What to Do on a Weekend in Shanghai

Shanghai, the Paris of the East, never stops in a way very different from New York City or any other big metropolitan city. A unique mix of old and new, some of the world’s tallest buildings are located in Shanghai, while some areas of the city transport you back to the Shanghai of the 1920s. This juxtaposition is one of the reasons why I love this crazy city.

Shanghai is full of hidden gems and glittering high-end restaurants. There is something for everyone, but where to begin? As someone who has lived here for a few years and used to run Shanghai Daily Secret (a lifestyle email newsletter), here is my weekend guide.

What to Do on a Weekend in Shanghai

By Hayo Magazine

  • Check out the Bars & Restaurants on Yongkang Road

    By Hayo Magazine

  • Have Dinner at Jian Guo 328

    By Hayo Magazine

  • Go on a Dumpling Tour with UnTour Shanghai

    By Hayo Magazine

  • Check out the Propaganda Poster Art Centre

    By Hayo Magazine

  • Head to El Willy for Great Spanish Food…

    By Hayo Magazine

  • …or Mercato for Awesome Italian

    By Hayo Magazine

  • Go to Bar Rouge for the Shanghai Club Experience

    By Hayo Magazine

  • Dine at Sichuan Citizen

    By Hayo Magazine

  • Have a Drink at Liquid Laundry

    By Hayo Magazine

  • Wander around Tianzifang

    By Hayo Magazine

  • Head to the Waldorf Astoria for Dim Sum & Drinks

    By Hayo Magazine

  • Have Breakfast on Xiangyang Road

    By Hayo Magazine

Friday Night

Check out Shanghai’s casual after-work/happy hour street, Yongkang Road. This small stretch of street is packed with bars and restaurants, and it’s always a great way to start your Friday night. (And ideal for those cool summer nights or wonderful fall evenings). Head to Rooster for delicious frozen drinks or stop by Café Stagiaires for wine with the Frenchies.
Yongkang Lu, near Xiangyang Nan Lu

Afterwards, get a bite to eat at Jian Guo 328, a Shanghainese restaurant popular with locals and expats alike. The restaurant prides itself on safe and good ingredients. Try a Shanghai staple such as hongshao rou. Pro-tip: Make a reservation and don’t go later than 8 to ensure you’ll be able to try all the food. They sell out early!
328 Jiangguo Xi Lu, near Xiangyang Nan Lu

Saturday

UnTour Shanghai is a fantastic dumpling tour on Saturday mornings. They’ll take you around to multiple dumpling shops to sample all the different varieties. Tours last around four hours and you even get the chance to make dumplings at the end. Eating all the dumplings they give you is encouraged! Don’t feel guilty because you’ll walk the entire time.

Once you’ve gotten your fill of dumplings, head over to the Propaganda Museum (also known as the Propaganda Poster Art Centre) in the former French Concession. It’s not your typical museum as it’s in the basement of a building, but it has countless posters from another era of China. You’ll find posters from 1910 to 1990 depicting the changing politics and values of China. Pro-tip: Some posters are for sale. Museum closes at 5pm!
B/F, Bldg B, 868 Huashan Lu, near Fuxing Lu 


Wander a bit in the former French Concession where tall trees line the streets—it’s perfect for an afternoon stroll. While Shanghai has a great selection of Chinese cuisine, its Western fare is also delicious. Indulge in a dinner on The Bund for classic views of the city at Mercato or El Willy. Mercato has great casual Italian food (my personal favorites are the Kingfish Carpaccio and Lobster Ravioli). If you want to try Spanish food, El Willy is the best. Order the explosive salmon with truffle honey and the beef cheek.
Mercato: 6/F, 3 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Guangdong Lu
El Willy: South Bund 22, 5/F, 22 Zhongshan Dong Lu, near Xinyong’an Lu

After dinner go for drinks and dancing at Unico for a lounge scene, or Bar Rouge for a full-on Shanghai club experience. If the weather is nice, head on to the Bar Rouge terrace for views and performances…
Unico: Three on the Bund, 2/F, 3 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Guangdong Lu
Bar Rouge: Three on the Bund, 2/F, 3 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Guangdong Lu 

Sunday

If you didn’t have a Shanghai night and woke up early, head over to popular Chinese breakfast street Xiangyang Road. There are delicious traditional breakfast delights such as sesame balls, dumplings, steamed buns and more. With so many choices, this breakfast guide will help you narrow down the selection. Pro-tip: Breakfast ends at 10am so get there early.
Xiangyang Nan Lu, near Changle Lu

If the thought of eating street food is making you queasy, no worries. Head over to the Waldorf Astoria for a delectable dim sum feast. Wei Jing Ge has one of the best weekend dim sum specials: unlimited dim sum for under 200 RMB (not including the 15% service charge), which is about 30 USD.

Don’t forget to check out the Long Bar in the lobby. At one time, it was the longest bar in the world. Lots of thought went into the restoration of this heritage building turned hotel. Pro-tip: Ask the hotel concierge for a tour of the hotel.
5/F, 2 Zhong Shan Dong Yi Lu, near Guangdong Lu

Spend the rest of your day wandering around Tianzifang, a fun local area filled with eccentric shops (there are also lots of restaurants and bars). You’ll be able to see Shanghai’s distinctive Shikumen architecture style.
Taikang Lu, near Sinan Lu

Finish your Shanghai adventure with a meal at Sichuan Citizen and drink at Liquid Laundry. Sichuan cuisine is known for its numbing peppercorns used generously in most dishes. (UNESCO has proclaimed Chengdu, Sichuan province’s capital as a City of Gastronomy.) Try the Dandan noodles and Mapo tofu.
Sichuan Citizen: 30 Donghu Lu, near Huaihai Lu
Liquid Laundry: 2/F, 1028 Huaihai Zhong Lu, near Donghu Lu 

Alice Hu
Alice Hu

Alice is a Washington, D.C. area native. Having lived in Shanghai, China for four years, she has welcomed many visitors and has a mental rolodex of places to indulge oneself in the ever-changing city. She documents her adventures in Shanghai and Asia on her Instagram @alicehu. Her Shanghai expertise comes from starting and running Shanghai Daily Secret (a lifestyle email newsletter) for two years.

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