Broaden your horizons and make new memories with unforgettable day trips from Nice – from soaking up the glitz and glamor of Monaco to exploring arty Antibes.
With the winding scenic coastline of the Cote d’Azur on your doorstep, the hardest thing about taking a day trip from Nice is deciding where to travel. Do you head inland to explore Provence, or drive west to the other highlights of the French Riviera? Do you even have time to make your way across the border to Italy for the day?
Whether it’s glitz and glamor, stunning historical sites or just the lure of discovering a new spot that’s tempting you, our list of the best day trips from Nice will give you plenty of inspiration to help you choose your perfect destination.
Nice may have its own sprinkling of glamor, but to see this taken to the next level, spend a day exploring the glitzy billionaire’s playground that is Monaco. Located just 30 minutes from Nice, the principality makes for an ideal day trip, and your first taste of how the other half live will not disappoint – every day is a party in Monaco.
From the super yachts of the super rich to the lush, manicured appearance of the streets and parks, there’s not an inch of Monaco that hasn’t been perfected to produce the glittering haven you’ll find stretched out before you.
Visit during Grand Prix season and see how two of the world’s most opulent worlds collide when Formula One motor racing comes to Monaco. Alternatively, don your tux and live a James Bond-esque life for a night in some of the principality’s trendiest bars.
It’s not all glamorous displays of wealth here, however. The Musee Oceanographique is a world-class aquarium founded by Prince Albert I in the early 20th century, and its cliff-side location is truly stunning. Before heading back to Nice you should also see the 19th-century cathedral, where you’ll find the graves of Prince Rainier and his wife, Hollywood icon Grace Kelly.
Nice to Cannes
There’s hardly room to hear yourself think if you visit nearby Cannes during the famous annual film festival. If you can bear the crowds, however, your chances of spotting a famous film star are pretty high. Better though to walk La Croisette at a quieter time of year, when you can truly enjoy this elegant spot in another French Riviera town wrapped in the region’s signature air of glamor.
You’ll see mind-boggling yachts moored at the harbor, while the streets have a charming, labyrinthine quality to them. The old town of Le Suquet offers the best views of the bay – so make sure to have your camera at the ready.
There are plenty of great options for dinner, including the two Michelin-starred Palme d’Or, but you’ll also love Table 22 by Mantel in Le Suquet with its modern twist on Mediterranean food. If you’re not too hungry, arrive early for tapas-style nibbles such as socca with summer truffles and a supreme lemon tart.
Nice to Villefranche-sur-Mer
From Nice, you can be in Villefranche-sur-Mer in a matter of minutes, and it’s a trip that many Nice locals make regularly. The beaches here are a joy to behold and the ideal place to lay back and relax.
It’s also a village with bags of charm, its old pastel-colored buildings teeter on the cliff side, seemingly destined to tumble down into the sea. This medieval fishing village dates back to the 14th century and retains many of its original ramshackle features – tight passageways, precipitous stairways and old squares.
Find a brasserie full of locals and while away the hours in the shady streets. There’s a 16th century citadel to visit and a Saturday morning market where you can pick up a wealth of local produce and souvenirs.
Nice to Antibes
It’s hard to resist the lure of Antibes. After all, this is the place that tempted Picasso, Guy de Maupassant and many other artists and writers. It has grown somewhat since then, but you can still wander the 16th-century ramparts, gaze out to sea from the port and experience the pull of Antibes for yourself.
The Musee Picasso has an excellent collection of his works, housed in the striking, angular Chateau Grimaldi where he once lived and worked. You’ll also find Juan-les-Pins here, a town that blends into Antibes and is known to have inspired Picasso and Monet, who both immortalized it on canvas. Writer F. Scott Fitzgerald once lived here, and his house has now been turned into a high-end hotel.
Nice to Provence
Having explored the nearby coast, swing inland to see what Provence has to offer. Away from the sea, you’ll find heady lavender fields and breathtaking light that has inspired countless artists over the centuries.
You can eat your way around this part of France, savoring its delicious local produce including sun-ripened fruit and vegetables, fresh goats cheese and moreish sausage, or join an organized wine tour from Nice.
There are olive groves where you can buy grassy and peppery extra virgin olive oil from the source, or you might want to plunge into the atmospheric city of Marseille.
Aix-en-Provence, two hours north of Nice, is a classy town with wide boulevards that was once the home of Paul Cezanne. You can visit his final studio at Atelier Cezanne, before heading back to the Cours Mirabeau with its multitude of fine cafés and Renaissance buildings.
Grab some stratospherically good baking from the Farinoman Fou boulangerie on Rue Mignet to take back with you to Nice. The never-ending line of patient customers attests to the quality on offer.
Nice to the Italian Riviera
Italy has its Riviera too, which you can discover just across the border, beyond Menton and Monaco. The Ligurian border town of Ventimiglia is just a 45-minute drive from Nice and plays host to a buzzing market.
Further on is the more attractive San Remo – the City of Flowers. The stylish casino here was built in 1905, while this compact town also plays host to an annual music festival and the Milan-San Remo cycling classic every March. There’s no reason why you can’t explore more than one Riviera in a day.
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