Built in 1898 by Russians, Harbin’s Central Street (Zhongyang Pedestrian Street or Zhongyang Avenue) was originally called ‘Chinese Street’. It measures 1,450 meters (almost a mile) long, and it is the longest pedestrian street in China, also known as ‘the First Street in Asia’.
This central avenue is a cobblestone street, starting from the south bank of the Songhua River. Lined with lots of old European-style architecture, hotels, shops, and restaurants, Harbin Central Street is an important stop in most Harbin tours, especially in winter when the International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival is on. As the popular saying says:
“You have not been to Harbin if you have not been to Central Street.”
Location — How to Get to Central Street
Central Street is in the old central district of Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang Province, China's northern-most province, which has a long Russian border.
- It is about 45 minutes’ driving from Harbin Airport. The airport is a two-hour flight from Beijing.
- You can also take a bullet train to Harbin Station from Beijing in about 7½ hours. Harbin Station is about 5 km or a 10-minute drive from Central Street
You can visit Central Street with several other city attractions, such as Harbin Ice and Snow World, Sun Island, Sophia Church in one day. See our recommended tour plan: 1-Day Central Street and Ice and Snow Fairyland Tour
When to Visit Central Street
Harbin Central Street is an open street and could be visited at any time, however Most shops and restaurants close at about 10:30pm very night. To see Harbin with the beautiful snow and ice sculptures, it is best to come in winter from late December to late February.
3 Top Things to Do on Central Street
There are several things to do on Central Street, so a visit could take half a day. An evening visit and a daytime visit will give you different views and atmospheres.
1. Stroll around and appreciate the old architecture.
Central Street is praised as Harbin’s ‘Architectural Art Museum’, featuring different styles of architectures including eclectic, Baroque, Renaissance, and "new art".
2. Enjoy an authentic Russian meal.
- Huamei Western Restaurant (华梅西餐厅) is one of the earliest Western restaurants in Harbin, offering all kinds of authentic Russian dishes.
- Russia Coffee and Food (露西亚西餐厅) creates a fantastic atmosphere with elegant furniture, a working grandfather clock, tasteful music and a display of photos which commemorate a Russian’s life in Harbin.
You can find out more about Harbin restaurants.
3. Shop for all kinds of souvenirs.
Zhongyang Pedestrian Street is a prosperous commercial street with all kinds of goods. In addition to Chinese-made things, you can also find many Russian made goods such as furs, souvenirs, imported vodka, Russian dolls, chocolate, and other Russian food products.
You can also shop in the nearby Chinese-Russian Market area.
Central Avenue is one of the famous shopping streets in China.
Attractions near Central Street
Attractions you can walk to from Central Street include the old buildings in the old district of the city, the Russian-Chinese Market area there, and St. Sophia Cathedral.
During the winter, the ice and snow exhibitions for the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival are within a 25-minute drive. This is one of the four biggest winter festivals in the world! The Ice Lantern Festival exhibits are within about a 7-minute walk in Zhaolin Park.
Stalin Park, with more snow and ice activities, is on the bank of the Songhua River, about 10-minute walk from the street.
If you want a skiing trip, you can also take a 1½-hour bullet train ride to Yabuli Ski Resort — China's best ski resort.
- See how that could happen with this recommended itinerary: 4-Day Club Med Yabuli Skiing Tour.
Seeing Old Buildings in the Old Quarter
After a 10-minute drive from Zhongyang Pedestrian Street, you will come to the Old Quarter. It is a wide stretch of architecture along the Songhua River. There are many old buildings in the Old Quarter. After comprehensive repair and transformation, this area is known as ‘the Chinese Baroque Historical and Cultural Protection Block’.
Most of the interesting buildings were built in the 1920s, and they exhibit various styles of architecture. They were mostly built in Baroque, Byzantine, or Russian style with European features. While wondering around the area, you may find real Russian or foreign antiques in the shops. There are also lots of restaurants in the area.
4 Recommended Hotels near Harbin Central Street
Central Street is a top landmark of Harbin city. As an important leisure, entertainment, and tourism center, there are many hotels near the street. We have listed four for your reference:
1. Holiday Inn City Centre Harbin 哈尔滨万达假日
Holiday Inn City Centre Harbin is within a 2-minute walk from lively Zhongyang Avenue (Central Street), a 5-minute walk from Saint Sophia Cathedral, a 10-minute walk from Zhaolin Park, and a 15-minute walk from Songhua River.
It is a medium-sized hotel managed by InterContinental Hotel Group in Harbin. The unique Western restaurant “Little Paris” will bring you international service and authentic Western food.
This is our top-choice 4-star hotel. Contact us to know more about touring Harbin with us.
2. Harbin Bremen Inn Central Street 勃莱梅酒店
Bremen Inn is just a 2-minute walk from Central Street with many restaurants and shops nearby. It is easy for you to go out and explore the city on your own from there.
3. Harbin Modern Hotel 哈尔滨马迭尔宾馆
Modern Hotel was founded in 1906, and its founder was a Russian Jew, Josef Alexandra. The building is a typical French Louis XIV building style from the period of the Art Nouveau Movement (1890–1910).
It is on Central Street, a 10-minute walk from St. Sofia Cathedral.
It is the birthplace of Harbin's catering culture. Harbin’s famous Modern Ice cream was first made at the hotel.
4. Heilongjiang Jingu Hotel 黑龙江金谷大夏
Heilongjiang Jingu Hotel has passed the ISO9001:2000 international quality system certification of the CQC (Care Quality Commission) and has joined the IQNet international quality certification alliance. Just downstairs is Central Street, convenient for eating and shopping. It is about a 10-minute walk to the Songhua River.
Jingu Hotel is also always one of our recommended 4-star hotels for a Harbin tour.
The History of Harbin Central Street
Central Street was built around the turn of the 20th century, when Harbin was first built up by the Russians to service a railroad route.
- Founded in 1898, it was formerly known as ‘China Street’, which means it was the main street where Chinese people lived.
- In July 1928, it was officially renamed Central Street, and it has kept that name.
- In 1986, the People's Government of Harbin City identified Central Street as a protected building street.
- In August 1996, Harbin municipal government started a reconstruction project on Central Street and decided to transform it into a pedestrian street.
- On June 1, 1997, Central Street Pedestrian Street was officially opened and became the first commercial pedestrian street on the Chinese mainland.
Exploring Harbin and NE China with Us
Harbin is a popular winter destination, known for its Russian-style city atmosphere and the beautiful spectacles of ice and snow in winter. If you are looking for a hassle-free Harbin trip, please contact us. We will customize a Harbin tour for you to your particular requirements.
Here are some recommended Harbin tour plans for your consideration: