This is the definitive long list of 101 things you can do in Beijing and nearby. If you are looking for a more focused set of things to do, check out my articles top 20 things to do in Beijing with kids, 20 best things to do in Beijing, and 14 free things to do in Beijing.
1. Tiananmen and 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, there is a 1000-year-old park which was formerly the domain of China’s royalty. It 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! http://www.cstm.org.cn/
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!
13. National Centre for the Performing arts – another venue where you can find singers, ballet, theatre and more!
14. Beijing Lama Temple – a beautiful Buddhist temple.
15. Capital museum – A good general museum giving you a sense for China’s history with ancient Chinese statues, porcelain, paintings and artefacts.
16. Central Radio and TV tower – A sky-high tower tourist attraction with revolving restaurant and stunning views of the city.
17. 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.
18. Nine Dragon Screen, Wulongting, Kuaixuetang and Qianhai lake – all beside Beihai North Station, beautifully intricate and interesting historic Chinese architecture to look at.
19. National Art Museum of China – an enormous art gallery with work showcasing China’s culture. Free entry.
20. Beijing Museum of Natural history – a natural history museum covering plants, fossils, animals and biology. Free entry (some exhibitions charge).
21. 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.
22. Great Wall of China – this is outside the city. There are two main options here, the touristy Badaling section or the more serene Mutianyu section, where I even got photos of myself on the wall with no one else in the shots!
23. Beijing botanical garden – A beautiful garden with a heavy focus on plants. Best in late spring. Not to be confused with Beijing teaching botanical garden.
24. Beijing Planetarium – Great for kids
25. Happy Valley Beijing – a theme park which is exciting for kids and adults.
26. Beijing international sculpture park – an outdoor sculpture park.
27. The Chinese museum of women and children
28. China national children’s theatre
29. Beijing Shijingshan Juvenile Children Library
30. All Star Stadium Ice Rink, Chaoyang North Road, Chaoyang District. The place to go skating on the east side of the city. Website: http://www.askating.com/
31. Zizhuyuan Park
32. Capital museum – art museum owned by Sotheby’s. Free entry.
33. Beijing capital Times Square
34. Tao Ran Ting Park – down the road from Temple of Heaven
35. Beijing Red Mansion and Grand View Garden – nice garden and museum near a traditional tea house. The garden was used to film the TV series Hongloumeng.
36. Wanshou Park – great for people who only want a short walk, this small park is near Taoranting station.
37. Beijing Traditional Opera Museum – see live performances of traditional opera here!
38. China Numismatic Museum – a museum all about China’s coin history. Great for coin collectors and enthusiasts.
39. Beijing Dashilan – a historic street selling souvenirs with plenty of tea shops to visit.
40. Tianqiao Acrobatic theatre – if you want to see Chinese acrobats, this is the place to be! Across the road from the Natural History Museum.
41. Temple of Agriculture – a traditional Chinese building that’s well worth a gander.
42. Fangzhuang Sports Park – A great place to go for some exercise. Near a Carrefour.
43. Red Theatre – a theatre which displays a kung fu show.
44. Today Art Museum – a museum which has modern art and art of contemporary culture. Group discounts for 30 or more visitors.
45. Temple of the Sun – an ancient temple set in the beautiful Ritan Park.
46. Liyuan theatre – the traditional Peking opera. Great for live performances.
47. Prince Gong Mansion – A mansion from 1777 with beautiful gardens and a museum.
48. Beihai Park – One of several huge parks around the Temple of Heaven area.
49. Jingshan Park – One of several huge parks around the Temple of Heaven area.
50. Mei Lanfang Memorial Hall – a memorial to a great performer, with street food nearby.
50. Rendinghu Park – A park above the north section of the inner ring road.
51. Ditan Park – A small park dedicated to the God of Earth with its own bell tower.
52. Beijing temple of Confucius – a Confucian temple dating to the 14th century, set in beautiful gardens.
53. Traditional Courtyard house – Given that the name is a bit bland, the address for this is 39 Nanguanfang Hutong, Shi Cha Hai, Xicheng District. Well worth seeing, near a shisha bar and the Lotus Market Marina.
54. Lotus Market Marina – You can rent a pedal boat and go across the lake.
55. Beijing Drum and Bell tower – the “proper” drum and bell tower (there are other bell towers around Beijing), built in 1420. Sometimes performers will play replica drums here. As there’s the potential for confusion, the address is 41 Zhonglouwan Hutong, Andingmen, Dongcheng.
56. Fayuan Mosque – To see the Chinese architecture, this is one of a handful of mosques in Beijing.
57. Wangfujing Palaeolithic Museum – If you’re into prehistoric archaeology and have a spare half an hour in the Dongcheng area, stop into Oriental Plaza and pay 10 RMB to look at the little exhibition here.
58. Wenbo Jiaoliuguan – a Ming-dynasty Buddhist monastery.
59. Beijing Folk Museum – a Taoist temple converted into a museum of folk history.
60. Art museum of Beijing Fine Art Academy – A place to see the work of Qi Baishi, the famous watercolor artist who also has a monument at Qi Baishi park in Xiangtan, Hunan Province.
61. Sun Park Beach Theme Park – Entry is 5 RMB. You can hire a golf buggy to drive around the park.
62. Yuanmingyuan Park – Gardens and ruins of the Old Summer Palace dating from 1707.
63. Big Bell Temple – Another bell tower. This one is really large. This has a museum with a lot of smaller bells, too.
64. Miaoying Temple – Buddhist temple. Off-the-beaten-track hidden gem sort of place, well worth a visit. Between Fuchengmen and Xisi stations.
65. Beijing Lu Xun Museum – a museum for the author Lu Xun (Zhou Shuren), with some English translation.
66. Emperor’s Temple of Past Dynasties – A reconstruction of a great temple, this place details the lives, dates and names of every one of China’s emperors – around 200 of them! Great if you’ve got Asperger’s/Autism Spectrum Disorder and your special interest is Chinese emperors.
67. Liulichang – a street of traditional stone buildings for people looking to do something all atmospheric and touristy.
68. Beijing Police Museum – Beijing has had police since the Ming Dynasty. Learn all about them in this beautiful building!
69. National Museum of China – The big one. You may have to queue a long time to get in as it’s the second most-visited museum in the world after the Louvre. Free to see main exhibit. Dress smartly and take an ID card to get in. Book in advance via WeChat during COVID.
70. Huangshicheng – A market where you can get an eyeful of the unique things people eat in China. Not for the faint-hearted. Don’t eat street food here if you are pregnant as diarrhea can cause miscarriage.
71. Oriental Plaza – Beijing’s biggest shopping mall in the city centre. A great place to find shops, restaurants, and modern architecture, as well as a break from the rain.
72. Locomotive square – Out in the northeast of the city, a little square with a real 1945 steam train! Locomotive square holds monthly markets.
73. Beijing World Park – Like America, China loves reconstructing major European landmarks out of poor materials and charging an entry fee. 100RMB to get in. Go if you are nearby, have too much time on your hands and want a cheesy day of kitsch lols.
74. Dabaotai Western Han Dynasty Mausoleum – Very close to Beijing World Park, here you can find the results of an archaeological excavation showing what has been found in Nanchang, south-east China.
75. Beijing automobile museum (Fengtai district) – A museum showing the history of cars in China, a must for the motoring enthusiast.
76. Railway culture park (Daxing district) – A cute park surrounding the subway, ideal for train spotting as there are some live above-ground tracks here.
77. Pagoda of the buddhas of the Ten Directions – A nice example of a Chinese pagoda if you find yourself in Wangsiyingxiang District.
78. Zhengyang bridge – a tall and impressive monument which was part of Beijing’s city wall, found at the end of Qianmen pedestrian street (which also has trolley cars at weekends).
79. Yangwei Hutong Mosque – A mosque near Tiananmen Square with beautiful architecture and a peaceful vibe.
80. Beijing Book Building – the biggest book shop in Beijing, offering a range of books including children’s books, English-language books and new publications. Five floors of books!
81. Financial street plaza – Beijing’s very own Wall Street. Huge, wide roads and tall buildings, you would be forgiven for thinking you were in Manhattan.
82. Deshengmen arrow tower – In the northeast of the city centre, one of the preserved city gates still stands. From outside, you can get the 877 bus to Badaling tourist section of the Great Wall of China.
83. Shénshāhǎi Park – A beautiful park containing 10 temples and 3 big lakes, and featuring walking paths and boat hire.
84. Běijīng guózǐjiān – A park and museum complex in the Andingmen district, this is the site of China’s first university, dating to 1306.
85. Ritan Miniature Golf Course – A crazy golf place just south of the Temple of the Sun.
86. Beijing Ancient Observatory and Museum – Just south-west of Jianguomen station, a museum of astronomy in a former observatory dating back to 1442. Not usually busy.
87. China Resources Building, 8 Jianguomen North Street, Chao Yang Men, Dongcheng, Beijing 100021 – You can’t go inside but it’s one to see if you love modern architecture!
88. Dongsi Mosque, 13 Dongsi South Street, Dongcheng, Beijing – A beautiful historic mosque near Dongsi station.
89. Peking University Red Building, 29 Wusi Street, Dongcheng
90. Xindong’an Broadway Cinema, Wangfujing, Dongcheng. A good cinema with descriptions of films in Chinese and English, so a great way to spend a rainy afternoon. Going to the cinema in China is a real cultural experience.
91. Yuyuantan Park, Yuyuantan South Road, Haidian District – In mid-Spring, this is the place to go to see the pink snowfall of cherry blossom. There’s a whole cherry tree orchard here. Off-the-beaten-track community park, so you’re unlikely to see many tourists, here. Across the road from the Military Museum.
92. Songqingling Children Science and Technology Hall, Yuyuantan South Road, Haidian District – this is another science and technology museum for children. There is play equipment and educational displays. Fab for preschool kids and less busy than the other science and technology museum.
93. Xidan Mobile Square KTV, 9 Tangzi Hutong, Xi Dan, Xicheng District – One of many KTV (karaoke bars) in Beijing, this one serves good food and is near the Book Building, Times Square and Forbidden City in the very centre of Beijing.
94. Beijing Country Golf Club, Shunyi District – If you need some time on the driving range, Beijing Country Golf Club is a great option amongst the dozens of golf courses around Beijing, and it is open to foreigners. Note the lawn isn’t great in late winter/early spring.
95. Century Star Ice Skating Club, Daxing District – On the opposite side of the city to the All Star Ice Stadium, here is another excellent rink where you can skate or get lessons. Website: http://www.centurystar.com.cn/index.html
96. San Cheng Bowling Entertainment, Andingmen Outer Street, Dongcheng – The place to go for top-notch bowling in Beijing.
97. National Tennis Center, 2 Lincui Road, Chaoyang – the former Olympic tennis courts now host the China Open, so this is a great place to see some tennis.
98. Olympic Forest Park, Chaoyang Qu – the Olympic Forest Park (and Olympic North Forest Park) is a ginormous place. My favourite part is the southwestern side near the National Tennis Center, with the lake and Yangshan Mountain. Nearest station: South Gate of Forest Park Station
99. Beijing National Aquatics Center – a magnificent architectural building, this is the best place to go swimming and there’s also a water park. It was originally built for the Olympics. Great for kids!
100. Beijing Niangniang Temple – Next to the aquatics center, this is a peaceful historic spot off the beaten path.
101. Pangu 7 Star Hotel Beijing – Another architectural masterpiece in the Olympic area, this one was designed in the shape of the Olympic torch! Very high-end hotel. The fine dining here (served on Wedgwood, of course) is a must-do for those with a big budget. If you are looking for somewhere to arrange the most opulent and extravagant wedding, function, conference or just a luxurious retreat from everything, this should be your number one destination. If you’re on a budget, you can appreciate the magnificent architecture from the outside and take photos, instead. Website: http://www.panguhotel.com/en/index.html