Located on the southeastern coast of France, Nice is the second-largest French city on the Mediterranean coast. It’s strategically placed at the foot of the Alps, in the French Riviera. After Marseille, it’s the second-largest city in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region. Also one of the largest port cities southern France, Nice enjoys the warm climates of the Mediterranean coast as it lies in the shadow of the majestic Alps. You cannot ask for a better place to base your day trips from Nice.
With medieval villages, fertile vineyards, sun-soaked beaches, sweeping coastal scenery, and bustling food markets, the French Riviera can rightfully be described as the crown jewel of southern France. Nice lies within the French Riviera and most of the glamorous destinations and medieval villages in the region are within easy reach as day trips from Nice.
10 Incredible Day trips from Nice - Contents
Recommended Day Trips from Nice
With buses, trains, and excellent roads to everywhere, Nice makes an excellent base from which to base your day excursions as you explore the French Riviera. Many of the top destinations in France are all located within an hour’s travel from Nice. From here you can discover the region’s magnificent landscapes, the rich artistic heritage, and the French Riviera countryside’s culinary finesse.
While you can easily take yourself on self-guided day trips from Nice, you may want to consider booking an excursion. This will allow you to see multiple destinations and towns in a single trip without having to endure the stress associated with bus and train transfers.
The ideal location of this port city makes it the perfect place to plan your day trips from Nice. From here, you can explore the nearby tourist locations and surrounding provinces. You will love to know that nearly every major site on the Cote d'Azur qualifies as a day trip from this Southern France port city, even the distant Saint-Tropez or the city of Genoa in Italy.
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You Cannot Miss the Royal Principality of Monaco
The tiny royal principality of Monaco is known for high-stakes glamour, with a royal touch. Visit the old town or the time of changing guards at the palace for some splendour. Does fashion grab your attention? Watch out for the luxury boutiques. The world-famous Monte Carlo Casino is a must-visit if you dabble in that unique field.
Monaco attracts people from all over the world and is considered one of Côte d’Azur’s most interesting places. Here you get high-quality shops, luxurious restaurants and hotels that will leave you gawking and your wallet or credit card well-utilized.
There are trains from Nice every 20 minutes that takes 25 minutes. Buses depart every 30 minutes from Nice to Monaco. We discovered that the fastest route by car is via A8 which takes you about 42 minutes.
The Medieval Village of Èze-Sur-Mer
Want to experience the old charm of the Côte d'Azur? Then a visit to the village of Eze must be on your itinerary. This is a medieval village in the principality of Monaco. Moto Racing is your thing? If yes, you could also catch some action here as it forms part of the Formula1 circuit. If relaxation is your goal, this coastal resort town has a wonderful stretch of beach.
Because the village of Èze-Sur-Mer stands over 400 meters above the sea, you get to enjoy a breathtaking backdrop of Mediterranean waters. If you want the best outlook, head to the Jardin Exotique, the highest point in the village.
You can access Eze from Nice by a mountainous coastal road. Èze-Sur-Mer offers visitors a dramatic first impression. The tower of the local church belfry is visible as you approach the village from a distance as well as the ruins of the ancient fortress. Wandering through this small medieval village is pleasant but what really makes the excursion worthwhile is the incredibly scenic bus ride that takes you high over the coast.
Grasse, the Home of Perfume Making
This is one of the easiest one-day trips from Nice to consider. Grasse lies in the hills above Cannes just an hour from Nice. The unique thing about this town is that unlike others on our list, Grasse is not a picturesque seaside resort or a celebrity destination.
This is the home of French perfume making and the countryside around forms some of the most sweet-smelling and prettiest areas you are ever likely to see. If you are curious about the process or history of wine-making, why not join a tour of the perfumeries? They are inexpensive and if you are like us, you will love the scents.
Getting to Grasse from Nice is easy when you to take the #500 bus, a journey of 80 minutes. Another alternative is the train and takes about an hour. Know what? Both the bus and train pass through Cannes and that means you could easily combine the two destinations as a single day trip from Nice.
Cannes, the International Film Festival Host
Cannes hosts the iconic annual International Film Festival. Here you can walk along the streets and rub shoulders with film stars and celebrities from all over the globe. If you want to catch the 2020 Festival, be in Cannes between 12th and 23rd May. However, this famous city is much more than merely a film festival destination.
Even after the Film Festival, Cannes is still busy – after all, this is the epicentre of the French Riviera. You can still enjoy the historic scenes, old streets, and spectacular vistas. In the harbour, you can always enjoy the view provided by hundreds of elegant yachts, while the breezy, tree-lined seafront boulevard can only be described as majestic in beauty.
Wander through the old town’s narrow streets that are packed with souvenir shops and restaurants until you get to the castle ruins atop a hill. The eating here is awesome but get ready to spend as restaurants here are rather pricey. You can get to Cannes by car, bus or train from Nice.
The Villefranche-Sur-Mer Beach Resort
Why should you spare a day out in Villefranche-sur-Mer? While the small beach resort may not have much for you to see, the beaches are something else. This is what attracts visitors not just from Nice but from all parts of France and the world.
The restaurants here are top class but let’s caution you in advance; those on the waterfront are quite pricey. Of course, if you are on a tight budget there are other alternatives. If you want leisure and relaxation Villefranche-sur-Mer is the perfect destination.
The easiest way of getting to Villefranche-sur-Mer is by taking the #100 bus. The journey between Nice and this tiny fun spot is just 15 minutes. The bus ride comes with stunning views of the Mediterranean coastline. You can also access this small beach resort easily by train. The Lignes D’azur line 81 takes you there in 10 minutes and departs every hour.
The Legendary Saint-Tropez
One of the most legendary spots on the Riviera, Saint Tropez offers a spectacular coastline that will leave you dazzled. The town has many fisherman cottages some of which have been transformed into elegant modern boutiques. Wander through the village of Saint-Tropez, do shopping and enjoy the cafes. While Saint-Tropez has numerous restaurants to choose from, we recommend you make it a point of trying the pastry cream invented by a local pastry chef.
The waterfront is packed with endless stores, boutiques and numerous yachts to admire. If working a tan is among your goals, then this village is the right place! The perfect place when you want a lazy but luxurious afternoon at the seaside. The beaches along the Bai de Pampelonne are among the best that France has to offer. They are not only great but stretch for almost 5 kilometres.
From Nice, there is a convenient round-trip ferry which takes you to Saint Tropez, along the Côte d’Azur. You can also get on the A8 from Voie Pierre Mathis and follow the signs. St Tropez has no train station, so this may not be the best option unless you disembark at St Raphael and take a bus to St Tropez.
Menton, the Colorful Seaside
Chances are high that you might have seen colourful seaside images taken from the south of France. Most likely what you saw were images of Menton. This historic city is found near the border of Italy. The coastal city boasts of fabulous sea views, pastel-coloured beautiful buildings, and quaint cobblestone streets.
If in South of France, Menton deserves to be included in your day trips from Nice. Located just over the Italian border, it was once part of what was known as the Republic of Genoa, partly explaining the slight Italian feel to the town’s buildings. Today, however, Menton is firmly French. Menton was even home to famed French filmmaker and artist Jean Cocteau. You can find a museum in his honour on Quai de Monléon.
Do farming and green scenery appeal to you? The most famous exports of Menton are its citrus fruits and a day trip will allow you to see the sprawling green citrus farms. The Menton Lemon Festival takes place towards the end every February and is a fantastic celebration of this activity.
Family Outing, Iles des Lerins, Cannes
Thinking of a family outing? For outdoor family adventures and day trips from Nice, nothing can possibly outrank Iles des Lerins. These are two well-preserved and peaceful islands that you can combine with your Cannes outing. Imagine they are only 10-minutes from Cannes Port by ferry. The Charming Small City of San Remo
The two islands Iles des Lerins, St. Marguerite and St. Honorat both have lots to offer for families. Here you get to enjoy hiking trails, lush landscapes, and interesting attractions. You may want to pack a picnic for an idyllic day on either (or both) of the Iles des Lerins islands.
One-hour east of Nice is the charming little town of San Remo. Located over the Italian border, this is one of the easiest international one day trips you could possibly take from Nice. The small city is world-famous for its stunning views, and yes, incredible cuisine. Enjoy unique and traditional flavours from any of the many restaurants lining the beach. Here you can also sample gelato.
We all know about the Nobel Prize. Well, it’s also in San Remo where you’ll find the world-famous Villa Nobel. This is the house where Alfred Nobel, the inventor of the much-prized awards spent his final years.
Love botanically related topics? In San Remo, you can also visit Villa Hanbury. This is an open-air botanical garden containing over 5,800 tropical plants.
The Historic Port City of Marseille
Though the ancient port city of Marseille is a little further away than some of our suggestions for day trips from Nice, it’s still worth a visit when in Southern France. What can you enjoy in this old port city? Highlights include mooching around the Vieux-Port and of course, enjoying the awesome local seafood.
Do you enjoy climbing? Take the one day trip from Nice to Marseille and try climbing the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde!
But how do you get to Marseille from Nice? The easiest route is to catch the train. The journey is about two and a half hours one way. So plan your day trip well and preferably with Marseille as the only itinerary for the day.
The Italian City of Genoa
Although Genoa is about 3 hours by train from Nice the journey is really worth it. The stunning architecture of this port city, the wealthy past and mouth-watering cuisine should prompt you to start planning for your one day trip from Nice to this holiday destination. If you didn’t know, this is the birthplace of pesto together with cheese-covered focaccia; you must try these when you land in Genoa.
The churches and palaces here will be worth your time. What if architectural matters don’t hold your interest? We recommend you try the Les Rouges on Piazza Campetto for this cocktail bar packs a punch.
Whether you’re a history buff, a culture vulture, newlyweds or a family, our day trips from Nice recommendations leave you with an inexhaustible list of excellent options in terms of attractions and activities.