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Where to stay in Kanazawa - Best Areas And Hotels For 2024

A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing the Perfect Place to Stay in Kanazawa for First-Time Visitors

Autumn foliage at Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa

Kanazawa is a bustling city located in central Japan, renowned for its unique blend of traditional and modern culture. As the capital city of Ishikawa Prefecture, Kanazawa has a plethora of attractions to offer, ranging from historic temples and castles to state-of-the-art museums and shopping areas.

For first-time visitors to Kanazawa, the city centre is the perfect place to stay. There are several districts in Kanazawa that cater to various preferences and budgets. If you prefer to be close to the city's main transportation hubs, Kanazawa Station Area is the best option. Katamachi is an ideal choice for couples who want to stay close to nightlife and entertainment.

Families travelling with children should consider staying in the Kenrokuen Garden / Kanazawa Castle Park Area. This area is well-known for its family-friendly attractions, and it is also close to many parks and green spaces, perfect for children to play in.

If you are interested in experiencing Kanazawa's shopping scenes, then staying in Katamachi is your best option. Alternatively, there are some more shopping centres and malls around the Kanazawa Trains Station and also the Ōmichō Market.

The luxury hotels are all located around the main train station and North of the Kanazawa Castle. There isn't a specific area to stay for budget travellers. All 4 areas offer budget friendly accommodation, so you don't have to worry about staying too far away from all the fun.

In this guide, I will provide a detailed description of each area in Kanazawa and explain why it is a great option for you to stay there based on your preferences, budget, and travel style.

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Best Kanazawa Neighbourhoods

  • Best area for first time visitors: Kanazawa Station Area
  • Best area for couples: Katamachi
  • Best area for families: Kanazawa Castle & Kenrokuen Garden Area
  • Best area for shopping and entertainment: Katamachi
  • Best area for traditional streets: Higashi Chaya
  • Best area for budget: Anywhere but Higashi Chaya
Where to stay in Kanazawa Summary
❤️ Best Area for first-timers: Kanazawa Station Area
💎 Best luxury 5* hotel: Kinjohro
🏨 Best mid-range hotel: UAN kanazawa
🛏️ Best budget hotel: Sumiyoshiya

Where to stay in Kanazawa - Neighbourhood Map

Where to stay in Kanazawa?

Kanazawa is a charming city with a rich cultural heritage, boasting numerous historical and cultural attractions. The city offers a variety of accommodations, from traditional Japanese ryokans to modern hotels. Kanazawa is a walkable city, and visitors can easily explore the city's attractions on foot. Public transportation is also readily available, with buses and trains connecting different parts of the city.

Kanazawa experiences four distinct seasons, with warm summers and cold winters. The best time to visit Kanazawa is in spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November), when the weather is mild and pleasant.

Kanazawa is divided into different neighbourhoods, each with its unique charm. Here are some recommended areas to stay in Kanazawa:

  • Kanazawa City Center - This area is the heart of the city, and it's a great place for first-time visitors. It's also perfect if you want to be near the city's main shopping and entertainment districts.
  • Higashi Chaya - This area is ideal for those looking for a traditional Japanese experience. The district is home to several historic tea houses, and visitors can enjoy traditional Japanese tea and sweets.
  • Nagamachi Samurai District - This area is perfect for history buffs, as it's home to many samurai houses and museums. It's also a great place to learn about the city's history and culture.
  • Korinbo - close to the parks and Katamachi, this area is ideal for shopping

My favourite area in Kanazawa was the parks surrounding the Castle. During cherry blossom season, this place looks stunning. However, if you're looking to explore the traditional Japanese streets, the Higashi and Nishi Chaya districts are great options with their historic tea houses and Edo period atmosphere.

Kanazawa Station (Downtown)

Kanazawa Station at night

  • Kanazawa Station area is a great choice for first-time visitors
  • Top attractions within 10-15 minute walking distance
  • The main station building is full of shops and amenities
  • Lots of restaurants offering local delicacies
  • Wide range of hotels to pick from for any budget
  • Second most popular destination for nightlife after Katamachi
  • Take day trips from here; Safe and well connected

If you're a first-time visitor to Kanazawa, staying in the Kanazawa Station area is an excellent choice. Most of the city's top attractions are within a 10-15 minute walking distance. This means that you can easily explore the beautiful Kenrokuen Garden, the historical Nagamachi Samurai District, and other popular sites without spending too much time on transportation.

In the station building and the surroundings, you will find many shops selling local specialities, such as Kaga Yuzen silk and gold leaf products. There are also several department stores, including the popular Forus Kanazawa, which offers a wide range of fashion and lifestyle goods.

This area has many restaurants, from fast-food chains to fine dining establishments. Try local delicacies like jibuni (a type of duck hotpot), sushi, and kaga yasai (local vegetables). Kanazawa is big on fresh seafood, too. There are also numerous cafés and bars, making the area the 2nd most popular destination for nightlife after Katamachi.

The Kanazawa Station is also an excellent starting point for day trips to nearby attractions, including the beautiful and traditional Shirakawa-go village in the north and the nearby hot springs, such as the Yamanaka Onsen and the Awazu Onsen.

In terms of sights, there isn't a lot to see here. Walk down the large Kanazawa Ekidori Avenue toward the Castle to begin exploring the attractions of the city. The walk takes about 10-15 mins. Alternatively, catch bus 30 that's headed to Katamachi. Tickets are 200yen.

Where to stay in the Kanazawa Station Area

There are plenty of hotels to pick from in this area. Most high-end luxury hotels are here, close to the station building. You can get a bargain if you book in advance, at least a couple of months. The cherry blossom season is the busiest time in the city between March and April.

Luxury: Hyatt Centric Kanazawa

Hyatt Centric Kanazawa is a 5-star hotel with a fitness centre, garden, terrace, and restaurant. The air-conditioned rooms feature a desk, coffee machine, fridge, safe deposit box, TV, and private bathroom with a bidet.
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Japanese-style hotel: Kanazawa Chaya

Kanazawa Chaya is a traditional Japanese-style hotel that offers elegant rooms with free wired internet, a Japanese restaurant with exquisite cuisine, and a spacious public bath for relaxation. The rooms feature low Japanese lacquer tables, tatami floors with seating cushions, and guests sleep on comfortable Japanese futons.
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Budget: Hotel Kanazawa

Hotel Kanazawa offers modern accommodation with spacious rooms equipped with air-conditioning, a fridge, an electric kettle, and a TV. The hotel's facilities include a Western buffet restaurant, a Japanese restaurant, and a bar. The hotel provides luggage storage, dry cleaning, and trouser press services at the 24-hour front desk.
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Kanazawa Castle & Kenrokuen Garden Area

Autumn foliage at Kanazawa Castle

  • Great for families visiting Kanazawa
  • Kanazawa Castle is the main attraction
  • Kenrokuen Garden is considered one of the top three gardens in Japan
  • Many hotels have family rooms
  • Wide selection of local and international cuisine, including seafood and Western-style food
  • Get transportation and safe area

Kanazawa Castle & Kenrokuen Garden area is an excellent choice for families visiting Kanazawa, Japan. With a wide range of attractions, parks, dining options, and convenient transportation, this part of town has something for everyone to enjoy.

The main attraction to visit is the Kanazawa Castle, built in the 16th century and served as the home of the powerful Maeda clan. Today, the castle has been restored and turned into a museum. The caste is surrounded by a large garden that can be explored free of charge.

Kenrokuen Garden is located across from the castle. It is considered one of the top three gardens in Japan. The garden has a picturesque landscape, which includes ponds, streams, waterfalls, bridges, and a variety of trees and flowers that change with the seasons and is especially beautiful during the cherry blossom and autumn foliage seasons. Enjoy the zen of the garden while sipping tea in one of the teahouses. The teahouses are located in quiet areas of the garden, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, providing a peaceful escape from the outside world.

Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa

When it comes to food, the Kanazawa Castle & Kenrokuen Garden area offers a fantastic selection of local and international cuisine. The neighbourhood is well-known for its seafood, including sushi and sashimi, as well as the local specialities I have mentioned earlier. Don't miss the Omicho Market a popular seafood market that has been in operation for over 280 years. There are also plenty of family-friendly restaurants that offer Western-style food for picky eaters.

Next door is the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, a unique and fascinating museum with a striking circular design and glass walls. The museum houses an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art, including works by both Japanese and international artists. However, it's "Swimming Pool" installation is the most popular exhibit, I highly recommend you check it out. There is obviously a café and a gift shop here too.

Transportation is convenient and easy to navigate, with several bus stops and train stations located throughout the area. Buses are particularly useful for families with young children or strollers, as they offer designated spaces for strollers.

The Kanazawa Castle & Kenrokuen Garden area is a safe and well-lit place to stay. Kanazawa is known for its low crime rate.

Where to stay in the Castle & Garden Area

Good selection of hotels for most budgets, but given that this is the busiest area, expect higher prices. There are some really lovey Japanese style ryokans with hot spring around the park. In my opinion, the 4-star hotels are the best value for money here. If you are travelling with your family, look for the hotels that offer large family rooms. Booking in advance is recommended.

Japanese Style Hotel: Hakuchoro Hotel Sanraku

The hotel offers a hot spring bath, a Japanese restaurant, and two tea lounges. The air-conditioned rooms come with a flat-screen TV, refrigerator, and private bathroom with bath, shower, and hairdryer. Guests can enjoy a Japanese buffet breakfast and traditional multi-course meals.
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Mid-range: Onyado Nono Kanazawa

Onyado Nono Kanazawa is a 4-star hotel located close to Kenrokuen Garden and Kanazawa Castle. The hotel offers a hot spring bath, sauna, hot tub, restaurant. Rooms are large and well-equipped with the usual amenities.
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Budget: Torifito Hotel & Pod

The hotel provides a shared lounge, a 24-hour front desk, and currency exchange for guests. The rooms are equipped with air conditioning, a safe deposit box, and a flat-screen TV, and some rooms offer a city view. The hotel serves a buffet breakfast and has a sauna and billiards.
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Higashi Chaya

Historic teahouses in Higashi Chaya

  • Best place to stay to immerse yourself in traditional Japan
  • Historic teahouses are the main attraction, offering a glimpse into Edo period life
  • Hotel prices are a little higher as there are fewer hotels here than elsewhere
  • Traditional Japanese cuisine and plenty of other restaurants
  • Very walkable; plenty of buses to other areas

If you want to immerse yourself in the traditional Japan, Higashi Chaya district is the best place to stay. This historic district is renowned for its preserved traditional streets and buildings, which offer a glimpse into the life of the Edo period.

The main attraction in Higashi Chaya is the historic teahouses, which were once used as exclusive entertainment venues for wealthy merchants and samurais. Today, some of these teahouses are open to the public and offer a unique opportunity to experience traditional Japanese culture.

The district is also home to the Kanazawa Yasue Gold Leaf Museum, dedicated to the art and history of gold leaf production in Kanazawa city, which has been a centre of gold leaf production for over 400 years.

When it comes to food, Higashi Chaya has no shortage of traditional Japanese cuisine. From local sweets (matcha, cakes) and snacks to savoury dishes like sushi and udon, there is something for everyone. If you are after a pint, the local Kanazawa beer is refreshing and light.

Getting around Higashi Chaya is relatively easy, as the district is compact and can be easily explored on foot. There are also several bus stops and a train station nearby. Kanazawa Station is 25 mins on foot or takes about 20 mins if you catch bus 20 in front of the Gold Leaf Museum.

In terms of safety, Higashi Chaya is generally considered a safe area to stay. The shopping area can get busy during rush hour and weekends.

Where to stay in Higashi Chaya

Sadly, quite a few hotels closed down in this neighbourhood during the pandemic. It's a bit more difficult to find a good room here now. Avoid the hotels that are far from the bridge. You won't want to walk every day to the attractions on the other side. Rooms are bigger here than in other areas, but those also come with a price tag.

Luxury: Maki No Oto

Maki No Oto Kanazawa is a 4-star hotel that features air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi and private bathrooms. All rooms come with a coffee machine, an iPad, a wardrobe, and a flat-screen TV, while some rooms also offer a balcony. The hotel provides bed linen and towels for guests.
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Mid-range: Hotel Rurasikujin

The hotel provides air-conditioned rooms with amenities such as a wardrobe, a kettle, a fridge, a safety deposit box, a flat-screen TV, and a private bathroom with a bidet. The reception at the hotel can provide tips on the area.
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Budget: Guesthouse Hakuka

Guest rooms in the guest house feature free WiFi and a coffee machine. Each room comes with a shared bathroom that includes free toiletries and a hairdryer. Additionally, all guest rooms are equipped with a microwave for guests' convenience.
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Katamachi

Katamachi shopping district at night

  • Katamachi is the ideal place to stay for shopping and nightlife
  • Good selection of department stores and small boutiques
  • Hotels here cater for all budgets
  • Endless options for bars, izakayas, and small eateries
  • High-end cocktail bars and lounges
  • Vibrant live music scene
  • Well-connected to the rest of the city with buses running frequently
  • Safe neighborhood

Katamachi is the ideal place to stay for shopping & nightlife. This bustling district has a vibrant atmosphere with its unique blend of traditional Japanese architecture and modern shopping malls.

Katamachi has a wide range of department stores and small boutiques. Two of the popular shopping centres are CoCoTTo and Katamachi Kirara. The shopping scene is not limited to these two malls alone. The main road is lined with a variety of small boutiques, each with their own unique style. You can find everything from vintage clothing and handmade accessories to speciality foods and bakeries. You never know what perfect souvenirs you might discover while wandering these charming streets.

When you've worked up an appetite from all that shopping, head to the side-roads to explore the endless options of bars, izakayas, and small eateries. These cosy and inviting establishments serve up delicious local dishes and drinks that are sure to satisfy your cravings.

For those looking for a more upscale experience, there are a handful of high-end cocktail bars and lounges in the district, like the Furnasu Cocktail Bar or Kohaku Bar. These establishments offer sophisticated ambiance and expertly crafted cocktails that are sure to impress.

In addition to bars and lounges, Katamachi also has a vibrant live music scene. There are several venues that regularly host concerts and live events. Be sure to check out JealousGuy, Kanazawa Music Bar and gateBlack

Katamachi is well-connected to the rest of the city, with several buses that run frequently and provide easy access to the main station. This makes it easy for you to explore other parts of the city as well.

While Katamachi is a very safe neighbourhood, you should exercise caution when out late at night, particularly on Fridays and weekends.

Where to stay in Katamachi

You will find many tall, business style hotels here. If you are on a budget, those are great - just make sure to check the room size is suitable for your luggage. I don't recommend booking the hotels across the bridge on the Nishi Chaya side. These are too far from the attractions, and you will end up walking way too much every day. If your hotel doesn't include breakfast, don't worry, there are fantastic breakfast places here. We also found a German bakery on the main road.

High-end: Hotel Amanek

The hotel features a fitness centre, private parking, a shared lounge, and a restaurant. Free WiFi and luggage storage space are also available. The hotel rooms are equipped with air conditioning, a safe deposit box, and a flat-screen TV. Each room also has a wardrobe. Enjoy an Asian breakfast during your stay.
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Mid-range: OMO5 by Hoshino Resorts

The hotel provides air-conditioned rooms with free Wi-Fi, a restaurant, a bar, a 24-hour front desk, and a snack bar. Some rooms have a kitchen. Guests can enjoy an à la carte, Full English/Irish, or American breakfast at the property.
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Budget: Inn Tatemachi

The rooms are spacious and equipped with kettles, a fridge, slippers, bathrobes, and toiletries. The Kanazawa Music Bar is available for guests to enjoy a variety of live music events and a collection of vinyl records.
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Day trips from Kanzawa

Kaga Onsen - Hot spring resort towns

Hot bath in Kaga Onsen town

If you're visiting Kanazawa and looking for a day trip destination, visit Kaga Onsen. Kaga Onsen is a collection of four hot spring resort towns that offer a relaxing atmosphere, traditional Japanese architecture, and cultural activities. The four towns are Yamashiro Onsen, Yamanaka Onsen, Awazu Onsen, and Katayamazu Onsen. You can spend the day soaking in various hot spring baths and enjoying local cuisine, such as the famous Kaga Ryori.

To get to the onsen towns, take the Thunderbird Express from Kanazawa Station to Kagaonsen Station. The trip takes about 30 mins and the trains run every 40 mins all day.

Gokayama Village

Traditional houses in Gokayama village

The next day, head to Gokayama, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its traditional Gassho-style houses and picturesque mountain scenery. You can experience rural life in Japan and learn about the region's rich cultural heritage through various activities such as paper-making, weaving, and woodworking.

It's a bit more difficult to get to Gokoyama as the village is nestled deep in the mountains. The fastest route is to take the train to Shin-Takaoka Station. There, switch to the Johana Line and take the train to Jōhana Station. Outside the train station, find the bus stop and look for the "World Heritage Bus" headed for Kurusu (11 stops). The whole trip takes about 1:45, 2 hours and costs around 4000 yen.

The bus will take you up into the mountains on winding roads. Also, prepare cash in case the card machine doesn't work. Check with the driver before boarding that you are on the correct bus. Do not forget to check the timetable for the last returning bus and train. You won't want to get stuck here.

Top tip: As of April 2023, Google Maps doesn't display the correct timetables for the buses. Check with the ticket office in Kanazawa, they can give you an up-to-date timetable.

Getting to Kanzawa

From Tokyo

Getting from Tokyo to Kanazawa is a really pleasant, 2 and a half hours Shinkansen ride across the country and on the west coast. Take the Hokuriku-Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Kanazawa Station. The ticket costs about 14500 yen per person or can be free with your JR pass. If you are bringing large luggage with you, don't forget to buy your extra ticket at the counter.

From Kyoto

The fastest way to get to Kanazawa from Kyoto is the Thunderbird Limited Express. The express train will take you on a scenic journey along Lake Biwa and trhough the mountains and cities to Kanazawa. Board the train at Kyoto Station. The cost of a ticket is 7020 yen one way and the trip takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes. You can use your JR pass on this train.

From Nagoya

There is no direct train from Nagoya to Kanazawa. The fastest route is via Kyoto. Take the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen from Nagoya Station to Kyoto Station. In Kyoto, change to the Thunderbird Limited Express. The whole journey is about 3 hours and costs about 13000 yen. You can use your JR pass on both trains.

Frequently Asked Questions about Kanazawa

  • Is Kanazawa worth going to?

    Yes, Kanazawa is definitely worth going to! These three places are the main attractions:

    • Kenrokuen Garden: One of the most beautiful gardens in Japan, and it's one of the top attractions in Kanazawa. It's a perfect spot for a relaxing stroll and admiring the seasonal beauty of the trees, flowers, and ponds. Perfect for cherry blossom and autumn leaves season.
    • Kanazawa Castle: The castle was built in the 16th century, and it's a symbol of Kanazawa's history and culture. The castle's restored buildings and gardens are open to the public, and it's a great place to learn about the city's past.
    • Higashi Chaya District: This well-preserved, Edo era district is a great place to explore the traditional Japanese architecture, and it's home to many teahouses and shops that sell local crafts and sweets.
  • How many days should I spend in Kanazawa?

    A minimum of two days is recommended to spend in Kanazawa to see the city's main attractions. If you want to visit the Kaga Onsen Towns and the Gokayama Village, add an extra two days to your trip.

  • Why is Kanazawa so popular?

    The main reason is its rich cultural heritage and history. Kanazawa was once one of the most prosperous cities in Japan during the Edo period, and it has a well-preserved traditional Japanese atmosphere with beautiful gardens, historic districts, and traditional crafts like Kaga yuzen silk, and gold leaf products.

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