Day Trip: Outdoor Swimming in Nanjing

Swim in the shade of the pretty Purple Mountain in Zixia Lake

Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum on the pretty Purple Mountain is one of Nanjing’s must-dos, and you can easily spend a day in the national park area. But on a hot summer’s day, it could be sweaty work climbing the 392 stairs up to the main mausoleum, trekking to the peak or heading over to the pretty Linggu Temple. We’d recommend combining it all with a cooling swim in nearby Zixia Lake, a roughly 60- x 80-metre lake that’s surrounded by trees and is so clean that they use it for the annual Nanjing triathlon.

On most days, locals are splashing around in the water, picnicking on tables around the edge and setting up tents for the day. Just beware of the cold currents that come from the mountain and can cause cramps. It’s also worth taking a picnic, as there are very few places to grab a bite in the area.


From the lake, it’s a 10-15 minute walk to the mausoleum; a 25-minute walk to the Linggu Temple, which features a brightly-coloured pagoda that affords views across the area; or – if it’s not too hot – a 45-60 minute walk straight to the top of Purple Mountain. The walk to the summit is very do-able, though the signs and paths are patchy in parts – at the top, you’ll get views across Nanjing, but you’ll also be met by hordes stepping off the cable car (15-20RMB if you want to do the same).


Get there


There are 16 daily high-speed trains from Shanghai Railway Station to Nanjing, taking 1 hour 20 minutes and costing 146RMB (first train 7am, last train from Nanjing 9pm. From Nanjing Railway Station, take metro Line 1 south to Xinjiakou and change to Line 2, heading east to Xiamafang. From there, it’s a short walk to the Purple Mountain National Park (entry 70RMB) – at the entrance, head left and follow signs to Zixia Lake. It’s a 5-10 minute walk through the trees.

Thanks to Keith Maguire, general manager of The Nanjinger magazine, and

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