Bathed in the crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean sea, Nice will show you why the French Riviera is such a delectable experience. Beautiful beaches, glamorous squares, the wide boulevards mixing with the Old City’s narrow streets, festivals and carnivals, and tasty cuisine all make Nice one of the best destinations in the world, all year round.
1. Promenade des Anglais
When you get to Nice, the first things you look at are the incredible sights of the Mediterranean Sea. Palm trees, beaches, and lavish palaces, one more beautiful than the next, are aligned on the Promenade des Anglais. The name honors the English aristocracy that built this avenue by the seaside in the 19th century.
The Promenade des Anglais, this 7-kilometer-long beach walkway, is where you can enjoy a sunbath with the best views, relax in the shadow of palm trees or admire the glamour of the seaside mansions and the freedom of the yachts and ships.
2. Old Town
While the Promenade des Anglais comes with its wide, lavish boulevards, the Old Town will bring narrow streets, colorful buildings, charming squares, and plenty of small local businesses to enchant your tastes and senses.
That Italian style of life mixes with french taste in all good things in life, so do take the time to enjoy a cup of coffee in one of the many cafes, a pancake or delicious ice cream. Everything from architecture, cuisine, art, and shopping venues is picturesque here.
3. Place Masséna
The main square in Nice, Place Massena, is a sight you should not skip. So emblematic with its black-white geometric pattern of the ground, contrasting with the vividly red-colored surrounding buildings and the exquisite fountain of the Sun. It is a truly photo-friendly spot to hit on your Nice extravaganza.
Also, you might notice that Massena Place marks the symbolic border between the Old Town and the “new Town” where shopping is king.
4. Notre Dame du Port Church
Amidst a busy and somewhat noisy Port neighborhood, the Notre Dame du Port Church offers scenic views and sanctuary to those in search of a bit of tranquility.
The church is a sight for sour eyes from afar and up close. The first thing you notice is the Greek-style facade with columns and the Roman-like interior that resembles the Roman basilicas.
5. Cathédrale Saint-Nicolas de Nice
This Russian Orthodox Cathedral, gives such a Saint Petersburg vibe, that you can not but marvel at the colorful architecture and style. Built in the early 20th century, the beautiful jewel church looks exactly like you expect a Russian-Orthodox cathedral to look. The spiritual atmosphere inside will get you into a meditative state and help you enjoy a moment of quiet reflection.
6. Marché Aux Fleurs Cours Saleya
Marche aux Fleurs or the Flower Market is yet another experience to try while in Nice. If you are experiencing the local style of life or simply searching for some fruits, condiments, or local souvenirs, like soaps or lavender oils and perfumes, this is the place to come.
Afterward, you might just as well enjoy yourself admiring the colorful flowers and people, while having a cup of coffee at one of the many charming local places.
7. Nice Cathedral – Basilique-Cathédrale Sainte-Marie et Sainte-Réparate de Nice
Walking around the Old Town you will come across the Nice Cathedral. Nothing of the unassuming outside architecture predicts the baroque lavished ornamented inside. This just goes to show that you should never assume things. Or that even the plainest place could be holding a hidden treasure inside. In this case, this treasure consists of ten chapels, all ornated in the most beautiful way imaginable.
8. Masséna Musée
Right on the Promenade des Anglais, close to the iconic Hotel Negresco, lies another magnificent building: Villa Massena. The sumptuous mansion houses one of the finest art museums in Nice. It’s not just the building that is of exquisite taste and beauty, but also the carefully manicured gardens that bring back the la Belle Epoque feel.
The museum’s permanent collections of paintings, sculptures, carefully furnished rooms, and art collections will give you a better grasp of what the French Riviera was all about.
9. Parc forestier du Mont-Boron
If you want to check Nice from above and afar, a walk up Mont Boron Park is in order. Walking trails, incredible sea view scenery, and beautiful landscape are all ways to relax and get a different perspective on the city of Nice.
The walk might require a bit of effort on your part but is still so worth it, be it sunset or sunrise.
10. Phoenix Parc Floral de Nice
This 5 hectares of green oasis is another fantastic experience for those who would enjoy a few relaxing times, especially if you are a plant or animal lover. Bonus points: the park also includes a beautiful museum of Asian art and a place to chill in: the Cote Jardin Art.
Definitely not your typical type of park, but very worth your while.
11. Basilique Notre-Dame de Nice
Apparently, all Notre Dame Basilicas are beautiful! The Nice Notre Dame is like a smaller version of Paris’s one but nonetheless just as beautiful.
You don’t have to be religious to enjoy the sights and the tranquility this Gothic church offers. And the interior and its grand arches, the statues, and the stained-glass windows recreate such a peaceful and uplifting atmosphere.
12. Matisse Museum
Did you know that Matisse had an apartment In Nice from 1921 -1938 or that the largest collection of his vibrant-tone painter is here at the Matisse Museum?
Well, the famous painter first came to Nice to recover from bronchitis but, this beautiful sunny French Riviera site did more than just that, and became a source of inspiration for the painter.
13. Fort du Mont Alban
Are you having sort of a deja-vu? It’s no wonder if you are. This 16th-century stronghold, Mont Alban Fort lies in Mont Boron Park, holding its ancient military ground and offering spectacular panoramic views of the sea and the surroundings.
The walk up to the top of the hill might take a bit of effort but the vistas from all around the Forst are surely worth it.
14. Opéra de Nice
Nice is not only about beaches with palm trees, the sea and holidays. It is also about art and glamour and style. As it turns out Nice Opera building is a vivid representation of that style. A stunning facade is the first thing you will note. After that, you enter the world of opera, ballet, and classical music. The opulently decorated interior makes for the perfect venue for such a classical treat.
15. Blue Beach
What are the best things to do in Nice in the summer? Hit the beaches and enjoy. Whether a private or a public beach, it’s always good to bathe in the blues waters of the sea and enjoy a great drink while relaxing on a mat. The Blue Beach is one of the most appreciated on the French Riviera, be it a pebble beach. And what else is great at Blue Beach? The gourmet food and the fancy drinks are divine!
16. Côte d’Azur Observatory
What looks like a Greek temple with a most impressive dome, designed by Gustave Eiffel and Charles Garnier and is also regarded as one of the world’s pioneering pillars in science and astrophysics?
It is the Cote d’Azur Observatory and it’s sitting on the Mont Gros offering great views of the Mediterranean Sea.
17. Fontaine du Soleil
Remember Place Massena with its geometric ground, red color buildings around, and the central-placed fountain with a statue?
It is the Sun Fountain. The story has it that when it was first introduced to Nice, the fountain did not get the welcoming it deserved. It was ridiculed and banished for a while. But in 2011, Apollo regained his place in the fountain and today it stands proudly along the other 5 bronze sculptures representing Earth, Mars, Mercury, Saturn, and Venus.
18. Nice Carnival
February is a month in the social life of Nice. It is when the carnival takes place. It was held in the wintery times to provide entertainment to the Cote d’Azur Nobility.
Today the Nice Carnival is a two-week event that attracts tourists from all over the world. Parades are lighting up the atmosphere day and night while flower battles take place on the famous Promenade des Anglais.
19. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nice
Though the Art Museum – Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nice is not so centrally located, a visit to this museum is definitely in order. Even the museum’s building has an interesting story to tell, being a princess’s residence once. The interior has been greatly modified to suit the vast collection of art pieces dating from the 16th century to the 20th. But still, this interesting piece of La Belle Epoques architecture along with its majestic staircases are the way they were meant for Princess Elisabeth Kotchoubey.
20. Église Saint-Jacques-le-Majeur de Nice
This little gem of a church comes in many names. It is not just the Saint Jacques le Majeur Church but also the Church of Jesu. It is not the most famous one, or the most visited one but the small interior of this baroque church is quite spectacular. Frescoes and religious paintings are everywhere up to the ceiling and create a sumptuous atmosphere around you.
21. Prefecture Palace
Most of the palaces in Nice have a story or a hundred to tell. The Palais de la Prefecture is no different. The impressive Palace also known as the Royal Palace or The Palace of the Kings of Sardinia, was for 250 years the residence of the Dukes of Savoy, whenever they were in Nice. It did suffer a lot of changes thought history, but its beauty, elegance, and historical value still granted it the statute of a historical monument.
22. Lycée Masséna
This iconic edifice, in the center of Nice city, is rightfully considered to be of the most beautiful high schools in the whole world. One look at the architectural gem and you will understand why. But Lycee Massena is not just a beautiful, ornate, building with the most eye-catching tower clock, but also one of the most prestigious educational edifices in France. And the number of personalities shaped here proves that.
23. Parc d’Estienne d’Orves
There are a lot of great views to take in Nice and one of the best is up the hill in D’Estienne d’Orves Park. It also has a collection of multi-centennial Olive trees. The park is a sanctuary from the hassle and noise of the city as well as the perfect place for a picnic, or simply a day out.
24. Monument du Centenaire
Walking down the Promenade des Anglais you spot an elegant statue of Nike – the Greek goddess of Victory. The scenic square and the statue were commissioned for the 100th anniversary of the Nice annexation to France.
25. Place Garibaldi
A reminder of the time when Nice belonged to Italy and not France, the second most important square after Massena, the Garibaldi Square was built in 1773 to welcome the King of Sardinia.
What makes this square unusual is that if you pay attention to the details of the decorations of the surrounding buildings you will see they are not real, but painted in a special technique called Trompe d’Oeil that only makes the decorations appear real.
26. Le Plongeoir
Amongst the most iconic places in Nice, with breathtaking views and a side of fancy drinks and gourmet dishes, Le Plongeoir was and is to this day emblematic of the lifestyle of Nice.
If you think that the idea to have a restaurant on the Rocks overseeing the endless blue waters of the sea is new, think again! It has been the perfect spot for a drink ever since the 19th century, when a fishing boat above the rock, stood as the most exclusive place to have a cup of tea.
27. Castle Hill of Nice
You can not miss this one spot in Nice! Not just figuratively speaking, but physically as well, as it stands tall and is so visible. Castle Hill is famous for its views, the ruins, the splendid artificial waterfall, and the built-into-the-rock elevator. Getting up here will grand you with 360 degrees views, including Port of Nice.
28. Place Rossetti
This lovely little square filled with cafes and restaurants is one of the locals’ favorites for its picturesque charm and authentic Nice feeling. The views of the Nice Cathedral and the old buildings give something of an Italian mixed with a French vibe. Just a lovely place to slow down and enjoy the good things in life.
29. Port Lympia
The old Nice Port, also known as Port Lympia offers yet another Italian style of architecture with all the Venice-style colored surrounding buildings. What else can you do but admire the sea and the site of Castle Hill? How about admiring the boats and the luxury yachts, enjoying what the cozy little bistros have to offer, or tasting the fresh and exquisite seafood dishes? That should make for a great day in the port, don’t you think?
30. Palais Lascaris
Let’s end our Nice tour with one more remarkable building housing a remarkable collection of musical instruments. It is Palais Lascaris, the museum that houses more than 500 musical instruments. The Palace itself is a baroque monument and together with the collections on display there surely make for a nice visit.
It is no wonder that the French Riviera has such a movie vibe. Stunning views and iconic sights accompany you from Nice to Cannes and back to Monaco.
I am hoping that you enjoyed our Nice – Top 30 experiences that make Nissa Bella.
And should you need a bit more inspiration for your travels in France, don’t forget to check Framey’s collections: Best Things To Do In Paris For Memorable Holidays and 20 Best Rooftop Bars In Paris – enjoy the Journey!