Top Things to Do in Xi’an – LTL’s Travel Guide

Looking for things to do in Xi’an? Well look no further…

You’re coming to China to learn Chinese, and what better place to do that but in Xi’an?

This beautiful city at the edge of the Ancient silk road is a great place to learn Mandarin, the accent is not too difficult to understand and the people are friendly!

Which is very important if you’re going to be practising your Chinese outside of the classroom too.

So it’s a good thing there there are lots of exciting things to do in Xi’an, luckily we’ve got lots of ideas for you to keep you busy when you first get here.

Come and meet us in Xi’an and join our wonderful community!

Huashan - One of China's most famous spots

  • Visit some of the top sights in China
  • Eat local delicacies
  • Practice your Chinese out and about
  • Get to know an Ancient city
  • Navigate a city of 12.9m people
  • Climb one of China’s most difficult hikes
  • Learn all about Chinese history at Xi’an’s many museums

Top Facts About Xi’an That You Need to Know 

Before you move, or even think about things to do in Xi’an it’s good to get to know some context about the place, so that you can get a feel for it.

  • One of China’s four great Ancient Capitals
  • Used to be called Chang’an 长安
  • Referred to as the birthplace of Chinese civilization
  • It was the capital city during 13 of China’s dynasties
  • Also knows as the “Eternal City” due to the long history
  • 西安 Xi’an literally means ‘peace in the west’
  • The base of China’s national security and space exploration program
  • Surrounded by 8 rivers, the biggest of which is River Wei
  • Population of 12.9m people (as of 2018)
  • Home to the Terracotta Army – one of China’s most popular tourist attractions

Top things to do in Xi’an – LTL’s Guide

Things to do in Xi’an #1 – Visit the Terracotta Warriors

Things to do in Xi’an #2 – Sample Xi’an’s Local Delicacies

Things to do in Xi’an #3 – Check Out Some of Xi’an’s Famous Museums

Things to do in Xi’an #4 – Cycle the Ancient City Walls

Things to do in Xi’an #5 – Take a Weekend Trip Out of the City

Things to do in Xi’an #6 – More Xi’an Travel Guide

1. Visit the Terracotta Warriors

Each Terracotta Warrior’s facial features are unique

This is probably number 1 on most China explorers lists of things to do in Xi’an.

The Terracotta Warriors were discovered by a local farmer who was digging a well in the countryside nearby to the city of Xi’an in 1974.

The sculptures, which depict the soldiers in Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s army, were estimated to be buried with Emperor himself around the year 210 BC, supposedly to give him protection in the afterlife.

With millennia underground, these intricate sculptures have become one of China’s most popular attractions since their re-discovery.

They are definitely a must-see in Xi’an, and really give you the chance to feel Xi’an’s Ancient side for yourself.

How to get to there: You can take a public bus to the site of the Terracotta Warriors from downtown Xi’an Buses run around every 15 minutes and take just over an hour to reach the warriors and museum.

2. Sample Xi’an’s Local Delicacies (Muslim Quarter)

local xian food

Traditional Xi’an Mutton Soup (羊肉泡馍) in the Preparation Stages

Luckily for all of you coming to Xi’an, this city has some of the best street food and snacks in the whole of China (our personal opinion).

There are plenty of places that you can grab a delicious bite to eat across the city, but one of the most popular for newbies to the city is the muslim quarter.

You try out some of Xi’an’s most famous dishes including:

  • 羊肉泡馍 – a mutton soup with a special kind of crouton
  • 肉夹馍 – China’s answer to a burger or in other words a pulled pork bun
  • ‘Biang Biang’ noodles – long, flat, dry noodles that come with meat, egg and lots of fresh veg. Yummy!
  • 串儿 all kinds of kebabs, and particularly lamb in the muslim quarter
  • And much more!

You can also do pretty much all of your souvenir shopping while you’re at it, as there are plenty of market stalls selling all kinds of traditional Chinese gifts, trinket, accessories, pretty much everything you can imagine

If you want to get a better idea of what some of these treats looks like before you try them check out the video on the left.


And if you’re the adventurous kind and have already tried the above, look for more recommendations in video to the right. 

3. Check out some of Xi’an’s Famous Museums

Interested in history? Chinese history?

Well then, Xi’an is definitely the place for you. Luckily interesting museums and cultural sites are plentiful!

There’s lots to choose from so here are some examples:

  • Shaanxi History Museum – historical bits and pieces from all over the province and China!
  • Stele Forest – collection of interesting stone carvings, which detail all aspects ancient Chinese life
  • Banpo Museum – an archeological site turned museum which breathes life into a neolithic settlement
  • Xi’an Museum – a museum of local heritage as well as a garden and pagoda complex
  • And many more things to see!

4. Cycle the Ancient City Walls

Things to do in Xi'an - Cycle the City Walls of Xi'an

Things to do in Xi’an – Cycle the City Walls of Xi’an

The Xi’an city walls are some of China’s best-preserved city fortifications.

Though re-furbished many times since their original construction, the walls run all the way around the central area of Xi’an.

As well as their historical appeal, the walls make for a great afternoon out getting a feel for the city.

If cycling is your thing, you can rent a bike, and once you’re up on the wall, cycle around the length of them. It’s a great way to get a view of the city, and if you head out at sunset you might get some nice snaps of the city at dusk.

If you’re feeling adventurous and came to explore the city with a friend, you could even have a go at renting a tandem bike and looping the city walls together.

Though of course, if you’re not feeling the cycling you can also just go for a wander on foot too.

You can access the walls from various gates around the city walls, but we’d recommend to go for the South gate (Yongning Gate), as it’s a pretty one to take some snaps of from below.

5. Take a Weekend Trip Out of the City

Mount Hua/Huashan

Things to do in Xi'an - Take a trip to Huashan

Things to do in Xi’an – Take a trip to Huashan

Just a couple of hours away from Xi’an by bus, is Huashan, one of China’s Five Great Mountains.

It’s a great for a long day trip (if you don’t mind a very early start) or an overnight weekend trip if you’d rather take your time. 

Nicknamed the most dangerous climb in the world, a trip to Huashan isn’t for the faint-hearted. Some parts of the trail (or even ledge in some places) are so narrow that only one person can fit across at the same time. Harnesses are available for certain parts as you go.

If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, then there is also a cable car option that will take you to Huashan’s summit too. Whichever route you choose you’ll be able to get some spectacular views from the peak.

Foping Nature Reserve

brown panda

Qizai another unusual brown and white panda living in Shaanxi

Want to see the pandas while you’re here in China?

Although most international tourists choose to head to Chengdu to see the Giant Panda Research Base, did you know that there’s a nature reserve a little close to home in Xi’an where you can see China’s favourite fury friends? 

Foping Nature Reserve in South Shaanxi Province is home to around 300 kinds of wild animals, including more than 100 Giant Pandas.

The area is an important habitat for pandas and other wild animals.

In 1985 an unusual light brown and white Giant Panda (later named Dandan) was found in Foping Nature Reserve, it appeared that she had been abandoned for her different looks. She was taken into care and restored back to full health. She was the first known brown and white panda.

More Xi’an Travel Guides

Of course there are plenty more things to keep you occupied in Xi’an and many more places for you to explore. Here are some more useful travel guides to give you some more details about places we covered and some new ideas too: