Nice’s Transportation Options
There is a lot to see in the lovely city of Nice in southern France, and one of the essential things to learn if traveling there is how to get around.
Be careful on all forms of public transportation because pick-pocketing is rampant, partially because the police don’t prosecute. Be careful of men on scooters swooping by and grabbing iPhones and handbags. Here’s a lowdown on the crime in Nice.
Here are the ways to get around in Nice, France:
The Nice Airport
In the winter, you’ll need to connect, as there aren’t any direct flights. If you don’t like red-eye overnight flights, you can fly directly from New York’s airports to London on a daytime flight, then from London to Nice.
The direct-flights schedule from the Nice Côte d’Azur Airport:
- Delta offers direct flights between Nice and Atlanta, and will continue flying throughout the week to New York JFK from the end of March to the end of October.
- United Airlines will be flying daily to Newark Airport (for access to New York City) from May to September.
- French business-class-only airline La Compagnie is offering less frequent direct flights to Newark from April 15 to September 27.
- The Canadian city of Montreal is served by both Air Canada and Air Transat, with regular but alternating flights between May and the end of October.
- Air France will operate three special direct flights to connect Los Angeles to Nice during the Cannes Film Festival in May, using the airline’s flagship aircraft, the Airbus A350.
Private jets account for 43% of landings and take-offs at the Nice airport (35,000 flights in 2021 with an average of 5 passengers on board). Nice is the #3 airport in the world in terms of private jet traffic.
French customs officers do random checks and monitor the airport looking for items like fake handbags and other counterfeit items. Here’s a guide to the laws regarding counterfeits. It’s important to know the very-real risks that come with wearing or carrying anything with a brand name or logo on it.
Nice by Car
All the major car rental companies like Hertz, Sixt, Avis, and Budget are at the Nice Airport. If you decide to drive, we recommend renting a small car, like a convertible Fiat 500. Top-to-down is the way to go, and smaller cars are much easier to maneuver and park. If you’re going to go on day trips to some of the French resort towns, then you’ll need a small car to get through the tiny medieval roads.
However, unless you have a specific need for a car – for example, mobility/disability problems, renting in a remote rural location, or planning on touring the back-country – it is generally a mistake to rent a car in Nice for local travel. The French Riviera has some of the worst traffic and one of the highest traffic accident rates in France, and the toxic mix of French car driving enthusiasm with many powerful motorcycles and youths on small scooters makes holiday motoring often an unrewarding experience.
Once you’re in Nice, there are many parking lots, which you can find on Google Maps. The rates are posted, but reasonable (many lots are free for the first hour). Parking rates in garages are less than €3 per hour, with a daily maximum of about €17. Parking is free of charge for the first hour, except in the months July and August.
Parking a car anywhere in Nice is notoriously difficult, and equally so in many surrounding areas. Along the French Riviera, people park everywhere, between trees, poles and on sidewalks. They routinely bump each other in order to get in and out of tight spaces. Traffic and parking tickets are doled out like sweets.
BlaBlaCar is a ride-share that you can book via their website or the app. It costs approximately €3 per ride to go from Nice to Monaco.
The Klaxit app enables passengers to travel at very low cost (drivers earn a small fee, from €1.50 to €3 per passenger, depending on the distance travelled). Trips to Monaco are free (subsidized by the Monaco government).
Uber & Taxis
You can hail or schedule an Uber from anywhere in Nice. Uber works at the airport and in the main cities of the Riviera. It may be difficult to hail a ride from more remote areas though, unless you are lucky and catch a driver dropping someone off.
It is worth noting that the official taxi service’s fares are not fixed and may vary according to traffic. For example, it’s routine to pay more than double what the official taxi operator predicts the cost to be. The official taxis also charge supplements for a range of different ‘extras’, such as Sundays and bank holidays, waiting, luggage, pets, having four people in the car, and even for bad weather.
Here is approximate pricing:
Old Nice to the airport
Official taxi service: 30€
Nice to Monaco
Official taxi service: 80€
Nice to Antibes
Official taxi service: 60€
Nice to Cannes
Official taxi service: 80€
Nice by Bus
The city of Nice in France has a public bus transportation system. Lignes d’Azur operates the buses and trams for the public transport system in Nice. Some lines go to nearby towns like Monaco and Cannes. Located in about 2 km from the city center is the main bus station: Gare Routiere (which is sometimes called ‘Gare Vauban’ or ‘Gare St. Jean d’Angely’).
- #12 Bus runs along the Promenade des Anglais seafront stopping at Airport (promenade in the main road in front of the airport).
- #23 Bus connects central Nice to Terminal 1 of the airport.
- #99 Bus (“Airport Express”) goes to downtown Nice and the central station coming straight from the airport.
- #98 Bus travels along the Promenade des Anglais on the seaside going to the central bus station.
- #200 Bus goes from Terminal 1 (airport) to Antibes and Cannes and leaves every half an hour
There are also open-air tourist buses that tour around the city. They provide audio commentary and guides in 8 languages. These hop-on, hop-off buses stop at many tourist attractions and are a fun way to see the city.
Nice by Tram
Nice has above-ground trams that run through the city and also connect the Nice Airport to many parts of the city. It takes only 26 minutes to get from the Nice Airport to Port Lympia (at the other side of Nice) via tram, with 20 stops on the way.
- Tram line 1 connects Gare de Nice-Ville, Place Garibaldi, the bus station Gare Vauban, and the area around the Vieux Port.
- Tram line 2 connects Vieux Port to Nice’s airport, with stops in Jean Medicin district, and Place Garibaldi in the center.
The tramway main stations are as follows:
- Nice Airport (both terminals)
- Gare Thiers (train station)
- Place Massena (main city square)
- Opera Vieille Ville (Old City)
- Cathedrale-Vieille Ville (bus station)
- Cruise Port / Modern Art Museum (Place Garibaldi)
- Port Lympia
Ticket vending machines are at every stop. You need to validate tickets inside the trams before boarding.
Bus & Tram Ticket Cost
As of July 1, 2023 there will be a sliding scale from 12 to 50 journeys on the Lignes d’Azur bus and tram lines, costing:
- 12 rides @€1.50 = €18
- 25 rides @€1.30 = €32,50
- 50 rides @€1 = €50
The above tickets can be used by several people together – just validate it accordingly. 3 people = 3 validations. Single tickets will cost €1.70 per trip. All tickets allow you to transfer free of charge within 74 minutes of validating it; just re-validate it when entering your connection.
Nice by Train
Train is the best, fastest, and easiest way to travel along the French Riviera. With stops in every seaside town, and lovely views along the way, it’s the area’s preferred mode of transportation. All of the trains in France (and Monaco) are operated by SNCF, and you can book all the trains through the one SNCF website. And in case you want to learn more, here’s a very detailed guide to using the trains in Nice.
The Local Train
The Regional Express Train, or TER, connects most towns, including Grasse, Cannes, Nice, Monaco, to Ventimiglia, San Remo and Turin in Italy. In the other direction, you can take this train to Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, Lyon, and other destinations in France. Here’s a map of the destinations.
Trains run about every 30 minutes and most of the stations sit within walking distance of the town center, or offer a bus service from the station. Tickets are cheap and you can purchase them from machines at each station, just be sure to stamp your ticket in one of the validation machines before hopping on board.
The airport is not served by a specific train station, but the Nice St Augustin Train Station is only a 10-minute walk away and has frequent, trains that go to other towns on the French Riviera every 30 minutes. Access is not available late at night and in the very early morning, so check the schedule online if you’re a night owl. Tickets are cheap and you can buy them online, at the console in the station, or (usually) on the train.
High-speed TGV Train
The high-speed TGV train connects Marseille to Paris in only 3 hours for as little as €50 (but the average ticket price is €84) each way. Take the local train to St. Charles station in Marseille , where you can transfer to the TVG and take it to Paris.
From April to November, the guided voyage on the “Train of Wonders” / Trains des Merveilles (€29 round-trip, leaving Nice at 8:30am) runs from Nice to Tende in the Valley of the Marvels, with stops in perched villages like Peille . The train climbs nearly 3,280 feet high on the two-hour trip through the lush Mercantour National Park . Throughout the journey, you will benefit from the comments of a tour guide who will explain the sights and the rich artistic heritage and culture of the Nice hinterland (in both French and English). You can read reviews here.
A tip from a reader: “A good full day trip can be had by taking the Train des Merveilles to the point where it circles back: Tende. Then, wait at Tende (and visit their ‘museum of wonders’) for the Italian train to Cuneo, and take that train to Ventimiglia and finally back to Nice along the coast. But (a) check times carefully as the service is sparse, and suspension of the trains is common; and (b) take your passport as French border guards on the look-out for illegal immigrants can be very officious.”
Nice by Sea
By its location on the coast, Nice is very accessible in the sea with private yachts or ferries. Leisure and luxury crafts, cruise ships, and ferries dock at Port of Nice (Port Lympia) at the east of Colline du Château.
Scheduled to be operational soon: The Maritime Shuttle goes between Nice and Cap d’Ail / Monaco, linking Port Lympia in Nice to the port of Cap-d’Ail , on the border of Monaco (Fontvieille). At peak times, there is a shuttle every half hour. It transports up to 1,200 people every hour with 34 rotations each day. Covering a distance of around 15 km, on a sunny day in good conditions, the journey only takes 35 minutes. In Nice, the shuttle is connected to tramline number 2, as well as the park and ride service in Port Lympia.
If you’re planning on going to other destinations, be sure to read the guide to transportation for that town/city (click on the town in our navigation menu and you’ll see the guide listed). Enjoy your trip to Nice!