How To Spend A Weekend In Nice

Everyone thinks of Barcelona and Palma for a city break by the sea, but did you know Nice also has cool hotels, destination restaurants and – importantly – all the sunshine you could want? Here’s how to make the most of a long weekend on the Côte D’Azur…
By Sherri Andrew /

Where To Stay

For a large city, there are a few places to bookmark for a weekend away. For old-world French glamour, Hotel Suisse is a four-star hotel overlooking the blue waters of the Baie des Anges. Offering excellent value for money, there are 38 rooms, from traditional doubles to spacious suites with separate living areas, terraces with sun loungers, plus a small bar area. There isn’t an on-site restaurant, but there are plenty of places to eat in the Old Town and port where you can try traditional niçoise cuisine while taking in beautiful views of the French Riviera. 

Just around the corner, Hotel Rossetti is another top choice, tucked away on a cobbled street a few meters away from Place Rossetti and the baroque Sainte Réparate Cathedral. The building dates back to the 18th century but the interiors are minimalist and modern, with whitewashed walls, high ceilings and smart en-suites. Breakfast is a hearty affair served on the outdoor terrace, and the hotel is next door to a charming ice-cream parlour. For a fun girls’ trip, check into Hôtel Beau Rivage which is right on the beach and comes with one of the best beach clubs in Nice – think Provençal rosé, champagne cocktails and fresh seafood snacks. Rooms are spacious with contemporary furnishings, but the best are those with sea views. If you want to go all out, book a room at the Boscolo Exedra hotel, a 19th-century palace on the central boulevard with a basement pool, bedrooms with mosaic-tiled bathrooms, and a rustic Italian restaurant with an outdoor terrace. 

Boscolo Exedra

For something more under the radar, Hotel Windsor is a boutique hotel just five minutes from Nice’s promenade. There are 57 bright and airy rooms with high ceilings and comfortable beds, as well as a spacious patio in a lush garden for al fresco meals. Guests can swim in the outdoor pool, relax in the Moroccan hammam and try regional dishes at the restaurant. Another hidden gem is La Pérouse, overlooking Angels Bay, which comes with its own private beach. It has a small terrace pool and jacuzzi, plus a cosy restaurant tucked away under the hotel’s lemon trees which serves Mediterranean dishes. 

If you’d rather stay in an Airbnb, there’s an abundance of modern properties to choose from, many overlooking the promenade. This one-bed apartment on Avenue Jean Médecin has recently been refurbished with colourful interiors, a fully equipped kitchen and a modern bathroom with walk-in shower. For group trips, this two-bed apartment sleeps four with an open-plan living and dining room, two double bedrooms and a spacious bathroom.

La Pérouse
Le Plongeoir
Le Negresco

Where To Eat & Drink

Easily one of the best restaurants in Nice, Le Plongeoir is a Mediterranean restaurant in an old fishing boat built into the cliffs. Ideal for a romantic evening or special occasion, diners can enjoy cocktails on the deck before moving into the main restaurant to enjoy dishes like grilled octopus with quinoa and green apple, prawn risotto, roasted rack of lamb with polenta, and grilled seabass with chimichurri sauce. For Michelin-starred dining, head to Jan. The menu changes with the seasons, but you can expect to try dishes like crab, cucumber and caviar; haddock with apple and chorizo; and duck à l'orange. Chantecler restaurant at Le Negresco is another Michelin-starred spot which highlights the best seasonal produce. Set in a grand 18th-century dining room, it specialises in traditional Mediterranean food – imagine cod with Jerusalem artichokes, duck foie gras with gingerbread glaze and orange blossom water crémeux. For somewhere less formal, Peixes on Rue Jacques Médecin serves tapas-style dishes with a Portuguese influence – book a table on the terrace and enjoy ceviche, fried fish and carpaccio.

Nice also has family-run bistros and cafés on every street corner, including La Femme du Boulanger, tucked away on a back alley in the Old Town. Here, it’s a classic French affair with dishes like duck à l'orange, honey-balsamic glazed lamb shanks and raspberry clafoutis on the menu. L’Acchiardo, a short walk away, is another top choice. This family run restaurant has been serving Italian food for nearly 100 years – think beef daube in wine and fish stew with plenty of focaccia to mop it all up. Further along, diners at Antoine's Bistro can sit at tables with checked tablecloths and choose daily changing dishes from the chalk boards such as confit ox cheek in a pot au feu, rabbit pâté, and a proper niçoise salad, while Bar des Oiseaux is a lovely bistro for long al fresco lunches washed down with carafes of wine. 

Le Plongeoir

What To Do

You could easily spend a week walking around Nice discovering the beautiful architecture and popping into the art galleries – but there are a few highlights worth having on your radar. Promenade des Anglais is Nice’s famous seafront, where you can walk or cycle along the promenade or stop for ice cream and wine at one of the many stalls – you could even hire a Segway to explore the 4km stretch. From here, Colline du Château is only a ten-minute walk. With some of the best views of the city, visitors can climb the winding staircase to explore the park and its waterfall (artificial but beautiful). In terms of beaches, La Reserve is close the city centre with diving boards built into the rocks, while Castel Plage is a little more secluded with sun loungers for lazy days. Plage Publique des Ponchettes is one of the biggest and always attracts the crowds thanks to its volleyball pitch and close proximity to some lively beach bars.

Cathédrale Orthodoxe Russe St-Nicolas, the city’s 20th-century Russian cathedral, is a must-see, as is Place Garibaldi, a grand military square lined with yellow buildings and cafés. From there, Cours Saleya Market is a short walk away – you’ll find an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, flowers and French deli items. Sotheby’s Musée Masséna (filled with 19th-century French art) is also easily reached by foot. If you want to museum hop, head to Nice’s Modern and Contemporary Art Museum and the Matisse Museum to see some of the artist’s most famous works. Marc Chagall National Museum is also worth a visit.

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