse: The easiest way to reach Grasse as a day trip from Nice is to take the #500 bus. Alternatively, you can take the train to the city. Both routes pass through Cannes, meaning that you can easily combine a visit to both French destinations. Whereas the train takes around an hour each way, the bus takes about an hour and twenty minutes in each direction.
Often dubbed the ‘second prettiest village in France,’ Saint-Paul-de-Vence was once a secluded wall city that operated as a semi-state in its own right. Wander through the pedestrian-only medieval cobbled streets and you’ll soon discover why many impressionist painters were drawn to the picture-perfect destination during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Nice to Saint-Paul-de-Vence: Accessible via only bus or car, there is a direct bus (Bus #400) around once an hour during the day between Nice and Vence, full details of which can be found here. The bus takes around an hour and offers breathtaking views of the little hilltop towns and villages littered in the mountains surrounding the French Riviera.
Book now: Cannes, Antibes & Saint-Paul de Vence
For those seeking a hidden gem of a hilltop village that’s not quite as famous as the likes of Saint-Paul-de-Vence or Èze, Biot is a must-see. Well-known for its medieval-esque feel and wealth of little boutique shops, some of the best things to do in Biot include seeing the artisanal glass blowing and visiting the museum devoted to Fernand Léger.
Nice to Biot: The journey between Nice and Biot is a little trickier than some of the other day trips from Nice as you’ll need to take a train to Antibes before transferring onto the local Envibus buses. As such, the journey between the two settlements takes over an hour each way.
Though a little further away from the city than some of the other suggestions for day trips from Nice, the ancient port city of Marseille is worthy of a visit on any trip to the South of France. Inhabited for millennia and once known as Massalia and is now the second largest city in France, meaning that there’s no shortage of things to see and do. Highlights of Marseille include mooching around the Vieux-Port, climbing up to Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde and enjoying the local seafood!
Nice to Marseille: For the easiest route from Nice to Marseille, you’ll want to catch the train. Journey times are around two and a half hours each way, meaning that you should only really take this Nice day trip if you have a burning desire to see the oldest city in France! Otherwise, the French Riviera offers plenty of other delights that don’t take nearly so long to reach…
For those looking for a taste of the sea, Villefranche-sur-Mer may well have it all. This town is sandwiched between Monaco and Nice, and is not far from the French-Italian border. Once there, you’ll soon be able to enjoy delights such as the Old Town (including the Rue Obscure, a 13th-century passage under the harbour) and the St Pierre Chapel, dedicated to Saint Peter who is the patron saint of fishermen.
Nice to Villefranche-sur-Mer: The easiest way to reach Villefranche-sur-Mer is to take the #100 bus. Journeying between Nice and the tiny fishing village is just fifteen minutes, and the bus journey affords stunning views over the Mediterranean coastline.
Parasailing on the French Riviera
Though not so much of a ‘day trip from Nice’ like the other destinations in this article, if you’re looking to get out of the city and want to enjoy a new perspective of the French Riviera, then this Parasailing on the French Riviera excursion reaches 50 metres in height and offers stunning views of iconic sights such as the Baie des Anges.