The Great Wall of China is the longest wall in the world and draws in around 10 million visitors every year.

So when’s the best time to go?

Check out the brief answer below, or read the whole article for all the details.

I’d love to share my experiences in China with you!

When’s the best time to visit the Great Wall of China?

The best time to visit is in spring, so between March and May.

However, I suggest you go earlier in spring to avoid the heat.

Traveling to the Great Wall in spring means you get to enjoy mild temperatures with cooling breezes, flourishing landscapes, and slightly fewer crowds than the summer peak.

If you’d like more information and more specific recommendations, then keep reading.

What to consider before traveling

The Great Wall of China is one of the most popular landmarks in the world and I absolutely recommend that you see it while you’re in the country.

But as I learned, you’ll have a much better experience if you keep a few things in mind before you plan your Great Wall tour.

The first time I went to the Great Wall, I didn’t really plan it well. To be honest, my time on the wall was hot, crowded, and underwhelming.

My second time was much better (thanks to my planning!) and the wall was everything that I hoped it would be.

apps banned in chinaapps banned in china

So, keeping in mind my experience, here’s what I think you should consider before visiting the Great Wall of China:

  • The weather, because there’s nothing worse than climbing brick walls in scalding heat and it can be dangerous in the rain
  • Which sections of the Great Wall you go to, because there are quieter sections that see fewer tourists
  • The season, because everything looks better colored by the red leaves of autumn or the verdant green of spring
  • Public holidays, because you’ll be competing with Chinese tourists for the best spots
  • The time of day, because certain parts of the wall look best at certain times of day
  • The peak tourist season, which runs from July to August (i.e. summer break)

That being said, the wall is always amazing, so if you only have one time to visit it, then don’t miss out just because of the heat or the crowds.

But I still have to say that I don’t think it’s a good idea to visit the Great Wall in the summer months.

This is Beijing’s peak tourist season, so everywhere you go will be crushingly crowded, and it’s also unbearably hot and humid.

You just can’t really enjoy any sightseeing with that mix.

When to travel to the Great Wall of China

So, ready for some specifics on the best sections of the Great Wall at certain times of year?

Here’s where I recommend you go and when:

September

Average temperature range: 15°C (59°F) to 27°C (80°F)

September is the start of autumn in China, which I think is the best season for any sightseeing.

In the autumn months, the weather is just starting to turn cool, and the leaves are taking on their autumn colors. The Badaling section and Mutianyu section of the Great Wall are amazing at this time of year, as they offer stunning views over the surrounding landscape.

apps banned in chinaapps banned in china

One reservation I have about this time is Mid-Autumn Festival. This is one of the most popular national Chinese holidays and is held on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar.

Basically, this means it falls somewhere between mid-September and early October in the Gregorian calendar. The Great Wall will be packed with visitors during this holiday, even at the quieter sections.

March

Average temperature range: 0°C (32°F) to 13°C (56°F)

If you’re planning to visit anywhere with natural views in China, then I always recommend spring.

And March and April, as the first months of spring in China, are perfect times to visit the Great Wall.

At this time of year, you’ll enjoy comfortable temperatures with cooling breezes, making it the ideal time for a hike at the Jiankou Great Wall (there’s more on the different sections further down).

If you prefer an easier visit, then head to the popular, less dangerous sections of Simatai or Jinshanling Great Wall.

June

Average temperature range: 19°C (66°F) to 31°C (88°F)

To be honest, I never recommend heading anywhere in Asia in summer unless you’re really used to the heat and carrying lots of sun cream.

But if you have to travel to China in the summer and want to see the wall while you’re there, then try to make your trip early in June.

June is the start of the summer season, which means that Beijing’s trademark sunny humidity won’t be as intense, though you’ll still have to battle the large crowds.

You can also choose to visit the wall at night when it’s cooler. The Simatai section is the only section of the wall that’s open after dark and it’s also close to the relative tranquility and peace of Gubei Water Town.

You could also head to the Huanghuacheng Great Wall section in the summer months, as it’s close to the cooling effects of a nearby lake.

November

Average temperature range: -1°C (30°F) to 10°C (50°F)

If you prefer cooler weather, then why not visit the Great Wall in early November?

The weather at this time in Beijing and its surrounds is heading quickly towards winter, but if you go early enough in November, you should enjoy lower prices on accommodation as well as lots of clear days.

The milder weather, not too hot or too cold, makes it a great time to go hiking along the wall as well.

December

Average temperature range: -7°C (19°F) to 4°C (39°F)

This is going to be an unpopular nomination, but I stand by it.

I hate the cold and try never to travel in the Chinese winter, but if you are in Beijing in the winter months, then December is a good time to visit the Great Wall. The tourists drop off (due to the cold) yet it’s not as freezing as January or February.

And if there’s snow, seeing that incredible construction and the surrounding landscape covered in white is absolutely spectacular. You’ll also get to enjoy the views with almost no other tourists around, which is a rarity in China.

apps banned in chinaapps banned in china

Just make sure you head to the Badaling Section, which has a cable car and other amenities that will give you some options in case it gets too cold.

It might also be a good idea to go with a tour guide for the extra support.

Don’t like crowds?

If you’re like me and want to avoid crowds in China, I’m sorry to say that practically every Chinese tourist attraction will be busy no matter when you go. It’s a country of over a billion people!

But there are a few windows of time where you can have more of the wall to yourself:

  • First two weeks of September: all the kids have just gone back to school and families are less likely to go sightseeing at the start of the new term
  • Middle of winter: the coldest months in China are January and early February, and the threat of snowstorms puts off would-be travelers (just bring a super warm jacket).

I hope this helps a bit.

The best time to climb the Great Wall of China: the takeaway

You can visit the Great Wall of China at any time of course.

This wall is a historical and architectural marvel that was built and destroyed and rebuilt over thousands of years. You just can’t go wrong with that kind of history.

But as I learned during my first trip, you can have a trip to the wall that’s sweaty, crowded, noisy, and so thronged with tourists that you can’t take a single good photo.

And I don’t want that for you, so consider my tips on the best time to visit before you make plans to go.

If you’re going for the first time, I recommend you go in spring for near-perfect weather and lush greenery.

Looking for something less touristy? Mike raves about the northwest desert city of Yinchuan. You can check out all the things to do in Yinchuan here. There are even ruins of the wall nearby!

More helpful articles about the best time to travel:

Credits: Main image by Javen on Shutterstock. Average temperature data from Climates To Travel.

About the Great Wall of China

Unsure why the Great Wall of China is so amazing? Then you need to know a little about it.

China’s wall was built to repel invaders from the north and stretches over 13,171 miles (21,196 kilometers) along the northern borders of ancient Chinese states and Imperial China.

It starts in Shanhaiguan in Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, and ends at Jiayuguan in Gansu province in the west.

The wall was first joined together in 220 BC when earlier fortifications were connected under the Chinese emperor of the time, Qin Shi Huang. At the time, the wall was meant to repel invasions from the north and was a significant part of China’s military might.

But construction on the wall didn’t end there. Instead, it continued until the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), which is when the Great Wall became the world’s largest military structure.

Today, the wall is less about the military application and more about the architecture and the history, which is why it’s a World Heritage Site that you absolutely must see.

As awesome as the wall is, I’m afraid to say that the story about the wall being visible from space is unfortunately untrue.

Where to go – the various sections

Although most people talk about the Great Wall of China as one long, unbroken wall, this doesn’t mean that you can see it all during your trip.

The wall is huge, and certain segments are crumbled, while others are hard to get to and still others are located in areas that are steep and dangerous.

Fortunately, there are several sections of the wall that are popular among travelers. Here are some of the sections that I recommend you visit to have a great time:

  • Badaling, which is one of the most popular parts of the wall as it’s close to Beijing, well restored, and always looks amazing
  • Mutianyu, another popular section that’s child friendly and well restored, with lots to see and do
  • Huanghuacheng, which offers amazing natural scenery in autumn in particular as well as a partially submerged section of wall
  • Jinshanling, which is part of a popular hiking route and will demand at least a day’s commitment from you
  • Jiankou section, which is steep, dangerous, and wild, and should never be visited when it’s snowing, rainy or windy
  • Juyongguan, which is the closest section to Beijing and boasts a wall fort
  • Simatai, which you should visit at night

No matter which Great Wall sections you visit, or even the time of the year, you can proudly tell your friends that you’ve visited one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. I’m envious already!

FAQ about the best time to visit Great Wall of China

When is the worst time to visit the Great Wall of China?

Summer holidays (June to August) and national holidays are the times you’d want to avoid.

How much time do you need to see the Great Wall of China?

I’d allow a full day including return transport from downtown Beijing.

What else can you do in and around Beijing?

You’ll be spoiled for choice – there’s the Forbidden City, hutongs (alleyways), Tiananmen Square, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, and so much more. These attractions are also more enjoyable in spring and fall.