Monica Houghton is a guest author. She’s the creator of the travel blog From Here to Sunday and a freelance writer for Forbes. Today Monica is sharing her tips for a perfect day trip from Nice by train. Take it away Monica!
The sparkling blue sea, the ritzy lifestyle and that ‘je ne sais quoi’ in the air are just a few things that come to mind when I think of the French Riviera. For those who have an extended weekend or longer to explore the region, the best place to set up is Nice, France. With a wide range of accommodations for any budget, Nice is perfectly situated along the Mediterranean Sea with a central train station to hop aboard when you’re ready for an adventure.
Travelers staying in Nice or nearby towns should take advantage of the amount of day trip options available, to fully maximize your time in the area. With numerous picturesque villages to choose from in the hills and on the seaside, it can be hard to narrow down where to venture off to and spend time. Personally, I recommend the following three cities based on their “wow factors,” including scenery, historic significance, and fun activities.
1st Day Trip from Nice: Antibes
Cruise southwest down the French Riviera on a quick train ride from Nice and in 15 minutes you’ll find yourself in the town of Antibes. Not to be missed, this town is set on the ocean with stunning views everywhere you look. It’s no wonder some of the nicest luxury yachts and high-end resorts in the world are located here, along with millionaire villas. Bring your swimsuit and hiking shoes and go on a walk along the Le Sentier du Littoral in Cap d’Antibes. The trail leads to multiple lookout points as well as areas to go snorkeling, canoeing, and even cliff jumping. Explore the old town by foot, through winding streets filled with quaint homes, designer boutique shops and cafes.
2nd Day Trip from Nice: Monaco
Only a half hour train ride from Nice is the sovereign city and country of Monaco. It’s not every day you can say you’re in a city and country at the same time! Stay for 24 hours or less and your wallet will thank you for it. One of the most expensive places in the world, you’ll be surrounded by luxury. Get a glimpse into how the rich and famous live just by walking around, you’ll see Lamborghini’s cruising and high-end fashion boutique shops lining the streets. Dress up and visit the famous Monte Carlo Casino for a 10 Euro entrance fee and gamble inside if you’re feeling lucky. Also, make time to see the Prince’s Palace for a look inside the royal residence along with stunning views of the harbor.
Nice to Monaco by train: 30 minutes. If you’re traveling with a rail pass that includes France, you can hop on this train for no extra charge! (also fun fact: if you want your passport stamped, you can ask at the ticket window in the Monaco train station)
3rd Day Trip from Nice: Menton
A day trip on its own or a stop on the way to Monaco is the colorful town of Menton, one of my favorite places along the Côte d’Azur. Situated along the border of Italy, Menton has numerous Italian influences seen in its food and culture. One of the top attractions here is St. Michael’s Basilica, a bright yellow old church with astonishing panoramic views of the beach, harbor and town. Visit the Exotic Botanical Garden of Menton which faces the sea and walk along the Promenade Le Corbusier – a gorgeous coastal path that leads to a postcard view of Monte Carlo. For those looking to relax, one of the best things to do in Menton is to simply lounge at one of the charming restaurants with a glass of wine and take in the views of palm trees and the sea.
Nice to Menton by train: About 40 minutes. If you’re traveling with a rail pass that includes France, you can hop on this train for no extra charge!
Overall, I had a wonderful time exploring this region. From hiking in Antibes, to getting a little fancy in Monaco and exploring the old town of Menton, the French Riviera has something to offer every type of traveler. Trains from Nice run frequently and cover the coast, with the majority of towns accessible within an hour.
If you’re interested in these cities or another day trip from Nice, you might want to consider a rail pass that includes France rather than point to point tickets. Rail Passes give you a set number of travel days, and you can take as many trains as you want during each travel day. So, your round-trip from Nice to one of these cities would only count as 1 travel day on the pass!
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