7 sensational reasons to visit Shanghai

A picture of the Shanghai skyline
by Limara Salt
10 April 2024

With its innovative architecture, rich history and lush nature, it’s no surprise that Shanghai is one of the world’s most visited cities. As China’s biggest and most developed city, Shanghai is worth visiting whether you’re a dedicated shopper, Disney fan, keen historian, or anything in between. Plus, if you book your Virgin Atlantic flight via Virgin Red*, you’ll earn points – what’s not to love?   

Check out some of the best places to visit in Shanghai to whet your appetite.   

Walk by the Bund 

As one of the city’s most famous sights, the Bund, also known as Waitan, is a must-visit location for a stroll with fantastic views. Built in the late 19th Century with a name meaning “muddy embankment”, the mile-long waterfront promenade along Huangpu River has buildings boasting several architectural styles including gothic and baroque. Choose between walking, a cruise, or a local tour guide to get the full experience of the area known as “the museum of buildings”.   

A picture of The Bund walkway in Shanghai

Stop by Shanghai Disneyland 

Opened in 2016, Shanghai Disney Resort is the second biggest Disney theme park in the world. It is located in Chuansha New Town, in the Pudong district, and features the biggest castle of any of Disney’s theme parks and cultural touches like the peony flower structure.  

Similarly there is the Garden of Twelve Friends, based on the 12 Chinese zodiac signs with a Disney character for each symbol, while it’s worth checking out the Moon Teahouse which offers Chinese dishes to enjoy.   

A picture of signs in Shanghai Disneyland

Shop on Nanjing Road  

Whether you want to source some fine silk or peruse designer boutiques, Shanghai is paradise for anyone looking to shop ‘til they drop. The main shopping streets are Nanjing Road and nearby Huaihai Road, with the pedestrianised end of the former a favourite for local shoppers on weekends. For more local highlights there are a number of famous, old Chinese shops alongside restaurants and eateries to refuel. 


Seek out tradition in Yu Garden 

You can’t go to China without exploring the traditional gardens, and Yu Garden is one of the most beloved in Shanghai. Roughly translated into Garden of Happiness, Yu Garden is beside the City God Temple in the Old City Shanghai and is believed to have been built over 400 years ago by the Ming Dynasty.   

Chinese gardens are intended to evoke the feeling of being in the natural world, and with over two hectares of pathways, pavilions and ancient flora, it’s the perfect break from the city’s busy streets. 

A picture of Yu Garden in Shanghai

See ancient art in Shanghai Museum 

Shanghai is not short on museums but if you have to choose just one, Shanghai Museum is the best bet.

Founded in 1952 and located on the People’s Square in Huangpu District, the museum is known for its extensive collection of over 140,000 historical and cultural artefacts. Across four floors and ten exhibition halls guests can see ancient coins, bronze, and furniture alongside Chinese paintings and sculptures, including the jade burial suit from the Han period. Better yet, you can see all this for free. 

A picture of Shanghai Museum

Check out the underwater hotel 

Not many hotels double up as popular tourist destinations, but the InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland is not a normal hotel.

Transformed from an abandoned quarry and opened in 2018, the hotel is an architectural marvel technically called a “groundscraper” as only two floors are located above ground while most of the hotel is actually underwater. Just 30 miles from the city centre it’s worth the trip especially if you can spend some time in the bar and enjoy the incredible ocean views. 

A picture of the InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland hotel

Explore 1933 

1933 – previously known as Old Millfun – used to be the largest slaughterhouse in Shanghai. Taking its name from the year of construction, 1933 now has shops, restaurants, offices, and studios throughout the sprawling five-floor building, but that’s not why most visit.

The art deco building is essentially a concrete maze with curved staircases, bridged walkways and industrial walls – perfect for anyone who wants to spend a day exploring while taking a pic or two. 

A picture of 1933 in Shanghai

Find out more about Virgin Atlantic’s service to Shanghai and how to earn Virgin Points with your booking. Entry to China requires a Visa and negative PCR test – please check the entry requirements.   

Not a Virgin Red member yet? What are you waiting for? Join Virgin Red today to start earning Virgin Points. 

*Taxes, fees and carrier-imposed surcharges apply and vary according to choice of cabin, departure airport, destination and date(s) of travel and are subject to change. Reward flights are subject to availability. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club membership required.