Xigang District (西岗区; Xīgǎngqū), the smallest of Dalian's four districts, takes up the western half of the city centre and is the home of most of the city government. As with government districts in most cities there is not a huge amount for tourists to do in the central part of Xigang aside from gawking at the centres of power, though the stadium, and the nearby bar area, do provide alternative attractions. The southern half of the district offers more for visitors, with the forest zoo for panda watchers and Fujiazhuang beach for sun lovers. Bargain hunters may find a trip to the central market rewarding, provided their haggling skills are up to scratch.
For those arriving by air, all three airport buses stop in central Xigang. The express shuttle stops at the municipal government (just north of People's Square), bus 701 stops at the stadium, while bus 710 stops at People's Square. Those arriving at the central train station, meanwhile, can catch bus 16 or 22 to People's Square and the stadium. Those arriving by boat, bus 16 also stops just in front of the passenger ferry terminal.
Getting around in the central part of the district is little trouble given that most of the areas of interest are clustered around People's Square and the Stadium which are no more than 10 minutes walk from one another. To get to the central market catch bus 16 or 22 from the stadium or People's Square to Qingniwaqiao, head to the railway station and walk through the pedestrian tunnel on the left hand side. The Forest Zoo can be reached by catching bus 4 (terminating at Tiger Beach) from the stadium. To get to Fujiazhuang Beach head to Qingniwaqiao then take bus 5.
- Russian Street (俄羅斯風情街 Éluósī Chuíqíngjiē), Across Shengli Bridge, NE of train station. One of the few places it's still possible to get a glimpse of Dalian's colonial past. Most of the old Russian and Japanese buildings were razed in the many bursts of redevelopment the city has seen over the years, but the old architecture is "preserved" in the sense many of the buildings along the road are actually modern facsimiles of old Russian buildings rather than the genuine article. The old buildings that do remain are worth examining, however, and more genuine examples lie along the side roads to the east of the main street. Stalls and shops along the road sell various trinkets and souvenirs (no affiliation with Russia other than some wooden dolls) but the same items can generally be found for much less elsewhere in the city. A similar Japanese Street exists in the south of the city center, near the Children's Park, but it is almost wholly fake, with empty shells of buildings lining the road. Those interested in real examples of Japanese houses would be better served exploring the area around Gaoerji Lu to the south of People's Square, although much of what exists is in shambles.
- Dalian Art Gallery (southern tip of Russian Street), ☎ +86 411 8254-0584. 09:00-16:00. In a spectacular old Russian building dating from 1910, the gallery contains a varied and changing selection of works from local artists, ranging from traditional Chinese styles to works of modern art. The gallery also periodically hosts touring shows from prominent artists both Chinese and foreign.
- People's Square (人民广场 Rénmín Guǎngchǎng). The other main square in the center of Dalian, where the seat municipal government buildings are housed, some in old Russian-style. Like Zhongshan Square, it is may interested some for the architecture alone, but this one has a much larger grassy area where kite flyers and fountains can be viewed (actually setting on the grass is frowned upon so don't expect to be able to throw a frisbee). The best time to see the fountain is probably during the evening show (8PM) when it is illuminated and elders join in dancing.
- Forest Zoo (森林动物园 Sēnlín Dòngwùyuán), 60 Nashidao Jie, ☎ +86 411 8249-5072. 08:00–17:00. A major attraction for Chinese tourists primarily because of its pandas (both red pandas and great pandas live in the zoo), although many other exotic species are also represented. The zoo is essentially split into two parts, with a walking section at the top of the hill and a safari area at the base near Fujiazhuang. The two sections are joined by cable car and a foot path, with the pandas housed in the upper section. While the exhibits and conditions may disappoint some, it has passed numerous international inspections and is of high quality by Chinese standards. The only crowds are schoolchildren on field trips, otherwise it's very quiet. ¥30 walking area, ¥60 walking and safari areas.
- Dalian central market – North of the train station, this is the best place to go for bargains. There are many different halls offering pretty much everything under the sun, but the main hall is the most useful to visitors, with foodstuffs on the ground floor, clothes and bags on the next couple of floors and trinkets and souvenirs on the next floor up. If you are willing to haggle hard, goods can be purchased here for a fraction of the price you would pay elsewhere.
The range of restaurants is nowhere near as comprehensive in Xigang as it is in Zhongshan District, with the only standout example being the Tapas Spanish restaurant near Russian Street. In the more residential areas there's still the usual range of cheap, hole in the wall and mid-range Chinese restaurants, however.
- Tapas, 35-3 Shengli Jie (2-min walk W of Russian Street), ☎ +86 411 8254-9996. Spanish restaurant specializing in tapas and almost exclusively Spanish wine (nearly all by-the-bottle). Paella can be a good value for those on the cheap. Two tables for drinks on 1F viewable from kitchen, six tables or so on 2F geared for dining. A quieter place livened up by Spanish guitar songs periodically throughout the evening. ¥40 tapas, ¥100 main.
- Zihang Fan Dian (紫航饭店) (intersection of Changchun Lu and Huanghe Lu). Fresh seafood, arguably Dalian's finest.
- Brooklyn Bar and Restaurant, 184 Bulao Jie (不老街184号) (5-min walk N of Olympic Sq). Tu-Su 17:30-02:00, closed M. 2F is the main bar area with five tables and 3F has a larger seating area with table tennis table (1F is kitchen). Feature a movie night (Th) and quiz night (Su). Owner/manager is Western and has brought his bartending and kitchen skills for locals and expats to enjoy, featuring pizza and hamburgers with homemade buns. Clean spot with free WiFi. ¥20-90 drink, ¥50 food.
- Noah's Ark Bar (挪亚方舟酒吧; Nuóyàfāngzhōu Jiǔba), Wusi Lu (South side of People's Sq). Good place to go for a relaxing drink, especially in summer when the patio in front is open. The main bar is downstairs, where there's live music and eclectic themed décor with about 10 tables/booths. Owner can not get gruff with customers at times and English level is minimal with staff. Place is perhaps more known for their pizza although more so before Dalian had many places serving it. ¥30.
- Santiago, Bulao Jie (3-min walk N of Olympic Sq). Popular with the locals and those who enjoy live music, mainly vocals with keyboard accompaniment. Very comfortable seats fill up the two floors. Clean. ¥30.
- All's Well, 13 Wuyi Lu (and others), ☎ +86 411 8464-1419. Slightly cheaper coffee (including free refills of the coffee of the day) and all you can eat buffets at dinner time. Sell a lot of baked goods, namely cakes.
- Starbucks, 291 Zhongshan Lu, Tower A Wanda Commercial Sq (N side of Olympic Sq). 07:00-22:00 daily. The only location in the district, with free wi-fi for paying customers. To the dismay of customers, no restroom available but plenty within the attached shopping mall. ¥15-35.
- Huayue Business Hotel, 1 Yingchun Lu, ☎ +86 411 8258-8666. Near the north entrance of the Forest Zoo, you can reach the hotel by taking bus 706 from Zhongshan Lu close to Qingniwa Shopping Area and Victory Square. Rates start from ¥118 for a room in high season.
- Merry Inn International Youth Hostel (美丽客栈国际青年旅舍), A Summer Garden, 133 Bayi Lu 大连市西岗区八一路133号仲夏花园8A号, ☎ +86 411 8247-0837. A short ride out of the center, this is one of the only 'hostel' options in Dalian, and can be a good place to meet other travelers. ¥48 dorm, ¥135 twin.
- Sea Horizon (海天白云大酒店; Hǎitiān Báiyún Dàjiǔdiàn), 81 Binhai Lu, ☎ +86 411 8240-3399. The best thing about the Sea Horizon is undoubtedly its location, on the coast very close to Fujiazhuang Beach and within walking distance of Xinghai Square with some excellent views. Its facilities, lobby bar, seedy nightclub and a few run down tennis courts are nothing to write home about. The hotel does boast a very good restaurant. ¥325-1,355.
- Sweetland Hotel, 171 Changchun Lu (2-min walk SE of Olympic Sq). Rooms are very clean. Very large hotel with a buffet featuring multiple food varieties (food quality is mediocre).
- Wanda International Hotel, 539 Changjiang Lu. This four star hotel offers excellent facilities for both business and pleasure. It has 350 air-conditioned rooms equipped with a cable TV, mini-bar, IDD telephone, refrigerator, and safe.