One Day in Cannes Itinerary: A Day Trip from Nice

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by Neota Langley

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Planning out the perfect one day in Cannes itinerary is one of the highlights of visiting France’s gorgeous Côte d’Azur. The beauty of the French Riviera is that it’s convenient to visit multiple cities in one trip, whether you have your own transport or rely on the excellent public transport links.

Located in the South of France, Cannes is a city perched on the glistening Mediterranean coast. Famous for the Cannes Film Festival, held in May, this city is world-renowned for its glitz and glamour. However, Cannes is not all red carpets, celebrities, luxury yachts and designer boutiques.

It’s also home to a wide range of watersports, traditional markets, sandy beaches and incredible seafood restaurants Cannes is a destination that should be on everybody’s list.  

How Many Days in Cannes?

Before we dive into the itinerary, you may be wondering how many days to spend in Cannes. The city is smaller than neighbouring Nice, but there is plenty to do. You could easily spend 2 days in Cannes at a more relaxed pace but a day trip will give you enough time to visit the main attractions.

Seeing Cannes in one day is plenty of time to enjoy the best of this vibrant city. Grab your morning coffee at the Gare de Nice-Ville train station and before you know it, the short 35-minute journey will be over.

If you are considering taking a Cannes day trip from Nice, it’s important to carefully plan your day to make the most of your time in this bustling city.

You can tick off the top spots in just one day but don’t forget to keep an eye on the train timetables, it’s easy to lose track of time in such a vibrant city.

Beautiful Cannes
Beautiful Cannes

Getting To & Around Cannes

Base yourself in Nice for easy access to Cannes, Antibes, Saint-Tropez and many more. For those with limited time in the South of France, the easiest city to visit as a day trip from Nice is its glamorous neighbour, Cannes.

Nice and Cannes are close neighbours, just 30 km apart, travelling between them is affordable, quick and easy. There are 4 main ways to get to Cannes from Nice, by train, bus, personal vehicle or an organised tour. 

The train is the most efficient way to get to Cannes. Taking just 35 minutes, the trains leave Gare de Nice-Ville station every 40 minutes or so. The last train back to Nice leaves at 10pm so you can really make the most of the evening in Cannes before heading back to your hotel. You can view train schedules here.

There are also direct buses that you can take from Nice to Cannes which take around 30-40 minutes. Keep in mind that this option is not as frequent as the train.  You can view bus schedules here.

If you are on a tight budget, you can take a city bus for a very low fee but be aware, it can take much longer to reach your destination due to all the stops and the traffic along the way. Allow at least an hour and a half to make this journey. 

Whilst you don’t need a car to make the most of the French Riviera, if you have one with you in Nice you can drive to Cannes in just 40 minutes.

The downside of driving your own vehicle is, of course, the parking. There are a number of enclosed multi-storey car parks around Cannes so you will be able to find a space but at €3-4 an hour, this is one of the more expensive options. You can browse rental car options here.

Although you will end up with less time to explore Cannes itself, taking an organised tour is an excellent way to see the French Riviera. One option is this full-day tour that visits Cannes along with other stops on the Cotes d’Azur, such as Èze, Monaco, Antibes and Saint-Paul de Vence

Once you have arrived in Cannes, it is easy to navigate between the main attractions on foot. For example, walking from the Croisette to Le Suquet is only 600m and the ferry across to Lérins Islands is just at the start of the iconic boulevard.

There are also dedicated cycle lanes throughout the city and hiring a bike is a popular way to get around. However, if you are only here for one day, you won’t need to venture away from the city centre so navigating on foot is the best option.

If you happen to have more time in Cannes and want to explore the outskirts of the city there is an extensive network of affordable shuttle buses. These shuttle buses cover the main hotspots in and around the city and can be an extremely affordable way to take a sightseeing tour.

There is even a convertible shuttle bus that runs along the Croisette if you want to see the sights with the wind in your hair for a low price.

Yachts in Cannes port
Yachts in Cannes port

One-Day Cannes Itinerary

There are so many things to do in Cannes and it has something for everyone, whether you are there to soak up the glitz and glamour or enjoy the neighbouring haven of the Lérins Islands.

Promenade de la Croisette

Kick off your one day in Cannes with the iconic Promenade de la Croisette (also known as the Boulevard de la Croisette), famously home to the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, where the Cannes Film Festival is held.

Under the shade of pine and palm trees, this boardwalk stretches for 3 km along the golden sands, coastline, Vieux Port and azure sea of the Mediterranean.

However you arrive in Cannes, the famous Promenade de la Croisette is easy to reach on foot. Cannes train station is mere 350 metres north of the iconic boulevard and there are bus stops along the seafront. The Croisette is the perfect place to soak in the atmosphere of Cannes.

The street itself is dotted with designer boutiques, chic rooftop bars, modern restaurants and hotels fit for A-list celebrities.

Of course, make sure to stop off at a local pastry shop to grab a Tarte Tropezienne, a famous pastry originating from the French Riviera. Consisting of halved brioche filled with lemon and vanilla pastry cream and topped with a generous helping of sugar. Perhaps a more decadent breakfast option but one you will certainly never forget.

If you’re a film buff, don’t miss a stop by the Palais des Festivals, which is where the Cannes Film Festival takes place every year. You can take a picture on the famous red carpet and see the handprints of movie stars outside the building. 

Boulevard de la Croisette in Cannes
Boulevard de la Croisette in Cannes

Le Suquet

Next, head into the heart of the picturesque old town of Cannes, known as Le Suquet. This historic district full of winding cobbled streets is perched on a hill with far-reaching views across the sea. You can also get a lovely view of Cannes itself here.

Wander through the local markets, nestled amongst the traditional buildings. Discover beautifully handmade crafts and souvenirs, including one of the oldest shops in Cannes, the Tesi hat shop.

There are beautiful winding streets to explore and also some interesting historic sites, such as the lovely Église Notre-Dame d’Espérance – a beautiful 17-Century church.

Le Suquet is full of charming restaurants and cafes so this is the perfect spot to stop off for some lunch. Try Le Troquet à Soupes on Rue du Marché Forville for some of the city’s best soups and light bites. This affordable lunch spot is a journey through French cuisine, the owner will happily take you through the dishes, ingredients and the story of the local ingredients used.

The French onion soup is incredibly moreish and they even do a vegan version.  

Notre-Dame de l'Esperance Church in Cannes
Notre-Dame de l’Esperance Church in Cannes

Museum of World Explorations

After lunch, head over to the Museum of World Explorations (formerly known as the Musée de la Castre) situated atop the Suquet hill, this museum dominates the city of Cannes.

Climbing up the mediaeval tower rewards visitors with breathtaking vistas of the bay across to the Lérins islands. A remarkable assortment of paintings, artworks, and archaeological artefacts awaits visitors inside the castle and the adjacent chapel.

The museum boasts an extensive collection of antiquities, with a particular focus on artefacts from the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Don’t miss the iconic Cannes sign for a photo as you wander back into the city.

Lérins Islands

A trip to Cannes would not be complete without a visit to the Lérins Islands. This natural oasis is an archipelago made up of 4 islands, 2 of which you can visit from Cannes.

Sainte Marguerite with a military fortress now housing a museum or Saint Honorat, home to an active 5th-century monastery where you can sample the wine and liquors produced by the monks who inhabit the island. A budget-friendly 15-minute ferry crossing will whisk you away to another world, away from the hustle and bustle. You can buy tickets here.

Sainte Marguerite is the larger of the two islands, offering meandering trails through the fragrant pine and eucalyptus forests and out to hidden rocky coves. This is the perfect place to discover your own corner of the Mediterranean for a quick dip in the glistening waters or a picnic on the rocks.

The island has a rich history to discover within Fort Royal, home to the Royal Musee de la Mer. This 17th-century fort is famous for housing the ‘Man in the Iron Mask’ – a prisoner during the time of Louis XIV. You may already know the story from the 1998 film, The Man in the Iron Mask with Leonardo Dicaprio.

Saint Honorat is the second largest island in the archipelago, inhabited for several centuries by the monks of the Lérins Abbey who devote themselves to prayer and the production of wine, liqueurs and olive oil.

You can enter the fortified monastery free of charge but it is highly recommended to take a guided tour of the vineyards and chapel ruins before participating in a wine tasting. There are 7 world-renowned wines produced here using ancient methods. It’s a wine-tasting tour unlike any other.

Fort Royal on Sainte-Marguerite Island
Fort Royal on Sainte-Marguerite Island

Evening in Cannes

After a busy day exploring the city and its surroundings, it’s time for some well-earned dinner. After alighting from the ferry, stroll back along the Croisette in the golden evening light to discover some of the fresh seafood Cannes is known for. 

Dining along the Croisette is a truly unforgettable experience. This iconic promenade is lined with some of the best restaurants in the world boasting unrivalled views across the shore of the Cotes d’Azur. 

Cannes is known for its vibrant nightlife, an energetic city that never sleeps. You can follow dinner by visiting one of the many chic rooftop bars and clubs along the Croisette before heading back to Nice.

Have 2 to 3 days in Cannes?

If you are lucky enough to have more time in Cannes, you can soak in this city at a more relaxed pace. Although we have covered the highlights in just one day, with extra time you will be able to enjoy the hidden gems as well as the must see attractions.

Marché Forville, Cannes’ large covered produce market is just a stone’s throw from the Croisette boulevard. The sights and smells alone are a sensory adventure. You can find fresh fruits and vegetables, locally caught fish and of course, pop up vendors selling delightful street food.

Take a beach day, relax beside the sea with a good book and a glass of rosé. There are two options for lounging on the beach along the Croisette, find one of the public beaches in Cannes or visit a private beach club (such as the Carlton Beach Club).

Both have their own pros and cons but if you really want to experience Cannes, you can rent a sunlounger, towel and an umbrella from a beach club for €30-€40 per day. Although this may seem like an unnecessary expense, it comes with the added benefit of the beach club food and drinks brought directly to you.

All you need to do is soak in the golden sunshine, take a dip in the Mediterranean sea and unwind.

You could also give watersports a go. There are plenty of options for watersports along the beachfront, from kayaking and paddleboarding to jet skiing and snorkelling. Hire a boat for the day to explore the hidden coves and sandy beaches along the coast or get the adrenaline pumping and try out parasailing.

Activities range from full-day excursions to hire by the hour so there is something to suit every budget.  

It comes as no surprise that Cannes is known for its theatre scene. Visit Les Arcades Cinema or Cinema Olympia to catch the latest Hollywood blockbuster or perhaps enjoy an independent French film.     

Sandy beaches in Cannes
Sandy beaches in Cannes

Where to Stay in Cannes

Villa Claudia Hotel Cannes – Located in the centre of Cannes, this 3-star hotel is an excellent place to stay in this coastal French town. There are several rooms of varying sizes available, daily breakfast and a gorgeous private garden to enjoy.

Hotel Splendid – This upmarket hotel is an excellent choice for those who are looking for a luxury stay in Cannes and aren’t too concerned about their budget. There are a number of lovely rooms to choose from along with all of the amenities you would expect from this type of hotel.

La Bastide de l’Oliveraie – This is another excellent luxury option in Cannes, particularly if you’re looking to stay in a suite rather than a standard room. There are lots of choices of rooms and suites which all come with spa access.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Cannes hotels!

Cannes offers something entirely different to Nice whether that is for a day trip or a long weekend. If you can visit both cities during one trip, you will gain an entirely new perspective of the incredibly varied, Côtes d’Azur. 

Are you planning to visit Cannes? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!

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Neota Langley

Neota is a writer for The World Was Here First. Born and bred in Cornwall, she can usually be found with hiking boots on, ready to embark on an adventure. For the last 6 years, she has travelled throughout Europe in her self-built campervan with her trusty canine companion, Ivy. She loves exploring France, the Nordics and spending time in Alpine destinations.

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