Intro to Qingdao
We visited Qingdao quite unintentionally, but it turned out to be a great stop. Located at the southern tip of the Shandong peninsula, this charming port city has a different feel than any other place we visited in China. From 1897 to 1914, Germany administered Qingdao as a concession, and made a lasting impression. Their influence is seen in the old, European architecture, cobblestone streets in some areas and tree-lined avenues. Known for more than just beer in a bag, Qingdao offers scenic seaside walks, tasty seafood, Yellow Sea beaches and a relaxed atmosphere.
Qingdao Beer Street
Everyone has heard of the ubiquitous Tsingtao Chinese beer. Well guess what? This is its home. Qingdao is just another spelling. The very first brewery in China was opened here in 1903 after the Germans invaded and set up camp in the late 1800s. Grab a brew on Beer Street, located on Dengzhou Road in the southwestern part of the city, near the Old Tsingtao Brewery. There are over 60 bars and restaurants to choose from. The beer we enjoyed most (and a stlye otherwise very hard to find in China) was the Tsingtao Dark Beer. The street itself is fun too! Everything from manhole covers to benches to trash cans have a beer theme. Qingdao Beer Museum opened in 2003 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Tsingtao Beer. A visit here takes an hour or so. The Qingdao International Beer Festival is held in town annually.
Looking for a taste from the sea? We had a bit of a challenge ordering the night we arrived, but subsequent days were filled with fish, shellfish, prawns, conch and even some pretty tasty seaweed! There are plenty of restaurants to choose from along the shore. Many have outdoor seating and big tanks from which to pick your meal. Popular flavors in Shandong cuisine are garlic, shallots and soy sauce. Check out these 10 Local Dishes from eChinacities. Here are some of our local favorites.
Yingzhou Bayu (a snack made with mackerel)
Steamed Oysters from Hongdao Island
Seafood or Prawn Noodle Soup
Sea Cucumbers Stewed with Shallots
Seaside Sightseeing Pathway
The Qingdao seaside promenade runs for about 40 kilometers along the shore from Tuandao to ShiLaoRen Beach. It connects many of the top tourist attractions, including Zhanqiao Pier, Underwater World, Xiaoyushan Park, Badaguan European quarter, May 4th (Wusi) Square, the Olympic Sailing Center and several beaches, like one of our favorites, Old Stone Man Beach, ShiLaoRen (石老人浴场). The beaches themselves didn’t look overly appealing to us for swimming, with brown sand and way too many people. They are a super popular place for pre-wedding photos though, and watching the parade of young couples in tuxes and wedding dresses is not to be missed. We even saw a couple with a real, white pony as a prop. There are informational signs along the way to orient tourists and give a bit more detail about what you’re seeing!
Badaguan (Eight Great Passes)
Many of the mansions in the Badaguan neighborhood were built during the German occupation. Walk along the wide, tree-lined streets and enjoy the views. There are a total of ten streets, each lined with one, specific type of tree. In addition to the Bavarian style, there are classical French, Russian, Dutch, English and other Western-style villas. Also in this neighborhood are two lovely churches. St. Michael’s Catholic cathedral features twin spires, and was designed in the Neo-romanesque style by German architect Alfred Fräbel. The church was completed in 1934. The nearby protestant church features a 100-foot clock tower, yellow walls and a red-tiled roof. It was built in 1910 in the Art-Nouveau style.