Shanghai’s roots date way back to simple days marked by fishing boats bringing in the daily catch, but don’t let that fool you: this waterfront city—the most populous in the world—has grown into an internationally celebrated cultural center and major financial hub.
With everything from fine dining through world-renowned performances, cosmopolitan accommodations through river tourism, Shanghai is widely lauded as one of the best destinations in the world. Some have described it as a vertical city for its tall buildings, and so embracing its heights is one of the best ways to get to know it when you come visit.
Finding yourself with only one day in town? You still have plenty of time to check out some of the highlights and get a taste for the wonders of Shanghai.
Height and speed are major values in Shanghai’s urban vision, so be sure to take note!
This one day itinerary includes:
- Oriental Pearl Tower
- Guanfu Museum
- Pujian Cruise
- & More!
Save on Attraction Admission
Many of these must-see attractions included in this One Day in Shanghai Itinerary are available on the Go San Shanghai Card.
Choose as you go from dozens of popular Shanghai attractions and save up to 30% off combined admission vs. paying at the gate.
See all available Shanghai passes, attractions, & prices – Learn more.
Please keep in mind that some of the attractions listed in this post may be separately ticketed and not be currently included with the Go Shanghai Card.
Stop #1 – Shanghai Maglev
The Maglev train, which can reach speeds of 270 miles per hour, runs from Pudong International Airport to downtown Shanghai.
This is the first commercial magnetic levitation train line in the world. It’s built to dazzle Shanghai’s visitors as they arrive with its speed and innovation, setting the tone for your visit. No matter how old you are, you will be in awe of this engineering wonder.
Make a quick stop by the Maglev Museum for some background, history, and cool models, which are designed to appeal to visitors of all ages.
Getting in: Maglev Train tickets and Maglev Museum tickets are available for purchase upon arrival. Please note: tickets to these attractions are not included with the Go Shanghai Card.
Stop #2 – Shanghai World Financial Center
Visit one of the world’s top ten tallest buildings right in the heart of the Pudong District.
Zoom up to the 97th and 100th floors for panoramic views of Shanghai and beyond. You’ll have access to SkyWalk 94, complete with floor-to-ceiling windows for an all-encompassing view, SkyWalk 97, an open-air roof deck, and SkyWak 100, the most exciting floor of them all – here you’ll find transparent glass floors.
There are so many different ways to take in Shanghai, you quite literally won’t miss a thing at Shanghai World Financial Center.
Getting in: Shanghai World Financial Center tickets are included on Go Shanghai Card.
Stop #3 – Guanfu Museum
The highlights of Shanghai continue to include its highest points as you now proceed to the Shanghai Tower, the world’s second highest building, the tallest building in China, and that boasts the highest observation deck.
It is also home to the first private museum in China—the Guanfu Museum, showcasing an impressive collection of ancient and classical Chinese art and artifacts that are displayed in a notably refined fashion. This museum prides itself on its mission to highlight the treasures of Chinese history and collect rare artifacts.
Families can take a break and enjoy riding in the fastest elevator in the world.
Getting in: Guanfu Museum tickets are included with the Go Shanghai Card.
Stop #4 – Century Park
Take a moment of respite from the urban bustle with a walk through Century Park, opened in 2000 to usher in a new century, and designed to nourish its visitors with greenery and trees. All ages are served by the various activities built in, from the children’s playground through bicycles, sailing, fishing, mini-golf, and even bistros.
Well-groomed lawns, flower gardens, and even sculptures create miniature enclaves for you to explore while you make your way through. Chinese landscaping styles are visible here, as are British and Japanese – again, a nod to Shanghai’s history.
Getting in: Century Park is free and open to the public.
Stop #5 – Longhua Temple
Continue to find a bit more sanctity by visiting the Longhua Temple, which is Shanghai’s oldest religious building, dating back to 242 AD.
From a distance, its most striking feature is its tall pagoda, though you can only look at it from outside – it’s off limits for exploration, though there’s plenty more for you to behold. At the temple’s entryway is a five-ton copper bell that gets rung 108 times each new year to fend off evil spirits. Inside, the enchantment continues with detailed sculptures and carvings.
Different times of the year bring special attractions aside from the annual bell-ringing. In the spring, the grounds are known to be full of peach blossoms, a tradition that for years has drawn visitors from neighboring regions.
Getting in: Viewing the Longhua Temple is free and open to the public.
Stop #6 – Nanjing Road
If you were looking for Shanghai’s “Main Street,” look no further!
Nanjing Road is the busiest thoroughfare in the city, lined with malls, boutiques, and a wide variety of restaurants. Even if you just walk up and down the street, there’s plenty to marvel at in the mix of contemporary and older, European-style architecture – again, a reflection of Shanghai’s rich trade history.
Getting in: Nanjing Road is open to the public.
Stop #7 – The Bund
Take a selfie with a loved one on this famous river boardwalk, Shanghai’s skyline lit behind you.
The Bund is lined with historic buildings that relate to Shanghai’s history as a major trade center, as this used to be where the key trade houses and consulates used to be. Still laden with financial institutions, hotels and other establishments have moved in, celebrating the history of the buildings while also making the area more friendly for the public.
Want a romantic moment? Stop by the Valentine or “Lovers’ Wall,” a 1700-meter long flood-control wall with beautiful views and an intimate nook for a quiet moment together.
Getting in: The Bund is free and open to the public.
Stop #8 – Pujiang Cruise
Rivers are central to Chinese history—and Shanghai’s story is no exception—so what better way to experience the city than by the Pujiang Cruise along the Pujiang River (also known as the Huangpu), which actually empties into the famous Yangtze River? This gives you access to view both classical and modern architecture, and to appreciate the way Shanghai has grown into its current scale.
Make sure you bring your camera because you’ll definitely want to take pictures of your favorite buildings along the way and maybe even the sunset, if you’re lucky enough to catch it.
Shanghai is impressively lit up at night, and there is no better way to view this than by ship, lights shimmering on the water. Travelers of all ages can marvel at this sight, and behold the vibrant energy and electric beauty of this city.
Getting in: Pujiang River Cruise tickets are included with the Go Shanghai Card.
This is just one sample one day in Shanghai itinerary that you could do – of course, there are endless things to do in Shanghai.
From observation decks to museums to cruises, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Consider visiting some of these attractions on your next trip to Shanghai, and you’ll have a blast.
Don’t forget to pick up a Go Shanghai Card and save up to 30% on combined admission prices. Happy travels!