Top Cities in China for Urban Walks

A city is a type of human settlements of greater size and bigger population, which also refers either to the physical streets and buildings of the city or to the collection of people who dwell there and its cultural background. The words "city" and "civilization" have the same Latin root of civitas. We can say if you want to learn about a country, the best way is to explore a city on foot as cities are the cradle and perpetuator of civilizations. Right here you will see the monuments, historic relics, parks, markets and streets, find the tales and anecdotes attached behind, snap the memorable moments, and taste unique local flavors, all at your own pace.

Here below are top cities in China for urban walks. Feel free to enjoy the great fun of taking a stroll around city downtown and unraveling the unknown of the country that you are not so familiar with.

Beijing City Walk

As the capital of China, Beijing is always on the top list for international travelers who plan to visit this country and plan a walking holiday. Besides those prestigious places of interest like the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace, there are so many gems hidden in the different corners of the city awaiting you to explore and perfect for city walks.

walk hutong in Beijing

Old quarters of Beijing

With the development of urbanization and modernization, many old quarters disappeared in the past 30 years. The remained Hutong alleys and Siheyuan courtyard houses have been thought to be the soul of old Beijing. You will experience the traditional lifestyle of Beijingers. Have a walk to Nanluoguxiang, Yandaixie Street, and Shichahai area. Liulichang Cultural Street is also a good destination for the Chinese art lovers to explore. The 750-meter-long street is sandwiched by calligraphy, painting, arts, antique and handicrafts shops. 300+ years ago, here has become a hot gathering point for scholars and literati.

798 Art Zone

The area used to be a decommissioned state-owned electronic factory, now has been coverted into a thriving art community in the east of Beijing downtown. It has a completely different feel compared with rest parts of the city. You can see numerous galleries, art shops, sculptures, graffiti on the wall, and café. It is a perfect destination for you to have an idea of Chinese modern arts, and wander around for a couple of hours.

>> Recommended 5-day Beijing Walking Tour - the Great Wall hike & city walk combo

Shanghai City Walk

As the biggest metropolis in China, Shanghai stands at the crossroads of old and new, east and west, which offers so many facets for travelers to observe. In China, it has been called “Magic Capital”, the name came originally from a book written by a Japanese writer based on his travel experience in Shanghai of 1920s. As the prosperity and fortune have smiled upon the dynamic land since the late 1990s, the city witnessed the dramatic changes. Many people believe this is the best-managed city in China and top destination for city walks in China. Have a walk along the Bund, which runs along the western bank of Huangpu River. It is undoubtedly the most famous landmark of the city. And you will have another option – discovering the Former French Concession.

Shanghai city Walk to the Bund

An urban walk through the Former French Concession is inspirational. The Former French Concession of Shanghai used to be the French-administered part of town between late 19th century and mid-twentieth, which has a different atmosphere with plane-lined streets, time-honored architecture of colonial period, street-side café and restaurants, etc. It will definitely inspire you walk around to probe the mysteries of the city. You may also sample some traditional snacks and dishes at a tiny local restaurant. The area consists of several interesting sections like Xintiandi, Tianzifang, Fuxing Park, Dong Ping Road and Shaoxing Road, etc.

Xian City Walk

Boasting a glorious past, Xian was the capitals of 13 dynasties in history, and also the eastern terminus of the Silk Road. Countless historic relics in and out of the city can be found here like the Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses, Han Yang Tomb, old city wall and Wild Goose Pagoda, etc. For international travelers, an urban walk along the pedestrian street in the Muslim quarter is a unique experience to understand the lifestyle of locals. You will not only taste the varieties of yummy food here, but also see the diversified cultures in the city. People of different religions and cultural background can live harmoniously in a neighborhood for hundreds of years.

Hangzhou City Walk

Hangzhou is well known for its scenery and historic sites, and another great city for urban walks. The real charm of the city lies in the areas of West Lake, which is an inner-city lake woven with causeways, bridges, pavilions, pagodas, legends and anecdotes. It is a perfect place to have a leisure walk and appreciate the Chinese aesthetics of man and nature in harmony.

Hangzhou city walk around the West Lake

The city of Hangzhou is also the southern terminus of the Grand Canal (UNESCO Cultural Heritage site). In Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279 AD), it was the national capital. You may also consider a walking trip to Gongchen Bridge district. The area has been renovated and developed into two major sections. The old section on the western side of the Canal has been made as a heritage zone. It is home to a traditional Chinese medicine clinic, a Taoist temple, a tea house, and several museums (Fan Museum, Umbrella Museum and Knives, Scissors and Swords Museum), etc. On the eastern side of the Canal, you can visit the Grand Canal Museum, which showcases the history and knowledge of this longest artificial river in the world.

>> Recommended 3-day Hangzhou Walking Tour

Chengdu City Walk

As the capital city of Sichuan Province, Chengdu is a metropolis in West China, laurelled as “the Hometown of Giant Pandas” and “Creative City of Gastronomy” by UNESCO. There are so many exciting things that impress you here. You may possibly delve into traditional lifestyle and culinary delights of locals by walking through the streets, parks and markets. 2 good Chengdu city walk options are available for your selections: People’s Park+ Kuanzhai Alley and Jinli Old Street +Wuhou Memorial Temple.

Chengdu city walk to JInli Old Street

At the People’s Park, many locals sip tea, chat, do exercises and play Mahjong or cards inside. This is a good place for you to see the daily life of local people, slow-paced and easy-going. Then walk to Kuanzhai Alley to taste all kinds of local snacks and dishes, explore the ancient style street. Alternatively, you can go to Jinli Old Street, and Wuhou Memorial Temple, which is a famous historical site dedicated to the memory of Liu Bei ( Emperor of the Kingdom of Shu) and Zhuge Liang (Prime Minister of the kingdom) . The latter was regarded as one of the smartest military strategists in Chinese history. Jinli is featured with local snacks and cultural activities in a traditional architectural atmosphere.

Hong Kong City Walk

The Pearl of the Orient - Hong Kong is an international metropolis in Asia. Travelers from other countries feel rather comfortable and easy to walk around at city downtown on their own. The language barrier doesn’t nearly exist here compared with other mainland cities.

Usually your walking trip in Hong Kong can be divided into 2 parts: one on Hong Kong island, another at Kowloon Peninsula side. You may try the “ding ding” tram ride to the heart of Hong Kong, see the mixture of colonial buildings and futuristic architecture, explore the old open-air market and taste the delicious Dim Sum at the street restaurants. Either in the daytime or at night, Hong Kong has its unique beauty. An evening walk at Kowloon side is also inspiring and exciting. You can go to the heartland of Kowloon: Tsim Sha Tsui, Yai Ma Tei, and Jordan. As night falls, you can walk into the neon world to get a feel of vibrant Hong Kong.

>> Recommended 4-day Hong Kong Walking Tour

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