Top 10 Walking Routes Downtown Beijing

Downtown Beijing has limitless options for wonderful walks through hutongs, streets, markets, parks and along imperial, common and modern sites. Beijing is a boon for a walking enthusiast who are planning Beijing walking tours. If you prefer Beijing hiking tours outside Beijing, check out Top 10 Beijing Hiking Trails. Here are the top 10 suggested walking trails in downtown Beijing:

Walk 1: Beijing Axis Walks (1)

Walking Trail: Yongdingmen Gate – Temple of Agriculture – Temple of Heaven – Qianmen Pedestrian Street (Dazhalan) – Tiananmen Square
Walking Distance: 3 km
Walking Time: 2 Hours

Beijing Central Axis, which is interpreted as a royal line. The emperors in ancient China believed that they were the center of the world, so all of their palaces should be built on the axis or alongside the center from south to north of Beijing. As the core of old Beijing city, the Central Axis of Beijing also show us the ingenious urban planning in the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, as well as China today.

The Central Axis of Beijing is 7.8km long from Yongdingmen Gate in the south and Bell Towert in the north, passing through Qianmen Gates, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Jingshan Hill Park, Dianmen Gate ( non-extent ), Drum Tower and Bell Tower.

Beijing Axis Walk can be divided into two walking tours below:
Beijing Axis (1) Yongdingmen Gate – Temple of Agriculture – Temple of Heaven – Qianmen Pedestrian Street (Dashilan ) – Tiananmen Square;

Beijing Axis (2) Tiananmen Square -Imperial Ancestral Temple and Altar of the Land and Grain – Forbidden City, Jingshan Park – Dianmen Gate ( non-extent ), Drum Tower and Bell Tower.

Walk 2: Beijing Axis Walks (2)

Walking Trail: Tiananmen Square -Imperial Ancestral Temple and Altar of the Land and Grain – Forbidden City, Jingshan Park – Dianmen Gate ( non-extent ), Drum Tower and Bell Tower.
Walking Distance: 4.5 km
Walking Time: 3-4 hours

The Central Axis of Beijing was first laid out in 1403 in Ming Dynasty that can be traced even further back to the Mongol that Beijing was served as the capital Dadu. Today the Central Axis is still intact though some original buildings and gates are non-existent. Now the Central Axis of Beijing is on the tentative list for UNESCO cultural heritage, which was submitted in Sept 01, 2013 by National Commission of the People’s Republic of China for UNESCO.

Walk 3: Old North City Walks

Walking Trail: Lama Temple – Chengxian Street, Bell Tower, Yandaixiejie (Yandai Byway) and Shichahai (Houhai)
Walking Distance: 3.5 km
Walking Time: 2-3 hour

The old north city walking tour allows you to explore the old and traditional area on the northern Beijing and starts with Chengxian Street ( some part of the street is also called Guozijian Street), west of Lama Temple; passing by the Confucius Temple and Guozijian (Imperial College); an outside look at the Drum and Bell Towers; stroll through the 800 year old Yandai Byway amd Yinding Bridge; experience some typical hutongs in the Shichahai area like Da Jinsi Hutong Tao, the most famous hutongs keeping the original layout of Hutong.

Walk 4: Old South City Walks

Walking Trail: Hepingmen Subway Station — Walk along South Xinhua Street ( avenue ) — Liulichang East and West Street (antique street) – Tieshu Byway (old hutongs ) – Dazhalan West Street ( old hutongs ) – – Dazhalan Commercial Street ( renovated old commercial street ) – Qianmen Street ( renovated old commercial street ) – The southern end of Tiananmen Square.
Walking Distance: 2.5 km
Walking Time: 2-3 hour

Exploring the historic district of the southern Beijing, the cradle of Beijing city development, home to old hutong and genuine local Beijingers. You see Liulichang antique street – the oldest street in Beijing. Liulichang is 800m long with a long history from Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties.

Tieshu Byward is the most interesting narrow alley flanked by the bungalow courtyards populated by locals. Dazhalan is a 1.26-square-kilometer area of 114 streets and alleys. Qianmen Street is one of the last remnants of the business centers of old Beijing. It has been transformed into a modern commercial pedestrian street, the second walking street after Wangfujiang Street in the downtown shopping district Beijing.

Walk 5: Old West City Walks

Walking Trail: Fuchengmen Bridge – Former Residence of Lu Xun – The old building of the Assembly of God – White Dagoba – The Temple of Ancient Emperors – Guangji Temple
Walking Distance:2-3km
Walking Time: 2-3 hour

The old west city walk offers a rare chance to explore the former residence of celebrities, temples in additional to the old hutongs. Start with Fuchengmen (non-existent ancient gate), stroll along the old and traditional hutong area, visit the former residence of Lu Xun, the most famous Chinese writer and the biggest Tibetan-style Buddhist dagoba in China.

At the temple of the former emperors, you will learn how the emperors judge on their previous emperors in the successive dynasties. Generally, the walking tour gives you a glimpse of the ordinary Beijingers’ life.

Walk 6: Olympic Green Walks

Walking Trail:Bird’s Nest – Water Cube – Olympic Forest Park
Walking Distance: 4 km
Walking Time: 2-3

The successful Beijing 2008 Olympic Games has left a deep impression on people’s mind in the world though many years have passed. For many foreign visitors, the temptation is great to visit the Bird’Nest (Beijing National Stadium ) and Water Cube (Beijing National Aquatics Center).

Both Bird’s Nest and Water Cube ( Olympic Sites ) are easily accessible through subway, cheap and fast. Take Subway Line 10 and get off at Beitucheng Station. Then interchange for Subway Line 8 and get off at Olympic Park ( Olympic Green ). Once you come out from the subway, you are inside the Olympic Park. The park is free to the public.

Walk 7: Wangfujing Area Walks

Walking Trail (a loop walking route) : Beijing Hotel – Wangfujing Pedestrian Street – Wangfujing Traditional Food Street – Catholic Cathedral, St. Joseph’s – Jinyu Hutong (Palace Hotel) – Dongdan Street – Oriental Plaza – Beijing Hotel.
Walking Distance: 2 km
Walking time: – 2 hours

Wangfujing Street is 1600 meters in length, running from south to north street. Now the part of it has been transformed into a pedestrian street since 1999. Its south starting point between Oriental Plaza and Beijing Hotel, and ends at National Art Museum of China in the north.

Its 810-mter pedestrian section starts from south and finishes at the crossroad. East of the crossroad is Jinyu Hutong and west Donganmen Street ( where the Donganmen Night Food Market is located ).

Walk 8: Dongjiaomingxiang Walks

Walking Route: Dong Jiao Min Xiang Alley
Walking Distance: 1.5 km
Walking Time: 2 hours

Dong Jiao Min Xiang is a historic site worth your short stroll and glimpse of the European-style buldings left over by the late 19th century and early 20th centry foreign powers. Dong Jiao Minj Xiang ( or Dong Jiao Min Alley ) literally means “East Foreign Residents Alley”, which is the longest alley ( hutong ) in Beijing with a total length of 1550 meters.

In the English travel guidebooks, Dong Jiao Min Xiang is polularly known as Former Legation Quarter. It was once home to the former 11 foreign embassies including UK, France, Germany, Japan, the US, Russia, Italy, Spain, Austria, Belgium and Dutch.

Walk 9: Chang’an Avenue Walks

Walking Route: From East Chang’an Avenue to West Chang’an Avenue
Walking Distance: 4 km
Walking Time: 2 hours

Chang’an Jie (长安街) in Beijing is often regarded as the longest and widest street in the world. Chang’an Jie, known as Chang’an Avenue, literally means “”Eternal Peace Street” named after the ancient capital of Tang Dynasty which was the present city of Xian.

The original construction of Chang’an Avenue started with the building of the Forbidden City in Ming Dynasty during the period of 1406 -1420 with over 600 years of history. The Chang’an Avenue used to be only 4 km long centered on Tiananmen Square which divided Chang’an Avenue into two sections – East Chang’an Avenue and West Chang’an Avenue. Now in a very broad sense, the present Changa’an Avenue has been largely widened and extended, adding up to a total length of 45km starting from Beiyuan, Tongzhou District to the eastern gate of Shougang at Shijingshan District.

Walk 10: Imperial Sites Walks

Walking Route: Tiananmen Square – (south entry ) Forbidden City ( north exit) – (south entry) Jingshan Park (west exit) – (east entry) Beihai Park (north exit) – Houhai (Shichahai)
Walking Distance: 3 km
Walking Time: 3-4 hours

Tiananmen Square is flanked by the Gate of Heavenly Peace (the entrance to The Forbidden City) on the north, Chinese National Museum on the east, the Great Hall of the People (China’s parliament) on the west and Qianmen (Arrow Tower) on the south. There are two entrances to the Forbidden City – the southern gate ( Meridian Gate – Wumen) and northern gate(Gate of Divine – Shenwu Men). The southern gate is linked to Tiananmen Square to the south. You have to enter Forbidden City from its southern gate and exit from its northern gate, which is officially set as a one-way south to north travel route.

After finishing your visit of Forbidden City from south to north, you exit from Forbidden City’s north gate. Raising your head, you will find a pavilion with three layered eaves perched on a hill. The hill is called Jingshan Hill ( Coal Hill or prospect Hill). Beihai Park is well known for its beautiful gardens, the maze in the stone cave, temples and pavillions. Atop the Jade Island in Beihai Park, the White Dagoba becomes an important landmark of the city.

Shichahai is composed of three lakes – Qianhai (front lake), Houhai (back lake) and Xihai (west lake). Sometime local people also use “Houhai” to refer to Shichahai.

Add On

Beijing Walking Tours
Top 10 Walking Routes Downtown Beijing

Beijing Top 10 Biking Routes
Top 10 Beijing Hiking Trails
Beijing suburban Excursions

Tip: Hassle-free Beijing Guided Tours

If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for Beijing guided tours:

Beijing Day Tour
Beijing Tour Packages
Beijing Winter Tour
Beijing Autumn Tour
Great Wall Tour
Car Rental in Beijing
Beijing Tours
China City Tours
China Tour

Further Readings

Best Time to Visit Beijing
How to plan a trip to Beijing

Top 10 Attractions in Beijing
How to Visit Forbidden City
How to Visit Temple of Heaven
How to Visit Summer Palace
How to Visit Ming Tombs
How to Visit the Great Wall of China
How to Visit Tiananmen Square
How to Visit Hutongs
How to Visit Olympic Sites

Top 10 Markets in Beijing
Top 10 Shopping Malls in Beijing
Beijing Shopping

Wangfujing Walking Street
Qianmen Commercial Street
Gui Jie ( Ghost Street) Food Street

Any questions, just drop a line.

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