Background The COVID-19 pandemic and resultant public health restrictions saw the mass movement of higher education to online, remote delivery. There was wide variation in how this was implemented, and for many undergraduate programs, this was the first time teaching was conducted remotely. The aim of this study was to explore undergraduate student nurses’ views of online learning. Methods Reflexive thematic analysis was used to analyse focus group data from undergraduate nursing students. Findings Two central themes described student preferences for learning environments and challenges associated with asynchronous learning. Participants reported a preference for face-to-face learning. Suggestions for optimising remote learning include an emphasis on synchronous live sessions rather than asynchronous learning, incentivised learning, and a focus on ongoing formative informal assessment to maintain engagement. Specific challenges related to poor retention, difficulty remaining motivated, and maintaining focus on content and learning outcomes. Conclusion As more opportunities arise to engage with online pedagogies for undergraduate nursing students, educators need to ensure their approaches are evidence-based and learner-centric.