Beijing in 1 Day: all you need to know

Beijing is a fascinating city near the Great Wall of China, where you can see many attractions even if you visit the city for only one day.

Lorena Morales

Lorena Morales

7 min read

Beijing in 1 Day: all you need to know

Beijing Temple | ©zhang kaiyv

The capital of China is a giant metropolis visited by tourists from all over the world, especially for a tour to the Great Wall of China from Beijing, but it is also home to numerous tourist attractions that make it a very interesting destination in itself.

If you are only in the city for one day, don't worry, because you can still do many of the things to see and do in Beijing.

Tour Tiananmen Square

Through the Tiananmen Gate| ©Shande Villa
Through the Tiananmen Gate| ©Shande Villa

The one-day itinerary in Beijing begins in Tiananmen Square, one of the most important squares in the country, since it was where the People's Republic of China was proclaimed and has been the scene of important historical events.

It is located in the center of Beijing, where many of the attractions of the city are located, but you should keep in mind that it is always guarded, so you must present your passport and show bags to enter.

Tiananmen Square is one of the largest squares in the world, with dimensions of 880 by 500 meters, you can visit it on your own or on one of the guided tours of the city of Beijing.

What to see in Tiananmen Square

Among the attractions you can see in Tiananmen Square are the following: - Monument to the People's Heroes: tribute to the heroes who gave their lives in the revolutionary struggles.

  • Tian'anmen Gate: is located north of the square and displays the portrait of Mao Zedong.
  • National Museum of China: it is the third largest in the world.
  • Mao Zedong Mausoleum: it houses the embalmed body of the communist leader who founded the People's Republic of China.
  • Great Hall of the People: built to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic.
  • Beijing's First Railway Station

If you want to know in depth the Tiananmen Square and not miss any detail, my advice is to book a guided tour that will not leave you indifferent.

More information about Beijing

  • Location: 4 Jingshan Front St, Dongcheng, Beijing, China.
  • Hours: daily from 5 am to 10 pm.
  • Admission: free of charge.
  • Recommendations: carry a passport, as it must be presented to enter.

Book the tour of the Great Wall of China, Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square

Visit the Forbidden City

Forbidden City| ©cattan2011
Forbidden City| ©cattan2011

After visiting Tiananmen Square, you can visit the Forbidden City, a palace complex of 114 buildings where 24 Chinese emperors lived and ruled for 500 years, between the 15th and 20th centuries, and which has been declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco. It is located in front of Tiananmen Square, so you can get there on foot.

Touring the Forbidden City can take about 2-3 hours, as it covers about 72 hectares.

You can buy the entrance ticket in advance on the Forbidden City website or hire a tour in which a guide will explain all the ins and outs of this architectural wonder. Oh, and by the way, don't forget to show your backpack and passport when you enter.

What to see in the Forbidden City

Among the attractions you can't miss are:

  • Tiananmen Gate: it is located to the north and is the gateway to the City.
  • Carved marble staircase: its reliefs and mythological motifs are truly dazzling.
  • Yuhuyuan Imperial Garden: 7000 m2 space with artificial hills, pavilions, flowers, terraces, halls and temples.
  • Gate and the Hall of Supreme Harmony: the most important of the City.

The entrance fee does not include the visit to the Treasure Gallery or the Nine Dragons Wall, nor the audio guide in your language, but you can buy them by paying a little more. Therefore, if you want to know the Forbidden City in depth, I recommend that you sign up for a guided tour, so you don't miss anything.

More information about the Forbidden City

  • Location: 4 Jingshan Front St, Dongcheng, Beijing, China.
  • Hours: daily from 8:30 am to 5 pm. From November to March closes at 4pm. Closed on Mondays.
  • Admission fee: about 8 € in high season, from April to October, and about 6 € in low season, from November to March.
  • Recommendations: carry documentation, as you must pass controls to enter. Check if it is open before going on the website of the Forbidden City.

Book the Great Wall of China, Forbidden City and Tiananmen tour

Marvel at the Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven| ©m w
Temple of Heaven| ©m w

Another must-see in Beijing is the Temple of Heaven, one of the most important and largest temples in China. It is located about 5 km from the Forbidden City and you can reach it using the subway line in a few minutes.

The Temple of Heaven is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site and the tour can take you about 2 hours. Besides the Circular Altar, you cannot miss the Harvest Prayer Hall, the Emperor's Vault, the Fasting Palace and the Shenyue Department.

In the huge park where it is located, of about 273 hectares, you can see people practicing Taijiquan, Qigong, dancing, singing, and taking pictures. There is also a natural history museum and stores selling food and drinks.

More information about the park

  • Location: 4 Jingshan Front St, Dongcheng, Beijing, China.
  • Hours: daily from 6 am to 10 pm. From November to March it opens at 6:30 am. Closed on Mondays.
  • Admission fee: 2 ¤ in high season 8, which runs from April to October, and slightly less in low season, which runs from November to March. The entrance to the attractions is paid separately and is about 1-2 € each attraction.
  • Recommendations: carry your passport, as you will be asked for it to enter. Before going, check the schedules on the website of the Temple of Heaven.

Enjoy the sunset from the Charcoal Hill

Jingshan Park| ©Enrique RG
Jingshan Park| ©Enrique RG

Next, I suggest you go back to the Forbidden City neighborhood, to watch the sunset at Jingshan Park, also known as Coal Hill. This is an artificial hill 45 meters high, from where you have a beautiful panoramic view of the Forbidden City and Beijing.

The ascent takes about 10 minutes and there are steps, so it is not accessible for wheelchairs or strollers.

Anyway, it is a very nice park to walk around even if you can't get to the top, with gardens and street shows. There you can also see people dancing, jumping rope or dancing with colorful ribbons traditional dances like Dai Cai Wu Dao.

More information

  • Location: 44 Jingshan W St, Xicheng District, Beijing, China.
  • Hours: daily from 6 am to 9 pm from April to October; and from 6:30 am to 8 pm from November to March.
  • Admission fee: usually less than €1 per person.

Tour Wangfujing Market at night

Wangfujing Food Street| ©Enrique RG
Wangfujing Food Street| ©Enrique RG

At night, a good place to visit is Wangfujing Market, located two blocks east of the Forbidden City. Wangfujing Street is a 1.5 km long pedestrian street with about 700 businesses of all kinds. There you will see department stores, second-hand bookstores, antiques, silk, satin and leather crafts. Walking along it is one of the best things to do at night in Beijing.

Also, in the area known as Wangfujing Snack Street you can find skewers made with exotic ingredients such as spiders, snakes, scorpions and seahorses. It is more of a tourist attraction than an oriental custom, which many tourists try for fun.

You can also try other typical Beijing dishes, such as Dim Sum (a stuffed dumpling), Jiaozi (stuffed dumplings), Zhajiangmian (Chinese noodles) or Chuan'r (meat skewers), but if in addition to trying typical foods you want to learn about the culture, it is best to take a gastronomic tour of Beijing, guided by an expert. And if you want to live an original experience, I recommend you to book a gastronomic tour in a tuk tuk, not to be missed!

More information about this tour

  • Opening hours: stores are open daily from 10 am to 9 pm. Wangfunji Snack Street is open until 11 pm.
  • Recommendation: in Beijing it is customary to bargain, so do not hesitate to ask for better prices. It is usual to be asked a price about 10 times higher at the beginning.

This has been the itinerary that I propose to get to know Beijing in one day, followed by tips to fully enjoy your stay. If you stay more days in the city you can not miss the Great Wall of China from Beijing and the best temples of Beijing, attractions that have made this tourist destination famous.

Book a gastronomic tuk tuk tour

How to get around Beijing

Beijing subway| ©Chris Youlden
Beijing subway| ©Chris Youlden

Traffic jams are very common, so the best way to get around Beijing is to use the subway. For this same reason, you should avoid taking cabs or buses during rush hours. Ideally, you should stay in the downtown area, since from there you can reach the main tourist attractions on foot.

Another possibility if you will be in the city for a short time is to use the Beijing Hop on Hop off buses, since they organize your tour around the most important sites, or hire a guided tour of Beijing, since the tour companies know how to avoid traffic jams.

Book the bus transfer to the Great Wall

Tips for visiting Beijing

Beijing Streets| ©Pierre Metivier
Beijing Streets| ©Pierre Metivier

The city of Beijing, with more than 22 million inhabitants, is a hectic city where you will always see a lot of people everywhere. That is why the best time to visit the city is from mid-October to November, when it is autumn or even winter, and there are fewer tourists.

One of the barriers to overcome in the city is the language, especially at the subway stops, where directions are in Chinese. There are many places where you can read translations in English, so be prepared to read in this language. In any case, it is best to carry directions written in Chinese, so you can ask for directions and/or take a cab.

The city of Beijing receives visitors every day, so you should be aware that you will have to wait in line to see the tourist attractions. All sites have security and you must present your passport and show your bags to enter, which makes the wait longer. That is why you should always carry your passport.

Book a tour to the Great Wall and the Ming Tombs