There are many places to see in Tokyo and you might feel a little lost as to where to start your trip. So we compiled a two-day-itinerary for exploring the different areas in Tokyo. With this itinerary we covered the most of the must-visit places for first-time travellers to Japan. Including cultural hotpots, hidden gems, stunning scenery and much more. Let’s go!
- Day 1: WEST SIDE OF TOKYO
- Day 2: EAST SIDE OF TOKYO
Day 1: WEST SIDE OF TOKYO
10am : Shibuya crossing
Have you ever seen the picture of Shibuya crossing? It is (one of) the most famous crossing in the world. About half a million people cross here every day and during peak time 2,500 people cross at the same time! You can walk across and see the view of the crossing from one of the many buildings with a view on it. The Starbucks is one of the most popular places to get a nice view of the crossing while enjoying a coffee.
Shibuya crossing is also famous as a location for the movie Lost in Translation. In fact, the crossing is featured in many movies. Maybe you will be part of a movie too!
From Shibuya make your way up to Omotesando. You can either take the Ginza or Hanzomon line for 1 stop or walk for about 20 minutes.
11am : Omotesando
Omotesando is known as one of the foremost ‘architectural showcase’ streets in the world, featuring a multitude of fashion flagship stores within a short distance of each other. Omotesando was originally designed as the front approach to the Meiji shrine. Now it is nicknamed as “Avenue des Champs-Elysées Tokyo”. The street is lined with high end boutiques such as Luis Vuiton and Chanel. If you are interested in art museums, don’t forgot to visit Nezu museum, a famous art museum in Japan.
Walk down Omotesando Avenue lined with Zelkova trees, decorated beautifully with Christmas lights in december, but also do not forgot al the nice back alleys located in the neighbourhood. There are several cute coffee shops and (local) designer stores to be found in this area. South of Omotesando Avenue you can find cat street, a hip area with many shops, that not accessible for cars. Continue east until you reach Yoyogi Park and Meiji Shrine.
1pm : Harajuku & Meiji shrine
Harajuku is known as the center of Japanese ‘Kawaii’ (Japanese for cute) culture and fashion. Here you can find many shops selling the Harajuku girls fashion, thrift shops selling Western clothing, art galleries and much more. Spend some time walking down the streets and don’t forgot the back alleys, you will be surprised what you can find there too!
Across the trains tracks, next to Yoyogi park, the famous Meiji shrine can be visited. Enjoy the interesting contrast of this quiet place in the middle of the worlds largest city and sacred atmosphere in Meiji shrine. In the weekend, you can some witness Japanese style wedding ceremony at the shrine!
When the sun is out, you will see many people enjoying the nice weather while doing sports, reading a book on a blanket or hanging in the park with friends!
If you are looking for some spots in and around Tokyo where you can enjoy nature , please read our blog 10 nature spots in Tokyo!
3pm : Shinjuku
Shinjuku is known as large entertainment, business and shopping area. Shinjuku station is the world’s busiest station, with about 3.5 million passengers transiting here every day. The station also has some 200 exits, a real maze!
In this district you can also find the famous Golden Gai, a large collection of (really) small bars and restaurants in different alleys. Another to go to place it Shinjuku Gyoen park located at eastern part of Shinjuku station. The park is famous for its Japanese and English gardens.
When you would like to see Tokyo at great height, we recommend you visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. You can access the observation deck on the 45th floors, from which you can see as far as Mt. Fuji on sunny days.
5pm : Watch the show at the Robot Restaurant
Robot Restaurant is very famous entertainment show for foreign tourists. Even though the name of this place is Robot Restaurant, it really is more one spectacular show. It is definitely something you have never experienced before. High-tech laser displays, multi-coloured lights, flash dancers, glittering robots make for a crazy (good) night out. As the name implies it is a restaurants thus you can have dinner there, but our recommendation is you watch the show and have dinner elsewhere.
7pm : Dinner at an Izakaya
What type of Japanese food comes to your mind? Tempura, Ramen, Yakitori… There are so many different local things to try! We recommend you visit a local izakaya and immerse yourself in the Japanese culture in the bustling area of Kabukicho. Or when you want to enjoy Japanese food and night as local, join our bar hopping tour!
Day 2: EAST SIDE OF TOKYO
9am : Enjoy a sushi breakfast at Tsukiji Market
Start your day early at Tsukiji fish market, also known as The Kitchen of Tokyo. In 2018, a large part of the market (the inner market, or the wholesale market), was relocated to Toyosu. But presently, the outer market can still be visited. Tsukiji Market is one of the biggest fish markets in Japan. But it is not only a fish market, you can also buy fresh vegetables, Japanese sweets and some kitchen equipments here. There are about 400 stores in the outer market and you will see many interesting ingredients and food while walking around. Learn about Japanese cuisine while walking in the narrow streets of Tsukiji Market with a local guide. For more information, check the link below!
Tip: As the fish is delivered fresh daily from Toyosu Market, it is one of the best places to enjoy some sushi!
11am : Hamarikyu Garden
In Tokyo is a real concrete jungle, but when you know where to go, you can also find beautiful, peaceful green parks and gardens. One of these places is Hamarikyu Garden, one of the most famous gardens of Tokyo. The gardens are located next to Tsukiji market, hence its great to combine a visit to these places. In the garden, follow the signs for Fujimiyama Hill. The ‘top’ of the hills provides a great view of Tokyo where the contrast between present and old days is portrayed in an awesome way!
12.30pm : Tokyo station
Tokyo station is one of the most impressive stations in Japan. Its architecture, which is red-brick style, is really historical, magnificent and beautiful. In the area around the station you can spot similar buildings, with the same architectural style. The Marunouchi area is known as a business district, with many skyscrapers that offer a large variety of shops and restaurants on their lower floors.
In the weeks before Christmas, the decorative lights lit up the area stunningly, giving the area a special festive atmosphere!
1pm : Asakusa
Asakusa is another famous sight seeing spot in Tokyo. Asakusa (浅草) is the center of Tokyo’s shitamachi (old town), where an atmosphere of the Tokyo of past decades survives. Asakusa was developed around the Sensoji temple, Tokyo’s oldest temple which was founded by legend in 628. The temple ground is always jam-packed with both Japanese and non-Japanese tourists. We recommend you get your fortune by buying an Omikuji (fortune telling paper) for ¥100. This is a part of fun! Also, stroll down the main streets of Asakusa and try some of the many traditional snacks.
Read more about this area at our blog 1 day itinerary in Asakusa.
3pm : Odaiba
From Asakusa you can take a boat to Odaiba, located Tokyo bay area, honestly it feels like time travelling. The difference between Asakusa (old town) and Odaiba (modern) is clearly visible! Odaiba is also a very famous dating spots for Japanese youngsters. You can enjoy the romantic twinkling views of Tokyo from the island, one of the best views of Tokyo, especially at night. There are several shopping complexes where you can enjoy shopping and dining. Read all about Odaiba in our blog Escape to Odaiba.
This itinerary covers the different faces of Tokyo, showing you nature and culture, historical places and modern architecture, hidden gems and the most popular tourist spots. When you are interested in learning more about the history, culture and fun facts of Tokyo, consider joining a guided tour. We offer many different tours and can also customise your trip to enjoy both modern cityscape and nature in Tokyo in one day.
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