What to see in Nice

Nice is a beautiful town and it has a bit of everything: beach, hill, harbour, culture, fancy seafood restaurants, music. There ...

Nice is a beautiful town and it has a bit of everything: beach, hill, harbour, culture, fancy seafood restaurants, music. There is a lot to do and see in here. From viewpoints to museums, colourful houses to a spectacular Russian orthodox church, here is a list of the top things to see in Nice!

castle hill view
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Last updated: August 2020

As I mentioned on my blog post about the Top Places to Visit in Côte d'Azur, Nice is a very family friendly city and the main place to visit when it comes to the French Riviera. Here is where most people will be based, and if you're not planning to travel around the Riviera but just want a nice time in Nice, there's plenty to see, so you will surely be able to fill your days with some exploring.


english promenade nice
View from the Castle Hill towards Nice's beach and promenade.
The English Promenade is one of the highlights of Nice, and there are many good reasons for that. What other city do you know with a promenade that extends from the airport to the city? That's right, Nice's promenade is 7km long and it extends from Nice's airport until Castle Hill, another highlight of this city.
This is a place for everyone: cyclists, scooter riders, skate boarders, roller skaters, joggers, tourists, locals. The promenade is wide enough and has a separation for pedestrians and bikes, so everyone can appreciate the famous Promenade des Anglais.
At the end of the promenade, you can find the popular "I LOVE NICE", where many people will be queuing to take the famous holiday picture to show to their friends and family.
If you're feeling adventurous upon arrival, you can skip the buses and go on a walk for 1h30 along the coast. A perfect way to start your trip, as long as you're not carrying heavy suitcases, you are fit enough to walk for that long and it's not extremely hot - very unlikely I guess.

nice harbour from castle hill
View towards Nice's Old Port from Castle Hill
This is the place to visit if you're looking for that popular panoramic view over the bay (Bay of Angels - Baie des Anges), the whole town and the mountains - yes, that beautiful view you see when you look for Nice on Google, and the one on the previous image! Even though most people would recommend visiting at sunset, I found out that the picture would not look as nice due to the reflection on the water, so if you want the shot to be nice and blue, than I would recommend visiting during the morning instead. You can compare the very first picture on this blog post (taken at sunset) versus the one mentioned just now (taken in the morning).
On the other side, you will have a beautiful view to the old port, as well as some beautiful ruins.
In here you can also find an artificial waterfall (Cascade du Château) and a cemetery.
You can reach the hill by foot (passing Bellanda Tower, from where you can have nice views), elevator or mini-train tour, departing from the Promenade (in front of the Jardin Albert 1er monument).
And I guess you're probably asking yourself "so where is the castle?", and I am sorry to let you down, but there is no castle. Not anymore at least. Castle Hill was once a military fortress (11th to 18th century) built in the hill and only few ruins remain till today.

old town of nice
Colourful houses of Nice's old town. Some of them have painted windows on it, so if you pay close attention to it, not all windows are real.
Vieux Nice is a lively part of the town, where you can find many restaurants, bars, ice cream shops, boutiques, galleries, local markets, churches, squares and colourful houses nicely aligned along narrow streets. It's a lovely place for walks and exploring, and from there, you can go up to the Castle Hill.

place massena
Place Masséna with it's beautiful pavement tiles and the statues on high poles
Place Masséna was one of my favourite places in Nice, not only because of it's vibrant colours and nice architecture, but also because of it's atmosphere. It's the main square of the city, and a perfect place for people watching and to appreciate the occasional concert or other public events such as Nice's Carnaval.
When visiting it, you can't miss the beautiful pavement tiles, the seven statues set on high poles and the Fountain of the Sun (Fontaine du Soleil).
On each side of Place Masséna you will find two different green spaces: Promenade du Paillon, with it's amazing Water Mirror on the east and Albert I Garden (Jardin Albert 1er) on the west.

Russian Orthodox Cathedral nice
Beautiful exteriors of Nice's Russian Orthodox Cathedral
You won't find this cathedral in many lists of "top things to see in Nice", which I think it's truly sad, since it's a gorgeous building, and one you should definitely not miss when in Nice. It is a bit further away from all other main locations, but it will be worth the detour.
This is the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedral in Western Europe and is recognised as a national monument in France, but under the property of Russia.
Photography is not allowed inside of the cathedral.

Let's admit it, not everyone is into museums! But if you are, Nice will not disappoint you. There are over 15 museums, so here is a list of the top museums to see in this beautiful town:

mamac nice view
View to Nice from MAMAC rooftop.
MAMAC is a quite unique building with very interesting exhibitions, dedicated to modern and contemporary art. If you visit, make sure you don't miss the rooftop for some panoramic views. €10 entry fee

Certainly one of the most popular museums in Nice, as the name suggests, this is where you can find a collection of Marc Chagall paintings. €8-€10 entry fee. The first Sunday of the month is free for any European citizen!
This museum is not included in the Museum card, which I will explain below.

3) Cimiez
cimiez arena
Ruins at the entrance of Cimiez Arena Park
Cimiez used to be an ancient Roman city, and it's ruins can be visited at Cimiez Arena Park (Parc des Arènes de Cimiez), where you will find both Cimiez Archaeological Museum (Cimiez Musee D'Archeologie) and Musée Matisse. You can admire the arenas (les arènes de Cimiez) at the entrance of the park, and the remaining ruins (including a thermal bath complex and some villas) at the Cimiez Archaeological Museum - €10 entry fee.
If you like art, then you can find Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso paintings in Musée Matisse. Also €10 entry fee, or you can buy a 7 day Museum card, that will cost you €20 and offer entry to all 14 municipal museums for a week, which includes both of the museums in Cimiez (but does not include Marc Chagall Museum as mentioned previously)
While in Cimiez, don't miss the Cimiez Monastery (Monastère Notre-Dame-de-Cimiez) and it's gardens (jardins du monastère de Cimiez) for a panoramic view over Nice town and bay.
If you're short on time, you might skip this location as it is considerably away from the centre of Nice.

Fine Arts Museum nice
The beautiful and colourful exteriors of Fine Arts Museum, Nice. Stock image edited with my presets
Located in the former private mansion of the Ukrainian Princess Elisabeth Vassilievna Kotschoubey, this fine arts museum displays paintings and sculptures produced by local artists. While it's interiors will certainly attract art lovers, it's exteriors will please almost anyone due to it's beautiful architecture and gardens. €10 entry fee. Under 18 go free.

As I mentioned above, these are only the top museums since there are many more that you could explore.

There are other things to see in Nice that are certainly less popular attractions, and I will include three of these on this list:
1) Nice's Old Port
Nice's Old Port
Nice's old port might not be on the list of top things to see in Nice, but if you like ports like me, you have plenty of time to kill, and don't mind walking a little bit further east, you might want to pass by and admire the colourful boats by the port.

la reserve nice
La Reserve is a quite interesting restaurant sat on a rock, with great views to the port, the bay and the ocean blues.

Parc Phoenix
When I read that I could visit a 7 hectare zoo and botanical garden, with one of the largest green houses in Europe and some animals for only €5, Parc Phoenix got my attention. I've always loved to visit green houses and zoos! I saw pictures of the garden, with beautiful palm trees and the green house, and I was sold!
However, despite the amount of good reviews I saw (and still see) on Google, this is not a place I would recommend.
Even though we did enjoy the place to a certain extent and the gardens with the green house look stunning (as you can see on the photo above), Parc Phoenix did not have much to offer, and it felt like €5 was actually not cheap for what we saw. I have never seen a green house that looked so abandoned and lacked maintenance like this one. The areas where you can see animals, many of them where empty and overall, we felt like there everything was quite basic, poorly maintained and there wasn't much to do here.
This was our experience when we visited in August 2018, and I am rarely picky with green spaces and zoos.
Also, be aware that even though this is very close to Nice's airport, there is no luggage storage, and you will be denied entry if you carry luggage with you, so unfortunately, visiting on your way to the airport or upon arrival is simply not possible.

Tips to use the map above
  • You will find different layers on this map, showing you all points of interest by categories. To see these, click on the tab icon (top left). All layers will be enabled by default. By clicking on the check marks, you can disable/hide a specific label to better understand the info you're looking for.
  • To view more detailed information on any point of interest, click on it's icon over the map.
  • You can save this by clicking on the star on the top of the map (right next to the title). This will be added to your Google Maps, and you will be able to access it from any device (Google Maps - Your Places - Maps)


Budget travel hotels/apartments: Villa Joriane and Bienvenue sur la Cote d'Azur



This list does not include things to see near Nice nor any day trips from Nice, which you should definitely consider if you're planning to explore this side of France. Hope this helps you decide where to go on your next journey to Nice!

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