Xi'an, home to the Terracotta Warriors, enjoys the laudatory title of 'Living History Museum', because of its abundant historical and cultural relics.
Xi'an is about 2 hours by air from Beijing and 2½ hours from Shanghai. It was the eastern terminus of the Silk Road and one of the four Chinese capitals of the world's ancient civilizations, with a history of over 3,000 years.
If you are planning a tour of Xi'an, read on to get the best from your time and some tips on planning the itinerary.
The Best Things to Do in Xi'an
The main attractions of Xi'an are its historical sites, delicious food, and Muslim culture. Some of the activities that we would recommend include:
Witness the Terracotta Warriors and Horses (the most significant archeological excavation of the 20th century) and learn how to make Terracotta Warrior at a Cave Dwelling.
Cycle or walk atop the ancient City Wall: Pedaling along these very old battlements provides a great view of Xi'an.
Admire an ancient Buddhist pagoda: Big Wild Goose Pagoda is indeed a place of peace, tranquility, and meditation in the middle of a bustling metropolis.
Learn about China's history at Shaanxi History Museum: Regarded as "the pearl of ancient dynasties and the house of Chinese treasures", the museum is one of the four largest museums in China, with over 370,000 historical items.
Have a pleasant stroll to taste local snacks and buy souvenirs at the Muslim Quarter.
Night activities: Enjoy the night scenery around the Bell Tower, take part in a Tang Dynasty Dinner Show, stroll on the ancient Big Wild Goose Pagoda Square, and watch the music fountain performance…
How Long to Stay in Xi'an: 2–4 Days
It depends on your schedule and your interests. Usually, people spend 2–4 days there.
|Most Recommended Attractions
|Xi'an Tour for Inspiration
|1 full day
|Terracotta Warriors, the Ancient City Wall
|Xi'an Highlights Tour
|2 full days
|Terracotta Warriors, the Ancient City Wall, Shaanxi History Museum, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Muslim Quarter
|Essence of Xi'an Tour
|3 full days
|The above plus a Mount Hua adventure OR more historical sites like Qianling Mausoleum, Maoling Mausoleum, and Famen Temple
|Xi'an Highlights and Mount Hua
|4 full days
|Extend to Luoyang for the Longmen Grottoes and Shaolin Temple OR extend to Pingyao Ancient Town
|Tailor-made according to your interests
If you have your own travel ideas, just contact us and our travel advisors will tailor-make a Xi'an tour for you. See more on Ultimate Xi'an Itineraries: How Long to Spend in Xi'an
Discover real reviews of Highlights Travel Family's best-rated service across trusted platforms.
Great Guide Made Xi’an Extra Special
Our tour guide Jenny was excellent and made our time in her city extra special. Not only was she a wealth of knowledge about Xi’an’s ancient history, she also had insights and great recommendations for local restaurants and places to see based on her own experience. We saw Teracotta Soldiers, the Muslim quarter, a shadow puppet show, the Xi’an museum, and had a dumpling banquet!! Highly recommend China highlights who coordinated our trip to multiple cities in China.more
Jan 2024, Rose A
Susan was our guide and she was really helpful and highly prepared. She gave us all the information about places visited and organized everything in evergreen single details.I highly suggest to choose China Highlights and Susan to discover this Amazing city.more
Jan 2024, Alessandra
Xi’an with Juan!
From the beginning at the airport drive to the hotel, Juan explained us in a perfect Spanish the history of Xi’an. His seemly inexhaustible knowledge about culture and history let us truly enjoy places such as the city wall and the terracota warriors, places whose potential we could have only overseen if gone by ourselves.more
Jan 2024, Diego Gorrón
This is the way to see China
We travelled to China in September/October to visit a relative who lives in Shanghai. He was too busy to show us the sights of China so we decided to use China Highlights. I am so pleased we did. Carol arranged a trip for us to X'ian and back to Shanghai. It wasn't cheap, but it was well worth it. We caught the bullet train to X'ian.more
Jan 2024, LDreviews
Susan is great!
Susan is great!She is very knowledgeable about Xi An city and history. We really enjoyed and learned a lot about that city.more
Jan 2024, Tiong-Oen
La ciudad es muy bonita y muy interesante. Nuestra guía Susana fue muy amable y dispuesta a explicar todo lo que vimos y nos ayuda con todas nuestras preguntas.Ella conoce bien los sitios turísticos y nos recomendó muy buena comida. Además ella habla muy buen espa?olmore
Dec 2023, Elizabeth V@elizabethvT7737OK
100% trustworthy and fuss free
While in Xi An, our local guide Mervyn (Yang Ru) was very knowledgeable about the rich history behind the historical sites we visited and she was very professional too. I appreciated their professionalism so much and would highly recommend them to anyone who wants a peace of mind and 99% hands off planning their vacations in China.more
Dec 2023, Ami
Great visit in Xi‘an with Jenny
We covered many different places and sights through which Jenny guided us expertly and efficiently, never wasting time but also never making us feel stressed, always presenting us with a wealth of information and answering all of our questions patiently while we were trying to get a grip on the long history of China.more
Dec 2023, Philippe v
Great tour of Xi’an! Our guide, Mark, was very knowledgeable, very accomodating of all our requests and showed us the main highlights of Xi’an! Trip, transfers and visits all went very smoothly. Loved it and probably will be back to visit again! Thanks Mark! :-)more
Dec 2023, ceccoshani
A Great Introduction to Xi'an
Mervyn was most professional in how she handled the visits to the different attractions in Xi'an. She is knowledgeable about the history and culture of the city and this really helped in the group's appreciation of the place.more
Dec 2023, mobile
Xian Full Day Tour Including Terracotta Warriors
Mervyn is a very good and knowledgeable guide! She came prepared and chock-full of informative & interesting nuggets about the Terracotta Warriors, City Wall and the Drum and Bell Tower.more
Dec 2023, Kee Yun
Expertly Guided Through China's Heart
The itinerary put together was excellent and my guide Mervyn good company, well informed, very committed and flexible. The Warriors visit was great and there are so many other aspects to Xi'an including a great museum, significant Muslim and Buddhist historical sites, cultural shows. great food and markets. Lives up to its description as 'the heart of China'.more
Dec 2023, Patrick
We booked our day tour on short notice, to make sure we made the most of our time in Xi’an. Our tour guide Jenny was wonderful, highly knowledgeable and we had a great tour of the Terracotta Warriors, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and the Muslim Quarter. Wemore
Dec 2023, benh1001
CHRISTIANSEN's XIAN experience
We had a wonderful experience in XiAn with the help of our tour guide Mark. He is very knowledgeable and helpful.Activities we enjoyed - the XiAn City Walls, the Muslim Quarter , watched cultural show with dinner included, and terracotta Warriors. Mark took us to try the best local dumplings and noodle dishes. XiAn is a must see place while in China. Thank you for the great experience China Highlights ?more
Dec 2023, Fely C
Amazing experience in Xi’an
Our tour guide, Ken, elevated our travel experience with his extensive knowledge and infectious enthusiasm! He is a great storyteller and effortlessly wove together anecdote and facts as we navigated the historical sites and museums. His passion for the destination coupled with his professionalism really shone through and made it such an enjoyable and educational experience for the whole family!more
Dec 2023, John F
Great 1st trip to Dali
We had a great time in Dali. Daisy, our guide is fantastic and super warm-hearted and a great photographer. The hotel (Fansu) we stayed at is a cute and cozy sanctuary with very helpful staff. We wish we could stay a few more days. Definitely coming back again!more
Dec 2023, SYW
Intriguing 3 days 2 nights trip in Xian
Ken was very engaging in his description of China history in Xian. He always gave a brief background on our way to the place of interest which is helpful introduction. He was helpful in our request too in connecting our next destination's hotel and finding direction to the hotel.more
Dec 2023, Valerie W
2 day touring in Xi'an
Our tour was exhausting but amazing with Ken. He is knowledgeable and passionate about the historical information with each ancient relic we visited, especially the Terracotta Warriors.more
Dec 2023, Catherine W
Fantastic experience in Xi’an!
We had a fantastic time in Xi’an. Jenny is a top notch tour guide! Friendly, helpful, informative, and funny, we felt well cared for during our stay. She grew up in Xi’an and taught us a lot of the history, culture, and attitudes of the region. We had only 2 days in Xi’an but saw so much and ate wonderful food. I would highly recommend China Highlights and Jenny!more
Dec 2023, Sandra T
Amazing Xi'an Memories made
Our tourguide, Susan, received us with a smile and re-arranged our program from the itinerary to fit with the weather which was such a good call! She also gave amazing recommendations and suggestions which was not included in the itinerary and our trip would not have been the same without it.more
Dec 2023, Slaaiblaar
The Best Time to Visit Xi'an
Xi'an has four distinct seasons; summer is very hot and winter is freezing.
The best times to visit Xi'an are spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November), which boast comfortable temperatures and relative freedom from the crowds and rain showers of summer.
The peak season is from May to mid-October when the prices for hotels and flight tickets are higher. You should prepare to spend significant time waiting in lines and hear the noise of big tour groups of Chinese visitors.
The rainy season occurs from July to September, although there isn't much rain.
We recommend that you at least 3 months in advance if you plan to visit during these Chinese holidays:
- China's summer holiday season (July and August)
- Labor Day (May 1–3)
- National Day (October 1–7)
- Spring Festival (late January or early to mid-February)
How to Get to Xi'an: Bullet Trains or Flights
Xi'an has an international airport: Xianyang Airport. It has flights from Hong Kong, Macau, Seoul, Singapore, San Francisco, Bangkok, and Tokyo.
As Xi'an is located in the heart of China, it takes no more than 3 hours to fly to Xi'an from most major Chinese cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guilin, and Lhasa.
Many visitors travel to Xi'an after their trips to Beijing or Shanghai. See the 6-Day Beijing and Xi'an Tour. Bullet trains are increasingly becoming a viable, quick option. It takes 4-6 hours from Beijing and 6-7 hours from Shanghai.
Getting a Visa… or No Need to Get a Visa?
You may enjoy 6-day visa-free access to Xi'an if you take an international transfer via Xi'an Xianyang International Airport. Read more on Xi'an's 144-hour visa-free policy.
If you plan to visit other destinations in China, you need to apply for a China visa.
Famous Local Food You Should Try in Xi'an
Praised as 'the capital of table delicacies', Xi'an is rich in delicious local and foreign food.
The most famous local food is the "two banquets and two soups of Xi'an"- Shaanxi snacks banquet, the dumpling banquet, lamb soup with pita bread, and pig colon soup with bread.
Muslim Snack Street is a great Muslim food hub, where you can find various kinds of Muslim food, such as skewers of lamb, chicken wings, quail eggs, bowls of noodles, mutton soup, and green bean custards. We specially design a food tour to hunt for Xi'an's local food in Muslim Quarter.
Beilin District (碑林区) in Xi'an is a food paradise, where the majority of local restaurants are located.
Discover Authentic Xi'an with Us
Our specialists have journeyed to every corner of the city and uncovered the best things to see and do. They can use their first-hand knowledge to help plan your trip to Xi'an.
Take a minute to fill in a form, and we will begin to create your own trip, or you can find some inspiration from our following popular itineraries.