Beijing in 5 Days: everything you need to know

With this 5-day itinerary you can explore Beijing's best tourist attractions, as well as soak up its rich history and culture. Continue reading.

Carla Yaquer

Carla Yaquer

11 min read

Beijing in 5 Days: everything you need to know

Beijing Afternoon | ©Mark Back

Whether you are an avid traveler or a novice, a visit to the city of Beijing is a destination not to be missed. This 5-day itinerary with map brings together the best things to do in Beijing in the heart of the Chinese capital. From the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace, to its most modern districts and hutongs.

Day 1: Longtan Gardens, Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City

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

On the first day the tour starts in the south of Beijing with a 10 km route that you can see on this map. This day is dedicated to the heart of this capital. Bring your comfortable clothes and shoes and let's start!

Longtan Gardens

Longtan Park is the perfect place to start the day in harmony with a natural landscape among dragon cypress trees and snapdragon flowers. Walk its paths, take a boat ride or, if you are traveling with your little ones, you can even go to its children's activity center.

This park, built in 1952, revolves around a large meandering lake known as Dragon Lake. In the end, areas of interest such as the Stone Forest, Wanliu Hall, Dragon Gate, or Liantanghua and Central Islands leave a picture-worthy imprint.

And if you have not had breakfast at your hotel, I invite you to stroll through one of the restaurants or tea houses in these gardens.

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

Temple of Heaven

Upon entering the park, you will be amazed by the aura of peace that envelops the vast grounds. The Temple of Heaven was where emperors held rituals to ask for good harvests and blessings. Among its rooms stand out:

No wonder the Temple of Heaven is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is one of the best temples in Beijing and therefore a must-see.


In the late afternoon, you can have lunch on your way to Tiananmen Square. I recommend you try the food at Bianyifang Roast Duck, as for just over 5€ you can taste traditional food such as lacquered duck or gong bao chicken.

When you finish, continue your itinerary through the Gate of Heavenly Peace, where you will begin to explore Tiananmen Square. Or, if you prefer, you can also choose to book a Tiananmen tour to be accompanied by a guide.

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

Tiananmen Square

There are many things to do in Tiananmen Square such as seeing the imposing portrait of Mao Zedong that hangs above the entrance to the square. This historic site has played an important role in China's history and is a symbolic representation of political power from the decline of the Qing Dynasty to the present day.

It is vast in extent and offers many photo opportunities at monuments such as the Great Hall of the People, the Mao Zedong Mausoleum and the National Museum of China, which is the second most visited museum in the world.

If you have chosen to book the Tiananmen Square tour it is important to know that it includes a tour of the Great Wall and the Forbidden City.

Great Wall, Forbidden City and Tiananmen tour reservation

Forbidden City

The best way to immerse yourself in Beijing' s cultural heritage is to visit the Forbidden City, which housed the Chinese Imperial Palace and was the political center of the government for more than 600 years, where 24 emperors passed through.

This city boasts imposing wooden walls, ancient paintings, courtyards, bridges, calligraphic works, jade utensils... All around the Coal Hill of Jingshan Gardens, where this city surrenders to the feet of visitors.

You may be interested to know what are the best tours of the Forbidden City or hire a guide to help you make the most of what is one of the 10 most visited and photographed monuments in the world.

Great Wall, Forbidden City and Tiananmen tour booking


At the end of your visit try a good Hot pot or Huo Guo, a kind of Chinese fondue. It is ideal for sharing with friends or family and usually includes a variety of vegetables, seafood, mushrooms, meat, even wontons and dumplings.

Around the Lost City you will find great restaurants such as the Old Beijing Noodle. Don't worry about the proper way to order, as the menus usually have pictures and English translation.

Day 2: Visit the Imperial Palace, stroll through the pearl market and enjoy the Kung Fu show

Beijing Red Theater| ©Tha Gensta
Beijing Red Theater| ©Tha Gensta

This day promises to be hectic as you join the local good vibes among its markets and shows with this itinerary of 4 outstanding stops of only 7 kilometers that you can follow with this map.

The Imperial Palace

Start the day at the Imperial Palace, a huge temple complex that shares the same floor with the Forbidden City, but with far fewer people, so you can explore it at your leisure. If you've already seen it when booking the Great Wall of China, Forbidden City and Tiananmen tour, you can skip it.

Here you'll find yourself in the place where the emperors kept their ancestral tablets and walk through the five main halls:

  • The Hall of Supreme Harmony
  • The Zhonghe Hall
  • The Baohe Hall, where national ceremonies are held.
  • The Wenhua Hall
  • The Wuying Hall

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


The Zhengyangmen Gate is one of the famous "nine gates of the capital" in ancient Beijing and was founded in the year 1419 during the Ming Dynasty. Also known as the Qianmen, it houses:

  • Zhengyangmen Tower
  • The Arrow Tower
  • The Beijing Folk Exhibition Hall.

Because it is located directly opposite the Forbidden City, it is also known as the "Main Gate" and because of its structure, history and shape it is a popular tourist attraction.

Visit the Silk Market

The Pearl Market, Silk Market or "simply" Hongqiao, is Beijing' s most popular market and its dynamics are as fun as they are irresistible. Although initially focused on the sale of pearls, today you can find practically everything.

There are many things to do in the Beijing Silk Market, as you can not only bargain with the sellers - do not fail to do so, it is a tradition - but you can also have lunch with locals for 5 €.

The top floors are home to jewelry stores and pearl specialists, while on the first floor there are excellent seafood restaurants. If you don't feel like eating here you can always book a gastronomic tuk tuk tour for a more touristy experience.

Book a gastronomic tuk tuk tuk tour

Visit the Red Theater

Kung Fu fights are a Chinese tradition, and being in the capital you can't miss the show offered by the Red Theater, where the best Kung Fu shows in Beijing take place.

Focused on the traditions of the Shaolin monastery, "The Legend of Kung Fu" is presented, where martial arts specialists show their skills in an experience that combines storytelling, live music and special effects.

On your way out you can dine in the same area, as nearby is the famous Tianruifu Traditional Yunnan Rice Noodle with a menu full of authentic Chinese dishes. But if Kung Fu is not your thing, another alternative is to book tickets to an acrobatic show in Beijing.

Book tickets to an acrobatic show

Day 3: Modern art, hutongs and the Olympic Park

Beijing Olympic Park| ©Yanli Guo
Beijing Olympic Park| ©Yanli Guo

We continue north and this day you can contrast ancient and modern Beijing art, visit one of the busiest hutongs in the capital and finish the day at the Olympic Park with this itinerary which is the same as Beijing in one day. You can follow it with this map.

798 Art District

The first stop of this day of contrasts takes you on a visit to the industrial area of the Dashanzi Art District, the main exponent of contemporary Beijing art since 1953.

This area is better known as the 798 Art District and is home to a collection of galleries, studios, museums and stores showcasing urban and even to some extent semi-contemporary art.

As you stroll through the maze of streets, with trendy bars and restaurants, you'll admire eye-catching art installations, graffiti and murals. With its eclectic mix of art, culture and gastronomy, you will be inspired and enriched by this unique corner of the city.

Book a gastronomic tuk tuk tour

Experience the Hutongs in Dongcheng!

Discover the true essence of Beijing by immersing yourself in the Hutongs of Dongcheng. The Hutongs are the areas formed by blocks bounded by walls and houses with beautiful inner courtyards between narrow streets. This is a window into the intimate, traditional and collective life of Beijing.

Many of these Hutongs are still preserved and Dongcheng is one of the oldest districts in Beijing where you can enjoy them, as well as get to know the authentic Chinese culinary culture and taste local specialties. In addition, you can practice paper cutting, calligraphy and study ancient Beijing civilization.

For this type of visit I recommend booking one of the tours of the Beijing Hutongs, it is the best way to make the most of your time, and they usually include between 15-20 tastings.

Stroll through the Olympic Park

Marvel at the impressive structures that hosted the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing's Olympic Zone. From the iconic Bird's Nest National Stadium to the meandering Water Cube aquatic center to the landscaped gardens.

The sheer magnitude of Beijing Olympic Park will amaze you. Stroll along its paths, take pictures, enjoy live events, play mahjong or badminton, take your first tai-chi class or just admire the beauty of the surroundings.

With such a vibrant atmosphere, dine nearby, as it is surrounded by a variety of restaurants with traditional and international cuisine. Or if you have not been able to book a gastronomic tuk tuk tour before, this is a good time to do so.

Book a gastronomic tuk tuk tuk tour

Day 4: Confucius Temple, present Summer Palace, the Lama Temple and the Old Summer Palace

Confucius Temple| ©David Stanley
Confucius Temple| ©David Stanley

On the fourth day, I propose a 28 kilometers tour that you can see on this map. You will stroll through the summer palaces, taste the traditional food among imperial gardens and get close to the most important Lamaist temple in the capital.

Beijing's Confucius Temple

This impressive temple was built in 1302 and is a sacred place for those seeking inspiration and wisdom on the path of knowledge. In fact, the more than 20,000-meter Beijing Confucius Temple is home to the Imperial College, the academy founded by Confucius himself.

Enjoy the serenity offered by its 13 pavilions from the Dacheng Gate, where the Qianlong Stone Drum is located, to the Chongsheng Temple and let yourself be carried away by the beauty of the ancient structures.

Book a tour of the Summer Palace, Lama Temple and Panda Garden

The Lama Temple

Next, head to the Lama Temple, where a sensory experience awaits you amidst offerings, monks, prayers and the smell of incense permeating every corner. In fact, you can also book the Summer Palace, Lama Temple and Panda Garden tour to see it with a guide.

This Tibetan temple is the largest of its kind in Beijing, dating back to the 18th century and within its 66,000 meters you will find various monuments such as:

  • The Mountain of 500 Arhats, located inside the Pavilion of the Wheel of the Law.
  • The Buddha statue of 26 meters high located in the Pavilion of Ten Thousand Happinesses.

Book the Summer Palace, Lama Temple and Panda Garden tour


On the way to the Summer Palaces, you can make your lunch stop at Baijia Restaurant North Gate, a place to sample typical dishes of Sichuan cuisine where waiters dressed in traditional Qing Dynasty costumes and traditional architecture merge to immerse you in traditional culture among the gardens of an ancient prince.

The Ruins of the Ancient Summer Palace Park

Yuanmingyuan Park has changed its name since its construction in 1707. From the Garden of Perfect Brilliance, it was renamed the Imperial Gardens and is now identified as the Old Summer Palace.

There are 100 highlights ideal for relaxing, boating on Fuhai Lake and wandering along the trails. Visitors can also explore the palace ruins where highlights include:

  • The Pavilion of the Calm Seas.
  • The monuments to the black swan and the lotus flower.
  • The Garden of Elegant Spring and its palaces.

The current Summer Palace

Finally, end the day at the Summer Palace, an impressive imperial garden and palace built in the 18th century. With sweeping views of the surrounding hills and a stunning lake, the Summer Palace is not only a tourist attraction, but also a favorite spot for locals.

Walk across the 17-Arches Bridge, take a boat ride on Kunming Lake, admire the intricately designed Marble Boat by the lake, or view the Buddhist Incense Pagoda on Longevity Hill.

Book the Summer Palace, Lama Temple and Panda Garden tour


I invite you to conclude the tour at Aman Restaurant on the south side of the palace, where you exchange the colorful atmosphere of lunch for the serenity of a restaurant overlooking the Summer Palace Grand Theater.

Day 5: The Great Wall of China

Sunset on the Great Wall of China| ©Bernard Goldbach
Sunset on the Great Wall of China| ©Bernard Goldbach

The Great Wall of China is a fortress that stretches for thousands of kilometers in the mountains of Beijing and dates back to the 12th century. Depending on your desired level of difficulty and your location, you can choose from at least six sections to walk and explore.

Those looking for a demanding climb can opt for the Jiankou section, while, if you prefer a light hike, the Mutianyu is for you. In fact , the most popular walk to this fortress corresponds to the 5400 meters of the Mutianyu Great Wall.

It is the commercial wall, so you will find places to eat, public transportation and whatever you need to know this defensive prodigy. You can visit it by hiring a bus transfer to the Great Wall from Beijing, although there are many Great Wall tours. But what are the things to see and do there?

Book the bus transfer to the Great Wall

Walk the Hero's Slope

The Hero's Slope is a magnificent hike that leads to the top of the Great Wall, its level of difficulty is medium and, when you reach the top of the path, it offers breathtaking panoramic views. The effort is worth it and, once at the top, you can take a tour of different parts of this stretch of wall.

Take the cable car

The cable car is an easy way to enjoy the breathtaking views of the city. You can choose between two different cable cars: one that goes up to the highest point and another that takes you through several watchtowers along the way. If you are looking for something more relaxing and less intense than climbing mountains, I recommend you opt for this route.

Slide down the slide

The slide is the perfect way to enjoy the descent taking pictures of your friends and family while witnessing this wonderful work, especially at the end of the day when you see all the lights of the city.

Book the bus transfer to the Great Wall