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Nice travel guide – all you need to know about Nice
In the south-east of France you’ll find the beautiful Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. Or more specifically, the French Riviera. The Capital of the Riviera is Nice. With more than 340.000 inhabitants its the fifth largest city of France and the second most visited tourist destination. The first of course being Paris. Out of the 10 million tourists that come to the Riviera annually, 5 million of them come to Nice alone. Isn’t that amazing? If you want to find out even more about the beautiful and rich city, keep on reading! Because this Nice city travel guide will help you to get the most out of your trip.
Did you know that Nice has not been French for very long?
Referring to ancient history, Nice was originally founded by Greek seafarers 350 years before Christus. They called the settlement Nikaia, after Nike, the Greek Goddess of victory. And in the heart of the city, standing proud is a stunning marble statue of the Greek God Apollo.
Not long after the Greeks came Roman civilizations. Today you can still visit many ancient Roman ruins along the Riviera. Such as the archaeological site and amphitheatre of Cimiez. Or the Trophy of Augustus in the small village of La Turbie.
In the Middle Ages, Nice was long torn between French and Italian rule. Only in 1860, Nice ultimately became part of France. The city grew as a military foce under the rule of Provence, the Counts of Savoy and Napoleon III.
Given this background, the French and the Italians have had a remarkable influence on the historic development of Nice. But the English have also made a contribution to today’s Nice. The Promenade de Anglais, as the name suggests, was financially supported by the English aristocracy. Even then the English used to spend the winters in Nice, because of the great climate. Today, Nice is one of the world’s top tourist destinations for everyone.
Now that you have a little background of Nice, if you want to know more about the famous Promenade de Anglais and what places are worth visiting, go on reading or download our Nice Travel Guide.
Promenade de Anglais
The famous pedestrian street Promenade des Anglais follows the curve of Baie des Anges. This legendary coastal road is lined with planted palm trees, which account for its unique flair.
Since the Belle Epoque, it has been graced by magnificent buildings such as the Palais de la Méditerranée theatre and the exquisite, former residence of a princess, Villa Masséna. Another exceptional building on the promenade is the luxurious five-star hotel Le Negresco, which is a National Historic Monument and hosts a world-class art collection.
Place Masséna and Jean Médecin
A place you shouldn’t miss at all is Place Masséna the Main Square of Nice. Here is where the old town meets the new town. The red color of the façades, the white framed windows, the arches and the square shape of the northern part of Masséna Square reveal the impact of Italian Piedmont in its architecture. Masséna Square is also an essential place for the famous Carnaval de Nice.
When you’re going up to the north you will find Avenue Jean Médecin the Shopping Street, where you can also find the Notre Dame. At the end of the street on the left you will find the train station as well.
The Castle Hill overlooks the bay of Nice, from 92 meters above, and used to be a military citadel. The park is the most popular public garden in the city which you must see. It is an ideal place to be if you want to get perfect views of vital landscapes and attractions.
Cascade Dijon is an artificial waterfall you will also find in the castle park. It was constructed in 1885 and a lovely sight to behold from below and above. Currently, the waterfall is sustained by the Vésubie valley waters.
Overall, this peaceful oasis with the best view over the entire city should definitely be on your list!
Six days a week during the day the flower market in the old town attracts tourists and locals alike with delicious fruits, vegetables and home-made products. Only Mondays are different. On Mondays the market turns into a real treasure trove for antique collectors and lovers.
In the evenings though, the market offers handmade jewelry and other beautiful and unique accessories. Take the time to stroll through the colourful market, chat with locals or just enjoy the unique flair with a coffee in one of the many restaurants nearby.
Museums and other landmarks
For art and culture lovers, the following museums are definitely worth a visit: Musée National Marc Chagall, Musée Massena, Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, Musée Matisse and many more.
For more museums, places and sights worth seeing have a look at our Nice travel guide.
Places to stay
If you are a budget traveller, you can stay in one oft he various hostels. Among the nicest hostels are Hostel OZZ, hostel Villa Saint Expert or hostel Meyerbeer.
A more noble way to stay is to book one of the many Hotels. We can recommend hotels in the old town like the beautiful 4-star hotel Palais Saleya Boutique hotel or the more cheap one hotel Rossetti.
The 5-star hotel Boscolo Exadra Nice & Spa is directly in the city center and definitely worth a stay. Also in the city center but less costly is the hotel de France.
For a stay in a hotel directly at the promenade, one has to dig deep, but one literally lives like God in France. In this case you can again choose among a variety of luxury hotels like the Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Méditerranée or the hotel Negresco. A relatively affordable hotel at the promenade is for example the hôtel Le Royal Promenade des Anglais.
You can also check out Air BnB Apartments to stay in.
Transport in Nice
Train – especially if you consider to go to cities like Cannes, Antibes, Monaco or Menton it makes sense to take the train. The biggest of the three train stations is Nice Ville right at the end of Ave. Jean Médecin.
Tram/Bus – without any special pass, a single ride with the bus or tram is about 1,50 € each. With these tickets you can take any bus/ tram. So you can get to places like Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Villefranche-sur-Mer or even Monaco for very cheap.
Bike – Velo Bleu’s are the cheapest means of transport in Nice, as they can be rented by anyone for a very small fee. You can find the Velo Bleu stations all over the town and it allows you to go to almost every part of the city.
Walking – walking is probably the best way to get around and experience the unique atmosphere of Nice. But try not to get lost in the narrow streets of the old town.
Nice food and drinks
‘Socca’ is probably the most typical local dish in Nice. It resembles a pancake and is mainly made from chickpea flour and water. Refined with salt and pepper it is a very simple snack for in between.
As the name suggests, Salad Niçoise is also a typical meal in Nice. The classic Salad Niçoise is a light salad, usually topped with tomatoes, radishes, onions, black olives, hard-boiled eggs, tuna and anchovies. This delicious dish is available in almost every restaurant in town.
The so-called ‘Pissaladière’ is also typical for the city. It is similar to a pizza, but is actually a cake topped with onions, anchovies and olives. You can buy it quite cheap in most Boulangeries and it is definitely worth a try.
Our Nice Travel Guide provides an overview of the best restaurants and bars in the city.
Book your Nice Travel Experiences
As you can see, visiting Nice is always a good idea! However, one article is not enough to cover everything. Although, it will give you a nice insight before exploring it by yourself! If you want to find out even more interesting stories and places that are not covered in the article, have a look at our Nice Travel Guide or join a Free Nice walking tour or Private Tours in Nice with our well-informed guides.