Tokyo has been in the limelight for years, attracting millions of travelers around the world annually! Honestly, it’s easy to see why everyone enjoys this innovative, dynamic and highly advanced city
Every part of this city is alive with vigor, eye-catching art, ancient culture, knowledge, and memories of a lifetime waiting to be made! In Tokyo you are stepping into a somewhat ‘modern wonderland where giant robots sit beside ancient temples’. There are places in Tokyo that will astound you, enchant you and make you want to return again and again.
We have put together the best 3-day Tokyo itinerary, covering all of the must-visit sites, not-to-be-missed activities, and day trips that will knock your socks off! Be prepared for the most amazing city slicker adventure of your life! Our travel guide will take the stress off your planning, and help to make sure that you get the most out of your traveling experience of Japan’s most famous city.
Table of Contents
- A Little Bit About this 3-Day Tokyo Itinerary
- Where to Stay in Tokyo
- Tokyo Itinerary Day 1: Ueno and Akihabara
- Tokyo Itinerary Day 2: Ginza and Roppongi
- Tokyo Itinerary Day 3: Asakusa and Shibuya
- What to Do with More than 3 Days in Tokyo?
- Best Time to Visit Tokyo
- How to Get Around Tokyo
- Planning a Trip to Tokyo – What to Pack and Prepare
- Final Thoughts
Make no mistake: Tokyo is an enormous megalopolis and one of the biggest cities in the world. No matter if you spend 3 days in Tokyo or 3 years, there is no way that you will see everything that it has to offer.
Be that as it may, it is possible to spend your time in Tokyo wisely. With the right itinerary in hand, you’ll be able to get a healthy dose of the city without burning yourself out and losing attention.
We’ve decided to spend three days in Tokyo, though it is definitely possible to spend more time here. If you’re in fact spending more time here and need some more ideas, we’ve included some additional things to do with an extra day after the itinerary sections.
Note that every single map in this itinerary is also CLICKABLE! Click one and you’ll be taken to an interactive map of Tokyo that you can use on your trip should you choose 🙂
3-Day Tokyo Itinerary Overview
Tokyo’s neighborhoods are innovative, modernized and yet still cultured. Mixing the old with the new, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to finding an area that is right for your trip. Knowing where to stay in Tokyo will help make your visit to this awesome city stress-free!
Shibuya is the most popular of Tokyo’s neighborhoods; it is buzzing with life and people going places. You will be forgiven for thinking you’re somehow in New York! Shibuya offers tourists a place to experience the vibrant life of Tokyo’s latest trends and the commercial scene. There are some lovely homestays in Tokyo and a fair few of them are here.
Akasaka is one of the major commercial centers of Tokyo and boasts so many fancy and more luxurious hotels, spas, and restaurants. Most of the best tourist attractions are found here, and you will never be bored when visiting this neighborhood!
Ueno is the cultural center of Tokyo, and full of fabulous concert halls, museums, fine arts, and plenty of traditional temples important to Tokyo’s history. One of the best places in this neighborhood is Ueno Park, were a dazzling number of trees of different varieties, and colors, stand proudly to be admired as you stroll past or sit down for a leisurely picnic.
Best Hostel in Tokyo – Wired Hostel Asakusa
Wired Hostel Asakusa is most definitely one of the coolest hostels in Tokyo, and is perfect for everyone; groups, couples, or single backpackers. There are both penthouse or standard rooms, and even dorm houses that are shared with other enthusiastic travelers, with whom you can exchange memorable stories and enjoy your stay.VIEW ON HOSTELWORLD
Best Airbnb in Tokyo – Stylish Apartment in Roppongi
Take an apartment in Roppongi! Why?
It’s the best neighborhood to stay in Tokyo for nightlife! Go out, wreck yourself, and go home to sleep it off. If you’re lucky enough to bring someone home, you got a sexy pad to sleep it off together.VIEW ON AIRBNB
Best Budget Hotel in Tokyo – Ueno Hotel
If you’re wanting to go easy on your bank balance, then look no further than Ueno Hotel for an affordable stay in a comfortable hotel. The service is excellent, and this hotel is within a 10-minute walking distance of The National Museum of Nature, The Science Museum and The Museum of Western Art.VIEW ON BOOKING.COM
Best Luxury Hotel in Tokyo – Royal Park Hotel
If 5-star accommodation and amazing views are what tickles your fancy, then the Royal Park Hotel in Akasaka, Roppongi, is the way to go. You will have easy access to the Shiodome Stations as well as simply having the extravagant experience of staying in one of Tokyo’s highest rated luxury hotels. The hotel restaurant is prided on their high-class cuisine, they provide spa facilities, and offer luxury lounges to relax in and mingle with other guests.VIEW ON BOOKING.COM
We kick of this Tokyo itinerary by visiting some of the most well-known attractions in the city e.g. Ueno and Shinjuku. It’s going to be a pretty mixed day today featuring both traditional and modern Japanese locations; by the end of it, you’ll be both exhausted and hungry for more!
Built on the former grounds of the Keniji Temple near the center of Tokyo, Ueno Park used to home the wealthiest and biggest family temple that ruled during the Edo Period.
After being destroyed during battle, the grounds have now become the most stunning western-styled park, and a statue of celebrated Samurai Saigo Takamori stands to commemorate the samurai’s that fought in Japans Meiji Restoration of the late 19th century.
The National Museum of Nature and Science is one of the oldest museums in Tokyo, yet despite its age, this world-class institution is completely modern and has some really cool displays! You will be taken on a journey from the beginning of technological advancements in Tokyo (ie the wheel), right up to the very latest in robotics.
There are fascinating and fun interactive displays on space development explaining how our understanding of the universe has grown (ie, we no longer think it is been carried on a giant turtle).
Akihabara is ground-zero for all things otaku! We’re talking anime fanatics, comic book shops, blaring neon lights, and scantily-dressed milkmaids. All the eccentric stuff that people often associate with Tokyo.
Whilst it can feel a little strange walking around Akihabara, you should totally embrace it. This is a unique place to visit in Tokyo and is a great foil to the city’s more traditional areas, which there are many. Jump into an arcade, visit a sex-shop (M’s first), and don’t be weirded about by those maids.
No trip to Tokyo is complete without visiting the perpetually shining Shinjuku district. With endless rows of neon signs, towering skyscrapers, and bustling crowds, this is quintessential Tokyo. It’s the stuff that anime is made of and reminds one immediately of tour-de-forces like Akira or Neon Genesis.
Shinjuku is also where you’ll find some of the best nightlife in Tokyo, including some of the most famous and notorious venues in the city.
This is going to be a looooonnngg day boys and girls. Hope you didn’t have too much fun in Shinjuku last night! Today we’re going to be visiting the legendary Shinjuku fish market plus a few other staples of Tokyo. It’ll be an early morning but also an early evening if you want.
The Tsukiji Market is the biggest wholesale seafood market in the whole world, so you can expect mass crowds with a lot of bustling and bargaining. The fish market was first founded in 1935, so it has been around for quite some time and continues to captivate all food lovers!
If you enjoy fresh and tasty seafood, sushi, and amazing culinary tools, then there is literally nowhere else in the world that could provide you with such an unforgettable and satisfying experience such as the Tsukiji Market.
The National Art Centre has gained a huge reputation for being one of the best art museums in Japan. The museum hosts around 600 modern and ancient fine art paintings with a focus on presenting artwork from the 20th century.
This museum’s signature feature is it’s unique, curved-glass facade. Inside you’ll find exhibitions and paintings dating from 538 AD, ancient calligraphy, authentic samurai swords, and a bunch of national treasures such as the lacquer work from the old Horyu-Ji temple. Showcasing talent, emotion, depth, historical heritage, and unique perspective – this is a true masterpiece of a building and a world-class museum.
If you’re looking for a place to eat after the museum, consider looking around Jingumae neighborhood. It’s about halfway to our next stop and features a lot of cool, funky cafes.
The shrine has become one of Tokyo’s most revered religious shrines, and it has a fascinating history. The shrine of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shken dates all the way back to 1915. The site is 175-acres of lush, old forest trees, with a dazzling amount of different species that will show you the glory of Japan’s indigenous plant life.
Included in this cluster of trees is the mysterious “wishing tree”, which is said to fulfill your deepest desires! Many tourists and locals write their wishes on a piece of paper and hang it onto the branches. If your wish does not come true then sorry, no refunds.
Kabukiza is the very biggest and most renowned theatre in Tokyo and some of the very best traditional shows in all of Japan happen here. A show here is sure to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will leave you walking away feeling thrilled!
Each show is designed to blow your mind with colorful costumes, magical sets, amazing backdrops, vibrant makeup, and incredible performers! The plays capture the essence of Tokyo’s culture in dramatic and humorous ways.
Ginza is a shoppers paradise and a very expensive one at that. The area hosts famous brand stores such as Dior, Louis Vuitton, Channel, Gucci, Armani, Cartier, among others, and the prices here among the highest in the world! There’s really of an endless amount of high-end fashion shops and just looking at the price tags is a show unto itself.
If you’re trying to save money while visiting Japan, there are also plenty of smaller-scale stores with traditional attire, cool clobber, and more affordable stuff. You can even find yourself an authentic Japanese kimono or treat yourself to some organic charcoal-infused beauty products.
We wrap our 3-day Tokyo itinerary by visiting the last of the best. Like most other days, we’re going to get a heavy dose of traditional Japanese cultured followed by some more contemporary attractions towards the end of the day. Today we get to visit Shibuya, which will be the highlight of the trip!
Tokyo’s National Museum is one of the largest and oldest in the country. This enormous museum, conisiting of six buildings and countless exhibitions, is the place to be if you’re at all interested in traditional Japanese culture and history.
There are so many different kinds of artifacts to see here: samurai armor, caligraphy, antiquated buildings, imperial pomp, the list goes on. There are even tea ceremonies organized but they’re a bit less frequent. Visiting here for a few hours will round out our 3-day Tokyo itinerary very nicely. Hell, if you’re REALLY into Japanese history, you could easily spend the entire day here.
Sens-Ji is the largest and the most ancient Buddhist temple in the whole of Tokyo. It attracts locals and international travelers alike and is dedicated to the Bodhisattva of compassion, Guan Yin. There are beautiful shrines for you to admire, such as the Shinto Shrine, the Akasaka Shrine, and even an exquisite 5 story pagoda.
Strolling about this ancient temple will give you goosebumps! This is such a great way to begin your journey into Tokyo because you will have a firsthand experience of one of the most significant spiritual and historical landmarks in the city.
The Tokyo Skytree is one of the most raved about tourist attractions in Japan and is a must-see. It is best experienced in the early evening or night as the enormous 634-meter observation tower sticks out like a multicolored middle finger after sunset.
You can spot it miles away and might think it to be a rocket ship! But no, it is the city’s tallest structure, as well as the tallest free-standing tower in the world. Seeing this magnificent tower is something that must be done when spending a couple of days in Tokyo.
Shinjuku is often considered the beating heart of Tokyo and the most recognizable part of the city. So be it: Shibuya is the rebellious, cooler side of Tokyo! There are so many different neighborhoods and so many different levels of cool here that every type of traveler will find what they are looking for.
Central Shibuya is very similar to Shinjuku in that both are more neon-tinged and are quite busy. Here you’ll also find Shibuya Crossing: another world-famous crosswalk in Tokyo. What Shibuya has going for it though is lots of variety in its neighborhoods.
Tokyo has an endless array of fun activities, scenic getaways, and magical spaces to offer. Here are some of the must-do and must-see things for you to do during your stay, whether you’re staying for a weekend in Tokyo or more than 3 days!
This magnificent museum has 7 floors, so it’s quite huge. Thankfully, each floor is clearly marked, and stairs are easily located. The first floor offers a ‘symbol zone’ where you can view a high-resolution simulation of the globe, showing the geo-cosmos of how things have changed on the planet over the years.
You can see everything from population peaks to temperature dips and what has happened in-between! There is also a Special Exhibition Zone on the first floor, where some of the most fun and revolutionary displays are featured, such as the Pokémon Lab. If you haven’t fainted yet from absolute awe, then we commend you!
Sumo wrestling is revered as a national sport in Toky and Japan; it is very popular amongst the locals and creates a lot of hype. Ryogoku Kokugikan is the best and most famous indoor sumo wrestling hall in Tokyo and regularly holds large tournaments.
These tournaments go on for 15 days, 3 times a year (January, May, and September). Each wrestler is dressed in colorful attire, with their hair tied up in a traditional style at the top of their head (the ‘topknot’ is actually now very fashionable in the west).
Tokyo is wild about pop culture and all things funky and fun so Disney is massive here. This amusement park opens at 18:00 and offers games, rides & memorabilia – all in the theme of Disney’s most loved films.
Imagine yourself dancing in Cinderella’s Castle all whilst under the clear blue skies of Tokyo! Surprisingly, this magical park isn’t as packed as you might assume, and you shouldn’t find yourself waiting in line for very long.
Choosing to go during the night also makes each ride just that bit more mysterious and adds to the joy! Kiddies rides, such as the Magical Carpet, transform into a true whole new world after hours! The excitement is never-ending and the thrill of this amusement park will be with you long after your trip in Tokyo has come to an end!
Mt Fuji is only 2-3 hours away from Tokyo, which is a lot closer than one would think. One could easily visit the mountain on a long day trip from Tokyo if they’re motivated and organized.
To reach Mt Fuji by public transport requires a combination of trains and taxis; it can be a little inconenvient if you’re short on time.
Often it’s much easier to just join an organize a day with a local company. Prices for these are usually pretty fair too and joining one is not much more than covering the food transportation expenses yourself.
With a typically hot and tropical climate, Tokyo provides some of the most gorgeous clear skies and welcoming temperatures! You have the chance during spring to watch pink Cherry Blossoms blooming, to enjoy beautiful rainfall and sun during the summer, scenic snowfall during Winter, and clear skies with vibrantly colored leaves during autumn.
All of Tokyo’s seasons are beautiful, but to get the best out of the weather, we suggest you visit during late spring or late autumn when Tokyo is most alive and incredible to see.
How to Get Around Tokyo
Tokyo is famous for having the very best and most high-tech subways in the world, so getting around this iconic city will be a wonderfully unique traveling story. The stations are broken into three major categories, the Metro Station subways, JR station trains, and private railways.
The train stations (as well as pretty much everywhere else in Tokyo) can get overwhelmingly busy, so we suggest that you be prepared for the hustle and bustle. Shinjuku Station in Shibuya is the place to go if you want to see for yourself the 3.6 million travelers that use this transit a day, but if you’re seeking a quieter railway then give a private station a try, like the Seibu Railways.
Note the Tokyo Metro gets busy to the point of comic absurdity during rush hours. If you are claustrophobic, avoid peak times.
Besides the subways, which are the best and fastest way to get around Tokyo, you will also find taxis. Keep in mind that the taxis are expensive, so if you can walk to the place you’re wanting to go, then that’s a much better bet unless of course you’re swimming in cash.
Walking in Tokyo is an exciting and wonderful way to get around, provided you aren’t going to a place too far from your accommodation spot. You will get to take in the day to day street culture, whilst not missing out on the connecting, “inbetween” bits of Tokyo that otherwise go overlooked.
Note that there are two international airports that serve Tokyo: Narita and Haneda. Both are located in completely different parts of the city so take note where and when you arrive. Narita is the furthest from Tokyo.
As we mentioned before, Tokyo has a pretty diverse climate so you’ll need to pack accordingly. Take warm closes in the winter and lighter clothing in the summer when the city is hot and humid. Refer to our Japanese packing list for lots of advice on what to bring and what to wear while visiting.
Tokyo is known to be one of the safest metropolis cities that there is and crime is extremely rare. That said, there are certain general safe travel practices to be aware of whenever you leave home. We have also put together some safety tips for Tokyo that will help to keep you extra safe.
Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
This entertaining and exhilarating city is a massive metropolis! Arriving in Tokyo is something that will leave you awe-inspired, but with our complete travel guide, every day of your trip will be full of adventures.
Tokyo is a pioneer city. Constant growth and change make this city something that drives forward and pushes other places in Japan to do the same. You will return from Tokyo a changed person yourself.
This is sure to be a traveling memory that will be with you forever.
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Writer and Editor, Ana Pereira is a California native, inspired by Earth exploration and introspection. Recently, she spent several months exploring Africa and South Asia. She spends most of her “down-time” out in the wilderness, climbing, hiking, and beyond, and is feverishly passionate about travel and health.