Beijing in 7 Days: a guidebook for getting the most out of your visit

Seven days in Beijing will allow you to visit impressive sights such as the Summer Palace, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China and many more.

Andressa García

Andressa García

11 min read

Beijing in 7 Days: a guidebook for getting the most out of your visit

Getting to know in Bejing | ©Rajitha Ranasinghe

A seven-day visit to Beijing is a perfect way to see the best things to see and do in Beijing. Overall, Beijing is a city full of wonders, both known and unknown, that offer a unique and exciting experience for everyone who visits.

Day 1: Summer Palace and Olympic Park

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

In this one-day itinerary in Beijing, you will start by visiting the Summer Palace. For lunch, I recommend trying some delicious local dishes at a street food stall. Afterwards, make a stop at the Olympic Park and, to close the day, you can enjoy dinner at a restaurant specializing in the famous Peking duck.

Visit the Summer Palace

After a hearty breakfast, it's time to enjoy a trip to the Summer Palace. It is best to book a guided tour of the Summer Palace to get a better sense of China's history and culture. It is an ancient imperial garden located about 15 kilometers northwest of downtown Beijing.

During the tour you will be accompanied by an expert guide who will give you all the information about each of these special places, although if you want to visit it on your own and without the company of an expert guide, you can also do that. But without a doubt, this is one of the best tours in Beijing.

Book the Summer Palace, Lama Temple and Panda Garden Tour

Go to the Olympic Park and the "Bird's Nest" stadium

After leaving the Summer Palace behind, around 11:00, you will love to go to see the Olympic Park, a sports area built for the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Its main stadium is the National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest because its unique architectural design is very similar to a bird's nest.

This stadium is considered one of the most impressive in the world and has been featured in several TV shows and movies.

  • Duration: I recommend not to stay less than 2 hours.

Have lunch and take a bike tour of the modern city

After spending just over two hours touring Beijing's Olympic Park, you will definitely want to see other parts of the city. For this reason, I recommend you sign up for a good bike tour of the city where you will get a chance to see the best aspects of modern Beijing and its hectic life.

But before you start this tour, it will be time to eat. You can have any traditional Chinese food for lunch in one of the restaurants near the Olympic Park.

Dinner at a local food restaurant

At about 6:00 pm, and after you have taken a bike tour of modern Beijing, you will surely have some food cravings, so I recommend you to go to a local restaurant.

Since dinner could last between one and two hours, you will have the rest of the evening free to explore Beijing' s lively nightlife or go for some rest.

But, if you're up for it, you can also book a gastronomic tuk tuk tuk tour to really soak up all the Chinese flavors and curiosities of their cuisine.

Book a gastronomic tuk tuk tour

Day 2: Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and Hutongs

Forbidden City| ©cattan2011
Forbidden City| ©cattan2011

For this second day of your Beijing itinerary, you will start with a traditional Chinese breakfast at a local street st all or, if you prefer, have a bite to eat at your accommodation. You will then visit the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and take a rickshaw ride through the hutongs to finally have a hot pot lunch.

Visit the Forbidden City

Right after breakfast you can go to the Forbidden City, where you will enter around 9:00.

You should keep in mind that a visit to the Forbidden City is a must because it is one of the most emblematic and historical tourist sites in Beijing.

In this case, I also recommend you to book a tour of the Forbidden City because it includes other sights that you can combine perfectly with your 7-day trip in Beijing.

  • Duration: about three hours

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

Visit Tiananmen Square

At around 12:00, it will be time to visit Tiananmen Square, a place you will stay to see for at least another hour. Tiananmen Square is just outside the Forbidden City, so you won't have to put much effort into getting there.

If you don't know what to see in Tiananmen Square, I recommend you read this article. But among the highlights are:

  • The Mao Mausoleum.
  • The Flag Monument.

When you book the Forbidden City tour, Tiananmen is also included. So, if you book it, this part will also be guided.

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

Take a rickshaw ride through the hutongs

After finishing your tour in Tiananmen Square, around 13:00, you will definitely want to have a good lunch in one of the street markets or food courts that are in the surroundings.

Then, around 14:00, it is a good time to go and enjoy a nice rickshaw ride through the hutongs, which are traditional and narrow alleys typical of Beijing. A tour of Beijing's hutongs will give you an authentic insight into the local life and culture of the city.

Right after, I recommend using some of your time to tour a bit more of the city, this time on foot, and to enjoy the outdoors before going for dinner at any local food stall.

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

Dinner at a local hot pot restaurant

Around 19:00 it will be time to enjoy a nice dinner at a local hot pot restaurant. Hot pot is a very tasty local specialty and one of the most iconic dishes in Chinese culture, especially in Beijing.

Day 3: Great Wall, modern city and street market

Sunset on the Chinese wall| ©Bernard Goldbach
Sunset on the Chinese wall| ©Bernard Goldbach

During your third day in Beijing, I suggest a day trip to the Great Wall of China. Afterwards, when you return to the city, you will have free time to rest or do outdoor activities.

Take a day tour to the Great Wall of China

Early in the morning, around 8:00, you can start your day by going on a full day tour of the Great Wall of China. I recommend booking a Great Wall tour that includes a tour guide to explore the different sections of the Great Wall with a picnic stop.

  • Duration: it will depend on the section of the wall you choose and also on the pace of the group, although a tour of the Great Wall of China usually takes just over eight hours.

Book a tour to the Great Wall and the Ming Tombs

Return to the city in the afternoon for rest or free activities

After doing the full-day tour of the Great Wall of China, you can return to the city in the afternoon and have some free time to rest or do some free activities in the city before going to enjoy a nice dinner.

As you will arrive back in the city around 16:00, you can take the opportunity to visit one of the city's iconic Buddhist temples or one of Beijing's best museums. You can also do some other free activities in the city.

Book a tour to the Great Wall and the Ming Tombs

Dine at a street market or food court

Finally, to end the third day on a high note, I recommend you go for dinner at one of Beijing's most popular street markets, including the Donghuamen Night Market.

Day 4: Temple of Heaven and Beijing Zoo

Zoo Entrance| ©leo818lion
Zoo Entrance| ©leo818lion

Day 4 begins with the Temple of Heaven, where you will see imperial architecture and Chinese culture. Afterwards, you will visit the Beijing Zoo to learn about the various animal species that inhabit China.

Visit the Temple of Heaven

After breakfast, it will be time to board a cab or subway to go to the Temple of Heaven, which is an imperial Chinese temple located in Tiantan Gongyuan Park, known for its size and beauty.

When you finish your tour it will be time for lunch, so you will find several options near the place, including Chinese and Western restaurants in the nearby shopping malls.

  • Duration: I recommend you stay visiting the Temple of Heaven for about three hours.

Visit the Beijing Zoo

After having lunch and enjoying the Temple of Heaven, by now the clock should be just after 13:30, so at this point I recommend you get into a cab that will take you to the Beijing Zoo, which is about a 20-minute drive from the Temple of Heaven.

  • What animals are there: there are typical Chinese animals, such as panda bears**, snow leopards and eastern lowland gorillas.
  • Duration: I recommend you to spend about three hours in this place.

Considering that you will leave the Zoo around 17:00, you can use that time in the late afternoon to start enjoying dinner and nightlife. Sanlitun is a very popular area for a night out, with many bars and restaurants to choose from.

Day 5: Temple of the Lamas, Princes Park and Wangfujing

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

For this fifth day in Beijing you will go to see the Temple of the Lamas, the Princes' Park and Wangfujing shopping street.

Visit the Temple of the Lamas

After breakfast, it will be time to hop on the subway or get a cab to take you to the Temple of the Lamas, an important tourist and cultural site in the city.

It is an architectural gem that you can also visit when you book a Lama Temple tour and combines elements of Tibetan and Chinese culture, being a great example of the influence of Buddhism in China. This temple will take you just over two to three hours.

Book the Summer Palace, Lama Temple and Panda Garden Tour

Lunch at a Chinese restaurant

As you will be leaving the Lama Temple around 12:00, you will surely feel like eating something, that's why at lunchtime I recommend going to Wangfujing Market, a very popular street food market in the center of the city, with a wide variety of traditional Chinese food options and with quite affordable prices.

Visit the Princes' Park

After lunch, I recommend you to go to the Princes' Park, which is also known as Zhongshan Park and which I recommend you to visit if you want to enjoy a quiet and relaxing space, as it is far away from the noise and bustle of the city.

  • What is in the Princes' Park: a large garden with ponds, pagodas and bridges.
  • Duration: I advise you to stay around three hours, so you will be out around 16:00, perfect time to continue to the next point on your itinerary.

Have a free afternoon with a shopping option in Wangfujing

From 16:00 onwards, you will have the opportunity to spend the afternoon shopping along Wangfujing shopping street, which is one of the most popular avenues in the city and you will love it for its busy and lively atmosphere.

It is known for its:

  • Brand name stores
  • Department stores
  • Local food stores and restaurants.

Dine at a hot pot fountain or street food restaurant.

After discovering this shopping street, I recommend ending the day at a hot pot fountain or a local street food stall, including the famous Donghuamen Night Market, a place where you can try various traditional Chinese dishes.

At the end of the day, you can go to your hotel and get ready for a sixth day in Beijing.

Day 6: Tsinghua University, National Museum and Theater

Beijing National Theater| ©Alexander
Beijing National Theater| ©Alexander

The sixth day of your Beijing tour will start with a visit to Tsinghua University, followed by a visit to the National Museum of China and then a traditional Chinese opera performance at the National Theater of Beijing. You will end the day with dinner at Xidan and, during the tour, you will not be short of food tastings.

Visit Tsinghua University

This day your journey begins at Tsinghua University to see one of China's most prestigious educational institutions.

If you sign up for a guided tour you will learn about the history of the University and its role in China's development in terms of technology, science and education. But you will also meet Tsinghua students and professors to get a glimpse of daily life on campus.

  • Duration: this tour will take you no more than two hours.

Visit the National Museum of China

After the university, you will go straight to the National Museum of China, which contains important historical and cultural artifacts of the country, but is also one of the largest museums in the world.

  • What you'll find: exhibits ranging from China's prehistoric history to the founding of the Republic in 1949.
  • What are the most popular areas of the museum: the collection of ancient bronzes, the collection of Ming and Qing dynasty sculptures, the famous collection of Chinese paintings and calligraphy, and the Hall of Treasures.
  • Duration: it will take you about two hours, so you will leave at approximately 13:00, ideal time to have lunch.

Lunch at the museum café or at the Oriental Plaza shopping mall

For lunch you have the option to eat at the museum cafe or try some traditional food at the Oriental Plaza shopping mall. Some of the places you will love to visit are:

  • The Horizon
  • Zarah Cafe
  • Din Tai Fung
  • South German Bakery
  • Jasmine.

If you prefer, I suggest you sign up for a gastronomic tour in Beijing, where you can try different flavors of Asian cuisine. One of the most interesting is to book a gastronomic tour in tuk tuk to go from place to place in this curious transport.

Book a gastronomic tour in tuk tuk

Go to the Beijing National Theater to see a traditional Chinese opera

After spending a couple of hours for lunch, you can go to your next destination, which is none other than the Beijing National Theater, where you will enjoy a traditional Chinese opera show, whose performance will last no more than two hours.

Traditional Chinese opera is an ancient art form that combines music, dance, singing, drama and acrobatics, and the Beijing National Theater is the ideal place to see it.

If you don't want to enjoy the opera, you can also join a kung fu show in Beijing or buy tickets for an acrobatic show at the Chaoyang Theater.

Dinner in Xidan, visiting a night market

For dinner you will go to the Xidan district, which is known for its restaurants and shopping. It is generally a shopping area in the center of Beijing where you can find a wide variety of dining options ranging from traditional Chinese cuisine to international food.

Day 7: Botanical Garden and CCTV Tower

CCTV Tower| ©Tim Wang
CCTV Tower| ©Tim Wang

For your last day of your Beijing itinerary you will go to the Beijing Botanical Garden and CCTV Tower to enjoy panoramic views of the city from the top. Afterwards you will enjoy the city's attractions on your own.

Take a half-day tour to Beijing Botanical Garden

For this day you can go to the Beijing Botanical Garden in the northwest part of the city, where you will enjoy beautiful scenery with lakes, gardens and spectacular flowers.

  • Duration: I recommend staying at the garden for about two hours, although it all depends on the organization of the guide.
  • What these tours include: usually lunch.

Visit the CCTV Tower

After returning to the city you will go to the CCTV Tower, one of the most emblematic and modern buildings in the city. You will be able to go up to enjoy the most impressive views of Beijing and its surroundings.

  • Duration: just over an hour.

After visiting the CCTV Tower, you can go back to your hotel to rest and get ready for an early departure back home.

With this tour you would be completing the seven-day itinerary visiting the city of Beijing. During this time you will surely have had the opportunity to see many of the city' s most interesting and iconic sights.