Nice in southern France is the capital of the French Riviera and the largest city on the Cote D’Azur on the Mediterranean coast. With its old town, beautiful architecture, and wide sweeping beach, Nice is a great place to visit any time of the year.
Its position on the coast also means it’s ideally located for trips out to other nearby towns, as well as to neighbouring countries.
This post is your guide to the 11 best day trips from Nice, France.
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The 11 best day trips from Nice, France
The Principality of Monaco is perhaps the most well-known destination on my list. This tiny country is just over 2 square kilometres – it’s the second smallest country in Europe after the Vatican City.
But this doesn’t mean that it’s not packed full of things to see and do. And as it’s only half an hour by train from Nice, Monaco is a perfect day out.
You can also catch a ferry from Nice to Monaco. This takes around an hour each way, but is a great way to travel.
There are probably two main areas to focus on when you visit: the district of Monte Carlo and Monaco-Ville.
You can visit both on foot or by using the hop-on/hop-off bus.
In Monte Carlo, you will see the glitz and glamour Monaco is famous for. The casino is here, a magnificent, opulent building where you’ll see expensive vintage cars pulling up.
You can people watch in the nearby Hotel de Paris and Café de Paris. Also take a walk around the harbour, where you will see some of the most luxurious yachts in the world.
Monaco-Ville, on the other hand, is the old town where you can really get a sense of Monaco’s history. This part sits on ‘The Rock’, a headland 200 feet above the sea.
You can get some spectacular views out to sea and down to the harbour from this vantage point.
The Prince’s Palace, the official residence of Prince Albert II is in the old town. You can take a tour of the palace (book in advance to avoid disappointment) and learn about the fascinating history of Monaco and its ruling family, the Grimaldis.
Monaco Cathedral is also here, as well as the Oceanographic Museum and the pretty Jardin Exotique.
And for lovers of Formula One Grand Prix, head to Monaco in late May/early June when it hosts the event on the Circuit de Monaco.
There’s a lot to do in Monaco, and if you fancy popping into another country during your visit to France, then put it on your list. For me, Monaco is up there with the best day trips from Nice you can take.
And if you’d like to book a tour from Nice that takes you to Monaco, as well as another destination on this list (Eze), click here.
Cannes is another popular tourist destination for visitors to Nice. This chic city is well-known for its annual film festival and the famous movie stars that it attracts.
But there is much more to do in Cannes than just attending movie screenings; it is one of the top day trips from Nice.
The Promenade de la Croisette is a must-see, with its glamorous shops and cafes. It is reminiscent of the Promenade des Anglais in Nice with its iconic Le Negresco Hotel.
As in Nice, it runs along the side of the sea, so you can hop down onto the beautiful beaches here, head to one of the beach clubs, or go swimming to cool off from the summer heat.
Away from the beachfront and up the hill is Le Suquet, the old town of Cannes. It’s a fabulous area to walk around and explore. It has narrow, medieval streets, beautiful architecture, and great views out to sea and the surrounding area.
The Chateau de la Castre castle is at the top of the hill, and there is a small art gallery inside. There are also restaurants and cafes if you want to stop for a bite to eat and take in your surroundings.
For something a bit different, take a trip to the Île Sainte-Marguerite.
This small island is about half a mile off the coast of Cannes (about 15 minutes by boat). The island has the Fort Royal prison which was said to house the 17th-century ‘Man in the Iron Mask’.
Aside from the Cannes Film Festival, which takes place every year at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, the city hosts a Yachting Festival every September. This is probably not an event I can afford to go to though!
St. Tropez is another beautiful resort town on the French Riviera, located to the west of Nice. It is known for its beautiful sandy beaches, chic boutiques (think Chanel, Dior, and Gucci), luxury hotels, and glamorous nightlife.
St. Tropez is further down the coast from Cannes, about a 90-minute drive away (unfortunately, you can only take the train part of the way).
You can, however, catch a boat trip from Nice. The journey takes around two and a half hours but is a wonderful way to travel between the two places.
If you’re visiting just for a day, there are a few things you should focus on.
Don’t miss the Vieux Port (Old Port), the heart of St.Tropez. It’s where you’ll find the docks, with boats and yachts bobbing on the water and pretty coloured buildings.
There are cafes and local restaurants with outdoor terraces where you can sit and soak up the town’s atmosphere. You can look back on the port with a stroll along the Mole Jean-Reveille promenade, a pedestrian-only stretch that runs along the coast with marvellous views out to sea.
Near the port – in the Place aux Herbes – there’s a lively market selling fruit, vegetables, and flowers. The fish market is in the Halle aux Poissons.
The old town (La Ponche) in St Tropez is also a charming and picturesque area to explore. It’s located up the hill from the port and and has small narrow streets, beautiful architecture, and excellent sea views.
One of the main highlights here is the Place des Lices, a tree-lined square in the heart of the old town. It’s surrounded by charming period buildings and hosts a traditional Provencal market every Tuesday and Saturday. You’ll find stalls selling everything from fruit and vegetables to flowers, clothes, and souvenirs.
Another must-see in La Ponche is the Our Lady of the Assumption Church. This beautiful Baroque building, has a distinctive yellow bell tower.
Also visit La Citadelle, which sits on a hill overlooking the town and the bay of St-Tropez and where you can walk around the walls and take in the spectacular views.
The fortress was originally built in the early 17th century and is now a popular tourist attraction. The town’s Museum of Maritime History is inside.
If you want to chill out after walking around the town and climbing up to La Citadelle, head out to the beach. One of St Tropez’s most iconic beaches is Pampelonne Beach.
This beautiful sandy beach stretches for almost 5 kilometres and is the perfect place to cool off in the water after sightseeing in the centre of St. Tropez. There are a number of bars and restaurants along the beach to pop into when the rest and relaxation gets a bit much!
Villefranche-sur-Mer is the closest of the day trips from Nice listed here, so it will be possible to visit even if you are only in the area for a short time. You can take the train, a journey of less than 10 minutes, or the bus, which takes around 20 minutes.
However, if you want to maximise your time in Nice, I’d recommend taking the hop-on/hop-off bus.
You’ll get to see the main sights of Nice, while also popping over to Villefranche.
Villefranche is only a small town so it’s an ideal place to visit if you’re on a time budget. But what it might lack in size, it more than makes up for in charm.
The old town sits above the bay and consists of a collection of narrow winding streets. There are alleyways off the streets where you get glimpses down to the sea.
The 18th-century Baroque church, Saint-Michel is here, as well as the brightly coloured Saint Pierre Chapel.
You can also explore the Rue Obscure. This is a small medieval street that runs for over 400 metres. Said to have been built as a route for soldiers in the 13th century, it’s now more akin to a covered passageway than a traditional street.
The real gem of Villefranche-sur-Mer, though, as its name suggests, is its seafront setting. The bay of Villefranche is simply breathtaking.
If you take the train ride to other places on this list of day trips from Nice, you can look down on the bay. This is one of the best places to fully appreciate the town’s setting and I guarantee you’ll then want to go.
Once on the waterfront, you can wander around the harbour, grab a coffee or Aperol and sit outside watching the boats going in and out.
And if you want to go to the beach, the Plages des Marinieres offers about a kilometre of space for you to choose your spot. It’s right by the train station, so you can’t miss it.
Antibes is another French Riviera town located just a short distance from Nice (it is around half an hour by both car and train). It’s therefore an easy day trip from the city.
The old town is lovely , with its winding streets, traditional architecture, and quaint cafes and restaurants. It has an excellent food market in the Place Nationale Cours Massena where you can try some Provencal produce or buy some to take back after your day trip.
There are sandy beaches here, and so Antibes is a great choice if you want to chill out on the beach or go swimming in the sea.
Head to the Plage de la Gravette, a public beach near the city walls. Further along and next to Antibes, are the beaches at Juan Les Pins.
The town is also home to an excellent selection of museums, including the Picasso Museum, which is housed in the old Château Grimaldi. The museum houses the world’s largest collection of works by the artist.
There is also a postcard museum, and a museum dedicated to the alcoholic spirit absinthe!
On the outskirts, you can visit the 16th-century Fort Carre. This gives you the chance to walk around a place featured in the James Bond film ‘Never Say Never Again’ and look out over the sea.
Grasse is often referred to as the ‘perfume capital of the world.’ This picturesque town is inland from the Cote D’Azur in the heart of Provence, and is home to several perfume factories.
It’s just over an hour’s drive from Nice and a similar journey time if you prefer to travel by train.
A day trip from Nice to Grasse is a great way to learn about the history and production of perfume and enjoy the town’s stunning setting. Every year, thousands of tourists visit Grasse to learn about the art of perfume-making and to sample some of the finest fragrances in the world.
One of the oldest and most famous perfumeries in Grasse is the Parfumerie Fragonard, and when you visit, you can take a tour of the factory. You can learn about the history of perfume-making and see how fragrances are created.
Grasse is more than just a place for buying perfume, however. It is a beautiful town with a rich history and culture and a maze of narrow streets and quaint buildings in the old town. There are landmarks worth visiting here, including the Cathedral of Notre Dame du Puy.
Grasse also has several museums of interest, including the Museum of Art and History of Provence, the Fragonard Museum, and the International Museum of Perfumery.
To book a tour that takes you to Grasse and the perfume factory, and then to Valbonne and onto the Bellet vineyards for some wine tasting, click here.
Eze is a small medieval village perched high up on a cliff top.
It is around half an hour by bus from Nice. This is probably the best way to reach the village (although it is only 15 minutes by train, this takes you to Eze-sur-Mer and you’ll then need to get a bus up steep hills or walk).
It’s another destination that is situated on the coastline along the Cote d’Azur. It is a smaller place than some other day trips from Nice featured in this post, but it is worth heading for nonetheless.
Sitting on top of a hill, there are stunning views from Eze village and the small medieval cobbled streets are fascinating to wander through. There are gift shops to browse in and cafes and restaurants to stop off at.
On a visit here, you can see the pretty yellow 18th-century Notre Dame de l’Assomption church, built in the neo-classical style. You can also visit the Jardin Exotique, another place with panoramic views that is built on the site of the old castle.
Saint Paul de Vence
St Paul de Vence is another hilltop village worth visiting.
It has a medieval setting and is less than half an hour’s drive from Nice. Public transport takes longer than this, and there is no direct train here (although you can go part of the way by train and then catch a bus), but even if you opt to travel this way, it will be well worth the journey.
The village is atop a hill and surrounded by walls which you can walk around to take in views of the Mediterranean Sea. Its charming narrow streets are lined with medieval houses, cafes, and shops.
Perhaps most famous, however, is the village’s artistic history. It is known for being where some of the most famous artists of the 20th century lived and visited: this includes the likes of Pablo Picasso, Jeon Miro, and Henri Matisse.
The modernist artist, Marc Chagall, also lived in St. Paul de Vence for many years and is buried in the cemetery on the hill.
As a result, there are numerous art galleries here and the Fondation Maeght, a museum dedicated to modern art. There are also various sculptures to be spotted around the tiny streets of Saint Paul.
It’s a perfect place to visit if art is something that interests you.
To book a tour that goes to Saint Paul de Vence, as well Antibes and Cannes, click here.
Menton is another coastal town located on the French Riviera, just a short journey from Nice. In contrast to some other destinations in this list, it is to the east of Nice, practically on the Italian border. It is so close that you can actually walk into Italy!
Known colloquially as The Pearl of France, it’s easy to see why. It’s a picturesque little medieval town with small winding streets within which you will find the Basilique Saint-Michel, with an 18th-century bell tower, and the La Chapelle des Pénitents-Blancs.
The old town also has an array of cafes, restaurants, and souvenir shops. Many of these sell products made from the local lemons: the town has a warm micro-climate that lends itself to a thriving industry of growing citrus fruit. Look around as you wander through Menton, and depending on the season, you’ll see trees buckling under the weight of ripe fruit.
This fruit is put to good use at Menton’s annual Lemon festival, the Fete Du Citron. The festival takes place over a couple of weeks in the early spring and is a colourful and vibrant carnival of floats, statues, and exhibitions made from lemons.
Each year has a new theme. I visited during the Bollywood year and, among other things, saw a Taj Mahal made of fruit!
Menton also has a pretty seafront and promenade to wander along and some beautiful gardens to stroll in. The Jardin Botanique Val Rahmeh is a botanical garden with an array of tropical plants and flowers.
In the Villa Maria Serena garden, you can wander among the palm trees and look out from its hilltop setting to the sea.
The town also houses the Musée Jean Cocteau and a collection of works by the French artist, poet, and filmmaker who lived in Menton.
Unfortunately, the more modern building of the Jean Cocteau Severin Wunderman collection is still closed after it suffered storm damage in 2018, but you can still see his works in the Bastion museum in the old port.
It’s a must if you are interested in Cocteau’s work, or art in general.
Provence’s lavender fields
The iconic lavender fields in Provence are a must-see for any visitor to France. And located only a couple of hours from Nice, they are definitely one to consider for a day trip if you’re visiting the area between June and August.
The nearest fields to Nice are in the Pays de Valensole. The area is covered with lavender fields that stretch as far as the eye can see, and in the summer, they are a beautiful purple colour.
The fragrance of the lavender is intoxicating, and simply wandering through the fields is a memorable experience.
On a day trip here, you can also take a scenic drive past fields filled with yellow sunflowers and olive groves.
The small rustic village of Valensole with its 11th-century church is worth stopping at. It’s a really pleasant day trip to take if you want to get out of the hustle and bustle of a bigger town, especially in the high season and summer months.
Unfortunately, this is one of the day trips from Nice that is not so easy to do using public transportation. Taking your own car is an option, but there are also numerous tours that will take you out to the best areas, sometimes combining this with stops at other notable Provencal landmarks. You might find this is the easiest way to get here.
This guided tour takes you out to see the lavender and also goes to the Gorges du Verdon (Verdon Gorge), one of the largest canyons in Europe and where you can swim, kayak, and hike.
You also stop for lunch at the small village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, billed as one of the most beautiful places in France. I’ve been to Moustiers, and with its small attractive centre surrounded by a rocky outcrop, I can vouch that it really is beautiful!
One of the great things about Nice’s location in the south of France is that it is near the border with Italy. As a result, you can make a relatively easy trip along the coast into the Italian Riviera and places like San Remo in the province of Liguria.
It is around an hour and a half’s drive from Nice, or you can catch a train, changing at Ventimiglia.
San Remo is famous for its stunning setting on the Mediterranean Sea, as well as its attractive architecture. The old part of the town is especially worth visiting, with its narrow streets and impressive buildings.
There are several churches and palaces to see, including the Co-Cathedral of San Siro, and the Santuario Madonna della Costa. Most striking is the early 20th-century Russian Church with its five distinctive domes.
San Remo is also home to the stunning Villa Nobel, the former residence of the Swedish chemist who invented dynamite and founded the Nobel Prize.
The villa is now a museum, and inside, you can see the many books and manuscripts that Nobel owned, as well as various personal belongings. There is also a garden to explore, with sculptures and beautiful views over the town and sea.
If you fancy seeing more greenery, pop into one of the other gardens in the city. The garden surrounding Villa Ormond, with its palm trees and manicured lawns, is a lovely place to wander around.
For more fresh air, you can also walk along the promenade that runs along the seafront and stop off at one of the numerous beaches in the city. Don’t forget to try the famous Italian gelato!
Day trips from Nice
These are just some of the amazing day trips from Nice that you can take.
Whether it’s visiting a seaside town on the Cote d’Azur, going inland to see some of the beautiful villages and surrounding countryside, or even popping into another country, you’re bound to have an unforgettable experience.
Other ideas for day trips and short breaks in Europe
I hope this post has given you a good flavour of the type of day trips from Nice you can take and some of the beautiful towns to visit in the area.
My website also has a range of posts on other places to give you more ideas for day trips and short breaks in Europe.
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