Nice is a city that’s hard to ignore. Not only is it one of France’s largest cities and a place with strong ties to some of the country’s best artists, it’s also a gateway to the dazzling Côte d’Azur and the South of France. This is why any well-planned trip to Nice should include at least one day exploring beyond the city, because you really don’t have to go far to find some of the best places to visit in France. Whether you want to soak up the French Riviera, journey to hilltop villages, or even visit a neighboring country, this guide to the best day trips from Nice has you covered.
How to Get Around
Although many of these day trips can be undertaken with public transport, consider renting a car for the day to give yourself more flexibility and independence. Your own four wheels allow you to be in control of your time and schedule, and depending on how many people are in your group, renting a car might even work out cheaper than other forms of transportation. You can compare car rental deals and find the cheapest prices at Rentalcars.com, an aggregation site that searches and displays prices and availability from hundreds of car rental companies so that you can be sure of getting the best possible car for your budget.
Don’t want to drive or deal with the hassle of public transport? No worries, we’ve listed the best tour for each day trip (where available).
The first place that travelers should be looking to when considering a Nice day trip is the town of Èze. Found on the coast between Nice and Monaco, Èze often gets overlooked for its more famous neighbors despite how much it has to offer. Begin a day trip here by exploring the charming hilltop village that you would swear hasn’t changed since the Middle Ages. There you can stroll through its cobblestone streets past medieval stone houses to soak in its atmosphere before stopping in at the Chapelle de la Sainte Croix, a landmark of the village from the 1300s. Finish your time in the hills by climbing to the Point de Vue for its phenomenal views of the French coast, before descending to the Plage de la Baie in Eze-sur-Mer to unwind by the water.
Getting there: Èze is a short trip from Nice. The train trip takes just 15 minutes, but you will have to walk or get a taxi to get up to the village. If you’d like to combine Èze with other destinations, we recommend booking a half-day trip instead.
Are you excited by the idea of jumping over to another country on one of the best side trips from Nice? Then you won’t be able to resist visiting the tiny country of Monaco, known internationally for its casinos and the Grand Prix motor race. Monaco City is a great place to start your visit; it’s the city’s old town district and boasts some stunning panoramic views from atop the Rock of Monaco. As for attractions in the area, there are the city’s old fortifications, the changing of the guard outside the Prince’s Palace of Monaco, and the exhibits of the Musée Océanographique de Monaco. Don’t skip a visit to Monte Carlo either, because you won’t want to miss seeing its famous casino complex and belle-époque beauties like the Salle Garnier opera house.
Getting there: It takes just 20 minutes by train and 30 minutes by bus to get from Nice to Monaco. However, if you’d like to combine your visit with other destinations in the region, the easiest option is to go with a guided tour.
One of the best places to visit from Nice for a fun day exploring the French Riviera is the resort town of Antibes. A visit to this scenic town provides an exciting mix of cultural attractions and beaches, giving you the freedom to spend the day however you like. A great place to start is at Fort Carré, a historic fortress offering splendid views of the town’s marina full of luxury yachts. On the far side of the port lies the Picasso Museum, which features a prominent collection of the artist’s works inside an old chateau where he once lived. When it comes time to head down to the beach, you can either choose the central Plage de la Gravette or travel a little further for the beautiful Plage du Ponteil and Plage de la Salis.
Getting there: Antibes is one of the many easy train trips from Nice, with the journey taking around 30 minutes each way. Alternatively, you can visit it together with other destinations on the Riviera as a guided tour.
4. Saint Paul de Vence
A great choice if you wish to experience a classic French village close to Nice is Saint Paul de Vence. Walking through this walled hilltop village is a delight since it has retained its medieval feel over the years, with vines and flowers lining many of its quaint old buildings. Because of its tiny size, you can take your time exploring every nook and cranny of the village, with Rue Grande a great place to start. Saint Paul de Vence has an extensive history of attracting artists seeking inspiration, with the likes of Picasso, Matisse, and Chagall all having spent time here during their careers. This artistic connection explains why you’ll find here the acclaimed Fondation Maeght, with its collection of modern paintings and sculptures just outside the village.
Getting there: A very slow way to reach Saint Paul de Vence is by bus via Nice Airport; the journey takes 1.5 hours. For a better use of your time, consider taking a guided tour instead as it will also allow you to visit some nearby wineries.
While it’s always associated with the luxurious lifestyles of the super-wealthy, the reality is that Saint-Tropez is a fun day trip destination for all travelers. This hotspot has everything you’d expect from the French Riviera – beaches, bars, and plenty of yachts. For a great time at the beach, make your way to favorites like the Plage de Pampelonne and Plage de Tahiti, while you simply need to head to the marina to look on in envy at the assortment of yachts moored there. But there are also cultural sights in Saint-Tropez, such as the Musée de l’Annonciade, with its wonderful collection of Post-Impressionist art, and the local maritime museum, housed inside the formidable Citadel of Saint-Tropez.
Getting there: With no public transport options for getting to Saint-Tropez from Nice, you can either visit with a guided tour or drive yourself.
6. Verdon Gorge
It’s not only possible to visit other cities and towns along the French Riviera with day tours from Nice thanks to destinations like the Verdon Gorge. Found inland among hills and countryside, the Verdon Gorge is the deepest canyon in France and prized for the surreal turquoise color of its water. A common way to explore the Verdon Gorge is with outdoor activities, whether it be hiking on trails along the canyon, tackling the region’s climbing routes, or paddling down the Verdon River in a kayak. Of course, people looking for a gentler day in the region can also just walk or drive to the various viewpoints that overlook the canyon and spend the rest of their time visiting the pleasant villages nearby, such as Moustiers-Sainte-Marie which is home to the remote Notre Dame de Beauvoir Chapel.
Getting there: The Verdon Gorge is awkward to reach any other way than by car, which is why taking a guided tour is a good idea if you don’t have your own wheels.
7. Valensole Lavender Fields
Besides being home to the French Riviera, the region of Provence is probably best known to tourists for its lavender fields. Valensole is one of many places in Provence where you’ll find lavender fields, making it one of the most popular things to see in France outside of Nice on a day trip. The best time to see the endless rows of purple flowers is during early-to-mid summer when the lavender is in full bloom and there are many different spots to see around the Valensole Plateau. While you explore the area and stop for photos, be sure to visit the town of Valensole itself for its humble streets and 11th-century church.
Getting there: There aren’t any public transport options to reach Valensole in the countryside, so you’ll either need to get a car or hop aboard a guided tour to see the lavender fields.
With a title like Perfume Capital of the World, the town of Grasse is definitely a destination worth looking at for your day trip. Found among the hills north of Cannes, Grasse was historically known for its leather tanneries before its perfume industry took off in the 18th century. Start your visit here with the Musée International de la Parfumerie to learn about the town’s history with perfume and how it’s made. Follow up with the Parfumerie Fragonard, one of the oldest perfume factories in the town. The rest of your visit to Grasse can revolve around visiting different perfume stores, but there are other attractions, too, such as the Musée Fragonard and its collection of art by Jean-Honoré Fragonard.
Getting there: It takes roughly an hour to get from Nice to Grasse by either bus or train. Alternatively, visit with a guided tour to combine the town with other places in the countryside.
9. Port Grimaud
Are you looking for something a little different from your day trip to the Côte d’Azur? Then look no further than Port Grimaud. This picturesque coastal town is dubbed The Little Venice of Provence because it actually was designed and created to copy the famous floating city. Port Grimaud and its network of waterways was constructed in the 20th century on former marshland, and while it may lack the deep history and scale of Venice, it still presents visitors with an unusual place to explore. The disconnected layout of the colorful town means it’ll take a while to fully explore on foot or by water, so whatever time you have leftover afterwards can be spent relaxing on the Plage de Grimaud.
Getting there: To get from Nice to Port Grimaud takes 2.5 hours by train then by bus, but it’s much faster to get there by car or with a guided tour; both of these options make it easier to visit other places like Saint-Tropez as well.
Cannes is a household name thanks to its international film festival. But even when the festival isn’t happening, there’s plenty to entertain visitors for a day in this city on the French Riviera. The Boulevard de la Croisette is the beachfront promenade of Cannes, and it offers views of the waterfront and yacht marina on one side and views of elegant hotels and high-end fashion boutiques on the other. For food and people-watching, there’s no better spot in Cannes than the Marché Forville market. As for cultural landmarks, there’s the Église Notre-Dame d’Espérance, which also comes with nice views of the city, and the modern art exhibits of La Malmaison.
Getting there: Getting to Cannes from Nice takes roughly 40 minutes by either bus or train, but a guided tour may be a better approach to visit multiple places in a single day.
A bit of a dark horse pick for places along France’s south coast, the town of Menton makes a strong impression on those who give it a chance. Located just shy of the Italian border, Menton offers a blend of French and Italian influences and is full of color and character. Wander through its old quarter and you’ll be overwhelmed by the vividly colorful houses that line its narrow streets winding their way up the steep hillside to the Basilica of Saint Michael Archangel and its Baroque interior. Down by the waterfront, you’ll find the signature view of Menton with the Old Town overlooking the Plage des Sablettes, plus the strikingly modern Jean Cocteau Museum dedicated to the literary figure’s broad array of creative talents.
Getting there: It takes 40 minutes to reach Menton from Nice by train or a little over an hour to get there by bus.
Although Marseille sometimes gets portrayed as busy and unpolished, there’s no question that the city’s character makes it a fascinating place to explore. Begin your visit down by the Old Port, the symbolic heart of Marseille, and walk along it to the Fort Saint-Jean, which boasts some spectacular scenery. Not far away, you’ll find the incredible Marseille Cathedral that really stands out thanks to its Byzantine architecture. The surrounding neighborhood is Le Panier, a mess of steep and narrow streets with street art and old-fashioned charm.
Marseille also has its fair share of museums, with two of the city’s finest being the Mediterranean exhibits of MuCEM and the mix of art and archaeology at La Vieille Charité. For more ideas, be sure to check out our Marseille itinerary.
Getting there: The journey from Nice to Marseille is a little under three hours by train or by bus.
Italy really isn’t that far away from Nice, and the gorgeous scenery of Dolceacqua is a tempting reason to cross the border for the day. Dolceacqua is a picture-postcard village in the hills of Liguria that looks like it belongs in a Disney movie. Begin your visit down by the Ponte Vecchio over the Nervia river and take in the classic view looking up to its historical center. From there, climb up through the village streets to the remains of the Doria Castle that overlook the village.
Other things to see include the Church of Sant’Antonio Abate and the Church of San Sebastiano, but a great way to enjoy Dolceacqua is to simply find a local restaurant and enjoy the food and atmosphere.
Getting there: It is possible to get to Dolceacqua from Nice in a little over two hours by train and then by bus. A guided tour is another possibility if you’d like to see the Italian Riviera as well.
You’d be forgiven for not having heard of Toulon before since this port city tends to get overshadowed by Nice and Marseille, the cities on either side of it. But Toulon has great potential as a day trip destination because you won’t be competing with other international tourists to enjoy it. The harbor of Toulon features everything from fishing boats to warships, so it’s a great place to start your sightseeing. From there, find your way to Cours Lafayette to check out its market and shops and follow it until you reach the grand form of the Cathedral of Toulon.
For spectacular views of the city and this stretch of the Côte d’Azur, take the cable car to the top of Mont Faron northeast of the city.
Getting there: The train ride takes just under two hours from Nice to Toulon.
There are countless places you could choose to visit in Italy from Nice, but one last one we recommend is Sanremo. It was once a bustling resort city on the Italian Riviera and now draws people in by offering glimpses of its extravagant past. That said, you’ll still find plenty of boats and yachts moored in its marina as you stroll the waterfront between its beaches. Corso Imperatrice is a great street to follow as you pass through the heart of the city, giving you views of the grand, historic Casinò di Sanremo. Other examples of beautiful architecture around Sanremo include Villa Nobel, where Swedish scientist Alfred Nobel lived, and Villa Ormond with its splendid gardens, although the standout might be the Russian Orthodox Church purely because of how unexpected it is.
Getting there: It takes roughly 1.5 hours to reach Sanremo from Nice by train.
You should now have plenty of day trip ideas to get you started for your time in Nice. There’s no shortage of fun places to visit in the South of France, which is why so many tourists keep coming back over and over.