Tokyo 3-Day Itinerary: Traveling to Tokyo for the First Time

> April 11, 2024
Tokyo 3-Day Itinerary: Traveling to Tokyo for the First Time

You know what’s funny about the title of this article? It’s meant for first-time visitors to Tokyo because I promise you nobody visits a second time! And that’s even if you only have 2 or 3 days, because that’s literally all you need. Tokyo is lucky it’s home to the world’s 4th busiest airport, otherwise I predict there would be tumbleweeds there instead of tourists.

I visited Tokyo for the first time in 2023 and I’m one and done. Next time I head over to Japan, I’m hightailing it right out of the capital to the many (many!) much more interesting places, like Nikko, Kyoto, or Nara. That, or I’ll barricade myself inside one of the thousands of karaoke rooms and work on my newly found talent—rapping.

In this article, I’ll give you a step-by-step Tokyo itinerary for 3 days: 2 days in the city and 1 day either in DisneySea or on a day trip. Or I guess you could spend it rapping… I’ll include restaurant and hotel recommendations, ticket prices, and time estimates for how long you need at each stop. Basically all the practicalities of visiting Tokyo’s highlights. Then, I’ll answer FAQs about visiting Tokyo. Spoiler: Tokyo’s subway system isn’t all that special.

Best mid-range hotel in Tokyo: Nohga Hotel Akihabara

Nohga Hotel Akihabara in Tokyo, Japan

Tiny rooms but great restaurant in Nohga Hotel Akihabara

Nohga Hotel Akihabara is a bit more expensive than I usually go for, but that’s because hotels in Japan are generally more expensive than elsewhere. I’d guestimate we paid USD 50–100 more per night in Japan to get the same quality hotels we always do. Value for money? Not so much. The cheap food in Japan makes up for it though!

I’ll recommend Nohga Hotel Akihabara because it’s the only one I could find with a good restaurant, and even though the rooms are tiny, it’s the only hotel we stayed at in Japan where the room was completely dark at night. Then again, the toilet seat wasn’t heated, which made our spoiled asses a little whiny. The hotel is conveniently located on public transport, which usually isn’t something I care about, but Tokyo is just about the only city in the world where I think you shouldn’t rent a car to get around.

I make all my hotel reservations on simply because it’s the best, most effective way. It’s always super helpful to read the reviews before making a choice, plus somehow there are always more room photos on there than on the official websites, and the customer service is incredible. (If you use my link to book your hotel, I get a small commission with no extra cost to you—thank you for the token of appreciation!)

Overview of 2+1 day itinerary in Tokyo + map

Map showing all stops on 3 day Tokyo itinerary

Everything is sort of central, and there’s the Ghibli Museum… Get my Google Maps list of places in Tokyo by following this link

At first glance, it may seem you’re trying to fit all of Tokyo’s attractions into 2 days. And you wouldn’t wrong. In fact, it’s not even that hard. Your 3rd day should be spent either at DisneySea (we loved it!) or on a day trip outside of Tokyo.

Day 1: Akihabara, Senso-ji, Imperial Palace, Ginza, Shibuya Crossing, Takeshita, Meiji Jingu, karaoke
Day 2: Ghibli Museum, Skytree
Day 3: DisneySea or day trip to Kamakura

Book 3 nights in Tokyo so you have full days to dedicate to exploring.

Day 1 of Tokyo itinerary: You’ll see almost everything there is to see

First day of Tokyo 3-day itinerary, Japan

Are you ready for your first day in Tokyo? Today you can actually catch almost everything worth visiting

Main sites visited on day 1: Akihabara, karaoke, Senso-ji, Imperial Palace, Shibuya Crossing, Ginza, Takeshita, Meiji jingu
Restaurant tipsOkoge (near Senso-ji) | La Casa Asakusa (near Senso-ji) | Labs syokudo (in Akihabara)
Hotel recommendations: Nohga Hotel Akihabara Tokyo
Further reading: Tokyo Best Places to See | Japan Travel Tips | Food in Japan

What do you think of when you hear “Tokyo”? Neon lights, crowds, adults in costumes, vending machines? Ding ding ding! That’s exactly what you’re getting today.  

But since Japan is known not only for strange cafes and cosplay, but also for its temples and shrines, it would be a sin not to visit some of those in Tokyo as well. One of each, to be precise. You don’t want to overdose on temples right away, because there are TONS of them that deserve your attention in places like Kyoto and Nara, and they will knock your socks off. You just need to pace yourself so you don’t burn out. This is another reason why I say 2 days in Tokyo are enough—there is simply better sightseeing elsewhere.

Today (and tomorrow), you’ll get around using Tokyo’s public transit, namely trains and the metro (subway). I usually rent cars everywhere I travel, but in Tokyo, even I admit public transport makes more sense. Trains depart frequently and go almost everywhere. See more info in the FAQs at the end of this article.

Day 1, stop 1: Akihabara 

Akihabara in Tokyo, itinerary for 3 days

Akihabara actually represents everything you imagine when you say Japan

Time spent here: 1.5 hours

The Akihabara district is Tokyo’s geek central, with gadgets, anime, and weirdness galore, and it’s all so very Japanese! We’re talking neon billboards and sensory overload, and, if you happen to stay in the same hotel we did, it’s all right outside your doorstep!

Now, since this is the first place you’re visiting on your Tokyo itinerary, I have to warn you to go mentally prepared. You might find yourself next to a squadron of stormtroopers waiting to cross the street, which may be a bit much considering you’ve only just finished breakfast.

Akihabara is where you can experience some very specific Japanese activities. Like maid cafes—yes, it’s exactly what you’d expect. Maid cafes are cafes where waitresses are dressed like maids. They greet customers using an annoying voice and tend to them in an overly friendly, servant-like manner, even drawing cute pictures onto your food, or breaking out into song and dance. We tried some for research purposes and I hated every second of it! The maids may be squeaky and awkwardly complacent, but they sure are slow!

Or, if you like gambling first thing in the morning, try pachinko! This pinball machine turned into a “secret” gambling game, and it’s the loudest thing you’ll ever experience. It feels very out of place in an otherwise outwardly reserved Japan. Read more about how the pachinko legal loophole works in my other Tokyo article.

What else might you find in Akihabara? Vending machines that dispense everything from miniature cats in bananas to insect figurines or stores you can find a life-sized pillow of your favorite anime character (sorry, it won’t fit in your carefully packed carry-on!) or maybe some USB-powered potato warmers? Souvenir idea? If you can dream it, Akihabara’s got it!

Day 1, stop 2: Senso-ji 

Visiting Senso-ji in Tokyo, itinerary for 3 days

After the loud chanting, let's go to the Senso-ji Buddhist Temple

Distance from the last stop: 20 minutes by metro
Time spent here: 1 hour

It’s good that Senso-ji honors the Goddess of Mercy, Kannon, because god(dess) knows you’ll need all the mercy you can get after those singing attempts of yours (and she knows about all that unnecessary stuff you bought in Akihabara too)!

Senso-ji is Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple, built in 645. You know it’s old when there are just 3 digits in the year! Just know that it was rebuilt A LOT in the 1960s because history in Japan is basically a series of "build, burn, repeat."

Getting to Senso-ji from Akihabara

To get from Akihabara to Senso-ji just hop on the Tokyo metro. You'll want to catch the Hibiya Line from Akihabara Station and ride it to Ueno. Once there, switch to the Ginza Line and continue to Asakusa Station. The whole trip should take you about 15 minutes, not counting wait times for trains. When you arrive, it's just a short walk to Senso-ji.

As you wander through Kaminarimon, the iconic gate, a lively street of vendors unfolds before you—yes, more opportunities to shop! How many iPhone covers does one need?!

Make sure to dive into the tradition of omikuji for a fun or profound fortune-telling experience, depending on your beliefs. For a non-believer such as myself, it’s just a silly little joke, fine for JPY 100. For the superstitious, such as my girlfriend, it’s a nail-biting 3 seconds trying to choose the right stick. 

Before stepping into the main hall, engage in a purifying ritual with smoke and water, believed to bring wisdom and purification (mainly just purification for me, I assume). Inside, discover the revered pagoda, home to a sacred relic—supposedly Buddha's shoes!

Tip: I’ve explained the difference between a Buddhist temple and a Shinto shrine in another article, along with the appropriate etiquette.  You don’t want to get your claps and bows all wrong! 

  • Senso-ji grounds are always open. The main temple is open daily 6 am–5 pm. The shops open around 9 and stay open until late.
  • Free entry

Day 1, stop 3: Imperial Palace 

Visiting Imperial Palace in Tokyo, 3-day itinerary

Naruhito's place

Distance from the last stop: 20 minutes by metro
Time spent here: 1 hour max unless you take the guided tour, which is slightly longer

It’s time to meet Emperor Naruhito, the 126th emperor of Japan, a man of many talents. Not only does he rule over the nation, but he also finds time to play the viola, jog, and has a strong interest in the history of London’s riverboats. His love story with Empress Masako, sparked on a tennis court, could give Hollywood rom-coms a run for their money.

Ok, you can’t actually meet Naruhito on your Tokyo visit, or ever, really, but can wander around his massive gardens! The Imperial Palace sits in the heart of Tokyo, and it’s a green oasis with important-looking buildings surrounded by a moat. You can walk around the Outer Gardens and get all the way up to Nijubashi Bridge, which connects the Outer and Inner Gardens. Only guided tours are allowed over the bridge (but still don’t go inside buildings or see the emperor).

Guided tours at the Imperial Palace

Even though you can’t enter any of the buildings at the Imperial Palace, it’s intriguing because you know he’s in there, somewhere. If you take the guided tour, you can spend 75 minutes walking onto a tiny portion of the otherwise forbidden Inner Grounds. Tours are free and run twice a day except for Sundas and Mondays. They start at 10 am and 1:30 pm. Tickets are free but limited in number. They can be reserved on the Imperial Household Agency’s website or you can try to get a walk-in ticket at Kikyo-mon Gate (no guarantees).

Tip: In case you really, really want to at least see the imperial family, you have a chance! Twice a year, on January 2nd and then again on February 23rd, the guided tour takes a slightly different route and the emperor and his family come out onto the balcony of the palace and waive to the public. If that makes you swoon, plan your trip to Japan accordingly.

Getting to the Imperial Palace

From Asakusa Station, board the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line at Asakusa Station and take it to Tokyo Station. This line is a direct route, so no need to worry about transfers. The journey should take around 15 to 20 minutes.You can walk to the Imperial Palace’s Kikyo-mon Gate from Tokyo Station in about 10 minutes.

Day 1, stop 4: Ginza

Walking around the Ginza district, Tokyo itinerary for 3 days

The Ginza district and one of it’s prominent buildings, Seiko House Ginza

Distance from the last stop: 15-minute walk
Time spent here: this really depends on how much (window) shopping you want to do

I can’t think of a better contrast to the Imperial Palace than the Ginza District. Granted, I thought it was a slight waste of time, but then again, you won’t know until you try! And since Ginza is very close to the Palace, you should add it next on your itinerary.

What is Ginza? It’s Tokyo’s upscale district, complete with tons of high-end stores, boutiques, galleries, and restaurants. Depending on who you are, you may be left wondering why people would visit such a place. I hear you. I’m not a big shopper, so for me, this stop is something you do because you feel like you’ll miss out if you don’t, and then move on to the next spot.

On weekends, Ginza’s main street, called Chuo Dori (or sometimes just Ginza Street), gets turned into a pedestrian area, which makes it a nicer experience. Cars are banned from noon until about 6 pm. Note that Chuo Dori is almost impossible to find on Google Maps, so my tip is to look for one of Ginza’s most famous buildings, Seiko House Ginza, which stands on one of the main intersections of Chuo Dori, and take it from there. Seiko House sells things like luxury watches and jewelry and is known for the clock tower currently showing a Mickey Mouse clock and the over-the-top window displays.

Tip: If you’re more into learning about Seiko watches and clocks than buying Seiko watches and clocks, head to the Seiko Museum, just a couple of blocks away from the Seiko House. It’s free.

Opposite the Seiko House is Ginza Place, which is geared towards much larger bling: cars and gadgets. Ginza Place is home to Sony and Nissan’s showrooms, so you can find everything from concept cars to AI dogs there.  

This may be random, but I know some of you are the target audience for this: a huge stationary store called Itoya. It’s 8 floors of pens, notebooks, postcards, paint, paper, and everything else that’ll make your nerdy little heart flutter. You’re welcome.

Getting to Ginza

From the Imperial Palace, your best bet is to just walk to Ginza. All you need to do is get past the train lines and bam! Ginza. It’ll take you 15–20 minutes to get to the good parts.

Day 1, stop 5: Shibuya Crossing 

Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo, itinerary for 3 days

In my opinion, Shibuya Crossing is just a crosswalk full of people...

Distance from the last stop: 15 minutes on the metro
Time spent here: A couple of minutes is enough to take your pics and go

Shibuya Crossing is just a busy crosswalk—once you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it. I know you want to see it and walk it for yourself, so did I, and so did a thousand other tourists. Now that I think of it, I wonder if it’s the tourists making it this busy. They do keep stopping in the middle taking selfies…

Shibuya Crossing is pure chaos, because the crosswalks don’t just connect 4(ish) regular street corners, but there’s also the massive diagonal path down the middle. With this addition, the crossing possibilities are almost endless! You could spend hours doing figure eights at Shibuya Crossing if you wanted.

What you do want (I’m guessing) is a good spot to take a photo of Shibuya Crossing, because if it’s not on your Instagram it didn’t happen, right?

Places to get the best pic of Shibuya Crossing

  • There’s a Starbucks at the intersection with big windows, which is an ok option but it’s still pretty low to the ground.
  • At Shibuya Station, follow the signs towards Shibuya Mark City. You can catch a view from the passageway.
  • A paid option is at the observation deck of the Magnet 109 building. Take the elevator to Mag’s Park, the rooftop event area. The views from up here are awesome! For JPY 1500 you get Shibuya Crossing views and a drink.
  • The L’Occitane Café building has several cafes that have window seats. Guess what you can see from those windows?

Getting to Shibuya Crossing

From Ginza Station, which is centrally located in the Ginza district close to Seiko House, board the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line train heading towards Shibuya. The journey is direct, with no transfers needed, and should take about 15 to 20 minutes. Take exit no. 8 (Hachiko Square). It’s not the only exit you can use, but it’s where the Hachiko statue is! You can’t miss that!

Hachiko statue in Tokyo, itinerary for 3 days

Hachiko is a very good boy

Speaking of which, I’d like to add an honorable mention for Hachiko, whose statue you can see at Hachiko Square. Hachiko, the legendary loyal pooch of Tokyo, is the city's unofficial mascot of fidelity. This dog took "man's best friend" to a whole new level, waiting for his owner every day at Shibuya Station, even years after his owner couldn't come back (because he was dead—in case that wasn’t clear).

Day 1, stop 6: Takeshita Street, Harajuku

Takeshita Street in Harajuku District, Tokyo 3-day itinerary

Takeshita Street is full of people, but you can’t skip it when you’re in Tokyo!

Distance from the last stop:  5 minutes on the train or a 20-minute walk
Time spent here: 20 minutes if you manage to not get sucked into the stores

Alright, next up on our first day of this Tokyo whirlwind is Takeshita Street in Harajuku District. Now, I'll be honest—it wasn't exactly my cup of tea. It's like the Times Square of Tokyo, bustling with crowds, quirky shops, and more crepe stands than you can shake a stick at.

But here's the thing: it's like one of the puzzle pieces to any Tokyo visit, and you wouldn’t want your puzzle to be missing that one annoying piece, would you? Plus, it’s just a stone's throw away from Shibuya Crossing, so popping over is a no-brainer. It’s also right next to your last stop of the day, so you really have no choice.

Think of Takeshita Street as a vibrant splash of Tokyo's youth culture, packed with everything from the latest fashion trends (or are they??) to some eyebrow-raising snack options. If you’ve ever been bombarded with Temu ads (or Shein or other similar marketplace-for-anything-and everything), Takeshita is like those ads but in real life. And I say it’s where Tokyo’s youth hangs out, but who am I kidding, there were more tourists there than locals.

Even if it's not the highlight of your trip, Takeshita Street offers a glimpse into the eclectic side of Tokyo life. Plus, it's a great spot for people-watching or picking up a unique (read: bizarre) souvenir.

Give it a quick wander, soak up the chaos, and then move on.

Getting to Takeshita Street

Walking from Shibuya to Takeshita Street in Harajuku will take 20–30 minutes, depending on your walking speed and crowd conditions. The distance is around 1.5 to 2 km (about 1 to 1.2 mi), offering a pleasant stroll through one of Tokyo's most vibrant areas.

If you don’t care for walking, tuck back into Shibuya Station, and hop on the JR Yamanote Line train heading towards Shinjuku/Shin-Okubo. This line is one of Tokyo's most important and busiest circular lines, connecting major city districts. Get off at Harajuku Station—it’s just one stop away from Shibuya, so you’ll be there in about 5 minutes. Exit Harajuku Station towards Takeshita Street. You'll recognize it by the crowds and the distinctive entrance gate.

Day 1, stop 7: Meiji Jingu 

The Meiji Jingu shrine in Tokyo, itinerary for 3 days

The access to Meiji Jingu is a walk through a nice park

Distance from the last stop:  5-minute walk to the gate
Time spent here: 1 hour

The first of your 3 days in Tokyo is coming to an end! I think you’re almost ready for dinner just about now, but muster up your leftover energy because you still have a shrine to visit! It’s right there across the road from Takeshita Street, so don’t be lazy and get out there.

It’s called Meiji Jingu and straight away you’ll see that it’s not just a shrine, but a gorgeous, forested park. Actually, you won’t immediately even see the shrine, because it’s about a 10-minute walk through the forest to get to the shrine from any of the gates.

The lush forest stands as a testament to the love the Japanese people hold for Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken—the ones that modernization and westernization Japan after centuries of relative isolation under the previous shogunate. The story goes that when the shrine was established in 1920, over 100,000 trees were donated and planted by volunteers from all over Japan. This act of unity and dedication created the serene forest that visitors walk through today, making the approach to the shrine as significant as the shrine itself.

Tip: Read about shrine etiquette in my guide to Japan’s best temples and shrines.

Another little tidbit that you should keep in mind when visiting Meiji Jingu is about horses. Horses hold a special place in the history and rituals of Meiji Jingu. Historically, horses were considered sacred messengers of the gods in Shinto, and donating a horse to a shrine was a highly esteemed offering—everyone wanted in on that. In the past, wealthy patrons and the nobility would donate live horses to Meiji Jingu as a tribute to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife. Over time, this practice disappeared due to practical reasons (read: the horses were crammed into the shrine grounds just like people now get crammed into economy class on airplanes).

Meiji Jingu in Tokyo, itinerary

And the last stop of the day is behind us

Now, instead of live horses, worshippers donate ema, small wooden plaques with horse images or drawings on them. You can participate in this symbolic action and buy an ema for JPY 500. You’ll see hundreds of them hung around the tree in front of the main shrine. But I’d love to see you try to donate a live horse! Would they turn you away? Wouldn’t that be bad luck? Would they tell you to park the horse next to the ema tree? I have so many questions.

Getting to Meiji Jingu

The most convenient entrance gate to Meiji Jingu is right behind Harajuku Station, which is where you are if you’ve just finished walking/shopping/being annoyed at Takeshita Street. So just walk right in. There is no entrance fee. All you need to remember is that Meiji Jingu closes at sunset.

Your first day in Tokyo is coming to an end. Head back to your hotel (I recommend Nohga Hotel Akihabara Tokyo), get cleaned up, unload all the souvenirs you bought on your tour through Tokyo’s highlights, and head out to dinner. If you’re too tired to care to go anywhere, you’ll be pleased to know that Nohga Hotel Akihabara has a very decent restaurant on site.

But before you even try to eat in Japan, read my guide to Japan’s food culture and the best food, drinks, and restaurants. That way you’ll know not to tip, that sashimi isn’t sushi, and how to stop them from refilling your sake over and over.

Day 1, stop 8: Karaoke

Singing karaoke in Tokyo, itinerary for 3 days

My girlfriend, having the time of her life

Time spent here: 1.5 hours

But wait! Don’t go to bed just yet—it’s time for one last very Japanese experience—karaoke! I can’t say it’s something I’d do at home, but in Tokyo, it felt like a must-do. No regrets there, because now I can die peacefully knowing that I am excellent at rapping (not so much at rock apparently)! If you don’t sing karaoke in Tokyo, you haven’t been to Japan. It’s so much fun, trust me.

Karaoke in Tokyo is a completely crazy experience—imagine a 7-floor building where each floor is lined with one tiny karaoke room next to another and it is PACKED with people belting all the top hits you can think of. Hilariously, everyone is singing way worse that they think they are (not me).

Some of the most popular karaoke chains are: KaraokeKan, Big Echo, Shidax, and Uta Hiroba, and you’ll find them all over Tokyo, Akihabara included.

Here’s how it works: Go to the reception and ask for karaoke booth based on the number of people in your group. Booths are usually booked by the half-hour or hour and paid per person. You’ll be given a booth number to go to. Prices depend on the time you visit (weekends and evenings are more expensive), but let’s say you should expect JPY 1000 per person per hour.

Once you’re in your booth, it’s pretty easy to find your way around the tablet with song choices if you remember to switch it to English. It is standard (and sometimes mandatory) to order drinks and food, too—usually on the tablet where the song choices are. They run you a tab and you pay your balance when you check out.

Some places even have costumes that you can borrow if you want to dress the part, or maybe for a confidence boost, or maybe to act out some weird fantasy, who knows. I was awesome even in my regular clothes, so... If you really want to rock out, you can rent a mic stand sometimes, too.

You’ll go to sleep tonight feeling like a rock star!

Day 2 of Tokyo itinerary: Ghibli Museum and Skytree

Day 2 of Tokyo itinerary, Japan

Good morning! Time for some nice views and museums! Loved the shabu shabu at this restaurant.

Main sites visited on day 2: Ghibli Museum, Tokyo Skytree
Restaurant tipsKoyoken | Kazu (both near Skytree)
Hotel recommendations: Nohga Hotel Akihabara Tokyo
Further reading: Tokyo Best Places to See | What to See in Nikko | Best places in Hakone (It’s not just Mt. Fuji!)

Today is your second (and last) full day in Tokyo. Tomorrow, you’ll be heading outside of town. Realistically though, you saw all of Tokyo’s best places yesterday, so today you’ll take it a little bit easy. Yes, you only have 2 places on your itinerary. How very unlike me! But it’s because they’re more time-consuming than yesterday’s “a street with weird shops” and “a street with expensive shops”.

Day 2, stop 1: Ghibli Museum

Ghibli museum in Tokyo, itinerary for 3 days

Can you spot Totoro welcoming visitors at the Ghibli museum?

Distance from the last stop:  45 minutes to an hour by train+walk or shuttle bus
Time spent here: 1.5 hours minimum

You might leave your first stop of the day surprised—much like I was—that the Ghibli Museum may be the highlight of your Tokyo itinerary! I’m not an anime fan or anything, but the museum's like stepping into a Miyazaki film—whimsical, unexpected, and utterly captivating. Right from when you spot Totoro standing at the ticket desk window, you’ll turn into a kid again.

You’ll notice that the building and museum grounds themselves are colorful and cutesy, so you’ll be in anime mode the moment you get there. Once inside, it's a feast for the senses, with exhibits that bring to life the studio's iconic films, like Princess Mononoke, Kiki's Delivery Service, or My Neighbor Totoro.

The museum itself might not be sprawling, but the 3 floors and rooftop (with Laputa waiting for you up there) are packed with Ghibli awesomeness. You’ll get to learn a little about how Ghibli films are made, too. I say ‘a little’ because you won’t find any English translations, so a lot if left up to your imagination, but hey, where else would that be fitting than in an anime movie museum? Who needs words when you're being spoken to in the universal language of wonder!

Make sure to see the museum-exclusive short film. Overall, set aside at least 1.5 hours to get through the entire museum. You can end your visit with a drink at the on-site café. It doesn’t suck!

A heads up about tickets: getting one requires planning as they are quick to sell out and impossible to buy on the spotTickets are sold online for a specific date and time and are released for sale on the 10th of each month for the following month. You’ll need to stand by with your credit card and fast clicking action if you want to have a good choice of time slots if you’re visiting Tokyo is peak tourist, parkticularly in spring because of the cherry trees blooming and the holidays of Golden Week.

Getting to the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo

The Ghibli Museum is in Mitaka, which is to the west of Tokyo city center, accessible by train or car (there’s a parking lot in front of the museum).

Say you’re staying in crazy Akhibara (like where we stayed and can recommend: Nohga Hotel Akihabara). From Akihabara Station, get on the JR Yamanote Line or the JR Keihin-Tohoku Line heading towards Shinjuku or Shibuya. Get off at Yoyogi Station and transfer to the JR Chuo Line (Rapid) heading towards Takao or Mitaka. You’ll be getting off at Mitaka Station in a total of 30–40 minutes.  

If you’re staying at a different hotel, I have no idea how you get to the Ghibli Museum. But let’s pretend you’re going to the Ghibli Museum from Tokyo Station. You’ll need to board the JR Chuo Line (Rapid) heading towards Tachikawa or Takao and in 30 minutes, you’re at Mitaka Station—no transfers.

Once you arrive at Mitaka Station: Mitaka Sttion is a 15-minute walk to the museum, or hop on the Ghibli Museum dedicated shuttle bus that runs from the south exit of Mitaka Station. The bus is decorated with cute Ghibli characters, making it easy to spot.

Day 2, stop 2: Skytree 

Skytree Tower in Tokyo, 3-day itinerary

Distance from the last stop:  1 hour on trains/metro
Time spent here: 1.5 hours unless you don’t have your tickets and spend an hour waiting in line + time for lunch and coffee

Next, you’ll need to transport yourself all the way back to the city, so hop on the train and get it over with (details on trains you’ll need to take below).

I’m sure that by now you’ve seen Tokyo Skytree many, many times while galivanting around the city—it dominates Tokyo's skyline not just by being tall, but by being the tallest tower in the world at a staggering 634 m (2,080 ft). Now, that's what I call doing it Tokyo style—going big or going home, and Skytree certainly doesn't go home.

The Tokyo Skytree will redefine your idea of 'panoramic.' It’s official, respectable job is being a broadcasting tower. But, just like Clark Kent, he has something a little more fun up his sleeve, too—two eye-popping observation decks, complete with spiral staircases and a glass floor that’ll leave some people white-knuckling the walls! Not me, I was as cool as a cucumber... on the outside, haha.

Reaching the first observation deck, I was hit with a 'this is it' moment—the Tokyo view I'd been craving. It's like seeing the world curve at your feet. Spotting Mt. Fuji on the horizon is like icing on this sky-high cake.

If you visit Skytree closer to nighttime, you can see it in all of its illuminated glory. They alternate between a few colors, so you never know which you’ll be getting. 

Ticket lines can be as long as the tower is tall, so buy them in advance on the official website (up to 30 days in advance). If you can’t plan to save your life, you can still at least buy same-day tickets online (for a little extra money). Even that is better than just rocking up and hoping to catch a break. Then again, if you wait in line long enough, maybe they’ll turn on the nighttime lights by the time you get inside!

Lunch near Tokyo Skytree

Before you head up to the highest heights where some people may feel like they will lose the contents of their stomachs, it’s time to fill those stomachs first. As you’d expect around one of the biggest tourist attractions in Tokyo, there are plenty of places vying for your taste buds’ attention.

Give Koyoken a try if you don’t mind not having an English menu and you love pork. It’s very traditional and very good.

Kazu is a fantastic BBQ place. Just be warned, they barbecue all the things.  

Finally, there are also a couple of restaurants in the Skytree itself. Expect high prices and great views.

Getting to Tokyo Skytree

View from Tokyo skytree

Observation decks on Skytree

The closest stations to the Skytree are Tokyo Skytree Station and Oshiage Station. Here’s how to get to either from the Ghibli Museum (they each take about an hour):

For Tokyo Skytree Station (2 transfers): At Mitaka Station, board the JR Chuo Line (rapid) heading towards Tokyo. At Kanda Station, switch to the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line towards Asakusa. Once you arrive at Asakusa Station, transfer to the Tobu Skytree Line and take it to Tokyo Skytree Station, which is right at the base of the tower.

For Oshiage Station (1 transfer): Start from Mitaka Station and take the JR Chuo Line (rapid) to Nippori Station. This avoids the need to transfer at busy stations like Kanda. Transfer to the Keisei Line and head towards Oshiage Station. Once you're there, Tokyo Skytree is just a short walk away.

Day 3 of Tokyo itinerary: DisneySea or day trip

Visiting Disney Sea in Tokyo, third day of itinerary

The last day is a fun day! DisneySea, here we come!

Main sites visited on day 3: DisneySea would be my choice, but you can do a day trip too
Hotel recommendations: Nohga Hotel Akihabara Tokyo
Further reading: Tokyo Best Places to See | What to See in Nikko | Best places in Hakone (It’s not just Mt. Fuji!)

Listen up—I don’t have kids, am pretty hard to please, and get bored easily, and I still thoroughly enjoyed DisneySea. It was a fantastic day out for my girlfriend and me, and I can almost guarantee anyone reading this will enjoy it too. On your 3rd day in Tokyo, that’s what I believe you should do.

If you’re 100% certain you don’t want to go to DisneySea (I get it, some people are just no fun), go on a day trip instead. I’ll give you options below. Or just go to DisneySea anyway and one of us gets proved wrong.

Option 1: DisneySea

Visiting Disney Sea in Tokyo, Japan

Disney Sea in Tokyo is one of its kind!

DisneySea, the only one of its kind globally, has a slightly more grown-up vibe than Disneyland (like a tad, nothing major, there are still children everywhere and rides for little kids too). All of the reviews I’ve read say DisneySea is the best out of all the Disneylands worldwide, so if you’re on the fence about going, take a leap to the Disney side.

My first tip is to get there early. Tickets are around USD 60, but then comes my second tip: you’ll want those priority passes once you see the queues—or, if you're as neurotic as I am, splurge on a timed entry and breeze past the masses.

I love how DisneySea has an actual harbor with a steamboat, you can see they had the budget to make it truly a place “where imagination and adventure set sail” (the official tagline). Despite the sea in its name, there's ironically just one water ride at DisneySea.

My favorite parts of DisneySea were the Arabian Coast (I loved Aladin as a kid!) and Toy Story (I honestly didn’t even know it was Disney). The Tower of Terror is a huge building and one of the main focal points of the park. It was… completely different than we expected, and boy, is that drop tall!! I don’t want to give you any spoilers, but it was a thrill. Even waiting in line was exciting—if you like to be freaked out.

As is standard in Disney Parks, even waiting in line is usually quite entertaining, though we only ever waited 15 minutes max thanks to fast passes, so I can’t say how much I’d like it if we were stuck there for 45 minutes. Just know that if the line seems to be short or moving fast outside, it may be a completely different story once you get inside. They zig-zag the heck out of those waiting areas.

Tourist at Disney Sea in Tokyo, Japan

Disney Sea is a good alternative to enjoy your last day in Tokyo!

Other DisneySea highlights, like the Journey to the Center of the Earth ride, with its dark tunnels and monster exhibits, make you forget you're in a theme park and not on some sci-fi adventure. Very much appreciated for the childless visitor! Some places, like Fortress Exploration, had me wondering what Disney movie they’re supposed to be from. And don’t get me started on the Venetian Village. It was like wandering into a Renaissance fair by accident.

My last tip is to save Soaring: Fantastic Flight for later in the day when the queues die down, or just get that fast pass. The 3D waiting room alone is worth it, never mind the sensation of flying across the world in 5 minutes.

My top tips for visiting DisneySea:

  • Get there early, because the day is short when there’s so much to experience.
  • Splurge on fast passes—they save so much time and sanity. You breeze past the long lines!
  • Leave the Soaring: Fantastic Flight ride for later in the day if you don’t follow my other tip and don’t purchase a fast pass.

Getting to DisneySea

If you’re going to DisneySea from central Tokyo (Tokyo Station), get a train on the JR Keiyo Line or JR Musashino Line heading towards Maihama Station, which is the gateway to the Disney resorts. Once you arrive at Maihama Station (it’ll take a maximum of 20 minutes), exit and transfer to the Disney Resort Line. This is a monorail service that circles around the Tokyo Disney Resort, including stops at Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. It's just one stop from Maihama Station to Tokyo DisneySea Station on the Disney Resort Line.

Or, if you’re staying at the same hotel we stayed at— Nohga Hotel Akihabara Tokyo—and are now screaming at your screen “Hey Jan! You made me stay in Akihabara and you’re giving me directions that aren’t from Akihabara?!”, this is for you: At Akihabara Station, board the JR Yamanote Line or the JR Keihin-Tohoku Line going towards Tokyo Station or Shinagawa Station. Get off at Tokyo Station and then follow the instructions above.

Option 2: Day trip to Kamakura, Nikko, or Hakone

Daytrip to Kamakura, Hakone or Nikko in Japan

Kamakura is perfect for a one daytrip. For Hakone and Nikko, definitely plan more!

If you decided against DisneySea, I want to tell you that Nikko and Hakone were some of my favorite places in all of Japan, so I’m telling you NOT to go there on a day trip unless you absolutely have to.

Without a doubt, these two place deserve 2 full days of your time, not a measly few hours. Nikko is a postcard come to life and Hakone is Mt. Fuji! But also pirate boats, pagodas and smelly volcanic landscapes. I wrote a separate 2-day itinerary for Nikko and another 2-day itinerary for Hakone, so check those out if you’re trying to see them properly. Both Nikko and Hakone are 1.5 – 2 hours away from Tokyo.

Kamakura, on the other hand, is easily seen in as a day trip from Tokyo. It’s ex-political capital meets beach town, with some hikes thrown in for good measure. Some people call it the “Kyoto of eastern Japan” for its high number of temples and shrines, but if you go to real Kyoto, you’ll beg to differ (I loved Kyoto!). Kamakura's about an hour away from central Tokyo by train.

The vibe in Kamaruka is a mix of spiritual tranquility and seaside relaxation. I steer clear of hippie towns, but Kamakura manages to stay more in surfer dude territory and less in obnoxious tie dye and crystals land. The biggest attraction, literally, is the Great Buddha, one of the largest bronze buddha statues in Japan. You can also visit shrines like Hasedera, set against a backdrop of lush greenery. Or get lost in the bamboo groves of Hokokuji (and compare them to those of the more famous Arashiyama Bamboo Forest), or just hang by the beach.

Tokyo FAQ 1: What is the best way to get around Tokyo?

Trains and metros are the way to travel around Tokyo. Yes, even for me, the anti-public transit guy. It’s efficient and trains leave very frequently and always on time. But I don’t get the hype around Tokyo’s metro—yeah, it can be busy, but otherwise it’s a regular public transit situation. There wasn’t a train I couldn’t get on, I wasn’t squished to death or shoved into a train with a stick, nothing of the sort.

Navigating Tokyo's extensive train and subway network is key to exploring this dynamic (albeit slightly boring) city. Trains and subways sometimes share rails, so don’t let that confuse you.

At the heart of it all is the JR Yamanote Line, a loop train line that conveniently connects Tokyo's major city centers. The main stations are: Tokyo Station (the centralest central station), Ueno, Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Shinagawa. The city also boasts 13 subway lines, and they primarily serve the area within the Yamanote loop and the bustling zones around Ginza. 

If you need some alone time, taxis in Tokyo are medium expensive, about JPY 2,000 for a 10-minute ride. That’s USD 13.

And if you do get a car, get a small one. Streets are narrow and parking is even narrower. Remember to drive on the left at a maximum speed of 60 km/h (37 mph) on regular roads and 100 km/h (62 mph) on expressways. In cities, look out for zones of 40 km/h (25 mph) or less.  

Tokyo FAQ 2: What are some tips on navigating Tokyo’s subways?

I’d say Tokyo’s subway system is intricate yet user-friendly. There are two subway companies, Tokyo Metro and Toei, operating the 13 subway lines. They are all color-coded and signs in stations and trains are in Japanese and English. Remember that the subway operates mainly within the JR Yamanote loop line and around Ginza. You’ll need to use (also easy-to-use) trains to go further out.

Here are some tips on using the subway in Tokyo:

  • To find subway station entrances, look for signs with the Tokyo Metro or Toei Subway logos. Entrances are marked with a station name and often the line color.
  • Inside, look at the signs and arrows pointing you in the direction of the line you’re looking for. Look at a map to figure out what that is.
  • Use ticket machines at the station, available in English. Select your destination, and the fare will be displayed. Single-use tickets usually work out well pricewise unless you spend all day on trains. Otherwise, you can also get a prepaid IC ticket for convenience, even though the price is the same as a regular single ticket, but at least you don’t need to spend time clicking away at the ticket machine every time you want to go somewhere.
  • To validate your ticket, go to the correct ticket gate (at the entrance to the line you want) and insert your ticket into the slot at the ticket gate (or swipe your IC card). The gate will open if your fare is correct. Collect your ticket on the other side as you'll need it to exit your destination station!
  • Follow the signs to your platform. Wait behind the marked lines on the platform. When the train arrives, let passengers off before boarding. To exit, head towards the front of the train if you're unsure of the exit location.
  • To find the right train direction, check the line maps above the platform or use station information boards. There will also be displays on the train so if you’re going in the wrong direction, you should figure it out pretty quickly.

Tokyo FAQ 3: Is 3 days enough for Tokyo?

Three days is too much for Tokyo! There are so many other places in Japan that deserve your attention more than Tokyo—Kyoto, Nara, Hakone, and Nikko just to name a few. I know it’s hard to believe because Tokyo is supposed to be the bee’s knees, but it fell very short of my expectations. It’s just a big, busy city with not much to do. After a day of two, you’ve seen all there is to see in Tokyo and should hightail it out of there.

Nikko National Park in Japan

There is sooo much more to Japan then just Tokyo! For example, try Nikko! 

Tokyo FAQ 4: Is Tokyo better than Kyoto?

The only thing I liked better in Tokyo than I did in Kyoto is the karaoke! Tokyo is just about the least Japanese place in Japan and I didn’t think it was worth spending more than a day or two there. Kyoto, especially if you add nearby Nara and Osaka to the mix, trumps Tokyo in every way: history, temples and shrines, vibe, people, sights, scenery... need I go on? Check out this 4-day itinerary for Kyoto and see that I barely fit it all in! In Tokyo, there is zero to do after the first two days, tops.  

Tokyo FAQ 5: Where else to go from Tokyo?   

I’ll be the first one to tell you to get out of Tokyo—we spent a fun day at the world’s only DisneySea and had a blast! Other day trips from Tokyo include:

  • Nikko
  • Kamakura
  • Hakone and Mt. Fuji

Though Nikko and Mt. Fuji are certainly worth more than a day trip (which is more than you can say for Tokyo!). Get my Nikko itinerary and my Hakone itinerary to see what I mean. Kamakura, on the other hand, is easy to see in a day. Think temples, beaches, and a colorful small town.

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About me

About me

Hi! I’m Jan. I live in Prague, Czech Republic. I try to experience the best the world has to offer, and I don’t cease to be impressed. But if I’m not, I’m sure going to tell you! You can count on my full honesty and real opinions here. No bullcrap. I own and run several companies, which gives me great (but not unlimited) freedom to roam the world.  

I was first inspired to start this blog by my own experience of researching for upcoming trips—I often struggle with a lack of good information, accuracy, and authenticity of resources. You wouldn’t believe how many “travel bloggers” don’t even visit the destinations they write about! 

My goal with this blog is to provide you with complex and practical information so that you can plan your own vacation, complete with insights you’d only get if you visited the place. I also put together itineraries that are fully planned out trip guides.

Another aspect that drives this platform is my curiosity about the history, geography, politics, and economy of each country I visit, so I try to include this information in my articles, too. It’s always great to get the bigger picture, right? 

And just to be clear, I am not trying to compete with backpacking blogs or provide hacks for an economical and affordable experience. My vacations follow the standard pattern of traveling by plane, staying in good hotels, and renting a car on the spot to get around. I’m also always up for a fantastic meal, though I don’t shy away from local delicacies and street food, either.  

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