Fancy a short trip to the Mediterranean to combat your exam stress? Here are some budget friendly tips for students traveling to Nice and Monaco in the south of France, its not as expensive as you might imagine.
How to get there
Ryanair – also known as the flying bus – offer flights to Nice, France all year round at exceptionally low prices, particularly off-season. Nice itself is a must-see and is a perfect base from which to explore the Côte d’Azur. I got my flights for €80 and got the short distance airport shuttle for €6 each way, which is the main expense of the trip. Airport shuttles come every 16 mins and the journey takes just about 35 mins.
Where to stay
This depends on your budget and needs. Nice is the second most visited city in France, second to Paris, meaning that luxury does not come cheap. The cheapest option is to stay in a hostel. I stayed in Hotel Pastoral in the city centre, just around the corner from Notre Dame Cathedral and the main shopping street, a very convenient location. The hostel itself was basic, but only set me back €16 per night. For more comfort I recommend choosing one of the better facilitated hostels near the beach, but you will pay near double the price. If you are a couple or don’t mind sharing a bed, an Airbnb is the way to go as you can split the cost and get your own private room.
What to Do
- Promenade des Anglais
Walk along the Côte d’Azur itself. Though not great for sunbathing as its a stony beach, the walk along this radiantly blue coast is gorgeous. Soak in the sun, fresh air and the Mediterranean views.
- Old Town
Adjacent to the Promenade is the old town, which bears a strong Italian influence, having been part of Italy up until the 19th century. Explore the narrow, winding streets and alleys, filled with bars, shops, restaurants and cafes. Part of the old town is the flower market which all tourist guides mention, but it is in reality quite small and extremely touristy.
- Get the money shot
Ascend out of the old town to get a 360 view of the entire city, coast and port. Don’t worry about the steps, there is a free lift open all day. Descend on the opposite side of the hill, down into the beautiful port of Nice.
- The Russian Cathedral
Built by exiled Russia aristocrats, this Orthodox Cathedral is like a little piece of Moscow right in the centre of Nice. Definitely worth a look.
Where to next?
Public transport in France is exceptional. From Nice you can get a bus along the gorgeous coast to Monaco, taking about 35 mins and costing just €1.50! It runs every 15 mins and the bus journey itself is a must-see. Keep in mind that Monaco is outside of the EU and so your data roaming will not work, but you can take advantage of the free wifi in Mc Donalds, the only affordable place to eat in Monaco.
If you fancy going further afield, from the airport I got a bus to Aix-en-Provence and Marseille, both of which were even more beautiful than Nice. Download the FlixBus app and get a trip for about €12.
An extremely important consideration for us students. The south of France is by no means cheap, but it doesn’t have to be expensive either. Drinking costs about the same as it does here, coffee is actually more expensive, and the quality is not great. I recommend cheap eats and beers in your hostel. There is so much to do and see here, spend your days exploring and your nights chillin’. Sight seeing costs you virtually nothing.
For a 5 day trip I spent about €350, but the whole experience was worth far more.