Top 10 Things to Do in Nanjing, China

Nanjing, the historic capital of China, is a city that offers a wealth of attractions and activities for travelers.
From its rich history and cultural heritage to its modern and vibrant atmosphere, Nanjing has something to offer everyone.
Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or a food enthusiast, there are plenty of things to do and see in Nanjing.

Things to Do in Nanjing
Things to Do in Nanjing

In this blog post, we will explore the top attractions and experiences that make Nanjing a must-visit destination.

Why Visit Nanjing China

Nanjing, with its population of 8.3 million people, has played a significant role in Chinese history for thousands of years.
It was once the capital of China and has been a capital city many times throughout history. Today, Nanjing is the capital of the Jiangsu Province and a thriving metropolis.

Despite its historical importance, Nanjing is often overlooked by tourists traveling between Shanghai and Beijing. However, this hidden gem is worth exploring in its own right.

Things to Do in Nanjing for 2023

Stroll around Xuanwu Lake: A Tranquil Escape in the Heart of the City

Xuanwu Lake
Xuanwu Lake

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city by taking a stroll around Xuanwu Lake. This scenic lake offers a peaceful retreat with its lush greenery, serene atmosphere, and fresh air.
Immerse yourself in nature as you walk along the lakeside path, enjoying the beautiful views and the soothing sound of the water.

To witness a magical moment, visit Xuanwu Lake in July when the lotus flowers are in full bloom. These vibrant flowers, standing tall in the lake, create a breathtaking spectacle.
Be sure to capture this natural wonder with your camera and take the time to appreciate the harmony between man and nature.

Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum: Paying Respect to the Father of Modern China

Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of modern China, holds a special place in the hearts of the Chinese people. The Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum is a significant historical site that pays homage to his legacy.
Situated on the picturesque Purple Mountain, the mausoleum offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

Climb the nearly 400 steps to reach the top of the hill, where you will find a statue of Dr. Sun Yat-sen and his final resting place.
Take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the mausoleum and reflect on the impact of this visionary leader. The peaceful atmosphere and stunning views make this a must-visit attraction in Nanjing.

Explore Purple Mountain: Uncover Nanjing’s Historical Treasures

Purple Mountain, often referred to as the “First Mountain of Chinese Humanism,” is a treasure trove of historical sites and natural beauty.
This majestic mountain has been the final resting place for emperors and heroes throughout Chinese history. It is home to the Mausoleum of Sun Yat-sen, the first president of the Republic of China.

As you explore Purple Mountain, discover ancient cultural relics and immerse yourself in the rich history of Nanjing.
The tomb of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a testament to the architectural and artistic achievements of the era. Marvel at the intricate stone carvings and statues that adorn the sacred paths.

Presidential Palace of Nanjing: A Glimpse into Modern Chinese History

The Presidential Palace, a significant historical site in Nanjing, played a pivotal role during the Opium War and the Liberation War.
This grand complex served as the political center from 1840 to 1949. Today, it stands as the largest museum of modern history in China.

Explore the various exhibition areas and immerse yourself in the rich history of the nation.
The classic South China garden within the palace grounds provides a serene setting for reflection and relaxation.
As you wander through the palace, imagine the historical events that unfolded within its walls and gain a deeper understanding of China’s modern history.

Indulge in Jinling Roast Duck: Nanjing’s Culinary Delight

While Beijing is famous for its Peking Duck, Nanjing holds the title of the “duck capital” of China. One of the must-try dishes in Nanjing is Jinling Roast Duck, also known as Nanjing Salted Duck.
Unlike its northern counterpart, this delicacy does not come with wheat flour pancakes or cucumbers on the side. Instead, you can expect tender and juicy meat with a crispy exterior.

A visit to Nanjing is incomplete without savoring this local culinary delight. Head to Meiyuan Canting, located on Floor 2, Jinling Hotel, to experience an authentic Jinling Roast Duck.
Let the flavors of this iconic dish tantalize your taste buds and immerse yourself in the gastronomic pleasures of Nanjing.

Jiming Temple: A Tranquil Oasis with a Rich History

Jiming Temple
Jiming Temple

Nestled near Xuanwu Lake, Jiming Temple is a hidden gem with a rich history that dates back to the Three Kingdoms period. This Buddhist temple offers a serene and peaceful atmosphere, making it the perfect place to seek solace and tranquility.
Climb to the top of the city wall from the temple and be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of Nanjing.

Inside the temple complex, you will find exquisite Chinese pavilions adorned with Buddha images, paintings, and sculptures.
Take your time to appreciate the intricate details and immerse yourself in the spiritual ambiance. Capture the beauty of this oasis and create lasting memories of your visit to Nanjing.

Nanjing Massacre Memorial: A Place of Remembrance and Reflection

The Nanjing Massacre Memorial serves as a stark reminder of one of the darkest periods in human history. During the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, Nanjing witnessed the brutal massacre of hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians by the Japanese army.
Visiting the memorial allows us to pay tribute to the victims and learn from the past.

The memorial stands as a symbol of peace and hope, reminding us of the importance of promoting understanding and empathy.
It serves as a powerful testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the pursuit of justice. Take the time to reflect on the tragic events that occurred here and honor the memory of those who lost their lives.

Zifeng Tower Observation Deck: Soak in the Breathtaking Cityscape

For unparalleled views of Nanjing’s skyline, make your way to the Zifeng Tower Observation Deck.
This towering structure, standing 89 stories high, offers visitors a unique opportunity to admire the city from above. Take the elevator to the 89th floor and marvel at the panoramic vista that stretches as far as the eye can see.

On a clear day, you can witness the beauty of Nanjing’s skyline, the shimmering lake, and even Purple Mountain in the distance.
Capture the awe-inspiring views and create memories that will last a lifetime. The Zifeng Tower is truly a testament to Nanjing’s modernity and progress.

Nanjing’s Ming Tomb: A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Conclude your journey through Nanjing with a visit to the Ming Tomb, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This ancient tomb complex is the final resting place of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, the founder of the Ming Dynasty, and his queen. It is a testament to the architectural marvels and stone-carving arts of the era.

As you explore the tomb complex, marvel at the intricate statues that line the sacred paths.
From elephants and lions to new leaves on trees, these sculptures showcase the craftsmanship and attention to detail of the Ming Dynasty.
Reflect on the centuries of history that lie beneath your feet and appreciate the cultural significance of this remarkable site.

Nanjing Travel Guide

The History of Nanjing

Nanjing’s history can be traced back to 229 AD, during the Three Kingdoms period. It has served as the capital city of China multiple times, with its reign coming to an end in 1949 when the capital was moved to Beijing.

This turbulent period of being a capital city made Nanjing a target, and in 1937, it was subjected to the brutal Nanjing Massacre by Japanese invaders.
The city suffered immense destruction, and around 300,000 people were killed during this tragic event.

Where to Stay in Nanjing

When visiting Nanjing, consider staying at the luxurious Grand Mansion Nanjing. This hotel, part of the Luxury Collection Hotels in China, offers a unique blend of traditional art, books, and cozy lounges.

With its indoor swimming pool, spa, and gym, the Grand Mansion Nanjing provides a luxurious and comfortable stay.

Getting to Nanjing

Nanjing is easily accessible by air and train. Nanjing Lukou International Airport is located just 40 miles from the city center and offers multiple flights from major cities.

The city is also well-connected by train, with three train stations that connect to China’s major cities.
The bullet train from Shanghai to Nanjing takes just 90 minutes, while Beijing is only a 3.5-hour train ride away.


Nanjing, with its fascinating history, cultural heritage, natural beauty, and culinary delights, offers a diverse range of experiences for travelers.
Whether you’re interested in exploring historical sites, immersing in cultural traditions, or indulging in local cuisine, Nanjing has something for everyone.
Plan your trip to this hidden gem and discover the wonders of Nanjing China.

Note: Additional Information

  • The best time to visit Nanjing is during spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) when the weather is pleasant.
  • The Nanjing subway system is an affordable and convenient way to travel within the city.
  • It is advisable to have a VPN to access blocked websites and social media platforms in China.
  • KnowRoaming SIM cards provide international data coverage and can be a reliable option for staying connected during your visit to Nanjing.

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