When planning a trip to Japan, one of the most common questions that travelers ask is how many days to spend in Tokyo. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question as it largely depends on your travel goals, budget, and itinerary. However, if you can answer a few of those questions, we can help you determine the ideal length for your stay in Tokyo.
Tokyo is a vibrant and bustling city that offers a wide range of experiences for travelers. From exploring ancient temples and shrines to shopping in trendy neighborhoods and trying delicious Japanese cuisine, to just trying to hit up all the main tourist sights in the city, you will be busy from the moment you arrive.
While some travelers may be content with a short stay in Tokyo, others may want to spend more time in the city to fully immerse themselves in the culture and explore all that it has to offer. So, how many days should you spend in Tokyo? We’ll explore some factors that can help you make this decision.
- Your budget.
- How much time you have in total.
- How active and busy you want to be.
- How much of the rest of Japan you want to see.
Knowing that all of those factors will affect your decision, we recommend that first-time visitors spend at least three to five days in Tokyo, to explore the city’s highlights and to get a pretty good feel for the city, albeit a shallow one.
If you want to dig in deeper and really get below the surface, you will need to spend at least 7 days, up to 2 weeks in Tokyo.
If you have longer to spend in Japan, you can expand this itinerary to any length you wish.
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- In Tokyo: The Strings by InterContinental Tokyo
- In Kyoto: ACE Hotel Kyoto
- In Osaka: Intercontinental Osaka
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Getting Started: Tokyo
Tokyo is the capital city of Japan and is known for its bustling streets, modern architecture, and rich cultural heritage. The city is divided into 23 special wards, each with its own distinct character and charm. Some of the most popular neighborhoods to explore include Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Harajuku.
You’ll quickly discover that the city is a fascinating blend of old and new. You’ll find towering skyscrapers and cutting-edge technology, and you’ll find ancient temples, shrines, and other cultural landmarks that have been preserved for centuries.
The city is vast, with dozens of neighborhoods to explore. You wouldn’t be able to cover it all even if you had years to spend in the city. So the best way to enjoy Tokyo is to make yourself a list of the things you want to accomplish, then start planning your itinerary.
Determining How Many Days to Spend in Tokyo
The ideal duration for a visit to Tokyo depends on various factors such as your budget, the total length of your trip, level of activity, and how much of the rest of Japan you want to see. Let’s break down each factor
Japan is not a cheap country to travel in so you will need to determine how far your budget will stretch.
Here’s what you might expect to spend on an average day, keeping in mind that costs can vary widely depending on the city, personal preferences, and travel style.
- Accommodation: For a mid-range hotel or a comfortable Airbnb, you can expect to pay around $70 to $120 per night.
- Meals: Dining out for all meals at mid-range restaurants might cost between $30 and $50 per day. This includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- Transportation: Depending on the city and how much you move around, local transportation costs can range from $10 to $20 per day.
- Attractions & Entertainment: Entrance fees for attractions and other entertainment might run you around $20 to $30 per day.
- Miscellaneous Expenses: Think about shopping, snacks, or other personal expenses, which might add another $20 to $40.
Total Length of Your Trip
Many visitors to Japan give themselves between 7 and 14 days in the country. While this will never be enough time to see it all, you can get quite a bit of things done in that time.
- If you have just 7 days in Japan, I would recommend spending no more than 3 in Tokyo.
- If you have 14 days in Japan, I would recommend spending 5-7 days in Tokyo.
- With less than 7 days in Japan, I would spend 3 in Tokyo, and the rest on day trips from Tokyo.
Level of Activity
You can get a lot done in Tokyo in a short amount of time. For instance, you can see all the top sights and eat lots of local food in our 3-day Tokyo itinerary. It will require that you hop from one activity to another rather quickly and don’t take frequently breaks.
If you aren’t that type of traveler, and prefer to have breaks and long meals, etc., then you should plan for twice as much time to get through the same amount of activities.
How Much of the Rest of Japan You Want to See
If getting to other parts of Japan are important to you, then you will have to limit the amount of time you spend in Tokyo. Even with a Japan Rail Pass and those high-speed trains, it does take quite a bit of time to get from Tokyo to Kyoto or Osaka, for instance.
For this reason, if you have only a week, we would spend only 2-3 days in Tokyo, and the rest traveling through the country.
Planning Your Itinerary
Tokyo is a vast city with an endless array of attractions, so it’s essential to prioritize what you want to see and do. You might decide that your ideal amount of time in the city varies from our recommendation, however we want to provide a typical 3-5 day itinerary to give you an idea of how much you can see in this time frame.
3 Day Tokyo itinerary
Day 1: Explore Modern Tokyo
Morning: Shibuya & Harajuku
- Start your day at the famous Shibuya Crossing, one of the busiest pedestrian crossings in the world.
- Explore Harajuku, Tokyo’s fashion district. Don’t miss Takeshita Street, known for trendy shops and boutiques.
- Head to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden for a relaxing stroll.
- Explore the vibrant Shinjuku area, filled with shops, restaurants, and entertainment.
Evening: Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
- Go up to the observation decks of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building for free views of the city.
- Enjoy dinner in a local restaurant.
Day 2: Traditional Tokyo
Morning: Asakusa & Senso-ji Temple
- Visit Senso-ji Temple, Tokyo’s oldest temple, and stroll along Nakamise Street, filled with traditional shops.
- Visit the Tokyo Skytree.
- Explore the nearby Asakusa area.
Afternoon: Ueno Park
- Head to Ueno Park, home to museums, a zoo, and beautiful landscapes.
- Consider visiting Ueno Toshogu Shrine or one of the museums like the Tokyo National Museum.
- If you’re interested in electronics or anime, explore Akihabara, the electric town.
- Have dinner in a themed café or a local eatery.
Day 3: Food & Shopping
Morning: Tsukiji Outer Market
- Go on a Tsukiji Outer Market Tour where you’ll sample a range of sushi, sake, fresh Tuna, and Japanese omelets (3 hours)
- At the end of the tour you’ll eat at one of the sushi restaurants nearby.
- Head to Ginza, Tokyo’s upscale shopping district. Even if shopping’s not your thing, it’s worth strolling through the stylish streets.
- Stroll through Hamarikyu Gardens and do an informal tea ceremony.
Evening: Sumida River Cruise
- End your day with a Sumida River Cruise that will take you from Hakarikyu Gardens to Asakusa where you can walk around and have dinner.
Days 4 & 5
If you happen to have more than 3 days to spend in Tokyo, here are other things you can do on Days 4 & 5.
- Visit the Roppongi District: Explore art museums like the Mori Art Museum or the National Art Center.
- Explore Ebisu and Daikanyama: Wander through stylish neighborhoods known for cafes and boutique shopping.
- Relax at the Imperial Palace Gardens: Enjoy the peaceful gardens surrounding the Imperial Palace.
- Experience Sumo Wrestling: If in season, watch a sumo match at Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo’s sumo stadium.
- Dine in Omoide Yokocho: Also known as “Piss Alley,” this narrow street offers a nostalgic dining experience.
- Go on an Izakaya food tour
- Visit the Studio Ghibli Museum: Fans of Studio Ghibli’s animated films can immerse themselves in this magical museum (book tickets in advance).
Factors to Consider to Build Your Itinerary
1. Determine Your Interests
Tokyo has something for everyone, from history buffs to foodies to anime fans. Decide what interests you most and prioritize those activities. For example, if you’re a food lover, plan to visit the Tsukiji Fish Market or indulge in some authentic ramen.
2. Choose Your Accommodation Wisely
Tokyo is a vast city with many neighborhoods, each with its own unique character. Consider staying in a central location like Shinjuku or Shibuya, which will give you easy access to public transportation and many attractions. See our full guide on where to stay in Tokyo.
3. Don’t Overbook Your Itinerary
While it’s tempting to try to see everything, don’t overbook your itinerary. Leave some time for spontaneity and relaxation. Tokyo can be overwhelming, so enjoy the city at your own pace.
4. Use Public Transportation
Tokyo’s public transportation system is efficient and affordable, so take advantage of it. Purchase a Pasmo or Suica card to make traveling on trains and buses more manageable. Consider taking a private guided tour to help you navigate the city.
5. Be Prepared for the Weather
Tokyo has four distinct seasons, each with its own weather patterns. Check the forecast before your trip and pack accordingly. Summers can be hot and humid, and winters can be cold, so be prepared for the weather conditions.
Top Attractions and Activities
In this section, we will highlight some of the top attractions and activities that you can enjoy during your stay in Tokyo.
Tokyo is home to many historical sites that give you a glimpse into the city’s rich cultural heritage. Some of the must-visit historical sites include the Imperial Palace, Meiji Shrine, and Senso-ji Temple.
The Imperial Palace is the residence of the Emperor of Japan and is surrounded by beautiful gardens that are open to the public.
Meiji Shrine is a Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken. Senso-ji Temple is one of the oldest temples in Tokyo and is famous for its large red lantern at the entrance.
Tokyo is also known for its modern attractions that showcase the city’s technological advancements. The Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower are two of the most iconic landmarks in the city. The Tokyo Skytree is the tallest tower in the world and offers stunning views of the city from its observation deck.
Tokyo Tower is a communications tower that is inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Another must-visit modern attraction is the Robot Restaurant, which features a futuristic show with robots, lasers, and dancers.
If you are looking for outdoor activities, Tokyo has many options to choose from. Shinjuku Gyoen is a large park in the heart of the city that is perfect for a relaxing stroll or a picnic.
Mount Fuji, located just outside of Tokyo, is a popular destination for hiking and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
Shibuya Crossing is another outdoor attraction that is famous for its busy intersection and is a great spot for people-watching.
When planning your trip to Tokyo, it’s important to consider which neighborhoods you want to explore. Each area has its own unique vibe and attractions, so it’s worth taking the time to research and prioritize which ones you want to visit. Here are some of the top neighborhoods to consider:
Ginza is known for its high-end shopping, with luxury brands like Chanel, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton lining the streets. It’s also home to some of the best sushi restaurants in Tokyo, so it’s a great place to indulge in some fine dining. If you’re interested in traditional Japanese performing arts, be sure to check out the Kabuki-za theater.
Shibuya is one of the busiest and most vibrant neighborhoods in Tokyo. It’s famous for its bustling pedestrian crossing, which is a must-see for first-time visitors. The area is also home to plenty of shopping, dining, and entertainment options, including the iconic Shibuya 109 department store.
Shinjuku is another bustling neighborhood with plenty to see and do. It’s home to the world’s busiest train station, as well as the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, which offers stunning views of the city from its observation deck. Shinjuku is also known for its nightlife, with plenty of bars, clubs, and karaoke spots to choose from.
Asakusa is a more traditional neighborhood that’s home to the famous Senso-ji temple. It’s a great place to learn about Japanese culture and history, with plenty of shops selling traditional souvenirs and snacks. Don’t miss the chance to take a boat ride down the nearby Sumida River.
Harajuku is known for its quirky fashion and youth culture. Takeshita Street is a must-visit for anyone interested in fashion, with plenty of shops selling unique and trendy clothing. The area is also home to the famous Meiji Shrine, which offers a peaceful escape from the busy streets.
Akihabara is known as Tokyo’s “electric town,” with plenty of shops selling electronics, anime, and manga. It’s also a great place to experience Japanese pop culture, with plenty of maid cafes and arcades to choose from.
Day Trips from Tokyo
If you have more than a few days in Tokyo, you can consider taking a day trip to nearby cities. Here are some popular day trip destinations that you can visit from Tokyo.
Kyoto is a city that is famous for its temples, shrines, and traditional Japanese culture. It is about 2.5 hours away from Tokyo by bullet train. You can visit famous sites such as Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion), Fushimi Inari Shrine, and Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Kyoto is also known for its traditional Japanese cuisine such as kaiseki, which is a multi-course meal.
Osaka is a city that is known for its food culture. It is about 3 hours away from Tokyo by bullet train. You can try famous dishes such as takoyaki (octopus balls), okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake), and kushikatsu (deep-fried skewers). You can also visit popular sites such as Osaka Castle and Dotonbori.
Kamakura is a coastal town that is known for its historical sites. It is about 1 hour away from Tokyo by train. You can visit famous sites such as the Great Buddha of Kamakura, Hasedera Temple, and Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine. Kamakura is also known for its beaches and surfing spots.
Hakone is a town that is known for its hot springs and scenic views of Mount Fuji. It is about 2 hours away from Tokyo by train. You can visit famous sites such as Lake Ashi, Hakone Shrine, and Owakudani. Hakone is also a popular destination for onsen (hot spring) lovers.
Hiroshima is a city that is known for its history and peace culture. It is about 4 hours away from Tokyo by bullet train. You can visit famous sites such as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum, Miyajima Island, and Hiroshima Castle. Hiroshima is also known for its local cuisine such as okonomiyaki and oysters.
Nara is a city that is known for its temples and friendly deer. It is about 2 hours away from Tokyo by train. You can visit famous sites such as Todai-ji Temple, Kasuga-taisha Shrine, and Nara Park. Nara is also known for its traditional Japanese sweets such as mochi (rice cake) and manju (sweet bun).
Food and Dining
When it comes to food and dining in Tokyo, you’re in for a treat. From Michelin-starred restaurants to street food vendors, the city has something to offer for every taste and budget.
Tokyo is known for its culinary scene, and you’ll find a wide variety of restaurants serving different cuisines from around the world. Whether you’re looking for sushi, ramen, or something else entirely, you’ll find it in Tokyo.
If you’re looking for a truly unique dining experience, consider visiting one of Tokyo’s many Michelin-starred restaurants. Some of the most famous ones include Sukiyabashi Jiro, which is known for its sushi, and Ishikawa, which serves kaiseki cuisine.
If you’re on a budget or just looking for a quick bite to eat, Tokyo’s street food scene and izakaya are not to be missed. You’ll find vendors selling everything from takoyaki (octopus balls) to yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) on the streets of Tokyo.
One of the best places to experience the food is at the Toyosu Fish Market. Here, you’ll find a wide variety of seafood, including sushi, sashimi, and grilled fish, as well as other street food vendors selling everything from ramen to tempura.
Transportation in Tokyo
When planning your trip to Tokyo, it’s important to consider your transportation options. Tokyo has an extensive public transportation system that is reliable and efficient. In this section, we’ll cover the two main modes of transportation in Tokyo: Public Transport and Bullet Train.
The public transportation system in Tokyo is made up of trains, subways, and buses. One of the most convenient ways to use public transportation in Tokyo is with a Suica card. This is a rechargeable smart card that can be used on trains, subways, and buses. You simply touch the card to a reader when entering and exiting the station or bus, and the fare is automatically deducted from your balance. You can purchase a Suica card at any train station or convenience store.
Another option for using public transportation in Tokyo is to purchase a Tokyo Subway Pass or a Greater Tokyo Pass. The Tokyo Subway Pass allows unlimited use of Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway lines for a set number of days, while the Greater Tokyo Pass includes unlimited use of trains, subways, and buses in Tokyo and the surrounding areas, as well as transportation to and around Nikko and Yokohama.
If you plan on traveling outside of Tokyo, the bullet train, or Shinkansen, is a great option. The Shinkansen is a high-speed train that connects Tokyo to other major cities in Japan, such as Kyoto, Osaka, and Hiroshima. The trains are clean, comfortable, and fast, with speeds reaching up to 320 km/h.
If you plan on taking the Shinkansen multiple times during your trip, it may be worth purchasing a JR Pass. The JR Pass allows unlimited use of JR trains, including the Shinkansen, for a set number of days. It can only be purchased outside of Japan, so be sure to plan ahead.
- Get a Tokyo Metro Pass for unlimited subway rides. It will save you money and time.
- Consider visiting attractions early or late in the day to avoid crowds.
- Mix and match the itinerary according to your interests. Tokyo has a wide variety of attractions to explore.
- Don’t forget to sample local cuisine, from sushi to ramen. Food is an integral part of the Tokyo experience.
Where to Stay in Tokyo
For the purpose of taking day trips from Tokyo, you’ll want to stay as close to Tokyo Station as possible, because all of the lines you need go out of there.
- We really like the Ascott Marunouchi Tokyo. It has everything you’ll need. The rooms are very nice: all are suites with a small kitchen and washing machine. Wifi is free. It’s a very good location with a great price. → Read Tripadvisor reviews.
- If you want to go more upscale, the Four Seasons Tokyo is just steps away from Tokyo Station and it’s a really gorgeous hotel. → Read Tripadvisor reviews.
- The Tokyo Station Hotel is excellent.
If these options don’t meet your needs, check out our full guide to where to stay in Tokyo.
What are some recommended activities to do in Tokyo?
There are countless things to see and do in Tokyo, depending on your interests. Some of the most popular activities include visiting historic sites like the Imperial Palace and Sensoji Temple, exploring neighborhoods like Shibuya and Harajuku, shopping for electronics and souvenirs in Akihabara, and experiencing the city’s vibrant nightlife.
Other recommended activities include visiting museums like the Tokyo National Museum and the Mori Art Museum, taking a cruise on the Sumida River, and trying local cuisine like sushi, ramen, and yakitori. For a unique experience, consider visiting a themed cafe like the famous cat cafes or the Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku.
When is the best time to visit Tokyo?
The best time to visit Tokyo depends on your preferences and travel goals. The city is a popular destination year-round, but peak tourist season is typically from March to May and September to November, when the weather is mild and comfortable. During these times, you can expect larger crowds and higher prices for accommodations and activities.
If you prefer to avoid the crowds, consider visiting Tokyo during the winter months (December to February) or the summer months (June to August). While the weather can be cold or hot and humid, respectively, you’ll find fewer tourists and lower prices for accommodations and activities.
Where are the best places to stay in Tokyo?
Tokyo has a wide range of accommodations to suit every budget and preference. Some of the most popular areas to stay in Tokyo include Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Ginza, which offer a mix of shopping, dining, and entertainment options.
Is 5 days in Tokyo too long or too short?
Whether 5 days in Tokyo is too long or too short depends on what you want in your trip. If you’re interested in seeing the major sights and experiencing the city’s unique culture, 5 days is a good amount of time to spend in Tokyo. However, if you’re interested in taking day trips to nearby attractions like Mount Fuji or Nikko, or if you want to explore other areas of Japan, you may want to consider extending your trip beyond 5 days. Ultimately, the ideal length of your stay in Tokyo depends on what you want to see and do, so plan accordingly.
Be Prepared For Travel
Planning is the most important part of any successful trip. Do it the easy way:
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Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited over 75 countries. Her work has been published in numerous guidebooks, websites, and magazines.