10 Non-Touristy Things to Do in Shanghai

Shanghai is a magnificent metropolis filled with attractions and sights. Besides going to well-known places like the Bund, Disneyland Resort, and Yu Garden, some lesser-known gems in Shanghai are equally enticing. The 10 off-the-beaten-track things to do in Shanghai will help you have an in-depth journey to the city.


Explore Tianzifang

Tianzifang Block in Shanghai
One of the most non-touristy things to do in Shanghai is to stroll in Tianzifang, which is a creative community transformed from the old-style Shikumen residences. Several narrow lanes are crossed with each other and you can get some pleasant surprises there. The special shops and handcrafts stores are the most attractive things and you may find some creative souvenirs. The smell of tasty snacks wafting through the streets just makes you stop by the vendor stalls. If you feel tired after a long time exploring, various bars can offer you a seat to relax. 

Recommendation rate:
Location: Lane 210, Taikang Road, Huangpu District
Travel time: 2 - 3 hours

Stroll in Wukang Road

Sinan Road, Shanghai
Strolling in Wukang Road is one of the most  unusual things to do in Shanghai. This quiet and romantic road, lined with rows of plane trees, was built in 1907, with a history of more than 100 years. It features a slew of old buildings in European style. These buildings all belonged to celebrities in the Republic of China era, which include Sun Yat-Sen and famous writer Ba Jin. Apart from the well known former residences, you cannot miss the Wukang Building, which is a landmark on the road and boasts the veranda style architecture.   

Recommendation rate:
Location: Wukang Road, Xuhui District
Travel time: 1- 3 hours

Enjoy Afternoon Tea in Moller Villa

The Moller Villa was a private villa built by a businessman based on his daughter’s dream in 1936. At present, the villa has been converted into a high-end hotel. The three-storied building is in the style of northern Europe with sharp steeples and fluctuant eaves. The unique design of the villa and the well-designed lawn make it one of the best places to enjoy afternoon tea in Shanghai. You can not only appreciate the good looking appearance, but the decorations inside are also attractive. 

Recommendation rate:
Location: No.30 South Shaanxi Road, Jing'an District
Travel time: 1-2 hours
Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall
Visiting the Urban Planning Exhibition Hall is one of the most non-touristy things to do in Shanghai. You can see a lot of pictures, documents and building models in the museum, which helps you to know more about the past and future of Shanghai. It consists of 6 floors and 5 floors are on the ground. The third floor has the highlight of the hall, which is a 600-square-meter large model of the city center area. On the ground floor, a street in the old Shanghai style is displayed with the scenes of life in the 1930s.

Recommendation rate:
Location: No. 100 Renmin Avenue, Huangpu District
Travel time: 2 - 3 hours
Shikumen Museum in Shanghai
Shikumen residence is a typical Shanghai old-style architecture combining western style buildings and traditional Chinese dwellings. Sightseeing in this museum is one of the 10 non touristy things to do in Shanghai. The museum perfectly preserves a complete Shikumen building of a family house in the old days. All the items on display including furniture, children’s text books, lipstick and ashtray are from nearly 100 years ago. You can learn about the old architecture while experiencing the old style locals' life.

Recommendation rate:
Location: No. 25, Lane 181, Taicang Road, Huangpu District
Travel time: 1 - 2 hours

Propaganda Poster Art Centre

Enjoying posters in the Propaganda Poster Art Centre is undoubtedly one of the fun things to do in Shanghai. This is a private museum which remains more than 400 posters. These posters have been divided into three parts according to different times, including the pop stars’ posters from the 1910s to 1940s and the propaganda posters from1949 to 1979. These posters with distinct themes and colors are very interesting and they witnessed developments of China’s recent history.

Recommendation rate:
Location: Room BOC, No. 868, Huashan Road, Changning District
Travel time: 1 - 2 hours
Going to 1933 Old Millfun is one of the most unusual things to do in Shanghai. It is one of the coolest places of the city, attracting a lot of photographers to take good pictures. Used to be a slaughterhouse, the old millfun has been converted to an art cluster now. The building was designed by a British architect and the crisscross corridors, spiral staircases and the umbrella-shaped pillars make it a stunning maze. The most striking feature of the building is that a transparent sky stage is set about 8 meters (26 ft.) above the ground.

Recommendation rate:
Location: No.611, Liyang Road, Hongkou District
Travel time: 1 - 2 hours
Referring to the interesting things to do in Shanghai, you cannot miss the Chinese Martial Arts Museum. This is a museum to introduce genuine Chinese Kung Fu and you can learn about the Kung Fu culture from ancient times. The museum also displays a group of weapons and armors in different dynasties. Besides appreciating those amazing weapons, you can also experience some interesting games such as virtual fighting with Bruce Lee.

Recommendation rate:
Location: No.399, Changhai Road, Yangpu District, in Shanghai University of Sport
Travel time: 1 - 2 hours
Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum
Visiting the Jewish Refugees Museum is one of the non touristy things to do in Shanghai. This memorial place consists of Ohel Moishe Synagogue and two other exhibition halls, which witnessed that more than 20,000 Jewish refugees from Europe survived in Shanghai from 1933 to 1945. The second floor displays some life articles of the Jewish people and everything hid an impressive story. The most striking part of the museum is the wall embossed the survivors’ names, which reminds people of the value of peace.

Recommendation rate:
Location: No.611, Liyang Road, Hongkou District
Travel time: 1-2 hours

 Recommended Tour:  One Day Shanghai Jewish Tour from $82
Xinchang Ancient Town
Compared with the famous Zhujiajiao Water Town, Xinchang Ancient Town is less crowded and less commercial. Enjoying the pristine beauty of the town is one of the off-the-beaten-track things to do in Shanghai. Wandering along the narrow alleys, you can appreciate the old buildings from the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911) and the exquisite carved stone bridges across the river. Apart from enjoying some historical sights of the town, you cannot miss the delicious local snacks and unique handicrafts.  

Recommendation rate:
Location: No.128 Haiquan Street, Xinchang Town, Pudong New Area, about 35km (22 mi) southeast and 1.5 hours' metro ride from the downtown area.
Travel time: 2 - 3 hours
 Read more:
15 Free Things to Do in Shanghai
 10 Cool Things to Do in Shanghai for Youngsters
Places of Interests in Shanghai: 12 Historical Sites to Explore
 Shanghai off the Beaten Path: 8 Lesser-Known Places to Visit
 8 Unique Things to Do in Shanghai Only
Shanghai Amusement Parks: Top 5 Places to Go
List of 8 Theme Parks in Shanghai

- Last updated on Apr. 24, 2023 by Catherine He -
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