The 10 Easiest Day Trips From Nice

A group of people walking down a street holding an umbrella

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 train 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.

10 Best Day Trips from Nice

1. Antibes

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), 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.)

2. Menton

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 Sea, 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!

3. Ventimiglia 

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.

4. 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.

5. 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. Saint Tropez is accessible from Nice by daily boat (2.5 hours) in the summer, or by taking the regional TER train to Saint-Raphaël (1.5 hours), and then a bus to Saint Tropez.

A large body of water with a city in the background
Saint-Tropez (Wikimedia Commons)

6. 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, and see the private collection of antique cars of his royal highness, Prince Ranier III (who famously married American actress Grace Kelly).

7. Ephrussi de Rothschild Villa and Gardens

In terms of day trips from Nice along the French Riviera, this one is not to be missed. Located atop the cliffs of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, between Nice and Monaco, Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is 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 Sea views 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. The easiest way to get to the Villa Ephrussi from Nice is to take the Bus Line 15 from Promenade des Arts to Passable/Rothschild. (The bus trip takes roughly 35-45 minutes.)

8. Day Trips into the Alps: Tende and 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. 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.

9. Cassis

Cassis is a quaint French Riviera town that started as a fishing village, roughly 2.5 hours from the Nice Ville station via the TER regional train. This charming village with its pastel-colored old port is set at the base of a dramatic cliff, atop which sits a 13th century medieval castle and fortress, now converted into a seaside resort, which also has its own vineyard. Not only are Cassis’s old port and colorful fishing boats charming, but the small town of Cassis is also the gateway to the Parc National des Calanques, a national park stretching 20 km between Cassis and Marseille, full of hiking trails along the sea through steep cliffs, sandy beaches, and gorges. The most famous calanque is undoubtedly the Calanque d’En Vau, a steep gorge of turquoise water carved between white limestone cliffs. Hiking to the Calanque d’En Vau takes roughly 2 hours from Cassis and is not for the faint of heart. However, it’s also possible to discover the Calanques via boat tours if you’re looking for an easy day tour, which depart regularly from the port of Marseille.

10. Provence:  Aix-en Provence, Arles, Avignon, Gordes

The Provence region is a longer day trip than those previously mentioned (roughly 2 to 3 hours on a TGV train or car ride 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.

Visitors who fall in love with Aix’s Provençal charm and have more time to dive deeper into the Provence region, shouldn’t miss the towns of Arles, Avignon, and Gordes. Roughly 3 hours from Nice via TGV train, Arles is the site of perhaps the most Roman history found outside of Rome, listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, and home to the largest Roman colosseum, apart from the Colosseum. The city of nearby Avignon is surrounded by medieval fortress walls, and is home to the previous papal palace, from the time when the pope ruled from Avignon. Finally Gordes, only 30 minutes from Avignon, is a picturesque village set into a hillside, offering stunning views of the Luberon valley. It’s home to a unique immersive art exhibit, Les Carrières des Lumières, set inside a cliffside, where masterpieces from the artists inspired by the Provence region are projected against the cliffside.

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 a day trip, 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! Monaco is only 25 minutes and 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 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.

A close up of a sign


Get your weekly dose of Frenchly’s news.

Read more

Frenchly newsletter.

A close up of a sign

Get your weekly dose of Frenchly’s news.

Frenchly Newsletter.

A close up of a sign

Get your weekly dose of Frenchly stuff.