France can be expensive, but Nice can be a budget travel oasis in an otherwise expensive country for thirsty, cash strapped travelers. There are a lot of great things to do in Nice France even if your budget is a little slim!
Here are some budget travel tidbits that I picked up while traveling in Nice France:
Getting to Nice from the Airport:
Most tourists fly into the international terminal at the nice airport. From here, the only bus options to get into the city are the Route 98 and 99 airport buses, for which there is a 6 Euro charge. This probably isn’t a bank breaker, but you can take the free shuttle over to the domestic terminal to take the Line 23 bus into the city for 1.50 Euro (less if you buy a pass of 10 tickets).
Line 23 follows almost the exact same route as 98 and 99, an easy way to save some money right off the bat!
Cheap Transportation around Nice:
Nice is right in the middle of a great transportation network! Trains are easy and readily available to many cities on the Cote D’azur, but transportation by bus is where the real value lies for a cash strapped traveler. A bus pass costs only 15 Euros for a week (good within the city of nice only). A single ticket costs only $1.50 euro (good for 75 minutes one way) or you can buy a book of 10 tickets for 10 Euros.
There are many cities that are easy to access by bus. Eze Village and Villefranche sur Mer are very close, easy bus rides from Nice. If you are looking for more ideas, check with the tourist information office in Nice.
NOTE: If you are looking to get to Monaco (or anywhere else on this bus route, for that matter) I advise that you stay off of the Route 100 bus. Every day we walked past the bus stop for this bus, and everyday it was packed to the brim with cruise ship passengers, lined up waiting to get on. If you are going to Monaco, take the train. If you are going anywhere else on that route, look at a route map and find another bus (there are other routes that stop almost everywhere that the 100 route does).
Budget Dining in Nice:
There are tons of good, budget food options in Nice. Eating baguettes, wine, fresh cheese and fruit from the market is always a joy in France and a cheap dining option.
- Baguette=2 Euros or less. Decent, cheap wine=5 Euros or less. Cheese=3-4 Euros. Iconic French meal experience=Priceless.
- There are little meat shops all over Nice that sell rotisserie chickens for under 5 Euros which could be combined with a baguette and some wine for a cheap, filling meal (do you see a theme yet…baguettes and wine go with EVERYTHING in France!)
- If you are looking for good sized pizzas at reasonable prices in old Nice, make a stop at Pizza Pili (24 Rue Benoit Bunico, Nice). For 7 euros, you can get a great pizza (big enough to feed two people). They had a huge selection of creative toppings, making this a budget dining oasis in Nice!
- Of course you always have the choice of a Kebab and frites (a pita sandwich and fries), an imported French favorite and 6 Euros or less in Nice.
Things to do in Nice on a Budget:
Nice has a TON of free and cheap things to do. To start out the list, most of the museums in Nice are free.
- Walking around the Cours Saleya Market is one of my favorite cheap (as long as you don’t buy too much) activities in Nice. It is a cheap way to sample local cheese and socca and other delicacies and get a great taste of local culture. We spent some time here on almost every day of our trip, and it never got boring! You can take the elevator at the end of the Cours Saleya market up to the top of Castle Hill in Nice. There is a free elevator up to the top, which give you easy access to lovely views of Nice, a great park and a pretty waterfall.
- Take the bus to the Cimiez Monastery and Museum (which has a nice set of Roman ruins, as well). The museum is worth a visit (there is also a Matisse Museum there). There is also a nice park that you can have a picnic in, making this an nice escape for an afternoon in Nice.
- Nice has a huge, free green greenspace right in the center of the city! This park is the recently built centerpiece of the city, and the beautiful views and people watching are free to enjoy. The park, called the Promenade du Paillon, is built over a river that runs through the center of the city. The famous Place Massena and beautiful Jardin Albert I anchor one end of the park, and the National Theater of Nice and the modern art museum anchor the other. In between are creative kids play areas, lots of space for sitting and enjoying the scenery and a great misting pool that is just deep enough to dabble your feet in and cool off during Nice’s hot summers.
- Many of Nice’s museums are also free.
Hotels Are Expensive, rent an apartment:
People are shocked when I tell the that we rented a fully furnished apartment in Nice for significantly less than we would have paid for even a budget priced hotel.
The apartment gave us the luxury of a separate room for our baby to sleep in (so we didn’t need to tiptoe around at night), a fully stocked kitchen (which gave us the authentic experience of being able to shop at the market each day with the locals and cook with fresh, local foods) and a deeper sense of belonging and of the local culture than we would have ever gotten staying with all of the other tourists in a hotel.
Try it, and I promise that you will never go back to a hotel!