Nice vs Cannes: Which is Better to Visit?

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The stunning cities of Nice and Cannes are some of the most popular destinations on the French Riviera.

Both offer breathtaking views, delicious cuisine, and plenty of activities to explore and if you have the time, you should definitely visit both.

But which one is better? Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference.

Personally, I live in Nice and love it, but Cannes also has a very special place in my heart and I consider moving there in the future.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at the similarities and differences between these two beautiful cities.

We’ll compare their attractions, nightlife, and culture to help you decide which destination is right for you.

Summary: Pros and Cons of Nice and Cannes?

Short on time? Here’s a quick pros and cons list of Nice and Cannes:


beautiful winter day in nice france

Nice is the biggest city on the French Riviera. Its stunning coastline, turquoise waters, and beautiful architecture make it a must-visit destination. Read about why Nice is worth visiting here.

The city itself is full of history and culture. From the grand Promenade des Anglais to the bustling markets and museums, there’s a lot to see and do.

Plus, its proximity to other stunning cities on the French Riviera makes it an ideal base for exploring the region (read: How to Get to Cannes From Nice).


  • Great international airport + Direct flights from many major cities
  • Excellent transportation links
  • Family-friendly
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Beautiful coastline, turquoise waters, and architecture
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Close proximity to other cities on the French Riviera


la croisette cannes

Cannes is world-famous for its stunning beaches and the annual Cannes Film Festival.

It’s a beautiful city full of glamour, art, culture, and wonderful restaurants.

The seafront promenade is lined with luxury yachts and vibrant nightclubs while the old town offers plenty of sightseeing opportunities.

Read: Île Sainte-Marguerite, the best day trip from Cannes


  • Beautiful Mediterranean beaches
  • Glamorous nightlife + Annual Cannes Film Festival
  • Plenty of art galleries and cultural attractions in the old town
  • Endless shopping opportunities
  • Really close to Juan Les Pins, which has even more nice beaches and nightlife
  • Just an hour and a half away from St Tropez
  • Easy access to the Lerin Islands

Read: 22 Perfect Day Trips from Cannes, France

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Hotel Amour, in Nice

Nice vs Cannes: Which one to choose?

Keep reading for information about important aspects of Nice and Cannes.

✈️ Need help planning your trip to the French Riviera?



Nice has been a playground for the rich and famous for centuries, from the time of the Ancient Greeks to modern-day celebrities.

The city’s stunning views, delicious cuisine and wealth of attractions have made it one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations.

The city is believed to have been founded by the Ancient Greeks in 350 BC, who named it “Nikaia” after Nike, their goddess of victory.

After its establishment, Nice enjoyed centuries as an important port city, trading with countries all over the Mediterranean. Over time, it was occupied by various foreign powers like Genoa in 1388 and Savoy in 1706. In 1860, Nice was returned to France as part of a peace treaty between Napoleon III and King Victor Emmanuel II.

During the 19th century, Nice became increasingly popular among wealthy tourists from across Europe.

They were drawn to its stunning seafront promenade lined with luxury yachts and amazing restaurants serving delicious seafood dishes.

Today, Nice remains one of France’s most popular tourist destinations thanks to its incredible beaches and year-round mild climate.


Cannes is a glamorous town that has been an exclusive hideaway for celebrities and royalty since the 19th century when wealthy English aristocrats began to escape here from Britain’s cold winters.

Over time, Cannes became one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations thanks to its stunning Mediterranean beaches, captivating culture, and annual Cannes Film Festival.

It wasn’t until the 19th century that Cannes really began to take off.

During this time, wealthy English aristocrats began to escape from Britain’s cold winters and discovered the city’s Mediterranean beaches.

The warm climate and beautiful scenery quickly made it an ideal destination for high-society travelers.

Today, Cannes is world-famous thanks to its stunning beaches and annual Cannes Film Festival which has been running since 1946.

It’s also home to some of Europe’s most luxurious resorts, vibrant nightclubs, and plenty of shopping opportunities.


Generally speaking, prices in Cannes are higher than in Nice.

Accommodation, dining out and attractions are all slightly more expensive in Cannes, although the difference is usually not significant.

🧳 Still wondering what to pack for your trip? Then check out this guide on what to wear on the French Riviera.

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Castle Hill in Nice

Things to do


There are many wonderful things to do in the city of Nice.

For starters, Promenade des Anglais is a stunning promenade located along the waterfront. Here you can take in beautiful views of the Mediterranean Sea, go for a stroll and people watch, or even have a picnic by the sea.

The city is also home to many museums including Musée Matisse, Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, and Musée Marc Chagall. These are all excellent places to learn more about the city’s history and culture.

If you prefer outdoor activities, there are plenty of parks (like Castle Hill!), bicycle paths, hiking opportunities, and even boat tours available.


There are plenty of exciting things to do in Cannes too!

La Croisette, the famous seafront promenade is the perfect place for walking people watching, or you can visit one of the many museums, galleries, and churches in the old town.

Église Notre-Dame d’Espérance, for example, is an impressive 17th-century church that’s worth a visit.

Of course, the beaches are one of the top attractions in Cannes. Although many of them are private, there are plenty of public beaches to choose from.

These offer a great opportunity to get some sun and unwind.

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Both cities have really good options when it comes to hotels.

Cannes is known for its luxury options, while Nice being a bigger city offers more budget-friendly hotels that are still reasonably priced.

Best hotels in Nice:

Best hotels in Cannes:

Atmosphere and people


Nice is a vibrant city that is home to a big student and international community.

There’s a laid-back and welcoming atmosphere, so it’s very easy to make friends here. You can find people from all walks of life, from students to businesspeople.


The atmosphere in Cannes is quite different from Nice.

For most of the year, Cannes is home mostly to families and elder people. Other than that, the city is known for its glitz and glamour, and you’re likely to spot famous actors or musicians during the Cannes Festival.

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Èze Village near Nice


Both cities offer a wide range of tours, from boat trips and wine tastings to historical walking tours.

Best tours from Nice

Best tours from Cannes

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How long in Nice and Cannes?

Generally, it’s recommended 2- 3 days to see the main attractions in Nice, while one day or two is enough for Cannes (read: How Many Days in Cannes?)

The rest of your days can be spent exploring the French Riviera using either Nice or Cannes as a base.

Access and transportation


Nice has an excellent international airport that can be reached in less than 30 minutes by car from most places in town.

The city/s public transportation system, with buses and trams running throughout the city, is also great. It’s very accessible and easy to use.


Cannes is best accessed by train, as it’s located just one hour away from Nice International Airport. There are also buses that run between Cannes and other cities on the French Riviera.

As it is a smaller city, the public transportation in Cannes is not as well developed as in Nice, so most people opt to explore the city by foot or bicycle.

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Day trips


There are plenty of interesting day trips from Nice, such as Monaco, Menton, Èze, or Antibes.


Cannes is also the perfect base for exploring the Côte d’Azur region.

You can easily take day trips to Saint-Tropez, Grasse, or even Aix-en-Provence in just a few hours by car.

musee chagal in nice france



Some of the best museums in Nice are Musée Matisse, Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, and Musée Marc Chagall. All offer a great opportunity to learn more about the city’s history and culture.


Cannes also has plenty of interesting museums such as La Malmaison Art Center, which houses an impressive collection of modern art, and the National Naval Museum.

Both are worth a visit if you’re interested in learning more about Cannes’ past and present.

galleries lafayette nice france



If you’re looking for some shopping, Nice is the perfect place to find anything from luxury boutiques to local specialties.

There are plenty of small independent shops in the Old Town and along Promenade des Anglais, perfect for souvenir hunting!


Cannes also offers great shopping opportunities.

You can find designer stores, high street brands as well as independent boutiques and markets selling everything from jewelry to handmade crafts.

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In a café in Cannes

Food and drink

Nice has more options for restaurants than Cannes, but both cities have great, although different food scenes.

In Nice, most of the restaurants serve are located in the old town, Vieux Nice. Here you will find a mix of different cuisines such as Provençal, Italian, and even Asian. There are also plenty of cute cafes, incredible pizzerias, and food stalls that serve delicious snacks.

🍝 Are you a foodie? Then you will absolutely love this Nice Walking Food Tour with Local Specialties & Wine Tasting.

Cannes, on the other hand, is more popular for its seafood restaurants and chic beachside eateries. Of course, you can also find a variety of international cuisines as well.

There are also plenty of cafes along La Croisette where you can enjoy some coffee with a view.

If Michelin restaurants are what you are looking for, in Cannes you can enjoy a unique dining experience and some of the best French cuisine in town at Restaurant La Palme d’Or or Table du Chef.

In Nice, head to Le Canon or Le Chantecler.



Nice is known for its lively bars, especially around the old town. Here you can find a mix of traditional pubs and wine bars. However, Nice doesn’t really have any real nightclubs.


Cannes, on the other hand, is one of the best places for nightlife in France.

The city is full of stylish bars and nightclubs that come alive at night. There are plenty of options to choose from, including trendy beach clubs and rooftop bars.

The waterfront area is especially popular with tourists who come here to enjoy drinks at chic restaurants and bars while watching the sunset over the Mediterranean Sea.

la balleta restaurant in nice france


Since Nice and Cannes are located in the same region of France, they share a similar climate. The temperatures are generally quite mild in winter and hot in summer.

Both cities have a Mediterranean climate and In the winter months, temperatures range from a low of about 5°C (41°F) to a high of around 15°C (59°F).

During the summer months, temperatures range from highs of around 25-30°C (77-86°F) during the day and lows of around 18-20°C (64-68 °F) at night.

The coastal regions also benefit from plenty of sunshine throughout the year and lovely sea breezes during summer afternoons.

This help to keep temperatures comfortable even on hot days and make it possible to enjoy outdoor activities without getting too hot or uncomfortable.

Overall, the climate in the French Riviera is quite pleasant throughout the year and can be enjoyed by visitors all year round.

beach in nice france



Although Nice has beautiful beaches (Coco Beach, Plage de la Reserve, and the one at the Promenade are favorites), they are well quite rocky and not the best for relaxing.


Cannes, however, offers excellent beaches with lovely golden sand and crystal clear waters.

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Vieux Nice



Nice’s old town is a highlight for many visitors, with winding streets full of beautiful pastel-colored houses and plenty of galleries, cafes, and shops.

The Promenade des Anglais is also a must-see in Nice, where you can admire the stunning Belle Époque architecture that stretches along the waterfront.


Cannes, on the other hand, showcases some incredible examples of modern architecture.

Some of its most famous landmarks are hotels like Le Grand Hotel or Majestic Barriere. You can also explore one of Cannes’ oldest buildings – La Castre Museum.

port in cannes france

How far is Nice from Cannes?

Finally, if you’re wondering how far Nice is from Cannes, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s only a short hour-long drive away.

Or, if you’d prefer to take the train, the high-speed TGV journey takes just 25 minutes!

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Sunny day on the Promenade

Conclusion: Nice or Cannes?

Ultimately, Nice and Cannes both have their own unique charms that make them worth visiting.

When it comes to deciding which place is better between Nice and Cannes, it really depends on what kind of experience you’re looking for.

If you want to enjoy some sun and sea with a bit of nightlife thrown in then Cannes might be your best bet. But if architecture, culture, and great food are more important for your holiday then Nice could be the perfect destination.

Ultimately, it comes down to your personal preferences and budget when deciding which is better for you. Whichever one you choose, you won’t be disappointed.

Oh! And if you are visiting the South of France soon, join my Facebook group for more hidden gems and travel tips. Happy travels!

About Me

Camila Neves

Nice to meet you! My name is Cami and I am a full-time traveler and foodie. I live in Nice in the South of France and this blog is where I share my impressions and travel secrets.

Camila Neves