Nice is positively overflowing with fun activities. The beach is the obvious first draw, along with its associated water sports. You can also go cruising along the coastline on a boat tour. On land, you can walk, cycle or ride a Segway along the Promenade des Anglais, take a walking tour of Vieux Nice, go wine-tasting or join a cooking class.
Swimming at the beaches along Promenade des Anglais and quai des États-Unis is Nice's favourite pastime in summer. Various outfits along Nice's waterfront rent out water-sports equipment. Glisse Evasion, just across from the landmark Hôtel Negresco, is one of the best, renting out kayaks and stand-up paddleboards and organising other activities such as waterskiing, wakeboarding and paragliding.
In summer, organised boat excursions offer a lovely alternate perspective on the Côte d'Azur's coastline. Trans Côte d'Azur runs regular cruises from Nice's port to Villefranche-sur-Mer, Monaco, Cannes, St-Tropez and the offshore island of île Ste-Marguerite.
Walking, Skating & Cycling
The broad, pedestrian-friendly Promenade des Anglais and quai des États-Unis stretch for several kilometres along Nice's beachfront, offering the city's most delightful and relaxing place for a stroll. Parallel to the pedestrian zone is a recreation path where cyclists and skaters blissfully whiz by, enjoying the same full-on Mediterranean views. You can rent skates, skateboards, bikes or scooters at Roller Station on the Vieux Nice waterfront, or use Nice's low-cost Vélo Bleu bike-sharing system, which allows you to pick up a bike at dozens of locations around town and return it wherever you like. Another option is to rent a Segway from Mobilboard Nice near the main tourist office.
Courses & Tours
Walking tours are a great way to explore Nice. The Centre du Patrimoine in Vieux Nice offers a regular program of one- to two-hour tours focusing on the city's culture and history. The French Way, run by bilingual local resident Marion Pansiot, is another great option for walking tours focused on food, perfume and other themes of local interest. Marion also offers cooking courses that include shopping for ingredients at Nice's markets, as does the Vieux Nice-based Les Petits Farcis.
High in the hills northwest of Nice is one of France’s smallest vineyards, Bellet. The tiny sun-rich appellation dates to 1941 and is highly sought after – just a dozen producers work 55 hectares of land, including Château de Bellet and nearby Domaine de Toasc, both 20 minutes north of Nice along rte de Grenoble (D6202). Both domaines (estates) can be visited – reserve vineyards tours and tastings in advance – and Domaine de Toasc even has a couple of self-catering properties between vines to rent.
Whites use rolle grapes, a typical Nice variety, while reds and rosés rely on folle noire (‘crazy black’, so named because of its erratic yields) and grenache. Vines grow in terraced beds known as restanques, and grapes are harvested twice a year by hand, in June and again in late November.
Bellet producers hold an open-door weekend when visitors can freely wander the vineyards, talk to winemakers and taste wines from each domaine. Nice's tourist office has details.
Scenic Drive: The Three Corniches
This trio of corniches (coastal roads) hugs the cliffs between Nice and Monaco, each higher than the last, with dazzling views of the Med. For the grandest views, it’s the Grande Corniche you want, but the Moyenne Corniche runs a close scenic second. The lowest of all, the Corniche Inférieure, allows access to a string of snazzy coastal resorts.
With Nice, Monaco and Menton all nearby, there’s no really compelling reason to stay overnight on the Corniches, but if you do, the lavish Château Eza in Èze is the place to splurge.
You’ll find a few pleasant cafes and bistros along the clifftop roads, but it’s probably a good idea to pack a picnic in case you find the perfect spot and decide to stop for lunch.
Bus 100 (€1.50, every 15 minutes from 6am to 8pm) runs the length of the Corniche Inférieure between Nice and Menton, stopping at all the villages along the way, including Villefranche-sur-Mer (15 minutes), Beaulieu-sur-Mer (20 minutes) and Cap d’Ail (35 minutes). Bus 81 serves Villefranche (20 minutes) and St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat (30 minutes).
From Nice, trains to Ventimiglia in Italy (€8, one-hour, 5am to 11pm) stop at Villefranche-sur-Mer (€1.90, seven minutes), Beaulieu-sur-Mer (€2.30, 10 minutes) and Cap d’Ail (€3.50, 20 minutes).
Skimming the villa-lined waterfront between Nice and Monaco, the Corniche Inférieure, built in the 1860s, passes through the towns of Villefranche-sur-Mer, St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Èze-sur-Mer and Cap d’Ail.
Walk down from the hilltop village of Èze to its coastal counterpart, Èze-sur-Mer, via the steep Sentier Nietzsche, a 45-minute footpath named after German philosopher Nietzsche, who started writing Thus Spake Zarathustra while staying in Èze (and enjoying this path).
Cut through rock in the 1920s, the Moyenne Corniche takes drivers from Nice past the Col de Villefranche (149m), Èze and Beausoleil (the French town bordering Monaco’s Monte Carlo).
Bus 82 serves the Moyenne Corniche from Nice all the way to Èze (20 minutes); bus 112 carries on to Beausoleil (40 minutes, Monday to Saturday).
Views from the spectacular cliff-hanging Grande Corniche are mesmerising, and if you’re driving, you’ll probably want to stop at every bend to admire the unfolding vistas. Hitchcock was sufficiently impressed by Napoléon’s Grande Corniche to use it as a backdrop for his film To Catch a Thief (1956), starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. Ironically, Kelly died in 1982 after crashing her car on this very same road.
There are no villages of note along the Grande Corniche until you reach hilltop La Turbie, best known for its imposing Roman triumphal monument. There’s pretty much nowhere to stay along the road between Nice and La Turbie.
Bus 116 links the town of La Turbie with Nice (€1.50, 35 minutes, five daily), and bus 114 goes to Monaco (€1.50, 30 minutes, six daily).