A long weekend in Nice and on the Riviera

Photo of A weekend in Nice

The French riviera, with Nice and the surrounding coastal towns, is of course best known as a summer holiday destination and the region attracts many millions of visitors each year.

But this coastal part of south-east France also has the most consistently sunny and warm weather to be found in France even in the winter months, and a long weekend here in spring or autumn is sure to be a memorable experience - and a great way to shake off the winter blues until next summer!

Nice town

It is a pleasure to explore Nice at any time of year, and if by chance the weather is less than perfect when you visit there are several important museums and art galleries in Nice (the Matisse Museum is among our personal favourites) to detain you until the rain passes...

Quiet street in Nice old town

While you can't hope to see everything in Nice in just a day or two you can certainly get a good feel for the town and see the major highlights.

We suggest that you start with a stroll along the Promenade des Anglais that follows behind the beach, then pass through the colourful flower stalls in the Cours Saleya market to reach the old town.

Explore the narrow streets of the old town for a while, then stop for a coffee in one of the many cafes before heading east of the city to enter the park and castle grounds for exceptional views back across the city rooftops...

...and a chance to identify the many landmarks you won't have time to visit - elsewhere in Nice there are numerous historical buildings, grand 19th century town houses and hotels, churches and chapels, and as many shops as you could ever hope for so don't worry about running out of things to do!

There are also guide buses that tour around the main highlights in Nice, rather expensive but a good way to see everything possible in a short period of time.

See our Nice travel guide for more information.

 
 

Outside Nice

Many visitors with just a couple of days will probably decide not to venture outside the centre of Nice at all - a reasonable decision since there is so much to see and do here.

But no suggestion for a long weekend would be complete without a couple of excursions - I'm afraid you are likely to have to choose among these options rather than try to see them all if you only have two days available!

MentonIf you don't have a car, the highlights along the train route include Monaco (needs a guide to itself and the tropical gardens are unmissable);  Menton (one of our favourite towns in France, be sure to go up the hill to see the views from the cemetery); and the town of Antibes, another exceptional Riviera resort.

Also very picturesque is the harbour village at Villefranche-sur-Mer. From here you can also follow the coastal footpath around Cap Ferrat and visit the Villa Ephrussi with its gardens magnificent almost all year round.

If you do hire a car even more options are available to you, not least of which are the village of Eze, high on a hill above the coast and among our favourite top five villages in France, and the chance to drive along the famous corniche coast road, high above the coast and with many beautiful views - the view of Monaco from here is also quite remarkable on a clear day.

Visitor and travel information

Hotel NegrescoUsually we recommend that visitors to France, even if just for a long weekend, should hire a car. In Nice this is less important than most places however, since there is an excellent local train service that follows along the coast and passes through many of the most poular destinations.

- It won't be difficult to find a hotel to suit your budget out of season, although if possible it is worth booking a few weeks in advance - see Nice hotels for a very wide choice at best prices.

If your budget stretches far enough, the Hotel Negresco is in a well known hotel on the Promenade des Anglais and one of the most famous hotels in Nice. Plenty of less expensive options are available though!