Tokyo 2 day itinerary: how to see and do the best things
Tokyo is definitely a land of contrasts. There is so much to see and do, from ancient temples to modern skyscrapers! It’s hard to pick out what to do, so we have put together a complete Tokyo 2 day itinerary which would be perfect for first time visitors to get a good look and feel of the miracle that is Tokyo.
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How much time to spend in Tokyo?
2 days in Tokyo is just enough time to get a feel of the city. Of course, you can’t see everything in 2 days – for example, we ourselves didn’t have time to catch the Meiji shrine, as it was raining, so we got too cold and went to a café to warm up instead.
So, if you can add an extra day or two, then definitely do it! You can do some day trips to, for example, Disney or Odawara. Or just spend some more days in Tokyo, as there are always things to add to your Tokyo itinerary – art museums, entertainment centres, even shopping, and even a robot restaurant!
When is the best time to visit Tokyo?
Like the rest of Japan, the best time to visit Tokyo depends on what you’d like to experience.
If you’d like to view cherry blossoms, then the best time to visit would be late March or early April.
For the autumn foliage, it’s better to go in the second half of November.
The exact times for cherry blossoms and autumn foliage, of course, depend on the weather.
You definitely won’t be alone in the streets and parks of Tokyo if you visit during these times, but hey, those blooming sakuras and red and crimson maple leaves do look wonderful.
In winter and summer, Tokyo is going to be less full of tourists, but it will be rather cold in winter and sweltering hot and humid in summer. If the weather doesn’t bother you, it might be rather nice to visit in these seasons!
Where to stay in Tokyo for this Tokyo 2 day itinerary?
Since you’re only going to stay in Tokyo for 2 days, it’s a good idea to base yourself somewhere central or with good transport.
The best places where to stay are Shinjuku, Shibuya, the area around the Tokyo Station (including Ginza) and Roppongi.
All of them offer plenty of options for dining, shopping, and entertainment and all except Roppongi are also important transport hubs.
The choice of hotels is huge, from budget to middle class to luxury. Real estate is damn expensive in Tokyo, and this means many hotel rooms, especially in the budget and middle-class hotels, are rather small.
What to eat in Tokyo?
There are plenty of food choices in Tokyo!
With sushi and ramen being particularly popular, Tokyo is a great place to try just about anything from Japanese cuisine (and non-Japanese as well if you wish so).
Perhaps you’ll be surprised to hear Tokyo has a couple of Michelin-starred restaurants where a delicious meal sets you off a mere ten bucks! No kidding!
Here are some of the suggested restaurants, sorted according to their speciality:
Misono is recommended for amazing Kobe beef prepared right in front of you on a huge teppan (iron griddle). Lunch menu is cheaper than dinner and both will send your tastebuds to ecstasy. There are two restaurants in Tokyo – one on Ginza and one in Shinjuku (on the 51st floor, so amazing views come as a bonus).
Delicious premium wagyu grilled the way you like – by yourself at your table – in an informal setting is what awaits in Han No Daidokoro in Shibuya. Simply Japanese BBQ at its best.
When strolling around Tsukiji Outer Market, there are many little sushi bars where you sit at the counter and the chefs prepare your sushi, which is as fresh and tasty as it gets. Tsukiji Sushi Say and Tsukiji Sushidai are recommended (both websites only in Japanese) .
Sushi Zanmai offers an excellent quality-to-price ratio, and with more than 30 restaurants in Tokyo (open 24-7, 365 days a year), your craving for sushi can always be satisfied.
If you feel like something extra fancy, there are many Michelin-starred sushi restaurants in Tokyo.
Make sure to not add any wasabi to your sushi – or break any other Japanese food rules!
Sukiyaki and Shabu shabu
Nabezo is a great choice, offering several restaurants in Shibuya and Shinjuku.
Ichiran offers delicious pork broth and their signature spicy sauce – enjoy in one of their 18 branches (some of them open 24/7). For a Michelin-starred ramen experience, head to Nakiryu or Tsuta. Both are a bit further away from Tokyo’s main attractions, but easily reachable by JR Yamanote Line, and for 10 EUR/USD you may have a heavenly ramen orgy. Expect long queues at Nakiryu while Tsuta runs a ticket system – you collect the ticket in the morning for a specific time slot during the day.
Yup, Tokyo is the Michelin capital of the world – no other city has more Michelin starred restaurants. The price range is huge – from around 10 EUR/USD to several hundred. Many of these restaurants offer excellent lunch for a fraction of the price of dinner. Already slurped on your Michelin ramen for 10 bucks? Why not try delicious sardines for lunch in Nakajima in Shinjuku for the same price?!
Torafugu-Tei and Guenpin are great fugu chain restaurants, offering several restaurants in various parts of Tokyo. For multi-course kaiseki fugu experience, Shimonoseki Shunpanro is recommended.
What to pack for Tokyo?
Obviously, the full packing list for your trip to Tokyo depends on the time you visit and on what you need for comfort. We’ve created a basic packing list with the main items you should take, even depending on the season.
The main things on the list are:
- comfortable shoes, as it’s going to be a lot of walking
- a bag for water, snacks, extra clothes, wallet, ID, camera… you get the idea.
- camera – you will definitely want to make pictures!
- If you’re travelling in spring or autumn, we definitely suggest packing layers of clothing, as the mornings and evenings might be colder, and during the day it can get quite warm.
Tokyo 2 day itinerary
By the time you’ll have arrived in Tokyo, you’ll have noticed that Japan is a land full of contrasts. And guess what – Tokyo will still surprise you with how much this holds true.
Hip and trendy, traditional and down-to-earth, busy and loud and yet peaceful and calm… no matter what you’re looking for, there’s a good chance Tokyo has it.
So what to do in Tokyo for 2 days? Let’s get to it!
Day 1 of Tokyo 2 day itinerary
Tsukiji Fish Market
Start the morning of day 1 by visiting Tsukiji Fish Market (now known as Tsukiji Outer Market).
A note: a part of the Tsukiji fish market has been replaced by Toyosu Fish market. Check here for more info.
With many restaurants and small shops, this is a fun place to walk around and savour the fishy experiences 😊 From the delicious huge tunas to the extremely poisonous Japanese delicacy of fugu (blowfish), this place probably has all the seafood imaginable, and frankly, maybe even some that are beyond imagination.
Did you know that fugu chefs are strictly licensed and take at least two years to learn how to turn the deadly fish into an edible delicacy?
Tsukiji is also the right place to watch the chefs as they prepare the freshest sushi in the world and then enjoy it in one of the many small restaurants hidden in the side streets of the market.
Having enjoyed the sushi, take an automatic elevated train to the nearby Odaiba – a futuristic part of Tokyo built on a man-made island and full of shopping, dining and entertainment options.
Why not take a selfie at the replica of Statue of Liberty with Tokyo’s skyline in the background before heading to the Shinjuku district?
You can even spend a whole day in Odaiba entertainment centres if your time in Japan allows it!
Think skyscrapers, the world’s busiest railway station and plenty of shopping and entertainment options – that’s Shinjuku.
And as we promised some contrast, nearby is a vast Yoyogi park with the splendid Meiji Jingu shrine.
From there, head on to Shibuya for some more contrast 😊.
Shibuya is another modern district packed with shopping, entertainment, and flashing neon lights. Yup, this feels like 21st-century Japan.
Shibuya also has a famous bronze statue of Hachiko, a loyal dog who would come here every day to meet his master, a professor returning from work. After the professor’s death, Hachiko would still come to the same place for another 10 years, until his own death.
Ever wondered what the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world looks like? Shibuya crossing has the answer!
A tip – to get the best view of the Shibuya pedestrian crossing, go to the nearby Starbucks! Grab a coffee and watch this self-made street theatre from Starbucks’ second floor seating area. Just keep in mind that you will probably have to wait in line for the window seats overlooking the crossing.
Day 2 of Tokyo 2 day itinerary
More of Tokyo’s highlights are waiting for you on the last day of this wonderful Tokyo 2 day itinerary.
You can’t miss the Akihabara district – the centre for gaming, manga and anime culture (comics and animated stories) and also a place full of electronics stores.
Perhaps you’ll find more electronics than you’ve ever seen before!
Perhaps you’ll be surprised to find that out of all the fancy gadgets, enjoying most of the attention of the locals are… the rice cookers! 😊
Asakusa & Tokyo Skytree
Having checked out the gaming arcades and the excitement of the Japanese getting the latest rice steamer, make your way to a more down-to-earth district, Asakusa, with its beautiful Senso-ji Temple.
Asakusa has an atmosphere of the old Tokyo and is in quite a contrast to Akihabara. Well, by this time, the contrasts will feel like a completely natural part of our 2 day Tokyo itinerary.
To finish your splendid journey through the contrasts, have a look at Tokyo from the bird’s eye’s perspective.
Tokyo Skytree is the tallest building in Japan and it’s more than worth taking the elevators that whizz you up within seconds to the observation gallery located at 450 meters above the ground.
Whichever direction you look, there’s Tokyo around you. With one exception – on clear days, the majestic Fuji is visible on the western horizon.
Altogether, it’s a really impressive vista and we recommend enjoying it during sunset and twilight, as the city will be gradually turning on its millions and millions of lights.
We recommend occupying the place with the best view a good minute before the sun sets – the place gets full.
It’s time for the last dinner in Japan. So how about the fugu? 😊
Getting around Tokyo during this 2 day itinerary
In this section, we will give you information on getting around Tokyo while using our Tokyo 2 day itinerary.
How to get to Tokyo?
If you follow our 10 day Japan itinerary, you’ll arrive in Tokyo by train from Hakone area (after enjoying incredible views of Mount Fuji!) by taking the Odakyu-operated Hakone Express to Shinjuku Station in Tokyo.
But, since Tokyo is the capital of Japan, you can arrive basically from anywhere by taking Shinkansen. For example, a ride from Kyoto to Tokyo takes approximately 3 hours. Plus, riding a Shinkansen is definitely a Japan bucket list item!
Tokyo has two airports – Haneda and Narita.
Most of the international flights arrive at Narita airport, while Haneda airport handles mostly domestic.
Haneda airport is closer to Tokyo, so you can take a limousine bus to get to Shinjuku.
For Narita airport, the most convenient option is taking the JR Narita express to Central Tokyo. It’s a good use for your JR pass as well!
Day of arrival
Tokyo is huge! We recommend using Tokyo’s efficient subway services for travelling between various neighbourhoods and then exploring them on foot.
A word about the Tokyo subway
Tokyo has altogether 13 lines of subway (metro), operated by two different companies (9 lines of Tokyo Metro and 4 lines of Toei Subway), as well as a circular JR Yamanote line and some private lines. The system is efficient, safe and easy to navigate for foreigners, with English signs helping you find your way everywhere.
For a map of the whole train and subway system, check this link.
There are several types of tickets: from single tickets for one journey to one-day or multiple-day passes valid for both Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway. We recommend getting one of the multiple-day passes – Tokyo Subway 48-hour ticket costs 1200 YEN, 72-hour ticket costs 1500 YEN.
So what metro rides are needed during our stay in Tokyo? Let’s have a look:
Getting around Tokyo – day 1 of Tokyo 2 day itinerary
Tsukiji Market – Tsukiji Station on Hibiya Line is the most convenient. However, if your hotel is in the Kyobashi area or Ginza, it is also possible to walk there in about 20 – 30 minutes.
Odaiba – this requires a trip by a private Yurikamome driverless train from Shimbashi station. Get off at Daiba. This train requires a ticket, even if you have a day pass for the subway, as it is a private train.
Shinjuku – Shinjuku station, served by 3 different metro lines and the circular JR Yamanote Line, is the best place to get off and then explore the area on foot. For Meiji-Jingu Shrine and Yoyogi Park, you may walk -it’s about a 20-minute walk from both Shinjuku and Shibuya. If you prefer, you may also take the JR Yamanote Line and get off at Harajuku station.
Shibuya – Shibuya station, served by 3 different metro lines as well as the circular JR Yamanote Line.
Getting around Tokyo – day 2 of Tokyo 2 day itinerary
Akihabara – Akihabara station, served by JR Yamanote Line and Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line. Then wander around on foot.
Asakusa – Asakusa station is the best option, reachable by Ginza and Asakusa lines. Explore the area on foot.
Tokyo Skytree – reachable by Asakusa and Hanzomon lines, the stop is Oshiage (Skytree). If you previously visited Asakusa district and Senso-ji Temple, we suggest walking from there to the Skytree – it’s only about 25 minutes and with Skytree being the tallest structure in Japan, you shouldn’t miss it!
Tokyo is definitely a big metropolis with a lot of things to do, so in 2 days you can only get a feel of the city.
But even if you are doing only a 2 day Tokyo itinerary, there are so many exciting things you can manage to do!
When we have a chance, we’ll definitely try to go to Tokyo again!
Have you been to Tokyo? Are you planning to go again?