The French Riviera is globally known for its abundance of idyllic coastal towns that border the famous Côte d’Azur waters- Menton, Antibes, and other lovely places. And of them all, arguably the most popular one is Nice, which can only be described as the epitome of coastal charm and Mediterranean elegance.
With its stunning seafront, vibrant culture, and rich history, it’s an ideal destination for a weekend escape, especially for those after an affordable way to take in the extravagance of Monaco!
So, if you only have time to spend a couple of days in Nice, you’ll want to make the most of your trip. Below, you’ll find 7 must-do things to do during your weekend in this gorgeous city!
Must-Do Things to Do in Nice for a Wonderful Weekend
1. Nice’s Old Town
Start your weekend journey in Nice’s Old Town, which is akin to a bustling maze of narrow, cobblestone streets lined with colorful buildings! This is the heart of the city’s history and culture and where you’ll find some of the best dishes specific to Nice and the region, such as the popular street food dish, socca!
Along with tasty food, this charming area is filled with spectacular architectural marvels, like the beautiful Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate, and an assortment of artisan boutiques and cozy cafés. Truly, this is a place where you could easily spend hours wandering through the streets, talking to the local vendors, and discovering the city.
2. Castle Hill
As you roam around Old Town, don’t forget to hike to the top of Castle Hill, which is locally known as Colline du Château. This is easily the best spot to enjoy panoramic views of the city as well as escape the noise of the streets below. And on a clear day, you can see some of the nearby quaint French towns, like the delightful village of Èze.
To provide a short background on the history of the castle, it was once a military citadel and commanded a view of Nice’s Bay for over seven centuries. However, it was taken over during a series of sieges, eventually falling into the hands of the French. Under the order of King Louis XIV, the fortress was destroyed, leaving us with what we see today — a beautiful park that’s perfect for an afternoon stroll.
3. Côte de Azur
No trip to Nice is complete without spending some time basking in the beauty of the iconic Côte d’Azur. With its dazzling blue waters and the backdrop of the Maritime Alps, spending at least a couple of hours relaxing along the shoreline and taking in the breathtaking views is practically a requirement. And if you want to avoid crowds, you can reserve a lawn chair at a private beach club. Just be sure to do this as early as possible as they do fill up, especially during the peak season.
4. Promenade des Anglais
Right next to the waterfront is one of the city’s most popular attractions, Promenade des Anglais. Named in recognition of the English aristocrats who first promoted the city as the ideal spot to retreat during the harsh winter months, the promenade stretches for over four miles, offering a seemingly endless view of the Mediterranean Sea.
It’s the perfect place for a morning run or a leisurely stroll. And around the main area of Nice, you’ll also find cafés, restaurants, and clubs lined along the promenade. So if you’re craving a bite to eat, dining at one of the restaurants along the promenade is the fantastic place to do it so you can enjoy your meal with a view and people watch!
5. Matisse Museum
For any fellow art enthusiasts, be sure to check out the Matisse Museum in Nice, which pays homage to the colorful works of the renowned French artist Henri Matisse. Housed in a stunning 17th-century Genoese villa, the museum showcases a comprehensive collection of Matisse’s art.
You can expect to see everything from paintings and drawings to sculptures and personal belongings. Therefore, if you want to gain some unique insight into the evolution of Matisse’s artistic career and his deep connection to the city of Nice, exploring this museum is a great way to do it.
6. Russian Orthodox Cathedral
The Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Nicholas is a lesser-known attraction worth exploring during your time in Nice. Known for its remarkable architecture, this cathedral symbolizes a piece of Russia and the large Russian community that used to reside in the city.
On the outside, the cathedral features several onion domes that provide a striking sight against the rest of Nice. And, inside the cathedral, you’ll be greeted with an ornate interior that’s richly adorned with icons and frescoes.
One thing to note is that it is a bit out of the way from the main downtown Nice area. As a result, you may want to take the metro over instead of walking over.
Regardless of how you get there, the cathedral is a nice place to see some of the different cultural influences that have played a role in developing the city into what it is today.
7. Place Massena
Last but not least, be sure to walk around Place Massena, which is one of the most lively places in Nice. Lined with bright red buildings, this vibrant square frequently hosts numerous events and festivals throughout the year and is where you can find several street performers showcasing their talents.
One of the prominent features that you’ll notice is Place Massena’s striking red and white checkerboard paving that surrounds the Fontaine du Soleil. And it’s this unique atmosphere and architecture, with all the statues in the background, that make Place Massena one of the best spots to take some pictures.
A Fabulous Weekend in Nice
As you can see, Nice is a destination that you won’t want to miss out on, even if you only can visit for a weekend.
And, whether you’re strolling through the streets of Old Town, soaking up the Mediterranean sea breeze while walking along Promenade des Anglais, or exploring cultural gems like the Matisse Museum and Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Nice has something to offer every traveler.
Hopefully, with this list of the top activities to do during your weekend trip to Nice, you’ll know exactly how to make the most of your time and see a little bit of everything! With that, I hope you have the best time exploring this charming coastal city!
Bio: Kristin from Global Travel Escapades
Kristin is the owner and author of Global Travel Escapades, a travel blog dedicated to sparking inspiration and sharing valuable insights for your future travel escapades. She has explored 25+ countries around the world, is an avid runner and surfer, and is always chasing another big adventure. To see more of Kristin’s travels, you can follow her on Instagram or her travel-focused YouTube channel!
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