Cannes is one of the top travel destinations in France. It’s a gorgeous resort town found along the French Riviera, and lined with magnificent beaches, palm trees and yachts. You may have heard the name Cannes from the famous international film festival it is home to every year. Although it is only a small town with roughly 70,000 residents, Cannes is a huge hot spot with a lot of culture and glamour. With its Mediterranean climate, the long, warm summers make it a go-to place for beachgoers and vacationers.
There are a lot of things to do in Cannes that the average person probably doesn’t know about. Keep reading to find out what to do in Cannes and why you should book a trip there for your next summer holiday.
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How to get to Cannes
Cannes, France is just over 25 kilometres south of Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport. It’s the third busiest airport in France, so it is serviced by many international airlines. From there, you can get to Cannes via taxi, Uber, train or bus.
The coach, known as the 210 bus, leaves from both airport terminals every half hour. It costs 33 euros for a return ticket or 22 euros one way. Depending on the traffic, the journey will take you about 30 minutes to an hour. This bus is typically the easiest option, but be aware that it only runs until eight o’clock at night. After this time, you can catch a bus opposite the first terminal known as the Ligne 200. While this option only costs 1.5 euros, it can take up to two hours to reach Cannes due to frequent stops. Since this bus is also not equipped for large amounts of luggage, it should be used as a last resort.
If you prefer to drive, you can easily hire a car at the airport. Otherwise, you can get a taxi or an Uber for about 55 euros. To catch the train into Cannes, you will first need to hop on the 23 bus from the first terminal to get to the St Augustin Railway Station. All up, this will cost you about 7.5 euros.
What to expect in Cannes
Since Cannes is located in France, the local language is French. It’s a city that thrives on tourism, so you will be able to communicate without much trouble. While most locals working in the hospitality and tourism industries will be able to speak basic English with you, it’s recommended that you learn a few French greetings. It’s worth making the effort to say bonjour or bonsoir (good evening) rather than jumping straight into English. Also, learning to say “Parlez-vous anglais?” (Do you speak English?) shows you have a respectful attitude and means you’ll likely be treated in the same manner.
Conveniently, the currency in use is the euro. If you need, there are a few locations to exchange your money in town. Tipping isn’t considered to be an obligation, and there are no set rules. Waiters are paid livable wages and aren’t reliant on tips. That being said, it’s a nice gesture to leave something extra if someone has gone out of their way to give you a pleasant experience. To play it safe, you can always round up the bill or leave the change.
Things to do in Cannes
Cannes is well-known for its sandy beaches, so expect to spend a good portion of your trip relaxing by the water. If you’re staying at a major hotel, you’ll be lucky enough to have access to a private beach. In terms of public beaches, Plage de la Bocca is the most popular, particularly with young families. You also have Plage du Midi, which has a fun vibe and is close to La Croix-des-Gardes, a public park that’s a perfect picnic spot.
If beach clubs are your thing, Riviera Beach Restaurant Plage Privée is a great spot for a bite to eat. You can sit right on the sand and enjoy some local seafood dishes, such as the avocado and crab salad.
When you’ve wrapped up an afternoon at the beach, there are things to do in Cannes at night too. The Promenade de la Croisette is bustling in the evenings. You can take a romantic stroll along this three-kilometre stretch and pop into one of many chic restaurants and bars. Restaurant La Palme d’Or is the ultimate fine dining experience and has been awarded two Michelin stars. It’s found right off the boardwalk in the art deco Hotel Martinez. You won’t forget the sophisticated gourmet food or the magnificent views in a hurry!
For something more casual and laid-back, La Mandela is a terrific spot for a delicious late-night meal. Try their popular Mandela Burger with a side of fries and appreciate the top-notch service from all the staff. If you want to find a place that’s not too crowded with tourists, Tredici is a warm and welcoming bistro. It’s a short walk from the promenade and a real gem in Cannes. You also can’t go wrong at Crêperie de La Croisette any time of the day. Sit back and people watch while enjoying some fresh and reasonably priced crepes or omelettes.
If you happen to be visiting while the Cannes Film Festival is running, you may be able to see a few free movies at the beach. While the bulk of the festival is reserved for those in the industry, the Cinéma de la Plage has a few screenings open to the public in the evenings. Be sure to check the schedule and book tickets ahead of time. They typically show some great, classic films, and you’ll certainly impress friends by telling them you attended a screening at Cannes!
Places to visit in Cannes
There are plenty of wonderful places to visit in Cannes, France other than the main promenade and the beaches.
When you’re in Cannes, you’ll want to explore the charming Le Suquet, also known as the Old Town. You can get lost here among the medieval Roman architecture and winding cobbled streets. The Musée de la Castre is a tower at the top of Le Suquet which showcases an art collection celebrating the town’s history. It takes 109 steps to climb up, but you’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the French Riviera. There’s also the Église Notre-Dame d’Espérance, known for its sculptures and stained-glass windows.
Right outside the neighbourhood is the Marché Forville, a superb indoor market. Here you can find cold meats, organic vegetables, delicious cheeses, fresh seafood, and even Italian food. Even if you’re not looking to buy anything, the market is very pleasant to wander through, particularly if you need to get out of the sun for a bit. If you haven’t filled up on a big breakfast or lunch, you can sample some delicacies from the stalls. The market is open from seven a.m. to one p.m. and closed on Mondays. It’s a popular place to be during the peak tourist season, so get there bright and early if you want to beat the busy crowds.
A kilometre down the boulevard is La Malmaison, a chic art centre. The former hotel building holds contemporary exhibitions from 20th and 21st century artists. If you’re in the mood to see more art, La Galerie Vieceli is only a five-minute walk away.
It’s also worth taking a short ferry ride out to the Lérins Islands off the main coast. This group is comprised of four islands. There’s Île Sainte-Marguerite and Île Saint-Honorat, as well as two smaller uninhabited islands, Îlot Saint-Ferréol and Îlot de la Tradelière. The Abbey of Lérins on Île Saint-Honorat is a must see in Cannes, France for its beautiful architecture. The fortified Cistercian monastery has been around since the year 1073 and is exclusively home to monks.
You may also want to take a visit to the extravagant Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. This once-private mansion, along with its many art collections, was donated to the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1934. Many furnishings inside the villa were originally from Versailles and once belonged to Marie Antoinette. Outside the rose-coloured villa are nine vibrant gardens, each with a distinct name and theme. There’s the Spanish Garden, the Florentine Garden, the Stone Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Exotic Garden, the Rose Garden, the Provencal Garden, the French Garden, and the Sèvres Garden. Although you can wander as you please, there is a map available with suggested routes.
Where to stay in Cannes
There are a plethora of luxurious accommodation options in Cannes, many overlooking the French Riviera. Whether you’re looking to treat yourself at a 5-star hotel or are after a more budget-friendly stay, we’ve got you sorted with some of the best recommendations.
Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic is a hotel that certainly lives up to its name. It is easily one of the most luxurious places to stay in Cannes, with breathtaking views and elegant interiors. There are all types of guest rooms available here, from superior king beds to penthouse suites. Everything you could ever need for the relaxing trip of a lifetime is offered here. There’s a private pool, a fitness centre, a spa, and a special room to watch a film and enjoy a glass of champagne on a Sunday evening. From the rooftop restaurant, you can marvel at a panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea. If you’re travelling with kids, there are services and activities on-site to keep them occupied.
On the other end is Hotel PLM. If you’re looking for a no-frills place to stay that’s still comfortable and welcoming, this is the hotel for you. After looking at the photos, you’ll be surprised to learn how affordable a night here actually is. Prices begin at around 60 euros for double or twin beds. The rooms are modern, clean and homey, and described by PLM as “cocoons of comfort”. The location is prime, right in the heart of Cannes. The Promenade de la Croisette is few hundred metres away, and the train station is only minutes by foot.
If you’re looking for something funky and casual, four-star hotel Okko Cannes is one to look into. The interiors are decorated with bold fuschias, deep blues and natural greens. Here you’ll find all the essentials you need in an aesthetically pleasing environment. Plus, it’s right next to the train station and a five-minute walk from the Croisette. The stylish rooftop space has a beautiful terrace with a selection of newspapers and magazines, and a gift shop where you can buy local products.
Tours to do in Cannes
A popular day trip to take is to nearby Nice, Monaco and Eze. While it’s possible to get to each of these areas via train, Ports of Call Tours runs shore excursions via cruise ship. The tours are kept small, usually up to eight people, to ensure a personalised experience. A wine-tasting cruise is the perfect Côte d’Azur adventure, and provides great value for those on a tight schedule.
Nice is the fifth largest city in France, and likely where you flew into to get to Cannes in the first place. It’s full great cultural and architectural attractions like the Museum of Modern Art, the Russian Orthodox Cathedral and the Palais Lascaris.
Monaco is the second smallest country in the world and surrounded by France. While it may be tiny, it’s an incredibly prestigious and upscale area with a rich history. It’s famous for the Monte Carlo Casino and the Formula One Grand Prix race track. A guided tour can teach you more and help you take advantage of your time here.
Eze is a nearby medieval village 700 metres above sea level. The views from the top of this quaint commune are breathtaking. It’s a fascinating place to spend a few hours exploring, and the Exotic Garden full of succulents is worth a visit. There’s also the option to tour the Parfumerie Fragonard to learn how French perfume is made.
Now that you know about all of the Cannes, France points of interest, you’re ready for the trip of a lifetime. Whether you’re visiting on business for the film festival or on summer vacation, you’re sure to have an incredible and memorable time.
Recommend budget tours in Cannes
- French Riviera Day Trip from Nice
- Cannes Shore Excursion: Private Day Trip to Monaco and Eze
- Ferry to St Tropez from Cannes
- Provence Countryside Small-Group Day Trip from Cannes
- Cannes Shore Excursion: Small-Group Cannes, Antibes and St-Paul-de-Vence Tour
- Small-Group Evening Tour and Dinner in Monte Carlo from Cannes
- Italian Markets Shopping Small Group Day Trip from Cannes
- French Riviera Villages and Countryside from Nice
- Double Supercar Driving Experience from Monaco
- Cannes Shore Excursion: Private Day Trip to Cannes, Antibes and Biot
- Private Day Trip: Verdon Canyon plus Castellane & Moustiers Villages from Cannes