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

Nestled on the luxurious French Riviera, the vibrant city of Nice charms visitors with its turquoise waters, stunning beaches, and an overall artistic allure.

While you could easily spend a whole week wandering around the streets of this coastal gem, our 2-Day itinerary is your perfect guide if your time on the Riviera is limited.

Nice really began to boom during the Belle Epoque period in the 19th century, and this is reflected by its beautiful architecture.

iconic buildings of nice with palm trees around it
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Many Nice landmarks, like the iconic Promenade des Anglais, were built during this time.

Over centuries, this unique city has attracted renowned artists and thinkers including Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, and Friedrich Nietzsche: all finding inspiration in the vibrant colors and captivating landscapes of the region.

This cultural legacy is preserved in museums, galleries, and the artistic ambiance that defines Nice and the French Riviera in general.

With just two days in Nice to explore, follow our guide to experience the essence of Nice’s southern chic.

From strolling along the iconic Promenade des Anglais to immersing yourself in the vibrant Old Town, this article is your guide to experiencing the best of Nice in a limited timeframe.

Getting to Nice

vibrant view of the cours saleya market from a more birds-eye-view angle so you can fully see how colorful it is

Nice is well-connected by transportation, with the Nice Côte d’Azur Airport (NCE) just 4 miles away from the center of Nice.

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 10-15 minutes, depending on traffic.

If you need a taxi, I recommend booking an airport transfer through Welcome Pickups.

It’s competitive with local taxi prices, but having it pre-booked gives you peace of mind upon arrival — especially since you know your driver will be waiting for you at the airport!

Book an airport pickup from Nice airport here!

If you’re renting a car during your time in Nice, 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.

Check rental car prices from Nice here!

That said, I recommend waiting to rent a car until you’re ready to leave the Nice area and explore more of Provence or the French Riviera.

Parking in Nice is a hassle and you won’t need a car for this Nice itinerary, as everything is within walking distance!

Train station in Nice, with blue train arriving at a train track in the semi open air train terminal

There are easy train rides to Nice from all over France, as this city is a major transportation hub for Southern France.

Navigating different countries’ rail service websites can be difficult, so I make it easy on myself by booking train and bus tickets via Omio — it’s one interface for all European train companies!

If you’re arriving by train, it couldn’t be easier as the train station is right in the heart of town.

If you have a lot of luggage, you may want to take a taxi rather than walk or take public transportation.

Day 1 of Your Nice Itinerary 

Get a feel for the city wandering along Promenade des Anglais.

a stop along the promenade anglais with a sea view

Stretching for 7 km (that’s just over four miles) along the azure waters of the Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels), this picturesque promenade offers breathtaking views, lined with stunning Belle Époque architecture and Grand Hôtels

Taking a leisurely stroll and basking in the sun on La Prom’ (as the locals call it) is one of the favorite activities of the Niçois, and just a few steps should be enough to explain why! 

As you wander, marvel at the iconic landmarks, such as the Hôtel Negresco, a Belle Époque masterpiece.

view of a building on the nice waterfront promenade

Be sure to admire the stunning Place Massena, adorned with ornate fountains and charming gardens, all with a fresh sea breeze to start your perfect first day in Nice.  

The Promenade des Anglais owes its name to the predominantly English tourists who came to Nice in the 19th century in search of wellness, health and leisure on the beautiful Mediterranean Coast. 

the promenade of the nice riviera

Today, la Prom’ is still a favorite amongst tourists and locals alike, who like to jog or cycle along the promenade, all while admiring the architectural masterpieces of this unique avenue.

Opulent balconies, intricate moldings and colorful façades all make this part of Nice a sort of open-air museum, showcasing architectural excellence. 

Immerse yourself in the historic heart and soul of Nice.

historic building in the center of old town nice, cute and narrow streets

The Promenade des Anglais will lead you from the airport in the west to the old town in the east.

Le Vieux-Nice is a well-preserved historic neighborhood. Although quite a touristy area, the Old Town is beloved by locals and visitors alike.

What’s not to love about its vibrant labyrinth of cobblestone, narrow and winding streets, beautifully lined with colorful façades and hectic market stalls?

colorful houses of old nice with painted shutters

Dotted by charming boutiques, artisan shops and trendy cafés, this area boasts a variety of historic landmarks and monuments.

It’s no wonder Nice was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2021!

Below, I’ll list some of the most important landmarks you shouldn’t miss in the Old Quarter.

You can also take a tour of Old Nice so you don’t have to visit each of these landmarks independently.

There are different themed tours of Vieux Nice, such as this 4-hour food and history walking tour of Old Nice, and this 2-hour history walking tour of Old Nice and Castle Hill.

Book your Vieux Nice food tour or walking tour here!

Admire the Fontaine du Soleil.

statue of a boy in a fountain with red architecture all around

First, you should admire the Fontaine du Soleil, a monumental fountain located in Place Rossetti.

The fountain depicts Apollo, the Greek god of the sun, surrounded by mythical sea creatures.

The plaza itself is lovely too, with its brick red painted architecture.

Stop by Maison Auer for delicious chocolates.

Another must-visit is Maison Auer on the very picturesque Rue Saint-François de Paule, which offers a variety of exquisite chocolates.

Five generations of chocolatiers, combined with an enchanting interior styled in Florentine fashion, make this quaint gem a local favorite!

Take in the beautiful Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate.

a beautiful historic cathedral in nice with a belltower and red architecture around it

Another worthy stop is the Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate.

It was officially built in the 17th century, though its primitive structure however dates back to the 11th century.

Inspired by the Church of Saint Susanna in Rome, the Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate features a dome adorned with vibrant, glazed tiles in the Genoese style.

Wander through the vibrant Cours Saleya.

view of the cours saleya market and the nice seafront and sand and palm trees

Be sure to stop by the bustling Cours Saleya, which runs parallel to the sea and cuts through the heart of the Old Town, one of the most important arteries in the historic center.

This iconic street is home to a bustling daily food and flower market every morning. Be sure to look for the art dealers if you’re visiting on a Monday!

To enjoy a drink on this lively street, locals recommend Le Bateleur.

Admire the architecture of the Palais de la Préfecture.

historic palace in light pink or light red architecture with white detailing and molding and many arches in the facade of it

Keep your eyes open for the Palais de la Préfecture, an impressive architectural masterpiece dating back to the 16th century.

Once belonging to the Dukes of Savoy, a dynasty that ruled Nice from the 13th century through the Renaissance until the city was finally ceded to the French Republic — not until 1860!

Peruse the museum at Palais Lascaris.

Explore the Palais Lascaris, a splendid 17th-century Genoese palace that now houses a museum.

Step inside to admire the opulent decor, intricate frescoes, and an impressive collection of musical instruments.

Stop by the Chapelle de la Miséricorde.

the famous chapel of nice with its beautiful but fading facade

A few steps further, be sure to visit the the Chapelle de la Miséricorde.

This stunning Baroque chapel adorned with intricate artwork and gilded details is considered one of the most beautiful chapels in Nice.

Visit Nice’s historic fish market.

Heading north from Old Nice, you’ll come across Place Saint-François.

This is where the iconic fish market, a cultural institution in Nice, has taken place around the Fontaine des Dauphins every day (except Mondays) since 1930.

Climb for the clock tower for an epic view over Nice.

the famous clock tower of nice on a clear blue sky day

Another place to visit is Tour Saint François, which was built as the bell tower in the 13th century before being transformed into a clock tower after the French Revolution.

Those brave enough to climb the 288 steps will be rewarded with a magnificent 360° view of Nice. Note that the admission fee is €6.

Savor the delicious local cuisine Niçoise.

hand holding a bowl of seafood stew

To truly get to know a city, you have to taste it! Immerse yourself in the flavors of Nice and savor a variety of traditional dishes.

Treat your taste buds to the iconic salade Niçoise, a refreshing salad of fresh vegetables, tuna, anchovies, and olives, drizzled with olive oil.

Of course, there’s the famous seafood stew, bouillabaisse.

Another must-try is socca, a chickpea pancake originating from Liguria that is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Its earthy flavors and unique texture make it a beloved local favorite!

If you’re craving a comforting and flavorful summer dish, you can’t go wrong with the iconic ratatouille.

ratatouille with red pepper, tomatoes and green beans, served in an orange cocotte ceramic bowl, with fork, spoon and bread

A hearty, chunky vegetable stew with a summer-ripe medley of eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, and bell peppers — how can it go wrong?

To complement your meal, don’t forget to pair it with a glass of local rosé — French wine geeks know that Provence is known for its exceptional rosé wines, light and delicately fruity!

If you want someone to do all the legwork of finding the best restaurants for you — and getting to taste a small portion of all the food that makes Nice so distinctly Provencal — you can take a food tour!

This food tour takes 3 hours and covers many of the dishes mentioned above, like socca, local olive oils, pissaladière, tapenade, rosé wines, and also some local Nice sweets like lavender biscuits!

Book your Nice food tour here!

Take a hike up the scenic Castle Hill.

the castle hill area of nice with mosaic and beautiful foliage

After that lunch, it’s time for a (short) hike up Castle Hill, locally known as La Colline du Château.

It’s worth the walk once you reach its summit and witness a breathtaking panoramic view of Nice that’s like a postcard come to life!

From this elevated vista, you’ll be treated to a mesmerizing vista of Nice’s cityscape, stretching out before you in all its splendor.

The city is framed on the other side by the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean Sea provide a stunning backdrop, with a clear view of the busy port.

view of nice from the castle hill

However, don’t be fooled by the park’s name into searching for an actual castle!

Fun fact: the château was actually destroyed by King Louis XIV in 1706, before the city of Nice was ceded to France!

Still, while wandering through the grounds, you’ll come across a few scattered remnants of the ancient citadel that once stood proudly on Castle Hill.

fake waterfall in nice's castle hill area

One of the most lovely places on Castle Hill is the artificial waterfall, which emerges from Nice’s main source of drinking water, the Canal de la Vésubie.

Be aware! Every day at noon, a cannon (a fake cannon, to be precise) is fired, but don’t be alarmed.

The Niçois just have a thing for keeping traditions, and this one dates back to 1862.

Catch the sunset at Promenade du Paillon.

the lovely promenade de paillon at dusk with the light slowly fading

As the sun begins its descent to the west, head to the Promenade du Paillon, a beautiful urban park that stretches from the Old Town to the more modern part of the city. 

Take some time to unwind here surrounded by the gardens, lush lawns, and fountains. 

When you’re ready, stroll down the boulevard and the Jardin Albert I towards the beaches to find a serene spot to relish the kaleidoscope of colors as the sun sets over the Mediterranean, casting a golden glow upon the city.

Have a delicious and hearty meal.  

nice france restaurants in old town street

In the evening, it’s time to continue your foodie journey through the culinary treasures of Nice! 

Chez Acchiardo, an esteemed establishment that has graced the culinary scene since 1927, comes highly recommended.

Enjoy the mouthwatering robust flavors of daube niçoise, a beef stew simmered to perfection with red wine and a delicate infusion of Mediterranean herbs.  

At Lou Balico you’ll have the pleasure of savoring their exquisite rendition of merda de can, green gnocchi adorned with a pistou sauce crafted the Ligurian way, without pine nuts.  

Day Two of Your Nice Itinerary

Skip the crowds at one of the city’s prestigious museums  

the red painted exterior of the musee matisse with mint green shutters

Nice has a variety of world-renowned museums to offer and you should try to include at least one in your Nice itinerary.

It’s well worth it to get up early to be the first in line and skip the crowds, saving you some precious time! 

Here are the top museums we recommend.

  • Musée Matisse is a tribute to the renowned artist Henri Matisse showcasing a remarkable collection of his works, from his early works to his later masterpieces.

    The museum is situated in the beautiful neighborhood of Cimiez, in a splendid 17th-century Genoese villa surrounded by a serene garden.
a sign leading to the famous. musee marc chagall a famous french painter
  • Musée Chagall is dedicated to the life and works of the renowned Russian-French artist Marc Chagall, an influential Impressionist artist.

    Housed in a distinctive building design by architect André Hermant, Musée Chagall is also located in Cimiez.

    Chagall’s works are known for their vibrant colors, dreamlike imagery, and rich symbolism.

    His art often draws inspiration from his Jewish heritage, Russian folklore, biblical themes, and personal experiences. 
  • Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (MAMAC) is the place to be for art enthusiasts who want to have their finger on the pulse of what’s happening in contemporary art.

    It offers a sometimes-captivating, sometimes-confusing journey through the ever-evolving world of modern and contemporary art.

    The museum building itself is a striking architectural masterpiece, designed by Yves Bayard and Henri Vidal. 
the historic musee massena with a villa like structure and palm trees in central nice
  • Villa Masséna serves as a museum dedicated to the history and art of Nice, with works and artifacts related to the city’s past.

    Situated on the famous Promenade des Anglais, the villa is among the many iconic symbols of the city’s rich heritage and tendency towards opulence. 

Visit the Russian Orthodox Cathedral. 

the onion domes of the russian orthodox cathedral in brilliant teel colors while there is lots of gold and pink or salmon painted exterior of the church

Don’t miss the magnificent Russian Orthodox Cathedral, an architectural marvel with its gilded domes and ornate interiors.

Step into a realm of tranquility as you admire the Byzantine-style frescoes and intricate iconostasis. 

The cathedral provides a fascinating glimpse into Nice’s historical ties with the Russian aristocracy.

Also known as Cathédrale Saint Nicolas, this is the largest Russian Orthodox Cathedral built outside of Russia, and an important place of worship for the local Orthodox community.   

Have lunch at the Quartier du Port.

the port area or marina of nice with brilliant colored building sin the background and hill

The Quartier du Port, or the Port District, is a vibrant and charming neighborhood, offering a unique blend of historical charm and maritime ambiance. 

Originally constructed in the 18th century to serve as a liaison for the Duke of Savoy with other kingdoms, the port nowadays primarily serves leisure, ferries to Corsica, nautical sports and yachts. 

You can enjoy a beautiful walk from Negresco Hôtel on Promenade des Anglais to the yacht club. 

The port is also a popular area for a drink or a meal, with numerous bars and restaurants offering views of the boats.

For a truly luxurious meal, make sure to book your table in advance at Le Plongeoir.  

Take a boat ride somewhere luxe.

While you’re in the port area, why not explore somewhere else on the Riviera by boat from Nice?

There are countless Nice boat tours that take you to various places along the Riviera in different kinds of boats, from everything from speedboats to RIB boats to sailboats!

Here are a few suggestions:

Spend the rest of the day tanning under the blue striped umbrellas.

blue and white striped umbrellas on the beach

What better way to end your 2 days in Nice than basking in the sun the city is so known for?

While you can absolutely could a few hours on one of the city beaches in Nice, why do that when there’s an even better option?

We recommend heading to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, the picturesque peninsula just a few minutes’ drive from Nice.

Known for its natural beauty, extravagant villas, and stunning coastal views, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat offers secluded coves, crystal-clear waters and pristine beaches far from the crowds.

You won’t regret the small detour!

Where to Stay in Nice

architecture of one of the villas of nice in the ornate style

Budget: Résidence Lamartine

For an affordable but still lovely hotel, check out Résidence Lamartine.

This elegant home has been converted into a selection of apartments perfect for those who want less of that traditional hotel feel.

It’s great for a short visit to Nice, since it’s just a 5-minute walk from the Nice-Ville Train Station, yet it’s still only a 10-minute walk from the Promenade des Anglais and the beautiful Nice beaches.

This is also a great budget choice because it has a small kitchenette (microwave, a stove hob, and a small fridge) so you can buy local Nice produce and self-cater during your stay!

Everything was renovated in 2017, so expect modernity furnishings and details — but then be wowed by the old-world charm, like its floor-to-ceiling doors that open up to a wrought-iron balconette!

There’s also a small garden area as well as a lounge area where you can relax on plush green velvet sofas or play a round of pool.

Check availability, rates, room types, and reviews here!

Mid-Range: Hôtel Apollinaire Nice

For a luxurious but not wallet-breaking stay, Hôtel Apollinaire Nice is an excellent option.

A short walk from Old Nice, Castle Hill, and the Promenade des Anglais, this boutique hotel in the prime Carabacel neighborhood will give you a memorable stay.

Vintage-meets-modern is the design aesthetic here: just check out their bar area, with its upholstered and steel bar stools against a tiled geometric bar counter

Inside, the rooms are spacious and modern — think subtle animal-print floors, minimalist white-linen beds, and funky lighting details — all with ingenious up-to-date details like USB sockets for your electronics! 

Some rooms, like the King Suite, even have a deep soaking tub with a window in case you want to soak in some views from the tub!

This is another hotel where each room is rather personalized with its own aesthetic, so look through the different room types available to find the one that matches what you want best.

Check availability, rates, rooms, and reviews here!

Luxury: Hotel Le Negresco

The famed Hotel Le Negresco is as iconic inside as it is from its exterior! 

Entering the hotel, you’ll immediately be greeted by grandeur appropriate of the building’s standing as Belle Époque masterpiece.

Exquisite candelabras and chandeliers, original gilded crown molding, a marble floor so shiny you can see your reflection in it… and we haven’t even reached reception yet.

All the public areas are this intriguing — from the sitting room with its entirely glass dome to perfectly let in the light to its library-chic warmly lit bar area to its its quirky carousel-inspired restaurant — but now let’s move onto the rooms.

There’s a variety of room types: pick between a mid-century modern inspired one, with a unique headboard and velvet cushy chairs, or a more old-world luxury one, with floor to ceiling curtains, wicker chairs, an upholstered seating area — all with a Mediterranean view!

The rooms are very unique, so I suggest looking through the room types available on Booking to be sure you find the one that matches your aesthetic desires.

And of course, don’t forget its private beach club area!

Check availability, rates, rooms, and reviews here!

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