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How to Spend The Perfect One Day in Nice Itinerary

Last Updated on 18th August 2023 by Sophie Nadeau

There’s an old joke that goes something like ‘Nice is nice,’ and fortunately for those visiting the charming French Riviera city, this is true! Nice is a dazzling southern French city with bucket loads of character and hundreds of days of sun a year. Though it would be unfortunate to only have 24 hours in the city, if you only have a short time in Nice, here’s how to spend the perfect one day in Nice.

one day in nice itinerary

What is Nice known for?

Nice is a beautiful city located in the French Riviera, known for its stunning beaches, vibrant markets, and charming old town. The city is also famed for its spectacular seaside promenade, which is known as the Promenade des Anglais.

Is one day enough time in Nice?

To be perfectly honest, one day is not really enough time to see all that Nice has to offer. After all, it’s one of the biggest cities in France (number 7 in terms of population size) and is also one of the most sought after tourist destinations.

As such, if you want to see and do everything that Nice has to offer, you should look to set aside at least three or four full days. With this being said, if one day is all you can allocate to Nice, then you should visit nonetheless.

If you only have a short time on the French Riviera, then be sure to check out our suggested French Riviera itinerary. Those looking to use Nice as a base to explore the wider area during their trip can check out our guide to the best day trips from Nice.

oranges growing in nice
merry go round in nice

Suggested places to visit during one day in Nice

Morning in Nice

Start your day the right way with a stroll along the Promenade des Anglais. This famous waterfront promenade stretches for 7 kilometres, though, of course, you won’t want to see it all in one go.

Enjoy the stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and the iconic blue chairs. There’s even a mini statue of Liberty located along the sea front. For a complete idea of the highlights not to miss, check out our Promenade des Anglais walking tour.

A History & Walking Guide to the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, South of France

After soaking up the sun and sea views, head to the Cours Saleya Market. This colourful outdoor market is located in the heart of the old town. The market dates back to the end of the 19th-century, when Nice was home to the first ever wholesale flower market in the world.

Here you can find a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, local specialties, flowers, and French souvenirs. Please note that the market is open every morning of the week except for on Mondays.

cours saleya

If you’re interested in enjoying a little bit of ecclesiastical architecture close to Cours Saleya, then you need to look no further than the Chapelle de la Miséricorde de Nice. This beautiful Baroque church dates back to the 1700s and boasts murals on its walls and a domed ceiling.

Chapelle de la Miséricorde de Nice

Lunch in Nice

For lunch, check out a regional speciality: socca. This simple dish consists of chickpea flour, water, olive oil, and salt, making it naturally gluten-free. The best way to consume it is together with a glass of crisp rosé or an ice-cold beer.

When it comes to where to get socca, there are many restaurants to choose from, but my personal favourite is Chez Pipo. However, even during the week, it’s not uncommon to spend a little while waiting for a table, and so be sure to arrive earlier in the lunch hour to avoid disappointment.

The restaurant is named for the founder ‘Pipo,’ who started the business in 1923 selling the local speciality to tourists and locals alike. Pipo’s family then continued running the restaurant right up until the 1980s. 

Chez Theresa socca in Nice, France
chez pipo nice

Afternoon in Nice

After lunch, enjoy one of the areas which Nice is most famous for: the winding streets of the old town, which is known as Vieux Nice in French. Admire the colourful buildings, quaint shops, and charming cafes.

vieux nice

Several highlights you won’t want to miss include the Neoclassical Place du Palais de Justice, Palais Lascaris (a 17th-century palace which has been transformed into a museum), and a former home of Henri Matisse which has been transformed into a museum where you can find works by the acclaimed artist himself.

Place du Palais de Justice
Place du Palais de Justice

If you would prefer to get to know the city together with a local guide, then you can book a walking tour like this one.

Afterwards, go in search of some more off the beaten path spots in the city. One of my personal favourites is the Russian Orthodox Church which can be found along Avenue Nicolas II and is a truly unique gem that truly catches you off guard when rounding the corner from the underpass and adjacent petrol station.

St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral of Nice

If you would prefer a relaxing activity before going out for the night, then another option is to book yourself into a beach club. The best of Nice’s beaches have been privatised, meaning that you’l have to book yourself a spot at a beach club in order to secure a parasol, lounger, and prime access to the water.

There are a number of different beach clubs to choose from, but some of the most popular include Beau Rivage (which is actually operational all year long) and Opera Beach, which lies in the shadow of Hotel Negresco.

If you’re looking for a snack before dinner and want to try out a local ice cream parlour, then Fenocchio Glacier is the place to go to. As well as all of the typical flavours like chocolate, hazelnut, and pistachio, there’s a mouthwatering array of more unusual flavours to choose from, such as thyme, rosemary, and tomato/ basil.

ice cream in nice

Evening in Nice

For dinner, there are a whole myriad of delectable Mediterranean and French cuisine restaurants to choose from. Some of the best in the city include Bistrot d’Antoine, Peixes, and Di Piu. Wherever you go, just make sure to make a reservation in advance.

After dinner, take a stroll along the Promenade du Paillon. This beautiful park features a series of fountains, sculptures, and green spaces and also happens to be beautifully lit up at night, making it a perfect spot for a romantic evening walk.

If you still have energy for another activity after dinner, then it’s worth noting that Nice is one of the best places in France to go out for an evening of dancing or bar hopping.

Whether you want to go to a casual cocktail bar or wish to go all out to a bar where you can go dancing on the tables, there’s something for everyone in Nice.

A final note on planning a trip to Nice

All in all, one day in Nice can be a perfect mix of exploring the city’s historic landmarks, sampling some of the local cuisine, and indulging in the beautiful scenery of the French Riviera.

place massena nice

Where to stay in Nice

Thanks to its status as one of the most popular places to visit in France (even among the French), there’s no shortage of wonderful places to stay in Nice to suit plenty of different budgets and needs.

With this being said, please note that Nice is indeed one of the pricier towns along the French Riviera (and, to be honest, within the entirety of France) and so you might opt to stay somewhere else in the are after visiting Nice if you’re on a tighter budget.

Budget- The Maioun Guesthouse: This hostel is set against the backdrop of a restored 19th-century temple and is just over a ten-minute walk away from the nearest beach. There are mixed dorms where each bed has a privacy curtain or private rooms for an extra fee. Check prices and availability here.

Mid-range- Hotel Cresp: This laid-back hotel is conveniently located close to Nice’s Opera House. All rooms have facilities such as TVs and complimentary WiF. Check prices and availability here.

Luxury- Hotel Negresco: For an unforgettable stay during your time in Nice, you’ll want to book yourself into this luxurious five-star accommodation which has become something of an institution in the city. Check prices and availability here.

hotel negresco

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Sophie Nadeau loves dogs, books, travel, pizza, and history. A Francophile at heart, she runs solosophie.com when she’s not chasing after the next sunset shot or consuming something sweet. She splits her time between Paris and London and travels as much as she can! Subscribe to Sophie’s YouTube Channel.

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