Address: Gulou District
Price: Free enter for the outside, inner side 20 Yuan/ticket
Close to the city center and featuring 368 hectares of water and 104 hectares of land, Xuanwu Lake Park is a favourite getaway for locals. Well before the sunrise and even after sunset, the park is bustling with visitors. Some come to walk, jog, or fly kites, others to practice Tai Chi, and many more just want to enjoy the scenery
To the east of Xuanwu Lake is Purple Mountain, to the north is Nanjing Train Station, and to the west and south Nanjing’s skyscrapers stretch high above the City Wall that was built during the Ming Dynasty. Paved paths circle the entire perimeter of the lake and several forested islands within the lake that are linked by causeways.
The best time to visit Xuanwu Lake Park is during May and June. By visiting the park in late Spring, Nanjing city will not have the opportunity to show you why it is famed as one of the three furnaces of China.
Taking a walk along the edge of Xuanwu Lake is an activity in itself, but if you seek something more specific read on.
For the serious jogger, Xuanwu Lake is a suitable place to jog year round. There are still a few cars on the road, but compared with the busy city streets, it is far superior and safer. The roads and street lamps were upgraded in 2006, so the park is an excellent place to jog after sunset.
During the summer, the best times to go for exercise are in the early morning and late evening, because that is when temperatures are the coolest. In fact, in the middle of the summer the morning is noticeably cooler than the evening.
Four person paddle boats cost 25 yuan per hour and require a 50 yuan deposit. Paddle boats can be rented to the east and west of Nanjing Train Station or to the north of the Xuanwu Gate.
Walk, Relax, Etc.
Xuanwu Lake Park is a popular place to take a romantic walk. In the evening Chinese couples fill up the benches overlooking Xuanwu Lake. Some more adventurous couples park their cars (which include tinted windows, wink, wink) or set up tents.
The roads along Xuanwu Lake form the ideal setting for a ride around Nanjing. Unfortunately it seems that cycling is not allowed as the guards often try to prevent people from taking bicycles within the park. However, if a visitor is persistent, makes an excuse, or enters through a nearby gate, the guards usually let it slide.
The entire northeast side of the lake is not actually part of the park. This means that there is no gate to go through if you just want to bike in that area, but it also means that if you want to bike around the entire lake, you may be hassled by guards twice (once to enter and once to re-enter).
The Inner Isles of Xuanwu Lake
Inside Xuanwu Lake are 5 isles that are suitable for a scenic walk and contain many small tourist attractions such as Lama Temple, small amusement park rides and the "Temple of Xuanwu Lake God."
How to Get There
Xuanwu Lake takes up a very large area and there are several places from which to enter the park. Here’s a list of the busier entrances in clockwise order.
Xuanwu Gate (Xuanwu Men, 玄武门) is next to the Xuanwu Gate subway station at the intersection of Hunan Lu (湖南路) and Central Road (Zhonyang Lu, 中央路). From the subway station, the park entrance is just a three minute walk east, passing by the convention center (南京市规划建设展览馆). Xuanwu Gate’s appearance is also the biggest and most impressive.
North and East Sides
The official park does not stretch around the north and east edges of the lake. Still, there are several other places that allow you to reach the edge of the lake including Nanjing Train Station and Lovers Garden. The southeast corner features Taiping Gate while Peace Gate is just to the west of Nanjing Station. Neither gate’s appearance is particularly significant.
Jiefang Men (解放门) is a couple blocks North of Beijing Dong Lu (北京东路) and the municipal government building. You can get to the top of the city wall from this gate.
Photos from Xuanwu Lake Park