2 Days in Nice Itinerary: A Perfect Weekend in Nice France

Planning a weekend in Nice France and not sure where to start your planning? Not to worry! Here is a complete 2 days in Nice itinerary to help you plan the perfect getaway!

Nice is the country’s fifth-biggest city and has a history dating back thousands of years. But many visitors to the Cote d’Azur only pass through the airport and then move on to supposedly more iconic destinations like Monaco or Cannes.

While these smaller towns are definitely worth a visit, Nice is truly one of the best places to stay on the French Riviara.

Nice is a vibrant city with a quaint old town, a famous beach, a bustling boardwalk, interesting museums, beautiful buildings, and a lively restaurant scene.

No visit to the South of France would be complete without spending some time in its most important city.

While you need at least a week to really experience the Cote d’Azur, you should at least spend two days in Nice to get the essence of the city.

Explore the Vieux Ville, sit in one of the many outdoor cafés and watch the world go by, hit the beach, tour one of the art museums, and stroll along the Promenade des Anglais in the evening – you will not regret a trip to this jewel of a city.

Discover this youthful Mediterranean city in this detailed 2-day Nice itinerary.

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2 day Nice itinerary


How to get to Nice

Getting to Nice is easy as it is very well connected both by air and rail. If you are on a road trip, the city is easily connected with roads from the A8 Highway. Parking in Nice can be a pain, so I recommend looking for hotels with parking included.

By flight

The airport Nice Cote d’Azur is located conveniently right on the western edge of town. It is a small airport and very easy to navigate.

As you leave the airport, you will see the tram of line No. 2 waiting. You can buy your ticket right there at the ticket machines and hop on. Trams depart every eight minutes during the day, so you won’t have to wait long. A round-trip ticket from/to the airport costs €10. There are plenty of announcements and signs, so recognizing your stop will be easy.

The tram line runs mostly parallel to the beach all the way across town to the city’s eastern end at Port Lympia. A tram ride to the Hotel Le Negresco halfway through town will take about 15 minutes and after just under 30 minutes you will get to the port at the other end of the line.

Nice also has an extensive bus network but the tram is the easiest way to travel to and from the airport.

You might also find it convenient to use a private transfer to your hotel which picks you up on arrival and drops you off at the door.

Weekend break to Nice

By train

If you are traveling from other parts of France or Spain, Italy, or Switzerland, the train may be the easiest way to get to Nice.

Besides various local train lines, there are regular trains to Marseille (2.5 hours) and Paris (5-6 hours). Nice has several train stations, the most important ones are Nice-Ville and Nice Riquier.

Both are centrally located and which one works better will depend on your hotel. You can either walk or take the bus to get to the station.

How to get around Nice in 2 days

Nice is not a huge city and is very walkable so you can explore most of it on foot. However, the local public transportation is excellent and inexpensive so you will likely want to use it for longer distances.

Tram No. 2 runs from the Airport in the West to Port Lympia in the East, tram No. 1 (towards the North) and tram No. 3 (towards the East).

Buses pretty much run all over town. A ticket for a single ride costs under €2. If you plan to use public transport more extensively, a day or week pass will be your best option.

Public transportation is also a great choice for exploring the surrounding towns and villages. There really is no need to rent a car when exploring along the Cote d’Azur.

Buses are great for a visit of Èze or Villefranche. The local trains are your best option for destinations like Monaco, Cannes, and Antibes which are a bit further away.

The best time to visit Nice for 2 days

Even though it doesn’t get very cold in Nice in winter, the weather will be rather chilly. What to see in Nice in 2 days when it’s cold might change a bit from the warmer months – I would for instance not spend that much time on the beach but rather visit the museums.

July and August can be hot and crowded so the best time for a first visit is spring and fall.

In general, May/June or late August to early October are the best times for a weekend break to Nice. 

There are a number of special events and festivals in Nice and the surrounding towns that have a strong impact on prices and crowds.

The most popular and best-known seasonal events are Carnival, the Monaco Grand Prix, and the Cannes Film Festival. If you are not specifically planning on attending these events it is advisable to check on the dates when planning your trip to avoid the crowds.

48 hours in Nice - Greek-Orthodox Cathedral

How many days in Nice France is enough?

I often get asked how many days you need for a complete Nice itinerary. 2 days is certainly enough to see the main sites and getting a feel of the city.

However, if you only have one day in Nice, you can select things from this itinerary to make the most of it – until you eventually return.

Where to stay in Nice for two days

You also need to plan where to stay in Nice in 2 days. There are plenty of hotels in different price ranges all over Nice. Depending on your plans, the best locations are in the old town, near Port Lympia, or close to Place Massena.

If you are planning many day trips to the surrounding towns, the distance to one of the main train stations is another consideration. 

While I wouldn’t recommend the airport area as a top choice, the hotels there tend to be the least expensive. As the tram is quite convenient and Nice not too big, it could be a good alternative if you are going 2 days in Nice France on a budget.

Following, are the best places to stay in Nice for every budget.

LUXURY – Le Negresco – This 5-star hotel is not just the most luxurious in town but also a true landmark, practically synonymous with Nice. Beautiful architecture, exquisite art, and outstanding service make the Negresco so popular.

MID-RANGE – Ibis Styles Nice Centre Port – one of the nicer Ibis it offers everything you would expect from a basic city hotel. However, it is the location that makes it such a good choice. Just minutes from Place Garibaldi the area feels touristy and safe, bus, tram, and train connections are nearby, and you can walk to the port or Vielle Ville in just a couple of minutes.

BUDGET – B&B Hotel Nice Aéroport Arenas – A good budget option a bit outside of the city center but there are excellent public transport options and prices are good.

HOSTEL – Hostel Ozz Nice – Highly rated with friendly staff. This hostel has a very convenient location close to the main train station and is just 15 minutes walk from the beach.

what to do in Nice for 2 days - Hotel Le Negresco
Hotel Le Negresco

Day 1 – 2 days in Nice itinerary

48 hours in Nice is perfect for exploring this Mediterranean city. Of course, there is so much more to see on the Cote d’Azur – staying a week or longer to explore neighboring towns of the French Riviera would be even better.

For a large city, Nice has a surprisingly relaxed atmosphere. The vibe is a unique mix of French and Italian influences and the combination of sun, beach, and sea makes for an ideal holiday destination.

Now, let’s dive into your Nice 2-day itinerary to explore the best things to do in Nice in a weekend.

Explore Vielle Ville

Start your morning by exploring the winding alleys of Nice’s Old Town. Later in the day, the narrow streets will be crowded with tourists and tour groups but in the early hours this neighborhood is much quieter and has a special charm.

Pass by the cathedral of Nice, Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate de Nice. It dates back to the 17th century and has a Baroque interior with a serene atmosphere making it worth a visit.

A narrow street in Vieille Ville when exploring Nice in 2 days

Flower Market and Lunch

Right at the edge of Old Town, you will find Marché Aux Fleurs-Cours Saleya. This flower market is open Tuesday to Sunday mornings and offers many other products in addition to flowers.

The stalls sell fruit, vegetables, fish, and seafood, as well as soaps, perfumes, and candy. It’s a great place to pick up a local souvenir.

For a mid-morning snack (or a light lunch) try Socca, the local specialty. This pancake is traditionally made from chickpea flour, water, and olive oil. Inexpensive, but quite filling! If you would prefer a proper meal there are plenty of restaurants nearby.

Spend your afternoon at the beach

In the afternoon, it is time to hit the beach. The beach and its famous promenade, the Promenade des Anglais, are defining features of Nice. The whole city is built along the shore, so you are never far from the sea. 

Similar to many Mediterranean beaches the beaches in Nice can get crowded and are all pebbles. If you are looking for a more picturesque beach, nearby Cap Ferrat offers hidden coves, pine trees, and a bit of sand.

But the beach in Nice town has its own appeal. Depending on your taste (and budget), you can either settle in at one of the public stretches or visit one of the beach clubs so typical for the Cote d’Azur.

Beach clubs usually offer not only loungers on a private stretch of beach but also a restaurant, a bar, showers, bathrooms, and changing facilities.

Prices vary depending on offered amenities, but a beach chair with a sun umbrella will usually run about $30 per day.

In the evening, take some time to stroll along the Promenade des Anglais. This is a popular pastime for visitors and locals alike. On your way, you will pass the beautiful Hotel Le Negresco. This palatial white and pink Belle Epoche hotel is one of Nice’s most famous landmarks.

For dinner, visit one of the restaurants at the Marché aux Fleurs-Cours Saleya or in the adjacent old town. A well-regarded vegan place is KOKO GREEN but I recommend making a reservation as the restaurant is very small and has limited opening times.

Weekend in Nice - Promenade des Anglais

Day 2 – Two days in Nice itinerary

Colline du Chateau

Start your second day in Nice by visiting Colline du Chateau (Castle Hill), the park on top of the rock dividing the port from Vielle Ville.

Climbing the winding staircases is best done before the heat of the day sets in. If you are not quite up for the challenge, you can also take a free elevator to the top.

The castle for which this hilltop is named was destroyed long ago by Napoleon’s troops so only the ruins remain.

However, the main attraction of Colline du Chateau is the stunning view over the roofs of Nice, the port, out to sea, and even towards the Alps.

This is the best viewpoint in the city for sure. Don’t miss the pretty waterfall that is especially enchanting on a warm and sunny day!

Nice in two days - View of Nice from Castle Hill

Enjoy the city’s grand plazas and grab lunch

Once back on level ground, it is time to continue your Nice France itinerary by enjoying some of the beautiful plazas that make up the city center. 

Place Masséna with its checkerboard tiles, impressive fountains, and imposing buildings divides the old town from the new one and is ringed by restaurants and shops.

It is the most famous square in the city and a must-see on any trip to Nice. A cross between Alice in Wonderland and Venice, this public plaza makes for some great photos!

A short stroll along the fountains and park of Promenade du Paillon will take you to Place Garibaldi. On the way, you will find a station to refill your water bottle for free – always helpful on a hot day!

Place Garibaldi has a distinctly Italian flair and the cheery yellow color of the imposing buildings around the square makes for a great holiday experience.

Whether for lunch or an afternoon snack, you’ are sure to’ll find something to your taste in one of the many outdoor restaurants and cafés.

Restaurant Badaboom (only open during the day) between Place Garibaldi and the port is a popular eatery with vegetarian and vegan options.

2 Days in Nice France - Place Massena

Visit one of the city’s museums

When exploring Nice in two days, you’ll have time to visit one of the city’s museums. It’s especially comfortable to spend sometime inside on a very hot or rainy day!

If you are a fan of Marc Chagall’s work you won’t want to miss the Musée National Marc Chagall with a special emphasis on paintings of Old Testament scenes. 

Right off the Promenade des Anglais, Musée Massena offers artwork and history in the setting of a beautiful old villa with an enchanting garden. History buffs will also love the Archaeological Museum.

End your day at Port Lympia and a sunset cruise

Finish your day with a leisurely walk along the harbor of Port Lympia. I highly recommend taking this sunset cruise to get the ultimate ending to your 2 days in Nice France.

You’ll get some nibbles on the boat, but will probably still want dinner afterwards. But not to worry.

On the port, you will find various restaurants and bars. FOAM Nice, Port Lympia offers a wide variety of craft beers as well as some vegan and vegetarian dishes.

2 days in Nice itinerary Port of Nice

Some cool facts about Nice

  • While in Nice you may notice a loud boom at noon. Apparently, an aristocratic Scotsman in the late 1800s was displeased that his wife was habitually late home for lunch (Clearly this was before the time of smartphones or even watches). He convinced the town mayor to fire a canon to remind his wife of the time and the tradition has persisted until today – though now the noise is caused by a small explosion and no longer a canon shot.
  • Walking along the Promenade des Anglais, you may notice a row of blue chairs. These chairs were originally meant to be rented out but have now become one of Nice’s iconic sights. Designed by Charles Tordo, they are now chained together to discourage theft.
  • Nice has one of the biggest Carnival celebrations worldwide. With a tradition going back to 1292, this festival is well worth a visit! Highlights include spectacular parades, fireworks, and the Battle of the Flowers.
  • Nice hasn’t always been French but once belonged to the House of Savoy which ruled the Kingdom of Sardinia. Not surprising then that the city still has a distinctly Italian vibe!
  • The city’s name goes back to Greek warrior settlers who established a permanent settlement here. Returning from a battle in Marseille, they named their new town Nikaia for the Greek Goddess of Victory, Nike.
  • Nice is the home of the largest Russian Orthodox Cathedral outside of Russia. When you first spot the church, you will wonder if you traveled to the wrong country! Pretty as a picture, the Cathèdrale Saint-Nicolas de Nice near the Nice-Ville train station is worth a visit.

If you have more than 48 hours in Nice

One of the best things about Nice is its central location. Using public transport, it is easy to explore all along the Cote d’Azur on easy day trips from Nice.

In less than an hour, you can visit Cannes with the Iles de Lérines, Antibes with the Picasso Museum and food market, the quaint hillside town of Èze, Menton with its lemon festival, or glitzy Monaco.

From nearby Villefranche, you can explore Cap Ferrat and admire the gorgeous gardens of Villa Ephrussi. And if you are up for a change of pace, the Train des Pignes will take you to the mountains to the North.

colorful houses by the sea in Menton

Reflections on a 2-day Nice itinerary

Nice is a wonderfully vibrant city that deserves to be more than just a convenient gateway to the Cote d’Azur. Now that you know what to do in Nice for 2 days, you realize how its sights, restaurants, history, and beaches make it well worth spending some time here. 

2 days are perfect for a first visit to get to know this city. There is a good chance you will fall in love with Nice and want to come back – I certainly do.

Bon voyage!

AUTHOR BIO: Kitty has always loved to travel and now enjoys sharing her passion (and what she has learned) with others. After many years traveling with kids, she is once again embarking on solo adventures and sharing her experiences on her travel blog, kittymeetsworld.