Last updated on March 30th, 2022
Tokyo is a lively metropolis filled with plenty of things to do, places to see, and food to eat, such that 3 days in Tokyo isn’t even enough to experience everything on your first trip to Japan. From temples to fresh seafood, from skyscrapers to scenic parks, Tokyo has a wide variety of activities for every type of traveler. You will not want to pass by this Tokyo itinerary to assist with your Japan trip planning.
Exploring Tokyo, is like no other place, the positive feeling it gives you will stay with you. Visiting Tokyo made Japan the favourite country I’ve explored so far, and it will be difficult to find somewhere as incredible and unique as Japan.
I highly recommend staying longer in Japan to experience more of what this fascinating country has to offer if you have more time.
If you only have 3 days in Tokyo, I recommend this itinerary to see all the highlights:
Please note: This itinerary for Tokyo excludes flying time and is based on having 3 full days in Japan.
Use the Tokyo Metro and walking to get around. The metro is super easy to use and is in both English and Japanese. The hardest part is figuring out which direction to go, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes super easy. There is more information on the Tokyo Metro at the bottom of this Tokyo itinerary.
Day 1 – Sensō-ji Temple, Ueno Park, and Tokyo Skytree
Today will take you through the neighbourhoods of Asakusa and Taito.
Begin your day early to maximize your sightseeing potential.
Today will start in Asakusa, known for its old Tokyo atmosphere.
Kaminarimon and Sensō-ji Temple
The Kaminarimon, aka the Thunder Gate, is an iconic symbol for Asakusa. The Thunder Gate is the entrance gate that leads to the famous Sensō-ji Temple.
Sensō-ji Temple is one of the most popular and colourful temples in Tokyo. Built in 645, it is Tokyo’s oldest temple. It was destroyed in WWII but was rebuilt in the original style after.
Hours of Operation: Temple: always open, Main hall: 6:30am to 5:00pm
Busiest times to visit: At the beginning of the New Year and in May and August for festivals. I visited at the beginning of January and Sensō-ji Temple was bustling with locals celebrating the new year and receiving their fortunes, however, it was still well worth a visit. The crowds added to the experience.
Nakamise Shopping Street
Nakamise shopping street connects the Kaminarimon to the hall of Sensō-ji Temple. On shopping street, there are more than 250 meters of shops with local food specialties and souvenirs. Visited by both tourists and locals alike makes it a great place to explore.
After visiting Sensō-ji Temple, wander around the shopping street and taste some of the delicious food items. We nibbled on fried chicken, octopus, and chocolate-dipped bananas.
Once finished at the shopping street, take the metro to Ueno Park.
Ueno Park is a spacious public park located in the neighbourhood of Taito. Among Japan’s first parks, it is well-known for its cherry blossoms in springtime. Within the park, there are museums and attractions including, but not limited to: Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, temples, and the Ueno Zoo. There is no cost to visiting Ueno Park.
It is time to experience a piece of the history that Japan has to offer. If you choose to visit only one museum, pick the Tokyo National Museum.
Tokyo National Museum
Besides being the oldest museum in Japan, from 1872, Tokyo National Museum is one of the largest art museums in the world. The museum focuses on Japanese and Asian art.
Tokyo National Museum
- Hours of Operation: 9:30am to 5:00pm, Fri-Sat open until 9:00pm, closed Mondays and year-end holidays
- Special Note on Holidays: on Japanese holidays that fall on Mondays the museum is open and closes the Tuesday (following day after a holiday)
- Cost: 620 yen for adults
The highlight of my museum visit included viewing samurai swords and other ancient Japanese artifacts.
Once finished at Tokyo National Museum and Ueno Park, you will probably be hungry. Time to grab some food.
Take a short walk from Ueno Park to Ameyoko Market.
In Ameyoko Market you will find many shops selling food and souvenirs, and there are even more food options in the area around the market.
The Ameyoko Market area is where dinner is for tonight. I had Oskar Kebab, they were delicious. I highly recommend trying kebabs on your trip.
After dinner, take the metro to Tokyo Skytree.
Tokyo Skytree is the tallest tower in the world standing at 634 meters since its opening in 2012. A shopping centre and an aquarium are located at the base of the tower.
There are two observation decks that you can choose from: the Tembo Deck at 350m and the Tembo Galleria Deck at 450m. My visit included only the Tembo Deck.
I’ve heard that on a clear day from the Tembo Galleria Deck that you can see as far as Mount Fuji, however, it was raining during my visit, so I didn’t have the opportunity to verify that information.
Hours of Operation: 8:00am – 10:00pm, last entry 9:00pm
Cost: range from 2100 – 4200 yen for adults, varies by deck selection, ticket type and weekday/weekend
Looking out from the Skytree you will be able to view all of Tokyo and its landmarks such as Tokyo Tower. You will get a sense of how massive Tokyo truly is as you see the city lights fill the night sky.
Once you’ve had your chance to admire the incredible size of Tokyo from above, head back to your accommodation and get some rest for tomorrow’s adventures.
Day 2 – Meiji Shrine, Takeshita Street, and Shibuya Crossing
Today will take you through the neighbourhoods of Harajuku and Shibuya.
Another early day jam-packed with activities, sightseeing, and delicious food.
Today will start in Harajuku, known for its young culture and shopping.
Meiji Jingu is dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife located in Harajuku. He was the first Emperor of modern Japan. The shrine is in a forest surrounded by thousands of trees donated from the people of Japan.
Meiji Shrine is one of Japan’s most popular with millions of people visiting annually, especially during the beginning of the New Year when there are more visitors than other temples or shrines in Japan.
During my visit, I was fortunate enough to experience the busyness of the New Year and head to the shrine with the large volume of people welcoming the new year. It was quite amazing to flow with the crowds as one.
Hours of Operation: Sunrise to Sunset, Inner Garden/Treasure-house: 9:00am – 4:00pm
Cost: Shrine: FREE, Inner Garden/Treasure-house: 500 yen
Takeshita Street is a well-known street lined with crepe stands, cute trendy shops, and teenagers wearing colourful outfits. It is especially popular to visit on weekends.
While visiting Takeshita street, make sure you come hungry and don’t forget to try some crepes! I got mine from Sweet Box crepes, and they were delicious. It was easy to decide what flavour you wanted from their plastic display case.
Other fun treats to try on Takeshita street include Cotton candy from Totti Candy Factory and drinks from Santa Monica Crepes.
Now is a great time to get some souvenir shopping done. On Takeshita street, you will find stores such as Daiso and Cou Cou, which are basically Japanese dollar stores, where everything is either 100 or 300 yen respectively.
Near Takeshita street, you will find Omotesando street, the next stop on this Tokyo itinerary.
Omotesando Street is referred to as Tokyo’s Champs-Elysees. Here you will find plenty of shopping, cafes, toy stores, and restaurants.
My highlights include:
Kiddyland, a 4 level toy store filled with Japanese and American toys. I mean, Hello Kitty!
Near Kiddyland there is also the Oriental Bazaar which is a souvenir shop with kimonos and pottery.
Whatever adorable items you’ve been dreaming of buying, you can find them in Harajuku. On my trip, I purchased fuzzy animal socks to give as gifts and little hair accessories.
From Harajuku, walk towards Shibuya, the next neighbourhood for today. The walk will take 20 minutes or more, depending on how much time spent observing all the shops, restaurants and buildings along the way.
Once you reach Shibuya, it is time to see the famous Shibuya Crossing.
Shibuya Crossing is the busiest crossing in the world where the two busiest railway stations meet. During rush hour thousands of people can cross the intersection at one time.
Shibuya Crossing is best experienced during the after-work rush hour in the evening to see the volume of people cross and while all the surrounding buildings are lit up.
Don’t forget to head to the Starbucks on the corner for a view of the crossing from above. Purchase a beverage, sit back, relax, and enjoy the view.
For dinner head to Ichiran for some absolutely delicious ramen.
Ichiran is an extremely popular ramen shop located right by Shibuya Station that specializes in customizable Tonkotsu ramen. The shop is small with 21 individual booths, however, if you are with a group, you can open the barrier between them.
Be prepared to wait, as there is usually always a line, and know that it is well worth the wait. On my visit, I waited for about 45 minutes, but I never mind waiting for delicious food. According to Forbes, Ichiran has one of the world’s best ramen.
After dinner, continue wandering around Shibuya.
For a late-night snack head to Genki Sushi.
Genki Sushi is a conveyor belt sushi spot where you place your order by piece on a tablet and then watch as the order rides along the conveyor belt to your seat where it stops in front of you. It definitely makes for a neat experience. As I don’t eat raw fish, I had a dessert instead.
Genki Sushi is open until midnight, so there is plenty of time after ramen to make some room in your belly for sushi.
If you still wish to explore, head to one of the many karaoke venues in Shibuya or near your accommodations. Karaoke is very popular in Japan, and there is no shortage of karaoke venues to experience in Tokyo.
Don’t worry about it being too late to get your singing fix in, karaoke venues are open through the night till the early hours of the morning.
If you are tired, by this time I was, head back to your accommodation and rest up for tomorrow.
Day 3 – Tsukiji Market, Imperial Palace, and Tokyo Tower
Today will take you through the neighbourhoods of Chuo, Chiyoda, and Minato.
The final day in Tokyo spent exploring and experiencing local cuisine.
Today will start in Chuo and Chiyoda, known as central Tokyo.
Tsukiji Market is a market for fresh seafood and produce in Chuo. Here you will find shops selling groceries as well as many shops selling delicious street food.
It is the former location of the wholesale market. The fish wholesale market has now moved to Koto, just a few kilometers away and is now Toyosu Fish Market. Despite the wholesale fish market relocating it is still worth visiting Tsukiji Market.
Due to its extremely close location to the fish market, you will find some of the freshest and best seafood in all of Tokyo in Tsukiji Market. This makes it an ideal spot for breakfast or lunch.
Tsukiji Outer Market
Hours of Operation: 5:00am – 2:00pm, varies by shop, closed Sundays and holidays
Cost: FREE, bring money for food
After grabbing a delicious bite to eat, take the metro to Tokyo Imperial Palace.
Tokyo Imperial Palace
The Imperial Palace is home to the Emperor of Japan. Located in the middle of Chiyoda, the palace is surrounded by a moat and stone walls.
You can arrange for an official guided tour of the East Gardens. In the East Gardens, you will find the ruins of a castle tower that was destroyed and never rebuilt.
Tokyo Imperial Palace – East Gardens
Hours of Operation: 9:00am – 5:00pm (Apr-Aug), 9:00am – 4:00pm (Nov-Feb), Closed Mondays, Fridays and New Year time
I observed the palace and grounds from afar so I cannot speak on how a tour is. It was my first time seeing a moat.
After wandering through the outer grounds and east gardens of the Imperial Palace, take the metro to Tokyo Tower.
Tokyo Tower has become an iconic Tokyo landmark since its opening in 1958. Standing at 333m, it is Japan’s second tallest structure after Tokyo Skytree. A four-level centre with shopping, museums, and restaurants, known as FootTown is located at the base of the tower.
Fun Fact: Inspired by the Eiffel Tower, Tokyo Tower is actually 9 meters taller and weighs 3300 tons less than the Eiffel Tower.
There are two observation decks: the Main Deck at 150m and the Top Deck at 250m. My visit included only the Main Deck.
Despite its smaller size than the Skytree, Tokyo Tower offers a good view of Tokyo and the Skytree. It is definitely worth experiencing, especially if you like to look out over cities like I do. After all, it is Tokyo’s Eiffel Tower and who wouldn’t want to experience that.
I recommend planning your visits to Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree so that you view one by day and one by night, as I have it planned here for you in this itinerary.
Hours of Operation: 9:00am – 11:00pm, last entry 10:30pm (main deck) or 10:00pm (top deck)
Cost: 900 yen (main deck) or 2800 yen (top deck) for adult
Once finished at Tokyo Tower, you have completed this Tokyo itinerary. If there is still time left for today, finish up activities you missed from previous days or explore more of Tokyo.
Prepare to fly out of Tokyo tomorrow or continue onto your next destination. While on your flight home, start planning your return trip to Japan or your next adventure elsewhere. I know I am planning a return trip to Japan.
Hope this information helped you plan your itinerary for Tokyo, Japan.
Below is more helpful information regarding Japan.
- If flying from North America, or far away from Japan, aim to stay awake the entire night before your flight and sleep on your flight to attempt to pre-shift your body to the local time in Japan. I did this before my trip, and it was super helpful to quickly sync my body to local time and avoid jet lag. Although it can be hard to sleep on a plane, it is worth trying to avoid arriving in Japan and feeling exhausted.
Notes on Visiting Japan:
- Although menus aren’t always available with English, there are either pictures or fake food displays where you can see what is available and the size.
- Don’t forget to try items from a vending machine. Japan is known for their vending machines.
- For metro washrooms, women, please note which type of stall you are going into. Traditional toilets do not have seats. The stalls are labeled, so you will know which stall is which.
- Locals bring their own hand towels with them for public restrooms.
- Heated seat toilets make visiting in winter more amazing.
Getting Around Tokyo
- Tokyo metro
- The metro is both in English and Japanese
- Here is the English Tokyo subway map pdf
- Tickets are set prices based on distance
- You can buy tickets at every Metro station by ticket vending machines
- You will need your ticket stub to exit the metro
- The metro is both in English and Japanese
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Now that you are back from your trip, I’d love to hear all about your experience.
Did you end up using this itinerary for Tokyo or parts of it?
Any questions? Let me know in the comments below.