Here is a self-guided two day Beijing itinerary suggestion that includes the key classic central attractions, the Great Wall,and loads more.
Get up early and head to the Temple of Heaven, afterword head to Tiananmen Square for a quick eyeball and then onto the star attraction, the Forbidden City. Afterward, head to the nearby Jingshan Park overlooking the Forbidden City. If you still have energy, you can go to Shichahai Scenic Area at dusk, visit the market, visit the former residence of celebrities, and feel the vibrant atmosphere of Houhai Bar area in the evening.
Temple of Heaven 天坛
Touring is usually enter via the South Gate and exit the West Gate, visiting the key sites inc Circular Mound Altar → → Echo Wall → Imperial Vault of Heaven → Danbi Bridge → Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests → Palace of Abstinence. Going there early enables you to admire many locals enjoying daily socializing rituals.
Time: 2 hours recommended
Opening hours: Gates open: peak season (April 1st – October 31st) 6:00-22:00, off-season (November 1 – March 31st) 6:30-22:00. Park attractions open: peak season 8:00-17:30, off-season 8:00-17:00.
Ticket price: 68 RMB
Tiananmen Square 天安门广场
Grab a photo of the Monument to the People’s Heroes and gaze at Great Hall of the People and wonder if Pres. Xi Jinping is home.
Time: 0.5 hour is recommended
Forbidden City 故宫博物院
Once home to China’s ancient emperors. A large-scale royal ancient architectural complex with a wide range of precious cultural relics. It is advisable to do some homework in advance before the visit, see this Forbidden City Guide. You can also rent an audio guide.
Time: Suggested 0.5 day
Opening hours: Peak season (April 1st – October 31st) 8:30-17:30, The off-season (November 1 – March 31) 8:30 – 17:00. Closed on Mondays except for public holidays.
Ticket price: 60 RMB peak – 40 RMB offseason
Jingshan Park 景山公园
Jingshan Park is located on the back hill of the Forbidden City and comes from Shenwumen. Crossing the road can directly enter the south gate of the park. The “Wanchun Pavilion” on the top of the hill is the best place to overlook and photograph the panorama of the Forbidden City.
Time: 1 hours recommended
Opening hours: April – October: 6:30-21:00, November – March: 6:30-20:00
Ticket price: 12 RMB
Beijing’s famous historic district, where many celebrities’ former residences and palace sites were scattered. If you have enough strength, you can go for a stroll. At night you can enjoy the scenic vistas and relax at Houhai Bar Street which is the heart of nightlife in Beijing.
Time: 2-4 hours recommended
Opening hours: open all day
Ticket price: free
Today is the day to climb the Great Wall. Following which take the metro back past the Birds Nest and Water Cube, then visit the Lama Temple and Confucius Temple. Alternatively, you could drop Olympic Park and the temples and spend a half day at the Summer Palace. End the day with a nighttime stroll along Wangfujing Street.
Badaling Great Wall 八达岭
You can get up early and take the S2 Train at Huangtudian Station and get off at Badaling Station. You can also take a bus. And then choose to climb either the north or south side, and walk up or take the cable. See a more detailed guide to visiting Badaling here.
Time: 3-4 hours recommended
Opening hours: peak season (April 1st – October 31st) 6:30-19:00 off-season ticket sales time ( November 1 – March 31) 7:30-18:00
Ticket price: 35 RMB
Olympic Park 北京奥林匹克公园
Take the metro or taxi across to the Olympic Sports Center’s Bird’s Nest and Water Cube, and visit Beijing’s most iconic contemporary architecture.
Time: 2 hours recommended
Opening hours: 6:00-22:00
Ticket price: 30 RMB
Lama Temple (Yonghe Temple) 雍和宫
A functioning monastery for Tibetan Buddhism that dates back to 1694.
Time: 2 hours
Opening Hours: Apr. 1 to Oct.31: 9:00 to 16:30; Nov.1 to Mar.31: 9:00 to 16:00
Ticket: 25 RMB
Confucius Temple 孔庙 and Gouzijian Street (Chengxian Street) 成贤街
Beautiful traditional architecture at a site that dates back to the Yuan Dynasty. Gouzijian Street is a traditional hutong famed for it’s still remaining ancient architecture.
Time to Spend: one hour
Opening Hours: May to Oct: 08:30 – 18:00; Nov to Apr: 08:30 – 17:00
Ticket: 30 RMB
Summer Palace 颐和园
Imperial Palace and Gardens of the Qing Dynasty. Take your time and relax, this is beautiful traditional Chinese garden on an impressive scale. More details and visiting guide here.
Time: 3-6 hours recommended
Opening hours: peak season (April 1st – October 31st): 6:30-18:00, off-season (November 1 – March 31st a year): 7:00-17:00.
Ticket price: 56 RMB
Wangfujing Street 王府井大街
Beijing’s most famous commercial street and one of China’s famous ancient commercial streets. Along the pedestrian section, you can find the Malls at Oriental Plaza, numerous shops that have been in operation for hundreds of years, brand name flagship stores, and the hugely popular snack street. Read more about Wangfujing Street.
Time: 3 hours recommended
Opening hours: shops generally from 10 am to 10 pm.
Like to change a few destinations? See my picks for the top 20 things to do in Beijing, and the mega-list of attractions, sights and things to do in BJ.
Where to Stay in Beijing?
These are my four picks, based on great value, consistently good reviews, foreigner friendly, and closeness to the subway/metro system.
The four-star Ji Hotel which is steps away from Xuanwumen Station (line 2 and line 4)
The four-star Sofu Hotel is a very short walk to Ping’anli Station (line 4 and 6).