Start just north of the Forbidden City at Jingshan Park. From here you can walk several blocks west to the south gate of Beihai Park, which is beautiful in August's lotus season. Exit at the north gate. After crossing Di'anmen Xidajie, you'll arrive at Qianhai, or "front lake."

Walk on the right, or east, side of the lake for about 10 minutes until you reach the famous Ming Dynasty Silver Ingot Bridge. Take a side trip to the Bell Tower, which is a short walk northeast of the bridge (and which straddles the border with the Dongcheng District). To get here, head down Yandai Xiejie, turn left at the end and you'll see the tower. Directly behind it is the Drum Tower. Return to the Silver Ingot Bridge and follow the lake's northern shore until you arrive at Soong Ching-ling's Former Residence. Next, walk or take a short cab ride to Prince Gong's Palace behind the opposite side of the lake, to see how imperial relatives once lived. An alternative to those lavish interiors is the Museum of Antique Currency, where you can feast your eyes on rare Chinese coins.