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Forbidden City

This magnificent imperial palace is one of the most popular tourist sites in all of China, and is filled with many centuries of culture and art.

Beijing’s Forbidden City stretches over a massive 720,000 square metres, and was home to the emperors of China for almost five centuries. It has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is listed by the same organisation as the largest collection of ancient wooden structures in the world.

Set amid pristine gardens, the city contains an enormous collection of carefully maintained relics in its age-old buildings. The spiritual side of life is also well represented, with plentiful temples, shrines and other places of worship.

The name of the Forbidden City comes from the fact that, historically, ordinary people were not allowed to set foot inside. Protected by high, imposing walls, it would have presented a daunting sight to the residents of the wider city before being opened up to the public in 1925.

You should allow yourself a minimum of half a day to stroll around and soak in the fantastic royal culture and design around you. Enter through the Gate of Heavenly Peace, where you can pick up a map and an audio guide at the ticket office, or hire an English-speaking guide to take you around to gain a deeper understanding of the history and culture on display.

Take in the diverse architectural styles of different eras and admire centuries of incredible antiques. Art lovers will be enthralled by the many artworks, including statuettes cast in bronze and the beautiful old paintings which adorn the interior walls of the palace.

The fabulous five arches of the Meridian Gate will take your breath away, while the Hall of Supreme Harmony offers opulently appointed décor in the biggest of the many ceremonial halls – these sights are most definitely not to be missed. Finish your tour by admiring the graceful and harmonious Imperial Garden before leaving through the Gate of Divine Might.

The Forbidden City is in the centre of Beijing, and can be reached by walking, cycling or via public transport. There is also a bus which circles the outside of the walls, making it easier to access different areas. Visit the palace during the week if you can, as Saturday and Sunday are particularly busy.

Popular Activities at Forbidden City

You'll find it hard to believe how many things there are to do at Forbidden City. Here are some ideas to get you started:

For many more activities, peruse our Beijing things to do page.


Guide to Exploring Forbidden City


Map

Top Forbidden City Hotel & Accommodation Deals

See all 1,151 properties near Forbidden City
Prime Hotel Beijing Wangfujing AU$149
Prime Hotel Beijing Wangfujing

Prime Hotel Beijing Wangfujing

No.2 Wangfujing Main Street, Dongcheng Qu, Beijing, Beijing
     
    4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in Downtown Beijing, this luxury hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of National Art Museum of China, Wangfujing Street, and Forbidden City. Sanlitun and Beihai Park are also within 2 mi (3 km). Dongsi Station is only a 2-minute walk and Dengshikou Station is 11 minutes.

    Novotel Beijing Xin Qiao AU$132
    Novotel Beijing Xin Qiao

    Novotel Beijing Xin Qiao

    1 Chong Wen Men Xi Da Jie, Beijing, Beijing
       
      4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Downtown Beijing, this spa hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Wangfujing Street, National Museum of China, and Qianmen Street. Tiananmen Square and Beijing Financial Street are also within 2 mi (3 km). Chongwenmen Station is only a 4-minute walk and Wangfujing Station is 14 minutes.

      Grand Hyatt Beijing AU$236
      Grand Hyatt Beijing

      Grand Hyatt Beijing

      1 East Chang An Avenue, Beijing, Beijing
         
        5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Dongdan, this luxury hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Wangfujing Street, Tiananmen Square, and Oriental Plaza. National Museum of China and Forbidden City are also within 2 mi (3 km). Wangfujing Station is 6 minutes by foot and Dengshikou Station is 15 minutes.

        Novotel Beijing Peace AU$149
        Novotel Beijing Peace

        Novotel Beijing Peace

        No 3 Jinyu Hutong, Beijing, Beijing
           
          4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          This family-friendly Beijing hotel is located in the historical district, within a 5-minute walk of Peninsula Beijing Shopping Arcade and Wangfujing Street. Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square are also within 1 mi (2 km). Dengshikou Station is only a 5-minute walk and Dongsi Station is 16 minutes.

          Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing AU$188
          Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing

          Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing

          97 Jinbao St., Dongcheng District, Beijing, Beijing
             
            4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Dongdan, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Peninsula Beijing Shopping Arcade and Wangfujing Street. Forbidden City and Sanlitun are also within 2 mi (3 km). Dengshikou Station is 9 minutes by foot and Dongdan Station is 15 minutes.

            Sunworld Dynasty Hotel Beijing Wangfujing AU$165
            Sunworld Dynasty Hotel Beijing Wangfujing

            Sunworld Dynasty Hotel Beijing Wangfujing

            50 Wangfujing Avenue, Beijing, Beijing
               
              5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Downtown Beijing, this luxury hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Peninsula Beijing Shopping Arcade, Wangfujing Street, and Forbidden City. Tiananmen and Tiananmen Square are also within 2 mi (3 km). Dengshikou Station is 6 minutes by foot and Dongsi Station is 8 minutes.

              The Peninsula Beijing AU$389
              The Peninsula Beijing

              The Peninsula Beijing

              8 Jinyu Hutong, DongDan, Dongcheng Qu, Beijing, Beijing
                 
                5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Dongdan, this luxury hotel is steps from Peninsula Beijing Shopping Arcade and Wangfujing Street. Forbidden City and Tiananmen are also within 1 mi (2 km). Dengshikou Station is only a 3-minute walk and Dongsi Station is 14 minutes.

                Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Hotel AU$230
                Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Hotel

                Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Hotel

                57 Wangfujing Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing, Beijing
                   
                  5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Downtown Beijing, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of National Art Museum of China and Wangfujing Street. Forbidden City and Tiananmen are also within 1 mi (2 km). Dongsi Station is 13 minutes by foot and Dengshikou Station is 13 minutes.