Things to Do in Nanjing

Nanjing is famous for its long history which can be dated back to Western Zhou Dynasty (11th century-771 B.C.) and its plenty and prosperous culture which makes it full of vitality.

When you come to Nanjing, you can feel the spirit of the Six Dynasties and the ambition of the emperors. You can feel and see the details of propound culture everywhere in Nanjing.

Here we carefully selected the top 11 must-sees like Memorial Hall to the Victims in the Nanjing Massacre, Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum, Confucius Temple, Zhonghua Gate, Presidential Palace etc. And also you could have a look at the featured activities in Nanjing like visit the museums, lakes, mountains…

Nanjing Attraction Map

Memorial Hall to the Victims in the Nanjing Massacre

No.1: Memorial Hall to the Victims in the Nanjing Massacre

Type: History Museums

Recommended Length of Visit: 1-2 hours

The Nanjing Massacre, or the Rape of Nanking, is still an object of friction between the Chinese and Japanese. On Dec.13, 1937, the Japanese army occupied Nanjing and during the following six weeks bore witness to the inhumane disgrace and bloody massacre exerted on the city. From 1937.12.13 to 1938.1, no less than 300,000 innocent civilians and unarmed Chinese soldiers were brutally slaughtered in mass and individual beheadings, burying alive, burning, and killing races.

The memorial was built by the Nanjing Municipal Government in 1985, and it was extended in 1995. Learn more about the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall

Dr. Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum

No.2: Dr. Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum (Zhongshan Ling)

Type: Cemeteries, Historic Sites

Recommended Length of Visit: 2 hours

The scenic area of Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum is the tomb of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the great forerunner of democratic revolution of China. Dr. Sun was considered to be the “Father of Modern China”, and put an end to the 2000-year feudal monarchy system and let the Chinese people to a new age.

The tomb is approached up a typical long marble stairway of 392 steps and comprised a square hall with a lifesize marble statue of the man leading to a round, domed building that contains his Sarcophagus inset in the floor. There are other memorials in the area like the Memorial Archway of Universal Fraternity, the Sacrificial Hall, Depository of Buddhist Texts, Music Stage, and Sun Yat-sen’s Academy etc. Learn more about the Sun Yat Sen Mausoleum

Zhonghua Gate

No.3: Zhonghua Gate (Zhonghuamen Castle)

Type: Architectural Buildings

Recommended Length of Visit: 1 hour

Located in north shore of Qinhuai River, Zhonghua Gate (also called Jubao Gate) is the biggest castle-style city in China and the most complicated castle in the world. Built from 1366 to 1387, Zhonghua Gate boasts great skill, delicate structure and magnificent scale.

Built under the orders of the first Ming Emperor, Hongwu, from 1368-86, Zhonghua Gate was a key element in Nanjing’s southern defense. Massive bricks were used to build the whole structure. These bricks were mortared together with special cement made from lime, sticky rice juice and tung oil. Today the gate’s impressive remains are open to visitors and an interesting museum has been built into the battlement.

Presidential Palace

No.4: Presidential Palace

Type: Government Buildings, Museums, Architectural Buildings

Recommended Length of Visit: 1-2 hours

Presidential Palace, during the 1009 years and from 1840 to 1949, was the backbone of Chinese military and politics. Now it is a historic site with great importance in modern history of China, also becoming the biggest modern history museums in China.

Walk into the palace, you’ll see the classic style of architectures as well as the Chinese and western style architectures. Covering an area of 90000 square meters, it could be divided into three parts, namely the central part, the western part and the eastern parts. There are sites like Nationalist Government and the Presidential Palace in the Central Part, the Office of the Provisional President in the western part and Stable and East Garden in the east. Visiting the palace, you’ll get more about the modern history of China.

Confucius Temple Area

No.5: Confucius Temple Area (Fuzi Miao)

Type: Landmarks/ Points of Interest

Recommended Length of Visit: 2 hours

Located at the north bank of Qinhuai River, Nanjing Confucius Temple is built for consecrating and worshipping Confucius, who is the great thinker and educator of ancient China. It was elected the Forty Best Scenery Spots in 1991 and nowadays, the temple is regarded as the special scenery of Nanjing.

Built in Song Dynasty, the year of 1034, Nanjing Confucius Temple has a history of about 1000 years. The whole temple covers a huge area, mainly consisting of Confucius Temple, Studying Hall and Gongyuan. While on the top of Zhishan Mountain, there is the Jingyi Pavilion, in which you can get a bird’s view of the Zhongshan Mountain and the whole Confucius Temple.

Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge

No.6: Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge

Type: Bridge, Architectures

Recommended Length of Visit: 0.5 hour

Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge is the first double-decker bridge designed for road traffic as well as trains. In 1960s, the bridge was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for “the longest bridge with dual functions of Highway and railway”.

Stretched across the third longest river in the world, Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge plays an important role in promoting the communication between both banks of the Yangtze River. Visitors could take elevator to reach the belvedere to have a view for the vast Yangtze River and the marvelous bridge.

Qinhuai River

No.7: Qinhuai River

Type: Lakes

Recommended Length of Visit: 1-2 hours

Qin Huai River, a branch of the great Yangtze, is 110 kilometers in length and pass through the urban area of Nanjing. As the largest river in the area around Nanjing, Qin Huai River is called the “life blood” of the city.

The Qin Huai River can be divided into two parts, the inner river and the outer river. As the largest city door in China, Zhonghua Gate can also be found along the inner river. It is also praised as the most intricate and the best-preserved city door in the world. Other interesting sites such as Confucius Temple, Zhan's Garden and the sights along the Taoye Ferry ride to Zhenhuai Bridge spread along the bank of Qin Huai River. Usually an outing to the Qinhuai River would be combined with a walk around the local market along the bank.

Xuanwu Lake

No.8: Xuanwu Lake

Type: Bodies of Water, Nature & Parks

Recommended Length of Visit: Half a Day

Xuanwu Lake is a lake located in Xuanwu Park which is the only survival royal garden in the regions south of the Yangtze River and referred as “Pearl in Nanjing”. Tracing back to 2,300 years ago, Xuanwu Lake has enjoyed a good fame from ancient times to now. Numerous great men of literature and writings as well as dignitaries and celebrates have been attracted by Xuan Lake.

Five islands within the lake are interconnected by arched bridges. There are also some temples, pavilions, gardens and pagodas to enjoy. In addition, entertainment venues, teahouses, restaurants, a small zoo etc. are also available for you to have a good time. Apart from a wonderful city view from here, you can see a lot of local people singing, playing, dancing or flying kites.

Nanjing City Wall

No.9: Nanjing City Wall (Ming City Wall)

Type: Historic Sites, Sights & Landmarks

Recommended Length of Visit: 2 hours

Covering a length of 25.1 km, Nanjing City Wall (also called Ming City Wall) is the longest, largest and best-preserved city wall in the world. In 1366, Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang in Ming Dynasty began to build the city wall to consolidate his sovereignty and keep out invaders. 27 years later, this consummate city wall was finished. With a classical layout and a location near the mountain & by the river, Nanjing City wall combined China’s system of ethical code and nature.

There are many different places to get up on the Nanjing City Wall. In daytime, you can have great views of the Xuanwu Lake, Zijin Mountain and Intercontinental hotel tower from Jiming Temple. When the night falls, the wall is nicely lit-up.

Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum

No.10: Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum

Type: Ancient Ruins, Cemeteries, Sights & Landmarks

Recommended Length of Visit: 2~3 hours

Located in the south of Purple Mountain, Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum is the multi-burial tomb of Zhu Yuanzhang (the first emperor of Ming Dynasty) and his empress. Occupying over 1,700,000 square meters, it is one of the largest royal tombs in China.

The first section of Ming Xingling Mausoleum is the Sacred Way lined with stone statues of some “sacred animals” like lions, camels, elephants and horses which are said to drive away evil spirits and guard the tomb. As you go along with the paved path and enter the courtyards, you will meet with Linghun Pagoda, Soul Tower, the Xiaoling tomb etc. This area is amazingly beautiful and some cultural relics are restored here.

Purple Mountain

No. 11 Purple Mountain (Zijin Shan)

Type: Mountains, Nature & Parks

Recommended Length of Visit: 4-5 hours

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. Its peaks are often found enveloped in mysterious purple and golden clouds at dawn and dusk, hence its name. The main peak of this mountain reaches to about 450 meters high.

With spectacular natural landscape and precious cultural relics, Purple Mountain is an assembly of scenic spots and historic sites (more than 200 attractions), including Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, Zixia Cave, Zixia Lake and Plum Blossom Hill etc. Purchase a ticket for the small shuttle buses to take you between these attractions.

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.

Dr. Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum
2 Days Ancient Nanjing Tour


Qinhuai River
3 Days Best of Nanjing Tour


Zhonghua Gate
4 Days Nanjing History & Culture Tour


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