2015 Travel Inspiration: Europe and Central America

deals to GreeceWith Tax Day just behind us, many of us are looking forward to soon receiving a little something back from Uncle Sam.  Are you in search of inspirational ideas on where to invest your tax refund?  In travel.  After all, you worked hard in 2014, so why not treat yourself to an awe-inspiring trip in 2015?  Want three more great reasons?  1. If you’re considering vacationing in Europe – the Euro is unbelievably weak at present and might even inch closer to parity with the US dollar later in the year.  2. If you book a go-today vacation before April 30, 2015, you can take $100 off any air-inclusive vacation using the promo code of TAXTIME15 – and that’s per person.  3. There’s a school of thought that travel might actually be beneficial to your health.

If you’re starting to concede that a fabulous trip is the way forward, read on for five ideas of where your tax-refund travel adventures could take you.

Italy

Traveling to the Amalfi Coast

The town of Amalfi, the Amalfi Coast

Where to go: Italy is home to some of Europe’s most sublime scenery.  Decide if you prefer a cultural urban experience, a relaxing countryside experience – or a combination of both.  If this is your first time to Italy, you can’t possibly go wrong with the trio of Rome, Florence and Venice.  If you’ve already seen the must-see sights and still find yourself craving more of Italy – seek out one or two of its beautiful spots like the Amalfi Coast, the Cinque Terre, the Northern Lake District or an off-the-beaten corner of Tuscany.

What to see: Some of the world’s most impressive architecture, art museums, cathedrals and archaeological sites: Greek, Etruscan and Roman.  Lovely squares, medieval hill towns, vivid Mediterranean beaches and a downright unforgettable ambience.

What to eat: While each region in Italy has its own authentic specialties, every visitor to Italy should partake in fresh seafood, traditional pasta and rice dishes, cured meats, pizza and gelato.  Other favorites (of this blogger) include bean soups, steak (Florence), black truffles (Umbria), arancini (Sicily) and burrata (Puglia).  If you’re interested in Italian cuisine, taking a cooking class or market tour in Italy is a great way to learn about regional dishes.

What to drink: Exceptional wines (including sweet, sparkling and port-like wines); liqueurs like amaretto, limoncello, and fragolino; vermouth (hello Martini!); grappa – and heavenly coffee.

What to buy: Italy isn’t known as a fashion capital for nothing.  Fashionistas in search of la moda italiana will want to visit Milan and Florence (and go on outlet tours).  However, when shopping in Italy, there is more to experience beyond Ferragamo, Armani, Prada, Valentino, Gucci, Versace, Fendi and Dolce & Gabbana.  Florence in particular is famed for its leather markets.  Elsewhere in Italy you’ll find gorgeous pottery (Tuscany), great antiques (Rome) and exquisite glassware, lace and handcrafted masks (Venice).  Last but certainly not least, food products like olive oils, wines, hard cheeses and balsamic vinegars make for great souvenirs.

Click here to see all our travel packages to Italy.

Greece

vacation deals to Greece

The ancient Acropolis at sunset, Athens

Where to go: Even if ancient Greek temples, archaeological sites and fantastic Byzantine architecture aren’t your thing, everyone should plan on spending a night or two in Athens.  From there many history buffs choose to spend more time on the mainland – often to visit the superb ancient sites of the Peloponnese peninsula – before cruising to Greece’s magnificent islands.  If you intend to island hop while in Greece (and you should), Mykonos, Santorini, Crete and Rhodes are all popular choices. If time is pressing but you still want an island experience, make a day trip from Athens to the car-free island of Hydra.

What to see: Greece has something for everyone: history addicts, foodies, shoppers, sun worshippers, etc.  Obviously your interests should shape your itinerary.  There are 17 World Heritage Sites in Greece as well as several fantastic museums in Athens.  The Acropolis Museum for one is a must-do.  In addition to Greece’s ancient and medieval sights, one of its best attractions is simply the Aegean Sea and its host of mesmerizing islands.

What to eat: While you’ll find chic, innovative cuisine in many restaurants in Athens, we’re fans of Greece’s informal tavernas.  Cozy, lively and often serving up tasty, grandma-prepared dishes, tavernas are a staple of Greek cuisine.  When you dine in one, go for a good mix of the many wonderful appetizers called mezedes.  You’ll also find a wealth of meat (lamb in particular) dishes along with fantastic seafood, salads, olives, yogurts, fresh cheeses and terribly good sweets, which are often made of honey and nuts.

What to drink: Drinking ouzo is a national pastime in Greece.  This aperitif can be consumed straight or on the rocks.  Wineries located on the island of Santorini and on the Peloponnese peninsula produce some very respectable wines for you to sample while in Greece.  We must also say that the Greeks do amazing things with iced coffee, and if you plan to visit Greece over the summer, sipping a foamy, iced café frappe while gazing at the beach is an essential activity.

What to buy: jewelry, pottery, olive oils, honey, leather goods, wines and spices.

Click here to see all our travel packages to Greece.

France

Travel to France

Chateau de Chenonceau, the Loire Valley

Where to go: When deciding where to travel in France, truth be told – it’s hard to pick a bad spot.  Favorites with American travelers include Paris, Provence and the French Riviera (the Côte d’Azur), the Bordeaux wine region, the Loire Valley and the Normandy beaches.  If you’re a foodie at heart, get thee to Lyon!

What to see: France has almost 100 official National Monuments and a whopping 39 World Heritage Sites.  In addition to its many cathedrals, palaces, castles and abbeys, France is also home to phenomenal museums and truly beautiful scenery; there’s a reason why so many artists, writers and musicians have found inspiration and settled in France.

What to eat: French cuisine varies dramatically by region and season.  In Alsace you’ll find very German-like food (sausages and sauerkraut).  Alpine regions of France are very generous with the cheese and potatoes and serve amazing winter dishes like raclette, fondue Savoyard and tartiflette.  Farm-filled Normandy is hailed for its butters, cheeses (camembert) and creams.  Provence is very Mediterranean, so think tomatoes, salads, goat cheeses, seafood and olive oil.  A good way to summarize French cooking methods is the following: in the North – butter, in the South East – olive oil, in the South West – duck fat!

What to drink: France produces some of the world’s most prestigious wines.  Top regions include Bordeaux, Burgundy (Bourgogne), the Rhône Valley, the Loire Valley and Languedoc-Roussillon.  Sparkling wines are also extremely popular with those produced in Champagne being one of the country’s biggest exports.  Other ideas: Normandy makes very good ciders, and you can find excellent local beers in Alsace.

What to buy: perfumes, soaps, lavender sachets and clothes – and again food and wine products make great souvenirs.

Click here to see all our travel packages to France.

Ireland

cheap deals to Ireland

Muckross House, Killarney National Park

Where to go: After a couple of days in Dublin, most travelers seek out Ireland’s spectacular natural landscapes.  Popular areas include the Cliffs of Moher, the Ring of Kerry, the Dingle Peninsula, Connemara National Park, The Burren, the Wicklow Mountains, MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and the Aran Islands.  And don’t forget Northern Ireland’s famed sights like the Glens of Antrim and the Giant’s Causeway.  To best capture this island’s immense beauty, many traveling to Ireland rent a car and base themselves in castle hotels, bed & breakfasts or farmhouse properties.

What to see: Ireland is rich in Neolithic archaeological sites like the Newgrange monument; located in the fertile Boyne River Valley, it is older than Egypt’s Pyramids of Giza!  Other excellent cultural sights in Ireland include the monastery of Clonmacnoise, Trinity College Library (Dublin), Kylemore Abbey and Kilmainham Gaol (Dublin).

What to eat: At present Ireland has a frankly delicious, farm-to-table culinary phenomenon going on.  Throughout the country you’ll find traditional Irish classics, pastries and dairy products made with the freshest of ingredients.  In its cozy capital city of Dublin, you’ll find truly fine, innovative dining along with cheery, casual spots.

What to drink: Beer and whiskey.  If you want to learn more about Ireland’s famous brew, Guinness, tour the brewery in Dublin.  Whiskey fans will be pleased to encounter distilleries all over the island.  Popular ones to visit include Jameson, Tullamore Dew and Bushmills.

What to buy: Ireland’s woolen knitwear is legendary.  Other classic choices include Belleek Pottery and Waterford Crystal.

Click here to see all our travel packages to Ireland.

Costa Rica

Cheap deals to Costa Rica

Sunset in Costa Rica

Where to go: Despite being the same size as a combined Vermont and New Hampshire, Costa Rica is a Hercules of biodiversity, and as it’s compact, you can relax on its picture-perfect beaches (Caribbean and Pacific), trek to active volcanoes and explore rainforests – all on the same vacation.

What to see: Outside of San José’s fantastic cultural attractions, popular natural areas to visit include Arenal National Park, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve and Manuel Antonio National Park.  Are you an active traveler?  Soak in hot springs, raft down the Savegre River, go birdwatching, zip line through the Arenal Rainforest – or take a boat trip to Damas Island!

What to eat: While its cuisine is decidedly not fancy (rice, beans, fish, meat, ceviche, yuca, tasty little meat pies, fried plantains, etc.), Costa Rica does have a mighty cornucopia of exciting tropical fruits.

What to drink: With all those great fruits, it’s no surprise that Costa Rica has some pretty rockin’ juices.  What else?  The fresh coconut water is divine.  Beer and rum are very popular alcoholic beverages.

What to buy: pottery, furniture, carved masks and coffee.

Click here to see all our travel packages to Costa Rica.

 

We hope these travel ideas have given you food for thought on how to best use your tax refund.  Regarding our current $100 promotion, below is the fine print:

  • Use the promo code TAXTIME15 to take $100 off any air-inclusive vacation.
  • That’s $100 off per person.
  • You must book by April 30, 2015.
  • This promo isn’t valid for custom group bookings, it can’t be combined with other offers and it can’t be used on existing reservations.

How can you book?  Online at go-today.com or over the phone (free of charge) at (800) 227-3235.

 

The Best Day Trips from London: 8 Fantastic Ideas

Day trips from London

Leeds Castle, Maidstone, Kent

As a tourist destination, London can consider itself fortunate.  Not only is its center jam-packed with cool attractions, but beyond its periphery, London is surrounded by fantastic places to visit.  We’ve blogged before on London’s cornucopia of first-rate draws: outstanding museums of art, design and history; historical palaces that once housed Henry VIII, Queen Victoria and Princess Diana; impressive cathedrals; great shopping; seriously fun pubs; amazing theatre performances; spectacular gardens; and world-class concerts and sporting events.  Our point: there are so many things to do in London that you’d be hard-pressed not to find something you love.

As we’ve mentioned before, if you intend to visit London you’ll be pleased to know many of its best places to visit are free (exceptions: must-see attractions like the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey).  For travelers spending a week in London, many folks want a town and country experience, which means spending a day or two outside of England’s lively capital.  Therefore, this post is for those of you who want to find out about the best day trips from London.  Some of these lovely spots lie on London’s outer edges, while others make for longer, exciting escapes.  We’ll tell you what to see and how to get there.  Without further ado, here are eight great day trip ideas:

 

Kew Gardens

sightseeing in London

The Palm House, Kew Gardens, London

We all know the British have a fierce reputation for their green-thumbed skills.  If you’ve ever wanted to experience English gardening at its finest, this is your chance.  Kew Gardens lie along the banks of the River Thames just 10 miles west of London, making this an easy, relaxing day outside of the big city.  The gardens epitomize the English landscaped gardens that became fashionable all over Europe in the 1700s.  The 250-year-old Royal Botanic Gardens, as they’re officially known, are so impressive that they’ve been made an official World Heritage Site.  Spread out across 300 acres, the gardens are home to an extensive arboretum, the Azalea Garden, the Rhododendron Dell,  art galleries, the Waterlily House,  pretty cottages, beautiful ponds, a treetop walkway, and perhaps most famously – Victorian glasshouses.  Check out this video if you’d like to learn more.

How do you get there?

To reach Kew Gardens from London take the London Underground to Kew Gardens Station.  If you intend to travel a lot in London by tube, considering getting a reusable Visitor Oyster card that you can add money to as needed.

Stonehenge

Day trip to Stonehenge from London

Stonehenge, a World Heritage Site

The origins of this marvelous prehistoric site remain a great mystery to scholars.  Dating back over 5000 years, the massive size of the stones and their precise layout have long puzzled archaeologists.  For example, how did the builders manage to transport the stones over 150 miles?!  Some scholars believe that pagan inhabitants constructed Stonehenge as a religious or spiritual temple connected with the summer solstice.  Numerous burial mounds and the magnificent stone circle at nearby Avebury make this area extremely rich in Neolithic heritage.

To learn more about theories on Stonehenge, click here.  Many visitors often combine a visit to this fascinating World Heritage Site with the historic cities of Salisbury, Winchester and Bath.

How do you get there?

For preservation reasons, access to Stonehenge is complicated.  It is best to visit Stonehenge on a guided tour from London.

Highclere Castle

day trips from London

Highclere Castle, the filming location of Downton Abbey

With the current popularity of the Downton Abbey television series, it’s no surprise that a visit to its filming location has become one of London’s most popular day trips!  Located 70 miles west of London in the county of Hampshire, Highclere Castle still serves as the home of the current Earl and Countess of Carnarvon.  A visit to this amazing Victorian castle features its exquisite interiors as well as its 1000 acres of beautifully landscaped parkland.  To learn more about the making of Downton Abbey at Highclere Castle click here.

Tours to Highclere Castle often take visitors to the village of Bampton, which is used on the show as the village of Downton, as well as to the university city of Oxford.

How do you get there?

It is possible to take the train or bus to the town of Newbury, and from there you can catch a taxi to the castle (roughly 15 minutes).  However, because of the castle’s popularity and limited opening days, we recommend signing up for an official Downton Abbey sightseeing tour from London.

Bath

day trips from London

The Roman Baths, Bath, England

Another historical English gem is the city of Bath, a World Heritage City.  Located in the pretty county of Somerset, Bath has been accommodating tourists for over 2000 years.  When the Romans arrived they were delighted with the natural springs in the area and began to construct temples and sophisticated bathhouses.  While the medieval era was not kind to Bath, in the 16th century its status as a spa resort took off!  The construction of impressive theaters cemented Bath’s reputation as a playground for aristocrats during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.  Today visitors travel to Bath to see its beautiful Georgian architecture, its exceptional Bath Abbey, and of course the ancient Roman Baths.  While it is certainly a long day, when making a day trip to Bath from London, travelers often stop en route to visit Windsor Castle or Stonehenge.

How do you get there?

If you intend to solely visit Bath, you can take the train from London’s Paddington Station (roughly 90 minutes each way).  If you’d like to combine Bath with Windsor Castle, Stonehenge or Avebury it’s best to sign up for a guided day trip from London.

Leavesden – Warner Bros. Studio Tour —The Making of Harry Potter

day trips from London

Learn all about the making of Harry Potter.

Traveling just 20 miles outside London will take you from the land of muggles into the magical world of wizards, Death Eaters, goblins, dementors and dragons.  That’s right.  This is your chance to see the incredible sets used in the Harry Potter film series.  Enter the Great Hall, see Ollivanders wand shop on Diagon Alley, sip a frothy Butterbeer or ride a broomstick!  (Tip: if you’re embarrassed about how terribly exciting this sounds, you can always pretend you’re going for your child.)

How do you get there?

To travel from London to Leavesden take a combination of public transport options, an inexpensive shuttle bus, or a pre-arranged sightseeing tour.

Hampton Court Palace

sightseeing in London

Hampton Court Palace, Richmond upon Thames

As river travel was frequent centuries ago in and around London, you can see why so many English kings, queens and aristocrats chose to construct their fabulous palaces along the banks of the River Thames.  Hampton Court Palace is one such place, and history fans cannot err with a visit to this extravagant, historical palace.  There are two main eras associated with the look of the palace.  The first dates back to the 16th century to the Tudor reign of Henry VIII who along with his many wives and head advisor, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, called Hampton Court home.  That just wasn’t grand enough for William III and Mary II, who commissioned a baroque palace adjacent to the original Tudor structure.

Entry to the palace also includes access to its scenic environs: 60 acres of beautiful gardens, 750 acres of parkland and a 300-year old, seven-foot-tall maze that spans half a mile!

How do you get there?

Located in the Borough of Richmond, the palace is considered part of Greater London and is easily reached by underground.

The Cotswolds

day trips from London

Hidcote Manor Garden lies near Chipping Campden.

If you’re hoping to capture that postcard image of charming English villages, the Cotswolds are for you.  Why is this area famous?  Because it’s particularly pretty – and rather timeless.  While larger cities like Bath, Stratford-upon-Avon and Oxford are found along the Cotswolds’ edges, the interior is primarily composed of smaller villages and market towns comprising historic manor homes, crafts shops, cozy pubs, beautiful gardens, stone cottages, antique stores and lovely inns.  The scenery is simply refreshing and a world away from London.  Popular places to visit in the Cotswolds include Cirencester, Chipping Campden, Stow-on-the-Wold, Cheltenham, Burford, Bibury and Broadway.  While it does make for a long day, it’s common to combine a visit to the Cotswolds villages with Warwick Castle, Stratford-upon-Avon or Oxford.

How do you get there?

While you can take the train from London to this area of England, once you get there – to fully appreciate the Cotswolds, you need to drive.  If however you prefer to sit back and relax instead of dealing with a rental car, it’s best to sign up for a day tour from London. 

Canterbury

Day trips from London

Canterbury Cathedral, Kent

Our last suggested day trip from London lies 60 miles east in the county of Kent.  While it might not be as popular as some of the other day trips we’ve suggested, it definitely merits a visit.  The city of Canterbury is incredibly historic, and its prize jewel is its cathedral.   As seen in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, the city has been a major pilgrimage site since Thomas Becket’s murder took place inside the cathedral over 800 years ago.  In fact Canterbury’s beautiful Christ Church Cathedral along with the ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martin’s Church (the oldest church in England) form a World Heritage Site.  The city is also home to interesting Roman and Norman ruins.  On a day trip, Canterbury is often combined with Leeds Castle and the spectacular White Cliffs of Dover.

How do you get there?

Canterbury is easy to reach from London by train or bus or on a sightseeing tour.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the many possible day trips from London!  If you’d like to learn more about London hotels, London sightseeing, our vacation packages to England, or our current London & Highclere Castle Groupon Deal – please check out our website or give us a call at (800) 227-3235.  If you’re interested in traveling to London with a group, please get in touch with our Group Department.

Happy travels!

 

Planning a Vacation to France? Find Out Why You Shouldn’t Skip Nice.

It’s bustling – in a good way. 

vacation deals to the French Riviera

Nice's Bay of Angels

We can’t pretend that Nice isn’t already one of France’s hottest tourist destinations.  The largest city on the famed Côte d’Azur – or French Riviera as it’s commonly called in English – has been a superstar since the 19th century.

Europeans flock to its cerulean blue seas in July and August.  Its Carnival  Mardi Gras celebrations (mid-Feb to March) are some of Europe’s greatest, and every May it is filled to the brim with visitors during the Cannes Film Festival and the Monaco Grand Prix car race.     

Its story is multicultural – and glamorous. 

Tourism is nothing new to Nice.  It has a great variety of hotels, including many affordable 3-star and 4-star properties.  Nice’s resort status came to life as a winter vacation destination, beginning with wealthy Brits who came in the late-1700s for the sunny, mild winters. 

Once the railroad arrived, Nice was soon flooded with Parisian aristocrats, Belgian kings, English queens and Russian princesses who traveled to enjoy the splendor of la Belle Époque on the shores of the Mediterranean.

traveling to the French Riviera

Vintage poster of Belle Époque Nice

The weather wasn’t the only reason they came.  By the late 19th century Nice was known as a rich man’s paradise complete with seaside casinos, jaw-dropping scenery, impressive hotels, theaters, mansions and the crème de la crème of European social circles. 

Artists, writers, musicians and wealthy Americans soon followed, and Nice’s reputation as a summer resort took shape.  Jumping forward to today, Nice’s resort tradition has been going strong for over two centuries.   

Things have changed in some respects.  The upper class that once shunned the heat of the Mediterranean sun is now more likely to be lounging on a beach in nearby Cannes, St Tropez or St Jean de Cap Ferrat.  Gamblers are more likely enjoying nearby Monte-Carlo.  So then – what’s left of Nice?  A fabulous, inviting city filled with much to enjoy, eat and visit.

Going back in time, before Nice’s Belle Époque resort days, Nice was actually part of the Italian Kingdom of Sardinia.  It only joined France 155 years ago! 

France's most famous hotels

Hôtel Le Negresco, a symbol of Nice's resort legacy

Nice today exudes this fantastic, multicultural, Italian-French blend. Because of the architecture and color scheme, you could easily mistake Nice’s Old Town (Vieille Ville or Vieux Nice) for an Italian city. 

There is no shortage of Italian restaurants (gnocchi in particular are a delicacy in Nice), and you’ll undoubtedly encounter many Italians visiting from across the border, which is only 25 miles away.

Nice’s Old Town, markets and shopping are amazing.

Nice is an incredibly easy city to navigate.  It has great tram and bus systems.  Much of its center is pedestrianized and contains wonderful parks, fountains and green areas. 

Our favorite place to explore on foot is the city’s Old Town, a lovely labyrinth of ochre-colored medieval buildings, bakeries, cute shops, markets, inviting restaurants, Baroque churches and elegant palaces.

Sightseeing in Nice

Nice's ancient rue Droite

Wandering Nice’s Old Town gives you a bird’s eye view of the city’s Italian past.  Some of its grandest squares look like they came straight out of Turin, the former capital of the House of Savoy – which ruled Nice for centuries.  When exploring Vieux Nice, whose layout hasn’t changed much in almost four centuries, be sure to walk down Rue Droite, the location of the elegant Palais Lascaris.

Another Old Town must-see is the Cathedral of Sainte Réparate, which resides in the enduring Place Rossetti.  From the outside, you could mistake it for any other church.  Its 17th-century interior however is positively dazzling.  A late-addition jewel in Nice’s Old Town is the opera house, which was created in the early 19th century to entertain the city’s posh aristocrats.

Vieux Nice houses several businesses that have stood the test of time.  One in particular, the Patisserie Auer, used to supply England’s Queen Victoria with chocolate goodies when she wintered in Nice. 

traveling to the South of France

Place Rosseti

There is also much shopping to be had in Nice’s Old Town, particularly for antiqueoholics.  The pedestrian Cours Saleya street has served as the city’s main market square for centuries. 

Most mornings it hosts Nice’s famous flower market, but on Mondays it’s the scene of a lively antiques market.  (On Saturdays, try the market in Place Garibaldi or the shops on Rue Catherine Ségurane.)      

Its natural scenery is surreal.

Nice is a magical combo of Mediterranean seas and Alpine foothills.  Its most famous avenue, the Promenade des Anglais (“the English Promenade”), was actually commissioned by 19th-century English vacationers. 

They desired to stroll along Nice’s beachfront and gaze at the Bay of Angels.  It’s a view that’s hard to adequately describe, but we’ll give it a shot. 

 

Traveling to the French Riviera

Sea view in front of Castle Hill

The transparent sea is made up of shades of cerulean blue and deep sapphire.  Just sitting on a bench and gazing at it feels refreshing! 

When sunset arrives, the color palate packs a real punch… pinks and oranges cast against that blue.  It’s hard to believe this pristine of a beach can be found in a major city. 

Today Nice’s seaside promenade continues to be a major draw – for locals and tourists alike.  You’ll see people moseying, running, cycling, rollerblading and walking their dogs along these four miles of heavenly views. 

If you’re up for a swim, make use of the many facilities found along the beaches, some of which are public while others are private.  Many rent lounge chairs, umbrellas and towels. 

best spots on the French Riviera

Nice's Old Port

Even if you don’t want to swim, consider having lunch or a drink at one of the many seaside cafes found along the promenade.    

For a terrific view of the promenade, sea and port, head to Castle Hill.  Interestingly, this is where the story of Nice begins – with Greek colonists who settled the hill almost 2500 years ago.           

Its art scene is fantastic.

Over the years, Nice’s outstanding natural scenery has caused many artists to live or vacation in the area, and today some of the French Riviera’s best art museums are located in Nice. 

If you only pick one, make it the Musée National Marc Chagall. 

Chagall Museum French Riviera

Musée Marc Chagall

The museum houses religious works of the brilliant, Russian, Jewish artist – including both paintings and stained-glass. 

Much of his artwork beautifully depict scenes and characters (like Noah, Joseph, Abraham, Sarah, Moses and Isaac) from the Old Testament Books of Genesis, Exodus and the Song of Songs.  If you’re an art fan, other worthy museums in Nice include the Matisse Museum, the Modern and Contemporary Art Museum, and the Fine Arts Museum. 

French Riviera Museums

Masséna Museum

Lastly, while it’s not an art museum, the seafront Masséna Museum is well worth checking out for anyone interested in Nice’s history. 

The downstairs floor of this seaside mansion is so beautifully decorated, it pulls you straight back to the days of Nice’s Belle-Époque splendor.  Imagine Downton Abbey – at the beach!

It’s ideally situated for day trips.

Nice’s location is perfect for making day trips along France’s Côte d’Azur.  Sightseeing excursions, frequent buses and good train connections make doing so easy and convenient. 

Popular destinations in the interior include the hilltop village of Gourdon, the perfume capital of Grasse and the art-kissed Saint-Paul-de-Vence.  Along the coast to the west of Nice, daytrippers visit the glamorous Riviera towns of Sainte-Maxime, Saint-Tropez, Antibes and Cannes – home to one of the world’s most famous film festivals.  

Cote d'Azur vacation

Villefranche-sur-Mer

The eastern edge of Nice also offers incredible day trip opportunities, which feel more and more Italian-like as you inch eastwards. 

Between Nice and the nearby, high-rolling principality of Monaco (which definitely merits a visit!) visitors can take the three “corniche” (coastal roads with amazing views) to visit resort towns like the very pretty Villefranche-sur-Mer, the affluent Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, and the medieval Èze village. 

From Nice it’s also very easy to travel to Italy for the day to visit the markets of San Remo or Ventimiglia. 

Why do we love Nice?  Its authenticity.

Our favorite thing about Nice however is simply this: despite being located on a beautiful, sapphire-colored bay, it’s a normal, living, breathing French city (France’s 5th largest). 

While known for being a former and current resort town, in no way is Nice a tourist trap.  Its Old Town is not solely comprised of souvenir shops peddling Provencal soaps and dishcloths. 

Even in places that would seem like tourist traps – like the medieval Cours Saleya and its Flower Market – you will see locals chatting away in neighborhood cafes and snacking on socca

best places to visit in France

Vintage Nice

Locals actually inhabit the Old Town, and as you meander through its narrow streets you’ll see children playing, friends having drinks, and folks forming long lines to visit their neighborhood butcher. 

We can promise you – Old Towns aren’t like this everywhere in Europe.  It’s one of the many things about Nice that make it so very special.          

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Nice!  Click here to peruse our vacation packages to France, including a “Nice at Its Best” package.  If you like parts of this and parts of that, we can work with you to customize your dream itinerary. 

It goes without saying that Nice is an ideal destination for any romantic occasion like a honeymoon or anniversary, and it can easily be paired with Paris.   

Lastly, if you have a group of friends or family members that would like to travel with you to France, we can customize an affordable itinerary just for your group. 

 

Merci et bon voyage!