City Highlight: Nice

Published on: Wednesday, January 10, 2018
City Highlight: Nice - Beach in Nice, France

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With its sunny weather, gorgeous green spaces and handsome Old Town, Nice makes the perfect gateway for a French Riviera beach holiday

The unofficial capital of the Côte d’Azur, the city of Nice appeals with honesty. Don’t expect miles of golden sand, the beaches are pebbly, but sunbathers abound and the yachts of millionaires crowd the glittering harbour. The city is also a cultural delight – impressive museums, galleries and churches await. Whether your interest is the city’s ancient history, delectable cuisine, or exclusive boutiques, Nice will more than satisfy your curiosity.

Best time to go

Spring (March to May) offers temperate weather, sunny skies and lesser crowds, not a bad time for some sightseeing.

Summer (June to August) is hot with plenty of sunshine, and naturally it’s Nice’s peak season. Book your travel and accommodation ahead of time.

Autumn (September to November) starts off dry but becomes rainy towards October – which is also the wettest month.

Nice was traditionally a winter escape for European aristocrats who ventured south to escape the snow. Temperatures in winter (December to February) are around 10C, a great climate for wandering around and participating in the legendary Carnival in late February.

Getting around

Public transportation in Nice is efficient and diverse. Inside the metropolitan area, Ligne D’Azur operates both a bus and a tram network, and taxis proliferate the new and old town. It’s fairly easy to make your way around central Nice by foot, while the actively inclined will enjoy the city’s bikeshare scheme, known as Vélo Bleu.

Ligne D’Azur also connects Nice with twenty other towns in the Riviera, as well as several of France’s major cities. You’ll find a variety of ticket options for purchase at newspaper kiosks and tramway platforms. For more information, check out the Getting around Nice guide.

Must-see attractions

Place Masséna

The recently redeveloped Place Massena is Nice’s largest civic space and its historic city centre, flanked by handsome arcaded buildings and decorated with statues crafted by the heralded Spanish artist, Jaume Plensa. Come here to people-watch and take Instagram-worthy photos.

Parc de la Colline du Château

Also known as Castle Hill, this hilltop park once held a grand castle that was destroyed by French soldiers in 1706. Today, the park is a playground of greenery equipped with a man-made waterfall and breathtaking views over the city and ocean.

Promenade des Anglais

This gorgeous green boulevard flanked on one side by historic hotels connects the National Theatre to the city’s seaside. At only 1.2km (0.75 mi) long, it’s an easy stroll for travellers, shoppers, and those out to enjoy the sun. For more ideas, see our Things to see in Nice guide.

Quirky & offbeat

Wreck diving in the Cote d’Azur

If endless museums have you getting antsy, go wreck diving. There are eerie wrecks and awesome caves around Nice which suits divers of all abilities.

Go wine tasting in Bellet

About 9km (5 miles) northwest of Nice is the tiny wine-producing area of Bellet. Tour the picturesque vineyards and enjoy a tasting.

For more offbeat ideas, visit the Things to do in Nice guide.

Must-try Specialties

  • Socca – a classic Niçoise street food comparable to a crepe and made of chickpeas.
  • Salade Niçoise – originated in Nice, this healthy salad consists of tomato, tuna and Niçoise olives served with an olive oil dressing.
  • Les Petits Farcis – aubergine or zucchini stuffed with ground meat, garlic, and breadcrumbs; a hearty meal.
  • Ratatouille – first invented in Nice, this warm vegetable stew includes aubergine, tomato, and courgette.
  • Rose Wine – locally produced, the perfect complement to a summer meal.

Tipping: A 12-15% service charge is usually included with the bill, but it is appropriate to leave small change with your payment. This post Nice food & drink guide: 10 things to try in Nice, France shares the top 10 must-try dishes and drinks of Nice.

Hotels in Nice

Although staying in central Nice is never particularly cheap, you can still find a multitude of hotels with a range of prices and amenities. Sitting pretty on the Promenade des Anglais, Hotel Negresco is an elegant hotel offering a touch of luxury. On the other side of the spectrum, the arty Hotel Windsor is affordable and popular with younger crowds.  See the Nice Hotels guide for more details.

Nightlife in Nice

Nice’s nightlife has something to offer for every taste in entertainment, whether it be elegant tapas, lively Cuban music, hedonistic beach parties, or ornate classical opera.  For an intimate club setting, try Le Ghost in the Old Town, or head to Shapko Bar for some lively jazz.  To learn more about the city’s bars, clubs, and live music venues, check out the Nice Nightlife guide.

Shopping in Nice

A trip to Nice is hardly a vacation without taking some time to shop. The city’s history as a belle époque winter destination lives on in its ‘golden triangle’ of exclusive—and expensive—posh boutiques, as well as its thriving high street, Avenue Jean Medecin. For more affordable treats and souvenirs, wander the Old Town the evening, where street venders hawk high-quality arts and crafts, or visit the colourful Flower Market on Cours Saleya. See the Shopping in Nice guide for more shopping inspiration.

Visa Requirements to Nice, France

Nationals from Australia, Britain, America, the EU, and Canada don’t need a visa to visit Nice. However, passports are required for all nationals except EU nationals travelling from one border-free Schengen country to another. The passport must be valid for three months beyond the length of stay and issued within the past ten years. For more information on visa requirements and validity, visit the France Visa and Passport Requirements guide.

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