24 hours in Shanghai

How to get the best out of the city in just a day

Ever-changing and developing at a breakneck speed, this heaving metropolis always offers something new to see. Here's your one-stop-shop guide to making the most of Shanghai in just 24 hours.

8-11am: Stuff yourself with street eats

Set yourself up for the day with a stomach-stretching three-hour breakfast on UnTour’s walking street food tour (450RMB per person). The trip leads you through favourite local breakfast spots in the Former French Concession. Don't sleep on the shengjianbao (fried soup dumplings).


11am-midday: Snag a genuine propaganda poster

Continue your journey through the Former French Concession towards the Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center. Hidden in the basement of a faceless housing complex, it’s not the easiest place to find, but worth the hunt for the large collection of genuine Communist propaganda posters – some of which you can buy for as little as 200RMB.

Midday-2.30pm: Tour the Jewish Refugees Museum

Tucked up in Hongkou district, the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum and surrounding area are well worth a few hours. Housed in the Ohel Moshe Synagogue complex, the museum gives an insightful look – via original artefacts, historical photos and personal recollections – into the decades during which the neighbourhood was home to Jewish refugees who fled the Nazi regime in Europe.

Grafitti Wall

2.30-4.30pm: Explore M50 art district

M50 art district is home to a number of modern and contemporary art galleries. While smaller than its Beijing equivalent, 798, it is still one of the best places to see modern art in the city. Moganshan Lu Graffiti Wall leading up to the space is also one of the few places in the city where you can still snap that Insta-perfect shot of graffiti and street art on a large scale.


4.30-5pm: Hop aboard the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel to Lujiazui

The Bund, what a beauty. But you can see it properly later, it’s time to go under the river. No Shanghai experience would be truly complete without a go on the bizarre Bund Sightseeing Tunnel to Pudong (50RMB one-way, 60RMB for a round trip. Open 8am-10pm daily). Leaving from Chenyi Square near the Peace Hotel, the ride on an underground capsule features psychedelic visuals and even stranger audio commentary, setting the tone for the high-rise futurism of Lujiazui. Sure, it’s so low budget you could argue it’s a rip-off, but it is, in its own way, absolutely charming.

Flair - night exterior (with talent)

5-7pm: Grab a drink with a view

You've earnt a drink, so hear up to Flair on the 58th floor of the Ritz-Carlton Pudong. The view from the open-air bar is simply jaw dropping – it feels as if you could almost reach out and touch the Oriental Pearl Tower. The drinks are a little pricey (110RMB plus surcharges for a signature cocktail), and there’s a minimum spend for the terrace tables. But you’re only here for 24 hours, so best do it right.

Faimont Peace Hotel, old jazz band

7-8pm: See Shanghai's oldest jazz band

Return to Puxi to the Jazz Bar at the iconic Peace Hotel, where every night from 6.30pm Shanghai’s oldest jazz band (average age 82) play old standards. Members of the band played together in 1947 in what was the city’s first-ever all-Chinese jazz band, and watching them at this recreated old bar is a must-do Shanghai experience.


8-10pm: Do dinner and drinks on The Bund

The choices are endless, but you can’t go wrong at Three on the Bund which has everything from chic Korean BBQ spot CHI-Q to laid-back-yet-classy Italian joint Mercato (farm egg and black truffle pizza FTW) to Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s refined Shanghai outpost.


10pm-midnight: Catch a show at Yuyintang

The heart and soul of the city’s rock scene, Yuyintang is one of the oldest gig venues in Shanghai. It’s one of the only spots in the city that consistently puts on a wide variety of original live music. Most weekends, you’re likely to see something great on the bill from local bands to international acts (check the line-up before you go).

Midnight-3am: Go highbrow barhopping

Feel fancy sipping on some of the city’s finest cocktails. Drop into neighbourhood favourite Union Trading Co – it’s permanently busy, and for good reason. The creative, ever-changing cocktail list never disappoints, and neither does the service. Just across the road, Barules hides behind a faux red British phone box, serving up expertly poured drinks and extravagant party punches to share with up to eight. And only a short stroll down the street you’ll find speakeasy Speak Low, the first Mainland China bar to be honoured in The World’s 50 Best Bars Awards, placing at number 15 in 2016. Try the eponymous Speak Low (120RMB) with Bacardi Superior, Bacardi 8, Pedro Ximenez Sherry, matcha and roasted soy flour.

3-6am: Wind up for some late-night dancing

If you’re still moving through the wee hours, there’s really only one place to go, and that’s Celia. A haven for Shanghai’s late-night crowds, the club usually gets busy from 2am (and stays open till 9am).


6-8am: People-watch in the park

Finish your trip with a relaxing wander through one of Shanghai’s picturesque parks. Fuxing, Zhongshan and Huashan parks are always bustling with early morning activity, with old Shanghai ren practising tai chi, dancing, diablo, flying kites and more.

More things to do in Shanghai