Cannes to Nice: One Day in Nice, France

Is Canne a port of call on your Western Mediterranean cruise? Are you spending time in Cannes and thinking of spending one day in Nice, France? Travel from Cannes to Nice. Spend one day in Nice, France.

When we saw Cannes, France, on our Mediterranean cruise itinerary, the first thing that came to mind was the yearly film festival packed with celebrities. Was that your first thought, too? However, Cannes is about more than film festivals. It is part of the French Riviera, also known as Côte d’Azur, in southern France. It is an absolutely beautiful coastal city worth exploring if you plan to be in Cannes for the day.

Many cities and opportunities to explore are not far from Cannes, which is perfect for a day trip, including Nice, France. We decided to spend the day in Nice.

featured blog image | cannes to nice france Pin
From Cannes to Nice, spend a day in Nice, France.

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This article shares how to get to Nice, France, from Cannes and how we leisurely spent the day exploring Nice.

Cannes Cruise Port

This was our first trip to Southern France. When you start digging into all the places you can see from the Cannes cruise port, you’ll see numerous destinations you can take a day trip to. Do you stay in Cannes, reserve a car, book a guided tour of Monte Carlo, or try to see as much of the French Riviera as possible?

This is truly a great port-of-call for a cruise day. There is plenty to explore if you have a full day ahead. The best way to decide is to narrow it down to what you want to see or do most. We narrowed it down between taking a rushed tour of the French Riviera or simply hopping a train to a nearby city.

While we loved renting a car during our first few cruise stops of this cruise, Europe also has an amazing rail system. A train to Nice sounded like an easy do-it-yourself day trip. It’s also the cheapest and the quickest way to get there.

Note: Cannes is a tender port.

What is a tender port on a cruise?
When a cruise ship anchors away from the port off-shore, this means they will have to tender. Smaller boats will transfer cruise passengers ashore to the port cruise terminal.
Cruise tip: Schedule your tender time as soon as you embark, if allowed.

On the newer ships, you can probably book this from your cruise ship mobile app, from the TV screen in your room or even the touch screens around the ship.

If you have priority status on the ship that gives you priority tender, then you don't have to worry as much.

Our itinerary at Cannes port was from 8 AM to 6 PM. After contacting the tour company regarding the French Riviera tour, we realized there wasn’t enough time for the tour.

A do-it-yourself Cannes to Nice by train quickly became the winner.

We didn’t get to book the tour, but a day trip from Cannes to Nice allowed us to explore at our own pace. Plus, we saved money.

As mentioned in other posts, there isn’t enough time at these cruise stops. That is one of the many downsides of cruising, we admit.

Tendering automatically shaves an hour or more of your time at the beginning and end of each day. You do not want to miss the ship, so give yourself enough time to tender back in time.

Tour Options from Cannes

These are some shore excursions to consider if you find traveling by train intimidating or if you want something more exciting. There is nothing here I wouldn’t do myself. Just make sure it fits within your cruise itinerary for the day.

  • Cannes Walking Tour [book here]
  • Nice, Eze, Monaco & Monte-Carlo from Cannes [book here]
  • St-Tropez Day Tour from Cannes [book here]
  • Hilltop Villages Guided Tour in French Riviera from Cannes [book here]

Read more: 11 Helpful Tips for Booking Shore Excursions Independently

Cannes to Nice by Train

How far is it from Cannes to Nice?

Cannes to Nice is about a 30-minute train ride.

How much does it cost?

It costs less than 10€ pp for a roundtrip fare.

How to get from Cannes to Nice, France, by Train?

Let me start by saying your options are open once you get to the train station. If you want to follow our advice on Nice, that’s great.

However, if you’re looking to navigate your way to the train station, perhaps this will help you. Then, you can choose another city nearby. You will have a great day no matter what you do, in Nice or Cannes.

When you arrive at Cannes port, take a 17-minute walk to Gare de Cannes—Cannes-Ville, the main railway station for the southern part of the city.

  • Google Map Directions from Cannes port to train station: Click Here (Save this link or print out directions)
  • You can also book your tickets in advance. Click here for train schedules and info; it will come up if a bus transfer option is available.

Once you arrive at the train station, find an electronic kiosk. It is pretty easy to navigate. We suggest you research and find out which station you would like to travel to beforehand so your chances of getting lost are low.

Train kiosk and tickets at Cannes train station

For Nice, choose NICE VILLE and the time you wish to depart Gare de Cannes—Cannes-Ville. We purchased roundtrip tickets and chose a return time that allowed us to walk back to the port to tender.

Note: some trains are faster than others, so keep that in mind when selecting.

The platform where the train will depart will be shown on the ticket.

If you don’t think you can explore Nice on your own or are afraid of not getting to see enough, you can take the train to Nice and take a walking tour.

Cruise Tip: The last tender back to the ship is normally an hour before the ship is scheduled to leave.

In our case, we had to be back no later than 5 PM. This meant that we purchased return tickets from Nice to Cannes for 4 PM. The ride back is no longer than 30 mins, but we also had to consider the time it took to walk back to the port.

One Day in Nice, France

Our morning started with breakfast and lining up to tender to port. Depending on the ship and the port, it’s sometimes super easy. Other times, it’s an ordeal. You find me swearing and saying I will never pick an itinerary with a tender port again.

Beautiful boats docked in the marina at Cannes PortPin
Marina at Cannes Cruise Port

But once you’re off the ship and in Cannes port on a lovely, serene morning like the one we experienced, you forget how you got there.

Then, a beautiful day follows, and the memory of the tender line from the morning is buried deep into your mind until you have to tender back to the ship. This time, though, you return to the ship with wonderful memories.

The Nice-Ville train station is beautiful. I think we were the only ones to stop and take pictures. This was the start of our adventure in Nice. You won’t step out of the train station and immediately be where you are in the middle of everything below. The best way to explore is to walk.

train station in nice francePin

Our goal was to head towards Old Town Nice, a nice 25-minute walk from Nice-Ville Train station. You can take a bus or a taxi to save time; that is always an option. Since we had no real agenda besides the old town, we decided to see what the city offered by walking.

Is one day enough in Nice?

One day in Nice is not enough to see and experience everything this beautiful coastal city offers. However, it is enough to understand what it’s like, see a few sites, and stroll along the beach. You’ll fall in love and start making plans for a longer trip.

How do you spend a day in Nice?

You can spend the day in various ways. You can arrive and walk towards Old Town to explore, book a guided tour to maximize your time, or even spend it at the beach.

Things to Do in Nice, France

Avenue Jean Médecin

We used Google Maps to navigate toward Old Town and were directed toward Avenue Jean Médecin. This is the city’s main north-south street, and it will lead you directly to Old Town Nice. If you’re looking to do some shopping, this is the street to go to. Every store you can think of is on this street, which is the main shopping area for tourists and locals.

Le Jardin Albert 1er (Albert I Garden)

fountains at le jardin albert 1er in Nice FrancePin
Enjoying the fountain at Albert I Garden.

This 19th-century public park, Albert I Garden, is a gem—it was such a wonderful surprise when we came across it. You can stroll through the park and see everything it offers. We only managed to walk through the fountains, and we loved seeing everyone, including me, enjoying them. I felt like a kid.

On the other side of this park is Promenade du Paillon, which has more fountains and play areas for kids. Nice, France makes for a great family-friendly day trip.

Promenade des Anglais & Beach

public beach near promenade de anglais in nice francePin

After passing by the park, you’ll start to see the coast. Follow the sight of the coast to the Promenade des Anglais and the public beach. The promenade is about four miles long along the Mediterranean and starts at the Cote d’Azur Airport.

The beach was pretty empty, but it is packed with rows of beach chairs, umbrellas, and vacationers in the summer. We took a short walk, and I can happily say I dipped my toes on the French Riviera.

Ascenseur du Château & Castle Hil

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If you want a panoramic view of the Nice coast, go to Ascenseur du Château and take a classic art-deco elevator up to Castle Hill Park. You can also take the stairs around the corner to the deck. We chose the latter.

This view was worth the extra steps. The color of the water was different from above than from below.

Explore Charming Old Town Nice

The further you walk from the coast, away from the overly touristy parts, and the deeper into the vibrant old town of this European city you go, you will be taken back in time.

You will love the cobblestone streets, old-world Europe, French cafes, and charming bistros.

Here is a funny story; maybe this has happened to you. I was so mesmerized and in awe, looking up at all the details and recording, that I walked into a steel pole. This is not the first time this has happened to me. Thankfully, I’m fine and laughed it off. I did have a black & blue on my thigh for a while.

Cours Saleya Open-Air Market

YouTube video

There was so much to see and do in our short time; we didn’t know if we would sit and have a full lunch. It was all up in the air, and we found lunch at the market. We stopped at a French cafe for a bit of coffee. We lucked into an open market along the Cours Saleya in old town Nice. It was a great treat! I was taken aback by the lovely people running these stands; they were so gracious and welcoming.

This market occurs almost daily: Tuesday through Sunday from 7 AM to 1 PM.

a variety of spics at the farmer's marketPin

Everything from fruit stands, baked goods, seasonings, and flowers. We purchased some seasonings and dried lavender to bring back home with me. So many flavors and delicious aromas all in one place!

We purchased multiple goodies that we ate along the way, including a sandwich. Hubby loves sandwiches; what can I say?

There were a couple of stands with long lines serving hot dishes, which I wish we had noticed before stuffing our faces with other things. You can find a smorgasbord of delicious local items and return to the beach for a picnic.

Visit Nice, France

Our day trip from Cannes to Nice was a success, and we had a wonderful time exploring this lovely city. We loved Nice more than our visit to Paris years ago. It was a completely different vibe. I encourage you to visit Nice, France.

We didn’t do everything, but we did enough to leave us smiling and craving another return. Nice would also make a great home base for day trips around the French Riviera.

Tour Options From Nice

Just in case you decide that you have no problem getting to Nice, but would love to do something more than explore on your own. Here are some tour ideas:

  • No-Diet Club Food Tour [book here]
  • Highlights & Hidden Gems of Nice [book here]
  • Nice Small-Group Walking Food Tour [book here]
  • Walking Tour of Old Nice and Castle Hill [book here]

When booking your train tickets, give yourself enough time to arrive and return. Book a tour within the time frame you will have in Nice.


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Kathy Ava

Meet Kathy Ava, a food, travel, and cruise writer based in Los Angeles/Pasadena, and the owner and main writer of Tasty Itinerary. With over 20 years of experience planning trips and logistics at her full-time job and for herself, she's become a pro at crafting unforgettable tasty itineraries. She's always on the hunt for delicious, fun travel destinations and cruise itineraries. She firmly believes that life is short and we must make the most of it, so always say yes to dessert.

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  1. I am mesmerized by the stunning pictures of this post, and I have never been to Cannes. I definitely think of the film festival, first and foremost, as you said.

    Since I am not a cruiser, I had no idea what ‘tendering’ meant at first. lol. Did the boat gently come into port? Was it kind to Cannes? Did it greet Cannes with a hug? I figured it out–I am so ridiculous sometimes.

    That train station is a sight in itself. I think American train stations, minus the huge ones (and even then), are slightly boring. Nice is gorgeous, though. We loved the ones in the Netherlands too.

    Open air markets are one of my favorite parts of traveling, and they always make me so hungry. With Invisalign these days, they are harder for me to drop into since I cannot easily snack. However, I’d be more than happy to take something for the road. Not sure that cruise ships let you do that, though?

    A beach picnic sounds PERFECT. Love that idea and the beach around Old Town looks dynamic.

    Cannes and Nice are on my list so thank you for all of the great suggestions and tasty itinerary. Will be pinning for later.

    1. I laughed out loud this morning reading this. “Did it greet Cannes with a hug?” LMAO! I seriously wish that was the case! It’s more like we have to sit around waiting to be transferred to shore. It’s such a hassle. I think I would prefer the hug though. lol

      American train stations are boring. The only one that comes to mind that has any beauty is Grand Central that’s why it’s so overused in movies.

      We are not allowed to bring food on the cruise ships unless they are sealed. Which is a bummer! However, I’m a rule breaker and in the next blog post / next port, you’ll find out what I smuggled in later.

      All I kept thinking while I was in Nice was that I wish I had more time. The worse part about cruising, honestly. I would have totally had a picnic on the beach. I missed so much in Nice. I will go back. Especially now that I know the vibe was completely different than when we visited Paris.

      Thanks for always being the first to comment!

      1. I cannot wait to see what you smuggled in lol!

        No matter where we go or how we get there, I always wish that we had more time. It’s never enough. I don’t ever have goals or dreams to be a full-time traveler: I love home and having a regular place to return too. However, I do wish I had more time to travel. I miss my kitties too much.

        I hope we both find time to revisit the places we loved.

  2. These pictures look incredible!! That beach with those clouds and the sea green/blue sky looks amazing.
    The park with that fountain also was beautiful and looks like a lot of fun! And you’re right, I wish our train stations looked like that. At least we do have Grand Central in NYC but that’s it! The rest is just gritty and grubby. ?

    I cracked up at you walking into that pole! ? That’s something I would definitely do.

    So now you’ve definitely made me want to stay in Nice and do day trips around the French Riviera. I would LOVE that! ?

    1. The sky during our time there was insane. I mean, it was a picture perfect day honestly. I kept wishing I had dressed more for the summer because that’s what it felt like. It was so beautiful.

      Grand Central is quite possibly the most beautiful train station in all of the United States. I mean, I could be wrong.

      I want to go back to Southern France now. One of these days.

  3. Those pastries look amazing! I also have to say – from one pole walker to another – I’m glad you are okay! Last time I walked into a pole I cut my face, ahahaha! Nice sounds incredible and looks incredible!

    1. Oh no! Sorry to hear about the cut to the face. Yeah, I wouldn’t want that to happen to anyone. I once walked into a steel pole and ended up with a ghastly bump in my head. It took days to heal.

      Thanks so much for stopping by! I appreciate your comment. Let’s watch out for those poles! 😉

  4. I think that I would love to travel around Southern France! I think Paris would only be interesting to see for a day or two for me, then heading south to see Nice and Cannes and other places would be amazing!

    Your photography is stunning, and I love that you just explored Nice at your leisure. That is my favorite way to travel! I would love to visit this lovely city. Old European cities are places that I dream of!

    1. I love the sound of that itinerary. Hit up Paris for a couple of days then drive south. I would love to explore all the old European cities in Southern France too. Doing things at your own pace is just the way to go, IMO. I do love private tours with knowledgeable guides and taken them every so often, but I love the freedom of doing it on my own.

      Thanks so much for the comments. Appreciate you so much.

  5. The French Riviera is high up on my list for a future trip. I’ve only spent one day in France ever, on my recent trip, and I want to go back to see more! I definitely need to try all those pastries and spices at the market, and spend some time on that beach. The pictures look amazing, the architecture is dreamy, and you look so happy in the fountain! Love that pic of you!

    1. We’ve only spent maybe a total of 3 days in France and it’s definitely not enough. I will say, I absolutely loved the hospitality and charm I was able to experience in that 1 day in Nice. I can’t wait to go back and explore further as well. Hope you get to go back soon!

      Thanks for the comment on the pic. I love that one too!