The Ultimate Beijing Bucket List: 20 Site-By-Site Must-Dos

From thousands of years of culture and history to endless natural wonder, here are just some of the unbelievable sights and experiences China's capital city has to offer.

Photo By: Alisha Bube

Photo By: Alisha Bube

Photo By: Alisha Bube

Photo By: Alisha Bube

Photo By: Alisha Bube

Photo By: Alisha Bube

Photo By: Alisha Bube

Photo By: Alisha Bube

Photo By: Alisha Bube

Photo By: Alisha Bube

Photo By: Alisha Bube

Photo By: Alisha Bube

Photo By: Alisha Bube

Photo By: Alisha Bube

Photo By: Alisha Bube

Photo By: Alisha Bube

Photo By: Alisha Bube

Photo By: Alisha Bube

Photo By: Alisha Bube

Photo By: Alisha Bube

Walk a Section of The Great Wall of China

Take a day trip out of the city to the surrounding mountains and hike a portion of The Great Wall. Pictured is part of the Jinshanling section of the wall.

Explore the Forbidden City

Beijing radiates around this central point in the city, a palace that has housed rulers since the early 1400s. Since it became a museum in 1925, this UNESCO World Heritage Site has become one of the most visited art museums in the world.

Stroll Through the Imperial Garden

Located at the north end of the Forbidden City is the meticulously maintained Imperial Garden (Yuhuayuan), which was added to the palace during the Ming Dynasty.

Stop in a Gallery in the 798 Art District

Situated in northeast Beijing is an eclectic, rejuvenated warehouse district packed with galleries, shops and restaurants. It's definitely worth the trip out of the heart of the city to explore the labyrinth graffiti and sculpture-lined streets and pick up some local art to remember your visit by.

See Olympic Park Lit Up at Night

Beijing's Olympic Park, also known as the Olympic Green, was home to the 2008 Olympic Games. The impressive architecture of the National Stadium (Bird's Nest) and Aquatics Center (Water Cube) are brought to life each night with a vibrant light show.

Visit the Temple of Heaven

Aligning with the solstice, it was traditional for the Emperor to come to this temple (Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests) and pray for good crops for the coming season.

Browse the Galleries at the National Art Museum of China

Free to the first 4,000 visitors each day, the long halls of the museum are definitely worth visiting for those interested in the history and art of China.

Fly a Kite

Kite flying is a popular activity across many parts of China, and the city even has an entire market dedicated to them.

Take a Walk in Jingshan Park

Jingshan Park is located directly north of the Forbidden City and was once a private extension of the palace. In 1928 it became a separate public space shortly after the Forbidden City was converted into a museum.

Enjoy Views of the City From Jingshan Hill

Jingshan Hill is an artificial hill added to the center of Jingshan Park during the Ming Dynasty. It was built using the soil from the excavation of the moat around the palace. From the pavilion atop this 150-foot perch, you can get amazing 360-degree views of the Forbidden City and the rest of Beijing.

Stroll Along the Banks of the Tongzi River

Take a walk along the banks of the Tongzi River, a moat that surrounds the Forbidden Palace.

Pass Through the Meridian Gate

Historically, this main entrance into the Forbidden City was only for the use of the Emperor, but now it's a public entrance allowing visitors to enter the ornate Palace Museum.

Practice Your Dancing or Tai Chi

The city is full of parks and playgrounds, and you'll regularly spot individuals and groups gathering in these spaces practicing anything from ballroom dancing to their ping-pong skills.

Explore the Grounds of the Summer Palace

Set on the northwest edge of the city on the banks of Kunming Lake are the elaborate grounds of this UNESCO World Heritage site. Pavilions, palaces and temples fit seamlessly into the natural landscape of the hillside and provide views of the surrounding mountains.

Walk Over a Moon Bridge

In the northwest corner of the Summer Palace, you can find this symmetrical high-arched pedestrian bridge, also known as a "moon bridge."

Barter for Souvenirs at a Market

Stop by Wangfujing, Silk Street, Hongqiao, Panjiayuan or one of the many other markets scattered throughout the city, and find unique treasures to bring home to commemorate your trip.

Visit the Historic Tiananmen Square

Stop by the square and, if time permits, visit the Monument to the People's Heroes, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China or the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong which surround the plaza.

Catch a Show

The giant egg-shaped theater is worth visiting even if it's just to admire the incredible architecture and reflecting pool. Check the event schedule to see if there are any performances you can see in one of its three halls.

Navigate Through the Hutongs

Hutongs are the labyrinth-like alleys that join together to make up many neighborhoods in the city. Two of the more well-known areas in central Beijing is the Shichahai and Bell/Drum Towers areas.

Spend a Lively Evening in Houhai

This neighborhood just north of the city center is named for the largest of three lakes located there that make up the Shichahai. The lake shore is packed with markets, restaurants, bars and cafes, and it's known for its nightlife and being a popular tourist destination.