Shanghai night skyline - CC0 / Public Domain
Shanghai Travel Blog: Shanghai night skyline - CC0 / Public Domain


There are lots of things you can do in Shanghai, China but in many cases, these activities come with a price tag. Nonetheless, there are free things to do in Shanghai to help you stay within your budget. Here are some of them:


Free Things to Do in Shanghai – Appreciate Outdoor Art

The city of Shanghai in China also has its share of street art and graffiti, like those found at M50 Creativity Space. If you want sculptures, the Shanghai Sculpture Park and Jing An Diao Su Gong Yuan are definite places to visit.

Free Things to Do in Shanghai – Explore Tianzifang

Tianzifang is the former French Concession district of Shanghai. Its narrow streets are renowned for the quaint cafes, bars and shops that line them.


Free Things to Do in Shanghai – Evening Stroll along Shanghai Old Street

Despite of the heavy foot traffic, strolling along Shanghai Old Street at night allows you take pictures of exotic structures all lit up.

Feel the Local Vibe at Shanghai People’s Square

A great spot for people watching, Shanghai People’s Square is a popular meeting venue among locals and tourists alike. It’s a convenient starting point for visiting various landmarks. While the square might be busy, its shaded green areas are nice places to take a rest and watch the activities that go by.

Go Cultural in Shanghai Museums and Galleries

Shanghai Museum issues 8000 free entrance tickets each day. This allows visitors to view its permanent collections, including sculptures, bronze and jade artifacts and paintings. China Art Musuem, formerly Shanghai Art Musuem, also offers free admission, except for its special exhibitions. At Minsheng Art Museum, the public has free access to its mostly Realist and Modernist collections. The 800 Art District in the Yangpu area of Shanghai has 40 galleries where visitors can take a peek at the artworks being created there.

Have a Taste of Old Shanghai in Qibao Ancient Town

There are still preserved ancient towns in Shanghai where you can have a feel of what the city was like in the centuries past. A good example is Qibao Ancient Town that has preserved workshops, eating places, ancient temple and stores reminiscent of the Song dynasty.

Roam around the Parks in Shanghai

There are several parks in Shanghai where you can take break, relax, have picnics or roam around. These include Fuxing Park that is reminiscent of the French colonial era. Century Park in Pudong is the largest in Shanghai and celebrates woods, lawns and lakes. Another example is Zhongshan Park and its flowers and trees.

Step Inside the Former Residence of Ba Jin

113 Wukang Road is where Ba Jin used to live. The former residence of this Chinese writer has been transformed into a museum and welcomes the public. Inside, you can view manuscripts, books and photographs of Ba Jin.

Take in City Views from Chenyi Square

This waterfront public plaza is a great spot for taking in views of Shanghai’s skyline. There’s also a large bronze statue of Chen Yi in the plaza.

Window Shop along Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street

Nanjing East Road is closed to vehicle traffic, making it a wonderful place to window shop. This street in Shanghai brims with vendors, buskers, souvenir shops, restaurants and retail stores.