Nice or Biarritz? East or west? The Atlantic or the Mediterranean? Both of these coastal cities are amazing to visit. Nice is quite a lot bigger and well known globally. Biarritz is a very popular holiday desination with the French. It’s a difficult choice between the two, keep on reading, hopefully this blog will help.
Nice quite literally has it all – sun, sea, sand and history. It’s a great option for travellers that want the option to experience the culture of a city break and the relaxing vibes of a beach holiday.
Located in the Basque region of France, Biarritz is a small coastal town known for its beautiful beaches and world-class surfing. It’s no wonder Biarritz is a popular destination for surfers, sun-seekers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Pro’s and Con’s of Nice and Biarritz
- Beautiful beaches – Nice has some of the most stunning beaches in France, with crystal clear waters and soft sandy shores.
- Cultural attractions – Nice is home to a number of museums and cultural attractions, including the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and the Chagall Museum.
- Picturesque Old Town – Nice’s Old Town is a charming and picturesque neighborhood with colorful buildings, narrow streets, and plenty of restaurants and cafes.
- Proximity to the French Riviera – Nice is an ideal base for exploring the French Riviera, with easy access to other coastal towns like Antibes, Cannes, and Monaco.
- Great weather – Nice enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate with plenty of sunshine throughout the year.
- Vibrant nightlife – Nice has a lively nightlife scene with plenty of bars, nightclubs, and live music venues to choose from.
- Crowded in peak season – During the summer months, Nice can get very crowded with tourists, making it difficult to find a quiet spot on the beach or in the Old Town.
- Limited public transportation – While Nice does have a tram system, it can be limited in terms of coverage and frequency.
- Hilly terrain – Nice is a hilly city, which can make it challenging for those with mobility issues.
- Lack of parking – Finding parking in Nice can be a challenge, particularly in the Old Town and other popular areas.
Best for: Nice is best for travelers looking for a beautiful beach destination with a mix of cultural attractions, nightlife, and affordable accommodation.
- Beautiful beaches – Biarritz is known for its stunning beaches, including the famous Grande Plage and the more secluded Plage de la Côte des Basques.
- Surfing – Biarritz is a popular destination for surfers, with some of the best waves in Europe.
- Coastal scenery – Biarritz is located on the rugged Basque Coast and offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean.
- Great food – Biarritz is known for its Basque cuisine, which includes dishes like pintxos, seafood, and cheeses.
- Rich history and architecture – Biarritz has a rich history and is home to several historical and architectural attractions, including the Château d’Ilbarritz and the Russian Orthodox Church.
- Mild climate – Biarritz enjoys a mild climate throughout the year, making it a great destination for those who prefer cooler temperatures.
- Boutique shopping – Biarritz offers a variety of boutique shops and high-end stores, making it a great destination for shopping enthusiasts.
- Expensive – Biarritz is known for being an expensive destination, with high-end hotels, restaurants, and shops.
- Crowded in peak season – Like Nice, Biarritz can get very crowded in the summer months, making it difficult to find a quiet spot on the beach or in the town center.
- Limited public transportation – While Biarritz does have a bus system, it can be limited in terms of coverage and frequency.
- Less cultural attractions – Biarritz offers fewer cultural attractions compared to destinations like Nice.
Best for: Biarritz is best for travelers looking for a surf and beach destination with a focus on outdoor activities, food, and shopping. It’s a great choice for those who want to explore the Basque region of France and nearby Spanish towns.
How long to stay in Nice
A trip to Nice needs to be at least three days. But you could easily spend a week or two here. There’s so much to do whether it be in Nice, or exploring the local area. Monaco and Cannes are a stone’s throw away. You could even get a ferry to Corsica for a few nights if you were feeling adventurous!
How long to stay in Biarritz
Biarritz is a relatively small town and can easily be seen in two to three days. However, there are plenty of other cities in the Basque country that are definitely worth a day trip to.
How much is food and drink in Nice?
Nice is known for its delicious cuisine and wine. Here are some estimated average prices for food and drink in Nice:
Beer: A beer in a typical bar or restaurant in Nice will likely cost between €5 and €7.
Glass of wine: A glass of wine in a typical bar or restaurant can range from €3 to €10, depending on the quality.
Coffee: A cup of coffee in a typical café in Nice will likely cost between €1.50 and €3.
Meal at a midrange restaurant: A meal at a midrange restaurant in Nice will likely cost between €20 and €40 per person, depending on the restaurant and the menu.
How much is food and drink in Biarritz?
Biarritz is home to a variety of restaurants and cafes catering to all budgets. Here are some estimated average prices for food and drink in Biarritz:
Beer: A beer in a typical bar or restaurant in Biarritz will likely cost between €4 and €7.
Glass of wine: A glass of wine in a typical bar or restaurant can range from €4 to €10, depending on the quality.
Coffee: A cup of coffee in a typical café in Biarritz will likely cost between €2 and €4.
Meal at a midrange restaurant: A meal at a midrange restaurant in Biarritz will likely cost between €20 and €40 per person, depending on the restaurant and the menu.
How much is it to stay in Nice?
The cost of accommodation in Nice can vary depending on the location and the type of accommodation you choose. Here are some estimated average prices for accommodation in Nice:
Luxury hotel: A room in a luxury hotel in Nice can cost anywhere from €150 to €500 per night, or even higher for the most exclusive properties.
Midrange hotel: A room in a midrange hotel in Nice will likely cost between €70 and €150 per night, depending on the location and the amenities.
Budget hotel: A room in a budget hotel in Nice will likely cost between €40 and €70 per night, depending on the location and the quality of the hotel.
Hostel: A bed in a hostel in Nice will likely cost between €20 and €40 per night, depending on the location and the amenities.
How much is it to stay in Biarritz?
The cost of accommodation in Biarritz can vary greatly depending on the time of year and location. Here are some estimated average prices for accommodation in Biarritz:
Luxury hotel: A room in a luxury hotel in Biarritz can cost anywhere from €200 to €600 per night, or even higher for the most exclusive properties.
Midrange hotel: A room in a midrange hotel in Biarritz will likely cost between €80 and €200 per night, depending on the location and the amenities.
Budget hotel: A room in a budget hotel in Biarritz will likely cost between €50 and €80 per night, depending on the location and the quality of the hotel.
Hostel: A bed in a hostel in Biarritz will likely cost between €20 and €40 per night, depending on the location and the amenities.
When is the best time to visit Nice?
Nice is a very popular tourist destination all year round. When to visit depends on personal preference. Here are a few things to consider before booking your trip:
Weather: Nice has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot summers. Plan your trip between June and September if you want to make the most of the hot weather. Winters are mild compared to a lot of places, you’ll rarely see it freezing here. Spring is probably the best all-around time to visit.
Crowds: Nice can get extremely busy during the summer months so visit during the off-season if you can be irritated by crowded places.
Events: There are several world-famous events held very close to Nice every year, like the Cannes Film Festival in May and the Monaco Grand Prix. If you want to experience something a bit different the Nice Carnival is a spectacular event. There are huge parades day and night, with floats, dancers and all sorts of fun!
When is the best time to visit Biarritz?
Biarritz is a popular destination all year round. But, the best time to visit all comes down to personal preference really. Here are a few things to consider before booking your trip to Biarritz:
Weather: Biarritz has a mild oceanic climate, winters are cool and summers are warm. There’s usually a sea breeze so even in summer it’s a good idea to pack a light jacket or sweater. September and October are good months to visit, the temperatures are mild and the summer crowds have gone home.
Festivals: Biarritz hosts a number of festivals throughout the year. The Wheels and Waves Festival is worth a visit and brings together bikers, surfers and skateboarders for four days of fun!
Crowds: Biarritz gets very busy during the summer months as it’s a popular holiday destination for the French. To avoid the crowds visit during spring or autumn.
Average Monthly Temperatures
The average monthly temperatures for Nice are:
The average monthly temperatures for Biarritz are:
Getting around Nice:
Nice has plenty of public transport options like buses, trams and trains. The trams and buses cover most of the city and are both reliable.
But, on a nice day, you’d be better off walking everywhere. Just make sure you take some comfortable shoes. There really isn’t a better way to see a city as beautiful as Nice other than on foot.
Getting around Biarritz:
Biarritz is a small town so you can get around easily on foot. If you’re looking to explore the surrounding areas, it might be a good idea to hire a car. There are also buses and trains that run between Biarritz and the nearby towns and cities.
Top things to do in Nice
Promenade des Anglais: This beautiful promenade stretches for 7km along the Mediterranean coast and is probably the most famous attraction in the city. The views are spectacular, you could literally spend a full day just wandering around and enjoying the view.
Vieille Ville: There is plenty to see and do in Nice’s Old Town. Full of colourful buildings, cute streets and cafes. You could spend a full day just ambling around doing very little other than eating and drinking.
Musée Matisse: Devoted to the works of Henri Matisse, this museum is localed in a beautiful 17th-century villa. The gardens are very impressive, it’s location on a hill also offers great views over the city. The art isn’t too bad either.
Castle Hill: A must see when in Nice, Castle Hill offers panoramic views over Nice and the Mediterranean. You can walk to the top via the stairs. It’s a bit of a walk, so probably not a great idea with kids. There is also an elevator for those that don’t fancy the stairs.
Musée Marc Chagall: This museum houses the largest collection of works by the Russian-French artist Marc Chagall. Located in a beautiful garden, it also features works by other contemporary artists.
Place Masséna: This stunning central square is the perfect place to sit with a coffee or a cold glass of white wine and watch the world go by. The architecture is very impressive and looks especially good at night when it’s all lit up.
Jardin Albert 1er: The perfect place to relax and enjoy the sun, this beautiful park is located right in the heart of Nice next to the beach. Go in the evening and catch an amazing sunset, you won’t regret it!
Palais Lascaris: This beautiful 17th-century baroque palace is now a museum that showcases the history of Nice and its culture. It features stunning architecture and artwork.
Parc Phoenix: This stunning botanical garden holds over 2,500 plant species and a large lake. There are even different types of exotic animals like flamingos and alligators!
Cimiez Monastery: Located very close to the Musée Matisse, this monastery is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Make sure your phone is charged, you’ll want to take plenty of photos of its beautiful gardens and views over Nice.
Top things to do in Biarritz
Visit La Grande Plage: This beautiful sandy beach is a must-visit when visiting Biarritz. Swimmers, surfers and sunbathers all love this beach and for good reason! There are showers to use and lifeguards so you can swim safely.
Go to the Aquarium de Biarritz: Built into the side of a hill, this aquarium features a wide range of marine creatures from the Bay of Biscay and beyond. It’s a great afternoon of entertainment for adults and kids alike.
Explore the Rocher de la Vierge: The rock formation is connected to the mainland by a footbridge. It offers amazing views of the ocean and coastline and also has a statue of the Virgin Mary. Try to visit at sunset for a spectacular view.
Musée Asiatica: This museum features an extensive collection of Asian art from China, Nepal, Tebet and the rest of the Asian subcontinent. It’s crazy to find such a collection in a small beachside resort in France. It €10 to enter and is definitely worth spending a couple of hours there.
Take a stroll around the Port des Pêcheurs: The little fishing port is nice for a relaxing afternoon watching the fishermen unload their catch and listening to the sound of the sea. There are little restaurants so you can grab a bit to eat while you unwind.
Walk along the La Côte des Basques: This scenic coastal path runs along the cliff tops between Biarritz and Saint-Jean-de-Luz. Its a relatively easy route and offers plenty of good spots to get amazing photos of the sea and the coastline.
Enjoy some local produce at Les Halles de Biarritz: This covered market is a food lover’s paradise. It is packed with stalls selling fresh local produce, such as cheese, seafood, and charcuterie. It’s the perfect place to snack on local food whilst taking in the ambience.
Visit the Église Orthodoxe: This Russian Orthodox church is located on a hill overlooking Biarritz. The building itself is beautiful but could do with a renovation.
Play golf at Le Phare Golf Course: Located right in the heart of Biarritz, this stunning golf course offers spectacular views of the ocean. It’s actually one of the oldest courses in France and has hosted plenty of prestigious tournaments.
Relax at Les Bains de Biarritz: This luxurious spa is located on the beachfront and offers a range of treatments and facilities, including a heated seawater pool, sauna, and hammam. It is the perfect place to unwind after a day of sightseeing.
Take a day trip to Bayonne: This charming town is known for its picturesque streets and delicious Basque food and is only a 30 minute bus ride away.
How to spend three days in Nice
Morning: Grab a coffee and a pastry from a nearby coffee shop and head to Promenade des Anglais. Find a bench to sit on and relax whilst the city wakes up. There’s something really special about the sea breeze in the morning. Either spend the morning on the beach or have a chilled walk along the seafront.
Afternoon: Head over to the Vielle Ville, Nice’s Old Town. Make sure you start off at Cours Saleya, this market has an abundance of local produce for sale like fruit, flowers and spices. There are lots of little street food stalls too which are great for lunch. Spend the rest of the afternoon wandering around Vielle Velle’s cute little streets.
Evening: Have a relaxing evening at Place Masséna. Get some good Niçoise food and a few drinks and watch the world go by.
Morning: Get an early start and head to the Musée Matisse. A great museum dedicated to Henri Matisse, perfect for art lovers. The views from the museum are beautiful. All of his work isn’t housed here so don’t be disappointed if you don’t see everything you wanted.
Afternoon: Visit the Cimiez Monastery, it’s a stone’s throw from Musée Matisse. The interior of this monastery is incredible and the gardens are even better! Before you head back to the centre of Nice, have a nosy at the Ancien Hôtel Régina. This is a very famous hotel from the 19th century and was built to meet the requirements of Queen Victoria who loved to visit the Côte d’Azur.
Evening: Make your way to the seafront to ascend Castle Hill. You can go up via the stairs or the lift. Maybe take a little picnic and some wine. The views over Nice and the Mediterranean are amazing!
Morning: Begin your day with a visit to the Palais Lascaris. A 17th-century palace that’s been turned into a museum. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful museums in Nice. Its collection is mostly focused on musical instruments but its baroque interior will have you in awe.
Afternoon: Spend your afternoon at the Musée National Marc Chagall. Dedicated to the artist Marc Chagall, it’s got an expensive collection of his works. Most of the collection is focused on his religious works, there are also some of his stained glass windows that are very beautiful.
Evening: Finish your trip to Nice with a visit to the Nice Observatory. It’s a little outside of the city centre, so you’d be better off getting the bus. It’s a working observatory so you can’t just wander in. There are regular tours, but they are only in French. The sunset from here is amazing, there are a couple of restaurants nearby so you can get a nice dinner and watch the sun go down.
How to spend three days in Biarritz
Morning: Start your day with a walk along Grande Plage and take in the views of the ocean. Maybe go for a morning swim if the weather is nice.
Afternoon: Head to Biarritz Aquarium to the marine life of the Bay of Biscay. This aquarium has over 150 different species species of fish and 7 species of shark. If you get there for 10:30 or 17:00 you can see them feeding the seals, very cute!
Evening: Enjoy a drink and some pintxos at one of the many bars in the Old Port area. It’s a great place to relax and watch the sunset.
Morning: Biarritz is one of Europes most famous surf destinations so why not give it a go? There are plenty of surf schools along the coast that cater to all levels, so there’s really no excuses!
Afternoon: After lunch and drying off! Go for a walk along the Rocher de la Vierge. A rock formation that sits in the sea, connected to the land by a bridge. This is a great spot for photos of the ocean and the Biarritz coastline.
Evening: Wander down to the Port des Pêcheurs, this charming fishing port is filled with seafood restaurants. It’s a perfect place to spend the evening eating and drinking whilst looking out over the harbour.
Morning: Get an early start and visit Les Halles de Biarritz. This market offers a great range of local produce, from cheeses to meats there’s plenty to choose from. You could grab a coffee and nibble on some bits from the market.
Afternoon: Catch the bus to Bayonne. Located just 30 minutes from Biarritz, the charming town of Bayonne is a beautiful little city. Known for its picturesque streets and Basque cuisine it’s a great day out. Make sure to try some of the famous Bayonne ham!
Evening: Get dinner in Bayonne’s old town before heading back to Biarritz for a few drinks overlooking the ocean.
Food and drink: 9
Culture and history: 9
Total score: 65
Food and drink: 9
Culture and history: 6
Total score: 59