Located in northwest Beijing, 798 Art Zone occupies a decommissioned military factory from the 1950s that now houses an edgy artistic community. The Communist-era factories and warehouses of the complex have all been converted into galleries, studios, boutique shops and cafes whose modern and sometimes whimsical contents sit in stark contrast to the austere Bauhaus architecture.
Give yourself at least half a day to explore the 798 Art Zone. Start with the eclectic collection of sculptures, photographs and paintings at the Long March Space, one of the best collections in the area. Other notable galleries include the Chinese Contemporary with its politically minded collection, the 798 Photo Gallery and 798 Space, one of the largest galleries in the area.
Read up on art history at the well-stocked Time Zone 8 bookstore before stopping in at one of the cafes and restaurants in the district for lunch or a cup of coffee. If possible, time your visit to the 798 Art Festival in spring or the 798 Creative Art Festival in fall.