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The 10 Best Highlights to See in Tianjin

Sitting in the shadows of the behemoth of a capital, Tianjin is often forgotten by visitors to Northern China. However, this city boasts a history and culture as valid and as vibrant as any other.

Tianjin is a city which perfectly blends the old-world charm of ancient China with its unrelenting modernisation. Each spot highlights the complex development of the city and the nation as a whole, bringing Tianjin out of the shadows once and for all!

So in that case, here are 10 of the best sights to see during your time in Tianjin.

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tianjin to see
Tianjin Eye at night.

While the London Eye may be the most famous, this is by far one of the most dazzling!

The Tianjin Eye is the city’s true talisman! This 394-foot engineering marvel was built on a bridge that crosses the Hai River. Such a precarious position gives it some of the best views anywhere in the city. Those views come to a whole new level when the sun begins to fall and the bright lights of the wheel glisten off the river itself.

tianjin to see
The European streets of the Italian quarter

There’s an undeniable link between China and Italy which can be traced back over seven centuries. That long-lasting connection started at the hands of the iconic Venetian merchant and explorer Marco Polo. His trailblazing adventures along the Silk Road brought him to the land of China where he left behind a sprinkle of Italian influence forever more.

Before you get into a debate of which came first – the spaghetti or the noodle – experience a slice of Italian life along the streets of Tianjin in the aptly named Italian Style Street. With a collection of charming little cafes, gelato shops, and eerily European architecture, it’s a quirky detour from the typical Asian setting.

tianjin to see
The extensive shelves of Tianjin Binhai Library

While nothing beats the warmth of a Harry Potter-style library, this modern masterpiece makes you question everything you know!

Whether you’re a bookworm or a fan of architecture, the fascinating layout of Binhai Library is one that has captivated visitors from around the world. Every corner is yet another picture-perfect shot, it’s a photographer’s dream.

The unique architecture of the Five Great Avenues. Photo by xiquinhosilvaCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Though you might be forgiven for thinking you lost yourself in the streets of Milan or Paris, you are still very much in the heart of China.

Tianjin’s Five Great Avenues is a not-so-subtle nod to the city’s colonial past. The architectural marvels along these streets range from European to Greek in an eclectic design tapestry. These buildings once played host to foreign diplomats and international elites, though today they are home to quaint little boutiques, cafes, and art galleries.

tianjin to see
The breathing culture of Guwenhua. Photo by Reinhold MรถllerCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

China is big on market culture and there is no better one-stop-shop for all traveller delights than here at Guwenhua Street! The avenues amongst the traditional architecture feel like a callback to an ancient age, back when the market was still very much alive!

With a vast collection of shops selling everything from calligraphy to silk, it’s the perfect place to grab a few souvenirs.

tianjin to see
The central pagoda of the temple. Photo by Regina800809CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

With a name so inviting, how could you resist? Not only are the intricate designs of the temple itself a joy, but the 350+-year-old temple also has quite the national treasure lying beneath its surface.

The temple holds the bones of one of China’s most famous monks – Tang Xuanzang. He was the man responsible for bringing Buddhism to China from India, and later to Japan. As such he is considered a true religious icon around these parts.

tianjin to see
The Drum Tower. Photo by Rock com cn, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Standing at the centre of the city, the colossal Drum Tower has become a shining symbol of Tianjin’s history. This iconic structure was once the city’s timekeeping centre. The enormous drum that once stood at its peak was beaten on the hour each day.

The intricate detail and traditional Chinese design scream ancient craftsmanship. Yet, all around it, Tianjin’s urban landscape continues to evolve with numerous shopping streets stretching outwards from the tower.

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The expanse of Haihe River. Photo by KangTyngrwey, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In the country of a thousand rivers, each more vast than the last, this northeastern variety snakes its way through the heart of Tianjin’s megalithic highrises towards the open ocean. Naturally, there’s no better way of experiencing it than getting out onto the water yourself!

Cruises leave the banks of the river daily, offering panoramic views of the city’s skyline, diverse architecture, and lively waterfront along the way. On top of passing many of the city’s best highlights, it’s one of the more soothing ways of exploring the city.

The minimalist design of Tianjin Museum. Photo by Kilian Evang on Flickr

The humble exterior Tianjin Museum’s humble exterior does no justice to its immense contents!

Inside you’ll come across a treasure trove of ancient artefacts and relics that detail the long history of Tianjin. Through this extensive collection of artefacts, you’ll be taken on a ride through the rich artistic and cultural heritage of this city.

tianjin to see
The impressive artwork of the Century Clock. Photo by BjoertvedtCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Standing on the banks of the Hai River, this gigantic clock stands out pretty well amongst the more contemporary architecture that surrounds it. The 40-meter-long structure is a monumental timepiece and has become yet another symbol of the city.

The clock was constructed to commemorate the turn of the millennium with its official unveiling on New Year’s Eve 2000. Yet now it stands as a timeless classic with its stunning motifs.

Thank you so much for reading The 10 Best Highlights to See in Tianjin! Check out these other helpful articles!

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