Beijing can be an overwhelming city, full of world-class heritage sites. If visiting the Forbidden City it is best to visit when it first opens at 8:30am as the crowds are fewer. With Qing Dynasty buildings piled on to 250 acres, you could spend days here, but keeping it to a morning will still allow you to see the main attractions.
It is well worth visiting Tiananmen Square and the Temple of Heaven, a 15th-century sacrificial altar, to the south of Beijing. You can proceed to the Great Wall of China, either at Mutianyu (90 minutes from Beijing), the best restored and most family-friendly section, or at Simatai (three hours away), its beauty has earned its own World Heritage Site status.
Northwest of the city centre of Beijing is the Summer Palace – the finest imperial garden in the country- and the Ming Tombs, resting place of 13 of the 17 Ming Dynasty rulers.