Shanghai is a city that is suitable for exploring on foot. You may already know that Shanghai is an international metropolis with some of the busiest avenues but you may not know that the memories and culture of the city are scattered in some quaint streets and alleys.
It is time to get out of the vehicles and get to know the city in the most down-to-earth way. Here, we have provided you with some good ideas to enjoy a Shanghai walking tour. Read on to discover how to experience the hidden beauty of Shanghai.
1. The Bund Culture Experience
The Bund is a 1.5-kilometer promenade alongside the Huangpu River. About 150 years ago, the Bund was the starting point of Shanghai’s development and the architectural structures along it, both classic and modern, comprise a living museum that has recorded Shanghai’s golden age.
Today, the Bund can be praised as an exotic building cluster. Walking along the Bund, you can appreciate the 52 ancient buildings in various architectural styles, including British neoclassical, Gothic, baroque, and East Indian styles.
If you are interested in the history of old Shanghai and the culture behind the buildings, you may go on an in-depth Bund culture discovery tour with us. You will follow your guide to visit interesting places, such as to see the beautiful mosaic ceiling in Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, the museum in Astor House Hotel, and the movie poster gallery in the Peace Hotel. Your guide will also tell you stories about the Bund, which are only known by local experts.
To enjoy the Bund culture, see our Shanghai in Progress experience.
2. Former Jewish Settlement Walking Tour
During World War II, Shanghai was a “Noah’s Ark” receiving nearly 30,000 Jewish refugees from Europe who had fled Nazi massacres and persecution. The Jews then set up their home in Shanghai and built their churches, schools, hospitals, and parks. At present, there are about 48 Jewish historical sites in Shanghai.
If you want to learn more about this history, you may visit Hongkou District, which used to be the settlement for Jews. Follow your guide to discover their meeting halls, a newspaper office, a memorial museum, and more original buildings that stood during WWII.
See our Former Jewish Settlement Walking Tour to unfold the memories of that special time.
3. Former French Concession Walking Tour
The Former French Concession (FFC) is one of the top attractions for Shanghai visitors due to its historical buildings and beautiful streets.
Walking along some of the streets in the FFC, you may find yourself touring some European countries. A typical feature of the FFC is the plane tree avenues, which are incomparable walking paths. You may find lines of elegant old houses in different architectural styles. During your visit, don’t skip the cafés, bars, and restaurants, or miss the boutiques and antiques shops.
Recommended Streets to Admire Old Shanghai Residences
- Yuyuan Road: This used to be the place of residence for many influential Chinese men and women. Walk around and listen to their stories.
- Xinhua Road: The road is sheltered by plane trees and preserves over 100 garden-like villas. From the structured British style to the romantic French style, you can find many pretty houses along the road.
- Sinan Road: This road has collected almost all the residential styles of old Shanghai. There are interesting places to check, such as an antique furniture café and a Starbucks in an old mansion.
If you are traveling with us, your tour guide will lead you for a 2-hour walking tour starting from a historic hotel to the art street of Tianzifang. Check out our French Concession Walking Tour for more information.
4. Wander Along Shanghai Old Street
If you want to know what Shanghai used to be like 100 years ago, take a walk around Shanghai Old Street, which is 1 kilometer south of the Bund. There are no broad avenues or streams of traffic, just scruffy buildings and the hustle and bustle of the residents.
Although there are a lot of people there, most of them are seniors who have stayed there for decades and refuse to leave because they consider it to be their home. You seldom see young people there, besides other visitors, because there is nothing there but the memories of the city.
Try to slow your pace to discover more interesting things. You might find a kind of manual sewing machine or some special “boxes” in which you can watch Chinese shadow puppetry by putting your head into one.
5. Discover Shanghai’s Alleyways
It is easy to find a broad avenue or a bustling shopping street in Shanghai but, if you’d like to discover the authentic lifestyle of the local people, you should go into some small alleys.
The alleys in Upper Ruijin 2nd Road are a good place to walk around and see the local people’s daily lives. There are no skyscrapers, luxury villas, or well-decorated shops and stores, just nostalgic houses built with brownish-red bricks. The narrow alleys are just wide enough for two cars to pass through, and you should watch your head when going upstairs in an old house.
A good idea is to arrive there early in the morning and enjoy your breakfast with the locals. Eating “Four Guardians”, which means four kinds of local snacks, in a historical restaurant is recommended.
See the top dishes in Shanghai you should try.
6. Lujiazui Modern Shanghai City Walk
Lujiazui faces the Bund across the Huangpu River but the view is totally different in two places. With some of the tallest skyscrapers in China, Lujiazui represents the rapid development of Shanghai. It is also where many Hollywood movies have been filmed, such as Skyfall, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and Mission: Impossible III.
You can walk around Lujiazui and finish your visit by ascending Shanghai Tower, which provides a breathtaking bird’s-eye view across Shanghai.
7. Go Shopping in Nanjing Road
Nanjing Road was the earliest commercial street built after Shanghai opened its port. If you have more time after visiting the Bund, taking a detour to Nanjing Road is a good option. Besides famous brand stores and shopping malls, the well-designed "golden belt" in the road is also worth a visit.
If you are not interested in those resplendent malls and shops, you may travel with a local guide and visit some famous traditional stores inherited from old Shanghai, such as:
- Zhen Lao Da Fang: This store is believed to cook the best fresh meat mooncakes.
- Shao Wan Sheng: It specializes in creating wine-preserved food.
- Zhang Xiao Quan: This is a popular scissor-maker and was founded about 400 years ago.
Enjoy a Shanghai Walking Tour with Us
Taking a Shanghai walking tour with us will give you a more enjoyable experience as you will tour with a local guide who will suggest the most suitable walking route for you and tell you lots of stories about the places you visit.
You may want to see some of our customizable tours including a Shanghai city walk:
You could check out our Shanghai spotlight experiences for more things to do in or around Shanghai, or let us create a tour for you.