We don’t usually repeat our travel destinations but Tokyo is an exception. Tokyo is one of our favorite cities if not our favorite city in the world. There are many great things to do in Tokyo so we narrowed down the best things to do if you only have 2 or 3 days in Tokyo.
3 Days in Tokyo Itinerary for First Time Visitors
Our 3 day Tokyo itinerary covers the must sees in Tokyo in the first two days, so if you are only in Tokyo for 2 days just follow the itinerary for Day 1 and 2.
Tsukiji Fish Market
If your body is on a different time zone, your first day in Tokyo might be the best day for an early morning visit to the Tsukiji Fish Market, the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. Make sure to catch the tuna auction – spots are limited so you need to arrive at 3:00 am in the morning! After watching the tuna auction, make sure to enjoy some fresh sushi for breakfast. If you want to guarantee catching the tuna auction it might be easier to sign up for a tour here.
Visit the famous Sensōji (or Asakusa Kannon Temple) in Asakusa. Although the temple and surrounding area is very busy and packed with tourists, it is still a Tokyo must see.
The walk to Sensōji, Nakamise Dori, is lined with small shops selling various souvenirs. This is a good spot to knock out your souvenir shopping.
Spend a few hours in Akihabara, a district in Tokyo famous for its many electronics shops. One of the popular things to do in Akihabara is to visit a maid cafe.
Meiji Shrine/Omotesando/ Yoyogi Park/Harajuku
If you enjoy window shopping take a walk on Omotesando which is a broad, tree-lined street that houses various top designer boutiques. As Omotesando comes to an end you will reach Yoyogi Park, a great spot for people watching. The best day for people watching is Sunday so you might want to do this on Day 1 or Day 3 if you are in Tokyo on a Sunday.
Also nearby is the famous Harajuku neighborhood. The main action is at Takeshita Dori, which is a short pedestrian walkway. Here you will see shops selling clothes for teens, and lots of Japanese youth and girls wearing Harajuku style.
Make sure to also visit the Meiji Shrine which is located right next to the Harajuku station.
Shibuya Crossing is huge famous pedestrian intersection. While you are at Shibuya do not miss the statue of Hachiko. The statue is a popular meeting point for Tokyo residents and a good spot for people watching. The statue was erected in honor of Hachiko, who was a loyal dog that faithfully came to fetch his owner at the train station each day (even after his owner passed away).
Tokyo can be hectic so visiting a park is a nice way to spend a couple of hours during your time in Tokyo. One of the most beautiful parks in Tokyo is Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden which consists of three different types of gardens: traditional Japanese, formal French and an English garden. Home to a large number of cherry trees, it is a popular but also peaceful spot for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) during the spring cherry blossom season.
Now that you have seen the major sites in Tokyo, you can have some fun and do some of the unique things to do that Tokyo is known for.
Watch a Sumo Wrestling Tournament or Sumo Practice
The sumo tournament runs in Tokyo for 15 days at a time during January, May and September (exact dates vary each year). If you visit Tokyo outside of these dates, consider visiting a sumo stable to watch a sumo wrestling practice.
(If you are interested in attending a sumo wrestling match, check out our Tips for Watching Sumo Wrestling in Japan for the schedule, advice on finding tickets, choosing seats and other information that we think is helpful.)
Have a drink or meal at a themed café or restaurant
Tokyo is full of some interesting cafes from various animal cafes (cat cafes, dog cafes, owl cafes, rabbit cafes and a hedgehog cafe) to maid cafes and even a robot restaurant. Read about our visit to a bunny cafe here.
Tips for Visiting Tokyo
• Most Japanese ATMS don’t work with foreign ATM cards. To find ATMs that work head to the nearest 7-11.
•Not sure when is the best time to visit Tokyo? While Tokyo is great city all year, the weather is most pleasant plus the city is the most beautiful in the spring and fall. To help you decide before you book your trip see related post: The Best Time to Visit Tokyo.
Getting to and Around Tokyo
• The best way to get around Tokyo is by the efficient and comprehensive metro system. If you plan to take the subway more than a couple of times, you might want to purchase a PASMO card. PASMO is a prepaid reloadable smart card that you can use for trains and buses without having to calculate and pay a separate fare each trip. You can purchase a PASMO card at airports or train stations.
• If you want to avoid figuring out how to get around you can also sign up for a Tokyo Hop-On Hop-Off Tour.
• The easiest way to get from the airport to your hotel is the Airport Limousine bus which drops you off right at your hotel door. The Limousine bus does not stop at all Tokyo hotels so check the website for more information.
Where to Stay in Tokyo
It can be overwhelming deciding where to stay in Tokyo as there are so many hotels and neighborhoods. These are our top choices for every budget:
Grand Hyatt Hotel. This is a great hotel in Tokyo for those looking for a luxury experience or have hotel points to use. The Grand Hyatt Hotel has a great location and gets great reviews on tripadvisor. Click here to see the latest prices or read Tripadvisor reviews.
Akasaka Excel Hotel Tokyu. This midprice hotel is where we usually stay in Tokyo. The location is super convenient -it is in the same building as a 7-11 and several restaurants and it is also across the street from the Akasaka-Mitsuke subway station with underground access to five different lines. Click here to see the latest prices or read our full review.
The Prince Park Tower Tokyo. This midprice hotel get good reviews. It has a great location and also offers a free shuttle to the closest train station. Click here to see the latest prices or read Tripadvisor reviews.
Richmond hotel Asakusa. This small modern hotel is located in a great location in Asakusa walking distance to the famous Sensōji Temple. Click here to see the latest prices or read Tripadvisor reviews.
Red Planet Asakusa. This newly built hotel also has a great location in Asakusa and offers great views of the Tokyo Skyline and Sky Tree from some rooms. Click here to see the latest prices or read Tripadvisor reviews.
The Best Tokyo Tours
Here are a few different tours you can join to make the most of your time in Tokyo.
This bus tour will take you to some of the places listed in my itinerary.
If you enjoy being active, you might enjoy this 4.5 hour bike tour.
Are you a foodie? This street food tour will let you taste the best of Japanese cuisine.
Hope you enjoyed our 3-day Tokyo itinerary. Have you been to Tokyo? If so, what would you do in three days?
Are you also visiting Kyoto while in Japan? Here is our itinerary for 3 days in Kyoto.
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