Abstract Metastasis is a major contributor to cancer-associated deaths. It involves complex interactions between primary tumorigenic sites and future metastatic sites. Accumulation studies have revealed that tumour metastasis is not a disorderly spontaneous incident but the climax of a series of sequential and dynamic events including the development of a pre-metastatic niche (PMN) suitable for a subpopulation of tumour cells to colonize and develop into metastases. A deep understanding of the formation, characteristics and function of the PMN is required for developing new therapeutic strategies to treat tumour patients. It is rapidly becoming evident that therapies targeting PMN may be successful in averting tumour metastasis at an early stage. This review highlights the key components and main characteristics of the PMN and describes potential therapeutic strategies, providing a promising foundation for future studies.