Last Updated on September 13, 2023 by April | Dreaming in French
A popular destination along the Cote d’Azur in the south of France, between Saint Tropez and Nice, Cannes is known for its bustling beach clubs and the famous Cannes Film Festival. With so many things to do in Cannes, you can see why this beautiful city attracts visitors from all over the world, including its glamour, luxury shops, gourmet restaurants, and famous beaches.
I discover new things to explore every time I go back. The South of France is also one of my primary travel writing beats, so I visit pretty frequently, staying anywhere from a convent (during the Film Festival, no less) to opulent 5-star hotels.
Additionally, I’ve made a lot of day trips from Nice to Cannes, and you can definitely explore Cannes in a day. This easily accessible city is a fantastic starting point for touring other French Riviera locations like Èze, Monaco, and Antibes because it is close to the railway line.
In this guide, I’ll share the best things to see and do in Cannes so you can plan your trip with confidence.
Overview of Things To Do in Cannes
There are sandy beaches in Cannes that are better than most (pebbly) beaches on the French Riviera.
It has a large waterfront promenade, high-end boutiques, extravagant luxury hotels, and streets dotted with quaint cafes and eateries. The yachts, did I mention them?
Le Suquet, Cannes’ historic district, offers a pleasant diversion from the city’s flash and glamour, while the serene Lérins Islands off the coast calm things down even more.
Above all, Cannes is enjoyable; it seems as though the raucous festival mood permeates the boulevards and cafés all year long.
How to Get to Cannes
The French Riviera (or Cote d’Azur) is where Cannes is located in the South of France. It is about 20 miles from Nice Côte d’Azur Airport, the closest international airport. It’s the easiest way to get to Cannes if you’re flying in by airplane!
And while traveling by plane is the shortest and most practical method to get to the town, road and rail trips can provide an interesting experience.
The A8 motorway: Two exits of the A8 ‘La Provençale’ motorway will take you to Cannes. The first is the Cannes-La Bocca (41), while the second is the Mougins (42) — from Aix-en-Provence to the west and Italy to the East. You can either take a local bus or rent a car. The bus services in Cannes are funded by the city council and provide easy intercity commutes throughout the area.
The Route Napoléon: This route, which travels from Golfe Juan to Grenoble, follows the path that Napoleon once took on his way back from Elba in 1815. Here you may learn more about Route Napoleon.
If you decide to road trip through southern France, you will be able to visit so many other destinations along the coast, all the way from Provence to northern Italy!
Train journeys are a great way to explore the beauty of Cannes.
TGV trains: While in the town, visitors may take advantage of the many trains à grande vitesse (TGV trains), France’s regional high-speed rail service. Furthermore, Cannes is connected to all other areas and some of the biggest cities in Europe via the extensively utilized Corail trains and express trains. The Esterel Massif can be seen beautifully from these trains as they travel through it.
TER trains: From Les Arcs Draguignan to Ventimiglia, the Transport Express Régional (TER) trains travel the whole region, going through Villefranche-sur-Mer, Antibes, Biot, Cagnes-sur-Mer, and Menton. Regular trains run between Cannes and all of the Côte d’Azur’s cities, as well as between the other stations and Cannes-La-Bocca.
From Nice Côte d’Azur Airport, Cannes’ closest airport, you can get there in under 30 minutes. It is one of the primary airports with over 50 airlines that connects the town to the rest of Southern Europe and is situated about 27 kilometres from Cannes. Shuttle services from the airport to Cannes run every 40 to 45 minutes. Arrive at bus line 210 and buy your tickets there. The cost is between USD 24.15 and 36.23.
The Cannes-Mandelieu Airport is a significant airport that connects Cannes with various European cities directly. It is located around 15 minutes from the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès de Cannes and Cannes city center.
The Best Time to Visit
During festivals and summer holidays, which are July and August, the French Riviera becomes very busy. The best time to visit depends on how patient you are with crowds. Much of May is spent setting up for the Cannes Film Festival.
If you’re looking for an ideal time to visit with fewer crowds than usual, good weather, and time to enjoy all the sights, late-April to early-May is an excellent time to visit, and September to October is another great time to visit. You will enjoy nice weather and fewer crowds during both of these times.
Where to Stay
It’s no secret that Cannes is known for its luxury seaside hotels along the Promenade de la Croisette, but you can also find many more affordable options if you’re on a budget.
- Mondrian Cannes: It boasts a retro-style design with spectacular sea views, extensive gardens, and a Michelin-starred restaurant. As well as being close to the beach, it has its own beach club, and is only a five-minute walk from the famous rue d’Antibes shipping. An excellent hotel in a great location!
- Hôtel Martinez: This freshly restored hotel, known for its Art Deco glitz, is right on the beach, has a two-star Michelin restaurant, a beach club, and an amazing spa. The hotel has 409 rooms with seaside décor, with the Premium Sea View room providing the greatest stay.
- Five Seas Hotel Cannes: This boutique hotel offers exclusive access to a secluded length of beach, a great spa, and a rooftop terrace with a pool and bar. It is only a short distance from La Croisette. This opulent hotel provides 45 accommodations, a relaxing stay, and top-notch food and drink selections.
- Hotel Verlaine: This hotel is close to Rue d’Antibes and is situated in the center of the city. You won’t be let down when you enter the bright interior with its lovely Belle Époque façade and modest garden for relaxation. Bold colors and patterns are used to embellish the rooms.
- Hôtel Barrière Le Gray d’Albion: This modern hotel that borrows elements from Art Deco design. Visitors may enjoy the restaurants, bars, and beach club in the summer. The hotel’s restaurant, the leafy La Terrasse, offers vegetarian selections. With new balconies and improved views, the hotel rooms have just undergone renovations.
- Villa Claudia Hotel Cannes: An old 19th-century house has been converted into an 18-room hotel. The Rue d’Antibes is a short stroll from the Villa Claudia Hotel, and the train station is a 10-minute stroll away. There are several outdoor lounging areas on the villa grounds, and the hotel offers a free breakfast in the breakfast room.
- Hotel Alexandre III: Less than 1000 steps from the beach, Hotel Alexandre III is another beautiful hotel housed in a historic structure. It offers free internet, air-conditioned rooms, a private garden, and a patio. You may reserve king-sized beds in these soundproofed, orthopedic mattress-equipped rooms.
- Villa Pruly Hotel Cannes Centre: Conveniently situated between Rue d’Antibes and the railway station, this chic hotel is a former palace. This lovely hotel provides a variety of cozy, brightly painted rooms with extras like free continental breakfast, balconies, baths, and soundproofed rooms.
The Best Restaurants in Cannes
Cannes is a fantastic example of the amazing cuisine that can be found in the south of France. There are many various dining alternatives in this city, from informal cafés to fancy dining establishments!
- La Table du Chef: This little eatery, which is close to Rue d’Antibes, is led by a chef who utilizes regional ingredients and serves a brand-new set menu for evening. This restaurant has received both a Michelin star and a TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice award.
- Ceneri Cannes: In Cannes, there is only one cheese store, Ceneri Cannes. Ceneri Cannes is the place to go if you’re visiting the area and want a real fromagerie experience from a master fromager-affineur who has been in business since 1968.
- Da Laura Cannes: The excellent Italian restaurant Da Laura, has a lovely outside area where you can have a delicious dinner. On sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, this charming eatery has received many positive ratings throughout the years.
→ Pssst! Planning to explore more of the French Riviera? Don’t miss the Ultimate Guide to the French Riviera (all the BEST French Riviera Cities to Visit!).
Things to do in Cannes
There are many things to do in Cannes and the surrounding region, including visiting the beautiful beaches, strolling through the quaint neighborhoods, and an abundance of stores and restaurants.
The magnificent Boulevard de la Croisette, better known as La Croisette, is where the majority of the action takes place in Cannes. The beach clubs and spectacular sea views are located on this palm-lined promenade, which is thronged with people in the summer.
A few streets away in the center of the city, this well-known street runs parallel to La Croisette. If you enjoy shopping, this is the location you should visit. Although it is crowded with stores, it is also widely recognized for its abundance of 19th-century landmarks!
The old part of the city, or Le Suquet, is a medieval district. Once you arrive at the meandering, cobblestone streets lined with neighborhood eateries, you will know it. This hill is one of my favorite places to visit and is recognized as the birthplace of Cannes!
Spend the Day at a Beach Club
Spending the day at the beach club is among the top things to do in Cannes. There is nothing more enjoyable than taking it easy in the sun, enjoying the bar, and getting something to eat. Hyde Beach, Palais Stéphanie Beach, and Carlton Beach Club are a few of my favorites.
Day trip to Mougins
A stunning medieval hamlet with rolling hills around it can be found at Mougins, which is only 15 minutes by car from Cannes. Visitors may enjoy a stunning view of the surroundings from this well-preserved settlement. You’ll discover why many well-known celebrities, like Picasso and Christian Dior, have stayed here as you stroll through the village.
Cannes’ largest indoor market, Marché Forville, is situated adjacent to the well-known La Croisette boardwalk. Fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood, and other foods of every kind are available here. Don’t miss out on one of the best sites in Cannes to visit, whether you’re a visitor or a resident.
Visit Île Sainte-Marguerite
Île Sainte-Marguerite is easily reached from Cannes and provides for a wonderful day excursion thanks to its 15-minute ferry ride. You may spend the day roaming about and exploring the island, or you can visit some of the museums and forts there. The island also has a number of beaches where you can unwind.
Tips for Visiting Cannes
- Learning a little bit of French before visiting France is usually beneficial. It’s possible that many residents in Cannes speak a little English, but it’s always a good idea to be proactive and respectful by learning a few essential French words.
- Pack some comfy shoes because strolling about Cannes is a terrific way to see the city.
- Bring your water bottle with you. Public water fountains are available in the majority of French cities. You might not immediately see them as they are only a foot or two from the ground!
Frequently Asked Questions
How many days should you spend in Cannes?
You should visit Cannes for at least two days in order to experience everything it has to offer. There are many people who visit Cannes in just one day, but if you give yourself two days to see the city, you will be able to enjoy it at your own pace.
What should I know before planning a trip to Cannes?
Things to know before planning a trip to Cannes include learning a bit of French, researching about the climate and making early bookings for camping in Le Vieux Port.
Do you need cash in Cannes?
Even though there are numerous currency exchange services available in Cannes, I would advise you to keep some cash handy while travelling across the town.