CITY GUIDE: The sights, the food and the history of Shanghai

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CITY GUIDE: The sights, the food and the history of Shanghai

Here's everything you need to know about Shanghai - the newest city on the Formula E calendar.

Shanghai skyline

The FIA Formula E Championship is back in China for the first time since 2016, setting up in vibrant Shanghai. As the teams gear up for a thrilling double header race weekend, here’s our introduction to a world city with an electric feel.

Much more than a fishing village

Shanghai has come a long way since its fishing village beginnings. Thanks to its perfect position as a trading port, the city steadily grew in importance, redeveloping after the Cold War to become one of Asia’s biggest financial hubs – symbolised by the bright lights of financial district Lujiazui. The city’s population now borders on 30 million, while its urban area adds another 10 million to the total. Unsurprisingly, then, Shanghai is a major economic player, with its GDP expected to reach $1.5 trillion in 2035.

Bund skyline Shanghai

Back to its beginnings

Ten years after Formula E was first introduced to the world on the streets of Beijing, and four years since China was on the race schedule, the championship is making its debut in Shanghai with a double-header race weekend. Formula E is no stranger to this part of the world, having also raced in Sanya and Hong Kong, and three drivers who took part in the first race are on the Season 10 grid (Lucas di Grassi, Sebastien Buemi and Sam Bird).

READ MORE: Formula E's first ever winner on Beijing debut victory a decade ago

Alberto Longo, Co-Founder and Chief Championship Officer, Formula E, said: “It is a special honour for Formula E to return to China for the first time since Season 5, especially to an iconic city such as Shanghai. The 2024 Shanghai E-Prix is the perfect way to celebrate 10 years as the first all-electric motorsport."


Local roots

Like the country itself, China’s ERT Formula E Team has been a part of the championship since Season 1 (albeit under a range of different names) and after the 2024 Misano E-Prix served them up their best finish in six years, ERT drivers Dan Ticktum and Sergio Sette Camara will be looking to impress on their team’s home soil.

Riverbank views

There are few city silhouettes that can outdo Shanghai’s, particularly from the city’s world-famous Bund. The mile-long promenade on the Zhongshan Road lines the bank of the Huangpu River, cutting through central Shanghai, and offers nighttime views of Lujianzui, one of the most electric cityscapes in the world.

While the after-dark show is stunning enough, during the day, the Bund is an historical destination in its own right, providing some of the city’s best restaurants and a snapshot of Shanghai’s early 20th Century European influences through its eclectic mix of architecture, including baroque, gothic, art deco, neoclassical and romanesque designs.

The bund

Happy shopping

Move over, Oxford Street and Champs-Élysées: Shanghai is home to the longest shopping district in the world. The 5.5km-long Nanjing road combines the city’s original affluent shopping area with a newer road, meeting at the Shanghai Race Club. Old and new intermingle along Nanjing, from traditional shops selling jade and silk, to high-fashion outlets.

The original eastern end is connected to the Bund, and was traditionally known for its European-style cafés and restaurants. Walking west, Shanghai’s biggest department stores come into view, interspersed with local food stops, luxury stores and five-star hotels.

Sweet cuisine

An international city is bound to have some good food, and Shanghai is no different. Shanghai’s cuisine, also known as Hu Cuisine, developed alongside the city’s unique mix of regional Wuyue and western-embracing Haipai cultures. Characteristically sweet and centred on soy sauce, Hu is the youngest of the 10 major cuisines in China - although still has a history dating back more than 400 years.


One of the city’s most popular treats is the xiao long bao, a steamed bun prepared in bamboo baskets. The bao has become synonymous with Shanghai ever since the first Din Tai Fung restaurant opened in 1958 and became a global chain, extolling the virtues of the small but mighty soup-filled steamed buns. The traditional filling is pork, but thanks to Shanghai’s coastal life, expect to experience plenty of seafood creations during a gastronomic trip through the city.

Electric pace

You’ll get an immediate sense of why Shanghai is the perfect place to host Formula E as soon as you step outside the airport. Running between Pudong International and Longyang Road Station, the Shanghai Transrapid is the world’s fastest commercial electric train. The maglev-driven transportation can reach 430km/h, meaning the 30km journey between the airport and downtown Pudong takes just over eight minutes. Now that’s what we call electric pace.


The track

Formula E’s newest home in China is the Shanghai International Circuit, designed to resemble the Mandarin character ‘Shang’ (meaning ‘superior) from above. While it’s the same venue that’s welcomed Formula 1 racing to the city, a 3.051km, 12-turn tweak of the traditional Grand Prix circuit enables more laps, and its wide track and extra-long start-finish straight offer plenty of opportunities for overtaking – making it the perfect place to showcase Formula E’s unique brand of racing.

“This weekend’s event in Shanghai is going to be challenging for everyone,” said Tommaso Volpe, the Managing Director and Team Principal of the Nissan Formula E Team. “It’s a new venue for Formula E, so it’s going to be about who adapts and learns the quickest.”