11 Things to Do With 48 Hours in Beijing

Many of Beijing’s top attractions are within close proximity to each other, which means you can really take advantage of a quick 48-hour visit. Pack in a visit to The Great Wall, then experience the city’s vibrant contrast of old and new at its lush green spaces, ornate palaces, century-old temples and world-renown museums. For a short visit to the capital city of China, we’ve handpicked the best attractions to see on a 48-hour visit.

Visit The Great Wall (Nearby Hotels)

Most likely The Great Wall is on your list of do’s for China, as it’s one of the most famous monuments in the world. You won’t have time to see the whole thing, but you should aim to experience a portion of it. Believed to have been built as early as the 7th century BC and mostly built during the Ming dynasty, the wall was built to protect the country against invasions. The most popular sections include Badaling, Jiayu Pass and Shanhai Pass.

Explore the Forbidden City (Nearby Hotels)

The world’s largest palace complex, the Forbidden City stretches 180 acres and has 800 buildings. Spend a few hours exploring some of the site’s highlights, including the Gate of Heavenly Peace, the Hall of Supreme Harmony and the Hall of Clocks and Watches. You can see jade bracelets and other imperial possessions at the Gallery of Treasures, then meander through the beautiful Imperial Gardens. For the best views of the Forbidden City, climb up the winding staircase at Jingshan Park across the street.

Wander around Tiananmen Square (Nearby Hotels)

One of the world’s most famous public spaces, Tiananmen Square is an iconic symbol of Beijing. Take a walk around the square and the Gate of Heavenly Peace, then where Mao Zedong made the announcement of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Pass Mao Zedong Memorial Hall, then make sure to see the Monument to the People’s Heroes, which is a 125-foot granite obelisk dedicated to those who died for the revolutionary cause of the Chinese people.

Take a break at Yiheyuan (Summer Palace) (Nearby Hotels)

Built throughout the course of many dynasties, Yiheyuan is a royal garden that can be traced back to 1153 CE. It’s a great spot to escape to when you’re feeling the bustle of the city, where you can retreat like many emperors did before you and enjoy the Summer Palace. Located in the northwest suburbs, it covers over 700 acres and is known for its beautiful architecture and landscaping. After you’ve been charmed by the largest imperial garden in China, stop to admire the historic Seventeen-Arch Bridge.

Walk around Beihai Park (Nearby Hotels)

Sitting northwest of the Forbidden City, Beihai Park boasts the largest and most beautiful public lake in Beijing. Enjoy the fresh air with a stroll around the lake or rent a paddle boat, then explore the Temple of Everlasting Peace, White Dagoba and Circular City. Sit back and enjoy the shade under a tree, where you can appreciate why this green space has been preserved for over a thousand years. Afterwards, continue north to Qianhai and Houhai, which are two connected lakes surrounded by restaurants and bars that sit along its shore.

Visit the Ming Tombs (Nearby Hotels)

Located 31 miles north of Beijing, the Ming Tombs boast 46 square miles of well-preserved mausoleums and their various palaces and stone archways. Learn about the Ming Dynasty and its history from 1368 and 1644 at this ancient burial site, where only three of the 13 tombs have been fully uncovered and visible to the public. The hilly scenery is also worth visiting for, as the location at the foot of Mount Yan offers a different perspective of Beijing’s bustling streets.

Enjoy the zen-like ambiance at Lama Temple (Nearby Hotels)

Lama Temple was built to be a temple for Prince Yongzheng, who was eventually the third Qing Dynasty Emperor, and now serves as one of the most important Buddhist temples in Beijing. A monastery for Lamaist monks, visitors come here to marvel at the five grandiose gateways and intricate artwork, including a 60-foot-tall Buddha statue carved from a single trunk of sandalwood tree. Make sure to browse the multiple galleries hung with thangkhas, or Tibetan scroll paintings and the Pavilion of Ten Thousand Fortunes.

See iconic architecture at Tian Tan (Temple of Heaven) (Nearby Hotels)

Showcasing one of the most important examples of Chinese religious architecture, the Temple of Heaven is where emperors made sacrifices to the gods for many centuries. Double the size of the Forbidden City, the temple’s grounds house a collection of Ming Dynasty buildings, including the Imperial Vault of Heaven and Circular Mound Altar. One of the highlights is the striking Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, which stands atop a three-tiered marble base and has a blue roof supported by 28 pillars.

Browse exhibits at the National Museum of China (Nearby Hotels)

If you want to learn more about Chinese culture, head to the National Museum of China to discover a treasure trove of rare Chinese art. Sitting on the eastern edge of Tiananmen Square, you can explore galleries that highlight the nation’s past. See impressive collections of jade, porcelain and bronze artifacts, then admire some of the notable works from abroad, which range from Renaissance art to ceramics from the British Museum.

Browse exhibits at the National Museum of China (Nearby Hotels)

If you want to learn more about Chinese culture, head to the National Museum of China to discover a treasure trove of rare Chinese art. Sitting on the eastern edge of Tiananmen Square, you can explore galleries that highlight the nation’s past. See impressive collections of jade, porcelain and bronze artifacts, then admire some of the notable works from abroad, which range from Renaissance art to ceramics from the British Museum.

Explore Beijing Olympic Park (Nearby Hotels)

Many remember the events of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, which put on one of the most remarkable displays to date. To see some of the buildings from the games that are still standing, head to Beijing Olympic Park. Here you can see the iconic “Bird’s Nest”, which features an exterior made from 42,000 tons of steel. Stop to marvel at the National Aquatics Center, called the “Water Cube” where Michael Phelps set his records. For the best views, visit at night when the structures are illuminated.