Tokyo is one of the most unique and exciting cities in the world. If you’re planning to visit Tokyo or do a weekend trip to Japan, narrowing everything down to an itinerary can be tricky – there is so much to see and do interesting things in Tokyo.
The contrast in Tokyo (tall skyscrapers and neon signs next to temples and shrines) shows exactly what Japan is about and exploring this city never gets old.
While you can barely scratch the surface of a city this big in just two days, there are ways to see some of the best places to visit in Tokyo and top things to do in Tokyo. Spending 2 days in Tokyo is a great way to get an awesome first impression of the city, allowing you to spend more time exploring other places in Japan.
If you’re not quite sure what to do in Tokyo and what to see in Tokyo in 2 days, we’ve put together this 2 day Tokyo itinerary to help you out.
2 Day Tokyo Itinerary
This 2 day Tokyo itinerary will show you an easy way to see most of the popular sights in Tokyo in just two days. This is what we recommend you to check out:
This is a guest post by Nele from The Navigatio. Nele loves Japan, it’s her favourite destination and her blog is dedicated to helping you get the best and most out of your trip to Japan!
Day 1 in Tokyo
When you only have two days in Tokyo, be prepared to do a lot of sightseeing and places to visit in Tokyo! Tokyo has so much to offer, and on our first day, we’re exploring the Harajuku and Shibuya Districts.
Visit Meiji Shrine in Yoyogi Park
Our many of the first Tokyo attractions on this itinerary is one of the most popular shrines in Tokyo, the Meiji Shrine. The shrine is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife. To get here, take the metro to Harajuku Station. From there, the entrance to Meiji Shrine (in Yoyogi Park) is only a few minutes on foot.
A giant wooden torii gate welcomes you – this is where you enter the grounds of the shrine. Since it’s located in one of the biggest parks in Tokyo, you almost forget that you’re in one of the biggest and busiest cities on Earth. There are nearly 100,000 trees that make up the forest surrounding the shrine, making it perfect for a lovely stroll towards the inner shrine.
Walking towards the inner shrine, you can visit smaller Japanese gardens and the famous sake barrel wall. It is made up of more than 200 traditional sake barrels!
At the inner shrine, you can find a wall of Ema plaques. These are wooden plaques that people can buy at the shrine – people write down their wishes and prayers and hang them with the others. It makes for a lovely sight and a great tradition to partake in when visiting.
Entree to Meiji Shrine is completely free, and it’s open from dusk till dawn.
Next up is the popular Harajuku District which is one of the must-do things in Tokyo. Leaving the grounds of Meiji Shrine, you can walk over to Harajuku Station again. Directly opposite the station, you’ll find Takeshita Street – one of the most famous parts of Harajuku.
Harajuku is known for its vibrant street fashion which shares its name. You can find tons of boutiques here selling outfits in Harajuku style (from gothic and cosplay to decora kei and Harajuku punk) – plus, you’ll probably see a few people dressed up in these eye-catching outfits themselves.
After walking through Takeshita Street, you can continue exploring Harajuku. There are some great shops to check out, including some vintage Kimono stores. Don’t forget to try some popular street foods, including the Harajuku Crepes.
Omotesando is another great spot to check out when visiting Harajuku. This shopping street is filled with luxury brands and high-end shops. If you’re visiting during December, you can enjoy the Winter Illuminations, where the trees are lit up.
Walk across Shibuya Crossing
The Shibuya District is located next to Harajuku and there are many things to do in Shibuya. The metro only takes a few minutes, but you can also walk over (which takes 15-20 minutes).
One of Shibuya’s most famous spots is Shibuya Crossing (or Shibuya Scramble). This is the busiest crossing in the world, with up to 3,000 people crossing at once. When visiting Tokyo, walking across the Shibuya Crossing yourself is a must.
There are some great viewing points nearby too, where you can sit and watch people cross. The Starbucks across the street is one of the best spots, as you can order your drink downstairs and walk up to the first floor for a perfect view of Shibuya Crossing. Other great places include L’Occitane Cafe and Cé La Vi.
And don’t forget to stop by Hachiko’s statue when leaving Shibuya Station! Hachiko, the dog, existed and waited at Shibuya Station for his owner to return from work every day. Sadly, his owner passed away, but Hachiko kept waiting for him. This faithful dog is now the mascot of Shibuya.
Admire the views at Shibuya Sky
Near Shibuya Crossing, you can find Shibuya Sky which is a fun thing to do in Tokyo. This 360-degree open-air observation deck opened a few years ago and gives you one of the best views in the whole of Tokyo.
It’s best to pre-book tickets, as they’re usually sold out on the day. As you have to buy a timed entree ticket, you want to make sure you time this well (once you’re up there, you can stay as long as you want!).
Ideally, try to get a ticket right before sunset. Watching the sunset over Tokyo is incredible – especially on a clear day, as you’ll see Mount Fuji from Shibuya Sky!
Sing your favourite song at karaoke
Once you’re back on the ground after enjoying Tokyo from above, it’s time to grab some dinner and enjoy Shibuya’s nightlife as there can be many fun things to do in Shibuya.
You can opt for one of the many food tours available in this area (pre-booking is essential!), or you can enjoy one of the traditional izakayas in the area.
Afterwards, you can check out one of the karaoke bars. Karaoke is huge in Japan, but it’s very different from what you may be used to. Rather than singing your favourite songs in front of a crowd, you get to rent your own karaoke booth with friends. Here, you can pick your songs and order food and drinks at the booth! It’s a great way to end your first day in Tokyo.
JAPAN SIM CARD
If you prefer eSIMs these days, here’s a great option for an eSIM Mobile Data Plan in Japan so you’re connected as soon as you land without the hassle of swapping sims and waiting for a connection.
JAPAN RAIL PASS
I’m sure you know, or have heard, that the Japan Rail Pass is the best value for getting around Japan!
There are many providers for the JR Pass but this is the official provider and the one I used.
Day 2 in Tokyo
On our second day in Tokyo, we’ll move to the other side of the city to see the popular attractions in Tokyo. We’ll check out Asakusa, Ueno and the famous Imperial Palace for many fun things to do in Tokyo.
Visit Sensoji Temple
We’ll take the metro to Asakusa on our second day in Tokyo. This part of Tokyo has a much more traditional atmosphere compared to modern Shibuya and has many Tokyo attractions for families. The main sight here is Senso-ji Temple – the oldest temple in Tokyo, dating back to the 7th century.
Leading up to the temple, you can walk through Nakamise. This 200-meter-long street is filled with local stalls selling street food, souvenirs and more.
After walking through it, you can enter the main hall of Sensoji. At this temple, you can also partake in a traditional form of fortune-telling called o-mikuji. It can be done at many temples in Japan, and Senso-ji is one of them.
You pay around 100 yen to shake a wooden box until a stick falls out. The number on the stick corresponds with a fortune – anything from “very fortunate” to “a great curse”. If you happen to get a bad fortune, you can tie the paper to one of the poles in the temple. This way, you leave your bad fortune behind.
Apart from the main hall, there are smaller shrines to admire in this area too, along with a five-story pagoda.
If you’re visiting in late March or early April, Ueno Park is one of the best places to enjoy the cherry blossoms in Tokyo and has the top tourist attractions in Tokyo. But even if you’re visiting outside of cherry blossom season, Ueno has a lot of fun things to offer.
Ueno Park is also home to Ueno Zoo, some of the best museums in Tokyo (including the Tokyo National Museum and the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum), as well as the beautiful Ueno Toshogu.
Before leaving the area, stop by Ueno Ameyoko, a lively market street featuring countless street vendors, restaurants, cafes and bars. It’s a great place to grab some food before heading to the next part of this Tokyo itinerary.
Visit the Imperial Palace
The capital of Japan is decided depending on where the Emperor lives. Until 1867, the Emperor lived in Kyoto which made this city Japan’s capital for many years.
However, since 1868, the Emperor has been based in Tokyo, making it the current capital city. Built on the grounds of Edo Castle, the Imperial Palace is an unmissable landmark to visit in Tokyo. Not all parts of the palace are accessible to visitors, but you can still see a large part of what it has got to offer.
It’s recommended to get a guided tour to visit the palace grounds. Some of the inner grounds of the palace cannot be visited without a tour – but it’s also a great opportunity to learn more about the history of the palace and Japan as a whole.
You can also visit the Imperial Palace East Gardens, a stunning Japanese garden containing the remains of the castle tower.
Enjoy Shinjuku in the evening
In the evening, it’s time to head to Shinjuku and explore the best things to do in Shinjuku. This lively part of Tokyo is one of the best places to visit in the evening – with great nightlife, fantastic restaurants and tons of arcades.
Make sure to stop by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. At 202 meters in height, the observation decks can be visited free of charge. If you’re lucky enough to get good weather, you can even see Mount Fuji in the distance – along with popular sights like Meiji Shrine, Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree as these are popular places in Tokyo.
Another highlight in Shinjuku is Omoide Yokocho. This narrow alleyway is filled with izakayas, selling sake, yakitori and other delicious dishes. Even if you don’t want to stop for dinner here, simply walking through it makes for a great experience. The alleyway is usually covered in seasonal decorations.
Another amazing spot for bar hopping and delicious ramen is Shinjuku’s Golden Gai. It has over 200 small bars and restaurants, so you’ll be sure to find one that will suit you. It’s also possible to book one of the many food tours available in the Golden Gai, allowing you to find the very best spots with the help of a local guide.
How to get around Tokyo?
Tokyo’s public transport may be a little overwhelming to start with, but it’s very easy to use. The best way to find out how to get from one point to another is by using Google Maps. In Japan, Google Maps shows you exactly what platform you have to be at, along with the specific time and what train you need to use. It makes getting around Tokyo by train a breeze.
To pay for public transport in Tokyo, you can use the Suica card. This pre-paid transport card lets you tap in and out at stations, taking off the correct fee, so you don’t have to pay for individual tickets every time you want to use the metro. You can top up this card at any station.
If you have an iPhone, you can add the Suica card to your Apple Wallet without having to download the app or buy the physical card. You can then top it up on your phone rather than having to use cash at the stations. Simply tap your phone at the gates to use it, and you’re good to go.
Is 2 Days in Tokyo Enough?
While you can see many popular spots in Tokyo in two days (as you can see in the itinerary above), I’d recommend spending more time here. Depending on your full Japan itinerary, it’s not always possible, but Tokyo has so much to offer! You could easily spend a couple of weeks there and not get bored – I’d recommend going to Tokyo for at least four days, if possible.
Conclusion of 2 days Tokyo Itinerary
That concludes this 2 days Tokyo itinerary. Hopefully, it has given you a good first impression of this incredible city and left you wanting more for your next visit.
Tokyo is so big that it’s impossible to see everything in just two days, but it’ll allow you to dip your toes in.