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Best things to do & places to stay:

Last updated: 04 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Dana Facaros

Cannes drips glamour in May, when the  movie stars gather in town for its Film Festival. But there’s plenty of glitz to go around the rest of the year too.

Sister city of Hollywood, its superb crescent of sand, fabled hotels, designer boutiques and smart bars, restaurants and clubs offer a chance to immerse yourself in pure Riviera bling.

And if you need some down time, just hop on a boat to the peaceful, wooded Lerin Islands, Ile Saint-Honorat and Ile Sainte-Margarite – the latter once hosted the Man in the Iron Mask.

Orientation

Picturesque old Cannes, crowned by a medieval castle, covers the steep hill of Le Suquet; at night its bars and restaurants spring into life. The yacht-filled port separates it from the enormous Palais des Festivals ( ‘the Bunker’) marking the start of the beach and Boulevard de la Croisette, lined with hotels, posh apartments and cafés in pole position for people-watching; the chic boutiques are just inland along Rue d’Antibes. East of La Croisette, the hillside Le Californie neighbourhood is dotted with lavish villas. The two Lerin islands are a short hop away by boat.

The bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination

Cannes Film Festival

Cannes, Cote d'Azur, France

The world’s top film festival, held in the South of France. Though designed for professionals, it can be just as fun for fans with free and ticketed screenings.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free | 11 days

Other worthwhile experiences in this destination if you have the time or the interest

Forville Market
Experience

Forville Market

Cannes, Cote d'Azur, France

The big covered market in the heart of Cannes dates from the 1930s, and overflows with the fresh produce and flowers of Provence. It’s open until 1pm and closed Monday – although sometimes there’s a flea market in there instead.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free | 1 hour

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Small forested island with a tiny town in a blue sea
Experience

Ile Saint-Honorat

Cannes, Cote d'Azur, France

If you want to escape the crowds, cross the water to this peaceful island, the second largest of the Lerins. There’s a 3rd-century abbey, where St Patrick once studied; there are lovely walks, swims and the monks’ wine to purchase. See the ferry website for departures and tickets.

Best for ages: 8+ | £15

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Coastal promenade at Cannes, with port on one side and luxury shops on other
Experience

La Croisette Promenade

Cannes, Cote d'Azur, France

Join the locals by shopping the luxury boutiques, then stopping for a drink and people-watching at one of the many canopied cafés along this iconic seafront promenade in Cannes.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free

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Close up of the train stopping outside of some shops
Experience

Movie Train

Cannes, Cote d'Azur, France

Discover Cannes the easy way on the Movie Train, starting from the Palais des Festivals: it takes in the Forville Market, Le Susquet, La Croisette, the casinos, and Rue d’Antibes.

Best for ages: Any | £5 | 1 hour

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this destination, plus helpful tickets and transfers

Cannes E-Bike Guided Tour

Cannes E-Bike Guided Tour

Cannes

In this 2-3 hour tour, follow your guide and discover the famous French Riviera city : Cannes by riding  an amazing ebike,. Explore Cannes: ...

€69 | Rating 4.66 / 5 [27 ratings]

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Cannes Walking Tour

Cannes Walking Tour

Cannes

In this 2-hour-long tour, we will explore all the important sights in Cannes. This tour is characterized by small groups with a highly perso...

€15 | Rating 4.37 / 5 [8 ratings]

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Cannes, Antibes & St-Paul de Vence Small group Half-Day Tour

Cannes, Antibes & St-Paul de Vence Small group Half-Day Tour

Nice

See the best of the French Riviera on a trip to Cannes, Antibes, and Saint-Paul de Vence. Drive along the glittering coastline, past yachts ...

€65 | Rating 4.35 / 5 [17 ratings]

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Cannes, Antibes, and St Paul de Vence Full-day from Nice Small-Group Tour

Cannes, Antibes, and St Paul de Vence Full-day from Nice Small-Group Tour

Nice

Following the coast road, drive to the old Antibes, the incredible harbor and its ramparts. Reach Cannes driving by the Croisette boulevard ...

€89 | Rating 4.45 / 5 [48 ratings]

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Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay in this destination

Hotel Le Canberra

Cannes, Cote d'Azur, France

Affordable boutique hotel with lashings of Cannes glitz, convenient for the sights, shops and beach.

Official star rating:

Carlton Cannes

Cannes, Cote d'Azur, France

A luxurious and iconic film-star favourite in Cannes’ most desirable location – pole position on La Croisette. The hotel’s private beach, jetty and restaurant are still the see-and-be-seen spot in Cannes.

Official star rating:

Hotel Martinez

Cannes, Cote d'Azur, France

The stars’ favourite during the Cannes Film Festival, this legendary Art Deco hotel and beach club delivers on glitz and glamour.

Official star rating:

When to go

Although crowded, Cannes is at its crazy best during the Film Festival in May. Winters are exceptionally mild; summers are hot but good for the beach. October and November tend to be the wettest and windiest months.

From mid-July to late August, the city hosts weekly fireworks spectaculars in the sea in front of the fabled Carlton Hotel as various countries compete.

Getting there and away

Nice Airport is 30 to 45 minutes from Cannes if the traffic isn’t too heavy, a trip you can make by taxi or Express Bus No. 210; there also a slower and much cheaper regular bus (No. 200).

There are an average of 48 trains a day between Nice and Cannes you’ll never have to wait long.

Getting around

Most of the sights are in walking distance – but take city bus No.8 to Palm Beach to see La Croisette in all its glory. There are plentiful taxis for longer trips, and places to hire a bike, e-bike or a scooter, or even a Harley Davidson. Major international car hire firms are at Cannes’ train station (be sure to book one in advance in summer). There’s a useful car park by the Forville market just under Le Suquet.

Where to stay

If your budget stretches far enough, stay in one of the star-studded hotels along La Croisette. Room rates dip considerably if you stay just inland, where the vast majority of hotels are concentrated. These rarely have reserved spots on the beach, so if you plan a day there be sure to arrive before noon to bag a sunbed.

Other guides relevant to this destination

Nice destination guide

Cote d'Azur, France

The buzzing, art-filled, foodie capital of the French Riviera, with a charming, Italian-influenced historic centre. The ideal base for a first-time visit to the Cote d’Azur, and home to the world-renowned Nice Carnival.

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