Explore the French Riviera with 72 hours in Nice
Make the most of your visit…
Nice is the glitzy sun-trap queen of the Côte d’Azur – and the perfect base for your trip. Arrive by train into the main station Nice Ville for the easiest option. If you’re coming from the airport then make sure you take the 98 bus to the city centre to treat yourself to spectacular views of the Mediterranean along the way (a single airport bus ticket is €6). You’ll trundle along the seafront, literally within arm’s reach of palm trees and lapping waves. The promenade is always bustling with life as people stroll, roller skate and cycle along both day and night.
Drop your bags at the hostel or hotel and head straight out to explore Nice’s old town. Feeling peckish? You can grab a pastry or baguette from any of the boulangeries (bakeries) tucked away amongst cobbled streets; fresh bread is baked all day long.
If you have time, then head up to the waterfall on Castle Hill. If you’re feeling energetic you can walk, or there is a free lift too! The gardens are open from approx. 8:30am – 5pm. The views of the bay truly are spectacular from up top.
If you’re still shaking off your travel aches and prefer to just lounge on the beach, grab a towel and head on down. Nice’s beach is pebbly, so sandals/swimming shoes are a must!
In the evening grab a bite to eat in one of the restaurants of the old town. Insider tip – the more expensive, touristy restaurants are closer to the water. Head a bit further into the heart of the old town past the Palais de Justice, to our old favourite La Tapenade.
At some point during your 72 hours in Nice, a day trip to Monaco should definitely be on the cards. There are a couple of ways to get there from Nice, but the quickest and easiest way is to hop on the TER (Train Express Regional) from Nice Ville station in the direction of Menton. It takes about 20 minutes to reach Monaco, but we prefer to get off a stop early at Cap d’Ail! This way you’ll be able take the breathtaking scenic walk along the coastal path to Monaco. It’s about 3km and will take you about 45 mins (or maybe longer if you can’t resist stopping off at the many little swimming points on the way!). A single fare from Nice to Cap d’Ail costs €3.50, and from Monaco Monte-Carlo back to Nice is €4.10.
Once in Monaco, make sure you wander up to the Prince’s Palace. As well as spectacular views of the bay, the surrounding streets are full of charming pastel coloured buildings with quirky souvenir shops. Pay a visit to the Monaco Cathedral which is also the final resting place of Grace Kelly, and don’t miss a chance to pose for photos in front of the famous Casino de Monte-Carlo.
On your return to Nice, an absolute must is an ice cream at Fenocchio’s. This ‘maitre glacier’ is the most famous ice cream parlour in Nice, located on Place Rossetti and run by Fenocchio & his family since 1966. With over 90 flavours to choose from, opt for a scoop of a delicious classic or something more adventurous such as olive, rosemary, orange blossom, tiramisu or even cactus-flavoured gelato!
A trip to the French Riviera isn’t complete without a visit to St-Paul-de-Vence. This sleepy little French town is located high up in the hills of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, and is most noted for once being a favourite haunt of artists such as Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall. Visitors can’t help but be charmed by the narrow winding cobbled streets and tiny artisan workshops selling local wares. Pick up some hand-crafted jewellery or provençal delicacies to take home.
The number 400 bus to St-Paul-de-Vence departs from rue Verdun/Albert 1ere bus stop (next to the Hotel Meridien on the promenade) and takes about an hour. Buy a single ticket from the driver for €1.50.
On your final morning enjoy a leisurely breakfast at Café Marinette at the heart of the old town. This sweet little café is a favourite of locals, and we couldn’t recommend the ‘petit déjeuner’ menu enough. American-style pancakes, granola and yoghurt, orange juice, plus coffee or a gigantic mug of hot chocolate all for the very reasonable price of €7.50. Absolutely delicious!
Depending on what time you’re leaving, follow up breakfast with a visit to the 20th century Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. Spend a couple of hours floating around the dreamy gardens of this pastel-pink palace, and don’t miss the musical fountain performance which takes place every 20 mins. Bus number 81 departs from the Promenade des Arts in Nice, and costs €1.50 each way.
If you’re a little short on time, then round up your trip by soaking up the culture at one of the many museums and galleries of Nice. Don’t forget to take your student card for free entry (NUS card with the ISIC on the back is the most widely accepted).
Time to head home!
Head to the train station for your journey to your next destination, or if you’re going to the airport then the 99 bus from the train station will take you back to the airport (don’t take the train to the airport as it drops you off a 15 minute walk away from the terminal).
Fancy making the most of 72 hours in Nice on your own Riviera adventure? Why not include Nice on your Europe trip this year. Take a look at our custom route builder to get planning. Alternatively, take a look at our most popular routes for a bit of inspiration!
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