What are the top things to do in the Old Town?
Take great photos of the colorful cramped buildings that line the narrow streets all over the old town in Nice.
And aside from hidden gems, delightful corners, and interesting architecture, you must also explore the colorful squares that bring people together in this village-like neighborhood.
Take a closer look at the video below
Some squares are small, others majestic, each one has its own charm and serves a different purpose.
These large squares welcome you for a drink or local specialty at one of the many outdoor terraces.
Have an ice cream, a local treat, or just rest your feet near a fountain.
The small labyrinth-type village is mostly pedestrian and can get extremely crowded during the summer.
Make sure you have plenty of time to enjoy and walk. Among the best things to do in the old town is to try local specialties and soak up all the charm the narrow streets have to offer.
Unless you have other plans, then start with these 8 things to do in the old town in Nice.
1. On top of your list of things to do in the Old Town
Head to the Cours Saleya for the outdoor market in the morning!
Who doesn’t love just wandering through a myriad of colorful fruits and veggies? How about olives and fresh local bread?
Not to mention alleys of beautiful flowers and fruit shrubs lined up at the start of the market.
Trying local products is definitely among the top things to do in the Old Town in Nice.
On each side of the market, you have a choice of restaurants and cafes, pubs and small shops to buy souvenirs.
Also on the Cours Saleya, during warm summer nights, have a great meal or listen to music on any number of crowded terraces. It’s really a festive vibe!
The market is open from Tuesday to Sunday, early morning to 12.30 pm. Except for Mondays when it’s replaced by the antique market.
2. PHOTO MUSEUM
Museums in Nice are high on the list of things to do.
In the old town, the Musee de la Photo Charles Negre is worth a stop for its interesting display of cameras and old photographs from local as well as international artists.
There is of course a permanent exhibit.
Every so often the temporary exhibits change so you can always enjoy beautiful photography from well-known artists as well as up-and-coming photographers.
3. CATHEDRALE SAINTE REPARATE
This baroque church, built in 1649 blends in perfectly in the colorful Place Rossetti, a large square in the old town.
The inside of the church is richly decorated with various organs and chapels relating to different saints.
The high altar has an image of Saint Reparata, the virgin martyr which the cathedral is named after.
You can visit the inside of the cathedral and in the summer attend classical concerts with great acoustics.
Right outside the cathedral on Place Rossetti, choose any number of restaurants and cafes to people watch and just enjoy the moment.
And don’t forget the famous ice cream vendor Fenocchio serving over 90 flavors.
If the line is way too long for your patience, rest assured the 2 ice cream vendors just across the square are also delicious and have fresh waffle cones 🙂
4. NICE OPERA HOUSE
Rebuilt in the 19th century after a fire, the Opera de Nice was declared a historical monument in 1992,
It has 2 facades. On the side of the Old Town, and the other side on the Promenade des Anglais. However, note that the entrance is on the Old Town side.
The exterior of the opera house in Nice has a beautiful and interesting entrance with columns and stained glass, and the interior has some amazing frescoes.
For operas, classical music, or ballets, you can enjoy performances in the evening or Sunday matinees at a reasonable price.
Location: Old Town. The main entrance of the opera house is located on 4-6 Rue Saint François de Paule, Nice.
5. PLACE ST. FRANCOIS
Place Saint Francois in the center of the Old Town isn’t a very large square, but it is worth walking through.
In the mornings, the fish market brings in lots of locals and in the afternoon, tourists and wanderers enjoy the small restaurants and shops.
One of the best things to do in the old town is right here in this square! Want to see Nice from above? Want a great view of the city below?
Then be brave and climb the 200+ steps up the tower for a 360-degree view of Nice.
Note: be careful, in some portions of the swervy staircase it’s dark and very narrow.
The clocktower which is 42 meters high, dates from the 13th century and is part of what used to be the Franciscan monastery – hence the name Place Saint Francois.
Location: Enter via 4 Rue de la Tour. – Take Tram Line 1 and get off at Cathedrale Vielle Ville. It’s a short walk from there.
6. PALAIS LASCARIS
The only baroque villa of this type in the old town, Palais Lascaris built in 1648 offers a trip back in time.
Frescoes, paintings, and all sorts of artifacts dating from the 17the and 18th centuries.
Make sure to add the museum Palais Lascaris to your list of things to do in the old town.
Location: 15, Rue Droite, check the Palais Lascaris website for changing times.
7. PLACE GARIBALDI
Place Garibaldi is sandwiched between the old town and the port and is one of the largest squares in Nice.
Arcades, restaurants, and cafes with large outside terraces, a small movie theater, tram stops, a fountain, and of course the statue of Garibaldi.
Facing the fountain make sure to admire the Chapelle du Saint-Sepulcre within the large yellow building with its gorgeous arcades and towering clock.
The buildings that hover over the arcades have certain windows in trompe l’oeil. It’s worth a double look!
On certain days enjoy the flea market as well as paintings from local artists for sale on the square.
Wake up early!
Yes, wake up early and avoid the crowds, especially during the summer 🙂
There’s no doubt that the old town is on the list of every first-timer in Nice and those who keep coming back for more.
The old town is very similar to a small village with its narrow streets, its outdoor market, small shops, delicious restaurants, local specialties, art galleries and so much more!