In the years since Beijing hosted the 2008 Olympic Games, the structures at the Olympic Green (Olympic Park) have become just as representative of Beijing as the Forbidden City or the Great Wall. While the Olympic Green houses half a dozen different venues, most visitors come to see the Beijing National Stadium and the Water Cube.
Today, the Beijing National Stadium—aka the Bird’s Nest—is used mostly for concerts and other high-profile sporting events, while the Water Cube aquatic center has been transformed into a recreational swimming facility open to the public. You can visit the interiors of either for an extra fee, but both are arguably more impressive from the outside, and it doesn’t cost anything to walk the grounds of the Olympic Green. Most sightseeing tours of Beijing stop at the Olympic Green for photo ops of the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube, including night tours where you get to see the Olympic facilities illuminated.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Beijing Olympic Green is a must-visit for sports enthusiasts and first-time visitors.
- While the Olympic Green is free to wander, some facilities charge an entrance fee.
- Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to walk; the Olympic Green covers an area of 2,864 acres (1,159 hectares).
How to Get There
Beijing’s Olympic Green is easy to get to via public transportation. Ride the Beijing Subway to Lincuiqiao, Senlin Gongyuan Nanmen, Aolin Pike Gongyuan, Aoti Zhongxin, or Beitucheng. Lines 8, 10, and 15 all stop at the park, as do numerous local buses.
When to Get There
If you want to see the Olympic Green at its most beautiful, plan your visit for the evening hours when both the stadium and the Water Cube are lit up. Avoid visiting on Chinese national holidays, when you’ll be hard-pressed to snap a photo without tons of tourists in it.
China Ethnic Culture Park
The Olympic Green is home to one of Beijing’s more interesting—if somewhat dated—museums, the China Ethnic Culture Park. The exhibits within tell the story of China’s 56 ethnic groups. A visit here is an excellent way to get a feel for the cultural diversity of China, particularly if Beijing is the first stop on a longer trip.