comScore

Best Things To Do in Beijing

The close proximity of Beijing's top attractions makes touring this massive city very manageable. First, your impulse will be to head to Tiananmen Square, which hosts the Forbidden City, the National Museum of China, and several other monuments. From there, you can retreat from the busy plaza to the lush green spaces of Beihai Park or the Summer Palace. You'll also want to pay a visit to the Dashanzi Art District and Nanluoguxiang neighborhood for some urban adventures, like souvenir-hunting and gallery-hopping. When you've exhausted Beijing's offerings, make the pilgrimage to the Great Wall

How we rank Things to Do.

#1

#1 in Beijing

Free
Up there with Times Square, Red Square, and St. Peter's Square, Tiananmen Square is among the world's most famous public spaces. Almost anyone can recognize the Gate of Heavenly Peace—emblazoned with a portrait of Chairman Mao—as a symbol of Beijing. One TripAdvisor user comments, "It feels like you already know this place when you arrive. However, as you look around, the vast size of the place starts to impress upon you." The square is the geographic, political, and tourist center of the city, which makes it unavoidable. Although Tiananmen Square looks like a field of concrete (which it is), you'll want to see it for the surrounding attractions. The Great Hall of the People, Chairman Mao's Mausoleum, the National Museum of China, and the Forbidden City sit on the edges. Plus, taking a picture here is almost required to prove you've been to Beijing.
... more
Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Tiananmen Square
Up there with Times Square, Red Square, and St. Peter's Square, Tiananmen Square is among the world's most famous public spaces. Almost anyone can recognize the Gate of Heavenly Peace—emblazoned with a portrait of Chairman Mao—as a symbol of Beijing. One TripAdvisor user comments, "It feels like you already know this place when you arrive. However, as you look around, the vast size of the place starts to impress upon you." The square is the geographic, political, and tourist center of the city, which makes it unavoidable. Although Tiananmen Square looks like a field of concrete (which it is), you'll want to see it for the surrounding attractions. The Great Hall of the People, Chairman Mao's Mausoleum, the National Museum of China, and the Forbidden City sit on the edges. Plus, taking a picture here is almost required to prove you've been to Beijing.
... more

#2

#2 in Beijing

Just north of Beijing, you'll find one of the most famous monuments in the world—the Great Wall of China. Although it's unlikely you'll see the whole thing (after all, it measures about 5,500 miles long), you should aim to experience a portion of it. That begs the question: Which section?
... more
Hiking Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
The Great Wall of China
Just north of Beijing, you'll find one of the most famous monuments in the world—the Great Wall of China. Although it's unlikely you'll see the whole thing (after all, it measures about 5,500 miles long), you should aim to experience a portion of it. That begs the question: Which section?
... more

#3

#3 in Beijing

When the bustle of Beijing becomes too much for you, do as the emperors would do and retreat to the Summer Palace. Located in the northwest suburbs, this oasis—literally, an oasis with serene Kunming Lake—hosts several attractions. Nearly every gate, pavilion, hall, and tower has a unique history and merits a photo. Despite the palace's historic appeal, most tourists are charmed by what's outside. The Summer Palace possesses the largest imperial garden in China, so you can be sure there is a lot to see. The Seventeen-Arch Bridge stretches into Kunming Lake, providing excellent views of the east bank and South Lake Island. And at an impressive 2,388 feet in length, the Long Corridor garners lots of attention.
... more
Castles/Palaces Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Summer Palace (Yiheyuan)
When the bustle of Beijing becomes too much for you, do as the emperors would do and retreat to the Summer Palace. Located in the northwest suburbs, this oasis—literally, an oasis with serene Kunming Lake—hosts several attractions. Nearly every gate, pavilion, hall, and tower has a unique history and merits a photo. Despite the palace's historic appeal, most tourists are charmed by what's outside. The Summer Palace possesses the largest imperial garden in China, so you can be sure there is a lot to see. The Seventeen-Arch Bridge stretches into Kunming Lake, providing excellent views of the east bank and South Lake Island. And at an impressive 2,388 feet in length, the Long Corridor garners lots of attention.
... more
Powered by Viator

#4

#4 in Beijing

Operating under the official title of "The Palace Museum," the Forbidden City (also known as the Imperial Palace) has been a place of wonder and mystery for over 500 years. This massive complex sits on the northern edge of Tiananmen Square at the epicenter of Beijing. Beyond its towering fortifications, you'll find an intricate labyrinth of squares, halls, gates, pavilions, sleeping quarters, and temples. In some of the structures, curated art and historic relics have been placed; however, the greatest achievement is the compound itself. Not-to-be-missed highlights include the Meridian Gate, the Turret, the Antiquarium, and the Imperial Garden.
... more
Castles/Palaces Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Forbidden City (Imperial Palace)
Operating under the official title of "The Palace Museum," the Forbidden City (also known as the Imperial Palace) has been a place of wonder and mystery for over 500 years. This massive complex sits on the northern edge of Tiananmen Square at the epicenter of Beijing. Beyond its towering fortifications, you'll find an intricate labyrinth of squares, halls, gates, pavilions, sleeping quarters, and temples. In some of the structures, curated art and historic relics have been placed; however, the greatest achievement is the compound itself. Not-to-be-missed highlights include the Meridian Gate, the Turret, the Antiquarium, and the Imperial Garden.
... more

#5

#5 in Beijing

After the concrete jungles of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, head to nearby Beihai Park for a breath of fresh air. Whether you're under a tree overlooking the lake or in an ancient pagoda, you'll see why this green space has been a preserved sanctuary for over a thousand years. Over time, the park has acquired more and more monuments. "Beihai Park has so many features that you can get stuck in one place and realize you haven't seen 3/4 of the entire park!" claims one VirtualTourist user. Not-to-be-missed highlights include the Temple of Everlasting Peace, White Dagoba, and the Circular City.
... more
Parks and Gardens Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
Beihai Park (Beihai Gongyuan)
After the concrete jungles of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, head to nearby Beihai Park for a breath of fresh air. Whether you're under a tree overlooking the lake or in an ancient pagoda, you'll see why this green space has been a preserved sanctuary for over a thousand years. Over time, the park has acquired more and more monuments. "Beihai Park has so many features that you can get stuck in one place and realize you haven't seen 3/4 of the entire park!" claims one VirtualTourist user. Not-to-be-missed highlights include the Temple of Everlasting Peace, White Dagoba, and the Circular City.
... more

#6

#6 in Beijing

Free
North of the Forbidden City, this neighborhood (also called a "hutong") packs so much character into its narrow streets. Nanlouguxiang continually surprises you with exciting discoveries in boutique shops and tantalizing flavors from unassuming vendors. When you need a shopping break, visit the Bell and Drum Towers that also reside here. While this bohemian district has witnessed an increase in tourist volume, it has avoided the commercialization and urban renovations that characterize other Beijing areas. One TripAdvisor user attests, "Nanluoguxiang is an excellent place to get away from the hectic day to day life in Beijing."
... more
Sightseeing Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Nanluoguxiang
North of the Forbidden City, this neighborhood (also called a "hutong") packs so much character into its narrow streets. Nanlouguxiang continually surprises you with exciting discoveries in boutique shops and tantalizing flavors from unassuming vendors. When you need a shopping break, visit the Bell and Drum Towers that also reside here. While this bohemian district has witnessed an increase in tourist volume, it has avoided the commercialization and urban renovations that characterize other Beijing areas. One TripAdvisor user attests, "Nanluoguxiang is an excellent place to get away from the hectic day to day life in Beijing."
... more

#7

#7 in Beijing

Free
Fact: The arts are booming in Beijing. You only need to tour the Dashanzi Art District to witness this creative surge. The epicenter of this artistic explosion is 798 Space (also known as Factory 798), an old electronics manufacturing site and warehouse. Originally designed by East Germans in the 1950s, the stern architecture beautifully juxtaposes the richly colorful contents of artist's studios. The two-million-square-foot venue boasts galleries, eateries, and bars, making it a one-stop-shop for hip locals and curious tourists. As this space has filled up, artists (and developers) have started up around 798 Space.
... more
Cafes Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Dashanzi Art District and 798 Space
Fact: The arts are booming in Beijing. You only need to tour the Dashanzi Art District to witness this creative surge. The epicenter of this artistic explosion is 798 Space (also known as Factory 798), an old electronics manufacturing site and warehouse. Originally designed by East Germans in the 1950s, the stern architecture beautifully juxtaposes the richly colorful contents of artist's studios. The two-million-square-foot venue boasts galleries, eateries, and bars, making it a one-stop-shop for hip locals and curious tourists. As this space has filled up, artists (and developers) have started up around 798 Space.
... more

#8

#8 in Beijing

On your way to the Great Wall, consider stopping at the Ming Tombs. As the final resting place of 13 of the 16 Ming Dynasty emperors (who ruled between 1368 and 1644), this ancient burial site continues to undergo archeological work. Only three of the 13 tombs have been fully uncovered and are visible to the public. Each is stationed in a separate small hill along the Sacred Way, a road roughly four miles in length. But the tombs' historical significance is only part of their allure. At the foot of Mount Yan, the tombs’ location is breathtaking with hilly scenery.
... more
Monuments and Memorials Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
Ming Tombs
On your way to the Great Wall, consider stopping at the Ming Tombs. As the final resting place of 13 of the 16 Ming Dynasty emperors (who ruled between 1368 and 1644), this ancient burial site continues to undergo archeological work. Only three of the 13 tombs have been fully uncovered and are visible to the public. Each is stationed in a separate small hill along the Sacred Way, a road roughly four miles in length. But the tombs' historical significance is only part of their allure. At the foot of Mount Yan, the tombs’ location is breathtaking with hilly scenery.
... more
Powered by Viator

#9

#9 in Beijing

Originally an imperial residence, this "lamasery" (a monastery for Lamaist monks) features decadent gateways and intricate artwork. You'll immediate notice the rigid symmetry of the complex, which derives from the imperial architectural style. As the seat of Tibetan Buddhism in Beijing, you'll see this temple of prayer is still used by religious followers, so be respectful.
... more
Churches/Religious Sites Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Lama Temple (Yonghegong)
Originally an imperial residence, this "lamasery" (a monastery for Lamaist monks) features decadent gateways and intricate artwork. You'll immediate notice the rigid symmetry of the complex, which derives from the imperial architectural style. As the seat of Tibetan Buddhism in Beijing, you'll see this temple of prayer is still used by religious followers, so be respectful.
... more

#10

#10 in Beijing

Free
Deemed China's coming-out party, the 2008 Olympic Games placed Beijing in the world spotlight, and the city put on the most remarkable Olympic-display to date. Beijing carved out huge tracts of land to construct this international stage. The excitement has since passed, and the park and some of its facilities have been repurposed for public use. The surviving structures include the National Stadium (or the "Bird's Nest"), the National Aquatic Center (or the "Water Cube"), and the Olympic Forest Park. New buildings, like the National Convention Center, have changed the park's landscape.
... more
Monuments and Memorials Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Olympic Park
Deemed China's coming-out party, the 2008 Olympic Games placed Beijing in the world spotlight, and the city put on the most remarkable Olympic-display to date. Beijing carved out huge tracts of land to construct this international stage. The excitement has since passed, and the park and some of its facilities have been repurposed for public use. The surviving structures include the National Stadium (or the "Bird's Nest"), the National Aquatic Center (or the "Water Cube"), and the Olympic Forest Park. New buildings, like the National Convention Center, have changed the park's landscape.
... more

#11

#11 in Beijing

Free
For a survey of Chinese history, head to the National Museum of China. Positioned on the eastern edge of Tiananmen Square, the exhibits in this museum neatly outline the nation's past for visitors, both native and foreign. After a massive renovation, the facility reopened in the spring of 2011 with updated displays and an interior facelift. Among the many treasures, you'll find entire rooms dedicated to jade, porcelain, and bronze artifacts.
... more
Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
National Museum of China
For a survey of Chinese history, head to the National Museum of China. Positioned on the eastern edge of Tiananmen Square, the exhibits in this museum neatly outline the nation's past for visitors, both native and foreign. After a massive renovation, the facility reopened in the spring of 2011 with updated displays and an interior facelift. Among the many treasures, you'll find entire rooms dedicated to jade, porcelain, and bronze artifacts.
... more

#12

#12 in Beijing

The Bell and Drum Towers crown the charming Nanluoguxiang district. Amid the maze of alleys, you'll appreciate having these two historical pillars to guide your exploration of the neighborhood. You'll immediately notice the 150-foot Drum Tower from its vibrant red walls, turquoise roof, and decorative symbols. The Bell Tower is the more subdued grey sister, standing nearby. These ancient landmarks offer exceptional views of Beijing, but you’ll have to take a hike to reach their peaks. One TripAdvisor user says, "The stairs at both buildings are very steep, but if you have reasonable fitness levels, you will find it easy enough. The reward is the views at the top."
... more
Monuments and Memorials Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
Bell and Drum Towers (Hutong)
The Bell and Drum Towers crown the charming Nanluoguxiang district. Amid the maze of alleys, you'll appreciate having these two historical pillars to guide your exploration of the neighborhood. You'll immediately notice the 150-foot Drum Tower from its vibrant red walls, turquoise roof, and decorative symbols. The Bell Tower is the more subdued grey sister, standing nearby. These ancient landmarks offer exceptional views of Beijing, but you’ll have to take a hike to reach their peaks. One TripAdvisor user says, "The stairs at both buildings are very steep, but if you have reasonable fitness levels, you will find it easy enough. The reward is the views at the top."
... more

#13

#13 in Beijing

To reach the Temple of Heaven, you don't have to have an untimely passing. Just get off the subway at Tiantan Dongmen. As you'd expect, this green space is a peaceful asylum, immune to the urban bustle. In the Confucian spirit, the park offers respite among ancient cypress trees alongside remarkable structures. You shouldn't miss the Zhaoheng Gate, the Animal Killing Pavilion (no longer functioning as such), and the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests.
... more
Churches/Religious Sites Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Temple of Heaven Park (Tiatan Park)
To reach the Temple of Heaven, you don't have to have an untimely passing. Just get off the subway at Tiantan Dongmen. As you'd expect, this green space is a peaceful asylum, immune to the urban bustle. In the Confucian spirit, the park offers respite among ancient cypress trees alongside remarkable structures. You shouldn't miss the Zhaoheng Gate, the Animal Killing Pavilion (no longer functioning as such), and the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests.
... more
Powered by Viator
Powered by Viator See more Tours & Tickets

Explore More of Beijing



Find the Best Price

Enter your check in and check out dates to find the best price

PriceFinder powered by TripAdvisor Primary Logo