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Beijing in 2 Days: everything you need to know

Beijing is one of the largest and most important cities in China and getting to know it in 2 days. It might seem like an impossible mission, but with the right itinerary and an intense tour you will be able to visit the main sites. Here are some ideas for your trip.

Matías Rodríguez

Matías Rodríguez

9 min read

Beijing in 2 Days: everything you need to know

Beijing Architecture | ©Bacouu

Beijing is the capital of China, one of the most important and traditional cities in the country and also one of the largest, so discovering all its attractions in 2 days may sound complicated, although if you organize a proper itinerary and are willing to do an intense tour you will be able to see at least the main sites.

Among the activities you can see and do in Beijing during a short 2-day stay are visiting the Forbidden City, walking through the mythical Tiananmen Square, relaxing and having lunch on Qianmen Street, seeing the Silk Market, hiking the Great Wall of China and gazing at the city's skyline from the Olympic Tower.

Day 1: Visit the Forbidden City, walk around Tiananmen Square, see the Temple of Heaven, relax on Qianmen Street, tour the Silk Market and enjoy a Kung Fu show

Forbidden City| ©cattan2011
Forbidden City| ©cattan2011

If you really want to see Beijing in 2 days the tour should be intense, with little rest time and following an itinerary based on the proximity of the attractions, so you can save time in transfers and do more activities in less time.

For the first day I suggest a tour of the old part of the city, visiting the emblematic sites that mark the epicenter of Beijing, from the millenary imperial residences, such as the Forbidden City, to the most representative market of Beijing, the Silk Market.

Visit the Forbidden City, the ancient residence of the Chinese emperors.

The first site of the tour will be the Forbidden City, which is an architectural complex located in the heart of the capital and was built during the Ming Dynasty in the 15th century. This fortress was home to the emperors for more than 500 years and is considered one of the most important cultural treasures of the country.

The Forbidden City is a masterpiece of Chinese medieval architecture and usually captivates visitors. During the tour you will see the most luxurious palaces and gardens of the capital and some of the best temples in Beijing. Undoubtedly, this attraction is part of the grandeur of China's imperial past.

Today, the Forbidden City is a museum that has been declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco and can be visited on your own or as part of a guided tour.

Interesting details

  • Price: the entrance fee is approximately 12 euros per person.
  • Location: Forbidden City, Beijing.
  • Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.

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

Walk through Tiananmen Square, a Beijing landmark

The next stop during the first day will be Tiananmen Square, which you can reach from the Forbidden City in about a 10-minute walk or by Metro Line 1. This is one of the largest squares in the world and is located in the center of the capital. It is famous for its political history and has been the scene of many important events in China's modern history.

Tiananmen Square is the site of the Mao Zedong Mausoleum, the Monument to the People's Heroes, the Great Hall of the People and the National Museum of China. The square is also famous for the 1989 student protest, which culminated in the Tiananmen massacre and made it a national symbol of resistance.

No visit to Beijing would be complete without a tour of Tiananmen Square, so I advise you to take the time to get to know it and walk around every corner, including the Heavenly Gate, a Tibetan symbol of the Chinese capital. Keep in mind that although admission is free and open 24 hours, it is a very controlled site by the authorities, so you can not run, shout or camp.

You can tour the square on your own or on some of the best Beijing tours, which include the Tiananmen tour.

Details of interest

  • Price: admission is free.
  • Location: Tiananmen Square, Beijing.
  • Hours: Open 24 hours.

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

Visit the Temple of Heaven, one of the most important temples in China

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

To get to the Temple of Heaven from Tiananmen Square you can take a cab, Metro line 5 or the Beijing hop on-hop off sightseeing bus. This temple is a masterpiece of Chinese architecture and is part of a religious complex that was used by the Ming and Qing dynasty emperors to offer sacrifices to heaven and ask for a good harvest.

Located in the Xuanwu district, the Temple of Heaven has four main halls, each with its own ceremonial function. The main room of the complex, the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, is a striking circular wooden construction that does not have a single nail in it, making it considered one of the most impressive structures of its style in the world.

Keep in mind that the complex containing the Temple of Heaven is very large, so if you want to visit it completely it will take you between 3 and 4 hours. Ideally, to follow the itinerary and if you have a short stay planned, you should only focus on the main building.

Details of interest

  • Price: the entrance fee is approximately 5 euros per person.
  • Location: Tiantan 1, Dongcheng, Beijing.
  • Hours: daily from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Relax on Qianmen, Beijing's shopping street

Qianmen is one of the oldest and busiest historical streets in the Chinese capital. It is located south of Tiananmen Square and is known for its traditional buildings, stores and restaurants, making it the ideal place to shop for goods and souvenirs or take some of Beijing's best food tours.

On Qianmen Street you can experience the traditional Chinese lifestyle while enjoying the historic architecture and hutongs and sampling local food at the many restaurants and stalls located in the area.

To get to Qianmen Street from the Temple of Heaven you can take Metro line 5, the tourist bus or a cab, although you should note that travel time may vary depending on traffic and the means of transport chosen, as traffic jams in Beijing are often very frequent.

Book a gastronomic tuk tuk tour

Tour the popular Silk Market

The Silk Market in Beijing is one of the most popular places to buy silk and other products in the city, as well as being a popular place to learn about local idiosyncrasies and customs. You can get there from Qianmen Street on Metro Line 3.

In this market you will find a variety of stores selling clothing, jewelry, watches and electronics. If you are interested in silk, you will also find a wide selection of items, from bedding and curtains to suits, scarves and ties. In addition, you will also be able to learn about the making of these products.

It is important to keep in mind that the Silk Market can be a very busy and chaotic place, with many vendors trying to attract customers. Therefore, you should know that bargaining is a common practice and it is normal that you will be able to negotiate prices before making a purchase.

Details of interest

  • Price: admission is free.
  • Location: Xiushui Dong Jie 8, Beijing.
  • Hours: daily from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm.

Enjoy a Kung Fu show, one of China's traditional practices

To close the first day, nothing better than opting for a traditional Kung Fu show, which is an experience that combines martial arts with theatrical performances. One of the most popular shows is the Legends of Kung Fu show, which takes place at the Red Theater, but there are several others in different parts of the city.

Most of the shows are presented in a dance and acrobatics format with visual effects and live music. In addition, the performers are usually young students of the Beijing Kung Fu Academy, and in the shows they perform jumps, kicks, punches, spins and more, all synchronized with sound and lighting.

These shows will allow you to discover Chinese culture and martial arts in a theatrical setting. Also, it is a good option for those who do not have time to learn kung fu, but wish to experience the thrill of seeing it in action.

Day 2: Take an excursion to see the Great Wall of China, visit the Summer Palace, walk through Jingshan Park and don't miss the best panoramic views of the city from the Olympic Tower

Touring the wall| ©Ajmal MK
Touring the wall| ©Ajmal MK

For the second day of your trip I propose a tour of the Great Wall, which is one of the classic monuments of Chinese history, in addition to visiting the Summer Palace, which was home to the medieval emperors of several dynasties and Jingshan Park, one of the largest in Asia.

You can close your brief 2-day stay in Beijing by taking in the panoramic views of the city from the Olympic Tower, which was built in 2008 as the epicenter of the Olympic Park and marks the most modern part of the city, in contrast to the flea markets and hutongs of the old part.

Take an excursion to see the Great Wall of China, one of the most famous constructions in the world

A trip to China will not be complete if you do not visit a fragment of the Great Wall, which is one of the most famous ancient wonders of the world. From Beijing you can discover one of the best sections of the construction, which is the Mutianyu, located about 80 kilometers north of the capital.

This section is known for its spectacular views and natural scenery, and is ideal for those looking to avoid the crowds of tourists.

To get to Mutianyu from Beijing you can take a bus or cab, although if you prefer a more organized option, there are many tours that will take you directly from your hotel and is the most recommended alternative if you have a short stay planned.

Mutianyu offers quite a challenging hike, as the Great Wall of China is steep and there are many stairs, but the panoramic views of the Chinese countryside and surrounding mountains are totally worth it.

These tours will give you the unique experience of immersing yourself in China's rich history and culture.

Book a tour to the Great Wall and the Ming Tombs

Visit the Summer Palace, its lakes and gardens

The Summer Palace is an ancient imperial building with an extensive green area, an artificial lake, historic temples and a large garden and pavilion area.

During your tour of the palace you can visit the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity, the Buddha Fragrance Pavilion, Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill. In addition, there are Chinese opera performances and other cultural activities, especially if you plan to visit Beijing in the summer.

Please note that the palace is one of the main attractions in the capital, so I recommend that you book in advance to avoid delays at the entrance, especially if you plan to make a short visit around the city.

You can reach the Summer Palace on Metro line 4 or on the city's bus lines 203, 330, 331, 332 and 333.

Details of interest

  • Price: the entrance fee is approximately 9 euros per person.
  • Location: Xiushui Dong Jie 8, Beijing.
  • Hours: daily from 6:30 am to 6:00 pm.

Book the Summer Palace, Lama Temple and Panda Garden Tour

Walk through Jingshan Park, Beijing's Central Park

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

If you want to visit one of the most picturesque green spaces in the Chinese capital, you can't miss Jingshan Park, which is known as the Central Park of Beijing and stands out for its artificial hill, which offers a panoramic view of the Forbidden City.

Jingshan Hill was built during the Ming Dynasty, using the earth excavated from the moat surrounding the capital. The hill became a popular place for hunting and recreation for Chinese emperors and was also used to hold religious ceremonies. It is now considered a sacred site.

At the top of the hill, in addition, you can meet the Wanchun Pavilion, which has a characteristic Chinese medieval architecture. In addition, there are five other peaks, each of which is crowned by another pavilion.

The gardens of the park also have a variety of flowers, trees and shrubs and numerous paths, which form a very beautiful landscape with snow and you can discover them if you visit Beijing in winter.

Jingshan Park is a very popular place for tourists and local people. Visitors can use the site to rest or to stroll through the gardens and enjoy the tranquility and natural beauty. The best alternative to reach the park from the Summer Palace is to use Metro Line 4.

Details of interest

  • Price: admission is free.
  • Location: Jingshan Park, Beijing.
  • Hours: open daily 24 hours, although some attractions in the park may have different opening hours.

See the best panoramic views of the city from the Olympic Tower

To close the trip the best alternative is to visit the Olympic Tower, which is one of the most iconic modern monuments of the city and offers a great show at night, as the building is illuminated with a series of LED lights that constantly change color, creating fascinating visual effects.

From the top of the tower, you can also enjoy a panoramic view of the city including the most important skyscrapers, such as the China World Trade Center and the Beijing TV Center, which shine brightly. You can also see the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven.

If you visit Beijing you can't miss the Olympic Tower, which is the highest point of the Olympic Park and is a structure that represents, at the same time, the best of futuristic design and architecture and the strength of modern China.

Details of interest

  • Price: the entrance fee is approximately 15 euros.
  • Location: Kehui South Road, Olympic Park in Chaoyang, Beijing.
  • Hours: from 7:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

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