3 days in Nice itinerary: an ultimate city trip experience

Welcome to 3 days in Nice! This Nice itinerary will show you why it quickly became one of our European favourites for a great summer experience. The city is located along the stunning French Riviera with picturesque streets, vibrant markets and a charming old town. Nice is not your typical city trip, as you will see that this 3-day itinerary is filled with sun, culture, delicious cuisine, the Mediterranean Sea and day trips from Nice. Do ensure you make the most of your time in this coastal paradise! Let’s go!

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Is Nice worth visiting?

Yes, yes yes! Nice is absolutely worth visiting and we cannot believe we ever skipped it on previous trips to the South of France. Shame on us! From the moment we arrived for our first 3 days in Nice, we knew the city was a sunny destination with beaches, perhaps jetset with many beach clubs as well. Never did we expect that it would be culturally booming with incredible colourful buildings and culinary highlights too.

For us, Nice has the full package for a very diverse city trip! So if you are thinking about skipping Nice on your next trip to France, think again. This Nice itinerary will guide you to all the best things to do in Nice so you will see for yourself that Nice is worth visiting.

Is Nice a good base for the South of France?

Nice is a perfect base to discover more of the South of France. After visiting the region several times, we now know that the area of Nice is worth visiting and will always be a great location to stay. No matter if you stay in Nice for 3 days, or 2 or 5. From Nice, it is very easy to do several day trips which we will also cover in this 3 days in Nice itinerary. For example to Monaco or Cannes. All together, Nice opens the doors to the French Riviera for you!

How many days in Nice is enough?

How many days do you need in Nice? Are 3 days in Nice enough? Yes, it would make sense to visit Nice for 3 perfect days. This way you have a great opportunity to mix exploring time with some relaxing moments as well. However, more is not a bad idea either! This city exceeded all of our expectations and left us with a regrettable feeling when leaving. In the end, we could’ve stayed a week easily. Perhaps not to only stay in Nice itself, but also to use it as a base to discover more around.

What is the best time to visit Nice?

Did you know that Nice is one of Europe’s sunniest cities? With a high average of daily sun hours, Nice is perfect to visit all year round. Of course, some months might be more attractive for you than others. In general, we can recommend the following:

  • Sunseekers: for water activities, feet in the sand and beach club moments; June until mid-September are perfect. The water has a great temperature and the days can be rather hot. Of course, these are also the busiest months attracting many tourists. And therefore it results in higher costs for your accommodation during peak season.
  • A sunny trip on a budget: if you wish to avoid the crowds and therefore also peak season prices, April and May or the end of September and October are great months. The weather is pleasant with enjoyable temperatures and the city is still vibrant.
  • Winter in Nice: relatively mild compared to other European cities with temperatures around 10 to 15 degrees during the day. And with only a few rainy days per month, Nice is still a great winter escape, also for your travel budget.
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How to get to Nice?

  • By airplane to Nice: over 100 worldwide destinations are directly connected to the airport of Nice (NCE). Within Europe as well as some connections to North America or the Middle East. Nice Airport is perfectly located. It will only take you around 20 minutes by car or taxi to the city centre. Another option is to take for about 25 minutes the Airport Shuttle which is an “express bus” (number 98 and 99). Or hop on tram line 2 to get to the city centre.
  • By airplane via Paris: it is a great possibility that you cannot fly directly and would need a layover in Paris. Which is a short extra stop, with an extra flight between Paris and Nice of around 2 hours. This is also offered by several low-cost carriers in case you are booking a great roundtrip in France in separate reservations.
  • By train from Paris: if you are combining a trip to Paris with Nice, the train is also a great option to get around. With the high-speed train (the well-known TGV from Paris Gare de Lyon to Nice Ville station) you enter a completely different world in approximately 6 hours. But, that only after enjoying the ride through the French countryside! Isn’t that an extra win? The trains are comfortable and could also be more attractive costs-wise. Make sure you book your tickets via SNCF in advance.
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How to get around in Nice?

Getting around in nice is rather easy due to the public transport network. Besides that, the short distances make it also a walk-friendly city for your 3-day trip. Exploring Nice on foot is the best option to soak up all the city has to offer. Within a short time, you can reach the shopping areas as well as the old town, beaches and several parks. If you do wish to use public transport, you can think of the tram (2 tram lines available) or busses.

Another great (and sustainable) option is the shared bike such as “Lime“. From 2024 these bikes will replace the well-known “Velo Blue” bikes. We have used Lime before and the process for setting up and using a bike is quickly done. You need to download the app of either of these companies on your mobile phone. From there onwards you can locate a bike with your created account and activate the usage by scanning the QR code on the bike itself.

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Where to stay in Nice

What are the best places to stay in Nice? And in which areas? The city has many options for stunning and trendy accommodations. You can stay in private homes or apartments if you like to have some more privacy. Besides that, there are many hotels to pick from – ranging from budget to luxury. We are sure you can find a great place to stay. However, it is highly recommended to pick a location with air conditioning if you do stay in the summer.

So where to search? See below, and find the best deals via de map:

  • Stay in Nice Old Town (Vieux Nice): in the middle of the city’s buzz! This area is perfect if you like to feel the historical city vibes all the time. Or if you like to enjoy the restaurant or nightlife scene.
  • Waterfront stay at Promenade des Anglais: do you like to wake up with the sound of the sea? Or to smell the salty air from your bed? Staying in this area will provide you with convenient access to the city and the beaches!
  • Musicians Quarter: it is more residential, but also more tranquil compared to the two areas above. You are close to all the activities and shops.



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3 days in Nice – an itinerary for 3 perfect days in Nice

Day 1 in Nice

Place Masséna and Fontaine du Soleil

It is time to start your 3 days in Nice itinerary in the heart of the city: Place Masséna and Fontaine du Soleil. The area is one of the prettiest with colourful red buildings. Besides that, the city is vibing here! The well-known square Place Masséna is a fun place to be. If you are lucky you can enjoy a festival, market or other event here. You might cross this square more often as there are many shops and restaurants in the close surroundings. And well, if you are in the mood for some people-watching this is your place to be.

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After visiting the square you continue to Fontaine du Soleil. A nice place to slow down for a moment and enjoy the masterpiece in front of you: the fountain. And if you are in the area already, do check out the Promenade du Paillon as well. What we truly enjoyed was the night entertainment, where street artists would sing the most beautiful songs. On some nights a big group of people gathered around the artists. Everyone started singing and dancing all together. It was spectacular!

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Cours Saleya market

After your first stop, you continue your walk to the Cours Saleya Market via the road: Rue Saint-François de Paule. Just like us, you might visit this place more often during your 3 days in Nice! You will quickly notice that the pretty buildings just keep coming, just like the Opera de Nice. Soon you will arrive at Cours Saleye, famous for the market (flowers and vegetables and on Mondays Antique), and great evening entertainment with many restaurants and terraces for outdoor dining at night. The city truly is alive here with bustling crowds and impressive performances.

If you continue the walk until the end, you will see “Place Pierre Gautier” midway. Here you have several buildings like a chapel and government buildings with incredible architecture. At night we also enjoyed a craft and jewelry market here. However, this night market is only taking place from June to September.

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The old town (Vieux Nice)

So what are the other stops you should make? Check out the Cathedral Sainte-Reparate for its Baroque architecture, vibrant Place Rossetti (old square) or getting lost in the small alleyways of Vieille Ville.

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Beach Club

If it is not possible to go for a moment to work on your tan, to relax or to party? We then highly recommend dressing up properly and come over for dinner! There is no better feeling than enjoying some good food with views over the Mediterranean and the most relaxing dining atmosphere. We had a great dining experience at Blue Beach, being spoiled with very caring service and delicious fresh seafood!

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Day 2 in Nice

Cathedral of Saint Nicholas

You are starting the second day of the 3 days in Nice itinerary a little bit outside the city centre. Here you will find one of the most impressive buildings. It is the well-known Cathedral of Saint Nicholas, a Russian Cathedral. In the middle of a residential area, this architect really knew how to use the prettiest combination of colours for the building with domes, mosaics and many other decorations. It is a place of worship and is still active daily. You can enter, however, be mindful that prayers could be taking place. In all honesty, the outside of the building with the gardens is the main attraction.

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Promenade des Anglais

It is time to head back to the heart of the city, to the most lively promenade in France! During your 3 days in Nice, you should visit Promenade des Anglais at least twice if you can. One time during the day, and one time around evening time either during or after sunset. Imagine walking around surrounded by palm trees, the Mediterranean Sea with gorgeous blue waters, beach clubs, restaurants and people enjoying their lives. Sunbathing, cycling, running… no matter if you want to relax or be active, it is all possible. But if you want to make your visit to Promenade des Anglais unforgettable, think of hiring some rollerblades! Now that is fun guaranteed!

Castle Hill (Colline du Chateau)

There is no better place to end the second day than on top of Castle Hill with incredible panoramic views over Nice and more areas of the French Riviera. You have three options to get to the top. First of all, you can walk and take the stairs and pathways. This is possible from multiple places, however, the most popular place is to do so near “Tour Bellanda” on Google Maps. A second option is to take the elevator, which you can find in the same area as “Ascenseur du Château”. Or lastly, to take the adorable Le Petit Tourist Train.

Once up you can enjoy yourself in various ways. The views from Point de vue Colline du Chateau are the main eye-catcher, but don’t underestimate the gardens and park which is a peaceful area in a busy city. Find some shade on the hot days or explore the Cascading waterfalls. Just make sure that you do not leave the place without visiting the Eastern viewpoint “Panorama Est de la Colline du Château” with lovely views over the Old Port of Nice.

Day 3 in Nice

As mentioned before, the city is very diverse es if you consider all the things to do in Nice. Therefore on day 3 we recommend you pick one of the options below. Or if you feel like it do both, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Optional: visit museums

If you want to add a little more culture to your 3-day trip to Nice, you should visit museums. And even when it comes to museums, Nice offers a great variety of art and masterpieces to admire. The most famous museum is Musee Matisse, with a collection of the artist Henri Matisse. Not only the modern art is a must-see, but the 17th-century villa as the museum is just as fun with beautiful chambers and design! Another option that could be interesting for you is Musee Massena, which shares the story of the history of Nice and the French Riviera, including a look into the elite of the region.

Optional: Shopping in Nice

Do you always need to shop until you drop during a city trip? Nice will also satisfy your shopping needs. Galeries Lafayette might be well known in Paris, however, you will also find it here! Another shopping centre is Nice Étoile. The good thing is that you can find shops for all your needs. From luxury items to budget, to unique boutiques where you can find some masterpieces for your outfits. The best streets to look around are Avenue Jean Medecin, Tue de la Liberté and Rue de France.

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Day trips from Nice

The great thing about Nice is that you can visit not only the centrally located city but also many cities and villages around. Which makes it perfect to leave the city for a day trip on the French Riviera. Doesn’t that make your 3-day itinerary to Nice even better? See below for some amazing suggestions.

Villefranche-Sur-Mer
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Jean cap Ferrat

The glamorous area of Jean Cap Ferrat is a great place to admire good views, and big yachts and to enjoy some small beaches. The main highlight on the peninsula is probably Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. A very impressive villa with a big story to tell. You can easily visit Jean Cap Ferrat on its own, or combine it with Ville-Franche-Sur-Mer on a day trip.

Monaco

Oh oh Monaco, what a special place! In only half an hour you can reach Monaco by car from Nice. Or if you prefer to go by public transport, take the train which takes just as long. Find yourself surrounded by luxury and glamour, visit the famous casino of Monte Carlo, dive into the picturesque part of Monaco in the historic old town or wander around in the beautiful tropical gardens. A daytrip from Nice that you will remember!

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Places to eat in Nice

Nice is a true food heaven. If you are a foodie, you will be tempted to have breakfast, lunch and dinner around the city. Maybe even another snack in between. The options are endless… from fresh seafood to Italian, Indian or French cuisine. Some of our favourites are:

  • La Favola and La Voglia: if you see the line outside, of two locations nearly opposite of each other, you know this is the right place to be! The Italian restaurants are a-m-a-z-i-n-g. And if you go, don’t forget to order the Crispy fried Seafood and a pizza to share!
  • Le Safari: located in the middle of the buzz on Cours Saleya, you will find Le Safari. The restaurant has big indoor and outdoor seating. If you can, always sit outside. We were here on a hot summer night when the entertainment with street artists was great fun while enjoying delicious food!
  • Blue Beach: the smell of salty air around you and the sound of the waves in the back. A romantic or classy lunch or dinner is possible at beach club Blue Beach. The service was very personal with an extra memorable touch of having the seafood prepared at the table itself. This is a lunch or dinner to remember!

All together, your 3 days in Nice itinerary can be fun, diverse and unforgettable! What are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments!

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