As the capital of China and home to 7 UNESCO World Heritage sites, Beijing should be at the top of your list of cities to visit in China. This mega city offers everything from ancient temples and historical sites to delicious food, traditional hutong alleys, and a lively night scene.
I’ve lived in Beijing since August 2018 and have visited most of Beijing’s famous sites (multiple times!), spread out over many weekends and months. My sister and her husband recently came to visit Beijing for a week, so I wanted to condense as much of Beijing as I could into 7 days.
It was a challenging feat as there is so much to do and see in Beijing, and you really need more like a month to soak it all in! The itinerary I planned, however, turned out to be the perfect combination of Beijing’s best sites, foods, shopping, night-life, and relaxing time for a one week trip.
Here is my General Overview for One Week in Beijing:
- Day 1: Arrive from Airport, Wudaoying Hutong Shopping and Dinner
- Day 2: Tiananmen Square, Wangfujing Street, Silk Market
- Day 3: Forbidden City and Jingshan Park
- Day 4: Mutianyu Great Wall, Chinese Hot Pot
- Day 5: Lama Temple, Temple of Heaven, Friends Cafe
- Day 6: Houhai Lake, Beijing Zoo, Massages
- Day 7: Olympic Stadium, Summer Palace, etc.
Check out some of the things we did here:
Day 1: Arrive in Beijing
Beijing is a massive city, so make sure you know where you are staying and have the address in Chinese.
Depending on what time you come to Beijing (and how tired you are from the plane!), you may have some free time to explore and dip your toes into Beijing culture. If you’re looking for a place to explore, you can check out Wangfujing Street, Nanluoguxiang Street, or the Wudaoying Hutongs.
Wudaoying Street is close to where I live, so we did some shopping and strolling along this street before stopping for a drink on the rooftop of one of the many bars there.
Read 10 Tips For Your First Trip to China!
Day 2 : Tiananmen Square & Wangfujing Street
MORNING: Coffee and Relaxing
Still recovering a bit from jet lag, the morning was very relaxed. We grabbed coffee and breakfast at a coffee shop and prepared for a busy afternoon.
AFTERNOON: Tiananmen Square, Wangfujing Street, Silk Market
Tiananmen Square, the largest public square in the world, is right across the street from the southern side of the Forbidden City and it’s free to walk around inside.
Wangfujing Street is close to Tiananman Square – just one stop over on the metro or a 15-20 minute walk. This street is popular because of all the foods you can find, like the infamous scorpions people love to try in Beijing. Here are my top 10 streed foods you should try at Wangfujing!
Afterwards we went to the famous Silk Market, a place where you can find all kinds of knock-off bags and shopping. The ladies will call out to you trying to get you to buy things. “I remember you!” one called out as we walked by again. Another looked at our summer dresses (while other Chinese people are still in jackets and pants) and said “very summer.”
EVENING: Ghost Street and A Night Out
Many hours of shopping and bartering later, we went to Ghost Street for dinner, a famous Chinese restaurant street in Beijing.
Ghost Street is a popular place for street performers to go, and they’ll wander into restaurants and ask if you want to buy a song for them to play. My sister was so excited to try this and we were serenaded with “My Heart Will Go On” (Chinese people love Titanic.)
We went out for drinks and dancing afterwards – Beijing has so many options for bars and clubs! It depends where you’d like to go and what you want to do. We went to QS and Playhouse, but other good bars options include The Great Outdoors, The Local, Legend’s, Paddy’s, and Cafe de la Poste, and some great clubs include Aurora, Salsa Caribe, and One Third.
Day 4: The Forbidden City & Jingshan Park
MORNING: Sleeping and Relaxing
We had a relaxing morning before grabbing pizza at Tube Station, a popular pizza chain in Beijing (and a good option if you want a break from Chinese food!)
AFTERNOON: Forbidden City and Jingshan Park
Located right in the heart of Beijing, the Forbidden City is a must-see when you visit the capital city of China. The ancient Imperial Palace of China, called Gùgōng (故宫) in Chinese, is a popular tourist location and covers a large area, so it’s best to do some planning before you go to avoid crowds and make the most of your time there. A ticket costs 40 RMB and I used Trip.com to buy tickets ahead of time.
When you exit the Forbidden City from the North Gate, you’ll be right across the street from Jingshan Park, a beautiful little Chinese park. You’ll see many Chinese people dancing and practicing tai ji here, and also get a stunning view of the Forbidden City from above. See more of my favorite places to take photos of the Forbidden City.
EVENING: Foot Massages and Yunnan Restaurant
We were tired from the all the walking we did and treated ourselves to foot massages! There are many massage salons in China at affordable costs. We went to Zigzag in Wudaoying Hutongs. Afterwards we went to a restaurant nearby with special food from the Yunnan Province. Yunnan food is very different than other Chinese cuisines – it has a more fresh and light flavor, and more cheese dishes (most Chinese dishes have no dairy or cheese!)
Day 4: The Great Wall & Hot Pot
MORNING & AFTERNOON: Mutianyu Great Wall
No trip to Beijing is complete without seeing the Great Wall! There are many sections you can visit, depending on the time and cost. Badaling and Mutianyu are two of the most popular sections that are closer to Beijing, while Jinshanling and Simatai are a bit farther with less crowds.
We went to the Mutianyu Section of the Great Wall, which was perfect for taking visitors. It’s only 2 hours away, and we rented a car to drive us there, wait for us, then take us back.
Mutianyu is a great section because it’s not a difficult hike, and there’s a cable car you can take up. Best of all there’s a toboggan you can take to slide down the wall!
Our driver was hilariously terrible at communicating with us though and kept trying to offer to get us discounted tickets. We just bought them from the ticket counter instead and he called me “disobedient.”
EVENING: Hot Pot
After an afternoon rest, we went out to get hot pot for dinner on Ghost Street. Hot pot is a Chinese food experience you must try, no matter which city you visit in China! For first time hot-potters, it’s good to get a half spicy, and half non-spicy broth to dip your meats and vegetables into.
We grabbed a drink at one of my favorite bars afterwards then crashed after a busy day hiking!
Day 5: Temples & Cafes
MORNING: Lama Temple
The Lama Temple is a special Buddhist temple in Beijing . Bright and colorful, many people come here to pray and burn incense.
AFTERNOON: Temple of Heaven and Friends Cafe
The Temple of Heaven is a beautiful temple and a famous place where the Chinese emperor used to come pray. It’s one of my favorite temples in China! The Pearl Market is also nearby if you’d like to do some more shopping.
We stopped by the Friends themed cafe afterwards. A fun replica of Central Perk, you can get special drinks named after the characters – and they even have a cat!
EVENING: Dumplings and Karaoke Bar
We went to the famous Mr. Shi’s Dumplings for dinner, then joined some friends for drinks at a Taiwanese music bar.
Day 6: Houhai Lake & Beijing Zoo
MORNING: Brunch and Houhai Lake
After a late night out, we had a slow morning to get ready and grab brunch. Afterwards we walked around Houhai Lake and the pedestrian street area there.
AFTERNOON: Beijing zoo and pandas!
The Beijing zoo is not too far from the center of Beijing and home to China’s national treasure: pandas. While there aren’t as many as there are in Chenddu (and there are no babies here), there were still many of them to see!
EVENING: Manicures and Dinner
After the zoo, we headed back to the massage salon for manicures and Aaron got a full body massage. We then grabbed dinner at a random noodle restaurant, but then decided to go to another restaurant with more general Chinese dishes (my favorites include cauliflower and eggplant!)
Day 7: Last Day in Beijing
Depending on when your flight is from Beijing, you might have some extra time to cross another thing off your Beijing list. There are so many more things we couldn’t fit into our schedule, but here are some other options:
- 798 Art district (free)
- Wudaoying Hutong – Cat cafes and bars
- Nanluoguxiang Walking Street – food and shops
- Summer Palace (30 RMB)
- Chinese Opera or Kung Fu Show (200 – 400 RMB)
- Olympic Park (free to walk around, 50 RMB to go inside Bird’s Nest)
- Migas Rooftop Bar
- Panjiayuan Market
- Peking Duck Restaurant
One Week Beijing Itinerary
Beijing is the ultimate China destination and has something to please everyone! If you have to choose one place to visit in China, I highly recommend it be Beijing.
Where is your favorite place in Beijing?
Check out some of my other favorite destinations and travel itineraries in China:
- 6-Day Zhangjiajie and Fenghuang Itinerary
- A Guide To Hiking Jinshanling Great Wall
- 15 Things You Should Do In Hong Kong