Top 11 Must-Visit Attractions in Shanghai

by | Mar 28, 2020 | china, new

Originally a fishing village, Shanghai has since evolved into a thriving metropolis and has become the most populated city in China. Old meets new as visitors to the city are able to dabble in both ancient culture and modern amenities. Read on for our list of top 11 must-visit attractions in Shanghai! 

The Bund

Taking a stroll along the Bund is one of the most iconic experiences available in Shanghai. On this one-mile riverside walk, you will be able to view traditional colonial architecture, taste authentic food, shop, and people-watch with the best of them. Catch a Huangpu River Cruise, meander through Huangpu Park, and take in the sunset as it lights up the night sky above the river before the dazzling lights of the skyscrapers take over.

Location: Zhongshan East 1st Rd, Wai Tan, Huangpu, Shanghai, China
How to Reach: The Bund starts at Yan’an Road and extends to Waibaidu Bridge along the Huangpu River. You can easily catch Metro Line 2 or 10 to East Nanjing Road Station, where it will then be a short walk. 
Timings: Open all day, but the best time to visit is right before sunset
Entrance Fee: Free

picture of the bund on a summer evening

Crowded Bund on a summer evening © Daniel Case / Wikimedia Commons

Yu Garden

A botanical garden dating back over 400 years ago, the Yu Garden offers visitors five acres of classical architecture, beautiful sculptures, and vibrant floral arrangements. Highlights of the garden include viewing the famous Jade Rock, climbing the Great Rockery and walking across the JiuQu Bridge. Take a step outside of the garden to be engulfed in the Yuyuan Bazaar, a bustling shopping center with food and souvenirs. 

Location: 279 Yuyuan Old St, Huangpu, Shanghai, China, 200000
How to Reach: Take the Metro Line 10 to Yuyuan Garden Station.
Timings: Open from 8:45 – 16:45. It is closed on Mondays, except for national holidays.
Entrance Fee: April through June and September through November is CNY 40, while July, August, and September through November is CNY 30. This attraction is free for children under 4’3”.

picture of yu garden shanghai

Shanghai – Yu Garden © Stefan Fussan / Wikimedia Commons

Shanghai World Financial Center

As the second tallest skyscraper in the city, the Shanghai World Financial Center provides unparalleled views of the entire city, especially along the Huangpu River. While much of the building contains business offices, hotels, and shopping centers, the top three floors are set aside for sightseeing purposes. Venture to the top for exquisite views, photo opportunities, and even test your courage by walking across the SkyWalk, a 55-meter-long walkway made entirely of transparent glass!

Location: 100 Century Ave, Lu Jia Zui, Pudong, Shanghai, China
How to Reach: Take Metro Line 2 to Dongchang Road Station.
Timings: Open every day from 9:00 – 22:30.
Entrance Fee: The entrance fee depends on what sightseeing activities and building floors you want to visit. Adults will cost between CNY 120 and 180, while children will cost between CNY 60 and 90. Kids below 3.3 ft will be free of charge.

view from the observation deck at shanghai world financial center

Views from the Shanghai World Financial Center observatory © Morio / Wikimedia Commons


Zhujiajiao is an excellent escape from the commotion of the main city. A water town over 1,700 years old, this ancient town shows off well-preserved bridges, antique homes and shops, and offers some beautiful sightseeing opportunities. You can even hop on a boat ride to cruise up and down the picturesque canals that run throughout the city.

Location: Qingpu District, Shanghai
How to Reach: Take Metro Line 17 to Zhujiajiao Station. It will then be a short walk. 
Timings: Open every day from 8:30 to 16:30.
Entrance Fee: Free to walk around, but some of the attractions will have separate entrance fees.

ancient town of zhujiajiao

Zhujiajiao Ancient Town, Shanghai, China © Fabio Achilli / Flickr

Shanghai Museum

The Shanghai Museum houses an expansive collection of over 120,000 artifacts of ancient Chinese art. A variety of pieces including porcelain, jade, calligraphy, and furniture are showcased from diverse periods of time and regions of China. Offering signage in both Chinese and English, visitors will get a comprehensive look at Chinese culture and its history. 

Location: 201 Renmin Ave, Ren Min Guang Chang, Huangpu, China, 200003
How to Reach: Take Metro Line 1, 2 or 8 and exit at People’s Square Station.
Timings: Open from 9:00 – 17:00. The museum is closed on Mondays, except for public holidays.
Entrance Fee: Free, but only 8,000 tickets are issued per day. Audio guides are available in a variety of foreign languages for CNY 40.

picture of shanghai museum building

Shanghai Museum Building © François Philipp / Flickr

Longhua Temple

Originally constructed in 242 AD, the Longhua Temple is a traditional Buddhist temple still standing in Shanghai. It is the oldest and largest temple there today and boasts more than 20,000 sq meters of land containing a variety of historic buildings and foliage. One of the main attractions within the compound is a 7 story pagoda that has elaborate architecture reminiscent of the Song Dynasty. Each year, on December 31st, the Bell Tower has the New Year Bell-Striking Ceremony to ring in the new year with beautiful melodies. 

Location: 2853 Longhua Rd, Xuhui District, Shanghai, China
How to Reach: Take Metro Line 11 or 12 and exit at Longhua Station. It will be a short walk from there. 
Timings: Open every day from 7:00 to 16:30.
Entrance Fee: CNY 10

devotees praying at Longhua temple shanghai

Shanghai Longhua Temple © Jakub Hałun / Wikimedia Commons

Nanjing Road

This 3.4-mile-long pedestrian street is Shanghai’s superior shopping experience. While there, you will be able to shop at both traditional and modern fashion stores, eat your way through traditional Chinese cuisine, experience a Chinese theater, and more. Many major attractions, such as the Jing’An Temple (home to the largest jade Buddha in China), are located on this famous street as well. For a different perspective, hop aboard the Dangdang Tram, an old-style tram that will take you up and down the entirety of the stretch.

Location: Huangpu, Shanghai
How to Reach: It is in the city center, running from The Bund to People’s Square. Take Metro Line 1, 2 or 8 and exit at People’s Square Station. 
Timings: Open all day, but most stores are open from 10:00 to 20:00.
Entrance Fee: Free

picture taken at east nanjiang street in shanghai

East Nanjing shanghai street © Mgmoscatello / Wikimedia Commons

Jade Buddha Temple

One of the most popular destinations in Shanghai is the Jade Buddha Temple, an active Buddhist monastery. It is home to an impressive collection of decorative statues, such as the 3 Golden Buddhas. The centerpieces of the temple are the Jade Buddha and the Reclining Buddha, both of which are fashioned entirely from a single piece of white jade. Roam through the different halls to experience the unique architecture and art, as well as seeing monks perform their duties throughout the grounds. 

Location: Putuo Qu, Shanghai Shi
How to Reach: Take Metro Line 13 to Jiangning Station. It is a short walk from there. 
Timings: Open from 8:00 to 16:30 every Tuesday through Sunday.
Entrance Fee: CNY 20 with an additional charge of CNY 10 to see the Jade Buddha statues.

Jade buddha temple from outside

Shanghai – Jade Buddha Temple © Stefan Fussan / Wikimedia Commons


Tianzifang is the artistic hub of Shanghai. This unique, mile-long shopping and cafe alley explodes with creativity, as it houses multiple art studios, craft shows, and boutiques. You will be able to find one-of-a-kind souvenirs, take in the 1930’s architecture, and taste some international flavors from the abundant restaurants. Get lost wandering through this maze of funky streets for a unique shopping experience. Must-visit if you are a street photographer.

Location: 210弄 Taikang Rd, Da Pu Qiao, Huangpu, China
How to Reach: Take Metro Line 9 to Dapuqiao Station. It will be a short walk from there.
Timings: Open all day, but most stores open at 10:00 and close around 21:30.
Entrance Fee: Free

picture showing a street in tianzifang area of shanghai

Tianzifang, Taikang Road, French Concession, Shanghai, China © Fabio Achilli / Flickr

Oriental Pearl Tower

The Oriental Pearl TV and Radio Tower is the ideal destination for tourists and locals while in Shanghai. It is not only impressive for its spindle-like architecture, but also for the multitude of activities on the site. There are 15 observatory decks used for a 360° view of the Shanghai skyline, the highest Revolving Restaurant in China, and the Shanghai History Museum. There is even an indoor rollercoaster! It is probably the most popular spot among tourists in Shanghai.

Location: 1 Century Ave, Lu Jia Zui, Pudong, Shanghai, China
How to Reach: Take Metro Line 2 and exit Lujiazui Station. It will be a short walk from there. 
Timings: Open from 8:30 to 18:30.
Entrance Fee: There are multiple levels of tickets offered depending on which activities you wish to do. It will cost anywhere from CNY 35 to 220 CNY per person.

picture of oriental pearl tower dominating the skyline of shanghai

The Oriental Pearl tower dominates the Shanghai skyline © Dion Hinchcliffe / Flickr

Shanghai Circus World

Shanghai Circus World is a renowned acrobatics and circus show that is the #1 Circus World in  China. Running daily, the performers complete feats of amazement that take place within the golden globe arena and stun the large audiences in attendance. Take some time to see the jaw-dropping performances for yourself!  

Location: 2266 Gonghexin Rd, Peng Pu Xin Cun, Zhabei Qu, Shanghai, China, 200072
How to Reach: Take Metro Line 1 and exit at Circus World Station.
Timings: It depends on the time of the show you want to attend. Shows run all day.
Entrance Fee: Tickets are available from CNY 130 to CNY 700.

performance at shanghai circus world

ERA – Intersection of Time | Shanghai Circus World © Jing Qu / Flickr

Featured Image: Shanghai at night © Iakov Kalinin /

<a href="" target="_blank">Laura McIntire</a> | Writer

Laura McIntire | Writer


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