Buses in Nice 2024

Updated for 2024: New (higher) bus fares, how to use the new rechargeable cards (no more paper tickets), and how to avoid the ‘airport ticket’ tourist rip-off.

Movie poster 'Dude Where's My Car?'Bus/Tram cards

All buses/trams in Nice require a card, and a normal one-trip bus/tram fare is now 1.70€ but has unlimited same-direction transfers for 74 minutes.

You get the card (La Carte) from the machines at all the tram stops (which take bank cards, Apple Pay, or coins, no bills), or at most newsstands/tabacs or other stores displaying the Lignes d’Azur sign.   There is also a machine next to the tourist office just outside the Nice train station, but notably the airport ticket machines do not sell the rechargeable cards in a blatant ploy to rip-off arriving tourists… see below for how to get around this.

The card itself costs 2€, but you can get that 2€ refunded back at the end from at one of the aforementioned newsstands/tabacs with the sign.  (If you are using your last voyage to get to the airport however, there is no place to get that 2€ back so you’re out of luck.)

QR code for tram ticketsDo you have an Android phone? If yes, just download the free Tram Tix app (in English!) from the Google Store, sign up for a virtual rechargeable tram card La Carte (saving the 2€ card fee!), and charge your virtual card up with a few trips; you can do all of this from your home country before you leave. Then when you arrive at the airport just get on the tram and wave your phone over the ticket machine to validate your voyage.  Super easy.   But again, this only works with Android, not iPhones (only because iPhones won’t work to validate the trips).

If you need to buy your tram pass from the ticket machine, here is my easy step-by-step photo guide to get your tram pass in 30-seconds.

Once you have the rechargeable card you can add as many trips as you want by using the ticket machines at the tram stops, recharging at some newsstands, or the easiest is online with the aforementioned Lignes d’Azur Ticket app.

There are no ticket machines at bus stops, so if you don’t have your card already you can still buy one from the driver pre-loaded with one trip (ask for a card ‘Solo Secours’ which roughly means ‘help me’ lol), but in that case your trip will cost a little more, 2€ for the card and then 2€ for the trip, so 4€ total, but now at least you have the card and can load it up elsewhere, even online.

Multiple people can use the same card, so if you are a family of four, just load up that card with trips then beep it 4 times when you board (but then just once every time you transfer to a different line during your 74 minutes of free same-direction transfers).  If you load your card with a bunch of trips all at once, they do get a little cheaper after 12 (1.50€ each), after 25 (1.30€ each), and after 50 (1€ each), and the trips never expire.

Another option with your card is to load a day-pass on it for 7€ which gives you unlimited trips for 24-hours, a 2-day pass for 13€, or a week pass for 20€  The only catch here is that everyone needs their own card.

You can also load your card with the Pass SudAzur, an all-access pass for 3-days (35€), one week (50€), or two weeks (80€), giving you unlimited Nice trams, all local buses in all the towns including Monaco, but also unlimited trains (Italy to Theole-sur-mer, plus inland trains)!  It’s available from July through the first weekend in November.

Validating your ticket

As you board the bus or tram, beep your card on the little machine.  If you are two people and using the same card, beep it twice.  This is very important as otherwise you can get a big fat fine if the ticket inspectors come on.

Once you punch it, your ticket is good for the next 74 minutes for as many tram or bus rides as you can fit in, but the catch is: in one direction only.  Beep it again at each transfer; if you are within your 74 minutes, it will just give you a green ‘good to go’ beep.

If you are multiple people using the same card, beep for each person when you first get on, but then beep just once each time you transfer within the 74 minutes.

To check how many trips you have left on your card, just set it on the card holder on the ticket machines at any tram stop and you balance will show on the screen.  The trips never expire.

Movie poster with Marilyn Monroe standing at a bus stopCatching the bus

At a bus stop you have to flag down the driver… otherwise the bus might blow right past you!  To save time, the buses don’t stop at each stop unless someone wants to get on or off, so when you get near your stop just signal the driver by pressing the red button and ‘Arret Demande’ (“stop requested”) will flash at the front.  If it is a popular stop like the Matisse or Chagall museums, usually someone else will push the button first so you don’t have to worry.

Most buses have screens announcing the stops, but even so you will want to check the route map in the bus and then keep an eye out for the stops that come before yours.

Bus/Tram Schedules

The bus/trams run every day of the year, except May 1st, which is French Labor Day, and of course if they are on strike (in which case click here for my transport strike strategies).

The tramways come every 3-8 minutes by day and every 12-20 minutes by night until around 1am. Here is more specific information on the tramways (changing tram lines, tips for getting to the airport, and what you can see and do at each of the main stops.)

The bus timings vary, but you can check the schedule here (or just use Google Maps which is much easier, in English, and has up to the minute real-time info.)  Other apps with reliable real-time info include   Moovit (in 35 languages!), Transit App, Zenbus, and others.

How to get around the Airport Tourist Rip-off

When you arrive at the airport, the ticket machines there only sell a round-trip paper airport ticket for 10€ (!), which is not bad if you are not ‘in the know’, but is actually kind of a blatant tourist rip-off as a tram to or from the airport actually only costs 1.70€.  If you have a few extra minutes you can get that round-trip down to 5.40€ including the rechargeable card to use during all the rest of your trip.  The insider tip is to get off at the first tram stop outside the airport (the tram is free to Grand Arenas), where that ticket machine (in English, takes cards and coins) offers all the options and you can get a rechargeable La Carte for 2€ and then each trip is only 1.70€, airport included, and the card can be used for multiple people.  Or get a day or week pass which includes the airport.  But after a long flight, it might be easier to just spend a little more and chill.  Up to you.

New Specialty Buses/Deals

Bus #98 From Old Nice to the Port.  This new little electric shuttle runs a continuous loop every 15 minutes (every 20 on Sundays) and goes all around the edges of the Old Town, then does the Nice Port, all the way to the far end.

Weekend Wine Country Shuttle (TBD for 2024)  The hills behind Nice boast an award-winning wine-growing region with 11 wineries.  This summer the city is running a special weekend wine shuttle to facilitate winery visits and tastings.  Departing from the Magnan tram stop, shuttle has 5 stops with access to 6 wineries:  Chateau Bellet, Domaine de la Source, Domaine de Vinceline, Collet de Bovis, Chateau de Cremat, and Clos Saint-Vincent.  Only running on Fridays and Saturdays from July through August, it starts at 10am and each loop takes 1 hour and 20 minutes.  The cost is the same as a regular bus ride, so just use your prepaid card, but on this particular bus the 74-minute transfer time doesn’t apply, so since you will be getting on and off all day, the most economical is just to load your card with the bus day-pass for 7€.

Special Mountain Hiking Rando Buses in summer and Ski Express Buses in winter.  Not new, but routes/hours are updated and upgraded each year, and the prices have gone up for 2024, but they are still a killer deal at 14€ round trip.

Backcountry Train Trip  This is new: your rechargeable bus/tram card is also good for… a train ride!  The Train des Pignes leaves from its own train station Chemin de Fer de Provence, 5 minutes from the Liberation tram stop.  For the price of a bus/tram ride, just 1.70€, you can take the first 40 minutes of this train, up to the Chaudan station.  Admittedly there are not a lot of interesting stops on this train line until you get much farther up into the mountains, but it can be an easy way to cut the price of a day trip to the medieval mountain village of Entreveax.

Night Buses

Most regular buses stop running around 8 or 9ish, but all tramways go to 1am.  Of the few buses that also run until 1am, the most notable ones are the Bus #5 to bring you back down from concerts on Cimiez, and the Bus #9 to bring you back from an evening in the charming village of Vence.  There is also a  special #621 Night Bus leaving from the Cannes bus station/train station at 11pm, 12:30am and 3:45am.  This bus only takes you as far as the Parc Phoenix stop (near the Nice airport), but at least from there you can easily do the last little bit with an Uber.

The 2.50€ Ticket Azur for going outside Nice

If you are going to Monaco and beyond (like Menton), to Saint-Paul-de-Vence, or anywhere past Cagnes-sur-mer (like to Antibes or Cannes, for instance), your regular Nice bus card will not be accepted as you will technically be leaving the Nice region, but you can simply buy your regional 2.50€ ticket from the driver (cash only) as you board.  Or… better yet, buy a Ticket Azur for 2.50€ at any tram stop ticket machine/news stand, or on the Nice Tickets App, which is good for one Nice tram/bus trip, and then is also good for the Bus to Monaco, Bus to Saint-Paul-de-Vence, and Bus to Antibes/Cannes anytime within up to 2 1/2 hours.  It only works for going outbound however, for coming back to Nice you will need to buy your return ticket from the driver as you board.

Just how far can you go for 2.50€?

You can go as far east as Menton, and as far west as Cannes and Grasse.  You can go inland on any number of routes, but a couple of the best are Peille with Bus #603, or Bus #615 to Luceram (maybe 40 minutes). If you really want to max it out, you can take the Bus #670 to the ski town of Valberg, or even take the Bus #675 to the moated castle of Entrevaux, or the red clay canyons of the Gorge Daluis and Guillaumes… 2 1/2 hours of spectacular scenery, all for a bus fare of just 2.50€!  And from Entreveaux you can even catch the mountain train back down.

See Related Pages on individual bus routes:

Back up to main Go/Transport page

Photo Credits: Lignes d’Azur by Best of Nice Blog; movie posters for Bus Stop and Dude Where’s My Car? both available from Amazon.com.

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