Easy Self-Guided Walking Tour of Nice

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Last updated Feb 5, 2023

Despite Nice’s turbulent history, it is a very peaceful place to visit where you can spend an entire day hanging out by the seaside or strolling through the Vieux Nice. Its mild climate, clean air, and soft light have attracted international painters, writers, poets, and local and international upper class since the 18th century. Today if you are looking for a wonderful stroll through the old town experience with open-air markets, great food, and entertainment Nice, the capital of the French Riviera, is the place to be.

This post provides a detailed directions for a self-guided walking tour that encompasses the old town, the port, the castle hill, and the Promenade des Anglais. I would recommend allocating a minimum of 2 hours plus lunch, but it is completely depended on the stops one makes.

Old Town Nice

TIP: Promenade des Anglais name comes from English aristocrats who visited Nice in the 18th century to enjoy the mild climate and long walks by the water. Promenade des Anglais means Walkway of the English.



HISTORY OF NICE

Originally founded by Greeks and with its location quickly became one of the busiest trading ports. In the 7th century, Nice joined the Genoese League and has been in some form part of Italy’s history until about the 13th century.

For most of the 13th and 14th centuries, it was ruled by the Counts of Provence until it placed itself under the protection of the Count of Savoy in 1388. The turmoil of ownership continued until 1860 when it officially became French Territory.

Its Provençal and Italian influence is noticeable to this day. It can be seen in the buildings, churches, old town, and its cuisine.

SELF-GUIDED WALKING TOUR

Start this self-guided walking tour in one of the oldest gardens in Nice and lovely green space between the Promenade des Anglais and Place Masséna, Jardin Albert 1er. The garden houses many palm trees, roses, ponds, and fountains and has an open-air theater during the summer months.

From the Jardin Albert 1er take a short stroll to the Fountain of the Sun in the Place Masséna. As controversial as Apollo’s statue may be with the locals, it is a towering presence in the square and one of the most admired by the tourists in the old city.

Continue with the self-guided walking tour through the Vieux Nice (Old Nice) and make your way over to the Place Piere Gautier. The square where Palais des Rois Sardes is located. This historic monument has a long history stretching back to the 1600s housing royalty and nobility of Europe. And most recently has been used to house dignitaries for EU summits.



Another popular square in the old town is Place Rossetti, where Cathedral Saint-Réparate de Nice is located and famous Fenocchio ice-cream. Fenocchio is famous for offering unusual ice-cream flavors such as green apple, beer, Coca-Cola, mojito, and chewing gum. But oh, so delicious!

The next stop on the self-guided walking tour is Course Saleya, a bustling open-air market in the old town worth a visit for produce and flowers. From here you can walk over to Promenade du Paillon to visit the statue of David in front of the Nice Theater and not far from the theater visit the Museum of Contemporary Arts.

Walking Tour of Nice

After the museum, you can find your way to one of the largest squares in Nice Place Garibaldi and shortly after take a walk to the famous Chez Pipo. Local icon for traditional socca. Socca is almost like a pancake made from chickpea flour. It is one of the simplest, yet very flavorful dishes we have ever tried and served with Rosé on a sweltering summer day is a perfection!

Nice France

From Chez Pipo continue the self-guided walking tour by heading over to Port Lympia passing Notre-Dame du Port neoclassical church. Walking by the port you will see some very luxurious yachts, and this is where you can take a ferry to Corsica, Sardinia, and Sicily.

Chez Pipo

At one corner of the hill that divides the old town and the port is the War Memorial for those who have died during World War I and on the other side of the divide is the #ILoveNICE selfie spot. Couldn’t help but notice this kind of ironic symbolism and difference of priorities of the then and now.

Nice Walking Tour

If looking at the #ILoveNice selfie spot behind you is the way to Castle Hill and you can spend hours in this park. Hiking all the way up to Castle Hill and then on the other side to the scenic spot of the Port. Also, don’t forget to visit the waterfall. The views from the hill are stunning and is a perfect spot for a sunset.



For those that are not interested in hiking all the way up there is an elevator, right below the stairs, that can take you up there. Oh, and by the way, there is no castle up there. It used to be a military citadel that was destroyed in the 1700s. It is just called Castle Hill.

After exploring the beauty of Castle Hill, you can finish your self-guided tour with a leisurely stroll by the Bay of Angles on Promenade des Anglais.

Self Guided Walking Tour Nice

OTHER THINGS TO KNOW

Nice surprisingly has a lot of churches and chapels in the old town and some of them have exquisite artwork inside like Cathedral Sainte-Réparate or Chapelle de la Miséricorde. There are also a lot of art galleries and museums you can get lost in. And just walking around the Vieux Nice feels like stepping back in time and options of where to go and what to see are endless.

Even though this guide is called a self-guided walking tour in Nice most of this can be done on the bicycle as well. Velo Bleu are self-service sharing bikes with multiple stations throughout the city. However, the condition of the bikes and the stations was not the best.

For better quality, there are some other bike rental places such as Roller Station right on Promenade des Anglais.

Utilizing the tramway that runs east and west, from the airport to the port, can help cut some of the walking during the tour as well. It is very convenient, inexpensive, and easy to use. The solo ticket is €1.50, and tickets cannot be purchased on the tram.



RESTAURANTS WORTH CHECKING OUT

Nice has an abundance of restaurants and most of them are very good, below are the few we have enjoyed.

Chez Pipo – Local restaurant with traditional socca
Le Bistrot du Port – Excellent Bouillabaisse soup and other local dishes
Daki-Daïa – Mediterranean style, family-owned restaurant with a frequently updated menu and wine list
Dehli Bheli – Delicious Indian food in the old town
Fennochio – Ice Cream

Enjoy your time in Nice, it is a beautiful city on the water with an amazing history.

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