With three days in Beijing, you can explore imperial highlights—from the Forbidden City to the Summer Palace—tour the Great Wall, and take a deeper dive into local life in Beijing, including its markets, parks, temples, and traditional neighborhoods. Here are a few ways to make the most of your three days in Beijing.
Day 1: Imperial Beijing
Take the first day to get an overview of the city. Small group sightseeing tours typically include visits to the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Temple of Heaven, and Summer Palace. If you’d rather explore at your own pace, opt for a customized private tour. After a day of sightseeing, treat your tastebuds to a culinary exploration of the city. Take a walking food tour through the hutongs (alleys) to sample some of the city’s best street food, or book a table at a Michelin-starred restaurant to feast on succulent Chinese soup dumplings.
Day 2: Local Flavor
Now that you’ve seen Beijing’s marquee attractions, take the morning to dive deeper into your own interests. Foodies can tour a local market and learn to cook Chinese specialties with a professional chef or local family, while those interested in Chinese culture and religion can spend time temple-hopping—highlights include the Tibetan-style Lama Temple, serene Confucius Temple, and the sprawling Tanzhe Temple. In the afternoon, hop in a rickshaw to explore the city’s ancient hutongs, cruise on Houhai Lake, or take a walking tour of the imperial gardens of Beihai Park. Treat yourself to a night out by booking seats at one of the many theaters for an evening of Chinese opera, traditional acrobatics, or Shaolin-style kung fu. Many shows include the option for dinner and round-trip transportation.
Day 3: Great Wall of China
You’ve explored Beijing proper; now head out of town for a day dedicated to one of China’s most famous landmarks, the Great Wall. There’s a section of the wall suited to just about every traveler. Active types can take a guided hike from Simatai West to Jinshanling, or along the remote stretch of wall near Jiankou. Families might prefer a tour of the Mutianyu Great Wall, where visitors ride a cable car up and slide back down on a toboggan. Many Great Wall day trips include a stop at the Ming Tombs, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where China’s Ming emperors are interred. Back in Beijing, wrap up your visit with dinner at a traditional Chinese hot pot restaurant.