Taipei and it’s surroundings have a wealth of activities you can enjoy, either by walking, cycling, or from the comfort of a tour bus.
I’ve included some activities below that can be enjoyed by children, and I’ve devised some tours of my own which I’ve personally taken and enjoyed. To see all the walking tours I’ve devised, click here.
All Main Attractions
If this is your first visit to Taipei, and you want to see as many of the main attractions and areas as possible in a single day without taking the sightseeing bus, then I’ve devised the optimal route to take. The only main attraction this doesn’t include is the National Palace Museum, as you’ll need half a day for this alone.
Before you take this route, I would advise purchasing Taipei 101 tickets to avoid the worst queues.You will need to book a time-slot, so book 12:00 or 12:30
07:45: Take the MRT to Shandao Temple Station
Enjoy breakfast at the Michelin recommended Fuhang Soy Milk (arriving early will mean you’ll avoid the long queues here, but it’s closed on Mondays)
09:15: Take the MRT to Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall Station (4 stops)
You can walk around the gardens here and get some great pictures of Taipei 101. If you enter the main hall around 9:45, you can get a good spot to watch the changing of the guard ceremony at 10:00. Visit the museum and art galleries inside. See my post for more details.
10:45: Take the MRT to City Hall Station (1 stop)
Walk south through the Xinyi Shopping District to the Taipei 101 Mall – it’s about a 40 minute walk but most of it is pedestrianised with shaded areas or malls to walk through (the malls open at 11:00). Locate the Taipei 101 Observation Deck entrance of the 5th floor (see my post for more details). You’ll probably need to spend a couple of hours here.
14:15 Take the MRT to Dongmen Station (4 stops)
On Yongkang Street, which was recently recognised by Timeout as the 4th coolest street in the world, you have a number of options for lunch. You could try the very popular Din Tai Fung (there are 2 here). You will need to get a ticket if there is a queue and wait (I have some tips to help you). Alternatively, there are many restaurants here, including the Michelin recommended Yongkang Beef Noodles. See my post for everything I recommend here.
Alternative Route: Instead of going West to Dongmen, you could take the MRT 1 stop East to Xiangshan to climb Elephant Mountain, which has the best views of the city. If you do, I would first recommend getting some food at either Din Tai Fung (found within the Taipei 101 mall), or the excellent food court next to this. In total this will take around 3 hours so you would need to sacrifice either Yongkang Street or Ximending.
16:30 Take the MRT to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall Station (1 stop)
Visit the Memorial Hall and see the change of guard ceremony on the hour. Go inside the hall and walk around the museum and art galleries. Walk around the huge Liberty Square and see the beautiful performance halls and gardens. If you’re still here in the early evening, you can witness the flag lowering ceremony too (see my post for times).
18:30 Take the MRT to Ximen Station (2 stops)
Walk around the Ximending Youth Shopping District. This is a good spot to try some bubble tea – Xing Fu Tung is the best place, although you’ll probably need to queue. There are loads of other places however, and many options for a quick bite including Ay Chung Flour Rice Noodles. Also visit the Red House for gifts, and behind this there’s a cool outdoor drinking area should you require a refreshing ale.
Alternative Route: If you would prefer to visit one of the oldest and ornate temples in Taipei, you could take the blue line 1 stop south from Ximen MRT station to Longshan Station and visit the beautiful Lungshan Temple, then in the next step travel 2 stops to Taipei Main and change there to travel to Shilin Night Market..
20:30 Take the MRT to Jiantan Station (1 stop – change at Taipei Main, then 4 stops)
This is the closest station to Shilin Night Market, the largest night market in Taiwan, where you can spend the remainder of the evening. I have a post on where to find the best food stands here, including those recommended by the Michelin Guide. The market and MRT system close at midnight.
Taipei Zoo & Maokong Gondola
Even if you don’t have children, Taipei Zoo and the Maokong Gondola is an excellent day out. One of the stations to the cable car ride into the mountains is actually inside the zoo. I would recommend visiting during the week, but not on Mondays as the gondola and some areas of the zoo are usually closed.
Take the brown line south to the final MRT station on the line, called Taipei Zoo.
You can purchase combined tickets for both of these attractions for a nice saving. They’re also part of the Taipei Fun Pass, which gets you free entry to many of Taipei’s top attractions.
If you’re visiting over the weekend, you’ll need to get a time-slot to visit the very popular panda enclosure. My post on Taipei zoo also includes a suggested route, which will culminate at the Taipei Zoo Maokong Gondola station.
Take the cable car, first to the Zhinan Temple station, and visit the temple and take in the amazing views. There are also hiking trails that lead further up the mountain.
Take platform 1 for Maokong station. Here you can visit one of the many tea houses to sample some of the excellent tea produced here, including Muzha Tieguanyin and Wenshan Pouchong, while taking in some more stunning views.
There is also a bus service which is free for anyone who has taken the gondola. This will take you to many attractions and beauty spots in Maokong. See my post for further details.
If you can, take the cable car back just before sunset for a magical experience.
City Guided Tours
If you prefer to get an in-depth tour to learn about the history of the city or food culture in Taipei, there are some excellent guided tours which can be taken on foot, by bicycle or from a tour bus.
One of these tours is actually free (although you will be required to tip the guide). This is a weekend-only morning tour.
If you’re feeling active, you can take a bike and walking tour that includes a hike up the famous Elephant mountain for the best views of the city.
Other tours are centred around food culture here, and include trips to night markets and Din Tai Fung, Taiwan’s most famous restaurant chain.
Flower & Jade Markets / Daan Park / Yongkang Street / Chiang-Kai Shek Memorial Hall
This walk is for weekends only, as it includes two weekend-only markets. Alternatively, you could do this during the week without visiting the markets.
Take the MRT to either Zhongxiao Xinsheng or Zhongxiao Fuxing and walk to the north entrance of the market. The market opens at 09:00 on Saturday and Sunday only.
Walk towards Yongkang Street and visit some of the many cafes, restaurants and gift shops here. Maybe get a table at the original Din Tai Fung branch (there’s now another branch just across the road too).
Walk further west to the Chiang-Kai Shek Memorial Hall. Visit the museum and art galleries at the base of the Memorial Hall, the Performance Halls and the gardens and trails here. See both the flag raising and the changing of guard ceremonies (see Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall post for times).
After this, I would recommend trying some delicious local food at Jin Feng Braised Pork Rice, which is right next door.
Itineraries for the Sightseeing Bus
Taipei’s Sightseeing buses are an excellent way to see many of the top attractions in the city without needing to expend too much energy.
To make full use of a 24 hour pass, I’ve devised the following tour.
Start your tour during the late afternoon. This way, you’ll be able to take full advantage of it – use the blue route only during this day. This route travels anticlockwise around central Taipei, and stops off at the following places in this order:
- Chiang-Kai Shek Memorial Hall
- Yongkang Street
- Taipei 101 (including the Xinyi Shopping district)
- Sun Yat-Sun Memorial Hall
- Huashan 1914 Creative Park & Taipei Technology District
- Ximending (where you can enjoy the remainder of the evening)
On the next morning, take the red bus north to
- Fine Arts Museum (Confucious & Baoan Temples located in this area too)
- The Grand Hotel
- Chiang-Kai Shek Shilin Residence
- National Palace Museum
Aim to get to the museum around 2-3 hours before you pass expires, and then make Shilin Night Market your final stop, where you can easily take the MRT back to the city afterwards. The market opens at 16:00 and closed at midnight. I have a post that will help you find all of the Michelin Bib Gourmand food stalls here (and all the other night markets too).
Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall / Songshan Cultural and Creative Park / Xinyi Shopping District / Taipei 101
Take the MRT to the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall in the morning, and stroll around the beautiful gardens here, where it’s also one of the best places in Taipei to get some snaps of the iconic Taipei 101.
Venture inside the hall about 10 minutes before the hour, so you can get a good spot to watch the fantastic change-of-guard ceremony in the main hall.
Visit some of the art galleries, especially the Chungshan National Gallery, and check out the museum about Dr Sun’s life and legacy.
Once done here, you can cross the road to visit the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, which is Taipei’s design hub and has many cool design shops and usually a few exhibitions. The Eslite building is a great place to grab some lunch. Alternatively, there’s a market held over weekends with some nice craft shops and food stalls.
Head East and cross the road again to enter shopping paradise, with 14 malls and many street performers, especially in the Xiangti Avenue Plaza, where you’ll also find some pop-up events.
You could grab a some cheap food at one of the many food courts in the malls, or visit one of the many restaurants found in the area. This is the best place to visit Din Tai Fung, as there are 3 branches found here (although I would avoid the 101 branch as it’s usually rammed!).
Make your way down to Taipei 101 and visit the observation deck an hour before sunset, to see the city transform from day to night (make sure you book tickets for this in advance!)
Optional Extra: Visit Linjiang Street Night Market just south of Taipei 101 to experience one of the less touristic night markets (but also one of the best)
Xinbeitou / Danshui
Both these beautiful districts are found in the northern part of New Taipei City, and are accessible by the MRT system, or if you’re feeling more energetic, there is a cycling route that will take you from Beitou to Danshui.
You can take the MRT from Taipei Main Station to the Beitou station, and change here to take the short trip to Xinbeitou. From here, you can take a dip in one of the hot springs (ensure you bring suitable swimwear), enjoy one of the foot spas, or alternatively try one of the more luxurious offerings at a spa hotel.
After returning to Beitou, you could either take the MRT to Danshui, or you could rent a YouBike and cycle up the path that leads all the way to Danshui (make sure you stop off at the Guandu Nature Park or the Mangrove Forest along the way).
Danshui has a great riverside walk, with cafes, food stalls, restaurants that stretch for over a kilometer.
You also have the option of visiting the museums at Fort San Domingo, or taking one of the ferries to either Bali, or Fisherman’s Wharf to walk over Lover’s Bridge and ascend Lover’s Tower.
Make sure you witness the sunset in Danshui. It’s one of the most beautiful I’ve seen anywhere! You could also visit one of the best restaurants in Taipei, the stunning riverside Italian La Villa Danshui.
Days Trips from Taipei
Taiwan is blessed with many beautiful scenic locations, some of which are located less than an hour or two away by coach.
There are some excellent guided coach trips that will take you to a few quaint townships and areas of natural beauty, including the stunning township of Jiufen (inspiration for the Studio Gibli film Spirited Away), Yangmingshan National Park, and the Thousand Island Lake & Pinglin Tea Plantation.
Astronomical Museum / Science Education Center / Amusement Park / Shilin Night Market
The Shilin district of Taipei is home to not only the largest night market in Taiwan, but also has a number of other attractions suitable for children.
The Astronomical Museum is easily the best museum in Taipei for children, with 3 floors packed with interactive exhibits, an IMAX screen showing science-related films, a Cosmic Adventure ride, and of course a telescope.
Just over the road from this is the Science Education Center, another fantastic place to take younger children, which includes several floors full of fun educational games, a sky-ride bike for the brave ones, and three theatres including an earthquake simulator. There’s also a large dinosaur-themed restaurant should you become peckish.
Just another 5 minute walk from here is the Taipei Children’s Amusement Park. It’s certainly no Disneyland, but it has some nice rides and its quite cheap (free on Saturday evenings).
If you still have time (and energy), you could walk (or taxi) to the Shilin Night Market, and even try the rather unique Modern Toilet restaurant within the market, which is guaranteed to keep your kids amused!