From leisurely boating to a thriving art scene, there’s more to Qingdao than the beer it’s become famous for.
A stroll downhill and there’s the walkway that leads to the German-built lighthouse on Little Qingdao, a pretty and relaxed little isle with views of Zhanqiao Pier and the military hardware of the Naval Museum
The coastal city of Qingdao is an enjoyable and entertaining cocktail of the past and present that has something to satisfy most tastes.
China’s “Sailing City” will fuel up in August, as the IndyCar Series is due to burn rubber around the streets alongside the merrymakers attending the International Beer Festival.
On the rocks
Chances are you’ll step out of Shangri-La Hotel, Qingdao and head straight for the seafront, which is a smart move as the Seashore Sidewalk is a treasure trove of things to do and see.
At the junction across from the hotel, there’s a pedestrian street that leads down to May Fourth Square and its distinctive red sculpture.
If you turn left, you’ll soon come to the bars and restaurants of Marina City, and just across the road, the luxury brands housed in Hisense Plaza.
Should you be tire of these temptations and carry on past the sleek yachts moored in the International Marina, you’ll arrive at the Olympic Sailing Museum, home to a sailing simulator and a 360-degree cinema. From the museum, you can take boat trips out to various islands in the bay.
If you choose to turn right, you’ll almost immediately come to Music Square, which hosts outdoor concerts during the summer months. A little further on and you’ll be dipping your toes in the surf curling along the sands of Bathing Beach Number 3, which is the nicest of the nearby beaches.
Once you are past beaches 2 and 1, keep left and you’ll come across a small row of restaurants with awnings shading small patios with a handful of tables. Large plastic bowls are lined up beside the entrance, from which you may choose the various sea creatures you fancy eating.
A stroll downhill and there’s the walkway that leads to the German-built lighthouse on Little Qingdao, a pretty and relaxed little isle with views of Zhanqiao Pier and the military hardware of the Naval Museum. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like inside a submarine, now’s your chance to find out.
Skip the pier and take a stroll around the tree-lined streets of the old German concession. Head over to Jiangsu Lu and the quaint Lutheran protestant Church, where you can climb the clock tower and inspect the clock’s inner workings, before checking out the former German governor’s residence on Longshan Lu, and the Catholic Church of St Michael and its tranquil cobbled piazza.
Past the church on Zhongshan Lu, Pi Chai Yuan offers the chance to refuel with a variety of local specialties and exotic treats (scorpions anyone?) while enjoying a performance of Qingdao Opera.
Back in the 1930s Qingdao was a retreat for writers such as Lao She, who wrote his famous novel Rickshaw Boy while living at 12 Huangxian Lu near the Badaguan scenic area and its collection of photogenic colonial villas. The house is now a museum dedicated to his life and works.
Today the city is still known for its artists, and those interested in contemporary Chinese art can check out the Qingdao Modern Artists Gallery on Changle Lu, the Gallery of Contemporary Art in the 1919 Creative Industrial Park on Changyi Lu and the Contemporary Art Warehouse on Xianggang Dong Lu.
Should you feel the need to get up and away, the pink granite peaks to the east of the city offer great hiking and superb views. Laoshan has a long Doaist tradition and there are several temples hidden amongst its pine-covered slopes, including the 2,000-year-old Taiqing Palace that has two ancient Cypress trees that are believed to bestow good luck on gamblers if patted three times.
However, Fushan is closer and can be scaled in less than an hour. It offers great views of the Yellow Sea and you can restore yourself after your exertions with some Japanese delicacies at Gattusan on Xianggang Zhong Lu, before returning to the hotel to unwind.