Nice is a popular seaside destination in the beautiful southwest corner of France. The weather is pretty temperate year-round, though the water isn’t warm enough until May to enjoy a dip in the ocean (at least at a pleasant temperature).
I’ve visited Nice twice, and I took the opportunity my second time around to explore the surrounding area, from medieval hilltop villages to a border town in Italy. Here are some of the prettiest day trips I took, all of which are accessible by public transport.
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Transportation around Nice
Before I dive in, I 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. 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.
Finally, if you don’t want to deal with transport yourself, know that there are plenty of day tours that will take you to several towns around the French Riviera for around $100. I’ve included some of the most popular ones below.
Map of Day Trips from Nice, France by Train or Bus
Here’s a map of these day trips so you can plan out your travels more easily and situate where they are in relation to Nice.
Beautiful Day Trips from Nice, France by Public Transport
Here are my favorite day trips from Nice that are easy to access. This list includes seaside towns, hilltop villages, and more.
1. Èze Village
Distance from Nice: 30 minutes by bus.
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.
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 (~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)
Distance from Nice: 1 hour by train
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 architecture.
How to get there: The local French trains have a line with the final stop in Ventimiglia (Ventimille in French). Tickets cost ~9€ one way.
Distance from Nice: 1 hour by bus
What to do there: Saint-Paul-de-Vence is another quaint medieval hilltop village with independent art galleries, fine jewelry stores, and classic restaurants. It offers lovely views of the surrounding valleys and mountains.
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.
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.
Distance from Nice: 40 minutes by train
What to do there: Menton is 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).
How to get there: Take the train going to Ventimiglia (Ventimille) and get off at the Menton stop. Tickets cost ~6€ one way.
Looking for a place to stay? Check out this apartment with a terrace, ocean view, and fruit trees in the lush backyard . You can also find several hotels in the area.
5. Monaco and Monte Carlo
Distance from Nice: 30 minutes by train
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. This small country is known for being quite a pricey place, but visiting Monaco on a budget is still quite possible.
How to get there: Take the train towards Ventimiglia (Ventimille) and get off at the Monaco – Monte Carlo stop. Tickets cost ~4€ one way.
Distance from Nice: 10 minutes by train, 20 minutes by bus, or 1 hour walk along the coast from Nice Port
What to do there: Villfranche-sur-Mer is 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.
How to get there: Take the train from Nice towards Ventimiglia (Ventimille) and get off at Villefranche-sur-Mer. Tickets cost ~2€ one way. You can also take Bus 100 towards Menton and get off at Léopold II (2,50€ one way). If you want a long, scenic walk, you can also hug the coastline leaving Nice and reach Villefranche-sur-Mer by foot.
Looking for a place to stay? Check out this charming apartment with a terrace and stunning view of the harbor. You can also find several hotels in the area.
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 even 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 ~11€ 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 ~8€ 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 are around 5€ one way.
Where to Stay in Nice, France
If you want to make Nice your starting point for these lovely day trips, I have a few Airbnb suggestions!
Budget: I stayed in this Airbnb for my first trip to Nice, and the host (Olivier) took me hiking and swimming. The second time I went to Nice, he took me skiing. He’s a very involved host, and often offers to pick you up from the airport or train station, and even shares meals with his guests. The apartment isn’t the most aesthetic, but it’s still a perfectly fine place to stay, and Olivier definitely keeps things interesting! He’s very giving, and even gave me a CD when I told him I liked the music.
Moderate: Here’s a studio in the heart of the city with a terrace. It’s conveniently located near Place Massena, and only a brief walk from restaurants and shops.
Fancy: Hotel Negresco is one of the most iconic sites in Nice—you’ve probably seen an Instagram pic of its beautiful exterior. The hotel is right along the famous Promenade des Anglais and overlooks the beach.
What to Pack for a Trip to France
There are a couple essentials you’ll need for a trip to France, if you’re coming from outside the EU. These links go to Amazon if you’re planning to shop there anyways, but I also want to encourage you to buy from small, local shops, if you can.
- Water shoes—The beaches in the French Riviera are often rocky, and it can be helpful to have something to protect your feet!
- Universal adapter—I used this one during my one-year stay in France, and when I traveled to the UK. There are options with USB or USB C charging ports.
- European SIM card—You can buy SIM cards once in France (I recommend Lycamobile, which is cheap and can be found in many “tabac” or corner shops). But, if you want cell service upon arrival, you’ll need to buy something at home, or at the airport. This SIM card has good reviews, but feel free to shop around as well.
If you have any questions about these trips, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email.
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