How to Plan a Trip to Nanjing

Nanjing, with a civilization history of over 7000 years and important status as the capital of six dynasties in China's history, is the provincial city of Jiangsu in eastern China. It is a city with both ancient legacy and modern charm. It has the well-preserved city wall to savor the antiquity, museums to memorize the history, beautiful lakes and rivers to wander around... Nanjing is a worthwhile place to spend a couple of days. Besides, the convenient transportation enables tourists to visit Nanjing with both nearby Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou and the relatively far Beijing, Xian, Chengdu, etc. Before you start your Nanjing trip, planning ahead is necessary to make full of your holiday and get a better Nanjing travel experience. This Nanjing trip planner with detailed information of when to visit, where to go, how to design itinerary, where to accommodate, etc. helps you travel Nanjing in a wiser way.

Click to Jump to:

Nanjing Weather & Best Time to Go

Nanjing has a humid subtropical climate with four distinctive seasons and an annual average temperature of 15 °C. It is suitable to visit Nanjing all year round except for the scorching summer. The weather is most comfortable and the scenery is most beautiful from March to June and September to November.

Spring (March to May): 5 °C ~ 26 °C. It is windy, chilly and getting warm gradually. When spring comes, you can enjoy many beautiful flowers in Purple Mountain, Jiming Temple, Mochou Lake, and take a boat on Xuanwu Lake.

Summer (June to August): 21 °C ~ 32 °C. Nanjing is one of the hottest cities in China and summer is also the rainy season. You can visit some indoors attractions such as the Presidential Palace and Nanjing Museum or take a sightseeing boat along Qinhuai River at night.

Autumn (September to November): 12°C ~ 27°C. Nanjing in autumn has fine weather with cool days. Many places in Nanjing are dyed into fabulous colors, such as Dr. Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum in Zhongshan Scenic Area. You can also appreciate the annual chrysanthemum flowers exhibition in Xuanwu Lake or have an autumn hiking on Qixia Mountain.

Winter (December to February): -1°C ~ 17°C. Nanjing gets cold and dry in winter and it snows sometimes. You will have a chance to see the ancient Nanjing covered in white snow, admire colorful plum flowers in Mochou Lake, and take part in the Jinling Lantern Show in the Confucius Temple Area.

▶ Helpful Link: Nanjing Weather & Best Time to Go

How to Plan a Trip to Nanjing Jiming Temple Spring View
How to Plan a Trip to Nanjing Zhongshan Scenic Area in Autumn

How to Get to Nanjing

Nanjing is located in the east of China and about 1000 km from Beijing, 300 km from Shanghai, 230 km from Suzhou and 280 km from Hangzhou. Both flights and high speed trains are available to Nanjing.

Flights to Nanjing

Nanjing Lukou International Airport (南京禄口国际机场) is about 42 km (45min by car, 1.5h by metro) to Nanjing downtown (Xinjiekou). It has over has 135 domestic and 23 international air routes, reaching 115 destinations at home and abroad, including Beijing (2h), Guangzhou (2h15min), Chengdu (2.5h), Xian (2h), Guilin (2h), Kunming (2h40min), Chongqing (2h), Hong Kong and foreign cities like Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Osaka and Nagoya in Japan, etc. Multiple airport shuttle buses and subway line S1 connects the airport and other parts of Nanjing conveniently.

▶ Helpful Link: Nanjing Transportation

How to Plan a Trip to Nanjing

Nanjing Domestic Flights Map

High Speed Trains to Nanjing

For cities that are not too far away from Nanjing, it is very convenient to get to Nanjing by high speed train. There are many frequent daily high speed trains to Nanjing from Beijing (3-5h), Shanghai (1-2.5h), Hangzhou (1.5-5.5h), Suzhou (45min-2.5h), Huangshan (3-4h), Wuhan (2.5-3.5h), Wuxi (45min-1.5h), etc. There are mainly 2 railway stations serving Nanjing, which are Nanjing South Railway Station and Nanjing Railway Station. Nanjing South Railway Station is for high speed trains only and Nanjing Railway Station has both high speed trains and normal trains. Both railway stations are conveniently connected with Nanjing downtown with metro.

▶ Helpful Link: Nanjing Railway Stations

How to Plan a Trip to Nanjing

Nanjing High Speed Rail Map

Top Things to Do in Nanjing

Appreciate Nanjing's Antiquity on Nanjing Ancient City Wall

Covering a length of 25.1 km, Nanjing City Wall is the largest and longest city wall preserved in the world. It was firstly built in A.D. 1366 by Zhu Yuanzhang - the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty to consolidate his sovereignty and keep out invaders. 27 years later, this consummate city wall was finished. Nanjing City Wall is the best place to appreciate Nanjing's antique flavor. Standing on the wall, you can imagine how flourishing Nanjing could be one thousand years ago. In the daytime, you can also have great views of the Xuanwu Lake, Purple Mountain and the tower of Jiming Temple. When the night falls, the wall is nicely lit-up.

How to Plan a Trip to Nanjing Nanjing Ancient City Wall

Admire Beautiful Purple Mountain & Historic Sites Inside

Known as one of the Four Famed Mountains in South China, Purple Mountain perches in the east side of Nanjing City like a tortuous dragon. It gets the name because its peaks are often found enveloped in mysterious purple and golden clouds at dawn and dusk. The main peak of this mountain reaches about 450 meters high. No matter when you visit Purple Mountain, you can enjoy a great natural view. In spring, you can see many beautiful flowers in blossom, like orchids, sakuras, begonias, etc. In autumn, the whole mountain will be dyed into various colors from yellow to scarlate. When it snows in winter, the Purple Mountain is one of the best places of Nanjing to see snow view. In addition to the spectacular natural landscape, you can see an assembly of historic sites (more than 200 attractions), including Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, Meiling Palace etc.

How to Plan a Trip to Nanjing Autumn View of Purple Mountain

Feel the Charm of Thousand-Year-Old Confucianism in Confucius Temple

Nanjing Confucius Temple, built in A.D. 1034 during the Song Dynasty, has a history of about 1000 years. It was built to worship Confucius, the great thinker and educator of ancient China and the founder of Confucianism. The whole temple covers a huge area, mainly consisting of Confucius Temple, Studying Hall and Gongyuan. Gongyuan is the largest imperial examination hall in the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368~1912), so you can take a glimpse of Chinese imperial examination system. Next to Confucius Temple is the beautiful Qinhuai River, while wandering around, you can find busy pedestrian shopping streets with famous coffee stores and nice snack stands.

How to Plan a Trip to Nanjing Front Gate of Confucius Temple

Visit Other Top Attractions in Nanjing

Besides the attractions mentioned above, there are many other places to explore. Presidential Palace is a great place to learn modern history of China and enjoy classic garden. Nanjing Museum is one of the top three museums in China. There are not only many valuable collections, but also a gallery that duplicates the old Nanjing 100 years ago. Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders tells a sad past of Nanjing in World War II. Here we will know how cruel the war is and cherish the peaceful life we have today. If you are a Buddhist, you can pay a homage to Niushou Mountain where the world's only parietal bone relics of Sakyamuni is preserved. You can also enjoy Nanjing city view and see local people's life in Xuanwu Lake area, pay a visit to the oldest and most important imperial temple in Nanjing - Jiming Temple, or to Qixia Mountain which is reputed as "the first bright and elegant mountain of Jinling" by Emperor Qianlong.

▶ Helpful Link: Things to Do in Nanjing

How to Plan a Trip to Nanjing Featured Architecture of Niushou Mountain

How Many Days to Stay in Nanjing

Generally speaking, a classic Nanjing tour takes at least 2 days to cover the main highlights in the city such as Zhongshan Ling, Confucius Temple, Ancient City Wall and Nanjing Museum. If you are interested in Buddhism, you can add a day to Niushoushan Forest Park. Or you can spend more days immersing yourself in the ancient city to know more about its culture and history. Check the following recommended Nanjing itineraries from 2~4 days and get inspiration of your own Nanjing trip.

Nanjing 2-4 Days Itinerary

Travel Plan Features Itinerary Recommended Tour
2 DaysBrief Essence of NanjingDay 1: Zhongshan Ling + Xiao Ling + Confucius Temple + Qinhuai River
Day 2: Nanjing Museum + Ancient City Wall
2 Days Time-efficient Nanjing Essence Tour
3 DaysNanjing Highlights and Buddhist NiushoushanDay 1: Confucius Temple + Qinhuai River
Day 2: Zhongshan Ling + Xiao Ling + Niushoushan Forest Park
Day 3: Nanjing Museum + Ancient City Wall
3 Days Nanjing Highlights Tour including Jaw-dropping Niushoushan
4 DaysIn-depth Nanjing HistoryDay 1: Nanjing Arrival
Day 2: Zhongshan Ling + Zhonghua Gate + Confucius Temple + Qinhuai River
Day 3: Presidential Palace + Yuejiang Tower + the Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders
Day 4: Nanjing Departure
4 Days Nanjing History & Culture Tour

Travel beyond Nanjing

To other Destinations in Jiangsu

Apart from Nanjing, there are some other destinations worth a go in Jiangsu. Suzhou, the city of garden and silk, has always been an attractive city since ancient times. You can spend 2 days exploring the elegant gardens (Humble Administrator's Garden, Lingering Garden, Master of the Nets Garden, etc.), getting a close contact with gentle silk in Suzhou No. 1 Silk Factory, and visiting water towns such as Zhouzhuang, Tongli and Luzhi...Wuxi is another beautiful city with splendid Taihu Lake scenery, sacred Buddhist land and great gardens. It needs about 2 days to explore this city. Besides, you can pay a short visit to Yangzhou - a flourishing city with historical sites and Changzhou - a relaxing city with entertaining experience.

Humble Administrator’s Garden Humble Administrator’s Garden in Suzhou

To nearby Top Tourist Destinations

Most travelers choose to travel Nanjing with nearby Shanghai and Hangzhou. Shanghai is a fascinating city with sky-kissing skyscrapers, different European architectures, informative museums, traditional blocks and various theme parks and so on. Spending 2~3 days in Shanghai, you can fully experience what present China looks like. Since the ancient times, Hangzhou and Suzhou enjoy equal popularity among travelers and eulogized by poets and emperors. The dreamy panoramas of West Lake will always tempt visitors into long sojourns. Besides, you are able to taste unique Hangzhou food and famous Longjing tea, watch one of the best night shows, savor Chinese Buddhist fragrance, etc. Some travelers also choose to extend their Nanjing tour to Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) for a memorable visual sightseeing trip. You will not only be awed at the breathtaking natural view of Yellow Mountain, but also savor the painting-like white-walled gray-title architectures in Huizhou Villages, like Hongcun Village and Xidi Village.

▶ Helpful Links: Shanghai Travel Guide | Hangzhou Travel Guide | Huangshan Travel Guide | Yangtze Delta Tours

How to Plan a Trip to Suzhou Picturesque West Lake in Hangzhou
How to Plan a Trip to Suzhou Amazing Yellow Mountain

To More Domestic Destinations

China is a vast land with countless natural and cultural wonders. No matter you want to see the grand royal palaces or the tranquil rural villages, appreciate the modern charm or the ancient civilazation, admire the natural landscape or manmade miracles, you can get plenty of choices. In Beijing, lots of UNESECO World Cultural Heritage Sites - like imperial palaces, gardens, great wall, etc. show you the dazzling treasures of Chinese history and culture. In Xian, the world-famous archaeological finds - Terracotta Warriors, as well as many other centuries-old sites make you imagine how glorious this old city used to be. In Guilin, the captivating karst landscape lets you know how magical the nature would be. Moreover, you could have a close contact with the world’s most adorable animal - Giant Pandas in Chengdu, admire the real Avatar World in Zhangjiajie, the colorful nationalities of China in Yunnan, savor a relaxing cruise journey along the Yangtze River, get amazed by the high-altitude views in Tibet… No matter you are interested in nature, culture, history, hiking, photography, food, or something else, just contact us to customize a tour according to your own interest.

▶ Helpful Links: China Destinations | Top 10 China Tours

How to Plan a Trip to Suzhou Beijing Jinshanling Great Wall
How to Plan a Trip to Suzhou Yangshuo in Guilin

Where to Stay in Nanjing

Nanjing is an international city with many hotel choices ranging from luxury 5-star hotels to budget 3-star hotels. People usually accommodate in Nanjing downtown near Xinjiekou area because there are many shopping malls and multiple metro lines to most attractions in Nanjing. If you want to see the amazing nightview of Nanjing, you can find a hotel in Confucius Temple Area along Qinhuai River. It is one of the busiest areas in Nanjing at night and extremely beautiful with colorful lights on. If you prefer a quieter environment with good natural scenery, Xuanwu Lake Area is recommended. There are many hotels around this beautiful lake and it is nice to take a walk in gentle breeze. Transportation hubs such as railway stations and airport also has many hotel options, you can tell us your needs and we will choose a suitable hotel for you.

Helpful Link: Where to Stay in Nanjing

How to Plan a Trip to Nanjing Click to Enlarge Nanjing Accommodation Map

Nanjing 144-Hour Visa-Free Transit Policy

Since 2016, China has started the 144-Hour Transit Visa Exemption policy in Yangtze River Delta (Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang) to offer transit convenience for international travelers. It means that, visitors from the appointed 53 countries, holding the valid travel documents and connecting flight tickets to a third country/region, are allowed to enter and exit from one of the six ports - Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, Shanghai Railway Station, Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal, Nanjing Lukou International Airport and Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport, and stay for not exceeding 144 hours in the administrative regions of Shanghai, Jiangsu (Nanjing included) and Zhejiang.

▶ Helpful Link: China 144 Hour Transit Visa Free Policy

Travel Nanjing with China Discovery

In order to get a pleasant Nanjing tour, traveling with China Discovery is strongly recommended. China Discovery is a leading travel agency with rich experience in offering high-quality and customizable China tour packages. Before your tour, our travel expert will contact you and make an itinerary according your own interest, need and budget. Every detail - transfer, hotels, attractions, etc. will be arranged well for you. As you arrive, our local travel guide and driver will pick you up at the airport or train station with an air-conditioned and non-smoking vehicle, and then escort you to your hotel or every attraction listed in your itinerary. Great freedom will be given to you whenever you need to stop for sightseeing and photograph. Feel free to contact us to start your worry-free private tour now

China Discovery Private Transfer

China Discovery Private Transfer

Get Inspired by Real Travel Stories of Our Customers

Since 2012, we have helped numerous customers visit Nanjing and surroundings. With our fully-inclusive private tour packages, all of our customers enjoyed their trips to the ancient city wall, beautiful Purple Mountain, informative Nanjing Museum, charming Qinhuai River, etc. Some of them kindly shared their precious photos and stories about their Nanjing journey, just get inspired now.

"This is my second time to ask China Discovery to organize a private tour for a group of 12 people to visit Huangshan, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Suzhou, Shanghai and other cities close-by…" - shared by Mr. Ban (Check his Travel China with Family and Friends for 3 Consecutive Years - Mr. Ban's Group Traveled Different Parts of China from the North to Southwest and Southeast)

Besides the wonderful travel stories, many customers who visited Nanjing with China Discovery also send us their first-hand feedbacks about their trip, feel free to read the Customer Reviews and learn what they say about their experience. If you want to start your Nanjing tour now, don't hesitate to contact us.

Shanghai Our Customers Mr. Ban and his group from the USA visited Shanghai, Nanjing, etc. customized by Vivien

Recommended Nanjing Tours

Top 3 Nanjing tours chosen by most customers to explore Nanjing in the best way. Check the detailed itinerary, or tailor your own trip now with us.

Qinhuai River - a great place to wander around
2 Days Time-efficient Nanjing Essence Tour


Niushoushan - a place where both Buddhists and regular tourists can enjoy
3 Days Nanjing Highlights Tour including Jaw-dropping Niushoushan


474 M High Glass Walkway in World Financial Center
5 Days Shanghai Nanjing Highlights Tour

Shanghai / Nanjing

Start planning your tailor-made holiday to China by contacting one of our specialists. Once inquired, you’ll get a response within 0.5~23.5 hours.

Customize a Trip

Have a question? Get answers from our travel experts or guests

  • Your Question:
  • Your Name:
  • Your Email:
  • Submit