The Ultimate Hakone Itinerary: How to Spend 2 Epic Days in Hakone
by Coco Tran On September 19, 2023
Nestled in the mountains southwest of Tokyo lies Hakone, a picturesque town known for its abundant natural beauty, scenic views of Mount Fuji, and relaxing hot spring baths. With its forested hills, volcanic valleys, and serene Lake Ashi, Hakone is the perfect weekend escape from Tokyo’s bustling city life.
This complete 2 day Hakone itinerary will help you make the most of your time in this charming region. Here’s everything you need to know for an unforgettable visit to Hakone.
The Ultimate Hakone Itinerary: How to Spend 2 Epic Days in Hakone
Is Hakone Worth Visiting? Hakone Itinerary Blog
Yes! Hakone is an easy day trip from Tokyo and offers some awesome geology and unique things to see, including the incredible Mt Fuji. Here are some of the main reasons why you should visit Hakone.:
- Breathtaking natural scenery – Hakone is located within the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, home to lush forests, volcanic peaks, and Lake Ashi. The stunning combination of mountains, lakes, and ocean views makes Hakone one of the most beautiful places to visit in Japan.
- Views of Mount Fuji – On clear days, Hakone offers some of the best views of Mt. Fuji, Japan’s iconic volcano. Seeing Fuji rising majestically over the lake is an unforgettable sight.
- Hot spring baths – Hakone has been revered for its therapeutic hot springs for centuries. You can soak in the warm mineral waters at a variety of baths and ryokans (traditional inns).
- Cultural sights – In addition to natural wonders, Hakone has several cultural attractions like museums, shrines, and historic sites that provide insight into Japan’s history.
- Easy access from Tokyo – Thanks to fast transport links like the bullet train and RomanceCar express train, Hakone makes for an easy weekend trip from Tokyo.
Best Time to Visit Hakone
Hakone can be visited year-round, but spring and fall are considered ideal times with pleasant weather and fewer crowds.
Hakone in Spring (March-May)
brings blooming cherry blossoms while autumn (September-November) showcases vivid fall foliage. The summer months (June-August) are warm and humid but also quite crowded.
Hakone in Winter (December-February)
can be chilly but offers the best chances to see Mt. Fuji on clear days along with occasional snowfall. Whenever you visit, aim for sunny days to fully appreciate Hakone’s scenery.
Getting to Hakone from Tokyo
The fastest way to get from Tokyo to Hakone is by train
Here are your options:
- Bullet train + Hakone Tozan train: Take the Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo Station to Odawara Station (40 min), then transfer to the Hakone Tozan train to Hakone-Yumoto Station (30 min). This option is covered by the Japan Rail Pass.
- Odakyu RomanceCar train: The Odakyu RomanceCar is a limited express train that goes directly from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo to Hakone-Yumoto Station in about 90 minutes. Reserve seats in advance.
- Odakyu Line train + Hakone Tozan train: Take the regular Odakyu Line from Shinjuku Station to Odawara Station (95 min), transfer to the Hakone Tozan train to Hakone-Yumoto (30 min).
Buses are available but take over 2 hours so trains are recommended for traveling to Hakone from Tokyo.
Hakone Day Tour & Mt Fuji and Hakone day Tour
If you want a stress free and convenient option to see Mt FUji and Hakone in one day trip, Book a tour to Hakone from Tokyo. This is the tour I recommend it has X 5-star reviews and is a great option if you are limited on time!
Hakone & Mt Fuji Day trip From Tokyo Tour
how to get around Hakone on a day trip to Hakone
Once in Hakone, the best way to get around is with the Hakone Free Pass. This pass includes unlimited use of most trains, buses, cable cars, and boats in the Hakone region for 2-3 days.
The Hakone Free Pass can be purchased at Odakyu Sightseeing Service Centers at Shinjuku Station in Tokyo or Odawara Station. It offers great value and flexibility for exploring Hakone.
Other Japan Articles
Key transportation in Hakone covered by the JR Rail pass:
- Hakone Tozan train line
- Hakone Tozan bus
- Hakone Ropeway (cable car)
- Hakone Sightseeing Cruise (boat)
- Hakone Komagatake Ropeway
Having the pass allows you to conveniently get on and off all the different transport options to access Hakone’s attractions.
Where to Stay in Hakone
Hakone has a great range of accommodations from luxury ryokans to budget-friendly guesthouses. Central Hakone-Yumoto is very convenient but also crowded. For more nature, opt to stay along Lake Ashi or in the hills around Gora/Sounzan.
My Top picks of places to stay in Hakone include:
- Luxury: Hoshinoya Hakone (elegant ryokan with hot springs)
- Mid-range: Moto-Hakone Guest House (cozy pension with lake views)
- Budget: K’s House Hakone (hostel with onsen baths)
Hakone 2 Day Itinerary
Ready to start planning your Hakone trip? This 2 day itinerary covers the highlights and best things to do in Hakone.
Day 1 Hakone Itinerary : Hakone Loop (Gora Park → Ropeway → Lake Ashi → Hakone Shrine)
9 AM – Start your day in Gora to ride the Hakone Tozan Cable Car up to Sounzan Station. Walk through the scenic French-style Gora Park on your way.
10 AM – From Sounzan, take the Hakone Ropeway gondola across the sulfuric Owakudani Valley. Views of Mt. Fuji abound on clear days.
12 PM – Descend from the ropeway at Togendai. Take the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise boat across Lake Ashi to Hakone-machi. Soak in views of the forested mountains.
1 PM – Disembark at Hakone-machi. Have lunch by the lakeside before visiting the iconic red torii gate of Hakone Shrine.
3 PM – Make your way back to your hotel in Hakone-Yumoto or Gora. Relax at your hotel’s onsen baths.
6 PM – Enjoy a traditional kaiseki ryokan dinner at your hotel or head out to a local izakaya pub.
Day 2 Hakone Itinerary: Cultural Hakone (Hakone Checkpoint → Old Tokaido Road → Open Air Museum)
9 AM – Start at the lakeside Hakone Checkpoint for insights into Japan’s feudal era history.
10 AM – Walk a scenic stretch of the stone-paved Old Tokaido Highway through the cedar-lined mountains.
12 PM – Grab lunch at a cafe before spending the afternoon at the Hakone Open Air Museum to view sculptures amidst nature.
3 PM – Return to Hakone-Yumoto via bus and train. Go souvenir shopping along the main street.
6 PM – Unwind at your hotel onsen again before having dinner. End your trip with an amazing hot spring bath under the stars.
This itinerary hits the top attractions in Hakone at a relaxed pace with plenty of time to take in the views. You can also swap around Day 1 and 2 activities based on weather.
Detailed 2 Day Hakone Itinerary
What to do in Hakone day trip
Now let’s dive into the detail to help you plan an epic Hakone trip.
Day 1 Hakone Itinerary: Hakone Loop
hakone Gora Park
Start your first day by taking the train or cable car up to Gora, a town nestled in the mountains of Hakone. Stroll through the scenic Gora Park, with its lush gardens, greenhouses, and fountain.
Come in spring to see cherry blossoms or during the summer hydrangea season when the park is awash in colorful blooms. Don’t miss the stunning Rose Garden, home to over 140 rose species that bloom beautifully in June.
The park’s hilly terrain means you’ll get panoramic views over Hakone’s mountains from the top entrance.
Hakone Ropeway / Hakone Tozan Railway
From Gora, ride the Hakone Tozan Cable Car down to Sounzan Station. This 3-minute gondola ride drops you 214 meters down towards the valley below.
At Sounzan, transfer to the Hakone Ropeway, which soars above the intense volcanic scenery of Owakudani Valley. The sulfuric hot springs and steam vents bubble up from the valley floor – on clear days, you’ll catch heavenly views of Mt. Fuji too.
Take your time when you change cable cars at the midway Owakudani Station. Walk around to see the volcanic vents and try the black eggs cooked in the hot springs. Legend says eating one will add 7 years to your life!
The full ropeway ride takes 30 minutes from Sounzan to Togendai by the lake shore.
Lake Ashi Cruise / Pirate Ship Cruise in Hakone
From the Togendai Station ropeway terminal, take a relaxing Hakone Sightseeing Cruise across the scenic Lake Ashi. The pirate ship style boats make this 40-minute cruise even more fun.
Admire views of the forested mountains framed by the vivid blue lake waters. Look out for the iconic red torii gate of Hakone Shrine floating on the lakeshore. Disembark at Hakone-machi Pier to continue your Hakone tour.
A 10 minute walk inland from the pier brings you to the entrance of Hakone Shrine. Climb up the winding steps lined with imposing lanterns to reach the main shrine building hidden amongst towering cedar trees.
Soak in views of Lake Ashi framed between the vibrant red torii gates for the classic Hakone photo op! On weekends, the shrine can get crowded with tour groups so visit on a weekday if possible.
After visiting the shrine, grab lunch at one of the lakeside restaurants like Salon de thé Rosage. Then retrace your steps back to Hakone-machi Pier via the Old Tokaido Road.
Relaxing at your hotel
Take the Hakone Tozan bus or train from Hakone-machi to return to your accommodation in the late afternoon.
Now is the perfect time to unwind and experience the quintessential Hakone activity – soaking in hot spring baths (Onsen)! If your hotel has its own private onsen, you can use it for free as a guest.
Public baths like Tenzan Onsen are also a great way to relax onsen-style if your lodging doesn’t have hot spring baths.
End your Hakone trip day with a traditional multi-course kaiseki dinner at your ryokan. Nothing beats dining on seasonal cuisine in your yukata robe before retiring to your tatami mat room for the night.
Day 2: Cultural Hakone
Start day 2 of your Hakone itinerary by taking the bus back to Lake Ashi. Get off at the lakeside Hakone Checkpoint, also known as Hakone Sekisho.
This checkpoint was part of a network of stations that controlled travel along the Old Tokaido Highway during feudal Japan. Walk through the wooden buildings and explore the reconstructed grounds to immerse yourself in Hakone’s past.
Don’t miss climbing up the lookout towers for sweeping views over Lake Ashi. You can also visit the small museum onsite to learn more about the checkpoint’s history and role.
Old Tokaido Road
After the checkpoint, walk a scenic stretch of the original Old Tokaido Highway. This ancient road was paved with large stone slabs to accommodate feudal lords and their entourages.
Part of the highway has been restored so you can literally walk in the footsteps of samurai and nobles on this historic road! The easy 1km walk to Amazake-chaya teahouse takes about 30 minutes.
Stop at the 400-year old teahouse for a break. Sip on amazake, a sweet sake-based drink, as you take in the forest scenery along the Tokaido Road.
Hakone Open Air Museum
For the afternoon, head over to the Hakone Open Air Museum via bus from the Amazake-chaya bus stop.
Spend a few hours wandering this incredible museum park showcasing sculpture artworks in nature. See masterpieces by Rodin, Henry Moore, and other famous artists spread out across the sprawling grounds.
Don’t miss highlights like the towering Symphonic Sculpture and the Picasso Pavilion housing over 300 works by the Spanish genius. There’s also fun indoor exhibits to check out on rainy days.
With so much art to take in, you’ll want at least 2-3 hours to fully explore the Hakone Open Air Museum.
Return to Hakone-Yumoto
After an art-filled afternoon, take the bus or train back towards Hakone-Yumoto where your Hakone journey began. Along the way, stop at the Pola Museum of Art or the Little Prince Museum for bonus sightseeing.
Back in Hakone-Yumoto, walk around the historic main street lined with cafes, shops, and restaurants. Pick up some local souvenirs or try Hakone’s famous yosegi-zaiku wood marquetry at shops like Maruki Mokkou.
End your last evening in Hakone with another round of hot spring bathing and a delicious dinner at your hotel. The open-air baths under the moonlight are ethereal.
Getting Back to Tokyo from Hakone
On your last morning in Hakone, take the Hakone Tozan train back to Odawara Station. From here, you can catch a shinkansen bullet train to swiftly travel back to Tokyo in about 45 minutes.
Or opt for the slower Odakyu RomanceCar train which takes around 1.5 hours to Shinjuku Station in Tokyo but offers more scenic views along the way.
Check the train schedules in advance to ensure you make your connections smoothly. And with that, your incredible Hakone weekend escape comes to an end!
Tips for Visiting Hakone
Follow these tips to make the most of your time in Hakone:
- Get the Hakone Free Pass for unlimited regional transport – it pays for itself quickly!
- Stay at a ryokan with private onsen baths for the authentic experience.
- Book at least 3-4 weeks in advance for best rates and availability.
- Go on sunny days for stunning views of Mt. Fuji across Lake Ashi.
- Visit during spring or fall to avoid summer crowds while still having nice weather.
- Start early to stay ahead of day trip crowds from Tokyo.
- Consider getting a Japan Rail Pass if coming from Tokyo for major savings.
- Pack comfortable walking shoes, light layers, and raingear – the weather changes quickly in the mountains.
With its picture-perfect scenery, relaxing onsen baths, and wealth of things to do, Hakone is a must-visit escape from Tokyo. Follow this 2 day Hakone itinerary to have an unforgettable trip in Japan’s scenic mountain region. From peaceful Lake Ashi to bubbling volcanic valleys, Hakone offers natural beauty and cultural treasures galore for visitors.
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