A Backpacker’s Guide to Nice

Of all my stops in Europe fewer came as more pleasant a surprise than Nice.  The French Riviera is a spectacular region of the world, and the setting of Nice, and the surrounding towns, is absolutely stunning.  I love how Nice can feel both quaint and rugged at the same time.  There are few more pleasing wanders than through the narrow, and intensely coloured, side streets in town.  What’s more, Nice is also just a stone’s throw away from some other very interesting getaways such as Cannes and Monaco.  I spent a total of 3 nights in Nice.  I think I could have spent 6 or 7 and still found something interesting to do each day.

Nice, France

Backpacker’s Budget: 50-60 Euros a Day
Time Needed: 3-4 Days (including Monaco)

Things to do in Nice

The narrow walkways in Eze
  • Old Town: It’s almost like a French medina, except you can replace the touts with ice cream stands and the arguing faux-guides with baguette wielding French women.  Getting lost in the old town of Nice isn’t difficult, but it is something you should attempt.
  • Eze: The drive to Eze alone is worth the price of the public transport you need to pay to get here.  But this beautiful ancient town built on the top of a mountain has as beautiful a setting as anywhere in the world.  Head into the botanical gardens for a spectacular view of the coastline below.
  • Monaco: This is the playground of the rich and famous.  And even though those of us on a budget can’t afford to stay here, we can still play.  Check out the casino and the marina.  Also, the train station is a beautiful sight in itself.
  • The Corniches: One of the most beautiful drives in the world is the one that winds between Nice and Monaco along the coast.  There are plenty of little village on the way.  Buy yourself a day pass for the metro bus and hop from town to town.

Where to Eat for Cheap in Nice

Nice isn’t the cheapest place in the world to eat.  In fact, there really isn’t a whole lot of cheap eats to be found anywhere in the region.  However, if you’re willing to fight a bit, you can definitely find a meal for your budget.

  • Pan Bagnat: This is what the locals eat for cheap.  It’s basically a baguette sandwich.  I found myself a tuna version for 4 Euros.
  • Kebab: There are plenty of Turkish Kebab joints in town and most are a really good value.
  • Chez Wayne’s: It’s not cheap, but it’s definitely a good place to hang.  Good music, friendly staff, and if you want to dig into your pocket a bit, the food is very good as well.
  • Hostel Villa Saint Exupery: The hostel I stayed at served up really good pizzas for fairly cheap each night.  They did other meals as well.

Where to Stay in Nice

I stayed at a hostel called Hostel Villa Saint Exupery, which was very good.  The same company also has a hostel that’s downtown, but even this place up in the hills has a cool location.  It’s expensive, but all the hostels in Nice are.

For more hostels in Nice you can also check out the hostelbookers.com page for the city here: http://www.hostelbookers.com/hostels/france/nice/

Getting out of Town

Nice is connected to Barcelona via Figueras, it is also connected to Milan although you’ll have to change trains at the border up the tracks.  You can also basically get anywhere in France in a day.  There are very regular trains that run between Nice and both Cannes and Monaco.

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4 Comments

  1. I love Nice!! Nestled along the coast of France I had the pleasure to drive there and visit Nice, Cannes and Monaco from my at the time home in Vicenza, Italy. The drive was one for the memories…Thank you for sharing, I’ll have to stay at the Hostel Villa Saint Exupery if ever I can get back there it looks pretty interesting.

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    • CJ – the hostel is great. I loved the vibe, a little far from downtown but they have a shuttle that always runs so it’s no biggie. Nice is such a great city!

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  2. Anyone who’s in Nice should never skip Fenocchio and Rene Socca both found in the old town !

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    • Thanks for the tip Leni!!

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