The Ultimate 3-Day Itinerary For An Unforgettable Tokyo Stay

Even if you have a short visit to Tokyo, don't worry. We have created a three-day itinerary that allows you to explore the city from different perspectives, including pop culture and history
A neon-lit street in Shinjuku district in Tokyo
A neon-lit street in Shinjuku district in Tokyo Tokyo Visionary Room/Shutterstock

Discover the magic of the energetic and vibrant city of Tokyo which effortlessly fuses the contemporary with the traditional. Experience the thrill of strolling through neon-lit streets helmed by skyscrapers, marvel at the beauty of historic temples, and soak in the serenity of large public gardens. Immerse yourself in the rich culture and heritage of Japan's capital by exploring the amazing museums, and indulge in the city's trendy bars and cafes. If you're pressed for time during your visit to Tokyo, fret not. We've put together an exciting three-day itinerary that will enable you to delve into the city's diverse facets, ranging from its vibrant pop culture to its rich history. This itinerary is carefully curated to ensure you make the most of your time in Tokyo and experience the city's many incredible offerings.

Day 1

Old And The New At Asakusa

If you're looking for an immersive experience of Tokyo's rich cultural history, you can't go wrong with Asakusa. This historic neighborhood boasts an irresistible blend of traditional and modern cultures that has captivated tourists worldwide. Among the area's must-see cultural landmarks is the Sensoji Temple. And you can't miss the Asakusa Underground Street (Asakusa Chikagai), one of the oldest underground shopping streets in the country. You may find people dressed in traditional kimonos here. And if you're up for a unique experience, take a rickshaw tour pulled by people wearing old-fashioned clothing.

Tourists at the shopping street in Asakusa with Sensoji Temple in the background
Tourists at the shopping street in Asakusa with Sensoji Temple in the backgroundf11photo/Shutterstock

Experience History At Tokyo Imperial Palace

The nearby Tokyo Imperial Palace is a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts. The grounds consist of the main palace, museums, private residences of the Imperial family and traditional Japanese gardens. Additionally, Edo Castle, Kitanomaru Park, and Nippon Budokan Halls are popular sites on the palace grounds. Edo Castle, also known as Chiyoda Castle, was established in 1457 and features impressive moats and garden areas.

Explore Legendary Markets

Are you a sushi lover? Then you can't miss the opportunity to visit Tsukiji - the world's most famous fish market. It may no longer host the daily morning tuna auctions, but it still remains an extraordinary place to explore. A pilgrimage-like spot in Tokyo, Tsukiji is a must-visit for any foodie. Don't miss out on the chance to experience this spectacular market for yourself.

Experience The Nightlife At Omoide Yokocho

Near the West Exit of the world's busiest station, Shinjuku is a narrow alley packed with tiny bars. This alley is called Omoide Yokocho, which means "memory lane" in English. "Omoide" also loosely translates to "nostalgia," strengthening its link to the past. Omoide Yokocho has a fascinating history that takes us back to the time right after World War II when it was established as a black market in the late 1940s. The crowded lane was where people headed for cheap drinks and yakitori. When walking along Omoide Yokocho, it's easy to get confused about where to stop. The short answer is, wherever you find an empty spot, because the strip is the heart of Tokyo's thriving food scene and buzzes with people once the sun sets. It offers exceptional food options.

Omoide Yokocho is a famous drinking and eating quarter in Shinjuku district in Tokyo
Omoide Yokocho is a famous drinking and eating quarter in Shinjuku district in TokyofornStudio/Shutterstock

Day 2

Immerse In Tranquility

Spend a day of peace in a traditional Japanese garden like Koishikawa Korakuen Garden, one of Tokyo's oldest and most beautiful gardens. The ideal time to visit is from late November to early December when you can witness the stunning fall colors. If you visit in February-March, you can enjoy the plum season, and the famous cherry blossom season is from March to April. Hama Rikyu Gardens, formerly an Imperial Garden and now a public park, is located in the middle of the city. You can also visit Nakashima, an island-like establishment, which has a teahouse where you can enjoy a traditional tea ceremony.

Autumn Colors in Koishikawa Korakuen Garden, Tokyo
Autumn Colors in Koishikawa Korakuen Garden, TokyoKrishna.Wu/Shutterstock

If you are there during the season, you can not miss Shinjuku Gyoen in central Tokyo with its more than one thousand cherry trees in full bloom. Because there are a lot of varieties of cherry trees, blooming time differs. So even if you miss the main season, you will still be able to witness the blossoms.

Kitanomaru Park is home to cherry trees lining the moats, making Chidorigafuchi one of the most stunning cherry blossom sights in Tokyo. Similarly, Sumida Park on the banks of the Sumida River and Asukayama Park (one of Tokyo's oldest and most famous hanami spots) are other popular places to see nature's beauty.

Fossils in National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno Park
Fossils in National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno Park bluehand/Shutterstock

Check Out A Museum

From art to animation, Tokyo has a very happening museum scene. For those who have limited time, a visit to Ueno Park is highly recommended. This park has a cluster of top-notch museums located closely together, including the impressive Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum of Western Art, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, the National Science Museum, and Ueno Zoo, along with some smaller museums. Discover the wonders of the Intermediatheque Museum at KITTE, located right next to Tokyo Station. This free museum showcases an extensive collection of zoological specimens, including lifelike taxidermy models and intricate skeletons. It's an experience you won't want to miss. If you have a love for animation, do not miss the Ghibli Museum—home to characters from popular movies like My Neighbour Totoro, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away and the Fujiko FFujiyo Museum or Doraemon Museum which showcases works of the famous manga artist, the creator of Doraemon series.

Hang Out At Shibuya

One of the most iconic places in Tokyo, this crossing has been featured in movies like 'Lost in Translation' and 'The Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift.' In some ways, this crossing has become representative of Japan. A visit to Tokyo is incomplete without walking this road and taking lots of selfies.

Shibuya crossing at twilight in Tokyo
Shibuya crossing at twilight in Tokyof11photo/Shutterstock

Day 3

Explore Japan's Famed Popular Culture

If you are a Murakami fan and happen to be in Tokyo, add the iconic Haruki Murakami Library in Tokyo's Waseda University to your itinerary. It has a treasure trove of literary gems related to the internationally acclaimed Japanese author. Formally known as The Waseda International House of Literature, it contains the Japanese author's manuscripts, his collection of books and vinyl records, among other things, all housed in an architecturally superb building designed by Kengo Kuma. Akihabara is a hub for electronics, video games, anime, manga, and computer goods. It has a thriving anime culture that attracts diehard fans from across the country. You can find a variety of anime and manga figurines, collectibles, and toys here.

Anime art covers the shopping mall in Akihabara
Anime art covers the shopping mall in AkihabaraInfantry David/Shutterstock

Go Shopping

Tokyo city is teeming with shopping districts like Kichijoji, which also has a quiet park and yokocho alleys lined with shops selling clothing, eatables, and souvenirs. It is a perfect place for a wholesome shopping experience. Head to Harajuku, where Takeshita Dori, a narrow 400-metre long street, is home to the latest fashions, trendy shops, boutiques, and used clothing stores.

Amazing fashion and culture, including cosplay in Harajuku, Tokyo
Amazing fashion and culture, including cosplay in Harajuku, TokyoFiledIMAGE/Shutterstock

A Bowl Of Noodles

End the day with a comforting bowl of ramen at Menya Nukaji in Shibuya. The restaurant serves some of the most delicious noodles in the area. With a thick soup base reminiscent of the tonkatsu-yokai (pork and seafood) style, visitors are treated to an indulgent feast. Complement your meal with a Japanese craft beer such as Shiga Kogen.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Outlook Traveller