From touchdown to downtown – getting from Nice Airport (NCE) to the city centre

As your aircraft’s final descent follows the contours of one of the world’s most famous coastlines, admire the spectacular, high-altitude vista of villas, yachts and sparkling seas. First impressions rarely impress more than this. Welcome to Aéroport Nice Côte d'Azur, gateway to the Riviera.

Nice airport from the sky - jjonathan Nice Airport- jjonathan Nice coast - Rob Lee
France’s second-largest airport is conveniently situated at the western end of the Promenade des Anglais, 6 kilometres from centre-ville. Compared to the more imaginative locations of some city airports, Nice must vie for the title of world’s most accessible airport. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see recent arrivals wheeling small suitcases as they walk along the Promenade towards town centre, advisable only to those with apartments booked relatively close by, of course!

Nice Airport has two terminals. Terminal One is home to both established and low-cost carriers, while Terminal Two primarily houses Air France and easyJet. Immigration and baggage formalities usually run smoothly, so you should have your passport stamped, luggage collected and be ready to hit the town in no time. Here are your main options.

Bus

Ligne d’Azur, the city’s bus operator, runs two dedicated airport services, lines 98 and 99. Bus 98 runs along the Promenade des Anglais to Vieux Nice, around Place Garibaldi and the port, to Gare Riquier, the city’s eastern train station. The terminus of line 99 is Gare Thiers, Nice’s main train station in centre-ville. It also follows the Promenade before joining one of the city’s main arteries, Boulevard Gambetta, on its approach to the station.

Bus - loop_ohBoth lines start at Terminal Two, before picking up passengers at Terminal One and joining the Promenade traffic. An Aéro ticket costs 6€ one-way and can be purchased on board. The 98 runs more frequently than the 99, three times an hour compared to two, and over a longer period – the first at 05:50 and the last 23:50. Timetables can be consulted here. The ticket is valid for 74 minutes and allows for one connecting voyage on any urban bus.

As in most cities, there’s a cheaper, local alternative to these buses. Bus 23, one of the urban lines, starts its journey from Terminal One. A ticket will cost you 1.50€, however be prepared for disapproving looks from city dwellers using this service for their daily commute, who might not appreciate your luggage taking up valuable passenger space! The 23 leaves from Terminal One only, so if you land at Terminal Two simply hop on the free navette (shuttle bus) between the two. The route runs parallel with the Promenade, turning up to Gare Thiers and continuing towards Nice Nord.

Train

Train - Michael de 'OzNice has three train stations: Gare Riquier in the east, Gare Thiers in the centre, and Gare Saint-Augustin in the west, which is just close enough to the airport to be classified as one of the possible transport options. It’s a bit complicated to reach if you’re a first-time visitor, and involves a quick ride on the airport shuttle bus to an outer stop, Arénas, followed by a 5-10 minute walk. It’s more useful for accessing neighbouring towns such as Antibes and Villefranche-sur-Mer. If you do decide to catch the train, ensure it serves your desired stop. There are many express services which serve only the major stations.

Taxi

Here’s a piece of trivia for you: it’s often cheaper to catch a ride in a helicopter from the airport to Monaco than a taxi! While the distance between Nice and its airport may be too short to offer a similarly stylish entrance, there’s definitely no shortage of taxis waiting for new arrivals outside both terminals. To compensate, Nice’s taxi fleet is rather luxurious and don’t be surprised if find yourself being chauffered into town in a sleek black Medcedes or BMW.

You’ll be paying for the privelidge, however, as a sample fare from the airport to centre-ville is around 30€. Extra baggage and night surcharges add a few euros onto the fare. Remember to have cash ready to pay the driver (cash points and exchange bureaus are handily located in both airport terminals). Also worth considering are the private companies that offer a city transfer for a similar rate, which can be prebooked and are surcharge-free.

Car hire

Rental Car - dlisbonaThe usual suspects are all present at Nice Airport and vying for your custom. If you prefer to hire a car during your stay, the vehicle collection points easily connect to both the Promenade and the A8 motorway. Just remember that a speed limit of 50 km/hour applies in built-up areas, whereas in the Alpes Maritimes a limit of 110 km/hour is enforced on the motorway. To say that finding street parking in Nice is difficult is an understatement, however if you’re struggling there’s always the option of a paying parking station.