Nice is known for its stunning beaches with azure water, warm weather, and rich history. While there are many things to see and do in the capital of the French Riviera, some of the best experiences are completely free! In this Nice travel guide, we'll explore ten of the best free attractions to do in Nice.
When visiting Nice; a must-see is the Promenade des Anglais (walkway of the English). Remember to bring your most comfortable walking shoes, as the seven-kilometre promenade is the perfect place for a nice long walk. Its name dates back to the 18th century when English royalty settled there to enjoy the health benefits of the climate. As the coastline was not easily walkable, a lord insisted on building an accessible promenade over which he, his wife and his friends could stroll. Today, some hotels still bear English names. The Promenade des Anglais is one of Nice's most popular attractions. The avenue is a popular spot for many activities, such as cycling, rollerblading, running and other sports. Not to mention the many events organised there and the hotels, shops and casinos located along the avenue.
The old Mediterranean-style houses and narrow streets of Nice's charming old town give the feeling of being back in time. The picturesque tall houses usually accommodate shops, restaurants or galleries of local artists, where you can buy handmade jewellery and a variety of cosmetics. Nice's old town is just below Castle Hill, on the northern edge of the Promenade des Anglais. The old town of Nice is filled with impressive architecture, squares and historical sites worth visiting. Be sure to visit the daily flower and food market on Cours Saleya and be enchanted by the many colours, flavours and spices. Later in the afternoon, the market gives way to restaurants under the open sky. On Mondays, there is also a local flea market, which moves to Nice's old port for the rest of the week.
On Castle Hill, you can enjoy some of the best panoramic views of Nice that the city has to offer. From the top, you can admire the sweeping panoramic views of Promenade des Anglais and the Old Town, providing the perfect backdrop for capturing the most beautiful holiday pictures. There are various ways to reach the top, including the stairs starting on the Promenade des Anglais or taking the elevator. Take in the view of the airport and mountains from the top, or head over to the children's playground area for a view of the harbour and the hill of Mont Boron. You can climb up Bellanda Tower for a spectacular view over the Bay or head to the Belvedere near the elevator exit for an unforgettable sight. Don't forget to check out the Cascade du Château, an artificial waterfall that's still a stunning sight to behold.
A day at the beach in Nice is the perfect way to soak up the French Riviera's stunning scenery and relaxed atmosphere. Each of Nice's beaches has something unique to offer, ensuring there's a spot to suit every taste. For a touch of glamour, head to Opera Beach and immerse yourself in the glitz and glamour of the French Riviera. Ruhl Beach, on the other hand, is ideal for families, offering plenty of space for kids to play and calm waters perfect for swimming. If you're looking to escape the city's hustle and bustle, La Réserve Beach is the perfect option. This secluded beach offers a peaceful oasis, making it ideal for those seeking a tranquil day at the seaside. Blue Beach is a haven for water sports enthusiasts, with an array of activities on offer, including windsurfing and jet skiing. Finally, if you want to discover a local secret, head to the tiny Coco Beach, a hidden gem that's beloved by locals.
Cimiez is one of Nice's most charming neighbourhoods. Begin your exploration at Cimiez Arena Park, which offers a peaceful retreat from the bustling city centre. Admire the stunning Roman ruins at the Cimiez Arena before strolling through the picturesque Cimiez monastery gardens, where you'll be rewarded with breathtaking views of Nice and the Bay. For those fascinated by history, the Cimiez Archaeological Museum provides a fascinating insight into the area's Roman past. Art lovers, on the other hand, should head to the nearby Henri Matisse Museum, located in the Cimiez Arena Park, or the Marc Chagall National Museum, just a short distance away. With so much to see and do, Cimiez is a must-visit for anyone travelling to Nice.
You can't visit an old European city without visiting at least one church. The intricate architecture and ornate details that you can find in European churches are unmatched. One of the most beautiful churches in Nice is the Russian Orthodox Cathedral. The church is open to visitors free of charge every day except Mondays. Don't miss the chance to visit other notable religious sites such as Cathedrale Sainte-Reparate, Saint Jacques Le Majeur Church, and St. Spyridon Cathedral. These churches offer a fascinating glimpse into the region's rich cultural heritage and history, and they are all just a stone's throw away from the Russian Orthodox Cathedral.
Nice is a city that takes pride in its natural beauty, and public parks are some of the best places to enjoy it. One of the most popular parks is the Promenade du Paillon, located in the heart of the city. Another must-see park is Castle Hill Park, which offers stunning views of the city and the surrounding sea. For those who love flora and fauna, the Botanical Garden and the Jardin du Monastère de Cimiez are must-visit destinations. Park Vigier and Parc Chambrun are both popular with locals and visitors alike, offering quiet and peaceful surroundings away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Finally, Le Jardin Albert 1er and Parc du Mont Boron offer a beautiful setting for picnics, strolls, and leisurely bike rides. With so many beautiful parks to choose from, there's no shortage of green spaces to enjoy in Nice.
Nice is full of stunning squares and boulevards that offer visitors a glimpse into the city's history and culture. Rossetti Square is a must-visit, with its beautiful Saint Reparata Cathedral and charming cafes. Saint Francis Square is a bustling hub for local fishermen and is surrounded by vibrant markets and shops. Place Massena is a massive public square that features incredible fountains and unique art installations. Meanwhile, Rue Droite is a charming, narrow street in Old Nice, full of restaurants and shops. Place Garibaldi is another must-visit, with its imposing statue of the Italian hero and breathtaking architecture. For those who enjoy a seaside stroll, the Quai des Etats-Unis offers a stunning view of the Mediterranean. Finally, visitors looking for a bit of nature will find solace at Avenue Jean-Médecin, a tree-lined boulevard that leads to lovely public gardens. No matter where you go, Nice's public squares and boulevards are a feast for the senses.
Villefranche-sur-Mer, a picturesque village just a short distance from Nice, makes for a great day trip with plenty to offer. Its stunning coastline, colourful buildings and charming harbour are a feast for the eyes. Visitors can also explore the quaint narrow streets, browse the local boutiques and take in the Mediterranean atmosphere. Don't miss the medieval Citadel, which offers panoramic views of the sea and surrounding hills. The village also has a rich cultural heritage, with numerous museums, galleries, and churches to discover. Villefranche-sur-Mer is a true gem of the French Riviera and an ideal spot to escape the crowds of Nice for a day.
Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is another charming coastal village located just a short drive away from Nice. This picturesque village is known for its luxurious villas, stunning sea views, and pristine beaches. Visitors can spend their day exploring the lush gardens of the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, a mansion turned museum, or admiring the sea life at the Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat Observatory. The village's waterfront promenade, lined with restaurants and cafes, offers breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea. With its crystal-clear waters, secluded coves, and magnificent coastal paths, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is a perfect day trip from Nice for those who want to soak up the beauty of the French Riviera.