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Nice is famous for its beaches and transparent water. There are multiple public beaches, but if you want more comfort, consider paying for private areas. The beaches are covered with large flat stones (known as gallets), so bring towels or mats to ensure comfort while sunbathing. Swimming footwear is also a good choice since some underwater rocks might be sharp. The water remains cold until the beginning of June, and the bathing season ends at the end of September.
Apart from beaches, Nice is known for its unbelievable scenery. Colline du Chateau overlooking the Baie des Anges and harbor provides visitors with a spectacular vantage point. Unfortunately, the ancient castle is in ruins now, but to make this place more picturesque, the city administration constructed an artificial waterfall nearby. The castle hill is also known for its ancient cemeteries. Take into consideration that the castle park closes at around sunset, and you might be escorted outside if you stay longer.
There are numerous museums and art galleries in Nice, including the Museum of Asian Arts, Parc Phoenix, Musee Chagall, and the incredible Musee Matisse. If you are younger than 25 years old, these museums offer free entrance (for citizens of the European Union) and significant discounts for other nationals. Do not miss the performances in the Nice Opera, one the most famous opera houses in the world.
The center of Nice is touristic, noisy and expensive. Thus, staying away from the busiest streets will not only provide you with a quieter environment, but also will help save money that you can put toward entertainment or dining. In addition, Nice is an extremely small town: from almost any hotel you can easily access the downtown on foot. For example, Hotel Oasis, located north of the city heart, provides comfortable rooms for as low as €45 per night. Another great option is Villa Rivoli, where a room for two costs just €46. Take into account that the prices are subject to change, depending on season.
The high season in Nice starts in early April and lasts until the beginning of November. The low season is associated predominantly with winter months, except for the Christmas holidays, when vacationers come to celebrate the Cote d’Azure. To avoid seasonal price fluctuations, book several months in advance and pay special attention to discounts. Almost all Nice hotels occasionally reduce their prices by 10-15 percent, which can significantly reduce your accommodations budget if you are going to stay there for a long period of time.
Airbnb offers more than 1,000 cheap accommodation options in Nice. The prices for cozy, spacious rooms in the downtown area start as low as €35 per night. Those who want to avoid the city rush might prefer booking accommodations in the picturesque Nice suburbs: Provence-style houses at the edges of unbelievably beautiful cliffs with views of the sea are both cheaper and more exotic. If you travel in groups of five or more, it makes sense to book the whole apartment. For example, three-bedroom apartments in downtown Nice will cost you only €120!
Take into consideration that French hosts charge extra money for cleaning services and often impose a refundable security deposit, so it is important to calculate all Airbnb expenses before making the final reservation. When booking accommodations, one should also take into account the proximity of the beaches, restaurants, and bus stops, since some of the Nice Airbnbs are located in quite isolated areas.
French Riviera has one of the most developed transportation systems in the world. State companies Lignes d'Azur and TAM (Transport Alpes-Maritimes) have more than 100 bus and tram routes. A single ride costs €1.50 for a 74-minute journey. Make sure to have cash with you all the time, since vending machines accepting credit and debit cards are available only within the city center. You can also save money and time by buying "multi-10" tickets (10 journeys) for €10, which can be used by several people simultaneously. Do not forget to validate your ticket each time you start a new 74-minute ride.
During the winter period, many stations undergo renovations and updates, so if you are dependent on bus transportation, consult the nearest tourist center or conduct some online research to determine the availability of bus stations nearest your accommodations. The easiest way to calculate the duration of a public transport journey is to plan your route in Google Maps, which is synchronized with the town’s transportation system.
Since July 2009, the visitors of Nice can enjoy public bicycle rental system called Velo Bleu. The first 30 minutes of usage are free. Rates rank from one euro per day to €25/year. Velo Bleu stations can be found all over the city, both in downtown and suburbs. It is also worth noticing that the town is small, which makes it possible to get to almost any destination in just 30 minutes on foot.
Many of the hotels near the Nice airport have very attractive prices. For example, the Ibis Budget Nice Hotel Aeroport charges rates as low as €67 per night, and the Campanile Nice Aeroport offers rooms as low as €55 per night. However, the airport hotels often have very low ratings among tourists. Therefore, booking rooms in these establishments makes sense only if you have a flight early in the morning.
Otherwise, it is worth taking a bus to Nice. The best way to get from the airport to the city center or to the Nice Ville train station is to take the airport express bus (routes 98 or 99), which is accessible from Terminals 1 and 2. The flat fare for both routes is €6. The buses run every 30 minutes from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased from bus drivers and guarantee unlimited free travel on local buses and trams on the day of purchase. However, if you want to save money, you can take a little bit longer ride by local bus (route 23) from Terminal 1. It costs just €1, running from 5:30 a.m. until 8:05 p.m.
Hostels in Nice are clean, neat, and affordable. The only drawback is that they are noisy, so if you are going to stay in a hostel, be prepared to sleep less and party more. One of the best options is Villa Saint Exupery Garden*, which is located near the northern part of downtown in the old monastery. It is known for a great party vibe, free breakfasts, and reasonable prices. The mixed dorm costs €14.95 per night and the double private ensuite costs just €25 per night (making the private option even cheaper for a couple than a mixed dorm).
Another famous hostel is Backpacker's Hostel Chez Patrick. It features dorm options for €18 per night. Its proximity to the train station and friendly staff make it the first choice for tired backpackers.
Take into consideration that hostels are subject to an extra tax of €0.30 per day, so if your budget is really tight, it is worth including this amount in your calculations. Towels are usually not provided, so make sure to have your own. Hostels always have free maps and guides at the lobby, which makes it easier to make sightseeing plans. Kitchens are not available in all hostels, so those who prefer cooking on their own should contact the hostel administration in advance.
Nice is not only a beautiful city with ancient ruins, sunny beaches, and the most transparent sea in the world. It is also the cheapest destination in Cote d’Azure. The combination of cheap public transportation, affordable accommodations, and attractive Airbnb listings makes it the best place to have an unforgettable vacation for visitors who do not want to spend a fortune on their vacations. Planning a visit during the low season, especially in the fall and spring, will also help you get discounts in almost all hotels. Restaurants serving delicious Mediterranean food at reasonable prices will also add to your European gastronomic experiences. Memories about the time spent in Nice will surely live longer than the tan you gain at Nice's marvelous beaches.
* Not currently available through Hipmunk.
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© 2016 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.