Beijing's best parks

Whether it's a picnic, peace and quiet or play, there's a park for it all

As a ring-road and high-rise-laden metropolis of more than 20 million people, you might not immediately think of Beijing as a haven for greenery, fine landscaping or peaceful urban retreats. Well, think again, because not only does our city now boast almost 50 percent forest coverage (whoop!), we’ve also got a glut of marvellous city parks fit for every and any outdoor occasion. Here’s the pick of the bunch.

Dongcheng & Xicheng

Ditan Park (地坛公园)

Formerly known as Jingzhao Park, Ditan Park was once a site of religious worship in the Ming and Qing dynasties, and remnants of its rich historical past remain tucked among cricket courts and playgrounds, most notably the Fangze Tan altar platform at its centre (entry is 5RMB). If your ...

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Andingmen Wai Dajie (Miyun county)

Rendinghu Park (人定湖公园)

A small park by Beijing standards (just 9.2 hectares), Rendinghu stands out because it’s just so un-Chinese; there’s not a pagoda in sight. Instead, when the park was given a makeover back in 1995, its architects decided to pay homage to Rome. This could have gone horribly wrong. But somehow ...

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11 Liupukang Jie (Fengtai)Free

Beihai Park (北海公园)

The picturesque Beihai Park is a true jewel in the city’s crown, being perhaps one of the most famous and most frequented. Over a thousand years old, it served as an imperial pleasure ground for five dynasties, and its 69 hectares are filled with delightful halls, pavilions, gateways and ...

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1 Wenjin Jie (Fengtai)

Jingshan Park (景山公园)

Critics' pick

Is it a park? Is it a tourist site? With views like this, who even cares what we call it? Trips here are normally reserved as an addendum to a Forbidden City visit, perhaps owing to its perpetual crowds, but no list of Beijing’s best parks would be complete without this iconic mound. Not a ...

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44 Jingshan Xijie (Fengtai)

CBD & Sanlitun

Ritan Park (日坛公园)

Built in 1530, Ritan Park – the Temple of the Sun – is one of the four royal shrines and was used by Ming and Qing emperors to make sacrifices to the gods. No such acts happening here these days, though it's a pretty good place to sacrifice yourself to the sun because, despite its location in ...

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6 Ritan Bei Lu (Changping)

Tuanjiehu Park (团结湖公园)

In some ways, this feels like the closest Beijing will get to having an NYC-style Central Park – not for its size, nowhere near in fact, but its surrounding on three sides by high-rise apartment blocks and modern towers give it the most tangible ‘city’ feel of all our parks – and it’s a fine ...

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16 Tuanjiehu Nanli (Changping)

Greater Chaoyang

Chaoyang Park (朝阳公园)

Downtown Beijing’s biggest and arguably most popular park has got it all: plenty of open green spaces, a boating lake, an amusement park and even a fake beach complete with sun-loungers and an outdoor water park. If you’re here to picnic, you’ll find the best spots to the northeast of the park,...

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1 Nongzhan Nan Lu (Changping)

Yuan Dadu Park (元大都城垣遗址公园)

Occupying a 9km strip between Chaoyang in the east and Haidian in the west, this is Beijing’s longest linear park. ‘Wow! Well now I know!’, you say, and indeed, whatever you seek to gain along such an esteemed strip, you won’t be disappointed. Scenic tree-lined paths either side of the ...

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Beituchengdong Lu (Changping)Free

Olympic Forest Park (奥林匹克森林公园)

Perhaps the most successful part of the Olympic legacy (particularly in the warmer months), the mighty Olympic Forest Park is also one of the city’s biggest, which means you won’t be troubled to find a quiet green corner to set up camp. While the south entrance of this green giant is more of a ...

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33 Kehui Lu (Changping)

Haidian

Purple Bamboo Park (紫竹院公园)

Although the bamboo is abundant at this park next to the National Library, it is unfortunately not a psychedelic shade of purple. Don’t let the misnomer put you off though, because it’s a fine destination for all manner of outdoor revelry, from lively taichi-practicing groups, gatherings of ...

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35 Zhongguancun Nan Dajie (Shunyi)

Yuanmingyuan (圆明园)

The Old Summer Palace, as Yuanmingyuan is known in English, is a great spot to ponder China’s imperial past, but minus the usual crowd of tourists. This 350-hectare complex once contained 800 palace buildings and was a seat of power during the Qing dynasty; controversially razed to the ground ...

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28 Qinghua Xi Lu (Changping)

Yuyuantan Park (玉渊潭公园)

Compared to its easterly neighbours, the city’s westside might not get the same level of love from visitors, foreign residents or even us (hands up!), but sometimes – just sometimes – trips to the wild west are well worth it. Haidian’s masterfully crafted Yuyuantan Park, one of the city’s ...

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10 Xisanhuan Zhong Lu (Shunyi)

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