Abundant sunshine. Stunning scenery. French culture and joie de vivre. There are so many reasons to visit Nice, in France's Provence region, you could spend hours going over everything there is to do and still not cover everything. One thing is for sure in this endlessly charming city: you're going to cover a lot of ground.
Nice Cote d'Azur airport is the gateway to this seaside city for millions of visitors, and it says something about Nice's reputation as a playground for the wealthy that this airport receives more private jets than almost any other in the world. However, those of us a little less blessed with cash may also arrive in the city by way of Nice Ville train station or even Vauban bus station. If you don't fancy public transport, you'll also find lots of car rental companies willing to take care of you in the area. But as is so often the case in old European cities like Nice, public transport can be a far easier and more relaxing way to reach the city center and anywhere else you're looking to visit.
Nice has something to offer just about everyone. Along with its museums, beaches, and hiking trails, the city is a mecca for luxury shopping, and you can learn everything you need to know about shopping in Nice with our retail guide. But however you choose to spend your time in the city, you'll have a much easier time getting around if you're not carrying more than need to. Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Nice so that you can really enjoy yourself.
How to get around Nice by train
Nice's central train station is located not far from the city center, making it an important link in the public transport system. In fact, Gare de Nice Ville is more or less the central hub of the city's transit network, and is hard to avoid while you're getting around Nice. Trains arrive and depart at this bustling station from across France and from neighboring countries such as Monaco and Italy, so you can reach Nice Ville from just about anywhere in Europe.
As well as intercity trains, the station is a hub for suburban trains to travel to the outlying neighborhoods of Nice. Most tourists have no need to stray that far from the city center, but if you do need to reach a suburb of the city, there are many trains leaving from the station that can help you out.
If your journey combines plane and train travel, there is a bus from Nice Côte d'Azur airport to the train station that takes around 15 minutes and costs a measly two euros. This connectivity makes it easy to get both to and from Nice, whatever method you choose.
It's around a 15-minute walk from the train station to Place Massena in the heart of Vieux Nice, the old town of the city. That's where most tourists head to see the Promenade des Anglais and the city's many museums and restaurants. The walk is mercifully downhill if you are heading into town, but if you'd rather take it easy, you can also take tram line L1, which will make the journey in only nine minutes. Both bus and tram services stop at the station, so it's easy to get just about anywhere from here.
How to get around Nice by bus
Ligne d'Azur is the bus company run by the local authorities, and they operate all the bus lines to the city center and the outlying neighborhoods. Buses run until nine at night, though some may run later for special events. A day pass usually provides the best value for tourists getting around Nice, but remember to validate your ticket every time you get on board the bus.
Nice's bus network services all the points of interest in the city. You'll also find long-distance buses that connect the city with the airport, and with nearby French Riviera towns such as Cannes, Antibes, Cagnes sur Mer, and Monte Carlo. If you're not in a hurry, some of the long-distance buses can take you on day trips for only one euro. There are also express buses if you want to travel a little faster, but they cost a bit more.
Long-distance buses can also offer a cheap alternative to train travel for those on a budget. Vauban is Nice's main bus station, and long-distance buses stop at docking stations here from all over the country and beyond. Vauban lies a little way outside the center of the city, and is over a 30-minute walk from the train station. However, Vauban is close to Riquier train station, and a single stop on the Nice-Ventimiglia train will bring you to Riquier bus station, which is an easy walk to Vauban. Tram line L1 also travels from the train station to Vauban, but it takes a more roundabout route.
The number 12 bus travels from both terminals of Nice Côte d'Azur airport with bus stops at the city center. You can also take tram line 2 of the Nice tram system which will bring you to Jean Medicin Station, located approximately halfway between Place Massena and Nice Ville train station. There are also other tram stops along the way at various points of interest.
How to get around Nice by car
In the early days of automobile transport, the road from Nice to Monaco offered a gorgeous coastal drive for those wealthy enough to afford such a luxury item. The road still exists, but things have certainly changed. Driving around Nice is nobody's idea of a good time. After all, the layout of this old city long predates the car, and many of the streets were not designed to accommodate modern traffic. Just finding a parking place can be enough to have you tearing your hair out. As a result, exploring Nice by car isn't particularly popular. Most people rely on either public transport or walking, or will take a taxi if the need arises. However, a car airport service can be a lifesaver if you arrive in town with heavy bags.
Still, if you really like the idea of driving, Nice and this coastal region of Provence offer an extensive road network that can help you get around once you're out of the city. Having a car means you can explore on your own time and see some of the fascinating villages in the area that are not well served by public transit. Also, the gorgeous coastal scenery is worth exploring by itself. Just bring your patience, a good map, and a sense of humor to navigate the city by car.
How to get around Nice by foot
Like many old cities, Nice is extremely walkable. Many of the top attractions in town are within a short walk of each other. Whether you arrive in the city by train, plane, or some other method, once you're in the old town, get ready to put some miles on your pedometer.
Nice's Promenade des Anglais has to be one of the most famous streets in the world, and the best part of this coastal pathway is completely pedestrianized. This famous boulevard serves as the living room of this Mediterranean town, and you'll find both locals and tourists taking a stroll and enjoying the expansive views of the ocean. It's an especially great place to explore at night, as the sun sets over the sea and the cafés and bars light up. Check out this guide for more unmissable things to do in Nice at night.
Much of Nice's Old Town is also pedestrianized, or least extremely pedestrian-friendly. Taking a stroll through the famous flower market and popping in and out of the many quirky stores and boutiques in the heart of the city is an attraction all by itself, and something you can really only do on foot.
If you really want to rack up some miles, consider taking a walking tour of Nice. Tours can be either self-guided or led by a professional, and either way, you'll get to see many of the city's top attractions and best neighborhoods. Many companies have customized offers so you can pick and choose what you most want to do and avoid what you don't.
Despite its fame and how much there is to do here, Nice is a surprisingly small city, and the areas of most interest to visitors are even smaller. For example, it's possible to walk from Castle Hill to the Cours Saleya markets, then past the magnificent Opera House and along the Promenade des Anglais to Place Massena. From there, you could go on to visit the Cathedral and Place Garibaldi, and the entire walk would only cover three kilometers or less than two miles. That's how walkable the city is.
Of course, if you want a longer walk, Nice can offer that too. Castle Hill alone offers hiking trails with wonderful views, and you can also set out on longer hikes to explore the surrounding countryside and see some stunning Provençal destinations.
How to get around Nice by bike
Nice is a great city to explore on foot, and it's even better to explore by bike. However, the city is built on some fairly steep hills, so you can count on getting a workout. The city has an ever-expanding network of bike lanes, and offers a public bicycle sharing system called Velo bleu. There are over 160 bike stations spread throughout the city, making it easy to pick up and drop off a bike at your convenience. You can pay by credit card, but you'll need to take out a subscription on the Velo bleu website before you visit so that you can pick up a bike when you need one. You'll also find plenty of bike rental companies happy to loan you a bicycle to get around.
Many French cities are walkable and easy to get around, and Nice compares well to any of them. Thanks to its relatively small size and 300+ days of sunshine each year, this French Riviera town is practically made to be explored on foot. But if you want to go a little further afield and the hills behind the city start to seem intimidating, the tramlines, bus routes, and excellent train infrastructure make it a breeze to get around. Leave the car behind and explore Nice the way the locals do, and you'll save yourself a major headache.