Ultimate Guide: Top 25 Things to Do in Shanghai

China has a vast territory, abundant tourism resources, majestic mountains and rivers, folk customs that have lasted for thousands of years, peculiar animals and plants, and countless places of interest.

In spring, you can enjoy flowers and greenery. In summer, you can enjoy waterfall and surf. In autumn, you can climb mountains and bike riding. And in winter you can go skiing and eat hot pot.

If you don’t know where to go, then you are in the right place, let’s take a look at some of the most beautiful tourist attractions in China.

In Lugu Lake, Lijiang, there is a small island extending out with some Chinese-style buildings on it

Shanghai is a renowned global metropolis. If you want to experience the vibrancy of a bustling city, Shanghai is an excellent choice. Compared to slower-paced cities, Shanghai offers a fast-paced lifestyle with a well-developed financial industry, hosting numerous Chinese branches of multinational companies.

Apart from its international allure as a metropolis, Shanghai is also a popular tourist destination with a mix of lively and serene attractions to suit different preferences. Let’s explore the top 25 things to do in Shanghai together.

1. The Bund (Free)

The Bund glows with colorful lights at night
Image Source: [Pixabay]

The Bund is located along the Huangpu River, The Bund stretches approximately 1.5 kilometers and is a must things to do in Shanghai. Its highlight lies in the diverse foreign architectural styles and the dazzling night views of the Pujiang River. Architectural styles include French classical, French grand residences, Gothic, and more.

At night, neon lights on both sides illuminate the waterfront, offering a memorable experience aboard a Huangpu River cruise or ferry. Witness the historic Bund on one side and the iconic Lujiazui skyline representing modern Shanghai on the other, providing a unique perspective of the city’s charm and romance.

2. Oriental Pearl Tower (¥199)

The Oriental Pearl Tower faces The Bund across the river at sunset
Image Source: [Pixabay]

Dominating the skyline in Lujiazui, Pudong, the Oriental Pearl Tower faces The Bund across the river and stands as a landmark of Shanghai, which is also a best things to do in Shanghai. Rising 468 meters, the tower features the beloved circular and graceful lines favored in Eastern culture. The main structure consists of three inverted cone-shaped spheres, three column-shaped spheres, and eleven small spheres, forming a colossal spatial framework.

Standing at 259 meters high on the all-transparent sightseeing corridor, you can enjoy breathtaking views of Shanghai’s skyline. During an evening ascent, experience the vibrant colors of the “Sleepless City,” as the Huangpu River meanders with ships gliding gracefully, creating an unforgettable spectacle.

3. Shanghai Disneyland (¥399)

Shanghai Disneyland is the largest in Asia among Disney theme parks worldwide

Shanghai Disneyland is not only China’s first Disneyland but also the largest in Asia among Disney theme parks worldwide. With seven distinct themed lands, including Mickey Avenue, Fantasyland, Adventure Isle, and Tomorrowland, it offers joy for visitors of all ages. Explore the grandest Disney castle in the world, the “Enchanted Storybook Castle,” and immerse yourself in the interactive world of Disney characters, indulging in a unique and immersive experience.

4. Yuyuan Garden (¥40)

Yuyuan Garden is a precious gem of classic Jiangnan gardens in China

Built during the Ming Dynasty, Yuyuan Garden, over 400 years old, was originally a private garden. Spanning approximately 2 hectares, it features over 40 well-preserved classical Chinese pavilions, halls, and rockeries set around ponds.

Cleverly designed with uneven pavilions, towering rocks, lush trees, and intricate structures, the garden showcases the charm of the Ming and Qing Dynasty architectural styles, making it a precious gem of classic Jiangnan gardens in China.

5. Chenghuang Temple (Free)

Chenghuang Temple offers a comprehensive insight into Shanghai’s history, culture, and local delicacies for first-time visitors. The tourist area includes Lao Chenghuang Temple, Yuyuan Garden, and shopping areas for various local products. When night falls, the entire pedestrian street becomes even more splendid and photogenic, making it a must-visit for photography enthusiasts.

6. Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street (Free)

anjing Road Pedestrian Street is one of Shanghai's bustling commercial streets

Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street is one of Shanghai’s bustling commercial streets and has been a gathering place for department stores since the early 20th century. A paradise for foodies, the shopping centers here feature various trendy restaurants, coffee shops, and food stores. It’s also one of must visit place in Shanghai for domestic and foreign tourists.

Artistic urban sculptures adorn the street, and plenty of chairs are available for visitors to relax in the lively and fashionable atmosphere. When night falls, the entire Nanjing Road East lights up with dazzling colors, living up to its reputation as the “Number One Street in Chinese Commerce.”

7. Wukang Road (Free)

Wukang Road is China Historical and Cultural Famous Street

Wukang Road connects the bustling Huaihai Middle Road with the tranquil Huashan Road. This “China Historical and Cultural Famous Street” boasts 37 historic buildings. Walking on this century-old street, one can encounter lush trees and European-style architecture along the way.

Taking a leisurely stroll along Wukang Road offers a chance to savor its history and charm, which may take an entire day. With numerous coffee shops and restaurants available, visitors can enjoy both the historical imprints and a relaxing time.

8. Huangpu River Cruise (Free)

Take a cruise at night to enjoy the night view of the Huangpu River
Image Source: [Pixabay]

The Huangpu River, spanning approximately 113 kilometers, is a landmark river in Shanghai that divides the city into Puxi and Pudong. Often referred to as “Shanghai’s Mother River,” it is adorned with the Yangpu Bridge and the Nanpu Bridge, creating a picturesque skyline.

If you’re wondering what to do in Shanghai, a boat cruise on the Huangpu River offers a splendid way to experience the vibrant cityscape. Departing from Shiliupu Dock, you can view the diverse architectural wonders of the Bund to the west and the modern Lujiazui Financial District to the east. As night falls, the sparkling lights on both sides enhance the beauty of the scenery.

9. Shanghai Tower (¥180)

The Shanghai Tower is a super tall landmark skyscraper
Image Source: [Unsplash]

As a super tall landmark skyscraper, the Shanghai Tower stands at approximately 632 meters in the Lujiazui business center of Shanghai. The sightseeing hall boasts three of the world’s fastest high-speed elevators, reaching a speed of 18 meters per second and taking just 55 seconds to reach the 118th floor. During the elevator ride, real-time speed, height, and direction are displayed on screens.

The “Top of the World” observation deck provides a panoramic view, where you can see iconic landmarks like the Oriental Pearl Tower, Jin Mao Tower, and Shanghai World Financial Center beneath your feet. The distant view includes the Expo Park, City God Temple, Hongkou Football Stadium, and Hongqiao Airport as the Suzhou River and Huangpu River wind their way into the Yangtze River and the East China Sea.

10. Lujiazui (Free)

Lujiazui is financial and commercial district
Image Source: [Pixabay]

Located on the banks of the Huangpu River in Pudong, Lujiazui is a top-notch financial and commercial district and the most charismatic area in Shanghai. Here, you’ll find an assembly of iconic buildings, such as the Oriental Pearl Tower, Shanghai World Financial Center, Jin Mao Tower, and Shanghai Tower. When night falls, these towering skyscrapers illuminate the city, creating a breathtaking sight.

Lujiazui is also a hub for fashion enthusiasts, boasting an array of international brands and shopping malls.

11. Tianzifang (Free)

Transformed from the city’s last remaining Shikumen (stone gate) architecture, Tianzifang is an artistic hub where many literary and artistic minds gather. This intriguing and unconventional labyrinth of alleys showcases Shanghai’s friendly, warm, and vibrant side.

Strolling through Tianzifang, you’ll wander through winding lanes and stumble upon unique boutiques and art studios. From teahouses, open-air restaurants, and cafés to galleries, home decor, handicrafts, and famous local creative studios, Tianzifang offers a wide range of experiences.

12. 1933 Laochangfang (Free)

Formerly a slaughterhouse, 1933 Laochangfang has been transformed into a creative park housing unique boutiques, restaurants, and studios. It regularly hosts theatrical performances, fashion shows, and exhibitions, becoming an art hub.

The building’s fusion of Eastern and Western characteristics, circular and square shapes, creates a maze-like effect. With ingenious design and awe-inspiring spaces, 1933 Laochangfang has hosted large-scale commercial events such as Ferrari F1 parties and the 50th-anniversary celebration of Rado watches.

13. 1192 Alley Food Street (Free)

1192 Alley showcases the charm of old Shanghai with its food district

Located on the second floor below Shanghai Century Avenue, 1192 Alley showcases the charm of old Shanghai with its food district, replicating the design of an old Shanghai street.

The alley’s lighting, shop signs, and wall decorations perfectly recreate the ambiance of old Shanghai. Here, you can savor authentic Shanghai delicacies, such as scallion pancakes, Dahu Chun dim sum, and pork ribs rice cakes, making it an unmissable destination for anyone visiting Shanghai.

14. Shanghai Wild Animal Park (¥165)

Shanghai Wild Animal Park is a theme park that combines wildlife conservation, breeding, and leisure activities

Shanghai Wild Animal Park is also a must-visit attraction, offering a theme park experience that combines wildlife conservation, exhibitions, breeding, educational programs, and leisure activities. The park houses over 200 species and tens of thousands of rare wild animals, including giant pandas, golden snub-nosed monkeys, takins, crested ibises, giraffes, zebras, antelopes, white rhinoceroses, and cheetahs from both domestic and international origins.

The park is divided into several zones, including areas for herbivores, carnivores, flamingos, free-range animals, a waterfowl lake, and a zone for rare captive animals. Special animal shows showcase the intelligence and talents of these creatures, offering an enjoyable and educational experience.

15. Shanghai Happy Valley (¥230)

Shanghai Happy Valley is not only a popular dating spot for couples but also a large-scale theme park perfect for family fun. It offers thrilling roller coasters for the young and exciting rides in Happy Ocean and visual feasts from 4D movies for children.

Here, you’ll find unparalleled joy, heart-pounding experiences, and resounding cheers echoing in this paradise of happiness. With over 50 advanced entertainment facilities, Happy Valley hosts more than 20 spectacular performances daily, including indoor circus shows, outdoor visual effects performances, large-scale equestrian epics, and float parades.

16. Shanghai Haichang Ocean Park (¥330)

This park revolves around ocean culture and features five main theme zones: Mermaid Bay, Polar Town, Ice and Snow Kingdom, Underwater Fantasia, and Ocean Tribe. There are six large animal exhibition venues, such as the Antarctic Penguin Hall and the Sea Animal Exploration Hall, displaying over 30,000 marine creatures. Additionally, it offers more than ten amusement facilities, including the Volcano Drift and the Dolphin Roller Coaster.

17. Jing'an Temple (¥50)

Jing'an Temple stands in stark contrast to the surrounding high-rise buildings
Image Source: [Unsplash]

Located in the bustling Jing’an commercial area of Shanghai, Jing’an Temple stands in stark contrast to the surrounding high-rise buildings, radiating tranquility. The temple’s architectural style combines Tibetan and Chinese features, with the silver Buddha enshrined in the Grand Hall weighing 15 tons.

The main structures of the temple include the mountain gate, the Heavenly Kings Hall, and the Grand Hall. The entire temple boasts golden rooftops, creating a striking visual contrast. Jing’an Temple attracts numerous worshippers, especially during Bodhisattva’s birthday and other significant dates, when special ceremonies and a three-day temple fair are held in April of the lunar calendar.

18. Zhujiajiao Ancient Town (¥80)

Zhujiajiao Ancient Town is a typical water town in the China’s Jiangnan region
Image Source: [Pixabay]

Zhujiajiao Ancient Town is a typical water town in the China’s Jiangnan region, with waterways crisscrossing through the narrow streets, creating an elegant and charming atmosphere. The town features scenic spots, ancient gardens, and numerous traditional snacks and chic shops, making it a top choice for visiting ancient towns around Shanghai.

With its manageable size, you can explore the entire town on foot in about half a day. The town’s small bridges and flowing waters epitomize the charm of the Jiangnan water town. Along the streets, you’ll find many snack shops and unique bridges with distinct shapes.

19. Thames Town (Free)

Thames Town is a villa district with a distinct British flavor

Located in Songjiang, Shanghai, Thames Town is a villa district with a distinct British flavor, boasting Gothic churches, Victorian terraces, castles, fountains, squares, as well as numerous coffee shops, galleries, and art museums. It is also a popular destination for wedding photography.

The center of the town features a commercial area with various shops, restaurants, and bridal studios. You can freely stroll along the cobblestone streets, take a ride on a mini train to admire the European-style buildings, or visit the Songjiang Art Museum and Songjiang Urban Planning Exhibition Hall.

20. Shanghai Museum (Free)

Shanghai Museum is a large-scale museum dedicated to ancient Chinese art
Image Source: [Pexels]

Shanghai Museum is a large-scale museum dedicated to ancient Chinese art, with 12 specialized galleries housing over 120,000 exquisite artifacts. The museum’s collection highlights Chinese historical relics, particularly ancient bronzes, ceramics, calligraphy, and paintings.

Among the treasures are the Western Zhou King Wen’s Kelu Ding and King Chu’s Gui, as well as the Tang Dynasty “Gao Yi Tu (高逸图)” and Wang Xianzhi’s “Yatou Wan Tie (鸭头丸帖),” all of which are considered national treasures. Additionally, the museum regularly holds special exhibitions featuring various domestic and foreign cultural relics, artworks, calligraphy, and paintings.

21. Shanghai Science and Technology Museum (¥45)

Shanghai Science and Technology Museum is a large-scale science education center
Image Source: [Unsplash]

Located on Century Avenue in Pudong, the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum is a large-scale science education center. Here, you can gain comprehensive knowledge of natural sciences through modern equipment and interactive displays. The museum also features a spectacular Science Cinema with audio and visual effects. If you are visiting Shanghai with kids, this is a must-visit place where education meets entertainment.

The museum exhibits a wide range of items, including hundreds of exquisite wildlife and geological specimens, diverse robot performances, various electronic information and aerospace equipment models, and displays of numerous technological inventions. Visitors can use interactive devices to understand the principles of various subjects like mathematics, physics, and chemistry, experience natural wonders such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions through sound, light, and electronic simulations, and participate in various sports simulations to learn about the mysteries of the human body and health.

22. Shanghai Astronomy Museum (¥30)

Shanghai Astronomy Museum is the largest astronomical museum globally
Image Source: [Unsplash]

Covering an area of 58,603 square meters with a building area of 37,741 square meters, the Shanghai Astronomy Museum is the largest astronomical museum globally. The museum aims to “shape a comprehensive cosmic view,” inspiring people’s curiosity and encouraging them to appreciate the stars and ponder the future.

The main building is designed in an elegant spiral form, imitating the orbits of celestial bodies. Iconic “three bodies” structures are formed by circular skylights, inverted domes, and a dome-shaped cinema, all of which interpret celestial motion. The exhibition is divided into three sections: “Home,” “Cosmos,” and “Journey.”

23. The Bund Art Museum (¥60)

The Bund Art Museum in Shanghai combines elements of Chinese and Western culture in its architectural design, featuring an elegant and refined decorative art style. It has become a popular spot for high-quality photography, beloved by art enthusiasts. The museum hosts various exhibitions displaying works of both Chinese and foreign artists, including abstract paintings, sculptures, and elaborate scene arrangements.

The museum mainly features regular thematic exhibitions that change every few months, allowing visitors to gain an in-depth understanding of the artistic significance of the exhibits with the help of tour guides. Additionally, some exhibits are displayed on the café’s indoor walls, and the outdoor area is a terrace where you can enjoy the city’s surrounding scenery or relax with a cup of coffee.

24. China Art Palace (Free)

China Art Palace was once the Chinese National Pavilion

China Art Palace was once the Chinese National Pavilion during the Shanghai World Expo. If you missed the chance to explore it during the Expo, you can now leisurely visit this magnificent building. Apart from admiring the iconic “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” in multimedia format, you can also view artworks by numerous modern artists.

The exhibition content is frequently updated, offering visitors the opportunity to enjoy art exhibits from various countries’ museums. There are also many long-term exhibitions, including shadow puppetry art, modern and contemporary art, and invited exhibitions of Shanghai artists.

25. Madame Tussauds Shanghai (¥210)

Madame Tussauds Shanghai is the sixth Madame Tussauds museum worldwide and the first in mainland China

Opened on May 1, 2006, Madame Tussauds Shanghai is the sixth Madame Tussauds museum worldwide and the first in mainland China. As the Asian flagship, Madame Tussauds Shanghai upholds the legendary brand history and craftsmanship of Madame Tussauds, while also embracing current pop culture. The museum provides an immersive and entertaining experience, drawing inspiration from famous personalities.

Conclusion

Shanghai captivates visitors with its diverse attractions and cultural treasures. From iconic landmarks like the Bund and Oriental Pearl Tower to the tranquil beauty of Yuyuan Garden and Zhujiajiao Ancient Town, the city offers an array of experiences to suit every traveler’s taste.

For history and art enthusiasts, Jing’an Temple, Shanghai Museum, and the Bund Art Museum provide a glimpse into the city’s rich heritage and artistic brilliance.

Thrill-seekers and families can delight in the excitement of Shanghai Disneyland and Happy Valley, while nature lovers can enjoy a wildlife adventure at Shanghai Wild Animal Park.

Moreover, the city’s dedication to preserving its historical charm is evident in places like Tianzifang and 1933 Old Millfun, offering unique and picturesque surroundings.

Shanghai’s allure extends beyond the urban landscape, with attractions like Thames Town and Zhujiajiao Ancient Town providing charming escapes.

Whether you’re interested in history, art, nature, or adventure, Shanghai has something special to offer. Embrace the energy and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of this extraordinary city. Plan your trip now and create unforgettable memories in the dynamic city of Shanghai.

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