City Guide: Dalian
Dalian is a major metropolis in the North of China. While the location as such looks nice and the city even has some beaches, I wasn’t impressed. In the extensive city guide, I’ll explain what you need to know about Dalian!
I’ve visited more than fiveteen different cities in China so far and Dalian definitely is one of my least favorite ones. That’s only because it was freezingly cold and grey when I visited, but also because I didn’t find the city any charming, particularly compared to other cities in China. Somewhat, Dalian feels very much like a fake city, which doesn’t a lot of heritage in any regards. Nevertheless, I’ve tried to find some interesting spots in Dalian, which I’m going to show you in this city guide!
Binhai Road & Ocean Park in Dalian
One of the most interesting areas in Dalian is Binhai Road, especially the ten kilometers right by the sea. The road is going up and down and you can enjoy some nice views from time to time.
You may walk or drive this road and I’d personally recommend a private driver for that as it proofed difficult to really enjoy Binhai Road with DiDi and taxis.
The start of Binhai Road is at Ocean Park, an amusement park, which has some attractions, but you can also just walk alongside it and get some nice views as well.
The first five kilometers are quite nice, but I didn’t really have the chance to take a picture in the car. Approximately in the middle, you’ll be at Fujiazhuang Park, which comes with a nice beach.
Then after that, there are a few more nice viewpoints from where you can enjoy a view of the interesting coastline, which somewhat reminded me a bit of Cornwall.
While I generally thought that this part of Dalian is interesting, it still isn’t a must-see, in my opinion. There are just more interesting coastlines in other parts of the world, for example in Dinard.
Xinghai Square Dalian – the world’s largest city square
When it comes to Dalian, it seems that size matters as the city comes with lots of skyscrapes and, well, the largest city square in the whole world.
Xinghai Square might be big and look a bit fascinating, it’s one of those attractions in Dalian that left me puzzled as it’s just big, but lacks charme.
There might be some flowers left and right and a few statues, but other than that the only redeeming quality of the square is its location right by the sea.
Speaking of odd things, there’s also the Castle Hotel just around the corner. Yes, they decided to built a massive fake castle next to the square. Welcome to Dalian.
Once again, I’m not sure what to say here as I think that Xinghai Square Dalian is worth seeing, just because it’s such an odd spot, but that’s about it.
Zhongshan Square Dalian – some culture & history
The Zhongshan Square in the older city center of Dalian might actually be one of the most charming areas of town as it feels some much more real than the rest of the city.
There are various historic buildings around the square, which show that the city actually has some history and some cultural heritage.
There’s even a cute little postbox here, which might remind you of some European cities like London.
While I liked Zhongshan Square, after about 20 minutes, you should have seen everything here and might want to walk on to one of the many more squares in Dalian.
Zhongshan Square is also not too far away from the Russian Street, which is where we went next!
Russian Street in Dalian – run down heritage
Actually, Russian Street could be a real statement of heratige for Dalian, but the one little street actually feels very run down.
Nobody seems to invest in keeping the cultural heritage in this part of Dalian alive even though it would be so interesting to see the Russian influences on the development of the city.
There are a few buildings left, but it’s mainly a commercialized area with tons of pop-up shops in front of the once surely beautiful historic buildings.
It puzzles me very much how you can invest into pop-up stores instead of the buildings, which are breaking down right behind those.
Well, Russian Street in Dalian might be worth visiting due to the lack of other interesting sights in Dalian, but after all it’s overly touristic and run down.
Convention Center & Fake Europe in Dalian
For somebody from Europe, Dalian just feels so incredibly fake that it’s tough to believe. That’s not because of the modern and somewhat stylish Convention Center.
It’s more about the European City, which was fake-built on the Dalian Marina. The latter looks like a nice place in summer, especially for those who can afford a yacht. But a marina doesn’t make Dalian Nice or Venice – but they try hard to be exactly that.
There’s a massive development on the Dalian Marina, which is not yet finished, but will consist of three European-style cities, each with their own particular focus.
On the one hand, it’s impressive how real these buildings look and I’d even say that the little streets and everything could be quite charming.
But then it’s China overall and everything just lacks life as nearly all buildings are just empty, no shops, no offices, no flats. That’s just plain depressing as you’d have such a nice (fake) place, but it’s just plenty empty.
I honestly hope that this will change once the development is finished, but I doubt that this “city” will ever have a real heart even though it looks like a less run-down version of Venice or Paris.
Overall impressions of Dalian
The people we interacted with in Dalian were warm and charming, but I felt like visiting a ghost town. Some will say that is how visiting China feels like, but that’s not true. I personally enjoyed visiting Beijing very much and even Ningbo had its very own charm. Dalian on the other hand, maybe also because of the cold winter, just felt like somebody massivly developed a city, just without the people and the aspects that make a city worth visiting or worth living it. At least for the time being, Dalian would be on the very bottom of my list of cities to visit in China.
Do you have any questions about Dalian? Feel free to ask or share your impressions in the comments!