One of southern France’s largest and most beautiful port cities, Nice is perfectly situated on the coast of the French Riviera. Given its central location on France’s Mediterranean coast, there are plenty of amazing day trips from Nice to explore some of the area’s most iconic cities and towns, most perfectly situated for a Cote d’Azu or Provence itinerary.
From Marseille to Menton, and everywhere in between, these day trips from Nice will have you swooning your way down the French Riviera. Whether you have just a few days, or 2 to 3 weeks in France, these are some epic day trips that are sure to form lasting memories.
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Best Day Trips from Nice
This city to the west of Nice is the largest on the French Riviera. Similar to Nice, Paris, and other French tourist hot spots, Marseille is an eclectic mix of luxury and poverty combined. Still, it’s a wonderful place to visit on a day trip from Nice.
Marseille is one of France’s oldest cities, dating back to approximately 600 BC.
Popular places to visit in Marseilles include the Vieux Port (Old Port) and Notre Dame de la Garde. At the Vieux Port, you can get up-close-and-personal with fishmongers selling their morning catches, try some amazing seafood restaurants, and enjoy a chilled glass of rose.
To get to Marseille from Nice will take a little over two hours with a private car. If you don’t have access to your own vehicle, you can reach Marseille by train in approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes.
Slightly north of Marseille is the small city Aix-en-Provence. This is a day trip from Nice that is best reached by private vehicle. If you’re driving your own car (or hiring a driver), you can reach Aix-en-Provence from Nice in around 1 hour 45 minutes. If you’re reliant upon public transport, however, a train ride from Nice will take over three hours (which includes a bus transfer from Marseille). In other words, I hope you like to get up early if you plan on taking the train! A bus ride takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes.
This is another ancient city that is rich in history. In the spring and summer months, you’ll adore the cafe culture that overflows into the charming French streets.
One of Europe’s oldest universities is found in Aix, as the locals charmingly refer to it. So, you can expect a lively student population when school is in session.
Toulon’s primary use is as a French Naval base, so it has a very distinct feeling than other cities you’ll visit on the French Riviera. Warships replace megayachts as you look out onto the harbor. But if you’ve had enough of the bougie elitism that comes with the French Riviera, maybe Toulon would be perfect for you!
Blue collars replace white in this town, but Toulon is a great option for a day trip from Nice. Despite the naval base, it does have some beautiful sandy beaches and hidden coves that line its shores. Another popular thing to do in Toulon is visit the Musée National de la Marine, where you can check out a number of maritime artifacts and learn about local maritime history. Visitors also love to take the cable car up Mont Faron.
Driving to Toulon takes roughly 1 hour and 30 minutes. A train is only slightly longer at 1 hour and 50 minutes.
Monaco is not actually a city in France, but in fact its own, independent country! It’s the second smallest country in the world, in fact.
Best-known for the Monaco Grand Prix and Monte Carlo, Monaco has quite the reputation in the international arena. Like many other destinations on the French Riviera, Monaco is renowned for its extravagance and opulence.
You’re sure to spot movie stars, European royalty, and even Arab Sheiks on a day trip from Nice. This is where Grace Kelly, famed American actress, gained a crown by marrying into the royal family of Monaco and became a princess.
If you’re into shopping, fast cars, gambling, and other somewhat hedonistic activities, Monaco is a great day trip from Nice. Monaco also boasts an Oceanographic Museum, the Prince’s Palace, and a few botanical gardens to explore.
Traveling from Nice to Monaco is very straightforward and simple. A train ride from Gare de Nice Ville only takes 20 minutes. Trains run frequently throughout the day, so don’t worry about booking in advance. The drive by car takes about 30 minutes.
Another playground for the elite, particularly popular with 90s R&B artists (what happened to Puff Daddy, anyway?), Saint-Tropez is situated about mid-way between Nice and Marseille and is one of the most popular day trips from Nice.
Saint-Tropez was the first town on the French Riviera to be freed following WWII. Over the course of its history, it has also been a military stronghold and simple fishing village. To say it’s evolved somewhat is a bit of an understatement.
With quintessential Riviera beauty on and off the shores of its beaches, Saint-Tropez is a glamorous resort town with more to offer than just a suntan.
Checking out the fish markets, the cobbled streets of the Old Town, and the famous citadel are all among top things to do on a day trip from Nice.
To reach Saint-Tropez via public transportation, you will have to take a train to Saint-Raphael and then a bus to Saint-Tropez.
Driving is much faster and simpler, if you have access to a private car. The drive takes about 1 hour and 25 minutes.
Saint-Tropez certainly isn’t for everyone. To be honest, it’s really not for me, either. Sainte-Maxime, just down the street, provides a quieter alternative. In comparison, Sainte-Maxime is virtually a ghost town. Despite being Saint-Tropez’s low-key little sister, its historic and charming beauty continues to impress its visitors.
If you’re looking for a getaway on the French Riviera that has a sense of serenity to it, Sainte-Maxime is one of the best day trips from Nice. There’s not a whole lot to see and do in Sainte-Maxime, however, besides visit the Tour Carrée, beaches, and eateries.
The drive to Sainte-Maxime takes just over an hour by car. It’s much longer by public transportation, as you have to take a train to Saint-Raphael and then a bus (similar to visiting Saint-Tropez by bus). This option takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Located just 30 minutes by car from Nice, Cannes is another famous city on the French Riviera. Undoubtedly most famous for its International Film Festival, Cannes is a great place to visit regardless of the time of year. The beautiful, tree-lined seaside boulevard is the quintessential French Riviera. Cannes also has a gorgeous Old Town (Le Suquet), spectacular views, and a harbor full of megayachts.
Despite its luxurious nature and reputation, there are plenty of things to do in Cannes for the average Joe. Check out Musée de la Castre, which is known just as much for its panoramic views as its collection of antiquities. You can also head to Forville Market, the oldest market in the city.
If you’re visiting via public transportation, the ride is still short at just around 30-40 minutes by train.
Île de Sainte Marguerite
If you want to spend more than a day in Cannes, consider spending the night and taking a catamaran to Ile de Sainte Marguerite. You can either take a boat from Cannes or take a fast ferry from Nice directly. The scenic boat ride is sure to be worth the trip regardless of your starting point.
The island is super-small, a bit rustic, and more on the wild side than other destinations on our list of best day trips from Nice.
One of the island’s claims to fame is the Fort Royal. Fort Royal is one of France’s most famous prisons, as it was where the Man in the Iron Mask was held captive.
Antibes is one of the best day trips from Nice if a beautiful beach is what you’re after. In fact, it’s home to some of the best beaches in the south of France.
Offering up a pure dose of salt, sea, and sun, Antibes is the place to be. The city was founded by Greeks over 2,000 years ago. Today, it boasts an alluring Old Town which is enclosed by ramparts from the 16th century and defensive fort (Fort Carre). From Tuesday-Sunday, you can head to the Old Town for a charming covered market to get your groceries for the week (or, for a picnic, if you’re here for the day only).
Once you’ve had enough of the beach, you can check out the Picasso Museum, which is found in his former home. Yup, even this Spanish master spent some time in Antibes. Scuba diving is a popular activity, as is yacht-watching at Port Vauban.
Antibes is super-close to Nice, and easily accessible via public transportation. A train ride from Gare du Nice Ville takes just 15 minutes. Trains run frequently throughout the day between the two cities. If you’ve got a rental car, it actually takes a bit longer (around 35 minutes) and the road has tolls.
Situated just east of Nice and en route to Monaco is the seaside town of Eze. Nestled atop a hill that overlooks the coast, Eze is a popular day trip from Nice for those looking for small town vibes and beautiful scenery.
The streets in Eze are beautifully-preserved, still maintaining their medieval charm. Be sure to bring your camera, as this place is otherworldly in comparison to other towns and cities on the Riviera. Also bring your comfortable walking shoes, since the hilly, cobbled streets here can be tough on your ankles. You’ll definitely need something with a lot of support.
The streets are filled with seaside boho boutiques, art galleries, and the occasional cafe or restaurant. There’s a lovely botanical garden in Eze that is very popular with its visitors.
Eze is nice and close, and takes just 40 minutes to reach via public transportation from Nice. You’ll have to take the bus though, as opposed to our normal train recommendations.
Driving is also an option, but parking in Eze can be limited.
Menton is one of the most beautiful places to visit on the French Riviera, and one of the best day trips from Nice. It’s the last major town before crossing over into Italy. It’s not quite as famous as some of the other destinations on our list, but it’s been steadily rising in popularity thanks to its picturesque beauty and features on Instagram reels.
Still, it’s a great place to visit to escape the throngs of tourists. Given its close proximity to the Italian border, you can expect a nice Italian influence in the food, architecture, and overall vibes.
Popular things to do in Menton include exploring the Old Town, visiting the Baroque Basilica, St. Michael the Archangel, and checking out its many gardens. Its historic Old Town and market are also worth a visit. Bring your camera to get some IG-worthy shots of the colorful buildings.
Coming from Nice via train, the ride is direct and relatively short, taking just 40 minutes. The drive by car takes around the same amount of time.
Gorges du Verdon
If you’re based in Nice and want a small escape from the coast, you could always travel inland. Head to Gorges du Verdon, a stunning natural attraction situated in southern France.
Here, you can get your fix of nature in a deep gorge cut by a long river. Whether you want to go hiking, climbing, kayaking, rafting, whatever – Verdon Gorge is a great day trip from Nice for nature lovers.
It’s most easily reached by car, taking just under 2 hours to drive. A bus will take 2 hours and 40 minutes, approximately. There are no trains to the gorge.
Villefranche-sur-Mer is a small town nestled between the sea and the mountains. Boasting one of the deepest natural harbors on the French Riviera, there are often yachts and huge ships docked here. It’s popular for sailing and deep sea diving opportunities.
Other popular things to do in Villefranche-sur-Mer include visiting St. Peter’s Chapel. This is a church from the 16th century that was eventually transformed into a storehouse for local fishermen’s supplies. The historic harbor of Villefranche-sur-Mer is home to a number of different marine research institutes.
This is one of the closest day trips from Nice. It’s easily accessed in only 15 minutes by train. From Gare de Nice Ville, it’s only two stops away.
Grasse is a somewhat lesser-known stopover in the French Riviera. Still, it is among the best day trips from Nice. It’s best known for its perfume production – it’s actually touted as the ‘perfume capital of the world’. Over two thirds of perfumes produced in France are made in Grasse!
So obviously, a popular activity in Grasse is to tour a perfume factory to learn about the process of making perfumes. If you’re visiting in August, there’s an entire festival dedicated to jasmine, which is a popular flower utilized in the perfume production process. It’s one of my personal favorite scents!
In addition to all things perfume, the Grasse Notre Dame de Puy is a popular tourist site. Constructed in the 11th century, it houses a couple of different Rubens paintings.
Grasse is easy to reach from Nice. By train, the route is direct and takes 1 hour and 15 minutes. By car, the drive only takes about 45 minutes.
St Paul de Vence
Finally, St. Paul de Vence, one of the most ancient medieval destinations on the French Riviera. It’s also one of the most beautiful medieval towns in all of Europe and the best day trips from Nice.
It’s a popular town for celebrities to visit when in the region. This walled, medieval city is a great place to visit regardless of the time of year. So you can be certain that you’ll encounter less tourists in the summer.
In addition to the medieval structures and fortifications, visitors to St Paul de Vence love its fine art galleries, museums, Provencal handicrafts, and strolls through the French countryside.
Traveling from Nice to St Paul de Vence by public transportation takes roughly 1 hour (by bus). Driving is perhaps the better option – it is faster and you can do other things in the area, such as continue on to Grasse or Antibes.