The Ultimate 3-Day Tokyo Itinerary
by Coco Tran On October 2, 2023
Tokyo is an incredible city that mixes modernity with deep Japanese traditions. With world-famous sights, endless shopping, incredible food, and non-stop energy, Tokyo can seem overwhelming for first-time visitors.
The Ultimate 3-Day Tokyo Itinerary
That’s why I’ve created this detailed 3-day Tokyo itinerary to help you maximize your time and see the highlights of this amazing city. Whether you’re a foodie, history buff, pop culture fan, or just love exploring new places – this guide has something for you!
In This Article: Table of Contents
Helpful Tips for Your 3 Days in Tokyo
Where to Stay in Tokyo
With its different neighborhoods and massive train system, location is key when choosing where to stay in Tokyo.
I recommend picking a hotel in one of these central areas so you can easily access top sights:
- Shibuya – Trendy area with shopping, nightlife, and restaurants. Close to Shibuya Crossing, Harajuku, and Shinjuku.
- Shinjuku – Huge transport hub with giant department stores and skyscrapers. Convenient base for exploring.
- Ginza – Upscale area with luxury shopping and dining. Near the Imperial Palace and many museums.
- Asakusa – Old Tokyo charm with traditional shops, restaurants, and Sensoji Temple.
Getting Around Tokyo
Tokyo has one of the most extensive public transport systems in the world. It can seem daunting, but here are my tips:
- Get a Suica card – reloadable card that works on all trains and buses. So convenient!
- Download a metro app like Google Maps or Navitime by Japan Travel to plan routes. (see my 10 recommended apps for Japan)
- Always stand on the left side of escalators to let people pass.
- Avoid rush hours between 8-9am and 5-7pm when trains get crowded.
- Taxis are very expensive – the metro is always a better option.
Best Times to Visit Tokyo
Spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November) have mild weather perfect for walking around. Summer is hot and humid, while winter is cold with little sunlight.
If you can visit during cherry blossom season in March-April or fall foliage in November, it’s truly magical! Just be prepared for bigger crowds.
No matter when you visit, Tokyo offers great sights year-round. Use this itinerary as a blueprint and adjust activities as needed based on weather and your interests.
Tips for Your First Time in Tokyo
Here are some additional pointers to make the most of your first 3 days in Tokyo:
see my full guide on what you should know if it’s your first time in Japan
Budget – Tokyo can be expensive. Budget around 6000-8000 yen ($50-70) per day if staying in hostels and eating cheap eats. Double this for more comfort.
Luggage Storage – Stores like Yamato Transport near stations can hold bags for 500-700 yen per day. Or ask your hotel.
WiFi – Rent a pocket WiFi device or get a SIM card for Google Maps access and translations. Free WiFi can be spotty.
Safety – Tokyo is very safe, but be alert in crowded areas. Avoid poorly lit alleys at night. Beware of scams targeting tourists.
Language – Learn basic Japanese phrases. Many locals don’t speak English but pointing, gestures can help. Bring a phrase sheet.
Weather – Tokyo weather changes often. Bring light layers, umbrella and jacket. Summers are hot and humid.
Food Allergies – Soy sauce contains wheat. Many snacks have shrimp. Look for allergy cards to show staff.
Last Trains – Last trains are around midnight so plan evening activities accordingly or budget for taxis.
Souvenirs – Shop for Tokyo banana snacks, KitKats, anime goods. Pick up a fun face mask or traditional crafts.
Tourist Passes – Consider a Tokyo Subway Ticket for unlimited metro rides based on length of stay.
The Ultimate 3-day Tokyo Itinerary for First Time in Tokyo
Day 1: Trendy Shibuya & Harajuku- 3 day Tokyo Itinerary
On your first day, explore two of Tokyo’s most popular and fashionable neighborhoods – Shibuya and Harajuku. See the iconic Shibuya Crossing, people watch on Takeshita Street, and don’t miss the magical Meiji Shrine.
Day 1 Summary
- Morning: Shibuya Crossing, Hachikō Statue, Shibuya Sky, Sushiro (lunch)
- Afternoon: Takeshita Street, Omotesando, Meiji Jingu Shrine
- Evening: Metropolitan Building, Omoide Yokocho, Shinjuku nightlife
Spend time at the famous Shibuya Crossing intersection (Shibuya Scramble Square), see the loyal Hachiko dog, the hachiko memorial statue, and visit the Shibuya Sky observation deck for amazing views over the city. Have sushi for lunch at Sushi Tokyo ten, an awesome affordable omakase sushi lunch for less than $80 USD.!
Tip: The best view is from the Starbucks floor, or from Shibuya Skydeck
Shibuya Crossing – This iconic intersection near Shibuya Station comes alive with crowds crossing the street from all directions. Grab a coffee at Starbucks on the 2nd floor of Magnet by Shibuya109 building for a bird’s eye view!
Hachikō Statue – Located right by Shibuya Station, this statue honors the legendary dog Hachikō who waited every day for his owner at the station.
Shibuya Sky – For amazing panoramic views of Shibuya, head to the rooftop observation deck of Shibuya Sky (open 10am-10pm). Get there early to beat the crowds!
Grab lunch at one of the department store food courts like Tokyu Food Show. or Grab some delicious Tonkatsu at Maiden tonkatsu
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In the afternoon, walk or take the train one stop to youthful Harajuku. Known for its eccentric fashion, this neighborhood is great for boutique shopping, people watching, and exploring tiny side streets.
- Stroll down Takeshita Street and Omotesando, stop at Marion Crepes, and escape the crowds by visiting the peaceful Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park.
Takeshita Street – Harajuku’s famous pedestrian street lined with shops and crepe stands. A must-see for the colorful fashion and lively atmosphere!
Omotesando – Tree-lined avenue with high-end boutiques like Louis Vuitton and Prada. Stop at Tokyu Plaza for contemporary architecture and cool art installations.
Tip: Don’t miss the awesome art install with a huge mirror escelator at Omotesando (Tokyo plaza ometesando harajuku)
Meiji Shrine – Escape the crowds by visiting this serene Shinto shrine set in a 170-acre forest. Purify your hands at the cleansing fountain before approaching the main shrine building.
Pop into one of Harajuku’s famous themed cafes for a unique experience. Choose from:
- Kawaii Monster Cafe – Psychedelic space with live music shows
- Maidreamin Maid Cafe – Served by cute “maids” in frilly dresses
- Hedgehog Cafe – Interact with adorable hedgehogs!
In the evening, travel west to Shinjuku – one of Tokyo’s busiest urban hubs packed with giant skyscrapers, packed restaurants and bars, and endless neon lights.
Start at the lively (and free!) observation deck on the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. On clear days you can see Mt Fuji!
Next, sample delicious yakitori at Omoide Yokocho (Memory Lane) – an alley filled with tiny standing bars and stalls underneath the train tracks.
Finish your night exploring Shinjuku’s bustling entertainment district around the east side of the station. Grab a drink at an izakaya or see a show at the raucous Robot Restaurant.
Day 2: Tsukiji Market, Asakusa & Akihabara- 3 day Tokyo Itinerary
- Start with a sushi breakfast at Tsukiji fish Market (relocated now to Tsukiji outer market) , see historic Sensoji Temple, and experience the neon lights of Akihabara’s anime shops and arcades.
Morning: Tsukiji Market
Have a sushi breakfast at the outer part of Tsukiji Market. Arrive early to wander the stalls and shops!
Late Morning: Asakusa
- Visit the 7th century Sensoji Temple, explore old Tokyo along Nakamise Shopping Street, and have Edo-style tempura at Daikokuya Tempura.
- 27 Things to Do in Asakusa
Make your way to Asakusa Station and head to the historic 7th century Buddhist temple Sensoji. Walk through the enormous red Kaminarimon Gate into a bustling courtyard with souvenir stalls leading to the main hall. Admire the colorful five-story pagoda as you explore the temple grounds.
After visiting Sensoji, explore old Tokyo by wandering down Nakamise Shopping Street lined with traditional snack and souvenir stalls. Pick up some Japanese trinkets and tasty street food like dango and taiyaki.
Afternoon: Ueno (History Enthusiasts)
Next, travel north to Ueno, home to Tokyo’s first public park and several excellent museums.
Enter Ueno Park through its towering stone entrance gate. Take a leisurely stroll through the grounds, passing by lotus ponds, wooded areas, and over 1,000 cherry trees that burst into pink blooms in the spring.
Visit the Tokyo National Museum to see fine collections of Japanese art, armor, swords, lacquerware, and more spanning over 100,000 objects. The National Museum of Western Art is also worthwhile to see European art masterpieces.
Before leaving Ueno, stop by historic Tōshō-gū Shrine tucked away in the woods. This ornate shrine decorated with 500 statues honors Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate that ruled Japan in the 17th century.
Spend your evening in the bright lights of Akihabara shopping for manga comics, arcade gaming at Super Potato, and dining at a creative themed cafe.
Browse the eight-story retro gaming paradise Super Potato or try UFO catcher prize games at one of the massive arcades like Taito Hey.
See anime characters come to life by dining at a themed cafe like the Gundam Cafe based on the iconic robot franchise.
End your night exploring Akihabara’s flashing signs and anime shops open late into the night. Pick up manga comics and merchandise as affordable souvenirs!
Day 2 Summary
- Morning: Tsukiji Market, sushi breakfast
- Late Morning: Sensoji Temple, Nakamise Shopping Street
- Afternoon/Evening: Akihabara gaming & anime shops, themed cafes
Day 3: Art Museums, Imperial Palace & Shinjuku – 3 day Tokyo Itinerary
On your last day, see the Imperial Palace gardens, shop in posh Ginza, and re-explore the vibrant Shinjuku neighborhood. This itinerary shows you a mix of new places and gives you more time to revisit favorites.
See amazing modern art museums in the morning, take in the peace of Imperial Palace gardens in the afternoon, and experience the energy of Shinjuku at night.
Morning: Art Museums
Visit the Mori Art Museum and teamLab Borderless digital art museum, have lunch at the incredible and instagram famous Tsujian Zeitaku Don (rice bowl seafood)
Start your morning walking from Tokyo Station to the elegant Imperial Palace East Gardens. Stroll along the castle walls, bridges, and see the foundations of the old Edo Castle tower.
Next, head north through the tranquil forested grounds of Kitanomaru Park to visit Yasukuni Shrine – a controversial shrine honoring Japan’s war dead that also has an interesting war museum.
Spend your afternoon shopping in the upscale Ginza district, home to luxury flagship stores and the iconic Kabukiza Theater known for kabuki performances.
Stroll along Chuo-dori avenue to window shop dazzling displays at Tiffany, Chanel, Cartier and more. Pop into the sleek Ginza Six mall housing 240 shops and restaurants.
Break for an elegant lunch at Michelin-starred Sushi Yoshitake – advance reservations required!
Grab pre-dinner drinks in Omoide Yokocho, enjoy wagyu beef at Ren Restaurant, then sing karaoke into the night.
Round out your last evening back in Shinjuku. Start at the pedestrian-friendly Omoide Yokocho alley filled with tiny standing bars and stalls underneath the train tracks – perfect for a pre-dinner drink.
Treat yourself to an extravagant wagyu or kobe beef dinner at upscale steakhouse Ren.
End your night with some karaoke in Shinjuku’s Koreatown – join locals to sing your heart out in a private booth!
Day 3 Summary
- Morning: Mori Museum, teamLab Borderless, Sushi Zanmai (lunch)
- Afternoon: Imperial Palace East Gardens
- Evening: Omoide Yokocho, Ren (dinner), karaoke
I hope this 3-day Tokyo itinerary with day summaries helps you maximize your time in this amazing city!
Bonus Day Trips from Tokyo
If you have more than 3 days in Tokyo, take a day trip to see stunning Mount Fuji or relax in hot spring towns like Hakone or Kamakura.
Mount Fuji Day Trip
See iconic Mount Fuji on a day trip from Tokyo! Take the train 2 hours to Lake Kawaguchiko to view the perfect cone-shaped mountain reflecting on the calm waters. Continue to Oshino Hakkai to see the spring-fed ponds and sample freshly-made wasabi.
Hakone Day Trip
Escape to the hot springs and nature of Hakone! Take the train 1.5 hours and then switch to buses to explore the outdoor art of the Hakone Open Air Museum, watch sulphur plumes at Owakudani, relax your muscles at Tenzan Tohji-kyo hot springs, and get amazing views of Mt. Fuji across Lake Ashi.
Kamakura Day Trip
Go back in time to Kamakura, the medieval capital of Japan 1 hour from Tokyo. See the iconic bronze Great Buddha statue, hike up to hilltop Hasedera Temple, and visit the beachside Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine with its red torii gates leading to the sea.
Tokyo in 3 Days: Final Tips
I hope this detailed 3-day Tokyo itinerary helps you maximize your time in this incredible city! Here are some final tips:
- Get a Suica card to easily ride trains and buses
- Have cash on hand – Japan is still very cash-based
- Consider buying a Tokyo subway pass if you’ll be exploring a lot
- Book attraction tickets online in advance when possible to skip lines
- Pack comfortable walking shoes – you’ll be on your feet sightseeing!
- Try local specialties like sushi, ramen, yakitori, and Japanese sweets
- Don’t be afraid to splurge on a fancy meal like kobe beef or sushi
- Speak slowly in English – not everyone speaks fluent English
With so much to do in Tokyo, this itinerary packs in the essentials over 3 active days. Feel free to customize it to your interests – and don’t forget to also relax at cafes, people watch, and soak in the unique vibe that makes Tokyo such a one-of-a-kind city!
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