The area of Cannes patch of coastline with blue waters and high rise buildings along the sand and boats around the marina area

Cannes Itinerary: How to Make the Most of 2 Days in Cannes!

Since its inception in 1946, the Cannes Film Festival has been a symbol of cinematic excellence and a haven for film artists around the world.

Each year, film industry luminaries gather for a captivating array of screenings and red-carpet events that are every cinephile’s fantasy!

But even. beyond the festival’s glamor and grandeur, Cannes itself is refined, with an aura of sophistication even in its day-to-day life.

The enchanting atmosphere of its historic streets, charming boutiques, and elegant cafés seamlessly blends with the intoxicating scent of the Mediterranean, a destination loved by cinephiles and travelers alike.  

the beach in cannes with umbrellas and coastline
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Of course, Cannes offers more than glamor; it has long provided a sanctuary for those seeking inspiration and escape. 

Its sandy shores and tranquil Provençal surroundings invite visitors to retrace the steps of their favorite writers and artists on a quest to find the beauty that inspired masterpieces.  

Cannes is a living testament to the transformative power of art: a place of pilgrimage for cinephiles, as well as chance to witness the inspiration for countless artists and writers.

This unconditional love for film and art, paired with an exquisite taste for le luxe, is deeply rooted in the city’s DNA. 

Our 2 day Cannes itinerary is specially curated for cinephiles and travelers seeking to cover all the best parts of Cannes in limited time. 

On y va!

How to Get to Cannes

blue and white striped umbrellas on the beach

Cannes is well-connected by transportation, with the Nice Côte d’Azur Airport (NCE) at its backdoor, just 17 miles away.

If you’re flying into Nice, you can rent a car, take public transportation, or take a taxi to get to Cannes. The drive takes about 30 to 40 minutes, depending on traffic.

If you need a taxi, I recommend booking an airport transfer through Welcome Pickups — it’s competitive with the price of a local taxi, but having it pre-booked takes all the stress out of it, plus you know your driver will be waiting for you at the airport.

If you’re renting a car, I recommend looking for the best rental car deals on Discover Cars — they search over 500 agencies (including small local ones other car rental search engines skip over) and make pricing clear and easy, with no bait and switches.

If you’re already in France and you’re traveling around by train, Cannes has its own train station (Gare de Cannes) which is well-served by the SNCF, France’s national railway.

Your Two Days in Cannes Itinerary: Day 1

Immerse yourself in the luxurious splendor of La Croisette.

a view along the boardwalk of cannes, called la croisette, on a sunny day with palm trees and blue skies

Start your first day in Cannes by setting off on a leisurely stroll along La Croisette, Cannes’ iconic promenade that stretches along the sparkling Mediterranean Sea.

As you step onto this famed avenue, you’ll be transported to the world of elegance that defines Cannes.

The breathtaking panorama of azure waters and sandy beaches, mirrored by sublime façades, grand hotels and luxury boutiques, all exude the opulence of both Cannes and the French Riviera in general.

The boutiques lining the promenade showcase the newest fashion from renowned French and Italian houses, enticing fashionistas with their latest collections.

From haute couture to elegant accessories from smaller boutiques, La Croisette offers a paradise for fashion enthusiasts.

La Croisette is also the perfect place to immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant atmosphere.

Indulge in a café au lait, treat yourself to a delicious pastry in one of the many cafés along the promenade, and just sit back and watch as the world passes by.

Stop to admire Le Palais des Festivals.

the cannes palais of festivals which is where many films premiere

As you near the end of La Croisette, you’ll see one of Cannes’ most famed and familiar buildings at the end of the promenade: Le Palais des Festivals et des Congrès.

This iconic building serves as the heart of the festival, hosting film premieres to create and celebrate unforgettable moments in cinematic history.

While the building itself is not accessible to the public, you can access the steps of the Palais des Festivals (and its iconic red carpet!) for free.

It’s an architectural marvel absolutely worth admiring, so make sure you stop by before heading onto the next spot on this Cannes itinerary, Le Suquet.

Discover the historic quarter of Le Suquet.

the charming neighborhood of le sequet with its cobblestone floor and colorful houses and inclined walkway

Leaving the glitz and glamor of La Croisette behind, venture into the heart of Cannes and immerse yourself in the enchanting atmosphere of the historic neighborhood of Le Suquet.

Nestled on a hill, the picturesque narrow streets climb through the city, winding around in an array of quaint houses with colorful façades and blooming balconies.

While in Le Suquet, don’t miss the Notre-Dame de l’Espérance Church, a splendid example of Gothic design.

With its intricately detailed stained-glass windows and soaring arches, the church dates back to the 16th century, though it may have been worked on earlier.

The view from here is pretty great, too!

the notre dame church of cannes with a beautiful view behind it

After visiting the church, make your way up to the highest point of Le Suquet.

Here, you’ll find where the ancient castle (Château de la Castre) proudly stands, offering panoramic views of the city and harbor.

Once the town’s fortress, the historic castle walls nowadays house the Musée de la Castre.

This small but interesting museum showcases a diverse range of art and artifacts from around the world, with several exhibits dedicated to Cannes’ rich history and culture.

Spend the afternoon basking in the beauty of Île Sainte-Marguerite.

water of ile st margerite in the lerin islands with beautiful tranquil water

After a fresh and delicious lunch in Le Suquet, it’s time to escape the bustling city of Cannes with a short boat ride to Île Sainte-Marguerite.

You can book your roundtrip ferry ticket online in advance here, to avoid any disappointments.

This island is one of the captivating Lérins Islands nestled just off the Riviera coast, an idyllic oasis haven for those in search of tranquility and natural beauty.

It has unspoiled and pristine beaches, where crystal-clear waters invite you to jump in for a swim (and the tranquil waves also make it a great spot for families).

The island is also abundant with Mediterranean flora – why not embark on a scenic walk across the island?

Keep an eye out for the wildlife that calls the island home while you search for the best view point.

In addition to its undeniable natural treasures, Île Sainte-Marguerite also has its own historic significance.

A particular highlight of any visit is the historic Fort Royal, a fortress dating back to the 17th century with an imposing structure which once served as a prison off the coast of Cannes.

Book your roundtrip ferry ticket to Île Saint-Marguerite here!

A boat moored in front of the shoreline of the Lerins islands, with turquoise clear water all around

For a more exclusive experience, you can take your own private boat to the Lérins Islands for a 4-hour tour.

Accommodating groups up to 6, you can enjoy the turquoise waters encircling the Lérins Islands while enjoying wine and snacks. 

If you prefer to get a little active, you can snorkel or stand-up paddle board — it’s all included with the boat experience.

But if you just want to lounge, the foredeck of the boat has room for three to sunbathe (and there’s some shady areas too if you want to take a break from the sun). 

Note: There is an additional fee of 100 euros to be paid in cash to the skipper when booking this tour, that is not included on the online price.

Book your private boat ride and snorkeling tour here!

Alternately (or additionally!) visit Île Saint-Honorat.

the beauty and serenity of lerins abbey with an arch leading to the gardens of this peaceful monastery on an island near cannes

The neighboring island Île Saint-Honorat is renowned for the Lérins Abbey, a medieval monastery that is still active today.

Unfortunately, while the two islands are close together, there is no direct transportation between the two (this is on purpose, to keep the monastery from overcrowding).

The abbey is inhabited by a small community of monks who maintain the island’s traditions and produce renowned wines and liqueurs.

The liqueur is highly regarded for its quality and craftsmanship, and it has gained international recognition as a symbol of French liqueur excellence.

It only takes 15 minutes to get from Cannes to the Lérins Islands, so it is possible to see both in a day, if you don’t mind returning to Cannes and then visiting Île Saint-Honorat.

You can book a return trip ticket here to visit the island from Cannes.

Your Two Days in Cannes Itinerary: Day 2

Explore the charming Old Town (Le Vieux Port).

the scenic vieux port (old port) area of cannes with a view of the castle and the clocktower of the church from a distance, and a white and red striped lighthouse in the foreground, and boats and marina and houses.

Start your morning by exploring in the enchanting ambiance of Le Vieux Port, the picturesque old town of Cannes.

This charming neighborhood invites you discover a world of old-world charm and hidden treasures, all located in a former sleepy fishing village.

As you wander through its labyrinthine streets (all of which are beautifully adorned with colorful buildings and charming façades) keep your eyes peeled!

There are many artisan shops here offering a delightful array of handmade goods, from intricate ceramics to unique jewelry and traditional crafts (and they’re a good deal cheaper than anything you’ll find along La Croisette!)

Explore the local market, Le Marché Forville.

the fruit market in marche forville  in Cannes France on a sunny day with people enjoying the weather

A visit to the bustling Marché Forville is essential for food enthusiasts. This vibrant market is a feast for the senses, with an abundance of fresh local produce, regional delicacies, and aromatic spices.

Words can hardly do this experience justice, so be sure to make time to stroll through the lively stalls, interact with friendly vendors, and indulge in the flavors of Provence.

From fragrant herbs and sun-ripened fruits to artisanal cheeses and freshly-caught seafood, the market offers a delightful selection of local, seasonal foods.

Have an unforgettable lunch.

a man holding a cup of bouillabaisse seafood soup wearing jeans and blue sneakers

Drawing inspiration from the bountiful land and sea, the cuisine provençale offers a harmonious blend of the most local and fresh produce and seafood, complemented by aromatic herbs, flavorful olive oil, and just a few well-picked spices. 

From the famous ratatouille and bouillabaisse to the exquisite flavors of tapenade and pissaladière, these dishes truly captures the essence of Provence.  

Cannes offers a tantalizing array of culinary experiences for all palates and budgets, offering a chance for all to enjoy the flavors of Provençal in one of the many brasseries and restaurants. 

But where this small city on the French Riviera particularly excels, however, is seafood! (No big surprise, right?!) 

For a taste of delicious local oysters, head to Poissonnerie Forville, a terrasse just a few steps away from the iconic market.

oysters and white wine

Here, you can savor a platter of exquisitely fresh oysters served with a crisp white wine. 

L’Assiette Provençale is a great place to savor classic Southern French cuisine and Le Fouquet’s is a go-to for French cuisine with a glamorous twist.  

If the hearty Provençal cuisine is not your favorite, you’ll find a delicious taste of Italy at Da Laura Trattoria

For a luxury meal with a breathtaking view, head to the Israeli restaurant Bella by Eyal Shani, located on the rooftop of Hôtel Belle Plage.  

Option One: Explore the calanques of Esterel Natural Park.

beautiful sunny day in cannes seeing the calanques of the esterel natural park

If you’re in the mood for a little adventure, why not head on RIB boat tour of L’Esterel, a beautiful natural park close to Cannes?

The Esterel is a beautiful, underappreciated part of the French Riviera: dotted with sea caves and tranquil bays and surrounded by crystal clear water, it’s a mystery why it isn’t more well-known.

By small RIB boat, you’ll explore caves and arches, heading towards the Esterel Natural Park with its deserted beaches and pristine coves that you can only access by boat.

Due to the limited capacity of the boats, you’re guaranteed a small group size, so it’ll be a peaceful day out on the water.

You’ll have plenty of time to hop in the water and enjoy quiet places to swim, away from the crowds elsewhere along the Riviera.

Book your boat tour through Esterel Natural Park here!

Option Two: Treat yourself to a day at the spa    

generic hands on back massage photo

Not in the mood for another day out on the water? Then relax on shore!

If you’re not staying at one, the best way to take advantage of the many Grand Hôtels of Cannes is treat yourself to a special afternoon at a luxury spa.

The Art Deco and Belle Epoque decor of these exquisite hotels will only add to the atmosphere!

For a holistic approach to wellness, try Villa Belle Plage, a rising star among the city hotels.

Designed by the renowned architect Raphael Navot, the spa at Villa Belle Plage offers a minimalist approach to wellness, and the clean-lined design of the spa is an experience in itself.   

Not a fan of the less-is-more approach?

The five-star Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic offers a luxurious spa experience in a very majestic style, mirroring all the glitz and glamor of the Riviera, with treatments by Sisley Paris, a high-end beauty brand.  

Unwind at the pristine beaches.

beach clubs with white and tan umbrellas in cannes, france

With its spectacular beaches, Cannes has earned its well-deserved reputation as a coastal paradise.

Any visit to this enchanting cinematic city would be incomplete without experiencing the blissful combination of sun-kissed sands and the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea!  

Whether you prefer the exclusivity of a private beach or the authentic ambiance of a public beach, Cannes offers a range of options along the promenade of La Croisette, where you can find your own idyllic oasis. 

For a luxe private beach experience, Mademoiselle Gray is a renowned establishment owned by the Barrière Hotel.

An unspoiled view across the Cannes Bay, delicious cuisine and a vibrant DJ set at night make this spot a favorite for those seeking the ultimate luxury experience! 

the public beach of cannes with people enjoying the soft sands with cannes city at your back

If this type of luxury is not for you (or it is, it’s just out of your price range), don’t worry.

Just join the sun worshippers and beach enthusiasts as they gather to soak up the Riviera’s radiant energy on one of the many public beaches!

On marked stretches along the promenade, you can simply spread your towel on the soft golden sand and let the sun hit your skin or take a dip in the warm waters!  

Where to Stay in Cannes

The area of Cannes patch of coastline with blue waters and high rise buildings along the sand and boats around the marina area

Budget: Hôtel Cannes Centre Univers

While budget is a relative term in Cannes, Hôtel Cannes Centre Univers offers good value for your money, with an unbeatable location and good design.

The beds are a little small, but the rooms themselves make up for it with great vintage-inspired design and even some cheeky flair in some of the rooms (think: a bathroom that says “yes you Cannes!”)

All the shared spaces like the lobby, hallways, and restaurants have been given a refresh to match the aesthetic.

Check availability, rates, and reviews here!

Mid-Range: Hotel Splendid

With rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows and doors opening up to seafront views… can it get much better than the views at Hotel Splendid?

This lovely hotel overlooks the harbor and enjoys a great location near the beaches, restaurants, and everything else you’d want to see in cannes.

The rooms are spacious and roomy, though not necessarily the most modern in its design, but it’s still an excellent hotel nonetheless!

Check availability, rates, and reviews here!

Luxury: Five Seas Hotel Cannes

As a member of Design Hotels, the Five Seas Hotel Cannes promises to do everything a step above compared to its other 5-star competitors.

With a focus on design and personalized hospitality, Five Seas Hotel is the modern idea of luxury — not just the big name players, but a quietly luxe experience.

The rooms are spacious and refined, minimalist in their aesthetic yet luxurious in their furnishings.

Enjoy Mediterranean fine dining at SeaSens Restaurant or take in the views from the rooftop Terrace Bar with excellent views and expertly crafted cocktails.

Oh, and speaking of rooftops? It’s got its own rooftop pool.

If you’re looking to get pampered, the hotel’s spa offers tranquil treatment rooms, a sauna, and a hammam.

Check availability, rates, and reviews here!

Have More than 2 days in Cannes?

view of the town of antibes with its ramparts and beautiful town coastline

If you can, plan an extra day for an escapade artistique to Antibes!

Beyond the beaches of Cannes, a short journey along the picturesque coastline will take you to the charming town of Antibes.

The secluded oasis of Cap d’Antibes has welcomed artists like Picasso and F. Scott Fitzgerald who sought inspiration and found solace within the embrace of clear waters and beautiful Provençal landscapes.  

the picasso museum is housed inside a chateau once owned by a famous family. the chateau is made of stone and is perched on a hill

While visiting Antibes, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Musée Picasso, housing a truly exceptional collection of his works, in a setting just as exception — the magnificent Château Grimaldi.

Once the residence of the famous Grimaldi family, the castle dates back to the 14th century and has a panoramic view that will leave you in awe of Antibes’ natural beauty and the surrounding azure waters. 

Immerse yourself in the charm of Antibes with a leisurely stroll through its old town and along the historic ramparts that encircle the city. 

the rugged coastline of cap antibes in the summer

To experience the refreshing Mediterranean waters, venture to Cap d’Antibes, a stunning peninsula adorned with luxurious villas and picturesque gardens.

Here, you can take a dip in the sea and revel in the beauty of the majestic coastline. 

As the evening sets in, make your way to Juan les Pins, a vibrant neighborhood that once captivated the artistic souls of the Lost Generation. 

At the Fitzgerald Piano Bar, you can savor a drink while enjoying a mesmerizing view.

This legendary spot, frequented by the likes of Francis and Zelda Fitzgerald, still exudes the champagne-filled decadence and bohemian allure that made Juan les Pins the epitome of Riviera chic! 

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