Explore the wealth of amazing history and science museums in Nice and the surrounding Riviera towns. Here’s our picks of the best museums…
Just click the links below for a page with all the details, extras, anecdotes, and what not to miss.
BEST HISTORY MUSEUMS in Nice
Technically not a museum but a tour, and a bit complicated to get in to see… but worth it! Here’s everything you need to know to find it and get tickets.
Roman Bath Ruins on Cimiez
Very impressive, and just behind the Matisse museum; here’s how to get there and a little history.
On the site of a 400,000-year-old prehistoric elephant hunting camp, excavated just above the Nice Port. Here are the details on how to get there and what to expect.
Palais Lascaris in Old Nice is a tiny but interesting museum that shows what Old Nice’s was like in its heyday, plus an impressive and curious collection of ancient musical instruments. This museum is a little gem, but too tiny to warrant the 10 € admission fee, so better to go if you have the 7-day museum pass, or qualify for free admission.
The Musee Massena is a rather unfocused museum on Nice and Napoleonic history with terrible signage, but located in a sumptuous belle epoch villa with gorgeous gardens, right on the Promenade des Anglais. While you’re there, why not stop at the Hotel Negresco just next door, a veritable museum in its own right, where the admission ticket is an over-priced drink in the wonderful clubby bar.
Franciscan Friar Museum is tucked into the working Monastery on Cimiez; it focuses on the life of monks through the ages, is quick to see… and free, so why not? (Especially if you are up on Cimiez anyway for the Roman Ruins or the Matisse Museum…)
Another free museum (and this one is a little gem) is the Musee des Merveilles in the mountain town of Tende. This well-presented multi-lingual museum is a surprise, and covers not only the mysterious stone-age engravings found throughout the valley, but also geology, prehistory, and a bit on the local wildlife as well. Here’s how to take the scenic mountain train, explore the little rustic villages, and make a day of it.
The Musee de la Mer on Sainte-Marguerite Island off of Cannes is a little hard to get to: The only way to get there is by boat! The museum is in the former prison that held the infamous ‘Man in the Iron Mask‘, and has interesting exhibits on the many Roman shipwrecks found in the bay. The island itself is a joy to explore, so make it a day-trip.
BEST NATURE AND SCIENCE MUSEUMS
Also known as the Jacques Cousteau Museum, this immense cliff-side marine museum is a must-see.
The Nice Observatory Okay, this working astronomy lab is not a museum at all… but it is quite historic, very educational, and offers 3 guided tours a week, so I’m putting it under Science Museums anyway!
The tiny Natural History Museum behind Place Garibaldi …is worth seeing only if you have a free ticket or pass and happen to be in the neighborhood.
The The Saint Cezaire Grotto between Cannes and Grasse is a natural wonder with spectacular stalagmites and stalactites, and wondrous cavernes to explore. Here are the details and how to get there.
Tickets and Passes for the Municipal Museums in Nice – The 14 municipal museums in Nice have two kinds of passes: here’s how they work, how much they cost, plus a few freebies and other museum passes.
See related page on Best Art Museums in and around Nice
- Back up to What to See in Nice page