The top destinations from Nice described here are suitable for travellers who have limited time and budget while expecting to see as many places as possible. Based on traveling time, I narrow down my original list to the following destinations from Nice. All areas are reachable in less than one hour of driving from Nice. And you can reach several places within a day.
I have been to each place, and some of them several times, such as Grasse or Eze. The azure blue Mediterranean, pretty hilltop villages, cities of art and culture, and more are the fundamentals of what made my trips so memorable. These magic destinations are different from each other, representing a broad aspect of the Provence culture. Also, these destinations from Nice are family-friendly places. We discovered them with our kid over the years since he just turned one year old.
Destinations from Nice
Some of the destinations from Nice are well-known among world travellers, while others are less-known. But from my point of view, the less known places are hidden gems and are great to visit without a horde of tourists. The magic destinations from Nice are:
- Eze Village
- La Turbie
- Saint Paul de Vence
Based on my personal experience, I put the following essential information for each of the destinations from Nice:
- The distance between the destinations and Nice
- How to get to these places
- The highlights of the places
- Organized tours that explore these areas
- Hotel suggestions in case you want to stay there
How to get Eze Village from Nice
- Eze Village is nine kilometres from Nice. Take the A8 highway, and then choose the lower (which is next to the sea), middle road, or high coastal road.
- The bus line 82 from Nice (Gare Routière Vauban) goes to Eze, and it takes about half-an-hour.
Things to do in Eze Village
One of the most popular destinations from Nice, Eze Village, is all about tiny snaking alleyways. Each alleyway leads to a beautiful sight, such as a cozy courtyard or a bright blue glimpse of the ocean. The village has some of the most beautiful narrow alleys in Provence.
The exotic garden of Eze, established in the ruins of a medieval castle, has a wide range of cactuses and succulent plants and offers sweeping views of the Mediterranean coast. Besides, some hotels or restaurants have terraces or rooms at the cliffside providing guests with spectacular views.
Other things to in Eze are such as searching for souvenirs in the shops and galleries or hiking the Nietzsche path.
- Eze, Monaco, and Monte-Carlo from Nice
- From Nice: Eze Village, Monaco, and Monte Carlo 5-Hour Tour
- From Nice: Eze & Monaco by Open-Top Car
Hotels in Eze Village
How to get La Turbie from Nice
- La Turbie is 23 km from Nice airport. Take A8 and exit La Turbie. Line 116 runs from Nice to La Turbie, and it takes about 50 minutes. For bus and schedule information, please check https://www.lignesdazur.com/en.
- If you have a car, then you can combine the visit to Eze Village and La Turbie. La Turbie is only 5 kilometres away from Eze Village.
- Or, you can hike up from Monaco to La Turbie if you are an outdoor lover.
Things to do in La Turbie
Overlooking the Principality of Monaco at 1,150m, La Turbie is like a balcony hanging over the Mediterranean and has a lookout area with a panoramic view of Monaco. Next to the lookout area is the entrance to the Trophée Auguste à La Turbie.
The village has preserved the charm of its glorious past virtually intact. Cobblestone streets, fine stone-built houses, vaulted passageways, little fountains, and the beautiful baroque church of Saint-Michel with square bell tower roofed with varnished tiles are the features to admire. Nevertheless, it is one of the less-known day trip destinations from Nice.
Hotels in La Turbie
How to get to Cannes
- The distance between Cannes and Nice is about 33 kilometres and can be easily covered by SNCF trains in about half an hour.
- It takes less than an hour for the buses from Terminal 1& 2 from Nice Airport to Cannes Bus Station.
- It takes about 30 minutes to drive there via highway A8.
Things to do in Cannes
Do not miss the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès and the Star-studded pavement, where film directors, actors, and other international celebrities leave a print of their hands and their signature, a similar scene I have seen in Krakow.
The elegant boulevard La Croisette is renowned for its prestigious shops and the luxury hotels that have established the history of Cannes. The high street Rue d’Antibes, Rue Antibes, rue Meynadier, rue Hoche, rue Commandant André are shopping paradises.
In the early morning, the market sellers from the Forville market sell local products such as tomatoes, olive oil, fresh catch of the day, tasty aniseed biscuits, etc. A visit to the market is a delicious journey in the atmosphere of the Southern Provence.
Furthermore, you can entertain yourself in one of the three Casinos or plan a short excursion to the Lérins Islands, a short boat ride from the Croisette, opposite the Cannes Bay.
Hotel in Cannes
How to get to Mandelieu-la-Napoule
- It takes about 40 minutes of driving from Nice to Mandelieu-la-Napoule. Take A8 highway and exit 40 Mandelieu-centre. Or via D6007 to arrive at the city.
- SNCF has scheduled train from Nice Ville to Mandelieu-la-Napoule
Things to do in to Mandelieu-la-Napoule
Mandelieu-la-Napoule is the first golf destination of the French Riviera with two renowned courses. The mimosa (the winter sun) is a famous festival in the heart of the locals, and they celebrate in February every year.
The Mandelieu-la-Napoule beach walk starts at the Port of La Rague and ends at the Port Mandelieu-la-Napoule. You can also drive along with the Golden the Corniche d’Or, the road linking La Napoule and Saint-Raphaël with unique panoramas between blue sky, red rocks, and green Esterel.
Hotels in Mandelieu-la-Napoule
How to get to Grasse
- Take Bus LER 31 at Nice Gare Routière to Grasse. The journey takes about one hour.
- Take the train from Nice, and it takes one hour and eleven minutes.
- Follow A8 and then change to D6185, and it takes about 40 minutes by car.
Things to do in Grasse
Grasse is the world capital of perfumes and home to dozens of fragrance companies. The perfumers’ factory tours provide visitors an overview of the perfume production. After the journey, visitors have the chance to buy its latest perfume products. Alternatively, visitors can join a guided tour to create perfumes.
Strolling down the picture-postcard streets in the old town, you can buy more local products on the shopping street that has an art installation of pink umbrellas.
Hotel in Grasse
How to get to Menton
- Menton is 30 kilometers from Nice. The regional TER (operated by SNCF) takes just over 30 minutes to Menton. Get off at the stop after Monaco, at the Menton station. It is the last stop before Italy.
- By car, it also takes around 30 minutes of drive via A8 to Menton.
Things to do in Menton
Menton has several famous gardens such as Fontana Rosa, the exotic botanical garden of Val Rahmeh, and the gardens of Villa Maria Serena. The Palais Carnolès has Europe’s biggest collection of citrus trees. La Citronneraie, the lemon grove, is comprised of about 450 trees out of the 80 known species. Menton also hosts the annual Lemon Festival in February each year.
Cultural heritage includes the Regional Prehistoric Museum, which brings you back to one million years ago when man first arrived on the Côte d’Azur. And Musee du Bastion in the bastion, a 17th-century fort, exhibit Jean Cocteau’s artworks.
The old town has a maze of narrow little streets winds down from the old castle to the sea and the old port of small fishing boats. The view of pastel-coloured buildings has a charming Italian atmosphere of Cinque Terre. Rue Saint-Michel pedestrian street has many cafes and restaurants.
Hotel in Menton
How to get to Chateauneuf-Grasse
The small village is about 31 kilometres away from Nice and seven kilometres away from Grasse. It takes 15 minutes from Grasse and about 40 minutes from Nice to drive there. It is one of the less-known destinations from Nice. Usually, you can combine its visit with Grasse.
Things to do in Chateauneuf-Grasse
Chateauneuf-Grasse is a perched medieval village with buildings of bright Provençal colors and looks over the surrounding countryside with the Bay of Cannes in the distance.
The typical thing to see is its narrow paced streets that have a decorative strip of flagstones up the centre, house facades are a mixture of the older-style stone-and-mortar. And ornate windows have various forms of sculptures. The village has the perfect example of the Provençal narrow street.
Saint Paul de Vence
How to get to Sanit Paul de Vence
- The hilltop village is 19 kilometres away from Nice. From Nice, drive via A8, and at Cagnes-sur-Mer change to M336, it takes about 30 minutes by car to reach Saint Paul de Vence.
- Bus 400 from Nice Airport goes direct to Saint Paul de Vence. To Maeght Foundation, get off the bus a stop earlier. The total journey has 31 stops.
Things to do in Saint-Paul-de-Vence
Perhaps the second most popular destinations from Nice, the village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence has a rich artistic atmosphere. You will notice many sculptures scattered around. Hidden amongst its winding, pebbled narrow alleys such as Rue Grande are many art galleries presenting a diversity of artworks. Here and there in the villages, you can find traces from some famous artists who used to live in the village. There are two hotels the have connections to those artists. And don’t miss the exhibitions from the Maeght Foundation whose art collections are impressive and as well as educational.
Hotel in Saint Paul de Vence
How to get to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
- The peninsula of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is about 10 kilometers from the city of Nice, and it takes about 30 minutes to drive there.
- Ligne d’Azur runs bus 15 from Nice to Beaulieu-sur-Mer, which stops at several places in Cap Ferrat.
Things to do in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
The peninsula of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat has three hiking trails: around the Cap-Ferrat 4.8 km (1h30 to 2h), the Pointe Saint-Hospice 1.8 km (40 minutes), and the walk Maurice Rouvier 1.3 km (20 minutes)
The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is a well-known cultural heritage, with its rich collection of art objects, a dream villa surrounded by nine wonderfully themed gardens. The Shell Museum displays 7000 shells, including more than 400 world records! It is the biggest collection of Mediterranean seen to date, a truly exceptional exotic collection.
Hotel in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
How to get to Gourdon
Gourdon is about 40 kilometres away from Nice. Take the A8 autoroute and D2085 to Route de Gourdon/D3 in Châteauneuf-Grasse. It is possible to combine the visit of Grasse, Chateauneuf-Grasse, and Gourdon in one day by car.
Things to do in Gourdon
Gourdon is a pretty small village, little more than one short main street and a couple of side-streets. It is more a tourist attraction than a real community. At the end of the town, the far-reaching view from the Eagle’s Nest is the main attraction of Gourdon. The historical highlight is Chateau de Gourdon, which includes two museums and is surrounded by gardens designed by André Le Nôtre, the man behind the gardens of the Palace of Versailles.
Hotel in Gourdon
How to get to Mougins
- Mougins is about 32 kilometres from Nice, and it takes about 30 minutes of driving via the A8 highway.
- It takes quite a long to get there by public transportation. Take the train from Nice Ville to Cannes first. Then take the bus line 600 that runs from Cannes to Grasse and get off at Mougins.
Things to do in Mougins
The medieval houses of the old village had attracted many artists in their time, like Picasso and Paul Eluard. It also hosts many workshops by artists and other art galleries. One of the museums, the Mougins Museum of Classical painting, has the biggest private collection of ancient weapons and armor in the world.
Mougins has all the features of being a Provincál village. Besides, Mougins is the centre of gastronomy and home to a myriad of restaurants, including those with Michelin stars. It hosts the International Gastronomy Festival in June with many culinary demonstrations of world-renowned chefs. When the film festival in Cannes takes place, celebrities frequently go there for their favorite culinary.
Hotel in Mougins
How to get to Monaco
- Monaco is about 22 kilometres from Nice. The journey by train from Nice Ville to Monaco Monte-Carlo takes around 20 minutes.
- It takes about 35 minutes via the A8 highway to get there.
Things to do in Monaco
Monaco is not only famous for its Grand Prix event. The Prince’s Palace of Monaco and the daily changing of the guard ceremony are the common sites. Go to the Port de Fontvieille and Monte Carlo Harbor, where the rich and famous dock their expensive yachts.
Monte-Carlo is the wealthiest district in Monaco, luxury cars and beautiful people are fit right into this neighborhood.
One of the many museums, the Musée Oceanographique, lies in a spectacular location on Le Rocher, whose aquariums contain rare species of fish. Le Rocher (Monaco-Ville), or the Rock, is the oldest neighbourhood of this country.
Other buildings worth seeing are Opéra de Monte-Carlo (Salle Garnier) and the Roman-Byzantine-style cathedral constructed out of white stones from nearby La Turbie.
Hotel in Monaco
How to get to Villefranche-sur-Mer
- The coastal town is about 8 kilometres from Nice and is reachable via train in less than 10 minutes.
- But it takes longer to drive there, about 25 minutes.
- Since Nice and Villefranche-sur-Mer are situated right on the coast, you can walk from Nice Port via Cap de Nice and follow M6098 until Villefranche-sur-Mer. It is a picturesque walking trail!
Things to do in Villefranche-sur-Mer
The town is on terraces up a steep hill that overlooks Cap Ferrat and the azure blue sea of the Mediterranean below. Its beautiful houses line the steep cobbled streets. The bustling part of the town is along the waterfront with many bars and restaurants. Make sure to see the Citadel of Villefranche-sur-Mer, which contains some lovely buildings, nice gardens, various works of art, and interesting museums.
The small fishing town is a cruise port. Do not mix this fishing town with Villefranche-de-Conflent, a pretty place in the French Pyrenees.
Hotel in Villefranche-sur-Mer
How to get to Antibes
- Antibes is about 23 kilometres from Nice, and it takes around 30 minutes to drive there via A8 highway.
- From the bus center at Nice Airport, you can take the Express Bus 250 to Antibes in about 20 to 40 minutes depending on the traffic.
- All types of trains stop in Antibes Train station SNCF-TGV. The journey takes about one hour.
Things to do in Antibes
The old town of Antibes has the typical character of a traditional Mediterranean city. It is pleasant to wander among the stone buildings, elegant fountains, and bougainvillea-draped alleyways.
The short coastal walk starting from the Port Vauban covers the Fort Carré, the Plage de la Gravette, a sandy beach with medieval ramparts, the Musée Picasso, further down the road the beaches Plage de Ponteil and Plage de la Sails.
The Sentier de Tirepoil coastal path at the southern end of Cap d’Antibes is a two-hour hiking trail. Far from any urban area, you’ll only hear the sounds of nature.
Hotel in Antibes
Travel Tips to the destinations from Nice
Regarding the traveling time, please check the local traffic situation before you start the destinations from Nice. The coastal area could be quite busy.
The tours mentioned above are budget day trips from Nice since most tour packages explore several places. If you consider time and travel costs, organized tours might be the budget way to travel around.
The driving time of the budget day trips from Nice is within one hour, but you might need to plan enough time for some places. Some places are pretty small, such as La Turbie, and you only need one hour to visit. But in places like Antibes or Cannes, you might need a whole day to explore.
The Hop-on-Hop-off Bus is in general recommended since the bus usually goes to main sites. The buses make your budget day trips from Nice truly budget.
So, which of these destinations from Nice would you like to visit?