What to do in Tokyo for 3 days? Below you will find a 3-day Tokyo itinerary that covers a wide range of the major sights and famous places in the Japanese capital. We believe that our itinerary is a good starting point for what to do to make the most of 3 days in Tokyo. It is compact (and absolutely feasible!), but you can of course choose to stretch it over more days if you prefer!
To be well prepared for your stay in Tokyo, you should check in advance which transport options suit you best, also depending on whether you will use a day pass or a Japan Rail Pass.
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Start the day with a quiet morning walk under the large and impressive Shinto torii gate leading to Meiji Jingu – the Meiji Shrine – in western Tokyo. Perhaps surprisingly, it is located in a quiet forest close to the huge Yoyogi Park in the middle of Tokyo! It was dedicated to Emperor Meiji (1852-1912) and Empress Shoken in 1920 when it was completed. Even today, the shrine is very popular in Japan and many people come here to worship the Shinto gods called ‘kami’.
Worshipers purify themselves by pouring water on their hands and mouth from a bamboo ladle provided at a pool of water. They ring a bell to inform the god of their presence, bow twice, clap their hands loudly twice, and finally bow deeply again. This is the traditional way to show respect and worship.
You may also be lucky to be at Meiji Jingu on a day when there is a wedding to watch the wedding procession!
Itinerary for 2 days in Tokyo
Stay in a ryokan in Tokyo
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Head to Harajuku for a bit of people watching on Takeshita Street, iconic site of Japanese pop culture. Here you’ll find trendy shops, crepe stands and lots of cosplaying Tokyo teenagers who come for the quirky, colorful Kawaii or pop culture fashion. This is where Tokyo’s trend-setting teenagers hang out.
If you happen to be here on a Sunday, don’t miss the (often) improvised show in Yoyogi Park, right at the entrance to Harajuku. Here you can often see the ultimate cosplay outfits, rock & roll dance groups of young people, Elvis dressed young men and girls in pink poodle skirts posing.
Once you’re done here, take the Yamanote Line up to Shinjuku Station – the world’s busiest train station with 3.5 million passengers per day! It is a real maze!
Choose one of the department stores such as Odakyu Department Store, Takashimaya or Isetan, all located around Shinjuku Station. You can get anything here – both Japanese goods, the most ingenious electronic devices and clothes in all the well-known western brands. You might also consider buying an extra suitcase for all your purchases! While shopping, it is probably also time to grab some lunch!
If you feel up to it, you can also choose to go to the huge complex Sunshine City that even features an aquarium, a few streets east of Shinjuku Station. You now have to decide if you want to continue shopping in Shinjuku for a few more hours … or if you want to take the elevator up in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building east of Shinjuku Station for a free view of Tokyo. You will probably not have time for both.
Enjoy an amazing, panoramic view of Tokyo from the observation decks on the 45th floor, 202 m (663 ft) above the ground. The decks can be accessed free of charge. On a bright day you can even view Mt. Fuji. Also buildings such as the Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Dome and Meiji Jingu can be spotted from the two observation decks.
The buildings around, as well as the towers, contain offices belonging to the metropolitan government of Tokyo – hence the name.
You will now continue to Golden Gai, also close to Shinjuku Station. It is an old post-war Tokyo neighbourhood that has remained ‘intact’ in style despite the economic growth of the latter part of the 20th century. Today, there are around 200 small shanty-style bars in the total of only 6 narrow alleys that make up Golden Gai. Most of them seat fewer than 10 people, some just 4-5! They are not all gaijin-friendly / accepting foreign tourists, but if you are willing to pay a cover charge (500-1500 Yen), you should be able to get into some of the cool bars. They tend to open from around 8 p.m.
If you feel like having dinner inside Golden Gai, you can get a ramen, a miso soup, or some other tasty thing at some of the small, quirky places. You can also stumble upon a karaoke experience here! Otherwise, Shinjuku’s streets abound with tempting restaurants – a short distance from Golden Gai.
Things to see in Tokyo in 3 days
You cannot be in Tokyo without watching the popular sport of sumo. It may not be an option to get tickets to the official sumo wrestling matches as they only take place during the sumo wrestling season (January, May and September). Instead, you may get to see keiko – the Japanese sumo morning training in one of the sumo stables. Therefore, start the day by going to one of the stables where it is possible for visitors to watch the training, for example the Arashio Beya stable (check in advance that they actually have keiko on the day you want to go. They have it most days). Here you can watch the morning training (free) through a large window.
Continue by public transportation to Ueno Park right by Ueno Station. This is a picturesque park where you can relax and watch people around the large fountain, kindergarteners running around, and schoolboys and girls passing by in their stylish school uniforms… If you arrive during the cherry blossom season, you will likely see a number of people photographing the delicate pink blossoms throughout the day, and others flower viewing (hanami) with a picnic under the blossoming branches. There are also a number of excellent museums located inside the park, for example the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum and the Tokyo National Museum.
Tokyo itinerary 3 days’
For a taste of traditional Japanese culture and history, visit the Tokyo National Museum (see visitor information here). Alternatively, if you are more into something else, choose one of the many other brilliant Tokyo museums for the early afternoon (Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, the National Museum of Nature and Science or the famed Ghibli Museum for the history of anime).
Have lunch either before or after the museum visit, whichever suits you best. You can choose to stop at Ameyoko Market under the train line between Ueno Station and Okachimachi Station.
Here at the bazaar-style market, you can get everything from delicate fish to dozens of bags and low-priced clothes. The restaurants in the area are popular for their selection of udon, ramen and soba, so you are sure to find something you like.
Afterwards, you can head towards a truly fantastic Buddhist temple in Tokyo. On the way from Ueno to Asakusa Kannon Temple, you will pass the famous Kappabashi Street.
Visit some of the interesting kitchenware shops on the street selling pots, pans, knives and other kitchen utensils as well as plastic and wax samples of sushi and other food. It is here that professionals buy their plastic samples of dishes to display in their restaurant windows.
The next place is one of the great temples in Tokyo, located a short distance from Kappabashi Street.
The probably most impressive Tokyo temple is the Asakusa Kannon Temple which is also known as the Sensoji Temple. It is Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple from the year 645. Walk through the iconic Thunder Gate and see for yourself the giant red lantern. Shop for traditional Japanese souvenirs right next to the temple on the historic Nakamise Street, which is 200 m (650 ft) long.
3 days in Tokyo itinerary, tours & sights
Just a few hundred meters to the side you can take a walk along the Sumida River with an excellent view of river cruises, ferries and not least the Tokyo Skytree. An option for the evening is of course a dinner cruise on the river!
However, if you are looking for a different evening experience, head towards Akihabara.
This is the district of Tokyo famous for electronics stores, video games and arcades, as well as anime and manga otaku stores and anime-related subcultures. Visit one the anime and manga stores Mandarake, Gachapon Kaikan, Animate or Don Quijote – it is an amazing and at the same time overwhelming experience! If you are a first-time visitor, you probably never imagined how huge this entertainment industry is in Japan – and how little you actually know about this universe! As an alternative experience, you can choose to visit a cosplay restaurant or a maid café, where the waitresses serve the food dressed in maid costumes or other ‘adventurous’ clothes. Popular maid cafes are, for example, Maidreamin or Pinafore.
Take the subway to Tsukijishijo Station or Shimbashi Station along the Yamanote Line. From here you can walk to the Tsukiji Outer Market, which abounds with fresh seafood in the shops and small restaurants, supplied from the new Toyosu Market where the tuna auctions now take place. The former Tsukiji Wholesale Market (the Inner Market) was at the time located next to the Outer Market, before being moved to Toyosu.
Continue on foot to Chuo Dori in Ginza. This is the fashionable, exclusive shopping district with trendy department stores, galleries and restaurants. If you fancy a fantastic shopping experience, try one of the shopping complexes Tokyo Plaza Ginza or Ginza Six.
When you are full of impressions and done, take the subway down to Tokyo Tower (there are several options depending on which subway line you prefer / can use with your day pass or JR pass).
If you want a different view of Tokyo (of if you didn’t do the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building on Day 1), you can now go up Tokyo Tower for an extraordinary view of Tokyo. Check the admission fees here. Grab a quick bite for a late lunch here.
Now get ready to travel a few centuries back in time. Take the subway to Nippori Station (the Yamanote Line).
Take a walk inside the old Yanaka Cemetery and see if you can find the grave of the last shogun of the Edo period, Tokugawa Yoshinobu. It is lovely to stroll around here under the cherry trees, and the historic cemetery gives you a bit of insight into Japanese Buddhist burial customs. Besides a 5-storey pagoda, there are also graves of renowned actors and artists.
Continue through the quiet Yanaka district. It is a very traditional quarter with small, cosy streets, local shops, and a spirit from a bygone era. It is a unique neighbourhood in Tokyo that was spared from bombing during WWII! Yanaka Ginza, the ‘main’ shopping street, is a real gem. Ceramics and other handicrafts are displayed among Japanese specialities, teas, and spices with delicate scents. If you are looking for authentic, old-world Tokyo, this may well end up being your favourite Tokyo neighbourhood! Take your time – you can easily spend the whole afternoon here!
The Yamanote Line will now conveniently take you counter-clockwise down to Shibuya Station.
At Shibuya Station, take the Hachiko Exit (Exit #8) to reach the famous Shibuya Crossing. You arrive at the end of the day, which will throw you right into the hustle and bustle of Shibuya Scramble Crossing, the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world. The best place to see a myriad of people intertwine on their way through the intersection is from the second floor of the Starbucks coffee shop. 230 meters above Shibuya Crossing you will find the new Shibuya Sky – an outdoor observation deck with a 360° view of Tokyo.
Before finding a dinner restaurant, you should take a look at the small dog statue in front of Shibuya Station. It is the famous Hachiko dog, who was an incredibly faithful dog that waited all day for years at Shibuya Station for its master to return from work – even after his death. It has to be one of the most iconic meeting places in Tokyo!
A night out in Roppongi: If you still have a bit of energy for a night out, you can now continue to the entertainment district of Roppongi to experience Tokyo’s legendary nightlife in some of the hip bars and clubs! You can also choose to have dinner at a fashionable restaurant here.
the square hotel GINZA is located in Ginza / Chuo in a lively neighbourhood and features a restaurant/café on site. Remarkable design. The hotel features a common hot bath. Located near the Antique Mall Ginza and the Wakayama Art Museum.
Hotel Gracery Asakusa has a top location in Asakusa near the vivid and popular streets around the old Sensoji Temple and is near the kitchenware street, Kappabashi Street. Ueno Station is within 20 min walking distance and Tokyo Skytree within 20 min. All rooms are equipped with a kettle, air conditioning and a flat-screen TV.
View more hotels by district in Tokyo!
Do you only have 2 days in Tokyo? Then check out our Tokyo 2-day itinerary
Besides the 3 days in Tokyo, would you like to go on a 3-day round trip from Tokyo to Kyoto and Nara? Read our guide To Kyoto by Train: Ultimate 3-day Itinerary
You can find more helpful information for your trip to Tokyo and Japan in our guide Tokyo Travel Guide.
Read next: Hotel with a Japanese Onsen in Tokyo
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What to Do in Tokyo in 3 Days:
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