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 go to Italy. 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 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 views of the coast. 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 around near the station, visiting shops selling clothes and Italian specialities.
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.
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 both copious and delicious.
Ristorante La Reserve
Via Arziglia, 20,
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.
Descend from the train and follow the signs for the “Monte Carlo” exit. 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 (short 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
5:59 pm: Take the train from Monaco to Villefranche-sur-Mer. It’s a 14-minute trip.
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.
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.
4 Rue de l’Église
8:44 pm: Take the train from Villefranche-sur-Mer to Nice.
9 pm: Arrival at the Nice central train station, and voilà – a perfect day trip from Nice!
Please note: The train schedules written above are those 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.