Carolyne Kauser-AbbottExploreRoad Trips South of France

French Riviera Day Trip to Italy from Nice

Are you looking for ideas on the perfect French Riviera day trip? We turned to Céline O’Donnell, a private tour guide in Nice, for her recommendations on a day trip along the coast to Italy from the city.

She has lived in this Côte d’Azur city for 40 years and now runs walking tours and a guiding service called Nice by Heart. After studying and working in London, O’Donnell returned to Nice, where she shares the city highlights on Nice by Heart walking tours.

Day Trip to Italy

While there are many possibilities for exciting excursions in the area, my preferred day trip is to Italy by train. Nice is only 32 kilometres from the Italian border, and it’s easy to go by car or train. Here is the detailed “menu” for the perfect day getaway from Nice: an escapade to Italy, teatime in Monaco, and an evening in Villefranche-sur-Mer.

9:30 am: Take the 9:35 train from the Nice Central train station to Ventimiglia, Italy. Sit on the right side of the train and enjoy beautiful coast views. The train passes by Villefranche, Beaulieu, Eze, Cap d’Ail, Monaco and Roquebrune cap Martin. (Note: Trains from Nice to Ventimiglia daily, every 30 minutes, and the journey takes 50 minutes.)

10:30 am: Arrive in Ventimiglia and wander near the station, visiting shops selling clothes and Italian specialties.

Bordiguera Italy Restaurants


11:03 am: take train to Bordighera. The journey from Ventimiglia to Bordighera takes 10 minutes.

11:13 am: Arrive in Bordighera for a walk by the sea and a ristretto coffee with an Italian pastry on the seafront. Then, swim and relax in the sun.

La Reserve Ristorant Bordiguera

12:30 pm: Have lunch at La Reserve restaurant, a 14-minute walk from the train station. The restaurant’s setting overlooking the sea is beautiful, and the dishes are copious and delicious.

Ristorante La Reserve
Via Arziglia, 20,
18012 Bordighera
Open daily

2:15 pm: Walk back to the train station for the 2:37 pm train back to Ventimiglia, followed by the 2:55 pm train from Ventimiglia towards Nice. But the day trip is not over. In 31 minutes, you will arrive at the underground train station in Monaco.

Monaco Casino French Riviera

Descend from the train and follow the “Monte Carlo” exit signs. Once in Place du Casino, admire the beautiful cars, the luxury stores, and the sumptuous Belle Époque buildings. Then, take a walk through the Boulingrins Gardens or visit the iconic Casino de Monte Carlo. Please note that while there is no specific dress code for the casino, proper attire is required, which means no sports clothing (shorts, tank tops) or flip-flops.

4:30 pm: Enjoy a gourmet afternoon teatime at the famous Café de Paris and its legendary outdoor terrace.

Café de Paris
3 Prom. des Anglais
Open Daily

5:59 pm: Take the train from Monaco to Villefranche-sur-Mer. It’s a 14-minute trip.

French Riviera Day Trip Villefranche-sur-Mer


6:15 pm: Arrival in Villefranche-sur-Mer. The railway station is located directly above the beach. You might feel like having another swim there or walking along the bay. Heading to the right from the train station will take you to Villefranche’s old town, and going further up the hill, you will arrive at the citadel.

French Riviera Day Trip Villefranche-sur-Mer


7 pm: Finish the day trip with a glass of wine and a tempting charcuterie selection at the Grande Cave in the village centre. This bar is my favourite place in Villefranche-sur-Mer for an apéro dinatoire. We call having drinks and delicacies instead of dinner an apéro dinatoire.

Grande Cave
4 Rue de l’Église

French Riviera Day Trip Villefranche-sur-Mer ©lagrandecave

8:44 pm: Take the train from Villefranche-sur-Mer to Nice.

9 pm: Arrive at the Nice central train station, and voilà —a perfect day trip from Nice!

Please note: The train schedules written above are for this date. They don’t usually change, but it will be a good idea to check before planning your day trip. You can do that and buy your tickets online here.

Book a place to stay in Villefranche-sur-Mer


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Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

With her camera and laptop close at hand, Carolyne has traded in her business suits for the world of freelance writing and blogging. Her first airplane ride at six months of age was her introduction to the exciting world of travel.

While in Provence, Carolyne can be found hiking with friends, riding the hills around the Alpilles or tackling Mont Ventoux. Her attachment to the region resonates in Perfectly Provence this digital magazine that she launched in 2014. This website is an opportunity to explore the best of the Mediterranean lifestyle (food & wine, places to stay, expat stories, books on the region, travel tips, real estate tips and more), through our contributors' articles.

Carolyne writes a food and travel blog Ginger and Nutmeg. Carolyne’s freelance articles can be found in Global Living Magazine, Avenue Magazine and City Palate (Published Travel Articles).


  1. FS
    February 27, 2024 at 8:43 am — Reply

    Hello! I’m so happy I found this page. I have a question about your train trip to Italy. Did you buy a round trip ticket from Nice to Ventimiglia, and just get on and off at the various stops on the way back? Or do you have to buy separate tickets, Ventimiglia to Monaco, Monaco to Villefranche-sur-Mer, Villefranche-sur-Mer to Nice? Thank you!

    • February 27, 2024 at 3:05 pm — Reply

      Thank you for reading and following Perfectly Provence. There are different rail passes that you can buy including some day passes such as this one that allow for on-off travel. Enjoy your trip!

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