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20 Best Day Trips from Nice, France

Nestled along the stunning French Riviera, the city of Nice serves as a perfect base for exploring the picturesque surroundings and charming towns nearby. With its idyllic beaches, inviting turquoise water, and a pleasant climate year-round, it’s no wonder so many visitors find themselves wanting to venture beyond the city limits to experience even more of what the Côte d’Azur has to offer. Here, we delve into some of the most enticing day trips from Nice that will undoubtedly leave you captivated and eager to explore further.

From the glamour and sophistication of Monaco to the quaint, medieval village of Eze, these day trips offer a delightful blend of culture, history, and natural beauty. Wander through vibrant seaside towns like Antibes or venture further along the coast to discover Menton, just a stone’s throw away from the Italian border. Whether you choose to travel by train, bus, or car, the journey times are relatively short, making it easy to plan your excursions.

These remarkable destinations are more than worthy of your time, showcasing the splendors and diverse attractions of the French Riviera. Let this guide inspire your wanderlust as you set out on unparalleled adventures, creating unforgettable memories on these extraordinary day trips from Nice.

Overview of Day Trips from Nice

Boats docked at Lake Geneva in France
Xavier.D / Adobe Stock

Nice is a beautiful city located on the French Riviera, offering stunning views and vibrant culture. However, the surrounding areas provide an array of amazing destinations for day trips. In this section, we will discuss the reasons to take day trips from Nice and some popular options to consider.

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Why Take a Day Trip From Nice

Taking a day trip from Nice allows you to explore the diverse landscapes, charming towns, and historic sites in Southern France. It provides an opportunity to experience more of the region’s rich culture and stunning natural beauty. Additionally, day trips are an affordable way to see more of the French Riviera without the need for extended travel or lodging.

Here are some popular day trip options from Nice:

  • Monaco: A beautiful and glamorous destination, Monaco offers luxury experiences, beautiful beaches, and world-famous casinos. It’s just 20 kilometers from Nice and can be reached by a short train or bus ride.
  • Cannes: Known for its annual film festival, Cannes is another seaside town with lovely beaches and a picturesque old town. It’s a 33-kilometer drive from Nice, and you can also take a train or bus.
  • Eze: A medieval village perched on a hilltop, Eze offers stunning views of the French Riviera and a step back in time. It’s just 12 kilometers from Nice and can be reached by bus, train, or taxi.
  • Villefranche-sur-Mer: A charming fishing village with beautiful beaches and crystal-clear water, Villefranche-sur-Mer is a 15-minute bus ride from Nice, providing stunning views of the Mediterranean coast.
  • Antibes: Located 28.8 kilometers from Nice, Antibes is a historic town with a beautiful coastline and several interesting sites like the Picasso Museum and the Fort Carré.
  • Menton: A picturesque town close to the Italian border, Menton offers beautiful gardens, vibrant architecture, and a serene atmosphere.

Remember that the French Riviera offers a diverse array of experiences, from vibrant cities to charming villages and stunning natural landscapes. With many options for day trips, you can make the most of your time in Nice by exploring nearby destinations and enjoying the region’s beauty and culture.

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Transportation Options

Train Travel

Train travel is a convenient and efficient option for day trips from Nice. The TER train serves many nearby towns and cities and is a popular mode of public transport for both locals and tourists. Transfers are usually short and affordable, with tickets starting at around 2€ for a one-way trip to nearby destinations like Villefranche-sur-Mer. To plan your train travel, you can use platforms like Omio to compare routes, schedules, and prices.

Bus Travel

Bus travel is another alternative for exploring the French Riviera. The Ligne d’Azur buses and ZEST buses (also known as Zou! buses) operate on different lines and cover various towns and cities in the region. Bus travel can be slightly slower than train travel but offers an opportunity to take in the scenic views along the way. For instance, Bus 100 from Nice to Menton can take around 25 minutes and costs 2,50€ one way.

Public Transport Tips

  • Make sure to check the schedules and routes of trains and buses in advance. Some areas may not have frequent connections, especially during off-peak hours, so plan accordingly.
  • Purchase tickets at the station, online, or through respective apps. Keep in mind that in some cases, bus tickets might be cheaper when bought from the bus driver or at designated bus stops.
  • Validate your ticket before boarding, as this is a requirement in the transport system, and fines can be high if caught without a valid ticket.
  • When taking buses or trams, pay attention to the stop names as signage can sometimes be unclear, and buses might not always announce the stops.

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Monaco

Monaco harbor
Sergey Yarochkin / Adobe Stock

Monte-Carlo Casino

The Monte-Carlo Casino is a must-see when visiting Monaco, a small but glamorous principality nestled on the French Riviera. Home to the Grimaldi family, Monaco is known for its luxurious casinos, lavish lifestyle, and stunning coastal scenery. The Monte-Carlo Casino offers an unforgettable and luxurious gaming experience, with its elegant architecture and high-end clientele. Make sure to dress appropriately, as there is a dress code to enter the casino.

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Oceanographic Museum

Monaco is not just about casinos and luxury; it also has a rich marine and cultural heritage. One of the best places to explore this heritage is the Oceanographic Museum. Founded in 1910 by Prince Albert I, this institution is dedicated to marine science, with a vast collection of marine specimens and a strong focus on oceanographic research. With its stunning building perched on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean, the museum attracts visitors interested in both marine life and history.

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Jardin Exotique

For nature lovers, the Jardin Exotique is another must-see attraction in Monaco. This botanical garden is home to more than 1,000 species of exotic plants, many of which are succulents and cacti. The garden offers stunning panoramic views of Monaco and the Mediterranean, giving visitors the opportunity to admire the principality’s scenic beauty while strolling through the lush pathways. In addition to the diverse flora, Jardin Exotique also features a limestone cave and an observation deck for even more exploration and breathtaking views.

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Getting to Monaco

A day trip to Monaco from Nice is easy and convenient, with several transportation options available. You can choose to travel by train, which takes around 15 to 24 minutes, depending on the train you choose. The train departs from Nice Ville station and arrives in Monaco Monte Carlo. Alternatively, a guided tour by bus is also an option if you prefer to explore together with a group of fellow tourists.

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Cannes

Marina and City Center of Cannes Southern France
allard1 / Adobe Stock

Croisette

Cannes is a glamorous city on the French Riviera, known for its world-famous film festival and its stunning coastline. One of the highlights of your day trip from Nice to Cannes will undoubtedly be a stroll along the Boulevard de la Croisette. This iconic promenade stretches 2 km, lined with luxurious hotels, high-end boutiques, and an array of cafés and restaurants. It’s a perfect spot to enjoy the view of the sparkling Mediterranean Sea, people watch, or simply soak in the atmosphere filled with glamour and luxury.

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Old Town

Once you have admired the beauty of the Croisette, head to the Old Town, also known as Le Suquet. This historic district, set on a hill overlooking the city, is filled with narrow, winding streets and charming pedestrianized areas. As you explore the cobblestone alleys, you’ll come across small local shops, art galleries, and fantastic dining options. Don’t miss the chance to visit the old fortress, Musée de la Castre, where you can enjoy spectacular panoramic views of Cannes and the surrounding coastline.

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Film Festival

No visit to Cannes would be complete without mentioning the Cannes Film Festival. This prestigious event takes place every May, drawing celebrities, filmmakers, and fans from around the world. While the festival itself is invitation-only, you can still feel the excitement and energy when you walk by the renowned Palais des Festivals et des Congrès. Here, the famous red carpet steps lead up to the entrance, and you can imagine the buzz of activity during the festival. Keep an eye out for the handprints of numerous celebrities imprinted on the pavement, as part of the city’s Cannes Walk of Fame.

To sum up, a day trip from Nice to Cannes provides a mix of glamour, history, and stunning coastal beauty. From the elegance of the Croisette to the charm of the Old Town and the excitement of the Film Festival, there is plenty to see and experience in this iconic city.

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Antibes and Juan-Les-Pins

Antibes and Juan-Les-Pins
Pascal06 / Adobe Stock

Picasso Museum

The Picasso Museum, located in the medieval Château Grimaldi in Antibes, is a must-visit destination for art enthusiasts. The museum houses an impressive collection of Picasso’s paintings, drawings, and ceramics created during his stay in the town in 1946. As you explore the museum, you’ll gain insight into the artist’s creative process and appreciate his extraordinary talent. To make the most of your trip, consider booking a guided tour that will provide additional context and background information on the displayed artworks.

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Cap d’Antibes Hiking

For nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, a hike along Cap d’Antibes will provide stunning views of the Mediterranean coastline. The hiking trail, also known as the Sentier du Littoral, takes approximately 2 hours to complete and winds along the peninsula, offering scenic vistas and the opportunity to explore unspoiled nature. During your hike, you’ll pass by the beautiful Villa Eilenroc and its lush gardens, as well as Juan-Les-Pins Beach, making for memorable photo opportunities.

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Ramparts and Old Town

As you stroll through Antibes’ Old Town, you’ll encounter the city’s historic ramparts, which once protected the town from maritime invasions. These preserved fortifications allow visitors to imagine the city’s rich history as a bustling Mediterranean trading port. After exploring the ramparts, continue your walk through the charming, narrow streets of the Old Town, which are lined with quaint shops, galleries, and restaurants, providing an authentic atmosphere.

In summary, a day trip from Nice to Antibes and Juan-Les-Pins offers a wealth of diverse experiences, ranging from artistic masterpieces at the Picasso Museum to picturesque hikes along the stunning Cap d’Antibes. Don’t forget to make time for exploring the historic ramparts and charming streets of Antibes’ Old Town for a complete experience of this alluring destination on the French Riviera.

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Menton and Ventimiglia

Menton and Ventimiglia
lena_serditova / Adobe Stock

Menton

Menton is a picturesque town just 30 minutes away from Nice by train. With a glittering coastline, colorful Italian-style buildings, and palm trees, this town is a perfect day trip destination. You can easily reach Menton by taking the regional TER train which costs around 4€ per adult and 2.10€ per child (11 and under). The train ride is just over 30 minutes, and you should get off at Menton station, the last stop before Italy.

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Lemon Festival

One of the highlights of Menton is the annual Lemon Festival, also known as the “Fête du Citron.” This vibrant event features stunning citrus sculptures, parades, and exhibitions. If you visit during the festival season, make sure to check the dates and plan your trip accordingly to experience this unique cultural event.

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Ventimiglia

Ventimiglia is a charming Italian town situated near the French-Italian border. To reach Ventimiglia from Menton, you’ll have to cross the border, which leads us to the next sub-section:

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Crossing the Border to Italy

When considering a day trip from Nice to Ventimiglia, it’s important to note that you’ll be journeying across the border to Italy. From Menton, you can continue on the regional TER train to Ventimiglia. Upon your arrival, you can explore the town’s bustling markets, wander through the quaint backstreets, and enjoy la dolce vita before returning to Nice.

In summary, both Menton and Ventimiglia offer unique cultural experiences and picturesque scenery for visitors taking a day trip from Nice. Whether it’s exploring the Lemon Festival in Menton or crossing the border to experience Italian charm in Ventimiglia, these destinations are sure to create unforgettable memories.

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Villages of the French Riviera

Èze Village

Èze Village sea view
andrzej2012 / Adobe Stock

Èze Village is a stunning medieval village perched on a hilltop overlooking the Côte d’Azur. To reach it, you can take a 25-minute bus or car ride from Nice. Wander its narrow cobblestone streets, explore its charming shops and galleries, or enjoy a meal at one of the local restaurants. Don’t miss the Exotic Garden of Èze (Jardin Exotique d’Èze), which offers panoramic views of the surrounding coast and sea.

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Saint-Paul-de-Vence

Saint-Paul-de-Vence
blickwinkel2511 / Adobe Stock

Just a short 30-minute drive from Nice, Saint-Paul-de-Vence is another picturesque hilltop village renowned for its art galleries, museums, and historic charm. Explore the maze of narrow streets, and take in the stunning views of the Côte d’Azur. Be sure to visit the Fondation Maeght modern art museum and pay your respects at the grave of artist Marc Chagall, who lived in the village for many years.

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Peillon

Peillon old town aerial view
lamax / Adobe Stock

Peillon is a beautiful mountain village located about a 30-minute drive north of Nice. Surrounded by lush greenery, and featuring stunning medieval architecture, Peillon is a perfect day trip for nature lovers and history enthusiasts. Browse the local shops, and spend some time in the unique Clapper Bridge, which connects the two sides of the village.

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Peille

Medieval Village of Peille
Rolf / Adobe Stock

Peille, another breathtaking village near Nice, is about a 40-minute drive from the city. Boasting stunning views of the Côte d’Azur and the surrounding mountains, this medieval village is a fabulous destination for a day trip. Wander through the narrow cobbled streets, visit the beautiful St. Roch chapel, and admire the beautiful landscape that surrounds this charming village.

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Art and Culture in the Riviera

Matisse in Vence

Matisse in Vence
vouvraysan / Adobe Stock

Vence is a beautiful town known for its rich art history, particularly the works of Matisse. To explore his artistic legacy, visit the Chapel of the Rosary, which Matisse designed and considered his masterpiece. The chapel features beautiful stained glass windows and murals designed by the artist himself.

Fondation Maeght

Fondation Maeght
elophotos / Adobe Stock

The Fondation Maeght is a must-visit destination for art lovers. This modern art gallery showcases a stunning collection of 20th-century art, including works by prominent artists such as Marc Chagall and Joan Miró. Take your time to explore the various exhibitions and appreciate the unique mix of sculptures, paintings, and other pieces that demonstrate the diverse range of artistic styles and expressions throughout the century.

La Colombe d’Or

Tourists in Branson Wine Tasting and Dinner Tour

The historic La Colombe d’Or is a unique combination of art and gastronomy. This legendary restaurant was once a popular haunt for renowned artists, who would often pay for their meals with artwork. As a result, the restaurant has a fascinating collection of works from Picasso, Matisse, and Chagall, among others. While you enjoy a delicious meal, take the opportunity to marvel at the art lining the walls and immerse yourself in the captivating atmosphere of creativity and history that makes the Riviera so special.

Nature and Outdoor Adventures

Gorges du Verdon

Gorges du Verdon
boivinnicolas / Adobe Stock

Gorges du Verdon is a breathtaking canyon located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. Stretching over 25 km, it is the largest canyon in Europe, with its turquoise river and towering limestone cliffs. It is an excellent destination for hiking, rafting, kayaking, and rock climbing. The geological wonder is around 130 km (about 2-hour drive) from Nice, making it an ideal day trip.

Some popular activities at Gorges du Verdon include:

  • Hiking: Various trails are available for different experience levels, such as Sentier Blanc-Martel, which is a 14 km hike taking about 6 hours.
  • Water sports: The Verdon River offers opportunities for rafting, kayaking, and canyoning.
  • Rock climbing: With over 1,500 established routes, Gorges du Verdon has become a popular destination for climbers searching for limestone cliffs.

Nietzsche Path Hike

Nietzsche Path Hike aerial view
Sergio / Adobe Stock

The Nietzsche Path, located in the stunning village of Eze, is a historic path named after the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who frequented the trail on his visits to the French Riviera. The path winds its way uphill and offers spectacular views of the Mediterranean. The hike can be quite challenging due to its steep incline, but reaching the medieval village at the top is rewarding. Eze is about 20 km from Nice, making it a convenient day trip destination.

Things to see while hiking Nietzsche Path:

  • Picturesque landscape along the trail
  • Panoramic views of the Mediterranean sea
  • Historic Eze Village, with its cobblestone streets and charming shops

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
Vasil / Adobe Stock

Situated between Nice and Monaco, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is a beautiful peninsula offering a variety of outdoor activities. The 14 km coastline features several walking trails with stunning ocean views and lush surroundings. It’s an ideal place for a day trip, considering its proximity to Nice – just about 12 km away.

Outdoor activities in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat:

  • Coastal walks: The peninsula has several trails, such as the famous Cap Ferrat Walk, which is a gentle 3.5 km loop starting from the port.
  • Paloma Beach: A picturesque beach adorned with azure waters and beautiful natural surroundings – perfect for swimming or sunbathing.
  • Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild: This magnificent mansion-turned-museum boasts impressive gardens and stunning architecture – a must-visit when in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.

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Exploring Coastal Towns

Villefranche-sur-Mer

Villefranche-sur-Mer
Villefranche-sur-Mer

Villefranche-sur-Mer is a picturesque town nestled between Nice and Monaco on the French Riviera’s coastline. With its clear blue waters and captivating scenery, a visit to Villefranche-sur-Mer is a must for travelers looking for a retreat from the bustling city life. Take a leisurely stroll through the town’s narrow streets, lined with colorful Italian-style buildings, or relax on its beautiful beaches. To reach Villefranche-sur-Mer from Nice, hop on the TER train, and you’ll arrive in less than 30 minutes.

Beaulieu-sur-Mer

Beaulieu-sur-Mer
Ldgfr Photos / Adobe Stock

Next on the list is Beaulieu-sur-Mer, an enchanting seaside town known for its stunning Belle Époque architecture, lush gardens, and tranquil beaches. Some of the must-see attractions include the Villa Kérylos, a unique Greek-inspired villa with breathtaking views, and the Jardins Ephrussi de Rothschild, classified as one of the most beautiful gardens in France. To get to Beaulieu-sur-Mer, take the TER train from Nice, and you’ll be there in just about 20 minutes.

Cagnes-sur-Mer

Cagnes-sur-Mer
Claudio Colombo / Adobe Stock

Finally, discover the charm of Cagnes-sur-Mer, a lesser-known gem among the coastal towns near Nice. Boasting a rich artistic history with links to renowned painters like Auguste Renoir, this town offers visitors a fresh perspective on the French Riviera. Don’t miss the medieval Hautes-de-Cagnes, the town’s historic quarter, and the Renoir Museum, dedicated to the life and work of the great painter. A journey to Cagnes-sur-Mer from Nice takes around 25 minutes by TER train.

In summary, these coastal towns near Nice offer unique and delightful experiences for those looking to explore beyond the city limits. With their picturesque landscapes, rich history, and distinct charm, Villefranche-sur-Mer, Beaulieu-sur-Mer, and Cagnes-sur-Mer are perfect destinations for day trips along the French Riviera.

Visiting Villas and Châteaux

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
Marat Lala / Adobe Stock

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is a must-see for those interested in art, history, and gardens. Built in the early 20th century for the Baroness Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild, this stunning villa is located on the Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat peninsula, approximately 10 km from Nice.

Visiting the villa, you’ll discover:

  • A rich collection of art and antiques, including furniture, tapestries, and sculptures
  • Nine thematic gardens, each with its own unique style and character
  • Breathtaking views of the French Riviera coastline

To reach the villa, you can take a bus (line 81) from Nice, which takes about 40 minutes, or you could opt for a short 20-minute drive if you have a car.

Transport MethodDuration
Bus (Line 81)40 min
Car20 min

Château de La Napoule

Château de La Napoule
Bernard / Adobe Stock

Château de La Napoule is a historic castle located in Mandelieu-La Napoule, approximately 40 km from Nice. Originally built in the 14th century, the château was meticulously restored in the early 20th century by American artists Henry and Marie Clews.

Some highlights of the Château de La Napoule include:

  • Intriguing sculptures created by Henry Clews
  • Beautiful terraced gardens overlooking the Mediterranean Sea
  • Regular art exhibitions and cultural events

To visit Château de La Napoule, you can take a direct TER train from Nice to Mandelieu-La Napoule, which takes about 30 minutes, or drive for around 45 minutes.

Transport MethodDuration
TER Train30 min
Car45 min

When planning your day trips from Nice, be sure to include both the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild and Château de La Napoule for a delightful experience of history, culture, and beautiful scenery.

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