Nice is nice, don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of things to do in Nice to keep you busy for a while. If getting out of the city is your thing, though, or you would like a change of scenery, Nice is ideally situated for taking day trips.
Easy connections by train (even more cheaply by bus) and a spectacular array of other coastal and hilltop villages around Nice make taking day trips out of this lovable French city super easy. Here are some ideas for easy peasy day trips from Nice:
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The trip to Eze is about as easy as it gets when looking for a day trip from Nice, and the incredible payoff in the form of atmosphere and spectacular coastal views for such an easy trip almost make this trip feel like cheating!
The trip was a short 25 minute ride from Nice on the line 82 bus. The bus drops you off an easy walk from the tourist information office and from there you start up the windy, cobbled streets that make up the hilltop village of Eze.
The village itself looks like one giant postcard, with one gorgeous view after another. The village is also home to tons of cutsie shops and little cafes. If you are looking for a splurge restaurant with beautiful views, Chateau Eze or de la Chevre D’or both offer spectacular cliff side views.
A tip for those on a budget: The best views are from the garden at the top of the village, but if you don’t want to pay the entrance fee, head over to the cemetery next to the church. Head up the upper path of the cemetery (the one to the left) and you will get to a viewpoint where you will get about 75% of the view that you would have had at the top without any entrance fee.
Villefranche Sur Mer:
This village is located right on the coast, just east of Nice. It is not a village that I saw on the lists of “must visit tourist sights”, which made it all that much more appealing to my “off the beaten path” radar.
Villefranche was an easy 25 minute bus ride from Nice on the 82 bus (many travel guides advise taking the 100 bus, but from what we saw every day, the 100 bus was always PACKED with cruise ship tourists, most of whom are trying to get to Monaco. Avoid this bus at all costs. The 82 bus also runs to Villefranche and was not crowded at all.)
Villefranche sur Mer was a coastal stronghold starting in the 1500’s, and we enjoyed a pleasant walk around the foot of the old fortress walls. The town is a patchwork of hilly, cobbled streets, pastel colored houses and medieval arches clustered around the port and beautiful ocean views.
Villefranche is known for its covered streets. These hidden tunnels run underneath the houses above them, and they were used for shelter from bombs during World War II. The most famous of these (and the most photographed) is the eerie looking Rue Obscura, running right underneath the heart of the town.
Cimiez/Monastery/Cascade de Gairut:
This is technically not a trip OUTSIDE of Nice, but it is a pleasant detour from the old town and the parts of Nice that most tourists frequent.
The Cimiez complex includes a pleasant park, monastery, an archaeology museum and some nice Roman Ruins as well as a Matisse Museum, all of which are free to visit.
The park seemed to be a popular place for local families having picnics and birthday parties on the weekend day that we visited.
You can get there by bus by taking either route 17, route 22 or route 15, depending on where in Nice you are coming from. To continue your adventure, hop on the line 25 bus at the “Monastere” stop to head towards the Gairut Waterfall, a haven of peace and nature in the middle of the city.
I really had no idea what to expect from Antibes before we got there. I knew about the famed Picasso museum, but little else about this cute, fortified coastal town.
Antibes is a laid back, seaside village just a short train ride from Nice. The town has a variety of nice, sandy beaches, for those that are into hanging out at the beach.
We chose to spend our time wandering around the quaint, cobblestoned streets and exploring the squares of this unassuming (and uncrowded on a Sunday) little town. We continued out stroll through the harbor, gawking at the rows upon rows of huge yachts that were anchored there.
Antibes has a lovely covered market and you can walk around the fortified ramparts that surround much of the old city. Sidewalk cafes and cute places to linger over coffee, wine or lunch abound.
For us, it seemed that the easiest way to get to Antibes was by train, with plentiful departures throughout the day (there is a bus, but the time that it would have taken by bus was not worth the money that we would have saved, taking into account the difficulties traveling with the baby).