Nice, France is a popular seaside destination (and subject of many wordplay puns…). The weather is pretty temperate year-round, though you’ll likely have to wait until May to enjoy a dip in the ocean at a pleasant temperature.
I visited Nice for 4 days last year in late February. It was my second trip, so I took the opportunity to explore the surrounding area, from medieval hilltop villages to a border town in Italy.
If you’re planning to visit Nice, here are 5 beautiful day trips accessible by public transport.
Transportation around Nice
Before I dive in, I just want to share a few important details about transport in the area. All of these day trips can be reached by public transport in under 1 hour, whether by train or by bus.
If you take the bus, each single ticket is 1,50€, but you can make unlimited transfers within 74 minutes. You can also buy a 10 pack of tickets for 10€ at the tram stop machines or Ligne d’Azur boutiques. There is also a day pass for 5€ and a week pass for 15€, which include unlimited rides in that time frame. Keep in mind that these special passes don’t work for Monaco, Menton, or Saint-Paul-de-Vence; for these destinations, you’ll need to buy the single 1,50 ticket.
If you take the train, all day trips I’ve suggested are on the Nice-Ventimiglia (Ventimille in French) line. Your fare will vary based on your age—those 25 years old and under pay around 30-50% less than those 25+. I’ve given you train fare ranges in each listing, with the lower end for those 25 and under, and the upper end for those 25+. You should know that on this line, it’s very common for train staff to check if you have a valid ticket. If you don’t, you could be fined.
You should also know that there are two train stations in Nice: Nice Ville and Nice Riquier. Nice Ville is the main train station, and Nice Riquier is the stop right after. See which station is closer to where you’re staying before booking train tickets.
Map of Day Trips from Nice, France by Train or Bus
5 Prettiest Day Trips from Nice, France by Public Transport
1. Èze Village
What to do there: Èze Village is a hilltop medieval village. It’s home to artisan shops, traditional restaurants, and a lovely botanical garden overlooking the Mediterranean. Entrance to the garden ranges from 3,50€-6€; once inside, you’ll find many exotic plants, beautiful viewpoints, and places to just sit and relax.
Distance from Nice: 30 minutes by bus.
How to get there: Bus 82 from Gare Routière Nice Côte d’Azur towards Plateau de la Justice (1,50€ one way). Get off at Plateau de la Justice, which is a short walk from Èze Village. You can also take the train to Èze-sur-Mer (2-3€ one way) and hike up to the village (4.2km/2.6mi, 50 minutes) via the Nietzsche Path. It’s a pretty steep hike, but has good views along the way—I personally hiked up to the village, and then took a bus back.
2. Ventimiglia, Italy (Ventimille)
What to do there: Ventimiglia, Italy is just across the border, and is so close to France that many locals will actually speak French. There’s a Friday outdoor market that draws quite a crowd—there, you can find local food items like pasta, artisan gifts, or inexpensive clothing. You can also walk up to the hilltop old town to get your share of colorful buildings and old architechture.
Distance from Nice: 1 hour by train
How to get there: The local French trains have a line with the final stop in Ventimiglia (Ventimille in French). Tickets cost 5-7€ one way.
What to do there: Another quaint medieval hilltop village with independent art galleries, fine jewelry stores, and classic restaurants. Offers lovely views of the surrounding valleys and mountains.
Distance from Nice: 1 hour by bus
How to get there: Take the 400 bus from Parc Phoenix towards Vence and get off at the St. Paul – Village stop. Tickets cost 1,50€ one way.
What to do there: A seaside town with gorgeous colorful houses. Lie out by the beach, visit the Serre de la Madone Botanical garden, or pick up some local lemon products (a specialty of the town).
Distance from Nice: 40 minutes by train
How to get there: Take the train going to Ventimiglia (Ventimille) and get off at the Menton stop. Tickets cost 3-5€ one way.
Photos used with permission of Ellie from The Ginger Wanderlust. See her Provence & French Riviera Road Trip Itinerary for more travel ideas! I specifically would recommend the Gorges du Verdon, which you can only access by car from Nice.
5. Monaco and Monte Carlo
What to do there: Monaco is technically its own country and is governed by Prince Albert II. You can view the Prince’s castle from the outside, stroll through the colorful old town, and visit the Oceanographic Museum. The museum was built by Prince Albert I and is home to thousands of species of fish; there’s also a floor showcasing the work of Prince Albert I as a navigator and marine researcher. While you’re in Monaco, you can also stroll down to the glitzy Monte Carlo neighborhood, featured in many films, and home to high-end shops and a casino.
Distance from Nice: 30 minutes by train
How to get there: Take the train towards Ventimiglia (Ventimille) and get off at the Monaco – Monte Carlo stop. Tickets cost 2-4€ one way.
What to do there: A colorful fishing village home to a beach, waterfront restaurants, and picturesque alleyways. It’s a very calm and residential area, so there’s not a ton to do, but it’s a lovely place to walk around. You can also visit the Citadelle Saint-Elme, an old fort that now houses free art museums (sculptures, modern art, ceramics), and public gardens.
Distance from Nice: 10 minutes by train, 20 minutes by bus, or 1 hour walk along the coast from Nice port
How to get there: Take the train from Nice towards Ventimiglia (Ventimille) and get off at Villefranche-sur-Mer. Tickets cost 1-3€ one way. You can also take Bus 100 towards Menton and get off at Léopold II (1,50€ one way). If you want a long, scenic walk, you can also hug the coastline leaving Nice and reach Villefranche-sur-Mer by foot.
Other Popular Day Trips from Nice, France
There are a handful of other cities that are highly-recommended, but are either harder to get to, or don’t appear to have the same charm of the other day trips (in my opinion). Even so, they might be something that pique your interest.
I’d actually love to visit Grasse at some point, as it’s another beautiful medieval hilltop village. It’s most famous as a hub of perfume-making—you can learn about the history of perfume-making, and create your own scents. The old town features winding streets and colorful buildings. It is slightly further away from Nice though, as the train takes 1 hour, and the Grasse train station is about 1mi/1.6 km away from the town (and an uphill walk). The fare is also more expensive, at 7-10€ one way. The 500 bus takes you directly there though, in 1.5 hours, and costs 1,50€ one way.
Cannes is best-known for its international film festival, held annually in late May. Beyond the festival though, you’ll find upscale shops, a long promenade, and beaches. This seems to be a place that appeals more to people with loads of money (not me lol), so I didn’t make the visit. It’s still supposed to be a nice town to see, however. You can take the train for 2-4€ one-way and get to Cannes in 40 minutes from Nice.
Antibes is another wealthy beach town, but offers some medieval charm. The old town is fortified and said to be maze-like. The town is also a good starting point for coastal hikes, is home to a Picasso museum, and has a vibrant daily market. You can reach the town by train in 20 minutes from Nice, and fares range from 3-4€ one way.
If you have any questions about these trips, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email. If you’re looking for housing in Nice, I highly recommend Airbnb or Booking.com (affiliate links). If you’re new to Airbnb, feel free to use my referral code to get $55 off your first booking.
For more content related to France, check out my post French vs. American Culture: 7 Surprising Differences. If you’d like to teach English in France, also take a look at my post How to Become an English Lecteur in France.