Top Things to Know Before You Travel to Nice

Are you planning to travel to Nice, France and wondering what to do and how to have the best time? As a frequent visitor and former resident, I’ve got plenty of ideas to share, including where to stay, what to eat, and the best beach clubs to visit.

The city of Nice, France, is absolutely beautiful, from the blue water and sandy beaches to the colorful buildings and vibrant French culture. There are so many incredible things to do, see, and eat. It’s no wonder this is a hot spot on the French Riviera!

Keep reading or watch my video below to find out everything you need to know before you travel to Nice.

If you’re short on time, here are my top tips and things to know before you travel to Nice, France:

  1. Spend a few days in Nice, but then go visit some of the smaller villages surrounding it. Antibes, Villefranche, and Menton are all nearby cities that are definitely worth the trip!
  2. You will need euros in Nice. I find that the prices in Nice are very reasonable, especially for such a popular tourist destination.
  3. Avoid travel to Nice in August. This is when everyone in France vacations, so accommodations are pricier, and it’s harder to get into restaurants and all the sights.
  4. The beaches are rocky, not sandy. This makes it virtually impossible to get in and out of The Mediterranean without water shoes. (Check out my favorites!)
  5. Consider getting the French Riviera Pass. If you’re into visiting museums and forts, it might be worth getting this instead of paying multiple entrance fees.
  6. No need to get a car. Nice is an extremely walkable city. But if you want to go to Provence, you can rent one for the day (TIP: rent it from the outskirts of Nice, so you can avoid the one-way streets).
  7. Stay near Vieux Ville, the Old Town of Nice. Nice really comes alive at night here, and this is where all the best restaurants and shops are! There are also many great spots for photographs.
  8. Dinner happens after 8 pm. People tend to come off the beach around 5 or 6 pm, get changed, and head to the bars for an Aperol Spritz. Dinner follows around 8 or 8:30 pm.
  9. Try the traditional foods. You’ve got to try a delicious dish called “Socca” – which is gluten-free! For drinks, try the Provence Red, White, and Rose wines and an Aperol Spritz.
  10. What to pack for your trip: The city of Nice, France, is quite casual in general. You definitely want to make sure to bring walking shoes and water shoes, as I mentioned earlier.
  11. If you’re used to having air conditioning, you will need to look for accommodations that specifically list it as included. It’s not as common to have it here.
  12. The Mediterranean is an amazing place to swim and cool off. It’s a bit cooler so it’s perfect to dip in and out of throughout the day. This is my favorite water to swim in!
  13. Bring some cash, but you can use your credit card for most things. They are widely accepted in Nice. Be sure to bring one with travel perks and put a travel alert on your cards.

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The Best Time to Travel to Nice

The best time to travel to Nice is in the shoulder season, which is late May & early September. There are fewer crowds and more pleasant weather, and it’s more affordable to find conveniently located accommodations. It’s close enough to the main tourist season that there are still fun events and lots to do and see.

There are also two majorly exciting events happening toward the end of May, very close to Nice: the Cannes Film Festival and the Monaco Grand Prix. You can avoid the larger crowds in Cannes and Monaco by staying in Nice, which is only about a 30-minute drive away.

I would definitely recommend you avoid coming in August, as this is vacation time for everyone in France. Airbnb’s and hotels are more expensive and it’s harder to get into restaurants and all of the sights. Everything is fully booked up, and there are people everywhere.

No matter when you decide to travel to Nice, you can enjoy beautiful views, amazing food, and vibrant culture!

Place Massena in Nice, France

Booking Flights, Transportation, & Passport Tips

Booking Flights to Nice, France

When you travel to Nice, there’s really only one airport you want to look at: Nice Côte d’Azur. There are others in Cannes, Marseille, and Genoa, but the Nice airport is the best option. It’s very close to the city center and is a large international airport with plenty of flight options.

The Nice Côte d’Azur (NCE) airport is about 6.5 km (4 mi), or about a 10-minute drive from the city center. There is a convenient T2 tram that can get you there in under 30 minutes for about 10 euros. You can also find shuttles, taxis, rideshares, and car rental services.

The available amenities at NCE airport include free WiFi, currency exchanges, VIP assistant services, VIP lounges, luxury and brand-name shops, and over 20 restaurants, bars, and cafes.

Are you ready to book your flights to Nice, France?

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Airport Transportation & Getting Around

There’s really no need to get a car when you travel to Nice as it’s an extremely walkable city. There are also a lot of one-way streetsin the city center, which can be confusing and stressful for first-time visitors to navigate.

I recommend you take a private car transfer to and from the airport, especially if you have a larger group. You’ll get to the city faster and can ask your driver (often a local or long-time resident) for their best tips on things to do and places to eat in Nice.

If you want to take any day trips from Nice to Provence or nearby villages, you can rent a car just for the day. Pro tip: definitely rent it from somewhere on the outskirts of the city so you can avoid those one-way streets.

Make Copies of Your Passport

Make several copies of your passport and put one in your carry-on and one in your checked bag. It’s also smart to take pictures of your passport. This way, if anything happens to your passport, paper copies, or phone, then you’ve got backups.

a U.S. passport tucked into a suitcase pocket

Pro Travel Tip: How to Fight Off Jetlag

Unless you’re flying to Nice from somewhere else in Europe, you’re likely going to be dealing with a significant time difference when you land. Nice follows Central European Time (CET) and is at least 6 hours ahead of the eastern U.S., 9 hours ahead of the western U.S., and 8 hours behind Sydney, Australia.

If you’re someone who doesn’t handle jetlag that well, I’ve got some great tips for you! Here are some tricks for beating any tiredness or hunger you might feel from schedule changes while traveling:

  • Slowly adjust your sleep schedule leading up to your trip. This sunrise simulator alarm clock can help you get up more easily when it’s darker in the mornings.
  • Take a nap on the plane if you’ll be arriving earlier in the day (this memory foam neck pillow, eye mask, and ear plugs are great for this), and try to stay awake if arriving later.
  • Pack little snacks to munch on between meals to keep your energy up (and the hanger away!). You can also buy tasty local snacks at the grocery store or farmer’s markets while you’re there. These reusable bags are great to use for travel and on-the-go!

Sometimes the excitement of traveling and experiencing a destination for the first time cures any jetlag right up for me!

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Where to Stay in Nice, France

The city of Nice, France is such an incredibly beautiful place with sweeping views of the Mediterranean. It can be difficult to decide where to stay! Maybe you want to stay somewhere close to the water for quicker access or in a quieter neighborhood away from the hustle and bustle.

I highly recommend you stay near Vieux Ville, the Old Town of Nice. This is where all the best restaurants and shops are located, and Nice really comes alive at night here. There are also many great spots for photographs if you want to fill your social media feeds or your personal memory book.

Vieux Ville, Old Town, travel to Nice, France

Airbnb’s & Hotels in Nice, France

There are plenty of short-term rentals like Airbnb and hotels in Nice, France to fit every budget range. Consider what kind of vacation you want to have to decide the right fit for you. If you want to live more like a local and cook your own meals, then you might prefer a rental home.

If you prefer the convenience of hotel services and plan to explore Nice’s incredible restaurant scene, then a hotel might be the perfect choice for you. Here are a few hotel options near Vieux Ville with excellent reviews:

Anantara Plaza Nice Hotel

The Anantara Plaza Nice Hotel is a beautiful luxury hotel near Place Massena with views of the Mediterranean Sea. Many of their reviews are 10/10 and guests agree the staff are very friendly and accommodating.

Book your stay here!

Best Western Plus Hotel Massena Nice

The Best Western Plus Hotel Massena Nice hotel is a more affordable upscale hotel just a block from the Promenade and Vieux Ville. Their reviews say the property is clean, the staff are helpful, and it’s a little quieter than in Old Town.

Book your stay here!

Windsor Hotel

The Windsor Hotel is more budget-friendly than the other two (not a backpacker’s budget) and is a little further from Old Nice. Many reviewers enjoyed the hotel’s aesthetic, with painted murals throughout the property and a garden and pool oasis.

Book your stay here!

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Currency & Cash in Nice

You will need euros when you travel to Nice, and it’s best to get them before you leave your home country. Most major banks will exchange currency for you without extra fees beyond the exchange rate. I do not recommend using the exchange kiosks at the airport!

You don’t need to bring a ton of cash with you, either. Credit cards are widely accepted in this big city, and you can use them to buy most things. I’ve found the prices in Nice are also very reasonable, especially for such a popular tourist destination.

Bring a Credit Card with Travel Perks

I always travel with one or more of my favorite credit cards for travel perks. I typically look for things like low or no foreign transaction fees, discounts on lounge access, and VIP customer service for booking exclusive events and experiences.

And, of course, I want one that has an amazing bonus points system that allows me to earn flight and hotel points with every purchase. I’ve saved thousands of dollars on flights and hotels using travel credit cards like these!

I also recommend you always pay in the local currency if given a choice at checkout. And don’t forget to put a travel alert on your credit cards to help avoid unexpected declines.

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Things to Do in Nice, France

Whether you’re a cultural enthusiast, history buff, foodie, influencer, or beach lover – there are so many things to do in Nice, France, for everyone to enjoy! It’s a picturesque city on the French Riviera with pebbled beaches, a vibrant art scene, and a rich history.

Stroll along the iconic Promenade des Anglais, explore the charming streets of Vieux Ville (Old Town), wander in and out of the museums, and admire the stunning architecture around you. Here are a few of my recommendations to do while you’re in Nice:

Visit the Nearby Villages

I recommend you spend a few days in Nice, but then go and visit some of the smaller villages surrounding it. Antibes, Villefranche, and Menton are all nearby cities that are definitely worth the trip!

They’re all located within about a 20-40 minute drive from Nice. This is when I recommend getting a rental car, although you can take public transportation if you prefer.

Antibes, France coastline - day trips from Nice France

Try the Traditional Foods

When you travel to Nice, or anywhere really, you’ve got to try the traditional foods and local favorites. Contrary to popular belief, a Niçoise salad is a relatively new thing in Nice, but it’s definitely something to try. 

Another delicious dish is called “Socca” – and for all my gluten-free friends, this is something you can enjoy! It’s made from chickpea flour, water, olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. It’s typically served in the middle of the day and is a great snack to have at only 3 euros a dish!

As far as drinks go, I recommend you try the Provence Red, White, and Rose wines. And don’t forget about the iconic Aperol Spritz.

Go to the Beaches

The beaches in Nice are absolutely incredible! It’s hard to decide whether to hit the beach for the day or to explore all that Nice has to offer. Why not do both?

One important thing to note: the beaches are rocky here in Nice, not sandy. This makes it virtually impossible to get in and out of The Mediterranean without water shoes. (Check out my favorites here!)

Rocky beaches in Nice, France

Take a Food Tour

I always recommend doing a food tour on the first night visiting a new place. It gives you a great sense of what there is to do, and you can learn a lot about the culture and history. Plus, you get to hear all the recommendations from your local guide. This tour takes you through Old Nice, and this one includes a wine tasting.

My Pro Tips for Nice, France

Get the French Riviera Pass

Consider getting the French Riviera Pass if you plan on having an active vacation. If you’re into visiting museums and forts, it might be worth getting this instead of paying multiple entrance fees. They start for just under 30 euros and can be purchased for a 24-hour, 48-hour, or 72-hour period.

Cool Off in the Mediterranean

The Mediterranean is an amazing place to swim and cool off. It’s a bit on the cooler side, so it’s perfect to dip in and out of throughout the day. The Mediterranean is my favorite body of water to swim in! I made sure to jump in at least once every day.

Book a Room with Air Conditioning

If you’re used to having air conditioning, you will need to look for accommodations that specifically list they have that. It’s not common to have it here. Locals tend to keep their windows open to catch the breeze coming off the Mediterranean.

Follow the Local’s Schedule

Dinner in Nice typically happens after 8 pm. People tend to come off the beach around 5 or 6 pm, get changed, and then head to the cocktail bars for an Aperol Spritz. Then at around 8 or 8:30 pm, they migrate to the restaurants for dinner.

Pack the Right Shoes

The city is quite casual in general, so don’t worry about filling your suitcase with a lot of fancy outfits. The one thing you do want to make sure to bring are walking shoes (and water shoes, as I mentioned earlier). Since it’s such a walkable city, you’ll need some good cushion and support.

Are You Ready to Travel to Nice?

So, are you ready to travel to Nice and enjoy a beautiful vacation on the Mediterranean? You could be sipping wine, basking in the sun, and embracing the warmth of the French Riviera lifestyle.

If you’ve been to Nice and have any tips, please leave them in the comments below or on my YouTube video. I’d love to hear them!

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Are you getting ready to travel to Nice soon and looking for more resources to prepare for your trip? Check out some of my favorite travel products and my other posts on Nice and France travel!

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