With careful planning it’s possible to fit many of this city’s best sights into a flying visit.
Three days is barely enough time to skim the surface of Nanjing, a city densely packed with historical, cultural and natural beauty.
But with a bit of careful planning – and a whole lot of energy – it’s possible to fit many of this city’s best sights and activities into a flying visit.
Here is our guide to getting the most out of 72 hours in Nanjing:
The Ming City Wall surrounding Nanjing is one of the city’s most remarkable features, so it makes sense to start your visit with a stroll along it. Start at the Taicheng gate and do the picturesque walk (of around 2km of the wall) that begins there.
Next head across to Xunwu Lake Park, a stunning 472-hectare natural reserve surrounded by water and located in the middle of the city. Once China’s largest Imperial lake garden, it is now the ideal spot to appreciate the mix of ancient architecture and skyscrapers that defines modern-day Nanjing.
For lunch, stop by Shiziqiao, a pedestrian street bursting with delicious lunch options that is a 30-minute walk away (or 10 minutes in a taxi). Fill up on pork dumplings, noodle soup or grilled lamb skewers before moving on to the nearby Jiming Temple, a graceful Buddhist shrine built more than 600 years ago.
The temple is surrounded by gardens, so it is worth going for a stroll before you jump on the subway (Line 3) and head down to the bustling Fuzi Miao neighbourhood for dinner and a walk.
This area features the Confucius Temple and is a lively spot with many restaurants and a colourful night market. Sample some of the local dishes then finish your night at Lao Men Dong, which offers a dramatic 3D light show each evening.
On your second day in Nanjing, plunge into exploring the rich culture of the city with a visit to Nanjing Museum. It recently reopened after extensive renovations and offers a fascinating insight into the past, present and future of this very special city.
Then continue along Zhongshan Road to the Ming Palace, also known as the Forbidden City of Nanjing, and the Jiangsu Art Museum, a striking contemporary building that is home to the Nanjing Biennale. Keep heading along the road until you reach the Presidential Palace, which was once the White House of China and is still an impressive sight to behold.
Next stop by Xinjiekou, a cross road in the business district filled with shops and bright lights that is often described as Nanjing’s answer to Times Square. There are plenty of good places to eat around here, so enjoy some dinner before ending your second day in Nanjing with a visit to the nearby bar district known as 1912. This vibrant street is filled with places to eat, drink and listen to music, and it really gets going after 10pm.
A relaxing start to your final day, get up early and head out of the city to the Tangshan Hot Springs, which are a one-hour drive east of the centre of the city but well worth the effort.
After a blissful morning, return to the city and make your way to Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum, built in honour of the founder of the Republic of China. Climb the 392 stairs to the tomb at the top and marvel at the unbeatable view of nearby Zijin Mountain.
After seeing the city from above, get a view from the water by hopping on a cruise along the Qinhuai River. Boats leave from wharves all along the river and offer a unique view of some of the city’s most beautiful sites including the Bailu Zhou Garden, the Confucius Temple, the Zhanyuan Garden and the Zhonghua Gate.
Post-cruise, have dinner at Plum Garden in the Jinling Hotel, a favourite amongst local foodies that is renowned for its delectable salted duck. After dinner catch the subway (Line 1) up to the Sky Bar Lounge in the Intercontinental Nanjing. Perched at the top of the hotel, it has breathtaking views over the city and is the perfect place to enjoy a nightcap and finish off a spectacular three days exploring Nanjing.