With its peach-coloured façades, azure waters and gorgeous weather, Nice has a rosy, always-on-holiday glow.
Known as the capital of the French Riviera, the coastal city is home to world-class art museums, bustling markets and pretty hiking trails. The best way to experience Nice’s many delights is to slow right down and enjoy them at a leisurely pace.
Arriving at Nice Côte d’Azur Airport
Nice-Côte d’Azur Airport (NCE) is five miles (3km) from Vieux-Nice, the city's historic city centre. This large and modern airport is the gateway to the French Riviera, with two terminals connected by a shuttle bus. The airport offers unlimited free Wi-Fi, VIP lounges and plenty of dining and shopping options before and after security.
Two express buses make frequent trips into central Nice. Bus 98 runs along the Promenade des Anglais to the Promenade des Arts near Vieux Nice, with stops along the way, and bus 99 goes to Nice-Ville train station. The €6 fare includes a free transfer to the tram or the city bus to get you exactly where you need to be. Buses 52, 59 and 70 all terminate centrally too.
If you’re travelling with a few suitcases, taxis are available, though they can be pricey. Taxis stop near Gate A1 in Terminal 1 and near Gate A3 at Terminal 2.
The most affordable route is local bus 23. This costs just €1.50, but the bus does not stop directly at the airport. You need to walk a short distance down the main road to the bus station.
Nice has a simple tram and bus system run by Lignes d’Azur. Tickets are €1.50 per ride (or €10 for a 10-ride pass) and include one connection.
Nice’s bicycle-share programme, Vélo Bleu, has over 100 stations throughout the city. the first half-hour from each bike stand is free; after that you'll need to pay. You can buy a one- or seven-day pass at €1.50 or €5, respectively. The easiest way to use Vélo Bleu is to pay online before your trip and get your card in the post – though information is mostly in French. You can also buy a pass at the stand, but you’ll need to call a number to pay. A few stations along the promenade accept payment by credit card. Download the Vélo Bleu app for up-to-date information on the number of bikes at each station.
You'll find taxis all around Nice, but they tend to be quite expensive. You can't hail a taxi on the street here so you'll need to find a rank, but you're never far from one.
If you're planning a day-trip or two then book your car in advance for pickup at the airport or in town. Parking in the city can be challenging.
Vieux-Nice: for dining and sightseeing
Vieux-Nice, also known locally as the Vieille Ville, is the city's old town. This is the most atmospheric pocket of the city, with pastel-coloured façades, winding alleyways, open piazzas and a lively open-air market. Much of the old city is pedestrianised, so sightseeing on foot is a breeze. You’ll find the most iconic architecture here, like the 16th-century cathedral, as well as many good restaurants and charming terraced cafés. A highlight is Cours Saleya, the vibrant farmers' market that overflows with flowers, fresh produce and artisanal goods, open Tuesday to Sunday. A flea market is held in its place on Mondays.
Promenade des Anglais: for strolling and sunbathing
The four-mile Promenade des Anglais runs alongside the electric blue waters of the Baie des Anges. Here, locals and visitors alike spend their days strolling, biking and rollerblading on the seaside. Along the way you’ll pass a few of the city’s most famous landmarks, like the Palais de la Méditerranée, the Negresco hotel and the Belle Époque Musée Massena. Scout out a favourite spot on the pebbly beach, where you can get ready for a swim or uncork a bottle of rosé. When night falls, the waterfront is a popular nightlife destination.
Cimiez: for museum-hopping
A pleasant, slightly uphill walk from Vieux-Nice is Cimiez, home to hillside villas and some of the best art museums on the Riviera. The Musée Matisse and the Musée Marc Chagall are the highlights, but there are other gems to explore in this historic area. Just behind the Musée Matisse is the Jardin de Cimiez, a lovely park filled with olive trees and picnic spots. On the other side of the park is the 16th-century Notre Dame de Cimiez monastery, a peaceful place to explore away from the crowds.
Time zone: Central European Time (GMT +1) and Central European Summer Time (GMT +2)
Languages: French; this is a cosmopolitan city and you'll often find English spoken in restaurants, bars and hotels, but it's worth making an effort. There's also limited use of Niçard, the local dialect of the Occitan language, though you're unlikely to come across it