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Qingdao

Fresh air, gorgeous beaches and a more moderate climate than some parts of China have made Qingdao one of the most sought after living destinations for expats and Chinese alike. It’s close proximity to both Beijing and Shanghai as well as its chic seaside beauty puts this vibrant, colorful city high on the list of hot destinations for tourist from all over the world.

Tours and activities in Qingdao

With plenty of activities and things to do in Qingdao, you could spend a month here and still not see it all. Chances are you don’t have a month, so you’ll need to plan your time here carefully. Booking a local guide to take you on a day trip can avoid wasted time puzzling over bus timetables or trying to find legitimate taxis.

Our tour packages can be as long or as short as you want and can help you get the most out of Qingdao’s main attractions, museums, and surrounding areas. Book a day trip to trek the Lao Shan area, or a guided tour of the municipal museum.

Aside from attractions, our tour guides can help you secure tickets for events, performances, festivals and more. Browse our selection of packages below, or get in touch for more support and advice.

Best time to visit

Its coastal location makes Qingdao’s climate less stifling in the summer and not as cold in the winter than many other cities in China. August averages a pleasant 26 degrees, and winter temperatures rarely drop below -3. If you’re after the beach, March to May and September to October will see pleasant temperatures and plenty of sunshine. The height of summer is a popular visiting time too, but do bring your poncho as monsoon-like rains are not uncommon in July and August.

Top Attractions in Qingdao

Qingdao is known as China’s Sailing City, and up until 1949, was under lease to Germany, much of which is reflected in its architecture, colorful roofs, and cobbled streets. Expect a bit of ‘Bavaria-on-sea’ from this city, where local beer has a distinctly German flavor, and bratwurst is sold from street vendors along the beach. Here’s what you should be doing to get the most out of Qingdao.

Zhan Bridge
1. Zhan Bridge
Landmarks and icons

The symbol of Qingdao and one of its most iconic sites is the Zhan Bridge located at the north of the bay. Bursting out of the coastline like an arrow into the sea, this ex-naval pier is today a popular attraction and features an octagonal Chinese pavilion at the end, standing defiantly against the backdrop of European buildings along the shore.

May 4th Square
2. May 4th Square
Historic Site

Another unique landmark in the city is May 4th Square, where the majestic (and slightly bizarre) red sculpture stands 30m tall over the passers-by. Erected to symbolize the May Fourth Movement of 1919, it’s an icon of the city and an essential for your travel photo collection.

St. Emil Catholic Church
3. St. Emil Catholic Church
Landmarks and icons

Finally, look out for the beautiful Catholic church of St. Emil, an impressive structure of red and yellow that would look more at home in western Europe than out here in the East. The renaissance interior is worthy of your time, as is the bell tower which can be climbed for a bird’s eye view of the city.

Qingdao beer museum
4. Qingdao beer museum
Museums, galleries and exhibitions

If you like your beer cold, fizzy and German influenced, the Qingdao beer museum at Tsingtao Brewery is a great place to visit. Taking you on a tour of the history of brewing, you’ll discover how beer was made in the past and get to see the modern bottling plant today. Your ¥60 entrance ticket includes a taster of ‘raw’ beer and one of the finished product too.

Municipal Museum
5. Municipal Museum
Museums, galleries and exhibitions

Other notable museums include the Municipal Museum in the house of the Former German Governor, where you can get a glimpse into the colonial past of the city, as well as the Naval Museum which houses full-sized warships, among other exhibits.

Shi Lao Ren Beach
6. Shi Lao Ren Beach
Nature, parks and outdoors

The beautiful beaches around Qingdao make it worthy of any sun lover’s itinerary. The city’s longest beach, Shi Lao Ren Beach, is a popular destination for those keen to laze in the sun sipping beer or swimming in the clean ocean. There are no less than six beaches around Qingdao in total, each with its own character, so why not explore them all!

Lao Shan mountain
7. Lao Shan mountain
Nature, parks and outdoors

Further to the east, the mountains of Lao Shan rise towards the heavens. Here you’ll find all manner of waterfalls, walking trails, temples and cable cars worthy of taking a day or two to explore. In the city itself, there are numerous parks and gardens to enjoy in the sun; you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Qingdao Underwater World
8. Qingdao Underwater World
Things to do with kids

If your kids have had enough of the beaches and parks, there are a few excellent activities you can enjoy as a family in Qingdao. For underwater lovers, Qingdao Underwater World is an exciting place to visit and was Chinas first public aquarium when it opened in 1932.

Polar Ocean world
9. Polar Ocean world
Things to do with kids

For more animal fun, buy a joint ticket to Polar Ocean world where you can encounter seals, polar bears, Beluga whales and more.

Eastern Bear Park
10. Eastern Bear Park
Things to do with kids

Elsewhere in the city, the Eastern Bear Park lets you get up close to Asian Black Bears, and some can even be fed by hand by the visitors to the site. 

The TV tower
11. The TV tower
Things to do with kids

The TV tower is a fun visit too, like an elevator whiz you up to the observation deck at 130m above ground, where you can enjoy a panorama of the city below.

Qingdao Beer Festival
12. Qingdao Beer Festival
Regular festivals and celebrations

The annual Qingdao Beer Festival has been hailed as China’s answer to Oktoberfest and is held in the second weekend of August for 16 days. You’ll find Bavarian music, sauerkraut for sale and, of course, lots and lots of beer! It really has to be seen to be believed, so if you’re in Qingdao over the summer, make sure to visit for this unusual spectacle.

Sea Festival
13. Sea Festival
Regular festivals and celebrations

Other festivals in the city include the International Sea Festival at the end of July, the Beach Culture Festival in September and the Summer Lantern Festival in July and August each year. With Qingdao being such a popular destination all year round, chances are there will be a festival or event of some kind on during your visit, so check the local listings to see what’s happening.

Getting here and getting around

Qingdao is served by the Qingdao Liuting International Airport, which links it frequently with Shanghai and Beijing, as well as international destinations such as Tokyo, Seoul, Frankfurt and more. The airport is around 32km from the city, and the transfer can be made easily via the airport shuttle bus (¥20) or local taxis (¥120 – 150).

Arrival can also be made by trains from many major Chinese cities, including Beijing (4-5 hours), Shanghai (6-7 hours), Tianjin (10 hours) and Nanjing (5-6 hours). The city is a major seaport too and can be reached by ferry from Incheon, South Korea, as well as Shimonoseki, Japan.

Getting around the city is easy by taxi, with most starting at ¥9 or ¥12 for larger vehicles. Be aware that if you need to take the Qingyin expressway, there will be a ¥10 surcharge on top of the meter price. There is also a metro system under construction which currently operates across 22 stations on one line (line 3). Further lines and stops will be added as time goes on, but at this stage, its usefulness is relatively limited.

The bus service is very well put together, and once you’ve figured out which lines go where, it can be a fast and inexpensive way of getting around. Trips around the middle of the city cost just ¥1 or ¥2 for an air-conditioned ride, and often have their own dedicated lanes which can make it much more efficient at rush hour time.

Eating and drinking

The local food in Qingdao has many distinctive flavours and is predictably heavy on the seafood. Yunxiao Road is widely known as Qingdao’s restaurant street and offers Chinese food of all kinds of varieties, form the local Shandong style to Sichuan, Cantonese and more. Nearby Minjiang Road houses more of the top end restaurants, many of which cater to cuisines from all around the world.

If you’re looking for something filling yet cheap, do try the local dumpling restaurants which can be found all over the city. Da Niang Dumplings are a popular fast food dumpling restaurant, and you’ll find a branch conveniently located on Hong Kong Middle Road. Look out for hotpot restaurants and dim sum eateries for budget-friendly dining.

If you’re keen to try the local specialties, don’t miss the chili sautéed clams, which are served at just as many street food stalls as high-end restaurants. Roasted squid is popular here too, as is agar jelly vermicelli covered in spicy, sweet or salty sauces. Whatever you eat, all Qingdao locals will agree that it is best served washed down with a cold bag of Tsingtao beer or two!

Getting a good night's sleep

There are plenty of hotels of all classes within Qingdao. If you prefer to stick to familiar brands, you’ll find a Copthorne, a Shangri-La, a Crowne Plaza and other western chains present in the city. Lower budget travelers will be pleased to discover an Ibis and a Holiday Inn conveniently located for the city’s attractions too.

The top end hotel in Qingdao is the Seaview Garden Hotel, which faces the beach and sits in beautifully landscaped gardens. Expect to pay upwards of ¥900 per night for this lavish location though. At the other end of the scale, several city center hostels and inns offer comfortable beds from upwards of ¥80 a night.