Qingdao sits on the southern tip of Shandong province and it’s bordered by a blend of mountains and coastlines making it a great summer getaway. With a population significantly smaller than the more famous Beijing and Shanghai, Qingdao is the perfect destination for those who prefer peace and quiet and a less claustrophobia-inducing, friendlier city. The city is also dubbed as one of the cleanest cities in China. In fact, it almost stands in fair competition with Singapore - a title befitting the meaning of its name - the Green Island.
From it’s optimal climate to its gorgeous coastlines, European and Chinese mixed architecture, historically important sights, world-famous food, and culture, Qingdao has much to offer.
Here are our top seven must do’s in the city of Qingdao that are guaranteed to immerse you in the unique experience that only this city can deliver:
1. Shilaoren - one of the city's best beaches
No Qingdao experience is complete without witnessing what the city is most famous for - the sea. Although there are a wide array of options to choose from, Old Man Beach (石老人浴场; Shìlǎorén Yùchǎng) is arguably Qingdao’s biggest beach and it’s most impressive.
The beach was named after the rock outcrop, just off the Shilaoren peninsula, that resembles an old fisherman, who, as legend has it, was turned into stone by a dragon prince who captured his daughter. There is a harmonious mix of the relaxing ocean breeze and loud bursts of energy coming from the water sports and amusement rides present in the area.
Shilaoren is, of course, one of the most popular beaches in the city so crowds are unavoidable in the summer months. If you want to avoid the masses, it would be best to visit Shilaoren off-season. However, Shilaoren is often free of larger crowds, on weekdays, even in the summer. Entrance is free of charge, while tables, chairs, tents, boats, jet skis, floats, showers and changing facilities are available for rent.
Shilaoren Bathing Beach
Address: Haikou Road, Laoshan District, Qingdao 266000, China
Operating Hours: Open 24 hours
Access: Bus 104, 230, 301, 304, 311, 313,317, 321, 362 to Jin Jia Ling or hail a cab to Shilaoren Beach, in central Qingdao.
Website: More info about Shilaoren Beach
2. Visit Badaguan Scenic Area
Not only does Badaguan ( 八大关; Eight Passes) feature one of the city’s best attractions, it also shows its rich culture and history. Badaguan was originally built as a residential area for the Germans when the city was under German occupation. The area also showcases Russian, English, Danish, French, Greek, Japanese, Swiss, and Spanish architecture, which would make an interesting stroll and can potentially make you forget that you’re in China.
The streets are also lined with various types of trees and flowers - there’s something bound to be blooming no matter what season you may be visiting, making it a perfect all-year-round romantic attraction for tourists. Admission is free of charge.
Access: Take Bus 201, 301, 304, 312, and 313 and get off at Beer Town Station.
Badaguan Scenic Area
Address: Badaguan Scenic Area, Qingdao, Shangdong Province, China
Website: Badaguan Scenic Area
3. Go flower viewing in Zhongshan Park
You don’t need to go all the way to Japan in order to watch the cherry blossoms bloom. Zhongshan Park has a wide variety of both local and foreign species of plants and it’s also the city’s biggest park, spanning over 180 acres (72.8 hectares). The cherry blossom road is most famed among tourists and locals alike. Similar to the one in Japan, Qingdao also holds an annual flower viewing festival, during the months of April and May.
Zhongshan Park also hosts another festival, the Lantern Festival, on the 7th of July. With the view of the beautiful and colorful lanterns, on display, enveloped by the warm summer breeze, the Lantern Festival is a magnet for tourists who opt for a little bit of romance, during their trip. There is no off-season for visiting Zhongshan Park and admission is free.
Access: Take Bus 6, 15, 302 or 304, and get off at the Zhongshan Park bus stop.
Address: No. 28, Wendeng Road, Shinan District, Qingdao
Website: Qingdao Zhongshan Park
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4. Spend the afternoon on Small Qingdao Island
Southeast of the Zhan Bridge, in Qingdao Bay, lies this small island. Its name is derived from how it’s shaped - like an ancient Chinese lyre, called a “Qin” and the sound the waves produce when they hit the island shore. The island is loved by both locals and tourists for the views it offers of the city and the Yellow Sea.
Among the man-made and natural attractions that can be found on the island, there is no debate when it comes to naming the lighthouse as its main attraction. With its tower as white as snow, when the sun rises and its beacon, red like shining rubies when the sun falls - it is truly a magnificent sight to see.
Small Qingdao Island is the perfect place for a tranquil stroll, as it is free of the city’s busy atmosphere and large crowds. The admission fee depends on the month you visit - from April to October the price is 15 JPY (.13 USD) and 10 JPY (.09 USD) from November until March.
Access: Take the sightseeing bus 6, 26, 304, 311, 312, 316, get off at Luxun Park Station and walk along Qinyu Road, until you reach the entrance.
Small Qingdao Island
Address: Qinyu Road, Shinan District, Qingdao 266002, China
Website: Small Qingdao Island
5. Take a swig of Qingdao beer
Don’t miss out on the city’s beer related activities. It all started during the German occupation when the Germans established the Germania Brewery, later reestablished as Tsingtao Brewery’s first branch and is presently operating as the Qingdao Beer Museum.
The construction of the museum was not only a gift from the company but it also serves as a statement of the country’s high regard of Tsingtao Beer. The Qingdao Beer Museum is open all-year-round and is open from 8:00-16:00 from July until September and 8:30-17:00 from October until June. From May until October, the admission fee is 60 JPY (.54 USD) and 50 JPY (.45 USD) from November until April.
Access: Take bus 205, 217, 221 or 604 and get off at the museum.
Qingdao Beer Museum
Address: No.56 Dengzhou Road, Shibei District, Qingdao 266023, China
Website: Qingdao Beer Museum (in Mandarin)
6. Taste some of Qingdao's wine
Images of the Qingdao Wine Museum are currently unavailable
Despite the glaring popularity of the city’s beer, Qingdao’s wine is also worth praise. Wine-making in China has been in existence for over two centuries, which also makes it a very important part of history. In fact, Qingdao houses the largest underground wine museum in Asia - the Qingdao Wine Museum. Inside the European stone castle that is the museum, lies a large variety of domestic and international wine.
The museum seeks to teach people wine culture, the production of wine, and the proper and healthy way of consuming liquor. What also makes the museum special is that, unlike other museums of its kind in the country, Qingdao Wine Museum also acts like a storage for customers’ wine, thanks to its air-raid shelter.
Qingdao Wine Museum
Address: No.68 Yan'an 1st Road, Shibei District, Qingdao, China
Website: Qingdao Wine Museum
7. Cheers! More beer at the Qingdao Beer Festival
Due to the widespread popularity of Tsingtao beer, the brewery pushed for a beer festival in 1991 and received approval from Qingdao authorities. The festival is now known as the Qingdao International Beer Festival and is usually held on the last week of July until the second or third week of August. Although the festival was initially made for the publicity of Tsingtao Beer, it now also seeks to promote the culture of beer in the city. And even if beer isn’t exactly your cup of tea, the festival is still worthwhile, as there is a variety of entertainment available for all.
Access: The festival is held in four venues, respectively - in Laoshan District, Huangdao District, Licang World Expo Park, and Pingdu City. As Huangdao serves as one of the main venues, it would be ideal to take the special, direct bus which is available from the 29th of July and can be caught from the east and west squares of Qingdao Station. The charge is 25 JPY (.22 USD) per person.
Qingdao International Beer Festival
Address: Tsingtao Beer Passion Square (Qingdao Century Square), 10 Miao Ling Lu Lao Shan Qu, Qingdao, China
Website: Qsingtao International Beer Festival
It is better to travel ten thousand miles than to read a book ten thousand times
Just like this Chinese proverb, there is no better way to experience Qingdao than to just get up and go! Qingdao isn’t only for those who want peace and quiet, a sunny day at the beach, and for those who like alcohol - it’s so much more. The city offers numerous activities outside of this list which can ultimately appeal to everyone’s preferences.
So what are you waiting for? Come visit Qingdao now!
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