1 day in Tokyo: The ultimate 24 hours in Tokyo itinerary

If one day in Tokyo is all you have, then put on your comfiest shoes and get ready for a whole day of attractions and experiences. There are so many things to do in Tokyo and honestly, one day will barely scratch the surface, but that doesn’t mean you can’t see all the top highlights in 24 hours.

I’ve visited Tokyo countless times, and I’ve crafted a one-day itinerary packed with must-see spots to give you a real feel of this dynamic metropolis. It includes top attractions, key eats, cultural highlights, shopping destinations, and a taste of nightlife.

1 day in Tokyo itinerary - a map with all points of interest highlighted
1 day in Tokyo itinerary – a map with all points of interest highlighted
24 hours in Tokyo itinerary, an infographic with all points of interest
24 hours in Tokyo itinerary, an infographic with all points of interest

Important tips for one day in Tokyo

This itinerary may seem like a lot because it’s a fairly packed day in Tokyo, but I’ve done it myself and I can tell you it’s 100% doable. I’ve tried and tested this itinerary with a timer in hand to ensure you really get to see it all (yes, really). Here are a few key tips you need to know before getting started.

Tokyo’s transport is fast and reliable. To save time, use the Pasmo app with Apple Pay or Google Pay for convenience.

Have a comfortable pair of shoes, because this itinerary has a lot of walking.

While there are many popular restaurants I want to recommend, this is not the time to queue for them. Unless you really want to queue for an hour to eat the precious ramen in Ichiran, today is not the day.

I assume you will arrive from the airports to the main Tokyo station. From central Tokyo, you can take the Yamanote line to Shibuya station. Alternatively, you can take the Tokyo metro Ginza line.

Wedding at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo
Wedding at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo

8am: Meiji Jingu shrine

Meiji Jingu is open every day from sunrise, so this is the best place to start the day. Plus, there will be no crowds, so you will have the whole place to yourself.

Make your way to the southern entrance near Harajuku Station, and walk for about 10 minutes to reach the stunning Meiji Jingu Shrine.

Meiji Shrine is a Shinto shrine is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken, and it’s surrounded by a beautiful forest. Pass the large wooden torii gate and enter the sacred grounds. At the main Shinto complex, you can observe locals partake in traditional Shinto practices such as offering prayers.

Consider buying a charm, or inscribing your desires on a wooden tablet called an ema. At the temple premises, numerous ema are left by visitors in hopes that the Gods will grant their wishes.

People crossing the famed Shibuya Crossing at night
People crossing the famed Shibuya Crossing at night

10am: Shibuya Crossing

Next, make your way to the iconic Shibuya Pedestrian Scramble. You can either take the Yamanote Line from Harajuku to Shibuya, or walk for 17 minutes from Meiji Shrine.

Shibuya Crossing has 2500-3000 people crossing at one given time, and throughout the day as many as 2 million people cross it. You’re about to be one of them!

Cross it, photographing and just taking it all in. Even though you’re in Shibuya at 10am, the place is already teeming with live and crowds, so you’re basically experiencing that Tokyo vibe right there.

Hachiko statue in front of Shibuya Station
Hachiko statue in front of Shibuya Station

Don’t miss the Hachiko statue, located right outside the Hachiko Exit of Shibuya Station. This statue has become an important attraction due to the heart-warming story behind it, which symbolizes loyalty, love, and dedication. It’s also a popular spot for locals to meet up, so you’ll often see people waiting for friends there.

Views from Shibuya Sky on a clear and sunny day
Views from Shibuya Sky on a clear and sunny day

10:30am: Shibuya Sky

Continue your day in Tokyo with a visit to Shibuya Sky, a new observation deck with breathtaking panoramic views of the city. Shibuya Sky is towering at approximately 230 meters above ground level and provides a 360° open-air vantage point to take in the vast and bustling metropolis below, as well as the iconic Shibuya Crossing.

The main highlight is the Sky Stage on the 46th floor. Spot iconic landmarks part of the stunning Tokyo skyline such as Tokyo Tower, the Tokyo Skytree, and even Mount Fuji on a clear day.

To ensure you make the most out of your visit and save lots of precious time, book your tickets in advance and pick the earliest slot, at 11am.

If you can’t score tickets and don’t want to queue to see if you can get them on the day, you can still see Shibuya Crossing from above. Head to Shibuya Hikarie building, then take the elevator to Sky Lobby located on the 16th floor. And yes, it’s free (see, I like to save you money).

Shopping in the Centre Gai in Shibuya at night
Shopping in the Centre Gai in Shibuya at night

12pm: Centre Gai

Shibuya Center Gai is a pedestrian street that begins right next to the iconic Shibuya Starbucks. Stretching from Shibuya Scramble Crossing to Yumeji Street, this long street is brimming with shops and restaurants.

Centre Gai is perfect for doing some shopping for Japanese souvenirs. Feast your eyes on striking billboards, cutting-edge fashion, and a diverse array of retail offerings.

Feeling peckish? Center Gai has got you covered, with a multitude of dining options serving both Japanese cuisine and international dishes.

Escalator to a shop floor in a Donki in Tokyo
Escalator to a shop floor in a Donki in Tokyo

Don Quijote (Donki)

Located right on Centre Gai you will find the MEGA Don Quijote Shibuya Honten, one of the largest Don Quijote stores in Tokyo. Incorporating Don Quijote Shibuya into your one-day Tokyo itinerary will provide a memorable shopping experience, for sure.

Donki is a popular discount store chain in Japan and the Shibuya branch offers an incredible array of products, from electronics and cosmetics to snacks, clothing, and unique souvenirs. It’s a one-stop-shop for all your shopping needs during your Tokyo trip. You’ll find many quirky items at affordable prices and get to strike great deals on popular Japanese products and brands.

Views from Shibuya Parco
Views from Shibuya Parco

1:30pm: Lunch Shibuya Parco

Next, head to Shibuya Parco, a shopping and entertainment complex that houses some seriously good eateries. For lunch, head to the basement floor and look for Ikushika, a traditional Japanese restaurant that specializes in set menu meals. Go for the fried chicken with rice and Japanese pickles.

After lunch, head to Shibuya Parco’s serene rooftop garden on the 10th floor. Shibuya Parco’s rooftop garden is roughly 1400 sqm surrounded by trees and greenery. On most days, there are special markets and events held up there.

The rooftop garden also offers great views over Tokyo’s skyline, quite different from what you’d see in the Shibuya Observation deck.

People walking on Omotesando avenue in Tokyo
People walking on Omotesando avenue in Tokyo

3pm: Omotesando

From Shibuya Parco walk for 15 minutes towards Omotesando, Tokyo’s Champs-Élysées. Take a walk along Omotesando and admire the high-end boutiques, stylish cafés, and impressive architectural designs. Depending on your preference, you can just walk along Omotesando and admire the stunning zelkova lined avenue, or check the shopping malls for a bit of shopping.

There are three main shopping malls I recommend here: Omotesando Hills, Gyre and Tokyu Plaza. I especially love Tokyu Plaza because of its unusual design and its stunning Omohara Garden at the top of the mall. Omohara garden has a stunning rooftop garden with decking wood, great fairy lights, lush greenery and awesome views.

In Gyre, there is the really cool MoMA design store on the 3rd floor, perfect if you’re after Japanese souvenirs, such as the Yayoi Kusama pumpkin.

Outside the Shinjuku station at night, surrounded by skyscrapers and neon lights
Outside the Shinjuku station at night, surrounded by skyscrapers and neon lights

5pm: Shinjuku Station

From Omotesando, take the Ginza Line to Shibuya station and change for Yamanote Line to Shinjuku Station. Now, Shinjuku station is the world’s busiest train station. There are over 3.5 million passengers passing through daily, and you’re about to be one of them.

Shinjuku is definitely a flashy, neon-lit, large billboard type of district. There’s shopping, there’s dinning and there is unusual entertainment here.

There are many things to do in Shinjuku so you’re going to have to be strategic here. Make your way out of the station and head towards the Statue of Suica Penguin. The statue is located in the Suica Penguin Square, which is an open area with seating areas overlooking the train tracks. It’s excellent for train spotting. Grab a coffee from the nearby Verve Coffee Roasters or Dean&Deluca and chill for half an hour with a top view.

There are so many shops around the Shinjuku Station, such as the NEWoMa, a contemporary shopping and dining complex which opened its doors in March 2016. Head to the 1st floor and grab an authentic matcha tea from Matcha Tokyo.

For some of the most unusual souvenirs, go into the Takashimaya building and explore Hands, a creative life store with stationary housewares and gifts.

Restaurant in Omoide Yokocho grilling meat
Restaurant in Omoide Yokocho grilling meat

7pm: Yakitori in Omoide Yokochō

For delicious yakitori, head to Omoide Yokochō, also known as Memory Lane or Piss Alley. Omoide Yokochō is famed for its small izakaya (Japanese-style pubs) and yakitori joints, where you can indulge in grilled skewers of meat, seafood, and vegetables. The alleyway is lined with tiny bars and eateries, many of which can only accommodate a handful of customers at a time.

No trip to Tokyo is complete without some street food and this little place in Shinjuku is a fab place for it.

Good to know: You need Japanese yen here, as most restaurants take cash only. Some places will charge a small seating fee.

Entrance to the Red District  (Kabukicho) in Shinjuku
Entrance to the Red District (Kabukicho) in Shinjuku

9pm: Golden Gai

Wrap up your day itinerary with a visit to Golden Gai, nestled in the Kabukicho area of Shinjuku. Golden Gai is a network of narrow alleys lined with tiny bars and eateries. Each establishment, often seating less than a dozen people, has a unique theme and personality. I have a guide to Golden Gai to help you pick the right bars, and I’ve included some options that cater for English speakers like Albatross, Kenzo’s or Araku.

Look out for bars that welcome international visitors with signs in English. Avoid the bars that have Japanese only on their menu, as chances are they cater for regular local clientele only.

More attractions for your 24 hours in Tokyo

As previously mentioned, I created the above itinerary to ensure you truly see the main highlights of Tokyo. I also organized your day in Tokyo in such a way that you don’t need to take too many subways or walk for far too long. I maximized your time to eat, shop, see and do a bit of everything. This itinerary is my personal favorite, but I appreciate that there are some other top attractions you might want to add or replace.

Tsukiji Market stalls at night when it's closed and quiet
Tsukiji Market stalls at night when it’s closed and quiet

Tsukiji fish market – Often highlighted in many itineraries, Tsukiji fish market is now a fish and fresh produce market with stalls. The main fish market has moved to Toyosu market, including the famed tuna auction. While I do recommend Tsukiji fish market, I believe it’s a little out of the way, hence why I didn’t include it in my itinerary. Nevertheless, this is a great attraction in Tokyo and a must-do, especially if you want a fresh sushi breakfast.

The gardens at the Imperial Palace Tokyo
The gardens at the Imperial Palace Tokyo

Tokyo Imperial palace – The Imperial Palace, located in central Tokyo, is the primary residence of the Emperor of Japan and an iconic symbol of the nation’s history and culture. Surrounded by lush gardens, ancient stone walls, and a serene moat, the palace offers a stark contrast to the bustling city that surrounds it. Though the inner grounds are mostly off-limits to the public, you can explore the picturesque East Gardens, which showcase a beautiful blend of traditional Japanese landscaping and modern horticulture. The gardens are not open everyday, making it difficult to add them to my itinerary as a definitive.

View from Roppongi in Tokyo
View from Roppongi in Tokyo

Roppongi Hills – There is so much to do and experience in Roppongi Hills. I especially love the Mori Art Museum and the Mori Observation Deck at the top of Mori Tower. If you are not too tired after doing the above itinerary, I strongly recommend that you take the Tokyo metro Marunouchi Line + Tokyo metro Hibiya Line from Shinjuku to Roppongi. The journey takes about 30 minutes. There is a catch though, as the last admission is at 9pm, so be mindful before you begin your journey. Having said, there are plenty of nightclubs in Roppongi, most of which actually cater to foreign tourists.

Yoyogi Park Shibuya Ward Tokyo
Yoyogi Park Shibuya Ward Tokyo

Yoyogi Park – Located right next to Meiji Shrine, Yoyogi Park is one of my favorite parks in Tokyo. It’s especially beautiful during the cherry blossom season or koyo festival. However, Yoyogi Park is best explored on foot and it’s huge. It can take 2-3 hours just to walk around it and admire all the beautiful landscapes. I do think your 24 hours in Tokyo can be spent exploring more unique locations. Nevertheless, it’s a gorgeous attraction to add to the list.

Shinjuku skyscrapers from Shinjuku National Park
Shinjuku skyscrapers from Shinjuku National Park

Shinjuku Gyoen – Oh, such a gorgeous national garden. It has everything you would expect from a large park in Tokyo. It features superb landscaped gardens, including a Japanese garden and an English garden. It has a pond, stunning views of the skyscrapers, it even features a beautiful glasshouse. But Shinjuku Gyoen is large and a bit of a maze. One wrong turn, and you can find yourself exploring this surreal park for hours. Of course, this is not a bad thing, but when you have just 1 day in Tokyo, you will want to tick as many places off the box as possible.

Kaminarimon at Senso-ji temple in Asakusa Tokyo
Kaminarimon at Senso-ji temple in Asakusa Tokyo

Sensoji temple – I bet this is quite controversial, as I left one of the main temples in Tokyo off the itinerary. If you want to add it to your day in Tokyo, then visiting as early morning as possible is a must. Ideally, you will do it just before you start this itinerary. Sensoji can get very crowded. Visit it just at sunrise and admire it all. But be mindful that it’s 40 minutes on a subway away from Shibuya Station.

Where to stay in Tokyo - the vastness of Tokyo as seen from above at sunset
Where to stay in Tokyo – the vastness of Tokyo as seen from above at sunset

Where to stay in Tokyo for 1-2 nights

Assuming you need one or two nights in Tokyo, then I recommend that you find a hotel either in Shibuya or in central Tokyo, right by the Tokyo station (ideally on the Yamanote line). This allows you to explore with ease and, again, maximize your time seeing attractions and spending less changing subways and metro lines.

For a complete breakdown on all important areas in Tokyo and reviews of my favorite hotels, read my where to stay in Tokyo article. I talk about different areas and why they are most suitable for your type of travel style and budget. I also recommend hotels in Tokyo, organized by budget to make it easier to select the right option.

Apartments and houses in Tokyo, in the Omotesando area
Apartments and houses in Tokyo, in the Omotesando area

More Tips for first time visitors

To stay connected, rent a pocket Wi-Fi device or buy a prepaid SIM card. This will help you use navigation apps, use a translator, and do some extra research on the go. I recommend ordering it in advance. You can pick it up at the arrivals at Narita airport or Haneda airport.

Tokyo’s public system can be overwhelming, but with the use of Google Maps, it’s super easy to get around. The metro lines are color coded for your ease and Google Maps even tells you in real time the next train, the best car for boarding and where to make connections.

While cards are widely accepted, many small establishments, particularly in older neighborhoods, still prefer cash. Take some Japanese yen with you. Major banks in Japan now accept international cards for cash withdrawals, too. Speaking of money, check out how expensive Japan really is.

Be aware of Japanese customs and manners such as removing your shoes before entering someone’s home or specific rooms in restaurants, bowing as a form of greeting, and not tipping at restaurants.

Knowing a few simple Japanese phrases can go a long way in making your trip more enjoyable. If you’re serious about learning Japanese, I recommend Japanese with Aimee. Use “YCTRAVEL” when you sign up and get 10% discount on the course. It’s a great deal, right?

For those on a budget, visit Japanese convenience stores, or “konbini,” for snacks, drinks, and meals at affordable prices. You can also grab a quick drink or bite from a vending machine.

Tokyo Shibuya crossing from Shibuya Hikarie
Tokyo Shibuya crossing from Shibuya Hikarie

Useful resources for first timers

Check all the dos and don’ts for when you are planning your first trip to Japan.

Learn what to pack for Japan to ensure you have the perfect wardrobe for every season.

When planning your first trip to Tokyo, it’s a good ideal to check the best time to visit Japan.

I highly recommend booking most of your activities in Tokyo in advance. Popular attractions can book up in advance, so it’s always best to have all your tickets ready. This also means less queuing.

If you wish to stay a little extra in Japan, make sure to check our Japan itineraries and Tokyo itineraries with details on where to go, and how to plan the perfect trip. For this, I recommend that you invest in a JR Pass to save you lots of money.

When it comes to customs and manners, Japan can be fairly peculiar, which is the joy of seeing such a different country! I strongly suggest that you get our Japanese customs and manners book, with fun Japanese illustrations and crucial information on how you should behave in various scenarios when visiting Tokyo!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is one day enough in Tokyo?

One day is not enough to fully explore Tokyo, as the city is a megapolis with countless attractions. A well-planned one-day itinerary can definitely give you a taster of what the city is all about. In my one-day itinerary you get to see the top attractions like Shibuya Crossing, Meiji Shrine, Omoide Yokocho in Shinjuku, eat ramen, try street food, enjoy some culture, get to purchase souvenirs and photograph the best iconic spots. However, I am certain, you will come back for more.

How to explore Tokyo in one day?

A day is quite limited to fully experience Tokyo, but with careful planning, you can certainly explore some of its key highlights. My suggested itinerary that should give you a taste of both the traditional and modern aspects of Tokyo:
Meiji Jingu shrine; Shibuya Crossing; Shibuya Sky; Centre Gai; Don Quijote (Donki); Lunch Shibuya Parco; Omotesando; Shinjuku Station; Yakitori in Omoide Yokochō; Golden Gai.

How much would a day in Tokyo cost?

Here’s a rough estimate of daily expenses for different types of travelers:
Budget traveler: ¥4,000 – ¥6,000 ($30-$45)Inexpensive meals: ¥800 – ¥1,500 per meal
Public transportation: ¥500 – ¥1,500
Attractions and activities: ¥1,000 – ¥3,000
Mid-range traveler: ¥10,000 – ¥15,000 ($75-$112)Mid-range meals: ¥1,500 – ¥3,500 per meal
Public transportation or taxis: ¥1,000 – ¥3,000
Attractions and activities: ¥3,000 – ¥6,000
Luxury traveler: ¥25,000 and above ($185+)Fine dining: ¥5,000 – ¥10,000 per meal
Taxis or private transportation: ¥5,000 – ¥10,000
Attractions, activities, and experiences: ¥10,000 and above

Is Tokyo a 24 hour city?

Yes, Tokyo is a 24-hour city. While not all businesses and attractions are open 24/7, there is always something going on in Tokyo at any given hour. Many restaurants, especially in busy districts like Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Roppongi, stay open until the early hours of the morning, as do numerous karaoke places and bars.
The district of Shinjuku is particularly known for its nightlife, featuring areas like Kabukicho (an entertainment and red-light district) and Golden Gai, which are busy well into the night.
Konbini like 7-Eleven, Lawson, and FamilyMart are open 24 hours a day. Some of the larger Don Quijote discount stores, offering everything from groceries to electronics and clothing, are also open 24 hours.
In addition, Tokyo is home to multiple 24-hour internet and manga cafes, where customers can read manga, use computers, and even sleep on couches or in private booths overnight.
Public transportation, however, does not run 24/7. Trains and buses generally start around 5 AM and stop around midnight or 1 AM, depending on the line. Taxis and ride shares are available during these hours, but please note that taxi rates increase late at night.

What to do in Tokyo for half a day?

If you only have half a day to explore Tokyo, it’s important to prioritize and focus on a specific area or activity that interests you most. Here are a couple of options:
Option 1: Cultural Exploration in Asakusa
Senso-ji Temple: Visit Senso-ji, the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo. The main approach to the temple, Nakamise Dori, is lined with small shops selling traditional souvenirs and snacks.
Kappabashi Street: Visit the Asakusa kitchen town for lots of fantastic traditional shops with ceramics and souvenirs.
Lunch: Try some traditional Japanese cuisine. I recommend Sometarō for okonomiyaki.
Option 2: Modern Tokyo in Shibuya and Harajuku
Shibuya Crossing: Visit the famous Shibuya Crossing. Nearby, you can also see the statue of Hachiko, the loyal dog.
Shopping in Shibuya: Check out the trendy shops and boutiques in the area. If you’re into music or books, visit Tsutaya in Shibuya, one of the largest CD and book stores in Tokyo.
Harajuku and Takeshita Street: A short walk from Shibuya, Harajuku is renowned for its unique street fashion. Takeshita Street is lined with trendy boutiques and cafes.
Lunch: Grab a crepe or cotton candy from one of the many food stands in Harajuku, or try a local café for a more substantial meal.

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Cory from You Could Travel entering Senso-ji in Tokyo, Japan

Cory Varga – Cory Varga is a licensed travel agent and published travel writer. Her main expertise is writing about Japan, where she happily lives with her husband.
Cory published her first book on Japanese customs and manners because she’s obsessed with everything Japan and wants to share more about the local customs with the rest of the world.
While Cory has visited hundreds of destinations and has lived in 7 different countries, Japan remains her favorite place to live and write about. Cory is multilingual.


6 responses to “1 day in Tokyo: The ultimate 24 hours in Tokyo itinerary”

  1. yokomeshii Avatar

    Perfect 24 hours in Tokyo and love all your photos! I love food, so would probably add in a visit to the Momofuku noodle Museum and Tsukiji fish markets 🙂

    1. Cory Avatar

      The Tsukiji fish market really is a dream come true! The food there, oh my word…So fresh and delicious, it’s unreal. You must visit Tsukiji if you go to Tokyo.

  2. Becca Huxley Avatar
    Becca Huxley

    Love this! Tokyo is one place I’ve always wanted to visit, and definitely will one day! Really enjoyed reading this and seeing your pictures!

    1. Cory Avatar

      Hi Becca! Tokyo has to be my favorite city on this planet. I love Japan so much. Already planning my trip back. I hope you can make to Tokyo asap.

  3. Tena Spicknall Avatar
    Tena Spicknall

    Quality article post! I’ll promote this on my social networks.

  4. Metrocazar Avatar

    Thanks for this very good travel guide about Tokyo.
    Although it is possible to see many things in 1 day, I would recomment a longer visit to Tokyo. For a very nice view at Tokyo Tower, I advise, to go visit the top floor of the WTC.

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