Nice or Cannes – Which City Will You Visit?

Nice or Cannes

Nice or Cannes – Which city should you visit?

Considering a trip to France and can’t decide between visiting Nice or Cannes? Here’s a quick rundown to help you choose:

  • 🏛 History Buffs: Nice, with its rich layers of antiquity, including its Old Town and Roman ruins, edges slightly ahead, though Cannes’s film history and Belle Époque architecture are impressive.
  • 🏖 Beach Lovers: It’s a tough call – both offer stunning Riviera beaches, but Cannes’s Croisette might feel more exclusive, while Nice’s Promenade des Anglais is iconic.
  • 🥐 Foodies: For Niçoise salads and Socca, Nice is your culinary heaven. Cannes, on the other hand, is a hotspot for gourmet dining and upscale bistros.
  • 🌳 Nature Enthusiasts: If panoramic views and park strolls sound appealing, Nice’s Colline du Château is a must-see. For island escapades, Îles de Lérins near Cannes is a gem.
  • 🏢 Urban Explorers: Nice’s vibrant streets and markets offer an authentic Riviera experience. Cannes, with its festivals and high-end shops, exudes glamour.
  • 🏔 Adventure Junkies: Dive into the azure waters in both cities or sail the seas. However, for more terrestrial adventures like hiking, Nice’s surrounding landscape is incredible.
  • 🍷 Wine Lovers: While both cities boast an array of French wines, Nice is renowned for its local Bellet wine, whereas Cannes offers a refined wine-tasting experience in its high-end bars.
  • 🎒 Backpackers: Nice, with its mix of culture, history, and affordability, is a backpacker’s delight. Cannes, though a tad luxurious, has its share of hidden, budget-friendly nooks.
  • 👵 Over 60’s: Cannes, with its serene boulevards, upscale eateries, and film festivals, appeals to those seeking elegance. Meanwhile, Nice, with its rich history, art museums, and leisurely pace, is perfect for a relaxed and enriching experience.

Curious? Read on to learn more about each Riviera gem.


Nice, the jewel of the French Riviera! If you’re the kind of person who loves to bask in the sun while enjoying breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea, then Nice is your dream come true. It’s a vibrant, colourful city where the beach meets the streets, and there’s always something to see or do. Plus, the Old Town is just amazing – it’s like stepping back in time. And let’s not forget the food, which is a heavenly mix of French and Italian flavours.

Promenade des Anglais at Sunset
Promenade des Anglais


Known worldwide for its famous film festival, Cannes truly is a star of the Côte d’Azur. Here, you can wander along La Croisette, a boulevard lined with palm trees and luxury boutiques, with the sparkling Mediterranean Sea as your backdrop. The Old Town, known as Le Suquet, offers a change of pace with its winding streets and panoramic views of the city and sea. But Cannes isn’t just about the glitz and glamour. It’s also a city with beautiful sandy beaches, splendid villas, and rich history. Whether you’re looking for luxury, culture, or simply a place to relax in the sun, Cannes has got everything.

Le Suquet
Le Suquet

While we’re comparing Nice and Cannes in this post, we’ve also looked at how Nice stacks up against other cities like Marseille and Biarritz. We’ve linked to those articles below if you want to take a look!

Nice or Marseille

Nice or Biarritz

Or, if you’re interested in a different seaside destination maybe Marseille or Cannes might a better option?

Pros and Cons of Nice and Cannes

Nice Pros:

  • ☀️ Sunny Weather: Known for its lovely, mild Mediterranean climate, Nice offers sunshine and warm temperatures for most of the year.
  • 🏛 Cultural Riches: With museums like the Matisse Museum and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Nice is a dream for art lovers.
  • ☕️ Old Town Charm: The Vieille Ville (Old Town) of Nice is a historic and picturesque area full of shops, cafes, and markets.
  • 🏖 Accessible Beaches: Nice’s pebbly beaches are right in the city, making them easily accessible for visitors.

Nice Cons:

  • 👫 Crowded Beaches: The beaches of Nice can get crowded, particularly during peak summer months.
  • 💶 Expensive: Nice is one of the more expensive cities on the French Riviera, particularly when it comes to dining and accommodations.
  • 🚗 Traffic: Traffic can be heavy in Nice, especially during the high season.

Cannes Pros:

  • 📽 Film Festival Glamour: As the home of the famous Cannes Film Festival, this city oozes glamour and has an exciting, celebrity-filled history.
  • 🏖 Beautiful Sandy Beaches: Unlike Nice, Cannes boasts sandy beaches that are perfect for sunbathing and family-friendly activities.
  • 🛍 Luxury Shopping: Cannes offers high-end shopping experiences, with numerous designer boutiques.
  • 🏛 Le Suquet: The old quarter, Le Suquet, provides stunning views and a glimpse into the city’s past.

Cannes Cons:

  • ☀️ Highly Seasonal: Outside of the Film Festival and the summer months, Cannes can be quiet, and some facilities may be closed.
  • 💶 Expensive: Like Nice, Cannes is one of the pricier cities in France, especially during the Film Festival.
  • 🎨 Smaller: Cannes is smaller than Nice, offering less variety in terms of attractions and activities.

Which City Has Better Food? Nice or Cannes?

Both Nice and Cannes have incredible food on offer but with a slightly different twist.

In Nice, you’ll find amazing local cuisine, heavily influenced by both Italian and traditional Provençal cooking. The city is famous for dishes like “salade niçoise”, “socca” (a chickpea flour pancake), and “ratatouille”. The city also has a number of fantastic open-air markets, like the Cours Saleya, where you can sample fresh local produce and regional specialities. So, if you like rustic, hearty dishes and fresh Mediterranean ingredients, you’ll love Nice!

In Cannes, you will find a lot of delicious Mediterranean-style dishes like you would in Nice. Like Nice, you’ll also find a lot of fresh seafood on offer too. The difference lies in the dining scene, Cannes is renowned for its film festival and is a playground for the rich and famous. So you’ll find a lot of high-end restaurants that cater to that audience. These restaurants offer incredible food and great service, but with a price to match!

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly trip to eat healthy Mediterranean-style dishes, Nice might be a better option for you. But if you’re a fan of fine dining and trying Michelin-starred restaurants Cannes is the destination for you!

Which City is Better For Couples? Nice or Cannes?

When it comes to romance, both of these beautiful cities offer their own take.

Nice, with its beautiful old town and stunning seafront provides a picturesque backdrop for couples looking for a blend of culture and relaxation. There are also plenty of spots to catch an amazing sunset with views over the French Riviera!

Cannes is more glitz and glamour. Luxury hotels and amazing dinners at Michelin-starred restaurants. You can take a walk down the Croisette and look out over the Mediterranean and the super-yachts harboured in the marina.

If it was up to me, I’d probably choose Nice. The old town is much more charming and romantic, but if you love glitz and glamour Cannes is definitely the place for you!

Cannes Marina
Cannes Marina

Which City is Better For Families? Nice or Cannes?

When it comes to family-friendly holidays, Nice probably wins this one. The Promenade des Anglais is nearly four miles long and is perfect for bike rides with the kids or even roller skating.

There are also plenty of parks for the kids to run around and play, they also make a great spot for a picnic! We’ve not even mentioned the beaches yet. Although the beaches aren’t sandy, they’re mostly open to the public and perfect for the kids to play and swim in the sea.

Although Cannes has beautiful sandy beaches, a lot of them are private and only open to guests in certain hotels and restaurants. Also due to its smaller size, there is a lot less to do in general compared to Nice. Cannes feels like a bit more of a grown-up destination perfect for a couples weekend away rather than a family holiday.

So if you’re planning a family trip you might find Nice more accommodating, but I’m sure you’d still have a good time in Cannes if that’s where you choose.

Which City is Better For Partying? Nice or Cannes?

For the party animals among us, choosing between Nice or Cannes might seem like a tough call. Both cities have a vibrant nightlife, but they offer different experiences.

Nice has a more diverse and laid-back party scene. You’ll find everything from traditional pubs and wine bars to nightclubs playing electronic music. Also, Nice is a much larger city so by default it has more places to go. The Vieux Nice (Old Town) is particularly known for its bustling nightlife.

Cannes is more refined and sophisticated. The nightclubs here are often frequented by celebrities, particularly during the Film Festival period, and can be quite luxurious. The seafront La Croisette area is known for its high-end bars and clubs.

So, if you prefer a more varied and easygoing nightlife, Nice could be your best bet. But if you’re into the upscale, glamorous party scene, then Cannes might be your city of choice.

Which City is Safer? Nice or Cannes?

Both Nice and Cannes have low crime rates, especially when compared to larger cities. But as with any holiday destination, keep an eye on your belongings and don’t go wandering into unfamiliar places.

Between the two, Nice is a bigger city and, as such, certain areas might have slightly higher petty crime rates like pickpocketing, especially in crowded tourist hotspots. Cannes, being smaller and a bit more upmarket, tends to have a bit less street crime.

How long to stay in Nice

Deciding on the perfect duration for a trip to Nice can be a bit difficult, given the city’s stunning beaches, rich history, and flourishing art scene. Ultimately, the length of your stay will hinge on your personal preferences and how leisurely you plan to explore.

If you’re all about soaking up the sunshine, meandering through the charming Old Town, and indulging in the Riviera’s culinary delights, a stay of 2 to 3 days should suffice. This provides enough time to bask on the beautiful beaches, get lost in the winding alleyways of Vieux Nice, and savour mouth-watering local dishes like ‘Socca’ or ‘Salade Niçoise’.

However, if you’re intent on immersing yourself in Nice’s rich cultural tapestry and history, think about extending your visit to 4 to 5 days. This way, you can explore the exquisite art at the Musée Matisse and Musée Marc Chagall, soak in the views from the Colline du Château, and visit the iconic Cours Saleya market, all without feeling rushed.

Musee Matisse outside
Musee Matisse

For those desiring a deeper dive into the Côte d’Azur lifestyle, spending a week in Nice can be a fantastic choice. This period will not only provide time to thoroughly explore the city’s attractions but also offer opportunities for leisurely strolls along the Promenade des Anglais, indulging in the café culture, and embarking on day trips to nearby gems like the glamorous Cannes or the independent microstate of Monaco. A week in Nice allows you to truly immerse yourself in the relaxed yet vibrant Riviera lifestyle.

How long to stay in Cannes

Determining how long to stay in Cannes depends on what you’re looking to get out of your visit. With its sunny beaches, luxurious lifestyle, and vibrant cultural scene, Cannes has something for everyone.

For those looking to enjoy the sun and sand, a weekend getaway might suffice. This gives you time to soak up the sun on Cannes’ beautiful beaches, take a leisure stroll along the glamorous La Croisette Boulevard, and perhaps enjoy a meal at a seaside restaurant.

However, if you’re interested in exploring Cannes’ cultural attractions, such as the Le Suquet Old Town, the Musée de la Castre, or the various art galleries around town, a stay of three to four days would be more suitable. This will allow you to experience these attractions without feeling rushed.

For a more relaxed pace and time to explore beyond Cannes itself, consider a stay of a week or longer. This would give you ample time to enjoy day trips to the nearby Lerins Islands or other charming towns along the French Riviera like Nice, Antibes, and Saint-Tropez.

Which City is More Budget-Friendly? Nice or Cannes?

When it comes to budget, Nice offers a wider range of options. It has a variety of accommodation, restaurants and attractions that cater to most people’s budgets. Cannes is renowned for catering to the rich and famous so naturally, it has more expensive hotels and restaurants.

But, whichever city you visit if you’re careful and do your research you should be able to find something that suits your budget. There are plenty of free things to do in both cities. Plus if you avoid the peak tourist season and the tourist areas you’ll save money.

If you’re on a budget, Nice will probably be a better option but if you’re cautious Cannes isn’t completely unaffordable.

How much is food and drink in Nice and Cannes?

Type of Food/Drink Nice (Average Price) Cannes (Average Price)
Beer €5 – €7 €6 – €8
Glass of wine €3 – €10 €5 – €12
Coffee €1.50 – €3 €2 – €4
Meal at midrange restaurant €20 – €40 €25 – €50

How much is it to stay in Nice or Cannes?

Type of Accommodation Nice (Average Price per Night) Cannes (Average Price per Night)
Luxury Hotel €150 – €500 €300 – €1000
Midrange Hotel €70 – €150 €100 – €300
Budget Hotel €40 – €70 €60 – €100
Hostel €20 – €40 €20 – €40

When is the best time to visit Nice?

🌼 Spring: From April to June, Nice enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate with temperatures ranging from 15-20°C (59-68°F). The city sparkles with the vibrant colours of blooming flowers, making it an ideal time to visit parks like the Colline du Château. Outdoor events and festivals also start popping up, creating an energetic atmosphere.

☀️ Summer: July to August in Nice is truly summertime. The temperatures can go up to 30°C (86°F), offering perfect weather for beach activities and enjoying the stunning coastline. However, be prepared for the crowd as these are the peak tourist months, and prices for accommodation and other services may also be higher.

🍁 Autumn: In the months of September and October, the temperature stays around 20-25°C (68-77°F). The city is less crowded during this period, and the changing colours of foliage give the city a beautiful look, ideal for walks and bike rides along the Promenade des Anglais.

❄️ Winter: From November to March, temperatures in Nice can drop to around 10-15°C (50-59°F). While it’s not the ideal time for beach activities, it’s a good opportunity to explore Nice’s museums, like the Matisse Museum, and enjoy indoor events without the tourist rush.

When is the best time to visit Cannes?

🌼 Spring (March to May) is a fantastic time to visit Cannes, especially if you’re a film enthusiast. The Cannes Film Festival, held annually in May, turns the city into a global hotspot for film lovers. Be prepared for larger crowds and higher prices during this period, though. Weather-wise, the temperatures are generally pleasant, perfect for exploring the city and nearby attractions.

☀️ Summer (June to August) in Cannes is all about the beach. The weather is typically warm, with lots of sunshine – perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and other beach activities. Outdoor festivals and events are common during this season, adding to the city’s lively atmosphere.

🍁 Autumn (September to November) in Cannes offers a more serene experience. The summer crowds have dispersed, leaving the city quieter and more peaceful. This is an excellent time to enjoy the city’s cultural attractions, as well as the beautiful autumn scenery of the French Riviera.

❄️ Winter (December to February) is the low season in Cannes, with fewer tourists and lower prices. The weather is generally mild, and while it may not be beach weather, it’s still pleasant enough for strolls along La Croisette or visits to nearby towns.
Weather: Cannes has a beautiful Mediterranean climate. So mild winters and hot summers, you’ll rarely see freezing temperatures here, even in winter. It can get very hot in summer, so don’t forget your sun cream!

Average Monthly Temperatures

Month Nice High/Low (°C) Nice Rainy Days Cannes High/Low (°C) Cannes Rainy Days
January 12° / 8° 5 days 13° / 4° 6 days
February 12° / 7° 4 days 14° / 4° 5 days
March 14° / 9° 4 days 16° / 6° 5 days
April 16° / 11° 5 days 18° / 9° 6 days
May 20° / 14° 4 days 22° / 13° 5 days
June 24° / 18° 3 days 25° / 16° 3 days
July 27° / 21° 1 day 28° / 19° 1 day
August 27° / 21° 2 days 28° / 19° 2 days
September 24° / 19° 3 days 25° / 15° 4 days
October 20° / 15° 6 days 21° / 12° 6 days
November 16° / 11° 6 days 17° / 7° 7 days
December 13° / 9° 5 days 14° / 4° 5 days

Note: The temperatures are indicated as high/low in Celsius (°C), and the number of rainy days represents the average for each respective month.

Getting around Nice:

Nice has a well-connected public transportation system, with trams and buses covering the city comprehensively. Tickets are interchangeable between buses and trams, making transfers easy. For those preferring a more active exploration, the city offers a bike-sharing scheme, Vélo Bleu, and plenty of bike lanes.

Walking is another great way to explore, especially in the Old Town and along the Promenade des Anglais. Taxis and Uber are also available, but keep an eye on fares during peak tourist seasons.

Getting around Cannes:

Navigating Cannes is surprisingly simple, even for first-time visitors. The city offers a mix of public transport and walkable districts that make getting around hassle-free. The city’s public bus system, operated by Palm Bus, covers a broad area, making stops at popular spots throughout Cannes and its suburbs. The bus service is reliable and runs frequently so you’ll never be waiting too long.

If you’re staying in the city centre, most places are easily reached on foot. The famous Boulevard de la Croisette, lined with luxury shops, restaurants, and of course, the Cannes Film Festival venue, is perfect for a leisurely walk. You’ll get to soak up the sun, enjoy the sea breeze, and maybe even spot a celebrity or two!

For more independent travel, consider renting a bike or an electric scooter. Cannes is bike-friendly with several bike paths and routes around the city. And if you’re planning to explore the French Riviera further, Cannes’ train station, Gare de Cannes, offers regular services to other glamorous towns along the coast.

Cannes-Mandelieu Airport, situated just a short drive from the city centre, serves a number of domestic and international flights, making the city easily accessible. There are also several car hire companies operating in and around the airport if you prefer to drive yourself. In short, Cannes offers a variety of ways to get around that cater to different travel styles and preferences.

Top things to do in Nice

  1. Promenade des Anglais: Stroll along this famous seafront walkway, taking in the stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and Nice’s elegant architecture. Don’t miss the iconic Hotel Negresco, an architectural marvel.
  2. Vieux Nice (Old Town): Lose yourself in the narrow, winding streets of Nice’s old town, filled with vibrant markets, charming shops, and delightful eateries. Check out the Cours Saleya Market for fresh produce and local specialities.
  3. Colline du Château (Castle Hill): While the castle no longer stands, this hill offers panoramic views of Nice and the surrounding coastline. It’s also home to a beautiful park, ideal for a picnic.
  4. Matisse Museum: Art enthusiasts must visit this museum, which houses an extensive collection of works by the French painter Henri Matisse, who lived and worked in Nice for many years.
  5. Take a day trip to Monaco: Only a short train ride away, this glamorous city-state offers a slice of luxury with its casinos, yacht-filled harbour, and the Royal Prince’s Palace.
View from Colline du Château
View from Colline du Château

Top things to do in Cannes

  1. La Croisette Boulevard: Cannes’ most famous promenade offers stunning sea views, luxury shops, and first-class restaurants. It’s also home to the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, where the Cannes Film Festival is held.
  2. Le Suquet (Old Town): A charming area with narrow winding streets, the Old Town offers a break from Cannes’ glitz. Don’t miss the spectacular views from the historic watchtower and church at the top.
  3. Lerins Islands: Just a short ferry ride from Cannes, these islands are perfect for a day trip. Visit the historic Fort Royal on Sainte-Marguerite Island and the Cistercian monastery on Saint-Honorat Island.
  4. Cannes’ Beaches: Cannes is famous for its beaches. Whether you choose a private beach with amenities or a public beach, it’s a must for any visit.
  5. Marché Forville: For a local experience, visit this daily market where you’ll find a range of fresh produce, cheeses, and other regional delicacies.
Lérins Islands
Lérins Islands

How to spend three days in Nice

Day 1: Discovering the Charms of Nice

Start your day with a stroll along the famous Promenade des Anglais, enjoying the stunning views of the Mediterranean. Follow this with a visit to the iconic Hotel Negresco, an architectural gem with a fascinating history.

Head to the Old Town, Vieux Nice, for lunch. Lose yourself in the narrow, winding streets filled with vibrant markets and charming shops. Don’t miss the Cours Saleya Market for some local produce.

In the afternoon, visit the stunning Nice Cathedral with its richly decorated Baroque interior. Then, make your way up to Colline du Château, or Castle Hill. Even though the castle is no longer there, the hill offers breathtaking panoramic views of Nice and the coastline.

Day 2: Artistic Endeavors and a Monaco Adventure

Kick off your second day with a visit to the Matisse Museum, showcasing a vast collection of works by the famous artist Henri Matisse who lived in Nice.

In the afternoon, take a short train ride for a day trip to glamorous Monaco. Explore the Royal Prince’s Palace, the luxurious casinos, and the yacht-filled harbour. Back in Nice, enjoy dinner at a chic restaurant on the beach.

Day 3: Riviera Relaxation

Your last day in Nice is all about leisure. Spend the day on one of Nice’s beautiful pebble beaches, soaking up the sun and swimming in the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean. For lunch, try a beachside café for some fresh seafood.

In the evening, enjoy some shopping in the city’s chic boutiques and souvenir shops. End your Nice adventure with a delicious farewell dinner in one of the city’s gourmet restaurants, reminiscing about the highlights of your visit.

How to spend three days in Cannes

Day 1: Explore the City and La Croisette

Start your Cannes journey by taking a leisurely stroll down La Croisette Boulevard. Visit the famous Palais des Festivals et des Congrès and walk in the footsteps of the movie stars. Spend the rest of your morning exploring the luxury shops and enjoying the sea views. After lunch, hit one of Cannes’ stunning beaches for some relaxation. Round off your day with a lovely dinner at one of the seafront restaurants.

Day 2: Discover the Old Town and Islands

Spend your second day exploring Le Suquet, the Old Town. Wander its quaint, winding streets, enjoy the local shops and cafes, and take in the stunning views from the top. After lunch, catch a ferry to the Lerins Islands. Explore the historic Fort Royal on Sainte-Marguerite Island and the Cistercian monastery on Saint-Honorat Island. Return to Cannes for dinner, perhaps choosing a restaurant in Le Suquet for its charming atmosphere.


Day 3: Enjoy the Local Culture and Scenery

On your final day, visit Marché Forville in the morning to explore the local produce and delicacies. Consider a picnic lunch with your market purchases at one of the local parks or beaches. In the afternoon, visit the Musée de la Castre for its collection of Mediterranean and Eastern artefacts, not to mention fantastic panoramic views from the tower. Conclude your visit to Cannes with a farewell dinner at a restaurant offering Provençal specialities.




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