Nice, France is the perfect spot to experience the French Riviera lifestyle. As the 5th largest city in France, it has the small city charm but with big city amenities. If you only have one day, you’ll be able to explore a great deal of the Nice, France Attractions.
While one day isn’t nearly long enough to explore everything in Nice and the surrounding areas, our list of what to see in Nice in one day will ensure you hit the highlights. We tried to leave enough time for you to enjoy a leisurely lunch, stop at a café, browse the shops, relax in the park or swim at the beach. A few extra ideas are also included just in case you breeze through our list quicker than expected.
Keep reading to see how to fit in the best Nice, France attractions in one day.
Nice, France Attractions In One Day:
Your first stop of the day is to the Cours Saleya Market. The striped awnings will guide you though a tantalizing display of fresh fruits, vegetables and local goods. Pick up a snack as you admire the seasonal produce from stands large and small.
Tip – Look for the small vendors, those with less of a selection. They’ll likely have products straight from their farm or garden. No wondering if you’re getting produce that has been shipped across the border!
Provincial olives are available in a variety of seasonings and are perfect to pair with your evening glass of wine. Try one of the local Nice Specialties, socca, from the stand. Or maybe you’d like to grab a package of fresh strawberries or a few oranges to munch on throughout the day. You can pick up souvenirs or just snap some photos to make your friends and family wish they had traveled with you.
Breath in the sweet fragrance of the Marché aux Fleurs or Flower Market as you continue walking along Cours Saleya. You’ll mix with the locals as they grab their weekly flower bouquets and gifts.
*On Monday’s you’ll find an antique/flea market instead of the fruit and vegetable market.
Want to know more about the fresh markets? We have an entire article dedicated to Market Shopping in Nice which includes tips for shopping at the fresh market as well as lists of all the markets in the area.
Next, tour the Nice Opera House then cut over to the the sea. Take a seat on the pebbled beach to enjoy the view and snack on the goods you picked up from the market. If you started your day off a bit later than intended, you could eat a sandwich and even pair it with a cup of rosé during your time by the sea.
Depending on the weather, a refreshing swim will help cool you off from the hot Riviera sun. No matter the time of year, you’ll likely find someone taking a dip.
Note – You’ll find free and paid beaches in Nice and they are easily distinguished. If you want a lounge chair, umbrella and drink service, you can pay a fee for the privilege. If you don’t mind sitting on the pebbles, pick a spot and join the crowd of sun worshippers.
There is no need to brush off the sand as you walk up to the Promenade des Anglais. However, there are showers along the quay wall if you were able to take a dip in the sea and need to rinse off the salty water.
The first Promenade was completed in 1824 and was funded by wealthy and ailing English that wanted a place to walk along the water. At the time, the warm climate and fresh sea air was said to heal certain conditions such as tuberculosis.
The city has since taken over maintenance and upkeep of the ‘Prom’ so there is plenty of room for walking, riding bikes, scooters and roller blading. At all times of the day, you’ll find locals and tourists out on the Promenade enjoying the sun and sea breezes.
If you have time in your schedule, you could rent a bike from Vélo bleu right on the promenade.
Now that you’ve admired the coast of Nice at sea level, it’s time to head up to Castle Hill (La Colline de Château.) You have the choice of taking the elevator or stairs. If you’ve been indulging in all the French delicacies, you might want to work off some of that by climbing to the top. Those with limited mobility and small children will likely prefer the elevator.
Once at the top of the hill, there are several spots perfect for admiring (and photographing) the panoramic views of Nice and the Mediterranean Sea. One of the most common questions people ask is “where is the castle?” It is in the name of the hill, after all. Sadly, there is no longer a castle on Castle Hill. It was destroyed in 1706 by Louis XIV. One of the towers has been rebuilt and the top is perfect for more photos of Nice. You’ll also see a manmade waterfall, playground and archeological site.
Ensure you cross to the opposite side of the playground for views over the Port. As you likely won’t have time for a closer look with only one day, you should take the time to admire the view from above. If visiting during the winter months, look for snow on the Alps.
If you’re planning to spend time along the French Riviera, I highly suggest this guidebook. The information and maps are extremely helpful.
Now it’s time to head back down and explore the Old Town. There are many churches, restaurants and shops to see, so take your time as you wander the narrow streets.
Just a few points of interest:
:: Église Saint-Jacques-le-Majeur de Nice on Rue du Jesus which was originally constructed in the 1600’s by the Jesuits.
:: Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate on Place Rossetti is a Baroque cathedral, has a lovely alter and frescos on the ceiling.
:: Palais Lascaris on Rue Droite is a seventeenth-century aristocratic building and now houses a musical instrument museum.
As you meander through the streets of Old Nice, make your way back toward Place Massena to see the Fontaine du Soleil with its towering statue of Apollo.
To get to Place Massena, you can walk through the streets of Old Town, back along the Prom or through the Promenade du Paillon (by the tram line). The Promenade du Paillon has a large park where kids can play and adults can relax under a tree or on a bench. You’ll even pass by the Miroir d’Eau or mirror of water with it’s spraying water jets and misters. Kids love running through the area on a hot summer day. Adults, walk through with your camera at your own risk! The jets can spray at any time.
Let’s Eat –
Our picks for the top 4 Niçoise specialties to try during your visit:
- Salada Niçoise
- Le Pan Bagnat
If you still have some extra time in your day, we have a few more suggestions.
From Place Massena, continue down Avenue Jean Medecin (this follows the tramline.) Here you can shop and visit the Basilique Notre-Dame de Nice. You’ll be heading in the direction of the train station, if this is how you’ll be leaving Nice.
More shopping can be found around the corner on Rue France or high end shopping along Avenue de Verdun. If museums are more your style, a couple in the area are the contemporary art museum (Le Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain) and the Massena Museum near the famous Negresco Hotel.
There is so much to see and do in Nice, you’ll want to visit again the next year. From swimming in the sparkling Mediterranean Sea to wandering the narrow streets of Old Town, we know you’ll have a perfect day in Nice.
If you found other Nice, France attractions that are a must in a one day visit, leave a comment to let us know.
Need more inspiration? See our Ultimate Guide to Nice and the French Riviera. I’ve spent 2 years compiling articles to help visitors to the South of France.