In this article I am going to share the 20 best things to see and do in Beijing. If you’re in Beijing and you find some time on your hands, any of these are good options. Some, like Tiananmen Square, are essential must-do sights, where others, such as the museum of natural history, are perfect for a rainy afternoon or for expats looking for something to do at the weekend in Beijing. You don’t need to leave the city limits to have a great Beijing day out or an afternoon walk to see something interesting!
1. Tiananmen Square – 1 full afternoon along with the Palace Museum and Imperial Ancestral Temple which are part of the same area.
2. Mausoleum of Mao Zedong – Pay your respects to Chairman Mao, next to Tiananmen Square.
3. Zheng yang men City Walls Gatehouse Museum – A gatehouse dating to 1419, with a museum, all situated beside Qianmen underground station, near Mao’s Mausoleum.
4. Beihai Park – behind Tiananmen Square is a 1000-year-old park which has only been open to the public for the last 95 years.
5. Temple of Heaven – The world-famous Temple of Heaven will take 1 very full afternoon to see!
6. Summer palace – The summer palace rivals the Temple of Heaven for beautiful remains of a bygone era. It takes 1 full afternoon to see.
7. China Science and technology museum – A hands-on museum with lots of practical things to touch and explore. 1 full afternoon. Great for kids!
8. Beijing zoo – A zoo with pandas. 1 full afternoon. Great for kids!
9. Beijing Aquarium – Behind the zoo! Great for kids!
10. Palaeozoological Museum of China – A dinosaur museum behind the zoo! Great for kids!
11. CCTV (China’s state TV) building – A unique building for fans of MC Escher!
12. Chaoyang theatre – If you love live arts, you can see a stunning live performance by China’s acrobats or hear the beautiful opera here!
National Centre for the Performing arts – another venue where you can find singers, ballet, theatre and more!
13. Beijing Lama Temple – a beautiful Buddhist temple.
14. Capital museum – A good general museum giving you a sense for China’s history with ancient Chinese statues, porcelain, paintings and artefacts.
15. Central Radio and TV tower – A sky-high tower tourist attraction with revolving restaurant and stunning views of the city.
16. Beijing World Art Museum – A free art museum where you can explore Chinese art and worldwide art. Across the lake from Central Radio and TV tower.
17. Nine Dragon Screen, Wulongting, Kuaixuetang and Qianhai lake – all beside Beihai North Station, beautifully intricate and interesting historic Chinese architecture to look at.
18. National Art Museum of China – an enormous art gallery with work showcasing China’s culture. Free entry.
19. Beijing Museum of Natural history – a natural history museum covering plants, fossils, animals and biology. Free entry (some exhibitions charge).
20. The military museum of the Chinese people’s revolution – if you want to see how China threw off the reins of feudalism and got to where it is today over the past century, this museum is the place to go. You need to book in advance either over the phone or via WeChat.
Where do you love going in Beijing? Let me know in the comments!