The capital of the French Riviera, or La Côte d’Azur, Nice is perfectly situated to be the base of many different day trips to discover the wonders of the South of France. Centrally located and equipped with a regional train line providing easy public transportation access for travelers, Nice is not only worth visiting in its own right, but also acts as a gateway to further adventures along the beautiful beaches of the Mediterranean coast. Just head over to the Gare de Nice Ville station, just a short walk from the Nice’s city center and the famous Promenade des Anglais, to embark on your next day trip. And although there are countless hidden treasures in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, some of our favorite incontournables (can’t-miss!) day trips from Nice are listed below.
16 Best Day Trips from Nice
- Îles des Lérins: Île Sainte-Marguerite and Île Saint Honorat
- Saint Tropez
- The Principality of Monaco
- Saint Jean Cap Ferrat
- Day Trips into the Alps: Saorge
- Day Trips into the Alps: Tende
- Aix-en Provence
- Saint Paul de Vence
- Villefranche sur Mer
- Cagnes sur Mer
- Beaulieu sur Mer
Hidden between Nice and Cannes, Antibes is lesser known, but no less worth a visit for a leisurely day tour. Just a half an hour train ride from the Nice Ville train stationon the local TER train (a lovely experience in itself as the train hugs the breathtaking Mediterranean coastline), the French Riviera town of Antibes retains the old world charm of its ancient past, and the sleepy authenticity of southern France. (Which sometimes gets lost in the middle of overcrowded, touristy Nice and Cannes.) Although it hosts the largest yacht harbor in Europe in Port Vauban, and some of the world’s most luxurious villas along the Cap d’Antibes, Antibes still manages to feels unpretentious. It’s easy to get lost in the narrow, winding stone streets of its old town washed in pastel colors, its open-air Provençal market and restaurants with fresh seafood dishes, a small collection of art galleries, and the stone ramparts dating from the 10th century that lift the old town above the sea and frame it against the background of the Alps in the distance. Visitors can enjoy sandy beaches along the Plage de la Gravette, or explore le sentier du littoral, a winding coastal hiking path that will take them along the edge of the exclusive Cap d’Antibes to beautiful swimming coves hidden behind mansions and elite hotels. You can also hike to the highest point overlooking the bay, the Garoupe plateau, where you will find an old chapel and lighthouse, as well as spectacular views. Not surprisingly, Antibes’ natural beauty and charming character has long made it an inspiring haven for artists and writers, with Monet and Renoir often painting its landscapes, F. Scott Fitzgerald making it his summer residence, and Pablo Picasso even making it his home. (He is still honored with the local Antibes Picasso Museum.)
How to get there: The easiest way to get to Antibes from Nice is to take the TER train from Nice-Ville to Antibes in about 20 minutes. You could also drive, but that would take nearly an hour.
Distance from Nice: 18 miles
Time to get there: 20 minutes by train, 1 hour by car
Only 30 minutes from Nice via the A8 autoroute, or the TER regional train, Menton is the last seaside town on the French Riviera before the Italian border. Known as the pearl of the French Riviera, Menton’s colorful streets wind up and away from the sea at the town’s base towards a cemetery with spectacular views overlooking both the French and Italian coast. Visitors can take in the baroque architecture of the 17th century basilica, which serves as a reminder of Italy’s close proximity, soak up Menton’s nearly ever-present soleil on la plage des sablettes, or enjoy the shade of one of its gardens in the hills above the Mediterranean, many of which also offer breathtaking views. Although peak tourist season is in the summertime, Menton’s climate has made it a popular year round destination – hence the origin of its famous Fête du Citron, or Lemon Festival, an annual February tradition established in 1875 to entertain guests looking to escape the winter!
How to get there: It takes about the same amount of time to get to Menton from Nice by car or by train. Take the TER train from Nice-Ville to Menton. Make sure you get off at the Menton station, which will drop you in the city center, and not the farther Menton Garavan station.
Distance from Nice: 18 miles
Time to get there: About 40 minutes by train or car
Just the other side of the Italian border, Ventimiglia (called Vintimille in French), is the first town of Italy, and the last stop of the French regional TER train. This hidden gem is easily accessible, and it’s possible to have a croissant for breakfast in Nice, then go to Italy in 50 minutes for a pasta lunch and gelato dessert, and still be back in France in time for dinner. (Just switch your bonjour to buongiorno, and don’t forget your passport!) In addition to its food, Ventimiglia’s pedestrian (the roads are too narrow for cars) old town is steeped in history with much to offer, including a 10th century church built on the site of an Ancient Roman temple, stunning views over the Mediterranean Sea, a Roman theater, a museum set on a cliff dedicated to the area’s history, Italy’s largest botanical garden, a daily open market, and a massive weekly open market if you’re lucky enough to be in Ventimiglia on a Friday. Ventimiglia’s long history has seen it belong both to France and to Italy, and although it is now distinctly Italian, each nation’s heritage can still be felt today.
How to get there: Take the TER train from Nice-Ville to the end of the line, the Ventimiglia stop, or drive along the coast towards Italy.
Distance from Nice: 25 miles
Time to get there: 1 hour by train, 50 minutes by car
Why bother doing any day trips from Nice if you’re not going to make a stop in Cannes? This glamorous beach town is the place to go to live out your best influencer vacation. Start with a coastal walk along the famous Promenade de la Croisette, with its palm-lined boulevard and beautiful beaches, and admire the superyachts along the Port de Cannes. Don’t miss the chance to visit the iconic Palais des Festivals, where the renowned Cannes Film Festival takes place. For art enthusiasts, the Musée de la Castre (also known as the Musée des Explorations du Monde) atop the historic Le Suquet district offers a captivating collection of historic instruments and anthropological discoveries (a very nice way of saying, “things France stole from other countries”). Gourmets will relish the opportunity to savor exquisite French cuisine at the local restaurants, while shoppers can explore the high-end boutiques along Rue d’Antibes. You can also enjoy a guided tour of Cannes (like this free walking tour) to get some history of the city while basking in the sunshine and the salty breeze.
How to get there: Take the TER train from Nice-Ville to Cannes, or travel by car.
Distance from Nice: 25 miles
Time to get there: 40 minutes by train, or 50 minutes by car
5. Îles des Lérins: Île Sainte-Marguerite and Île Saint Honorat
The beautiful islands of Île Sainte-Marguerite and Île Saint Honorat, known together as the Îles des Lérins, are just a short 15 minute ferry ride off the shore of Cannes. In the summer, there is also a ferry linking the two islands directly to Nice, however in the off-season, visitors can take the TER regional train from Nice to Cannes (35 minutes) and then take the ferry from there. Once arrived on Île Sainte-Marguerite, in addition to pristine beaches, clear blue water (where you can even snorkel to an underwater sculpture museum), and the shade of immense eucalyptus trees, visitors will find an intriguing history. The island is home to the prison of the mysterious Man in the Iron Mask (a French state prisoner whose identity remains a secret, but is rumored to have been the brother of Louis XIV), and the Fort Royal, which offers not only a museum, but also breathtaking views across the bay of Cannes. Visitors to Île Saint Honorat can discover a beautiful monastery built in 1073. The island has been inhabited by the monks of Lérins Abbey for over a thousand years, and today, they also operate a vineyard that produces over 30,000 bottles of wine. A particularly special time to visit the island is on the first Friday of the month, when visits to the vineyard and wine tastings are organized.
How to get there: You’ll need to take the TER train or drive to Cannes to get to the Îles des Lérins. Once there, the Port de Cannes is a short walk from the train station, and you can book a ferry from the port to either island. (Roundtrip fare is included in a ticket purchase, but you should check the schedules ahead of time to make sure you can get back without a long wait.)
Distance from Nice: About 30 miles
Time to get there: To get to Cannes, it will take 40 minutes by train, or 50 minutes by car. The ferry to Île Sainte-Marguerite takes 15 minutes, while the ferry to Île Saint Honorat takes 30 minutes.
6. Saint Tropez
While nature and tranquility are the prized reputation of Île Sainte-Marguerite and Île Saint Honorat, Saint Tropez is famous for its jet set crowd, and its notoriety as an exclusive, elite destination for luxury shopping and partying. However, there is much more to this French Riviera island than the Brigitte Bardot and Beyoncé-certified Club 55. Visitors to the island can explore Saint Tropez’s colorful old town dating to the 15th century, when the island was nothing but a fishing port, discover its citadel and maritime museum at the top of the island (which offers beautiful views over the bay), and of course, try the island’s local specialty desert, la tarte tropézienne.
How to get there: Saint Tropez is accessible from Nice by daily boat in the summer, leaving from Nice’s Old Port, or by car.
Distance from Nice: 75 miles
7. The Principality of Monaco
Although within the borders of France, and under 30 minutes from Nice on the local TER train, Monaco is a different country, so don’t forget your passport on this day trip! Visitors to Monaco can explore its famous Casino, Monte Carlo, or visit the Oceanography museum, perched atop a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and founded by Prince Albert I. You can even explore the Prince’s Palace (the Palais Princier du Monaco), and see the private collection of antique cars of his royal highness, Prince Ranier III (who famously married American actress Grace Kelly). Monaco also has its own Formula One Grand Prix Circuit, called the Circuit de Monaco, for any racecar aficionados.
How to get there: Take the TER train from Nice-Ville to Monaco-Monte-Carlo, or enjoy a short drive along the coast.
Distance from Nice: 13 miles
Time to get there: Half an hour by train or car
8. Saint Jean Cap Ferrat
In terms of day trips from Nice along the French Riviera, this one is not to be missed. The main tourist attraction of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat, between Nice and Monaco, is the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, a luxurious Belle-Époque era seaside estate just a stone’s throw from Nice. Once the home of Baroness Béatrice de Rothschild, the villa and its exotic garden is now open to the public great for a luxurious day tour. Visitors can enjoy its nine extensive formal and exotic gardens, as well as tour the Venetian-style palazzo mansion, and take in the stunning Mediterranean views over Saint Jean Cap Ferrat that are visible from nearly every angle. Tickets can be bought online, where visitors will also be warned if the villa is reserved for a private event. If you’re hungry while there, Béatrice’s former dining room has been converted into a restaurant terrace, where you can stop for light refreshments.
Saint Jean Cap Ferrat is also an amazing place to go hiking. The Sentier du Littoral path is easy walk around the Cap gives you access to pastel-toned waters that seem to melt into the sky around sunrise or sunset.
How to get there: The easiest way to get to the Villa Ephrussi from Nice is by car. But you can also opt for a bus trip on the Line 15 from Promenade des Arts to Passable/Rothschild.
Distance from Nice: 6 miles
Time to get there: 30 minutes by car, 45 minutes by bus
9. Day Trips into the Alps: Saorge
Although Nice is most famous for its position on the Mediterranean Sea, its proximity to the Alps shouldn’t be forgotten. Luckily the Train des Merveilles links Nice with the lower Alpine villages and allows travelers to enjoy breathtaking views of steep mountains and valleys along the way. If taking the morning train, travelers will also hear a guided tour of the mountain region’s fascinating history. One particularly beautiful stop along the train’s route is Saorge (roughly a 2 hour train trip up through the mountains from Nice to the Fontan-Saorge train station). This medieval village in the mountains is known as the “French Tibet” for the way homes are built into the mountain itself, and the entire village clings to a cliffside.
How to get there: Take the Train des Merveilles from Nice-Ville to Fontan-Saorge, or get there by car.
Distance from Nice: 44 miles
Time to get there: 2 hours by train or 1.5 hours by car
10. Day Trips into the Alps: Tende
Another can’t-miss Alpine village is Tende, the last and highest stop on the Train des Merveilles (2.5 hours from Nice). At an altitude of 800 meters, Tende is said to be “between Heaven and Earth.” Visitors can explore its medieval passages carved into the mountain side, the maze of its stone old town, a fortress built by Napoleon, a 15th century baroque church, and stunning mountain views, which on a clear day sometimes extend all the way back to the Mediterranean Sea.
How to get there: Take the Train des Merveilles from Nice-Ville to Tende, or get there by car.
Distance from Nice: 50 miles
Time to get there: 2.5 hours by train, 1 hour and 40 minutes by car
11. Aix-en Provence
The Provence region is a longer day trip than those previously mentioned (roughly 2 hours by bus or car from Nice), and while possible to do as a day trip, the slow-paced, leisurely lifestyle that the Provence region is famous for may cause you to want to linger, especially upon discovering the vast quantity of things to see and do. (For more extensive travel ideas around this area, check out our Travel Guide to Western Provence.)
The closest Provençal city to Nice is also the capital of the region, and so, a perfect introduction: Aix-en-Provence. For lovers of art and culture, Aix is a dream, with stately architecture and avenues, Cézanne’s studio, and the Musée Granet, which has an extensive collection of works by Cézanne and other artists inspired by the Provence region. There is also the Hotel de Caumont mansion with its museum and gardens, and of course outdoor food, flower, and antique markets. And if you happen to drive in during the summer, you’ll likely get a peek of rolling hills planted with lavender in the surrounding region.
How to get there: Take the Flixbus 482 from Nice Vauban to Aix-en-Provence, or travel there by car.
Distance from Nice: 113 miles
Time to get there: 2 hours and 10 minutes by bus or car
12. Saint Paul de Vence
The medieval village of Saint Paul de Vence is a dream visit for architecture lovers. The village’s defensive walls, which encircle Saint Paul de Vence, offer splendid panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, the Mediterranean, and the Alps in the distance, while the stone buildings of the town are adorned with ivy, flower-filled window boxes, and charming artisan shops. Stroll through the Rue Grande, the village’s main street, and explore art galleries, boutiques, and cafés. The tiny squares and hidden courtyards, like the oft-photographed Place de la Grande Fontaine, will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
One of the other primary draws of the small town of Saint-Paul-de-Vence is its rich artistic heritage. This village has been a magnet for artists and creatives for decades, and remains full of small art galleries. The renowned Fondation Maeght, an art museum within walking distance of the village center, features a remarkable collection of modern and contemporary art. The museum itself is a work of art, with sculptures and artwork dotting the surrounding gardens. As you walk through its galleries, you’ll encounter works by famous artists like Joan Miró, Marc Chagall, and Alberto Giacometti. Chagall is actually buried in the cemetery of Saint Paul de Vence, and art lovers can visit his grave to pay homage.
To finish your trip to Saint Paul de Vence, be sure to stop in to La Cave de Saint-Paul, a 14th century wine cellar, for a wine tasting of some of the region’s best vintages.
How to get there: Driving is the easiest way to get to Saint Paul de Vence, but you can also take the TER train to Cagnes sur Mer, then transfer to the 636 bus, taking it from Les Puits to the Village stop.
Distance from Nice: 17 miles
Time to get there: 1 hour by car or by train/bus
13. Villefranche sur Mer
Just next door to Nice, Villefranche sur Mer is like Nice’s more low key cousin. Less touristy but just as beautiful, the charming village of Villefranche sur Mer has some of the best beaches on the French Riviera, like the Plage de la Darse, where you can swim in the crystalline blue waters or lounge on the pebble beach tucked away behind the Promenade des Professeurs, or the sandy beaches of the Plage des Marinières. Originally a fishing village, Villefranche sur Mer boasts a picturesque harbor and old port dotted with colorful buildings and fishing boats, and its historic Old Town, with its narrow cobblestone streets and pastel facades, will make you feel like you’re starring in your own French film. (You can even duck underneath the picturesque part of Villefranche sur Mer and explore the medieval military passage called the Rue Obscure.) The town also offers the intriguing Citadelle Saint-Elme, a 16th-century fortress with a museum and panoramic views over the bay, as well as the Chapelle Saint-Pierre, a picturesque chapel adorned with Jean Cocteau’s vibrant frescoes. Make sure to schedule a day trip from Nice to Villefranche sur Mer; it’ll be the easiest one you could possibly do.
How to get there: Simply take the TER train two stops from Nice-Ville to Villefranche sur Mer. Alternatively, you can take a quick drive, or even walk there if you are coming from the eastern side of Nice.
Distance from Nice: 5 miles
Time to get there: 15 minutes by train, 20 minutes by car
The hilltop village of Èze is one of the most beautiful towns on the French Riviera, and a perfect day trip from Nice. This medieval village is actually constructed from two parts: Èze bord-de-Mer by the sea, and Eze Village at the top of a steep cliff. The rocky outcrops of the town make for incredible views, and you could get lost for hours in the winding cobbled streets and old stone houses. Philosophy fans can hike along Nietzsche’s Path, where the philosopher came up with many of his most famous theories. Less adventurous nature lovers might prefer the Jardin Exotique, a stunning cactus and succulent garden set against the backdrop of the Mediterranean. And for those interested in history, the Èze medieval Castle Ruins are a must-visit. These ancient remnants offer a glimpse into the village’s storied past and provide more magnificent panoramic views of the coast.
How to get there: The easiest way to get to Èze for a day trip from Nice is by car. But you can also take the 82 bus line from Vauban to the Eze – Village station. Make sure not to take any bus or train to the other station in town, called simply “Èze,” because this will take you to the bottom of the hill and you will spend a long time climbing up it to get to the village. This is why we would not recommend taking the TER train to Èze.
Distance from Nice: 8 miles
Time to get there: Èze is a quick half hour drive from Nice, or 35 minutes by bus
15. Cagnes sur Mer
The seaside resort town of Cagnes-sur-Mer is an easy day trip from Nice, not even a half hour’s journey away, ideal for a no-stress day tour. Start your exploration at the Château-musée Grimaldi, a historic castle perched atop a hill overlooking the Old Town of Haut-de-Cagnes. The castle now houses the Musée de l’Olivier, which is dedicated to regional olive oil production. Nearby is the Musée Renoir, dedicated to the famous artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir, who spent his final years in Cagnes-sur-Mer. The museum showcases his works and offers a glimpse into his life.
The medieval town boasts charming narrow cobblestone streets, historic architecture, and a vibrant arts scene. You can explore galleries, boutiques, and restaurants while wandering through this picturesque district. Cagnes-sur-Mer also offers a beautiful coastline with pebble beaches, perfect for a leisurely day by the sea. The Promenade de la Plage provides a scenic backdrop for a seaside stroll, and water sports enthusiasts can enjoy activities like windsurfing and paddleboarding. The town is also famous for its Hippodrome de la Côte d’Azur, a horse racing track that hosts several races throughout the year.
How to get there: Take the TER train from Nice-Ville to Cagnes-sur-Mer, or travel west along the coast by car.
Distance from Nice: 9 miles
Time to get there: 40 minutes by car or 15 minutes by train
16. Beaulieu sur Mer
In terms of day trips from Nice, Beaulieu-sur-Mer is one of the fastest and most efficient options. This teeny tiny beach town is home to the Villa Kérylos, an incredible Greek-inspired villa built at the turn of the 20th century. If you’re making a stop at the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, you may as well get a combined ticket and go one stop further for the Villa Kérylos. Lounge on the Plage des Fourmis and Petite Afrique beaches during the day, and in the evening, try your luck at the Casino de Beaulieu.
How to get there: Take the TER train three stops from Nice-Ville to Beaulieu-sur-Mer, or take a quick car ride over.
Distance from Nice: 6 miles
Time to get there: 20 minutes by car, 15 minutes by train
Where to Stay in Nice
Tucked in the side of the cliff face of Castle Hill, the historic La Pérouse is the epitome of Riviera luxury. Though built in the 1930s, the hotel has been recently renovated to include all modern amenities.
Hôtel Rossetti is one of the most affordable hotels in Nice’s city center, with a Baroque façade juxtaposed with stylish, minimalist interiors. Book well in advance.
This bougainvillea-draped 1920s villa is tucked into the hills of Nice on a quiet street. It may be a walk to the beach, but Le Panoramic has a superb location, along with a restaurant with 360-degree panoramic views for watching the sunset.
Day Trips From Nice – Frequently Asked Questions
Can you do a day trip to Provence from Nice?
It’s possible but Provence is such a vast and beautiful region, you may likely want to extend your daytrip into an overnight or two! If you only have time for day trips from Nice, go to Aix-en-Provence, the closest to Nice, and the best overall introduction to the Provence region.
Can you day trip to Monaco from Nice?
Bien sûr! A Monaco day trip from Nice is quick and easy, about a half hour, and only a few euros away on the local TER direct train. Just don’t forget your passport, as you’ll be going to another country!
How many days should I spend in Nice?
There is so much to see and do in the French Riviera city of Nice, as well as the surrounding area, you’ll want at least a week to explore.
Katherine Miller has lived most of her adult life in either Paris or New York, and her world has become a beautiful mélange of French and American culture, a mixture she loves sharing with those who also harbor her passion and curiosity for travel, language, and culture.