Top 10 Things to Do in Shanghai for First Time Visitors – Must See & Do Attractions

Shanghai is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. The city is full of interesting sights, diverse cultures, and fun things to do.

If you’re looking for top things to do in Shanghai during your trip, check out our list of the top 10 attractions in Shanghai, including…

  • Pujiang Cruises
  • Shanghai World Financial Center
  • Shanghai Film Shooting Base
  • Shanghai Zoo
  • Changfeng Ocean Aquarium
  • & more!

Save on Admission to Top Things to Do in Shanghai

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

1. Shanghai Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

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A hop on hop off guided tour is one of the best ways to start your sightseeing trip – especially in Shanghai!

Big Bus Shanghai tours offer a narrated overview of Shanghai’s top sights and attractions along with some of the city’s most important historic and cultural information. Drive past or disembark at popular stops like The Bund, Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower, Shanghai World Financial Center, and more.

Tours are available in 8 languages (including English) and there are three popular routes to choose from. Stay on for the duration of the tour or hop off at any stop where you want to explore by foot or visit an attraction.

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

2. Pujiang Cruises

Experience Shanghai from the riverfront on a 50-minute Pujiang River Cruise.

The Huangpu River, also known as the ‘Mother River of Shanghai’, divides the city into two distinct parts: Pudong, the Western Bank, and Puxi, the Eastern Bank.

As you cruise along, you’ll see both sides of the Shanghai skyline populated with some of its most iconic landmarks, including Jin Mao Tower, Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower, Qinhuangdao Road Ferry, Waibaidu Bridge, and more.

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

3. Shanghai World Financial Center

One of the top 10 tallest buildings in the world, the Shanghai World Financial Center offers views of the city that will have you feeling like you are on top of the world at 1,614 feet up.

The tower’s two observation decks, Sky Walk 97 and Sky Walk 100, off breathtaking views of the surrounding buildings and the Huangpu River below. At Sky Walk 97, enjoy an open-air deck roofed with glass windows that allow you to become part of the skies, surrounded by clouds. At Sky Walk 100, walk over transparent glass floors and enjoy a full 360-degree view of the city.

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

4. Shanghai Film Park

Travel back in time to the Shanghai of the 1930’s during the ‘Golden Age of Chinese cinema’.

You’ll get to see tons of movie sets you’ll recognize from classic China-based films, including Goddess, Song of Fishermen, Street Angels, and more. Visit different sound stages, see real movie props up close, and more as you explore this active film lot.

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

5. Shanghai Zoo

Home to more than 6,000 animals, it’s easy to spend an entire day exploring the Shanghai Zoo.

The zoo is divided into five zones: primates, herbivores, carnivores, birds, and amphibians. You’ll get to see a variety of animals and learn more about their habitats in each zone while interacting with and learning more about all of the animals.

Tip: visit early in the day to see the animals when they’re most active.

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

6. Yu Garden

One of Shanghai’s most popular attractions, the Yu Garden (which translates to Garden of Happiness) features 5 acres of meticulously landscaped gardens.

Take a stroll and enjoy the garden’s six Suzhou-style areas with picturesque features like coy ponds, pavilions, seating areas, little shops, and more.

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

7. Shanghai Grand View Garden

Life imitates art in the Grand View Garden, a 2-acre garden modeled after the fictional garden from the classic Chinese novel, Dream of the Red Mansions.

You’ll get to see over 250 plant species and more than 90,000 bamboo plants (the largest concentration in the world!), babbling rivers, postcard-worthy landscapes, and more. Some of the structures and buildings throughout the garden even feature wax figures of characters from the books, so you can take a picture with some of your favorites.

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

8. Shanghai Tower: Guanfu Classic Art Museum

Located on the 37th-floor of the Shanghai Tower (Shanghai’s tallest building and the second-tallest building in the world), a visit to the Guanfu Museum will highlight some of China’s most important culture, history, and more.

The incredibly unique collection of artwork and artifacts are part of a private collection. You’ll get to see countless pieces of rare art, including porcelain artifacts, statues, jewelry, paintings, and more — a must for anyone interested in China’s history.

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

9. Happy Valley

Spend the day exploring the many rides, games, and amusing attractions at the Happy Valley theme park located just outside downtown Shanghai. With over 100 attractions and rides, it’s easy to spend an entire day at here.

From thrill rides like roller coasters and giant swings to waterslides to choreographed shows and entertainment, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at Happy Valley. It’s the best theme park in the city!

Tip: Make the most of your time and hop in one of the battery-powered card or sightseeing trains to zip from zone to zone–available for an additional cost.

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

10. Shanghai Changfeng Ocean World

Shanghai Changfeng Ocean World is an underwater oasis that will transport you from land to sea as soon as you step through the door. With interactive touch tanks, tanks you can quite literally become a part of and an array of displays from across the globe, this aquarium is one you must add to your Shanghai bucket list.

Visit all seven themed exhibits that showcase marine animals from all over the world. See a Beluga whale performance at the White Beluga Performance Center. Take the kids over to the Art Aquarium so they can create their own underwater creation. You can even journey to the Seahorse Kingdom and learn more about the mystical little creatures.

Shanghai Changfeng Ocean World is full of things to see and do.

Getting in: Shanghai Changfeng Ocean World tickets are included on Go Shanghai Card.

Let’s Recap

There’s our selection of some of the most popular and top things to do in Shanghai 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 with family or friends, you’re sure to 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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