Shanghai Sights & Attractions

Hot Spots & Zones

Shanghai is one of the world's great tourism destinations, and its range of attractions can be overwhelming. The sheer scale of the city is compounded by its extraordinary wealth of historic and contemporary attractions.

No visit to the city can be complete without taking in the diversity of its urban environments. These range, at a minimum, from its varied clusters of urban heritage in the Old City, the Bund, and the Former French Concession, to the soaring hyper-modernity of Lujiazui and West Nanjing Road. A stroll along the Bund, and another through Lujiazui, will be highlights of any trip.


The Bund 外滩


Lujiazui, Shanghai Pudong 上海浦东陆家嘴 (Photo by Ralf Leineweber on Unsplash)

The Former French Concession is more spread out, and therefore less straightforwardly navigable.

The Old City, too, can be a confusing maze. Head north and east of the Confucian Temple (Wenmiao Road 文庙路) to enter its southern tract.

Other compact city zones which make convincing tourist destinations include Xintiandi (a short-walk from the Old City), the Jing'an Temple area, Xujiahui, Tianzifang… among many others.

Xintiandi (1).jpg

Xintiandi 新天地

Xintiandi (4).jpg

Xintiandi 新天地

They also differ in type, from displays of historic and contemporary architecture, to commercial centers, parks, and cultural institutions (including temples, art galleries, museums, and theaters).

Tall Towers with city panoramas

No view of the city compares to that available from the upper reaches of a super-tall tower. Lujiazui is the most obvious choice in this respect, though it is by no means the only option. Both the Shanghai World Financial Center and the Shanghai Center have dedicated observation decks, but a drink in a high-rise lounge is no more expensive while offering scarcely less impressive viewing platforms. Many of the Shanghai's high-rise hotels, on both sides of the Huangpu, have sky-bars offering stunning city panoramas.

Cultural Venues

M50, named after its address on Moganshan Road, near Suzhou Creek, has been the city's most concentrated art hub in recent times. Over the last few years, however, its pre-eminence has been challenged by massive new art space development on the West Bund, along Longtang Road. Either destination makes for a stimulating introduction to the city's flourishing visual arts scene. 

So many of the city's major cultural venues are situated around People's Square and its adjoining People's Park that this area would be essential to any tourist itinerary, before even acknowledging its intrinsic attractions. The park itself – whose traditional lotus ponds are surrounded by some of Shanghai's most stunning early modern and contemporary architecture – serves as an introduction to the city that is both spectacular and engaging. Cultural institutions of the highest-level in its immediate vicinity include the Shanghai Museum, the Urban Planning Exhibition Hall, the new Shanghai History Museum, the Shanghai Grand Theater, and the Shanghai MoCA art gallery.


When it all gets too much a meander through the local parks is a restorative. More of the city parks make delightful destinations than can possibly be listed here. An adequate map shows bands of parkland creating continuous green corridors in many directions, so walking much of the city can be directed through parkland by those who want to remove the sharp edges from the urban spectacle.

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