43 Best things to do in Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo is one of the most astounding destinations to visit, with the unique and exciting attractions to pick from. There are so many things you can do in Tokyo that you can’t do anywhere else in the world. From neon-lit streets to historic temples, world-class dining, and trendy cafés, Tokyo has it all. As Japan reopens to travellers, this comprehensive guide will help you navigate the city’s must-visit attractions, cultural experiences, practical tips, and more, ensuring you make the most of your trip.

To make the most of your Tokyo adventure, it’s crucial to plan your trip thoughtfully in advance, selecting the best places to visit and what to do in Tokyo.

My deeply researched list of things to do in Tokyo is based on my own personal experiences and includes traditional activities, must-see locations and unique eateries. The more Tokyo attractions you see, the more you’ll love the city.

I’ve visited Tokyo more times than any other destination in the world, and even lived here for a while. So my top things to do in Tokyo includes the best spots in the city with a mix of unique attractions, trendy spots, classic attractions everyone loves and fun hidden gems to add to your list. The more Tokyo attractions you’ll see, the more you’ll love the city.

Tips for your trip: book your JR Pass before you fly to save yourself time and money and book your hotel in Tokyo far in advance as the best ones tend to go pretty quickly. Check how to prepare for your trip to Japan and don’t forget your ultimate Tokyo itinerary.

Table of Contents

Walk the Shibuya Crossing

People crossing the famed Shibuya Crossing at night

You’ve probably seen many time-lapse videos of the Shibuya Crossing, but nothing can prepare you for the real Shibuya experience. It’s wonderful and awesome, and you’re going to love it. Cross Shibuya, take lots of photos, have the full experience then photograph it from above too.

Shibuya Crossing is the busiest pedestrian scramble in the world gets crossed by over half a million people every day or about 2500 people every time the lights turn green. When you visit Tokyo, make sure you are one of them!

Prepare for loud jumbo adverts and neon lights flashing from all directions. It’s a great place to immerse yourself in the beating heart of Tokyo.

Shibuya is a super trendy place where you’ll find so many shopping centres and cool restaurants, particularly popular with the younger crowds. There are many things to do in Shibuya District beyond crossing the Shibuya Pedestrian Scramble. Check out Shibuya 109 for youthful fashion, go to Loft for awesome souvenirs and enjoy the myriad eatery options. Because of its excellent location, Shibuya is also a great location to stay in Tokyo.

Don’t forget to check the Hachikō Memorial Statue in front of the crossing. It’s a well known meeting point for locals.

Best views of Shibuya Crossing

Tokyo Shibuya crossing from Shibuya Hikarie
  • Shibuya Sky – I especially recommend that you check it out during sunset. It looks absolutely stunning and there is even a cool escalator that is fantastic for photos and videos with a crazy cool view of Tokyo from above. Make sure to purchase tickets in advance. Fee: ¥2,000 (Adults), ¥1,600 (Students), ¥1,000 (Elementary Students), ¥600 (Children from three to five), Free (Under two). Open: 9 am — 11 pm
  • Starbucks (Shibuya Tsutaya) – They are just a handful of chairs overlooking the crossing, so note that this is a very busy spot. Fee: Cost of a cup of coffee (and a lot of patience).
  • JR Shibuya Station – This is our favourite location to enjoy Shibuya crossing. Head to the large walk-through which takes you from JR Shibuya Station to the department store Shibuya Mark City.
  • Shibuya Hikarie – Head to the 11th floor and see parts of the Shibuya crossing, Shibuya station and skyscrappers. It’s free to visit.

Explore the atmospheric Shibuya Nonbei Yokocho

Shibuya Yokocho - timeless observer

Shibuya Nonbei Yokocho is a cluster of izakayas sitting right next to one another along a narrow alleyway. There are many unique eaterier and bars here which specialise in specific regional ingredients. You’ll find great yakitori, ramen, tempora and seafood bowls here.

This Shibuya Nonbei Yokocho is inspired by the Showa-era yokocho, featuring vintage-style lanterns to create that cozy, nostalgic atmosphere that everyone loves in Tokyo. It’s one of the best photo spots in Shibuya, in my opinion.

When visiting Shibuya Nonbei Yokocho, enjoy a casual meal or a night out with friends while exploring the different regional flavors of Japan.

Good to know: Shibuya Nonbei Yokocho can become quite busy during peak hours, so be prepared for a lively atmosphere and potentially some waiting time for seating.

How to get there: Walk from 2 minutes from Shibuya Sta. Higashiguchi (East Exit).

Visit Senso-ji Temple

Senso-ji temple in Asakusa Tokyo

Senso-ji Temple is the oldest temple in Tokyo, located in the historical district of Asakusa. See the famed Kaminarimon gate, photograph the sake barrels at the temple and use incense sticks to purify your soul. This cultural activity is very popular with locals, as you will see many Japanese follow their Buddhist spiritual traditions.

Senso-ji is one of the most popular places to visit in Tokyo and if you with to avoid major crowds, Irecommend visiting Senso-ji first thing in the morning.

To dive deeper into Japanese spirituality, have fun and draw an omikuji at Senso-ji. An omikuji is a fortune-telling paper strip. Drawing an omikuji is not intended just for tourists. You will see locals drawing omikuji at the temples all the time.

How to get there: The best way to get there is to take the subway to Asakusa Station, Asakusa or Ginza lines. The temple is a short 10 mins walk away from the station.

Explore Nakamise shopping street

Nakamise Dori Asakusa Tokyo

After exploring the Sensoji Temple, make your way to Nakamise Shopping Street, a vibrant pedestrian walkway brimming with colorful shops and stalls. This shopping street, with a history spanning centuries, offers the perfect opportunity to purchase traditional Japanese souvenirs like folding fans, kimonos, and local crafts.

I suggest picking up a Daruma doll, which symbolizes resilience and good fortune. These dolls have empty eyes and represent a goal or desire. Fill in one eye when setting a goal or making a wish, and the other eye once you’ve accomplished it.

Don’t forget to visit the enticing food stalls along the street, where you can indulge in delectable Japanese street food. My personal favourites include ningyo-yaki (a sweet cake filled with red bean paste), age-manju (deep-fried buns), and rice crackers.

Where to eat

You’ll want to experience amazing Japanese food on your visit to Tokyo. Just 8-minute walk from Nakamise shopping street is the best okonomiyaki I’ve ever had in Tokyo. Venture to Sometarō, housed in a traditional wooden building, and one of my favourite restaurants in the city. Select your preferred ingredients and then cook the okonomiyaki yourself on a hot grill right in front of you. Not only it’s a fun experience for a first timer in Tokyo, but the dish itself is delicious and filling. A perfect foodie experience in Asakusa.

Please note that the restaurant accepts only cash payments, and upon entering, you’ll need to remove your shoes and sit in the seiza position.

Shop on Kappabashi Street

Cool household store in Kappabashi street Asakusa Tokyo

Let’s face it, one of the best things to do in Tokyo is to enjoy unusual shopping experiences and I’ve got just the place for you: Kappabashi street in Asakusa. Famously referred to as Kitchen Town, Kappabashi Street is a must-visit destination for those seeking high-quality household items and kitchenware at unbeatable prices.

It was here that I acquired the majority of my Japanese kitchen essentials, such as ramen bowls, sake bottles, matcha sets, and more. Initially popular among restaurant owners and professional chefs, Kappabashi Street has recently gained traction with locals and tourists alike, who appreciate its wide range of top-notch household goods.

How to get there: Located just a 15-minute walk from Senso-ji, the street boasts over 170 diverse shops.

Admire the Meiji Shrine

Wedding at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo

Visit one of Tokyo’s most popular shrine, the renowned Meiji Shrine (Meiji Jingu) which is a prominent Shinto shrine honouring Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken, nestled amidst a verdant forest that provides a serene atmosphere.

As you enter the shrine’s premises, you’ll be greeted by a grand torii gate and a tranquil gravel pathway. It’s quite common to witness wedding ceremonies taking place on the grounds—I’ve been lucky enough to observe a traditional Japanese wedding on multiple visits.

When visiting a Shinto shrine here is what you need to do: At the offering hall, you can throw a coin into the box, bow twice, clap your hands twice, bow once more and ring the bell or gong to get God’s attention. Say your prayer for a few seconds.

Meiji Shrine is right next to Yoyogi Park, a lovely park with over 10,000 trees. It’s an ideal place to observe the cherry blossoms in the spring. Autumn, for the koyo festival, is another popular time to visit Yoyogi Park. Don’t miss the gingko tree avenue, which turns into a stunning golden colour during the autumn months.

Explore the Tsukiji Fish Market

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

Tsukiji outer market is a bustling market with lots of food stalls adjacent to the world famous Tsukiji which was relovated to Toyosu instead. Tsukiji continues to remain a popular destination for locals and tourists where you can find a wide range of delicious and fresh snacks.

I definately recommend coming here for trying out affordable sushi and sashimi and my favourite, tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette).

How to get there: The market is easily accessible from Tsukijishijō Station on the Toei Ōedo Line or Tsukiji Station on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line. It’s a good idea to visit the market in the morning as by lunch time it becomes very busy.

Stroll through Ueno Park

Beautiful round Cedar tree in Ueno Park

One of the best parks to visit in Tokyo is Ueno Park because it’s home to many shrines, museums, a pond, and even a zoo. Ueno Park is a popular hanami spot during the cherry blossom season. There are so many things you can do in Ueno Park and I’d allocate at least half a day to see as much as possible.

  • Take a boat ride on the pond in one of the swan-shaped boats. The price is JPY 800 for 30 minutes ride.
  • See the Hanazono Inari-jinja Shrine, with its small path of vermilion torii gates (admission is free).
  • Don’t miss the Kiyomizu Kannon-do – built in 1632 this particular temple is known for its special platform overlooking a circle made from a pine tree. It’s called the pine tree of the moon (tsuki no matsu). The admission is free.
  • Some of the best Tokyo museums are here in Ueno Park. If you’re interested in Japanese culture and history, make sure to visit the Tokyo National museum (admission fee: JPY 1,000), the Tokyo metropolitan art museum (admission is free) and National Museum of Nature and Science (admission fee: JPY 630).

Eat street food in Ame-Yoko shopping street

Entrance to Ame Yokocho in Ueno Park

Ame-Yoko Shopping Street, also known as Ameya-Yokochō, is a shopping area located in the Ueno district just a few minutes from the park entrance. The street stretches between Ueno and Okachimachi Stations, running parallel to the Yamanote train line.

One of the key attractions here is the street food stalls selling delicious Japanese snacks including takoyaki (octopus balls), taiyaki (fish shaped cake filled with sweet red bean paste, chocolate or custard), dango (chewy rice flour dumplings) and yaki-imo (roasted sweet potato).

You’ll also find other products like clothes, accessories, cosmetics and electronics. In my opinion, the best time to visit is after dark, to enjoy the sounds and colours when Ame-Yoko truly comes to live.

Shop in Ginza District

Ginza chuo dori at night

Ginza is a must-visit for first timers to Tokyo. Located in the heart of the city, Ginza is known for its upscale shopping and dining experiences, as well as its many interesting attractions.

There are so many fantastic attractions in Ginza. Visit the Starbucks Reserve located in Ginza Six and enjoy a unique cup of coffee. Head to the rooftop gardenof Ginza Six and admire Chuo Dori from above and walk around myriad plants and greenary. It’s an ideal place to photograph Ginza from above.

Head to the Kiriko rooftop terrce to see the Ginza Yurakucho intersection from above. Don’t miss the Uniqlo flagship store and make sure to take advantage of tax free shopping. Just around the corner is the Muji flagship store with its cool workshop and atelier.

For awesome souvenirs, I recommend shopping in Ginza Okinawan Washita Shop, which sells fantastic produce from Okinawa islands. It’s also a great place to eat lunch. Try the seaweed tempura and fish bites.

For photography, I recommend the iconic Ginza Wako clock tower which is the symbol of the district. The clock tower and the Wako department store have been featured in many shows over time. The Wako building is just 1 minute walk from Ginza station.

As a tip, I recommend visiting Ginza during the weekend because the main boulevard called Chuo Dori is closed for cars and the street becomes a pedestrianised street.

Where to eat

Eggs and things hawaiian menu

Ginza is one of my favourite locations for food in Tokyo, so you have so much to try here. For breakfast, I recommend bills Ginza which comes with stunning views over the district. Alternatively, try Eggs n’ Things which are known for their Hawaiian flair and incredible pancakes with a mountain of whipped cream.

Here are some of the top kaiseki restaurants I recommend in Ginza: Ginza Kojyu (Michelin star ££££), Ginza Ibuki (£££), Ginza Uchiyama (£££), TSURUTOKAME (£££), Umenohana Ginza (££). For more affordable options, I recommend the restaurants in Ginza Six, including the freshly made pasta from Eataly.

Visit the famous Memory Lane (Omoide Yokocho)

Memory Lane aka omoide yokocho in Tokyo Japan

Located in Shinjuku, the Memory Lane is a small, cramped alleyway with many eateries and tiny bars. For foodies, this is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Tokyo as you’ll find so many intimate joints selling yakitori (skewered chicken).

The history of Memory Lane dates back to the 1940s when it started as an informal gathering spot with food stalls and black markets. Over the years, it has transformed into a popular destination for locals and tourists seeking a unique dining experience. When visiting Memory Lane, be aware that some izakayas have limited seating, and it is common for customers to share tables with strangers in this tight-knit atmosphere.

The best time to visit depends on what you are after. If you would like to take pictures, we recommend visiting during the week, after dark or just before sunset. If you want to have a night out with friends, Fridays, and weekends are the best time.

To get there, take the subway to Shinjuku-Nishiguchi Station or the main Shinjuku Station.

My recommendation: Join a guided tour around Shinjuku and learn not just about Memory Lane but also explore Shinjuku and the entertainment district of Kabukichō. A guide can help you navigate the Japanese food menus to make sure you try the best skewers.

Relax in Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

The Taiwan pavilion in the Shinjuku national garden

One of the most relaxing things to do in Tokyo is to visit the gorgeous Shinjuku Gyoen in the morning. Shinjuky Gyoen is one of the largest parks in Tokyo and a popular hanami spot. Located just in the popular touristic Shinjuku neighbourhood, not many are aware of this breathtaking gem in Tokyo.

The Shinjuku Gyoen undertakes a beautiful transformation during the sakura season as well as in mid-autumn when all tree leaves change colour. It’s a must-see spot when visiting Tokyo.

The park is divided into three main sections: the Japanese Traditional Garden, the French Formal Garden, and the English Landscape Garden. The gardens are most beautiful during the cherry blossom season and in the autumn when the leaves start to turn.

My recommendation: Bring a blanket to enjoy a relaxing picnic right in the heart of Tokyo.

Top tip: Don’t miss the Shinjuku Gyo-en Greenhouse which is a secret gem in Shinjuku gyoen national garden. Not many know of this stunning tropical oasis which houses over 1700 tropical plants. It’s free to enter and enjoy and it’s located in the north east of the park.

How to get there: To get to Shinjuku Gyoen, take the subway to Shinjuku-Gyoemmae Station and make your way towards the “Shinjuku Gate”. If you arrive at the Sendagaya Station, the Sendagaya Gate is just right outside. The 3rd option is the Okido Gate which is also close to the Shinjuku-Gyoemmae Station.

Useful information: The park is open from 9:00 am to 16:00 pm (gates close at 16.30 pm). The park is closed on Mondays and National Holidays. There is an entry fee of 500 yen.

Eat conveyor belt sushi (Katsumidori Seibu Shibuya)

Sushi at conveyor belt restaurant katsumidori seibu shibuya

It’s Tokyo, so let’s face, you definately want to try as much sushi as possible. I know I did when I fist visited Tokyo. And wow, it’s so fresh and delicious! Head to Katsumidori Seibu Shibuya, a cool conveyor belt sushi restaurant with affordable prices. I recommend this particular sushi restaurant not just because prices are decent, but because it’s a more comfortable experience for a first timer to Tokyo.

The menu is available on a tablet with English translation too. You can order sushi from the tablet, and it will be delivered via a mini shinkansen train directly to your table. Simply order as you go and try as many variations of sushi as you fancy. It’s such a fun and unique experience in Tokyo.

See sumo players practice at a Sumo stable

You Could Travel Sumo Players

Sumo is a national sport in Japan that has been practised since ancient times. When sumo wrestlers don’t participate in tournaments, they practice every day. Visit one of these sumo practices at a Sumo Stable and learn about this unique Japanese sport.

Visit sumo practise in the morning, around Ryogoku, near the popular district of Asakusa. To attend, you will need a local tour guide to accompany you, who speaks Japanese and can organise this experience on your behalf. You cannot just walk into any sumo stable without prior pre-approval.

Seeing sumo players in real life really is a bucket list experience. Before the practice, your guide will tell you about some ancient traditions still preserved in sumo wrestling. I learnt so much about their meals, daily routine and even average salaries for a sumo player. At the end of the visit, you may have a chance to talk to the sumo players and even take a fun picture with them.

Useful Information: Since you are not allowed to visit a sumo stable without pre-approval, you need to book your experience well in advance. I recommend booking with Viator for an excellent experience.

Explore the Mori Art Museum

G from You Could Travel admiring the art in Mori Art Museum in Roppongi

The Mori Art Museum is a contemporary art museum located on the 53rd floor of the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower. The museum showcases a lot of really cool contemporary art, architecture and interactive displays. The museum doesn’t have a permanent collection which is one of the key reasons I love it so much and continue to visit it every time I go back to Tokyo. There is always something new and exciting, thought-provoking exhibitions and interesting displays around contemporary issues.

You can buy the ticket directly from the counter and while you are there, make sure to pop in and see one of the most stunning views of Tokyo skyline from above from the Sky Deck observatory located on the same floor as the museum. Tickets for the Sky Deck are sold separately.

How to get there: The Mori Art Museum is easily accessible via public transportation, with Roppongi Station being the closest subway stop. It is open daily, with extended hours on Tuesdays and weekends. There is an admission fee for the museum and the Tokyo City View observation deck, with discounted rates available for students, seniors, and groups.

Visit Kabukicho

Also known as Tokyo’s red-light district, Kabukicho is the largest adult-only entertainment area in Asia! A range of attractions catering to diverse audiences can be found in this area, but for the most part, this is a location where I recommend that you stroll around and admire without engaging directly. The district is home to numerous adult entertainment venues, such as hostess bars, strip clubs, and love hotels, all of which are legal and regulated in Japan.

While Kabukicho is generally perceived as a safe area, it is advisable to have a local guide if you plan on exploring the nightlife. The district is visually stunning, with neon lights and towering billboards creating an ideal setting for photography enthusiasts. It’s also where you’ll find the major Godzilla statue that stands over the entrance to the Toho Cinemas building.

How to get there: To get to Kabukicho, take the subway to Shinjuku Station. Kabukicho is about 10 mins walk away. Definitely visit after dark, however, don’t stay until very late (eg. after midnight) without a local guide.

Useful information: Discover the Red Light District and Golden Gai neighbourhood with a guided tour. We recommend that you book a nightlife tour in Shinjuku.

Discover the Nezu Museum

Cory in Tokyo at the nezu museum garden in the autumn

Nezu Museum, located in Aoyama, houses a remarkable collection of pre-modern Japanese and East Asian art, including paintings, sculptures, and ceramics. The entrance to Nezu is so spectacular with a beautiful path lined with swaying bamboo stalks.

Once you’ve seen the interior, make your way to the Nezu Museum garden which is one of the most beautiful places in the whole of Tokyo. The garden has superb stone paths, manicured gardens, tea houses and even a traditional wooden boat.

You can spend hours relaxing and photographing the gardens at Nezu Museum, this is how stunning and varied the place is. To recoup, head to the NEZUCAFÉ, the museum cafe which offers impecable views of the gardens. Order a cup of tea with a delicious seasonal Japanese cake.

Have lunch at Aoyama Flower Market

Discover one of Tokyo’s most stunning eateries, where a café meets florist in perfect harmony. Dine amidst gorgeous flowers and lush plants, creating an enchanting ambiance. Their menu features an array of fresh, seasonal dishes that elevate your dining experience.

Indulge in a beautifully presented omurice adorned with edible flowers, and sip on exquisite teas infused with aromatic herbs.

For dessert, make sure to try their hana-kanmuri fresh toast, topped with seasonal fruits, edible flowers, milk sauce, ice cream, and whipped cream. Not only does it taste incredible but it looks picture perfect too.

Good to know: This is an incredibly popular lunch place especially for couples on the weekends. The queues can be fairly long at times but it’s well worth it.

Aoyama flower market tea house omurice

Eat like a local in Shinbashi Yurakucho Gado-shita

Shinbashi Yurakucho Gado-shita is an atmospheric izakaya area right underneath the Yamanote Line in Shinbashi area. In fact the name itself Gado-shita means “below the girder”. Shinbashi is right in the heart of Tokyo and with so many corporate offices all around, it’s easy to see why many salarymen come here to unwind.

Shinbashi Yurakucho Gado-shita is lined with izakayas, bars and restaurants tuckets benenath the railway tracks. Grab a drink and a local unopretentious dish and try and make friends with some curious locals who will inevitably try to get to know more about you. It’s one of my favourite places for authentic izakayas in the city.

Top things to do in Tokyo - salaryman entering a Yokocho in Tokyo

Enjoy panoramic views from Tokyo Skytree

View of Tokyo skytree in Sumida

Tokyo Skytree is a modern landmark located in Sumida. It is very popular because it is the tallest tower in Japan and the second tallest structure in the world after Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

While it is a working broadcasting tower for television and radio signals, many know the Tokyo Skytower for its breathtaking panoramic views of Tokyo from its two observation decks.

Visit both the Tembo Deck, located at a height of 350 meters (1,148 feet) and the Tembo Galleria, situated at 450 meters (1,476 feet). On a clear day you can see and photograph Mount Fuji.

The Tokyo Skytree is not just about the views. At its base, visit the Tokyo Solamachi which is a retail complex with over 300 stores and restaurants.

How to get there: To get to the Tokyo Skytree, take the Tokyo Skytree Line or the Asakusa Line to Oshiage Station, which is directly connected to the tower.

Useful information: Make sure to purchase tickets in advance, especially during peak seasons, to avoid long queues.

Visit the Imperial Palace

The gardens at the Imperial Palace Tokyo

I definately recommend adding the Imperial Palace to your Tokyo bucket list. Located in downtown Tokyo, The Imperial Palace is the primary residence of the Emperor of Japan. Naruhito is the Emperor of Japan. He acceded to the Chrysanthemum Throne on 1 May 2019, beginning the Reiwa era.

Although the Palace itself is closed to the public, you can enjoy a walk through the East Gardens which look stunning year around. The Imperial Palace is a popular tourist attraction, so make sure to explore as early in the morning as possible.

How to get there: To get there, take the subway to Ōtemachi Station. The gate is about 5 mins away. The park is open from 9:00 am to 17:00 pm, except on Mondays and Fridays.

Useful information: There is no admission fee to visit the Imperial Palace. You can go to the beautiful Eastern Garden free of charge.

Where to eat

For an exquisite and fancy experience, make a reservation at the Palace Hotel Tokyo to have their seasonal dessert accompanied with a delightful cup of tea. You can see part of the gardens from the restaurant. In the autumn, the theme is around chestnuts whereas in the spring you will see fresh fruits like melons and sakura.

Alternatively, had to Kitte Building in central Tokyo (10 minute walk from the Imperial Palace) to enjoy delicious soba with tempura from Shinshu-Matsumoto Hikariya located on the 5th floor. Don’t miss the beautiful rooftop garden that offers stunning views of the Tokyo station where you can spot shinkansen coming and going into the hub.

Discover the Yayoi Kusama Museum

Yayoi kusama merchendise: dotted red pumpkin

The Yayoi Kusama Museum is a contemporary art museum dedicated to the life and work of Yayoi Kusama, one of Japan’s most renowned and influential artists. You’ve definitely seen the Yayoi Kusama famous yellow pumpkin on pictures of Naoshima Island. Great news, you can now see the entire Yayoi Kusama collection in Tokyo. Kusama is a unique Japanese artist who focuses on dots as art patterns and you can celebrate her by visiting her entire collection in the Yayoi Kusama museum.

The museum building is a white cube-like structure designed by the architectural firm Kume Sekkei. It has five floors, with the exhibition spaces on the upper levels and a gift shop on the ground floor. Visiting the five-floor museums located in Shinjuku is a must-do activity if you love the dotted world of Kusama. This should be very high on your bucket list, especially if you’re looking to snap some unique photos in Tokyo.

More Details: Make sure you reserve tickets from the official Yayoi Kusama Museum well in advance. Tickets usually sell out months in advance! Tickets cost JPY 3,200 for adults, and you can only book a 90-minute slot.

How to get there: To get there, take the subway to Ōtemachi Station. The gate is about 5 mins away. The park is open from 9:00 am to 17:00 pm, except on Mondays and Fridays.To reach the museum, the nearest train station is Waseda on the Tokyo Metro Tozai Line, and it’s a short walk from there.

Visit the Ghibli Museum

Calling all Studio Ghibli fans: you can experience the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo! Meet Totoro, take the cat bus through the Ghibli Forest and take photos of Laputian Robots.

Located on the western side of Tokyo, the Ghibli Museum is a popular tourist destination for all Studio Ghibli fans. Walk around this museum and learn how Japanese animation really comes to life. It’s an ideal thing to do in Tokyo for everyone who wants to experience Spirited Away but in real life.

To get there, take the subway to Kichijoji Station (Chuo Line). The park is about 20 mins walk on Kichijoji-Dori avenue. It is open from 10:00 am to 18:00 pm. Check times during national holidays.

Important information: Ticket prices are between 100 yen and 1000 yen based on age. Tickets are usually sold-out weeks or even months in advance. It is a good idea to join a guided tour or purchase your tickets online. If you want to visit independently, note that right now, it’s not possible to buy tickets from overseas. You can, however, visit a Lawson store in Japan to reserve your slot as soon as you arrive to Japan.

Enjoy a traditional tea ceremony

Japanese Tea Ceremony Matcha Master

The Japanese tea ceremony is a form of art, and locals study it for years. This is a great thing to do in Tokyo for any zen-lover who loves green tea and Japanese culture.

During the ceremony, you will learn more about customs and manners around serving matcha tea. You will use unique Japanese utensils specifically created for the sole purpose of drinking matcha.

A traditional Japanese tea ceremony takes many hours, but if time is precious, you can attend a shorter, slightly more informal tea ceremony created to accommodate tourists in Tokyo.

You will usually indulge in a matcha tea served alongside Wagashi (traditional Japanese desserts, made exclusively by hand) while wearing a kimono. Some tea ceremonies in Tokyo allow you to wear your own clothes, although you will definately have to remove your shoes before entering the tatami areas.

Useful information: We booked with Klook to enjoy a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. During peak times in Tokyo they get really popular so many sure you book well in advance.

Attend a Kabuki performance

Kabuki theatre performance in Japan

I strongly suggest experiencing the captivating world of Ginza by securing tickets to a Kabuki show at the esteemed Kabuki-za Theatre. Kabuki is a classical Japanese performance art characterized by its intricate costumes, makeup, and elaborate stage designs. Performances usually take place towards the end of the year and early spring, with ticket prices ranging from 5,000 to 20,000 Japanese yen. The theater is only a one-minute walk from Higashi Ginza Station.

If your schedule doesn’t permit attending a performance, consider stopping by the Kabuki-za Gallery, located within the theater complex. Learn about the rich history of Kabuki, and see the props, costumes, and artifacts from previous shows. It’s an excellent opportunity to deepen your appreciation for this remarkable art form.

Experience a Japanese-style public bath (sento or onsen)

You Could Travel Foot Onsen

Head to Maenohara Onsen Sayano Yudokoro, one of the most popular onsen located in Tokyo. It’s the perfect activity to enjoy an authentic and relaxing Japanese hot springs experience. The onsen is open from 9 am until midnight with the last admission at 11pm.

Admission fees for adults start from just ¥900 and give you 5 hours inside the onsen. You don’t even need to bring anything with you as you will find shampoo, conditioner, body wash and dryers at the onsen available at no extra charge. If you don’t fancy bringing your own tower or bathrobe, no problem as you can rent both for as little as ¥560.

My advice is to familiarise yourself with using an onsen before going there. Apart from enjoying the gorgeouus hot springs, book a treatment and make sure to make full use of the lovely saunas.

How to get there: To get there, take the subway to Ōtemachi Station. The gate is about 5 mins away. The park is open from 9:00 am to 17:00 pm, except on Mondays and Fridays.To get to Maenohara Onsen Sayano Yudokoro take the Mita Line from Tokyo Station. The onsen is just a 4 minute walk from the station.

Discover Old Tokyo Charm at Yanaka Ginza

Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street

Yanaka, located in east Tokyo, offers a nostalgic glimpse of old Tokyo (Shitamachi) with its well-preserved Showa-era buildings, quaint cafés, delicious street food, and independent boutiques. If you want to experience a lesser known part of Tokyo, then Yanaka is your place, as you’ll enjoy a calm, traditional atmosphere, with a more authentic taste of local Japanese life.

The main attraction, Yanaka Ginza shopping street, is lined with small shops offering street food, souvenirs, and traditional crafts. The area also features numerous temples, shrines, and traditional houses.

Take a break at Yanaka Beer Hall located in the Ueno Sakuragi Atari complex, a three-storey house built in 1938 that was renovated to preserve its vintage appeal. Order the Japanese craft beer tasters to pick your favourite.

Stroll through the picturesque Yanaka Cemetery, which is particularly beautiful in spring and autumn, and don’t miss the Cat tail doughnuts from Yanaka Shippoya.

Top tip: For an atmospheric and stunning photo of Tokyo, photograph Yanaka Ginza from the top of Yuyake Dandan stairs (sunset stairs) which look especially gorgeous at sunset as the name dictates.

Explore Harajuku and Takeshita Street

Local wearing cool and trendy clothes in front of Takeshita street Harajuku

Visit Harajuku to experience the famed Takeshita Street, a pedestrian shopping street dotted with malls and independent fashion boutiques featuring super colourful outfits. For the complete kawaii novice, Harajuku is also a great introduction to the Japanese latest cute crazes.

Come here to find unusual fashion boutiques and vintage clothing stores. Even food is colourful here as you can find a variety of crazy pancakes filled with cream, fruit and cakes, as well as rainbow sandwiches and the most popular, the rainbow candy floss.

I must warn you that Takeshita street can get very busy and it’s a fun avenue to check out, especially if you travel with kids. To get to Takeshita street you need to walk for just 2 minutes from Harajuku station.

Where to eat

  • Tonkatsu – Tonkatsu from Maisen Aoyama. This is my top recommendation for lunch in Harajuku as it’s one of my favourite restaurants in Tokyo. It’s just 10 minutes walk from Takeshite street.
  • Desserts – Try Harajuku crepes are very popular as they are full of colours and fun. Try them from Marion Crepes, Santa Monica Crepes, or Angel’s Heart. For something more colourful head to Totti Candy Factory to get a large rainbow coloured candy floss. It does get very busy at times, so be prepared to queue.

Attend a traditional Japanese festival

Visit the Sanja matsuri in Tokyo Japan

If you’re lucky enough to visit Tokyo during a matsuri, then you have the perfect opporunity to really immerse yourself in Tokyo’s incredible culture. You’ll witness a ceremony or ritual and performances which have been passed down through generations.

And almost all matsuri come with a variety of food stalls selling special food and snacks. Let’s face it, the perfect excuse to try a variety of Japanese dishes. You’ll see floats, parades and impressive displays which reiterate the rich and fascinating history of Japan.

Make sure to check the list of all Tokyo festivals and see which one you can attend on your visit.

Shop at Don Quijote (DONKI)

Inside a Don Quijote store in Tokyo

Don Quijote, affectionately known as “Donki,” is an essential stop for anyone seeking distinctive, budget-friendly, and fascinating items. And honestly, you are going to love every bit of merchandise in this store.

Immerse yourself in a wonderland of unconventional Japanese products, ranging from snacks and souvenirs to eccentric fashion items and plush toys.

Each floor offers a fresh and intriguing shopping experience but my favourite is always the one around cosmetics and food.

You can find so many Don Quijote stores all around Tokyo but the largest is the Don Quijote Megastore in Shinjuku. There is one in Akihabara and probably the least known amongst tourists is the Don Quijote Nakameguro Honten which is also the least busy.

Enjoy a night out in Golden Gai

Is Japan expensive? Cory exploring Japan to find out the real cost of a trip to Japan

For an epic night out, head into the maze of several narrow streets of Golden Gai. Golden Gai is a famous district in Shinjuku with six narrow alleyways and over 200 tightly packed bars.

The establishments are so small that usually, no more than 5 people can fit in. Some establishments even have a “regulars-only” policy, while others warmly welcome newcomers and foreign visitors. Establishments, who serve foreigners, usually display an English menu outside. The rest of the places are reserved for locals so don’t be offended if you can’t get in.

It can be intimidating to enter one of these super tiny places. If you are not comfortable going there on your own, join a guided tour around the Golden Gai neighbourhood to experience the best of the unique izakaya, bar stall and pub nightlife.

This is something we did during our first trip to Tokyo and we learnt so much about the local culture and what is like to enjoy a pub crawl in Tokyo.

Insider Tip: To get to Golden Gai, take the subway to Shinjuku Station. Golden Gai area is about 5-10 mins walk. Hours vary from place to place. Some are open 24/7 some open from afternoon until late. Visit during weekdays as the area is less busy. Right after work, locals head to this area to drink and have food. With the tourists, it becomes crowded. Fridays are obviously crazy.

Tokyu Plaza Omohara Garden

Tokyo Japan Sunset - as seen from Omohara garden

Omohara Garden, also known as the “Omotesando Koffee Garden,” is a green oasis located on the 6th floor of Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku in Tokyo. It’s one of my favourite places in Tokyo and one I keep returning to year after year.

The rooftop garden is connected to a Starbucks so you can grab a nice cup of matcha latte and relax with lovely views of the city. On a clear day, you can see as gar as Mount Fuji. I got to see the tip of Mount Muji at sunset and it was one of the most beautiful experiences in Tokyo!

The garden is designed with a modern, minimalist approach, featuring wooden decking, lush greenery, and comfortable seating areas. I also recommend visiting the youtful and cool shops inside Tokyu Plaza as well. If you’re hungry, there’s a bills restaurants located just above the Starbucks inside Tokyu Plaza which also offers wonderful views over Omotesando.

How to get there: To get there, take the subway to Ōtemachi Station. The gate is about 5 mins away. The park is open from 9:00 am to 17:00 pm, except on Mondays and Fridays.To get to Omohara Garden walk for about 5-7 minutes from Harajuku Station (Omotesando Exit) down Meiji-dori Avenue. Tokyu Plaza Omotesando is a distinctive building with a mirrored entrance and an escalator that leads up to the shopping complex.

Have afternoon tea at the Grand Lounge

afternoon tea with a view at Grand Lounge Ginza Six

For a fancy but epic experience in Tokyo, book an afternoon tea at The Grand Lounge, located inside Ginza Six. The elegant lounge offers a classic afternoon tea experience, complete with finger sandwiches, pastries, and a selection of teas. Each element is so beautifully presented and the menu changes often, based on seasonality.

You must book it in advance but my husband and I loved our experience so much, it was worth every penny. Prices for afternoon tea start from ¥ 5,000 per person.

Top tip: During your afternoon tea, you can order as many types of tea from the menu as you want.

See Tokyo from above Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building or Tochō for short can be found in Shinjuku and it features two observation deck on the 45th floor.

The building has two towers, the North and the South tower and each has its own observation deck at the 45th floor. Both observatories are open to visitors free of charge.

Admire Tokyo from above and see various landmarks such as the Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Skytree and even Mount Fuji on a clear day. To access the building, it’s just a 10 minute walk from the west exit of the Shinjuku station.

Explore the Todoroki Valley

Reflection Deep Forest Tokyo - Todoraki Valley

Todoroki Valley is a hidden gem located in the Setagaya Ward of Tokyo allowing you to enjoy a quiet and tranquil setting away from the busy streets of the city. Take the well marked walking path that runs through the valley and along the Yazawa river.

You will come across the Todoroki Fudo Temple, wooden bridges, small waterfalls, all wonderful for photos in this calm, green oasis. Once you reach it, you won’t believe this place is actually in Tokyo, happily coexisting alongside bustling places like Shibuya and Shinjuku. And yet this is exactly the beauty of a megapolis such as Tokyo, with its perfect balance of concrete jungle mixed with zen and peaceful nature.

How to get there: To get there, take the subway to Ōtemachi Station. The gate is about 5 mins away. The park is open from 9:00 am to 17:00 pm, except on Mondays and Fridays.To reach Todoroki Valley, take the Tokyu Oimachi Line to Todoroki Station. From there, it’s just a short walk to the entrance of the valley.

Try a Japanese cooking class

My wagashi during the wagashi cooking class in Tokyo

Did you know that Tokyo has the second largest number of Michelin star restaurants in the whole world? Sometimes named the world’s kitchen, Tokyo is home to some wonderful restaurants. And you can learn how to make Japanese food in a cooking class led by a local.

Take a Bento class to learn how to make the best bento boxes at home. Or if you want to know how to make the best sushi, a Sushi Class is a must where you will learn everything you need to know about making the perfect sticky rice with the perfect balance of flavours. It goes without saying that ramen lovers should go for a ramen cooking class to learn the secret in the dashi stock. Lessons are in English and are very educational and delicious. They are also a wonderful way to connect with other first timers in Tokyo and make long lasting friends.

When I last visited Tokyo I decided to also take a wagashi cooking lesson to learn how to make and decorate these highly stunning Japanese confectionary.

Book your Tokyo cooking class in advance.

Try pineapple cakes at SunnyHills

entrance to Sunny Hills Aoyama

Want to combine delicious desserts with stunning architecture? Then you will want to head to SunnyHills, a Taiwanese pineapple cake store located in the Minami-Aoyama district of Tokyo.

The building is a three story wooden strcture with interlocking timber beams which form an out of ordinary lattice pattern. It was designed by architect Kengo Kuma and it’s got to be one of the most photogenic shops in Tokyo.

The SunnyHills store offers complimentary tastings of their famous pineapple cakes alongside a range of delicious teas. Make sure to get your box of pineapple cakes or banana waffle cookies which are perfect with your morning cup of coffee. Your beautifully designed box comes in a special textile tote for keepsake.

SunnyHills is just a short walk from Omotesando Station, making it easily accessible for those exploring the area.

Enjoy tea themed cocktails at Mixology Salon

Skilled bartender creating Japanese tea cocktails at Mixology Salon Japan

Mixology Salon is a stylish cocktail bar located on the 13th floor in Ginza Six. It was featured as No.49 Asia’s 50 Best Bars in 2019. The bar focuses on tea infludes cocktails crafted by skilled bartenders using a variety of high-quality teas, fresh ingredients, and premium spirits.

The bar’s menu features a range of cocktails inspired by different types of tea, such as matcha, sencha, and hojicha, as well as seasonal and limited-edition creations.

My husband and I loved this place so much, we came back twice in one week! Expect a low key atmosphere in a classy setting.

Visit the Tokyo Disney Resort (Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea)

Whether you have kids or just want to enjoy one of the best activities in Tokyo, Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea are a must. The park in Tokyo is better and bigger than either of the Disney parks in Hong Kong and Shanghai. We think it’s even better than the one in Paris!

The Tokyo DisneySea is an award-winning park that has been internationally recognised for its design and concept. Even if you don’t have any affinity for Disney movies, you will 100% enjoy this wonderful theme park with epic rides.

Useful information: To get there, take the subway to Maihama Station. Use the Resort Gateway Station to board the Disney monorail to easily get around the park. The park opens at 8:00 am and closes at 22:00 pm. You can stay in one of the official Tokyo Bay hotels for easier access to the park.

Weekdays are usually less busy, but let’s face it, this is Disneyland…

Important: Make sure to book your tickets well in advance. We recommend buying your tickets via Klook. If you are looking for a convenient transfer from downtown Tokyo to Disneyland and want to skip the line at the entrance, consider booking skip-the-line tickets.

Take a stroll through the fashionable Omotesando area

Spend an afternoon wandering through elegant Omotesando shopping street. Often compared to Paris’ Champs-Élysées, Omotesando Shopping Street is ideal for browsing luxurious storefronts or treating yourself to some high-end shopping. It looks especially beautiful in the winter, when the zelkova trees are wrapped in fairy lights, turning the main avenue into a gorgeous attractions.

Discover high-end boutiques, fashionable shops, and sophisticated cafés. Make sure to stop by Gyre mall, where you can enjoy a contemporary art exhibition and visit the MoMA Design store. For a pleasant coffee break, head to the 4th floor café, which offers an earthy ambiance and is perfect for photo opportunities. The café also features a terrace that overlooks Omotesando. For a sweeter experience, venture down to the B1 level and savor a delicious coffee paired with unique Tamitu herbal honey.

Experience an Izakaya (Japanese gastropub)

Experiencing an Izakaya is a must have experience in Tokyo, even though, at first, it may feel way out of your comfort zone. An izakaya offers an authentic glimpse into a more causal and dining experience.

Eating in an Izakaya is usually a cheaper affair and you get to enjoy a wide range of classics like yakitori, sashimi and tempura. Of course, you can pair everything with Japanese beer, sake or wines.

Izakayas are welcoming and warm where you’ll see locals having a good time after work. Some people will be curious and try and talk to you in English. It’s such a nice way to interact with Japanese people.

If you’re not sure which izakaya to pick first, head to the epic Gonpachi Nishiazabu, a Japanese izakaya that inspired Quentin Tarantino’s iconic restaurant scene in Kill Bill. The atmosphere is energetic and fun and the menu has plenty of delicious izakaya foods including yakitori, tofu, tempura, dumplings and more. I recommend making a reservation online. Gonpachi Nishiazabu is just a 6 minutes walk from Mori Tower

Check out Akihabara Electric Town

Tokyo Akihabara Station, Adult Guide

Experience the otaku culture right in the heart of Tokyo. Also known as the electric town, Akihabara is home to Tokyo’s largest electronic department stores. Many come here for the high concentration of anime and manga stores and cosplay cafes.

This Super Mario themed Go-Kart tour has become a must-do in Tokyo. You can dress as your favourite Mario character and drive around in Akihabara in a Mario Kart. The ride is between 1-2 hours and it’s worth signing up quick because it tends to sell out.

Top Tip for Akihabara: The opening times of department stores, attractions and independent shops vary. However, they are usually open until late at night. Akihabara is best after dark when all the lights come up. Weekends are typically very busy, weekdays are less so.

  • Go to an anime shop – For the ultimate geeky experience, venture into a real Japanese anime shop. Located mainly in Akihabara, these shops are more than meet the eye. Tourists can simply browse around the multi-storey shops or can get short term memberships and gain access to a specialised private room. Tip: Ask at the reception about their English books. Most shops cater to the Japanese audience only but some now have English books.
  • Rent a room in an anime shop – If you want to spend the night in an anime shop, you can rent a room with a computer so you can watch your favourite anime collection. In the morning, you can take a shower as these establishments come with all facilities, some even have nail salons.
  • Visit a maid cafe – Mainly found in Akihabara, maid cafes are a sensation in Japan. Japanese waitresses are dressed as maids who serve kawaii food and desserts. To make sure you visit the right establishment, we recommend signing up for a guided tour around Akihabara where locals can show you specialised stores and cafes.

Useful information: To order in a specialised maid cafe, you might have to “meow” instead of saying “sumimasen” (“excuse me” in Japanese). This is a special Tokyo experience, which many tourists find entertaining and fun.

Visit teamLab Borderless Digital Art Museum

teamLab Tokyo - Cory and Greg from You Could Travel

I appreciate that many first timers wish to enjoy teamLab borderless experience in Tokyo which is why I’m including it in my bucket list here. teamLab borderless is an incredible popular immersive digital art museum. The idea is that you interact with the exhibitions and get to feel them one way or another. There are various themes and atmospheres and each room has a unique feature. As you move though the space, some digital arts react to your presence, creating a dynamic environment.

To visit teamLab borderless, it’s recommended that you purchase your tickets in advance as the museum is extremely popular and gets very crowded.

I do have to specify that while my husband and I enjoyed it, I didn’t feel it was Tokyo representative in any way. It is a tourist attraction so be prepared for this.

Top Tip: Wear comfortable trousers that can be easily folded above the knee as some exhibitons involve deeper water. Make sure to not wear a skirt as some floors are made of mirrors. Avoid tights as you will need to remove your shoes and socks to enter the museum. There are changing rooms at the entrance and lockers for your shoes and belongings.

Best time to visit Tokyo

Tokyo local in front of an intersection at night

The best time to visit Tokyo is during the spring (March to May) for cherry blossom festival and autumn (September to November) for koyo leaves. Both seasons come with lower rainfall and fantastic temperatures, ideal for first time visitors to enjoy Tokyo and walk around the city streets.

Spring (March-May): The weather is mild, with average temperatures ranging from 50°F (10°C) to 70°F (21°C). It’s the most popular and the most expensive time to visit Tokyo.

Summer (June-August): Summers in Tokyo can be hot and humid, with temperatures averaging between 70°F (21°C) and 85°F (29°C). It’s also the rainy season so be prepared for hot and sticky weather. But you get awesome shaved ice and all sort of cool ice coffees.

Autumn (September-November): Autumn offers comfortable temperatures ranging from 50°F (10°C) to 75°F (24°C) and beautiful foliage, particularly in November. If you love walking around Tokyo, then this is the perfect season for you.

Winter (December-February): Winters in Tokyo are relatively mild, with temperatures ranging from 35°F (2°C) to 50°F (10°C). It’s a cheaper time to visit, especially if you decide to go after the main winter festivities and new year. You will enjoy excellent shopping and get to photograph wonderful winter illuminations.

Getting to and around Tokyo

Shinkansen going in and out of the train station

Tokyo is served by two main airports: Narita International Airport (NRT) and Haneda Airport (HND).

Tokyo from Narita Airport

  • Narita Express (Recommended): This limited express train connects Narita Airport to major Tokyo stations like Tokyo, Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Shinagawa. It takes about 1 hour to Tokyo Station and costs 3,070 yen for an ordinary seat. The JR Pass is valid on this train.
  • Keisei Skyliner: This high-speed train links Narita Airport to Nippori and Ueno Stations in about 45 minutes. It costs 2,520 yen for a reserved seat. Transfer to a subway at Ueno for your final destination. You can purchase your ticket online at a reduced fee.
  • Limousine Bus: These buses connect Narita Airport to major hotels and Tokyo train stations. The trip takes 60-120 minutes and costs 2,800-3,100 yen. Pre-purchase your tickets online and redeem the voucher at the airport.

Tokyo from Haneda Airport

  • Tokyo Monorail (Recommended): Connects Haneda Airport to Hamamatsucho Station in 13-18 minutes, costing 500 yen. Transfer to JR lines here. JR Pass is valid.
  • Keikyu Line: Links Haneda Airport to Shinagawa Station in 11-14 minutes for 300 yen. Transfer to local subway lines.
  • Limousine Bus: Connects Haneda Airport to major hotels and train stations in Tokyo, taking 30-90 minutes with fares ranging from 800 to 1,300 yen.

Transportation Options

Tokyo has an extensive public transportation network, including trains, subways, buses, and taxis.
The JR Yamanote Line is a popular train line that circles the city, connecting major stations and districts and I usually recommend that you try to book your hotel as close to this as possible. The Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway lines cover most of the city and are convenient and fast ways for getting around.

The subway in Tokyo is very safe, very clean and an affordable way to travel around the city.

To simplify your travel, get a prepaid IC card like Suica or Pasmo. These cards can be used on most trains, subways, and buses, as well as in some shops and restaurants. You do not pay more to use them, they are just more convenient and fast, wnabling you to save a lot of time when travelling around Tokyo.

Staying connected in Tokyo

Local in front of a Tokyo restaurant at night

Staying connected in Tokyo is super easy nowadays, with various options to choose from depending on your needs and budget. I personally recommend investing in a pocket wifi. They are affordable and can be used by multiple people travelling together and multiple devices.

  • Pocket Wi-Fi: Renting a pocket Wi-Fi device is the cheapest and best options for staying connected in Tokyo. These devices offer unlimited data and can be shared among multiple devices. Order yours and pick it up from either the airport or your hotel reception. Make sure to pre-order yours in advance.
  • SIM Cards: Another option is to purchase a prepaid Japanese SIM card, which you can use with your unlocked smartphone. These are great options if you travel solo and don’t have any other device with you that needs wifi. Pre-order it online!
  • Free Wi-Fi: Tokyo offers numerous free Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the city and when I last visited I was surprised to see that almost everywhere I could find a great hotspot. Still, having a pocket wifi is still recommended so you can have quick and easy access to your itineraries, maps and translators.

Where to stay in Tokyo for first timers

When picking the right accommodation in Tokyo, it’s very important that you try to stay somewhere as close to a subway line as possible. I’ve stayed in many hotels in Tokyo and my favourites were always in Ginza/Chiyoda area.

For a complete breakdown on all important areas in Tokyo and reviews of my favourite 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 my favourite hotels in Tokyo organised by budget.

Here is a quick overview of the best hotels (based on location, reviews and price ratio!)

For more hotels and reviews I recommend using booking for accommodation in Tokyo.

Apartments and houses in Tokyo

More Tokyo tips for first timers

  • Check all the dos and donts 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.
  • Japanese food is excellent everywhere you go. However, I do recommend a food tour to take advantage of lesser known gems. Locals will take you to some off the beaten path izakayas which may look intimidating to first timers otherwise.
  • If you wish to stay a little extra in Japan, make sure to check our Japan 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 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!
  • 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?
  • There are many incredible days trips from Tokyo you can take. I definately recommend staying longer in Tokyo and taking a few day trips around.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is 7 days in Tokyo too much?

Seven days in Tokyo is such a great amount of time to get to see the main highlights, enjoy many experiences and visit several districts and area. Seven days in Tokyo is not too much if you want to thoroughly explore the city and its surroundings.
Tokyo is a massive metropolis with countless attractions, neighbourhoods, and experiences to offer. A week in Tokyo will give you enough time to visit popular tourist spots, discover hidden gems, and even take day trips to nearby areas such as Nikko, Kamakura, or Hakone.
Seven days in Tokyo is the perfect amount of time to immerse yourself in the local culture, try various types of Japanese cuisine and discover more interesting area, off the beaten path.

What activities can visitors do in Tokyo?

Tokyo is incredible for visitors and you’ll find such a great range of activities in this city:
Do some sightseeing in Tokyo and visit iconic landmarks like Tokyo Tower, Senso-ji Temple, Meiji Shrine, Shibuya Crossing.
Tokyo is the ideal place for shopping whether you are after high end shopping in places like Ginza or Shibuya or want to find authentic souvenirs in Asakusa and Yanaka Ginza. There are many 24/7 shops all around Tokyo like Donki with so many cool and unique items.
Visit themed Cafes and Restaurants: Experience the unique atmosphere of maid cafes, animal cafes, and themed restaurants, such as the Robot Restaurant, Shiro Hige’s Cream Puff Factory or the Harry Potter Cafe.
Tokyo is huge and it has so many Museums and Art Galleries: Visit renowned museums like the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo National Museum, and The National Art Center, Tokyo.
Relax in beautiful green spaces like Ueno Park, Yoyogi Park, Shinjuku Gyoen.
Enjoy incredible food in some of the best restaurants in the world. And they don’t have to break thr bank either as there are many delicious joints with main dishes for as little as 1000 yen.
Experience authentic Japanese experiences like seeing a sumo tournamet or going to Japanese performance arts to see Kabuki and Noh.
Enjoy the explosive nightlife in areas like Roppongi, Shinjuku, and Shibuya, with a large number of bars, clubs, and izakayas to choose from.
Relax at a traditional Japanese hot spring, such as Oedo Onsen Monogatari or LaQua near Tokyo Dome.
Take day trip to nearby destinations like Nikko, Hakone, or Mount Fuji.

Is 3 days enough for Tokyo?

Three days in Tokyo is just about enough to cover some of the major attractions like Shibuya Crossing, Asakusa and parts of Shinjuku. Bear in mind that you won’t be able to explore Tokyo in great detail and you will really need to prioritise main attractions and create a fairly packed itinerary.

Is 5 days in Tokyo too much?

Five days in Tokyo is not too much, as there are so many fantastic things to do and see in Tokyo. Tokyo is a massive metropolis with numerous attractions, neighbourhoods, and experiences to offer. With five days, you can visit popular tourist spots, discover hidden gems, and even take day trips to nearby areas.

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

Cory Varga – Cory is a published travel writer and award-winning photographer. She travels full time with her husband and is passionate about creating in-depth travel guides. Cory published her first book on Japanese customs and manners because she’s obsessed with everything Japan. She has visited hundreds of destinations and has lived in 7 different countries. Cory is multilingual and an alumna from The University of Manchester.


85 responses to “43 Best things to do in Tokyo, Japan”

  1. jamie maycock Avatar
    jamie maycock

    Tokyo looks amazing1 i cant wait to visit!!
    Safe Travels

    -Jamie Maycock

    1. Cory Avatar

      I can’t wait to read about your Tokyo travels.

  2. adam Avatar

    Best things to do in Tokyo that it’s interesting, your article really inspiring to my vacation in Tokyo later, hope this is fun

    1. Cory Avatar

      I’m so excited! Awesome things to do in Tokyo for everyone to do. I hope you returned to the city.

  3. Guillaume Avatar

    Awesome listing, thanks for sharing! it makes me want to come back to Tokyo 🙂 😉

    1. Cory Avatar

      We love Tokyo and all the cool things to do in the city. Epic place

  4. Amanda Chua Avatar
    Amanda Chua

    What an amazing and a fascinating place to visit. I really didn’t know much about this but after reading this post I will surely visit one day. Thanks for sharing such an amazing post.

    1. Cory Avatar

      Tokyo is one of the best. I hope you got to visit it, Amanda <3

  5. Scribbling Geek Avatar
    Scribbling Geek

    This is a really comprehensive and impressive list. I can see you’ve taken effort to include something for everyone too. Well done!

    1. Cory Avatar

      Thank you so much. We hope you found your awesome things to do in Tokyo during your visit. Safe travels!

  6. Victor Avatar

    “Tokyo is like a shapeshifter, waiting for you to mould it into whatever it is that you want from your holiday.” – so true! Last time I was there I wanted to relax and just unwind after a messy divorce and Tokyo gave me just that. On my previous trip I wanted adventure and craziness and Tokyo delivered ;)!

    1. Jim Avatar

      That’s great to hear! I’m planning a visit to Tokyo and would like a little bit of both worlds. I now know some of the things to see in Tokyo and I will have to prioritize them by importance.

      1. Victor Avatar

        And if you want to do a bit of shopping and if you’re with your wife, then make sure to check out the Takeshita Shopping Street. She will love it! This is a perfect shopping related activity in Tokyo. Just be ready to spend because you (she) will ;)!

        1. Jim Avatar

          Yes, my wife will probably love to do some shopping. Also, did you visit the Akihabara area? The wife is a big Anime fan so I would like to take her there as well.

          1. Victor Avatar

            Akihabara will be perfect for her. Take a guided tour to learn more about the area. Going in without a guide is not the best way to do things, at least not at first.

          2. Cory Avatar

            And there is no trip to Tokyo without lots of shopping!

      2. Cory Avatar

        You will love Tokyo

    2. Cory Avatar

      We miss all the cool things to do in Tokyo. Like, we are ready to go right now!

  7. Khloe Avatar

    Wow, a cuddle cafe where you can stroke someone’s hair? They really strive to satisfy all demands. A bit eerie in my book but I would die to be a fly on the wall there, I can only imagine… Top Tokyo attractions for me: be a fly on the wall there.

  8. Philip Avatar

    Going to Tokyo soon and I’ve used this guide and a few others to plan things. Going on a business trip but my wife will be coming along as there will be some free time to explore. So a list of things to do in Tokyo for couples is helpful.

  9. Allison Avatar

    I’m planning on surprising my fiance with a Tokyo trip and I can bet he’ll love it. Your section with things to do in Tokyo for adults only will surely take him by surprise.

  10. Camila Avatar

    No matter how comfy they are, no way I will EVER sleep in a capsule hotel! I’m claustrophobic, just the thought of it makes me queasy. I love their approach towards minimalism – I got a lot of inspiration for my small Brooklyn apartment – but it ends here haha.

  11. Jasmine Avatar

    Nakamise Street is one of the places to visit in Tokyo. You must do it! There is so much of the Japanese street food culture there… It’s one of my faves and whenever I’m in town I make time to visit it and have a bite to eat.

    1. Maria Avatar

      Going to Nakamise Street is among the best things to do in Tokyo with kids. Why? Because they will absolutely love the food. It doesn’t matter what kinds of foods they enjoy, they’ll find something nice here.

      1. Cory Avatar

        I saw many travellers with kids there actually. Didn’t know it was because of food, I thought they were just visiting in general but now it makes sense. How to keep the kids entertained: with sugaaaar!

    2. Anne Avatar

      Agreed. Nakamise Street is amazing! The prices have gone up a bit since it’s so well-known now but it’s still so well worth it.

      1. Cory Avatar

        Agreed! I paid something like 50p for some chopsticks some 5 years ago…can you believe it?

    3. Craig Avatar

      So many types of Ramen and it’s all so good there! I often go there to stuff my face with Ramen or Miso. Delicious! For me this is one of those cool things to do in Tokyo #sorrynotsorry :))

      1. Cory Avatar

        We should write an article about things to do in Tokyo: eat ramen, eat ramen, eat ramen again and eat more ramen!

    4. Jasmine Avatar

      @Anne, NS is truly something special even though the prices are bigger now.

      @Craig, I am also a big Ramen fan and try something new each time I’m there. I always end up leaving with a big belly :))

      @Maria, yeah, isn’t it? It’s one of our go-to places with the kids and they love it! Yakitori is my boy’s fave while Lisa, my girl, prefers Dango. She would actually eat them all day long if she was allowed.

      1. Anne Avatar

        Who doesn’t like Dango, right? I love Matcha cakes and Dango a lot and my kids enjoy Dango, Yakisoba and Tonkatsu.

        1. Cory Avatar

          OMG dango is divine…with matcha on the side

    5. Cory Avatar

      It was the first thing I did when I visited Tokyo for the first time. I was taken aback by how cool it all was. You will love it.

  12. Bella Avatar

    I literally LOLed as soon as I read “Piss Alley”, I thought you were joking! If I get to enjoy traditional and exotic cuisine you can sign me up. I almost never visit fancy restaurants while travelling, I love experiencing local cuisine.

  13. Alexa Avatar

    I’ve landed in Tokyo for a business trip a little while back and it blew me away, an amazing city with amazing people! No matter what part of the town you’re in you will enjoy it. Who knows, perhaps I might get back and explore it more. Lots of places to visit in Tokyo.

  14. Robert Avatar

    Relaxing at an Onsen is one of the top 10 things to do in Tokyo. I’m telling you: this will change your life! It’s so relaxing and you can find all sorts of different Onsen like gender specific ones, mixed, private open air baths and so on. There’s something for everyone.

  15. Julia Avatar

    I wasn’t aware cat cafes are a thing there! I’ve adopted two strays last year and I couldn’t imagine my life without them now. Such a cool concept!

  16. Claire Avatar

    My niece loves everything owl-themed so the owl cafe would be a dream come true for her. Now that I think of it, a girls-only trip to Tokyo would be the perfect gift for her graduation next year.

  17. Kayla Avatar

    We were flabbergasted when we learned what rush hour looks like if you ride the subway. Granted, everything is clean and user-friendly but by golly, sardines in tins doesn’t even begin to cover it.

  18. Diana Avatar

    One of the top Tokyo attractions for me would be the The Ghibli Museum, Spirited Away was breathtaking, I’ve rewatched it a million times, it never gets old.

  19. Alexander Avatar

    I had no clue eating in the street is a no-no in Japan. Truth be told, I’m not the kind of tourist that enjoys a quick snack in the town’s square or on the museum steps because I find it odd but I might munch on a Mars bar while waiting for the bus.

  20. Kylie Avatar

    Plenty of nice things to see in Tokyo and it has always been on my bucket list but being so far away I kept postponing, I don’t do that well on long flights.

  21. Arianna Avatar

    Guys, this is so documented, I actually managed to pick more than 10 places, can’t wait to book those darn tickets. Also, talk about being committed and moving there for half a year, congrats!

  22. Aurora Avatar

    My kids love Tokyo because there are so many cool things to do in Tokyo. From going to a cat cafe to play with the lovely cats to eating all the ramen we can eat or going to a Japanese arcade, there’s always something fun to do in this town.

    1. Olivia Avatar

      Next time when we’re in town, we’re going to the Tokyo DisneySea. My kids can hardly wait! They’ve seen some videos on Youtube and are now dreaming of this place. There are plenty of things to do in Tokyo with kids and we’ve done some of them, but DisneySea will probably be their favorite.

      1. Aurora Avatar

        They are going to LOVE DisneySea! My kids went insane while they visited it! They talk about it even after 3 years. If you are also taking them to Disneyland make sure to book the tour they link to in this guide. It’s so well worth it.

    2. Cory Avatar

      One of the best things to do in Tokyo. I will say it over and over! It’s clean, fun, well organised!

  23. Tim Avatar

    For some “strange” reason I’m so into sleeping in a capsule hotel. I’ve tried it a few years back and loved it. I’ve even built something similar at home and sleep in it from time to time. I don’t feel anxiety when sleeping there, quite the opposite. For me, this is one of the fun things to do in Tokyo because their capsules are great and I have fun sleeping there.

    1. Veronica Avatar

      I can’t understand how you can feel so comfortable sleeping in such a tiny space! I can’t even imagine doing it! I would die! I like love hotels that are fully automated so you don’t have to talk to anyone to get a room.

      1. Greta Avatar

        From the many cool things to do in Tokyo for adults only, love hotels and visiting the Red District are my absolute must-visits whenever I’m in town. It’s exciting and always interesting to go there even if just to browse.

        1. Cory Avatar

          I agree! Love the red district. It doesn’t have to be all weird. It can be really fun!

    2. Cory Avatar

      I’m with Victoria on this one. We couldn’t do it. We went to see them and check them out but even the ones for couples were too tiny for us. But they are super practical and def a must in Tokyo if you can

  24. Dora Avatar

    I would come back with a suitcase packed with kawaii stuff I never knew I needed haha!

  25. Stephanie Avatar

    WOW! What a wealth of information on Tokyo! This has got to be one of the best pages on things to do in Tokyo. It’s impressive how many things you cramped in here. Thanks for taking the time to do so. It must have taken you ages. Page bookmarked 🙂

    1. Dean Avatar

      It’s one of the most complete pages on fun things to do in Tokyo I found online. I love the design of the site and it shows that you put a lot of effort in documenting these things. It’s always nice to find someone who puts soul into their work. I’m preparing for a Tokyo trip and your guide was very helpful. Congrats!

  26. Simon Avatar

    Is it crazy if I love going to Tokyo to experience the high tech toilets? Am I the only one who loves this kind of thing? What to do in Tokyo? Go and see some fancy toilets :))

    1. Cesar Avatar

      You are definitely not alone, Simon. Lots of people are crazy about this. And yes, it’s so weird that many more countries have such toilets. Once you try one in Tokyo you won’t want to go back to your regular one.

    2. Adam Avatar

      Alone? You must be joking, mate! I have at least 10 friends that can’t wait to get to Japan (and
      Tokyo in particular) to get to use these toilets.

      1. Cory Avatar

        haha and buy one! Come on guys, am I the only person who wants to buy a Japanese toilet?!

    3. Cory Avatar

      Not crazy Simon! It’s one of the best things to do in Tokyo. We want to go there to just buy one!

  27. Clara Avatar

    I plan to visit Tokyo in the near future and just stumbled upon your blog while trying to draft my itinerary. So many cool places to visit in Tokyo. This clearly isn’t a city where people take it chill haha. Takeshita Street will be first on my list; I’ve been fascinated with Harajuku culture since I was a teen and listen to Gwen on repeat.

    1. S.P Avatar

      Same here! First time on your blog while aimlessly browsing for some cool hotspots. I’m thinking of spending a month in Tokyo once this pandemic lets us go back to “normal”. Thanks for all the tips, I’ve found a ton of gems!

      1. Cory Avatar

        Really happy to help. We are obsessed with Japan and travelled and lived there for quite a while…

    2. Cory Avatar

      Takeshita is super cool. It’s not all quirks though, you can do some solid shopping there too!

  28. Riley Avatar

    Japan is big on vending machines and the fact that they’re basically everywhere makes it so much easier. Left home without an umbrella? Look for a vending machine. Craving fruit? Look for a vending machine.

    1. Mattie Avatar

      YES! I remember falling down a Youtube rabbit hole a few years ago and watching several videos on this. I live in a rural area and the only vending machine we have here is for local fresh milk #theirony

      1. Cory Avatar

        haha and banans too!

    2. Cory Avatar

      Super true. In fact one of the best things to do in Tokyo is to just be out and about and enjoy all these quirks!

  29. Neal Avatar

    Tokyo is probably one of the top 5 cities in the world. So many things to do in Tokyo whether you’re looking for adventure or just to find yourself.

    1. Chris Avatar

      Tokyo is indeed one of a kind. It is so diverse. You just have to travel a few miles to find a quiet, relaxing place and then travel another few miles to find a vibrant street. When your time is limited the question becomes: what to see in Tokyo first? Where do you start?

  30. Anthony Avatar

    New fan here 🙂 I’ve discovered you through Instagram and this post has awakened my travelling appetite, I can’t wait to go back to globetrotting. Guess I need to write down some of the things to do in Tokyo for when I get there.

  31. Andrew Avatar

    The toilet warmer option should be the norm by now on all toilets. I’ve known for years about it and yet it’s not available commercially at a larger scale. Japan is truly the land of all possibilities!

    1. Sophie Avatar

      Yes, my father visited Tokyo 5 or 6 years ago and he was stunned! He’s not a very tech guy, he still uses Windows XP, so you imagine he was left speechless when he found himself surrounded with all that technology. Reading this now makes me want to add Japan to my list of destinations to book as soon as travelling gets a bit safer. Already started making a list of top 10 things to do in Tokyo.

      1. Cory Avatar

        Ahaahaha I was at the Tokyo airport when I saw this first high tech toilet and was honestly so confused by all the buttons haha

    2. Cory Avatar

      Are you telling me about it? I can’t imagine anything else but warm toilet seats right now 😐 Why is it not the norm in Europe?

  32. Brianna Avatar

    Wow, DisneySea is amazeballs! I never knew there was a Disney Park in Tokyo as well…

    1. Joshua Avatar

      Amazing place but just the flight there and back will drive me nuts; my toddler barely stays put for a two hour flight, there’s no scenario in which I can get him to behave for 11+ hours.

      1. Cory Avatar

        Joshua, you’d be surprised how many can fly with toddlers. Of course, it takes some practice but for all the things you can do in Tokyo, it’s all worth it!

    2. Cory Avatar

      If you have kids this is the place to be, honestly! We don’t have kids but still loved it!

  33. Harper Philips Avatar
    Harper Philips

    I managed to surprise my mom with a quick girls’ trip to Tokyo during cherry blossom season and she was blown away. The street food was a nice surprise too, I never expected this kind of variety.

    1. Makayla Avatar

      How cute! I’ve noticed my mom has a Pinterest board full of pictures with Tokyo cherry trees, this would be such a nice birthday gift! Thanks for the idea! For her, a walk there would be among the really cool things to do in Tokyo.

      1. Cory Avatar

        Right? I’m the same! Take me back to Tokyo please

    2. Cory Avatar

      Wow! That’s the coolest thing to do in Tokyo for sure. I hope my husband will surprise me with a trip to Tokyo again 😀

  34. Alexa John Avatar
    Alexa John

    Great blog! I would like to thank the author for sharing this amazing blog with us. The information about the things to do in Tokyo is really beneficial.

  35. sakshi Avatar

    amazing place it is, no doubt tokyo is amazing.

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