Beijing is an assault on the senses, with screeching motorbikes, towering skyscrapers, aromas of street food and ancient temples. It’s been the capital of China since the year 1200 and is a mix of new and old, with an ancient forbidden city sitting amongst a modern metropolis. One of the best things to do in Beijing is marvel its skyline, which is incredibly fast-changing as buildings are rapidly popping up all over the city. We’ve rounded up the best places to see the Beijing Skyline:
1. 360-degree view at Jingshan Hill
A local favorite and one of the best places to see the skyline is from Jingshan Hill. The hill lies north of the Forbidden City and stands at 150 feet high, offering an unbeatable, panoramic view of the city. It’s easy to climb up the hill and the view is amazing at both sunrise and sunset. You can see the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square from the Jingshan Hill spot, along with many other buildings such as the China World Trade Center Tower III, which is the city’s tallest building at 74 stories high. Many locals and tourists come to this spot around 5 pm, to wait and see the changing sky.
2. Business District from Above
Beijing’s bustling business district is far from relaxing, so why not view it from above, and avoid the hustle and bustle below? From the China Grill, which is one of the highest restaurants in Beijing, you can see panoramic views of the business district, including buildings such as the impressive China World Hotel, the complex geometry of the CCTV Headquarters building, and bustling Chang’an Avenue. The view is best at night, when the city really lights up. China Grill can be found on the 66th floor of the Park Hyatt building. You can enjoy some of its delicious dishes while you’re there.
3. The Forbidden City Turret and Moat
While you cannot enter the Forbidden City at night, you can marvel at it from afar if you walk by the moat along the northern wall of the Forbidden City. It’s also a fantastic view during the day, and visitors can see some of the Forbidden City’s ornate buildings, and the peaks of the palaces that lie within its walls. If you do walk along the moat at night, you’ll see the turrets of Forbidden City lit-up by artificial lighting — a truly wonderful sight. The Forbidden City was built in the 15th century, but China’s history goes back much further — did you know that China is one of the oldest countries in the world?
4. Shichahai Night View
For a stunning view at night, head to “Shichahai”, an area of historic importance and home to three lakes – Lake Houhai, Qianhai, and Xihai. It’s located in the north of central Beijing and you can see fantastic views of the lakes at night, alongside historic temples. It’s an area where new meets old, with ancient temples sitting near to trendy bars. Walking around the lakes gives 360 views of the surrounding area.
5. Lake View at Summer Palace
One of the most popular things to do in Beijing is visit Summer Palace, which is a large ensemble of lakes and well-manicured gardens. It was built originally as a place where the Emperors of China could go to escape the heat during summer time. At Summer Palace you can see incredible views if you climb to the top of the Buddhist Incense temple, where you’ll be able to peer over the enormous Panming Lake and the surrounding gardens.
6. View of the Olympic Stadiums
Beijing was home to the Olympics in 2008 and from the 21st-floor lounge in the Pangu 7-star hotel you can see a complete view of many of the Olympic buildings. The hotel is located on the west side of the National Stadium and the view at night is spectacular.
7. Central Radio & TV Tower
Head to the top of one of the tallest buildings in the city, the Central Radio and TV Tower, which is also one of the tallest structures in the world. There’s an observation deck at 780 feet high and you can also soak in the views at its revolving restaurant.
8. The Highest Bar in Beijing
Want to drink at the highest bar in Beijing? Head to the China World Trade Center Tower III, which is 0.2 miles high. The building is said to look similar to that of the Twin Towers in New York, and on floors 79 to 81 you’ll find a restaurant, bar and observation deck. It’s the highest bar in Beijing (on the 80th floor) and the view is amazing.
9. Drum and Bell Tower
From the Drum and Bell Tower you can see breathtaking views of some of the hutongs, or alleyways that are lined with traditional courtyard residences, which make-up the neighborhoods Beijing. From the top of the Drum and Bell Tower, you can also see the white pagoda inside the Beihai Park and the Central Business District. You’ll have to climb a very steep flight of stairs — 69 in total — to get there.
For more inspiration, check out our guide to 48-hours in Beijing.