Shanghai Itinerary – 3 Days in Shanghai for First Time Visitors

There’s so many fun things to do in Shanghai that fitting it all into a 3-day Shanghai itinerary might seem intimidating at first – but it’s totally doable!

Here’s how.

Use this 3 Days in Shanghai Itinerary as a guideline when creating your own itinerary (or,  you can follow this one exactly!). This will help you check off most of the top, must-see sights and landmarks, making sure you make the most of your 3 days in Shanghai.

This sample 3 day Shanghai itinerary includes:

We’ve also put together a one day in Shanghai, and two days in Shanghai itinerary, to help you plan for your upcoming trip.

Save on Attraction Admission

Many of these must-see attractions are available on the Go Shanghai Card.

Choose as you go from 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.

Day 1

Stop 1: Hop On Hop Off Shanghai Sightseeing Bus Tour

Shanghai is a modern city with an accessible Metro system, but for most tourists who can’t speak Mandarin figuring out how to use it is intimidating. Luckily there is a convenient solution which won’t only get to where you want to go hassle-free but will also provide excellent information about the local area along the way.

The Hop On Hop Off Shanghai Sightseeing Bus Tour is available from 9:30 to 5:30 every day and offers visitors secure and comfortable transport to 22 exciting tourist spots within the city. There are three different routes which run in continuously loops.

These circuits include the Red Route which explores the most exciting attractions in Shanghai, the Green Route which makes stops at famous Shanghai temples, and the Blue Route which runs in the Pudong section of the city. A complete loop takes around 60 minutes to complete, and an audio program is available in several languages.

Passengers can access the tour at any stop along the way and includes a free Huangpu River Cruise, the entrance fee for the Jade Buddha Temple and a ticket to the 88th-floor observation deck at Jin Mao Tower.

Getting in: Shanghai Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus Tour tickets are included with the Go Shanghai Card.

Stop #2: Yu Garden

There is no getting around it; Shanghai is a concrete jungle teeming with people. After only a few hours in the city, the massive crowds and lack of green spaces can start to feel a bit overwhelming for a newcomer. But there is a one-of-a-kind antidote right in the heart of the city. Yu Garden offers close to 5 acres of serene traditional architecture, rocky outcroppings, shimmering ponds, and well-manicured plants and trees.

The Yu Garden, a former private garden of the influential Pan family, has a long and storied history stretching back to 1559 during the Ming Dynasty. Over the years, the garden has seen more than its fair share of conflicts. It has served as a British military base as well as the headquarters of the Small Swords Society during the Taiping Rebellion.

Today, it is a calm oasis to relax and admire the Exquisite Jade Rock, a solid 5-ton jade boulder, various works by famous Chinese artists, and the beautifully reproduced classical Pavilion of Listening to Billows. Remember to visit the Yu Garden Bazaar located right next door to pick up a traditional souvenir or try a favorite Chinese snack.

Yu Garden is located south of the Bund. You can take Line 10 on the Metro and get off at the Yu Garden station.

Getting in: Yu Garden tickets are included with the Go Shanghai Card.

Stop #3: Pujiang Cruise

The Huangpu River winds like a serpent through the city, dividing the city into two parts. Everything west of the river is in Puxi and the area east of the river is called Pudong. The river has been the lifeblood of the Shanghai for hundreds of years, and it still offers visitors one of the best vantage points to capture the true essence of the city.

The PuJiang Cruise takes tourists on an hour-long river cruise along the Huangpu past The Bund and up towards Yangpu Bridge. Along the way, passengers are able to experience the ever-changing lights of the city and gain a new perspective of most of Shanghai’s most important landmarks including the Oriental Pearl Tower, the Shanghai International; Convention Center, the Shanghai Tower, and the Shanghai International Financial Center. English guides are available to learn about the area’s history or just sit back and marvel at the view.

Getting in: Pujiang River Cruise tickets are included with the Go Shanghai Card.

Stop #4: The Bund

View of the Shanghai Skyline from The Bund riverwalk

If you’re up for it after a day of exploring, head to The Bund to take in the Shanghai skyline as it lights up for the night.

Follow the path and just take in the sights. The Bund is packed with historic buildings, hotels, shops, and more.

Getting in: The Bund is free and open to the public.

Day 2

Stop #1: The Shanghai World Financial Center

Located in the financial hub of the city, the Shanghai World Financial Center Observatory is a must-see in Shanghai.

Often referred to as ‘The Giant Bottle Opener’ owing to its design, it’s easily one of the most recognizable Shanghai landmarks.

Enjoy access to the building’s three observation floors located on the 94, 97, and 100th floors. The glass-bottomed floor of the skywalk is a breathtaking experience – just maybe not for those with a fear of heights!

Getting in: Shanghai World Financial Center Observatory tickets are included with the Go Shanghai Card.

Stop #2: Shanghai Guanfu Museum

Located on the 37th floor of the Shanghai Tower, the tallest building in Shanghai, the Guanfu Classical Art Museum is one of the best ways to explore China’s history and unique culture.

You’ll get to see a history of China’s culture, see how its people communicated before the technologies we have today, and more through the museum’s collection of artifacts and artwork dating back more than 1,000 years.

Getting in: Guanfu Museum tickets are included with the Go Shanghai Card.

Day 3

Stop #1: Shanghai Zoo

Home to over 6,000 animals from all over the world, with a particular emphasis on animals indigenous to China, of course, the Shanghai Zoo is one of the most popular things to do in Shanghai.

You’ll get to see animals like giant pandas, rhinoceros, South China tigers, golden monkeys, kangaroos, and more.

Your Shanghai Zoo tickets include admission to the zoo’s five zones, the Scientific Building, and gardens. There’s so much to see here,  you could spend an entire day exploring the zoo alone!

Tip: visit the zoo as early as you can – it’s when the animals tend to be most active.

Getting in: Shanghai Zoo tickets are included with the Go Shanghai Card.

Stop #2: Happy Valley Shanghai Theme Park

Head to Happy Valley Shanghai for a fun-filled day of thrill rides, attractions, and theme park activities.

This park hosts a variety of festivals and carnivals throughout the year and your Happy Valley Shanghai Theme Park tickets will allow you access to seven different zones full of thrill-rides, fun houses and classic park games.

Getting in: Happy Valley Shanghai Theme Park tickets are included with the Go Shanghai Card.

Infographic: 3 Days in Shanghai Itinerary

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Let’s Recap

This is just one of the many 2 days in Shanghai itineraries you could do on your trip to the city. This itinerary includes some of the most popular things to do in Shanghai, especially for first-time visitors.

From observation decks, gardens, and museums to cruises and theme parks, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Consider visiting some of these attractions on your next trip to Shanghai, and we know you’ll come to love this city. Whether you’re traveling for a weekend in Shanghai, or have more time to explore, 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!

The information contained in this post, to the best of the author's knowledge, was accurate at time of publishing. We do our best to ensure and maintain the accuracy of this information.

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