From leafy residential areas packed with art museums to picturesque old town streets brimming with bars, shops and restaurants, find the best areas to explore and places to stay in Nice with our neighborhood guide.

Whether you love food, art, culture or nightlife, the Unesco-listed capital of the French Riviera has plenty of vibrant districts to discover and gorgeous places to lay your head. Most importantly, Nice is very easy to get around, so no matter where you base yourself, you’ll never be more than a few tram stops away from the city’s top sights and attractions.

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Promenade des Anglais and city center

Best for history, shopping and seaside fun

Start your explorations by heading straight to the scenic Promenade des Anglais along the Mediterranean Sea. Nice’s beautiful 7km (4.3mi) stretch of seafront is the perfect place to get your bearings. It’s lined with architectural landmarks, palm trees and pebble beaches. While away an afternoon strolling along the waterfront, going for dips in the azure blue waters of the Med and people-watching astride the Promenade’s famous blue chairs. History buffs should visit the fascinating Musée Massena, which is housed in a sumptuous belle-époque villa.

Some of the city’s most iconic and luxurious hotels are also located here, including the pink-domed Hôtel Negresco and the art-deco Palais de la Méditerranée – you’ll need deep pockets to spend the night here, but you can always enjoy a drink at the bar. Another lovely spot for a cocktail with a view is the summer rooftop terrasse of the AC Hôtel Marriott, Farago on the Roof.

You’ll find plenty of more affordable places to stay in the streets adjacent to the Prom’, from self-catering accommodation to boutique hotels and hip hostels – try Hôtel Windsor, Hostel Meyerbeer Beach or Hôtel Villa Victoria.

From here, it’s a short walk to the city center. Set off from Place Masséna, Nice’s most recognizable square, featuring hypnotic black-and-white tile work, a stunning baroque-style fountain and 19th-century red-ochre buildings. Then hit the stores along Avenue Jean-Médecin, or relax on the Promenade du Paillon, which has lots of green spaces, fun water features and play areas kids will love.

A tourist woman walking at the narrow streets of the old town in Nice, France.
Getting lost amid the pretty streets in Vieux Nice is half the fun of staying there! © Gulcin Ragiboglu / Getty Images / iStockphoto

Vieux Nice

Best for local flavor and nightlife

With its colorful architecture, charming narrow streets and buzzing nightlife, Vieux Nice is one of the most scenic and vibrant neighborhoods in Nice. It’s a great place to wander and immerse yourself in the local culture. Its famous Cours Saleya market square is lined with bars, restaurants and café terraces, while its picture-postcard alleyways are packed with shops, galleries and Baroque churches.

Munch on local street snacks as you browse the stalls and marvel at the riot of colors and fragrances of the Cours Saleya food and flower markets. Visit the stunning Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate and 17th-century Palais Lascaris. Shop for local wine at Cave de la Tour and confectionery at Maison Auer. Then at sunset, soak up the sweeping views over the red-tiled rooftops of Vieux Nice and the Baie des Anges from the Colline du Château, before diving into the local bar and restaurant scene.

Enjoy happy hour drinks at locals' favorite Les Distilleries Idéales, rooftop haven Bocca, or lively Le Bateleur. Hungry yet? Feast on fantastic Mediterranean fare at Olive & Artichaut, Le Comptoir du Marché or Peixes.

Note that most hotels and self-catering accommodation in the old town don’t have elevators due to the layout of the area – important to bear in mind when choosing where to stay if you have mobility issues and/or are traveling with small children.

Place Garibaldi, one of the finest squares in Nice, France
Place Garibaldi is renowned as one of the most beautiful squares in Nice © bwzenith / Getty Images

Place Garibaldi and Port Lympia

Best for trendy art, food and drinking spots

Historically the stronghold of port merchants and antique dealers, the area that unfolds between Place Garibaldi and Port Lympia has become one of the trendiest neighborhoods in the city.

Start off with a visit to the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (MAMAC). Located in a striking modernist building opposite Place Garibaldi, it’s one of the most important and impressive art museums in Nice. Explore the works of Yves Klein, Niki de Saint Phalle and other influential artists from the avant-garde École de Nice. Other artworks on display include pop art and new realism pieces from prominent American and European artists.

From there, it’s a short stroll to the cool cafés, trendy restaurants, LGBTIQ-friendly bars and quirky boutiques on and around Rue Bonaparte – an area referred to as the “Petit Marais Niçois”. Indulge in sumptuous patisseries at Déli Bo, sample some of the best Niçoise cuisine at Chez Pipo, or treat yourself to dinner at pop art-clad L’Uzine. The area is not short on atmospheric drinking spots either – try hip-and-happening Café des Chineurs, Rosalina Bar or Comptoir Central Électrique.

Down by the port, don’t miss the free art exhibitions housed in a former prison and clock pavilion over at Galerie Lympia, while nearby Village Ségurane is an essential visit for antique lovers. The area is very accessible on foot or by tram, making it a convenient place to stay.


Best for museums and architecture

Perched on a hill and easily accessible by bus, the leafy residential neighborhood of Cimiez is home to elegant villas, two outstanding art museums, Roman remains and the city’s archeological museum.

One of Cimiez’s most striking buildings is Le Régina, a monumental palace where Queen Victoria used to spend her winters in the 1890s – it’s also where French painter Henri Matisse lived in the 1940s after the palace was converted into apartments.

Meander over to the Musée Matisse to see one of the world’s largest collections of the famous artist’s work, including oil paintings, drawings, sculptures and paper cut-outs. The museum is housed in a beautiful 17th-century red-ochre Genoese villa surrounded by olive trees, across the street from the Monastère Notre Dame de Cimiez, where Matisse is buried.

Fans of Marc Chagall should visit the excellent Musée National Marc Chagall, the largest in the world dedicated to the poetic universe of the Belarusian painter. The collection covers his entire career, featuring biblical paintings, a mosaic, sculptures and stained glass.

The interior of Gare du Sud station that has been converted to house restaurants and shops
Libération's Gare du Sud is full of great restaurants and boutiques © VV Shots / Getty Images


Best for a slice of local life

Head to the up-and-coming, culturally diverse Libération neighborhood for a true slice of Niçois life. Located just north of busy shopping hotspot Avenue Jean-Médecin, it’s close to the city center and easily accessible on foot or by tram.

Its main draw is the Marché de la Libération, the largest fruit and vegetable market in Nice after the Cours Saleya produce market – and an authentically local experience. At its busiest, the stalls stretch along Avenue Malausséna, on Place du Général de Gaulle, Place de la Gare du Sud and other adjacent streets and boulevards.

Right next to the market, the magnificent neoclassical building of the Gare du Sud (a former railway station that was meticulously restored in 2019) now houses a vibrant food court and vintage fashion stores.

The area is also home to cool craft-beer pubs and microbreweries, including the Brasserie Artisanale de Nice and Beer District Libération, as well as plenty of lively cafés, bars and restaurants worth checking out – from family-run Lebanese haunt Au Petit Libanais to local institution Kiosque Chez Tintin, which is one of the best places to try Niçois sandwiches and other tasty local treats.

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