How to spend a fabulous week in dazzling Tokyo

Tokyo is one of the largest cities in the world and with its ever-sprawling suburbs it feels like a city with no end. So, it can be hard to decide where to start and how to spend your limited time there.  We’ll try to help you on your way with our favourite places, great ideas for day trips, some tips and an itinerary for a week.

Our favourite places in Tokyo

There are so many great places that it’s hard to come up with a top 5. But here are our favourite places in alphabetical order:  

Day trips from Tokyo

Daibutsu
Daibatsu in Kamakura

Kamakura

It’s easy to come up with our favourite day trip from Tokyo, that has to be a visit to the stunning temples and shrines of Kamakura.

Nikko

Not that far behind Kamakura comes Nikko. It lies in a beautiful pine forest and the shrine to Tokugawa Ieyasu is stunning. If you can’t make it to Nikko, visit the Tokugawa shrine in Ueno in Tokyo.

Mito

Traditionally listed as one of the top 3 gardens in Japan, we think it’s the least of the three but we visited the garden during the winter with no snow.

Tips

Where to stay in Tokyo

Since Tokyo is gigantic travelling from one place to another can take a lot of time. Therefor it’s best to stay close to a subway station and prefereably to a JR Circle line station. (circular Yamanote line) Especially if you have a JR railpass.

One-week Tokyo Itinerary

Tokyo-by-night
Tokyo by night

Day 1 Tokyo, parks, shopping, shrines and museums

We start our Tokyo itinerary with lots of parks, some shopping, a museum and a view. Read our Tokyo | Nature in the city park for more details.

  • Shinjuku Gyoen
  • Shopping
  • Meji Jingu
  • Mori Art Museum
  • Tokyo city view

Day 2 Day trip to Kamakura

Escape the city for a day with the perfect day trip to beautiful Kamakura. In this ancient Japanese capital you’ll find plenty of temples, shrines and a gigantic Buddha in a tranquil environment.

  • Trip to Kamakura

Day 3 Tokyo, fish market, gardens, temples and museums

Once acclimatised and with your jet lag behind you, it’s time for an exciting full day in Tokyo.

  • Toyosu fish market
  • Hama-rikyu Gardens
  • Boat ride
  • Asakusa
  • Senso-ji
  • Ueno Kōen
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • Tōshō-gū
Shrine
Tōshō-gū in Ueno Kōen

Day 4 Day trip to Nikko

Unwind again by making a day trip to peaceful Nikko. This place is most famous for the shrines of Ieyasu and Iemitsu Tokugawa. But there are many more beautiful religious shrines and temples here. Read our article about Nikko for more information.

  • Trip to Nikko

Day 5 Tokyo, shrines, museums and war

Another full day in Tokyo lies ahead. We will explore the darker side of Japanese history and look at some modern and contemporary art. Go on a shopping bonanza and visit the heart of Tokyo. Read the complete article here.

  • Imperial Shrine of Yasukuni
  • Yūshūkan
  • MOMAT
  • Imperial Palace
  • Akihabara
  • Mitsui Memorial Museum

Day  6 Kairaku-en in Mito and more Tokyo

For a change of scenery we’ll go to Mito and one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, Kairaku-en. In the afternoon we’ll visit the interesting Edo Tokyo museum to get an understanding of the history and development of Tokyo. Read our full guide here.

  • Trip to Mito
  • Edo Tokyo museum
  • Sumida Hokusai museum
  • Tokyo Skytree
Sumida Hokusai museum

Day 7 Magical Tokyo

End your visit of Tokyo with two magical museums. But since both museums are only accessible with advance tickets reserve tickets well in advance and be flexible to adjust your schedule.

  • Visit Ghibli museum
  • Yayoi Kusuma museum
  • Tokyo Metropolitan building
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