Visiting a water town is a must when you are in Shanghai. However, the most well-known water towns like Suzhou or Tongli require at least one day for a visit as they are quite far from Shanghai.
If you are in a hurry, a very nice alternative is Zhujiajiao, an ancient water town with a history of more than 1700 years, which is actually the best-preserved among the four ancient town parts of Shanghai. It also has a very inspiring name - it’s called «Pearl Stream». You will find unique old bridges, plenty of lively waterways shaded by old trees, and numerous houses with courtyards and a very interesting architecture in stone, wood or marble.
Everything here is really old - most of the bridges and buildings have been built during Ming and Qing Dynasties, so over a good part of the last millennium - Fangsheng Bridge (Setting-fish-free Bridge), for example, was erected in 1571 and hosts an interesting stone tablet named Dragon Gate Stone, containing 8 coiling dragons with a shining pearl in the middle.
Just an example of what you can find there - if I described everything, I had to write dozens of pages … so in short, Zhujiajiao is the perfect place to dive into ancient China: