China’s third-largest urban area is home to European-influenced neighborhoods, fascinating historical and artistic attractions, as well as a thriving food scene.
Tianjin is one of northern China’s most important financial and cultural centers. With a sprawling mix of early 20th-century European architecture and modern skyscrapers, Tianjin is an excellent place for wandering and browsing shops. Revel in the surprisingly relaxed atmosphere, which is enhanced by a lovely riverside promenade, museums, churches and temples.
The area rose to prominence as one of the country’s most important ports, later attracting the attention of European nations that established individual foreign concessionary bases. Each resembled a miniature European country, encompassing its own system of prisons, schools and hospitals. The buildings in each concession were inspired by the style popular in that European country. When exploring the city today, try to identify the distinctly different architectural styles of the old concessions.
Walk down Ancient Culture Street, designed to recreate the city’s historic Qing dynasty architecture. Look inside Tianhou Temple, browse shops selling traditional souvenirs or stop at a restaurant to try one of Tianjin's local specialties. Many of the city’s dishes feature the widely available fresh seafood.
Enjoy more shopping in the busy streets surrounding the iconic Drum Tower. Look up at the enormous iron bell on the tower’s second floor and head to the top to see striking views over the city.
Ride on the Tianjin Eye, a towering Ferris wheel attached to the city’s Yongle Bridge. After seeing the Hai River from one of the Eye’s passenger capsules, go for a boat ride along the river or relax in one of the nearby parks. Visit Wanghailou Church, the city’s first Christian church, and learn about its darkly intriguing history.
Tianjin is located about 80 miles (130 kilometers) east of Beijing. To get here, take a 1-hour train ride from the capital. Enjoy the city as a daytrip or stay a little longer to explore its lesser-known sights. Late spring and autumn are the best times of year to visit, when the weather is pleasantly mild.