The 10 best spots around Beijing for jaw-dropping views

Views for days

Photo: Pixelflake/Flickr.com
Weather and pollution permitting, head to these spots to bask in absolutely incredible views across Beijing. Bring your camera, take your friends, maybe even pack a picnic – these views will leave you feeling on top of the world.
Walk the roof of the Bird's Nest

Walk the roof of the Bird's Nest

The Bird's Nest stadium is one of Beijing's most famous architectural marvels. If you've had enough of gawping at the layers of steel from the outside, you can now climb on top of it and take in the views of the whole of Beijing – on a clear day, of course.

After picking up your tickets (80RMB from the kiosk found between Gates C and D), you’re essentially on your own here; this is a self-guided tour, and signposting certainly could be better, but you have an access-most-areas pass, which allows you to take a perch in all three tiers of the stadium and freely wander the often deserted hallways encircling it.

Climb up the Drum and Bell towers

Climb up the Drum and Bell towers

Right in the heart of Gulou are the Drum and Bell towers, a matching pair of high-rises that date from the Yuan Dynasty. Although the drums and the bells are no longer used for city-wide timekeeping, there are still drum performances multiple times a day. Check the times at the entrance of the Drum Tower, and for 30RMB you can climb up and enjoy the view while having your ear to some of the biggest beats in Beijing.

Head up the CCTV Tower

Head up the CCTV Tower

At 238 metres high, the CCTV Tower – not to be confused with the 'Big Pants' CCTV Headquarters over in the CBD – offers a pretty panoramic view of Beijing from it's 360-degree viewing platform. There's also a somewhat overpriced restaurant a few floors down, but really you're here for the visual feast rather than a gastronomic one.

View of the Summer Palace, as seen from the CCTV Tower. Photo: Nikolaj Potanin/Flickr.com

Meander up Jingshan Park

Meander up Jingshan Park

Unsurprisingly, one of the best views in Beijing is right in the centre. Prospect Hill in Jingshan Park is a popular post-Forbidden City hill-climb, as this man-made pile of earth offers spectacular views over the imperial palaces and beyond. 

Photo: Pixelflake/Flickr.com

Ride to the top of the Olympic Park Observation Tower

Ride to the top of the Olympic Park Observation Tower

Beijing's fourth-tallest building is also one of its best vantage points. For a 70RMB entrance fee you can make your ascent and take in stunning views of the Forbidden City, the CBD and the Western Hills.

Go to Fragrant Hills Park

Go to Fragrant Hills Park

Escape to the hills this spring to enjoy the calm and yes, fragrant, idyll of Fragrant Hills Park. The clue is in the name – abundant cypress trees imbue the air here with a gentle aroma. There are plenty of temples and pagodas here to marvel at, and make sure to pop into Shuanqing Villa, the halls of residence from which Mao oversaw the final months of the 1949 revolution.

See the Great Wall in style

See the Great Wall in style

There’s no way we’d be leaving this one off the list. Remember when Badaling used to be cool? It’s still a fine option for those looking for a quick fix who are willing to brave the crowds, but now there’s every which way to visit this Unesco World Heritage site. Outdoorsy chaps might choose a several-day hike and camping along un-restored sections (try Great Wall Adventure Club) or village stays.

For romantic getaways, there’s the rustic Brickyard or upscale Commune by the Great Wall boutique hotels. But our new favourite way to see The Wall is an aerial tour, which offers expansive, panoramic views, or you can even fly a plane yourself. Okay, so the Great Wall might not be visible from space, but it looks damn good from a helicopter.

Photo: William Christen/Unsplash.com

Climb a mountain

Climb a mountain

Just a couple of hours from central Beijing is Miaofengshan, a site of Taoist pilgrimage and also a stunning mountain and temple combination. At 1,219 metres, we're pretty sure this one of the highest views you can get in Beijing. To get there, simply take Line 6 to Jin'anqiao, then take the M5 bus to Jiangou (涧沟) stop – it's just a 1.1km hike from there. 

Have a drink with a view

Have a drink with a view

Atmosphere in the China World Summit Wing is officially the highest bar in Beijing. It's pretty high-end, too, befitting of its CBD location. The prices ain't cheap, but on a clear day you'll be too busy gawping out the windows to do your bank balance too much damage on luxury cocktails.

Spend a day at the Summer Palace

Spend a day at the Summer Palace

While most of the Summer Palace offers rather stunning views, the best, arguably, comes at the entrance to the Tower of Buddhist Incense. It's a fantastic viewpoint over the park and beyond – on a clear day, the views back into downtown Beijing are simply spectacular.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars

Des

Mon 08 Apr
Gorgeous views!