After taking your first day in Beijing easy and throwing yourself into its culture and history on your second, saving the city’s most iconic sights for last is a great way to punctuate your time here. On your third and final day, take some time to enjoy coffee with a view, wander through the Forbidden City, and enjoy the lively action at the Temple of Heaven.
Start the day off at the Bear Brew coffee shop, tucked away in a residential hutong near the Xisi subway station. Grab your beverage of choice, and head straight upstairs for the best cafe vista in all of China. Perched on the converted roof patio, gaze in wonder at Miaoying Temple, with its tall, white dagoba. Dating back to the Yuan Dynasty, it is said to be the earliest presence of Tibetan Buddhism in the city.
From there, it’s a short walk to the serene, historic Church of the Savior. Duck into the church, with stained glass windows that include images of the Temple of Heaven and Chinese monks. This was also the site of a Boxer Rebellion skirmish (an anti-imperial, anti-colonial, and anti-Christian movement that occurred between 1899 and 1900), although there are no placards to indicate this.
For lunch, stuff yourself with one of Chinese cuisines’ most beloved creations — dumplings. Just north of the Xisi subway station is a bustling, multi-floor dumpling joint. It’s easy to spot due to the intricately carved, multi-colored wooden facade. The English name translates as Huif Feng Old Beijing Dumpling House, but you might need to look for the characters instead: 惠丰老北京饺子楼.
After gorging on bite-sized masterpieces that are dumplings, it’s time for a walk. Covering the grounds of the Forbidden City will take a couple of hours, and it’s suggested that visitors meander off the main south-to-north walking path and dip into some of the spaces at the perimeter. There is not a lot of signage, so it may be advisable to go with a guided tour in order to have the place brought to life.
The next and final stop is the Temple of Heaven. Locals gather daily at this park to stay fit, have some fun, and socialize with friends. Choral singing, guys working up a sweat with martial arts weapons, coordinated group dancing, folks playing the erhu, a two-stringed Chinese musical instrument — you never know what sights you might catch at the Temple of Heaven. Out of the collection of historic temples in Beijing, this one is certainly the liveliest.
For dinner, it’s time to enjoy that beloved and artery-clogging Peking duck. Walk 30 minutes north to the rustic Liqun Roast Duck Restaurant. Unlike other roast duck restaurants in Beijing, Liqun has not turned into a chain, and it still operates out of its original location, which is the converted residence of the restaurant’s founder.