Situated along the French Riviera on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, it’s easy to fall in love with Nice.
This self-guided walking tour is perfect for an overview of the city’s most iconic sights and can be completed in just a couple of hours. I’ve included optional add-ons at the end for those with more time, and of course whenever your schedule allows I always encourage lots of cafe hopping!
Keep scrolling for your self-guided walking tour of Nice, France.
Place Masséna is a picturesque square with pink buildings, black and white checkered tiles, the beautiful Fontaine du Soleil (Sun Fountain), and iconic light post sculptures by Jaume Plensa.
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Located in between two busy streets with a tramway running through, green spaces on either side, the Mediterranean just a short walk away, and the popular shopping street Avenue Jean Médecin leading north from the square, there’s no shortage of activity at this popular city landmark.
Place Masséna is also a straight shot from the city’s main train station, located a 15-minute walk up the Avenue Jean Médecin.
Tour de l’Horloge | 1 Place du Palais de Justice
Heading southeast into the city’s Vieille Ville, or Old City, you’ll find the two-toned pink Tour de l’Horloge, or Clock Tower, overlooking the Place du Palais de Justice.
A tower was first built in this spot in 1423, but was subsequently destroyed and rebuilt multiple times, with the current structure dating to 1718.
Les Delices de Candice | 17 Rue de la Préfecture
There are many picturesque storefronts as you continue east along the Rue de la Préfecture (Carriera dou Gouvernou in Niçois, the local dialect), but this one dedicated to parapluies, or umbrellas, was my favorite.
Turn left just after Les Delices de Candice and head along the Rue Colonna d’Istria to find Place Rossetti.
Considered by many to be the heart of the old city, Place Rossetti is the home of the Cathédral Sainte Réparate de Nice, dating back to the 17th century and classified as a French national monument since 1906. It’s free to step inside to see the ornate interior.
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Across the square, the Fenocchio family has been dishing up nearly 100 flavors of ice cream and sorbet since 1966. Choose from more classic options like Hazelnut, Pistachio, and Coffee or try something new like Speculoos, Chocolate Chili, Avocado, or Spice Bread.
Ice cream in hand, continue past Fenocchio and turn left onto Rue Droite, one of the most beautiful streets in Old Nice. A favorite storefront of mine was the Cordonnerie du Vieux Nice at number 7.
Ascenseur du Château | 1 Rue des Ponchettes
Double back along the Rue Droite or turn right onto Rue Rossetti followed by a right onto Rue de la Condamine to head toward the water. This will lead you to the Ascenseur du Château, or Castle Elevator, for a free lift to the top of Castle Hill. There are also stairs if you’re up for it.
This green space offers multiple viewpoints over the old city, the coastline, and Port Lympia, Nice’s main port with a variety of watercraft ranging from modest sailboats to megayachts with helipads.
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Don’t miss the Point de Vue Colline du Château, the Point de Vue Port Lympia, and the Tour Bellanda (Bellanda Tower). There’s also a man-made waterfall, castle ruins, a playground, a café, and public toilets.
Promenade des Anglais
Next, head back down the elevator for a stroll along the city’s famous Promenade des Anglais, or English Walkway. The path is named for members of the English aristocracy who vacationed in Nice and helped fund its construction in the early 19th century.
The promenade continues along the water for almost four and a half miles, extending from the Quai des États-Unis in the East all the way to the Nice Airport in the West.
Home to public and private beaches, restaurants, a bike path, and wide open paved spaces with plenty of room for walking and skating, it’s the perfect place to enjoy uninterrupted views over the Baie des Anges, or Bay of Angels.
Marché Aux Fleurs | Cours Saleya
Take a quick detour from the Promenade to visit the markets along the Cours Saleya. Multiple markets call this street home, the most popular being the Marché aux Fleurs (Flower Market) held Tuesday through Sunday.
While there are fruit and vegetable stands here as well, the name dates back to the late 19th century, when a thriving flower market began here. Local growers sold flowers to wholesalers who would then hop on the train and resell them throughout the continent.
If you’d like to visit the Marché aux Fleurs, plan on heading there during the first part of the day. Many sites have the hours as 6 am through 5:30 pm Tuesday through Saturday and 6 am through 1:30 pm Sunday, but when we visited around 3:30 pm on a Tuesday there were hardly any vendors left. The Google listing shows 9 am to 1 pm.
If you have any intel on the market’s current hours, please let me know in the Comments!
Opéra de Nice | 4-6 Rue Saint-François de Paule
Home to the Nice Philharmonic Orchestra, the Ballet Nice Méditerrannée, and musical theater in addition to the opera, the current structure was built in the 1880s (former versions having been demolished and destroyed by fire) and can be seen from the Rue Saint-François de Paule or from the Quai des États-Unis (the Eastern section of the Promenade des Anglais).
If you’re walking along the Quai, you’ll know you’ve hit the Opéra when you see a 4-foot-tall replica of the Statue of Liberty.
Jardin Albert 1er and Promenade du Paillon
This large park is home to an outdoor theater, a two-story carousel, sculptures, fountains, and the start of the Promenade du Paillon. The Promenade du Paillon is a green corridor connecting the Promenade des Anglais to the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, passing directly through Place Masséna (where we started our walk).
What used to be a congested area with a bus station and parking garage was transformed over three years into a lush, 30-acre oasis in the middle of the city.
One of the most celebrated features of the Promenade is the Fontaine Miroir d’Eau, a giant “water mirror” with misting jets. There are also children’s play areas, benches, public toilets, and tens of thousands of plants filling out the space.
Your Self-Guided Walking Tour of Nice, France: The Stats
Starting Point and Ending Point: Place Masséna (Although since the walk is a loop, you can start and end at any point!)
Distance: ~2.5 kilometers or 1.5 miles
Terrain: Largely flat
While this short route has a lot to offer with multiple viewpoints, city squares, picturesque streets, delicious gelato, a walk along the Mediterranean, and lush green spaces – to name a few! – there’s so much more to see if you have the time. Here are a few ideas.
- Walk further west along the Promenade des Anglais to admire the historic Hotel Negresco.
- Enjoy some retail therapy along the Avenue du Jean Médecin, heading north off of Place Masséna.
- Visit a museum – Nice has a lot to choose from! Musée National Marc Chagall, Musée Matisse, the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nice, and the Musée Massena are just a handful of options.
- Take a 25-minute walk from Place Masséna to the Saint Nicholas Cathedral, an Eastern Orthodox Cathedral and French national monument built between 1903 and 1912.
- Head to the beach for some sunbathing and swimming – just be ready for beaches that are rocky instead of sandy.
- Use Nice as a convenient jump-off point for countless day trips, including Saint-Paul de Vence, Èze, Villefranche-sur-Mer, Antibes, and Monaco.
Use this map to guide your walk.
Have you ever been to Nice? If not, is it on your list? Let me know in the Comments!
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