History and Science Museums in and around Nice

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, tickets, extras, anecdotes, and what not to miss.

Best History Museums

Roman ruins on Cimiez Hill in Nice France

Roman Bath Ruins on Cimiez

Just behind the Matisse museum is a vast excavation of an extensive Roman Bath complex… with a fascinating and well-documented museum and self-tour through the ruins.


Prehistoric elephant campTerra Amata Cave Man dig and Lazaret Cave is 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.

The Garibaldi Crypt 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.

Palais Lascaris in Old Nice is a small but interesting museum that shows what Old Nice was like in its medieval heyday, plus an impressive and curious collection of ancient musical instruments.

TVilla Masséna Museumhe Musee Massena is located in a sumptuous belle epoch villa with gorgeous gardens, right on the Promenade des Anglais.  It has an impressive Napoleonic exhibit, and hits on various eras of Nice history, including splashy artifacts from the Belle Epoque era, and an excellent exhibit on the Nice Carnaval.

Villa Rothschild and Villa Kerylos are two extraordinary villas to explore on Saint Jean Cap Ferrat.  Here’s their backstory, plus the best ways to get there.

The 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…)

And here are a couple of fun history museums a ways out of town, but worth it:

The Musee de la Mer on Sainte-Marguerite Island off of Cannes is an easy boat ride from Nice or Cannes.  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 with lots of hiking trails, so make it an day-trip.

Logo for the Museum des Merveilles in TendeThe Musee des Merveilles is accessible by train 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.

Best Science and Natural History Museums 

Giant Eel from the Monaco Oceanographic Museum

Monaco Oceanographic Museum 

Also known as the Jacques Cousteau Museum, this immense cliff-side marine museum is a must-see.  It is so vast that you will need to laser in on which exhibits to visit, so here are my suggestions.  It is one of the most expensive museums on the Riviera, but there are some deals if you know what to ask for.

The Nice Observatory   This working astronomy lab is technically not a museum… but it offers really interesting guided tours during the week, plus has a new interactive learning center called the Universarium, so I’m putting it under Science Museums anyway!

The tiny Natural History Museum behind Place Garibaldi is worth seeing if you have time left on your Nice museum pass and especially with kids.

Saint Cezaire Grotto CaverneThe The Saint Cezaire Grotto between Cannes and Grasse is a natural wonder with spectacular stalagmites and stalactites, and wondrous caverns to explore.  It is accessible by car only, but worth the trip, especially with kids. Here are the details and how to get there.

Tickets and Passes for the Municipal Museums in Nice – The municipal museums in Nice have a 4-day pass: here’s how it works, how much it costs, and how to make the most of it… plus a few freebies and other museum passes.

See related page on Best Art Museums in and around Nice

Photo credits:  Crypt and Caveman photos from NiceTourism.com, Stairway by Dalbera, Roman Bath ruins by Nataraja, Cupola by Ericd all licensed under Creative Commons.  Eel by Best of Nice.

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