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The Ultimate Guide to Things to Do in Hakone , Japan

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Your ultimate guide to things to do in Hakone Japan. Nestled in the mountains just a short train ride from Tokyo, Hakone is a popular weekend escape for city dwellers.

With its mountain views, scenic Lake Ashi, and abundance of hot springs, it’s easy to see why. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know to plan the perfect Hakone itinerary.

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The Ultimate Guide to Things to Do in Hakone, Japan

At a Glance – Here’s a Highlight of Top Things to Do in Hakone

If you’re short on time, here is a quick list of the best things to do in Hakone:

  • Soak in the hot springs at Hakone Yuryo or Yunessun
  • Take the Hakone Tozan Railway, cable car, ropeway and see the volcanic Owakudani valley
  • Cruise across Lake Ashi on a pirate ship
  • Explore Hakone Shrine and see the famous torii gate in the lake
  • Wander through nature at Hakone Gora Park and Hakone Open-Air Museum
  • Sample black eggs boiled in the sulfurous waters at Owakudani
  • Relax at a traditional ryokan inn with hot spring baths and multi-course dinners

Keep reading for more details on what to do in hakone

hakone day trip

How Many Days to Spend in Hakone

Most people visit Hakone as a day trip from Tokyo. However, spending 1-2 nights allows you to enjoy hot spring baths and relax at a peaceful ryokan without rushing.

With 2 full days in Hakone, you can see all the top attractions at a comfortable pace.

About the Hakone Free Pass

The Hakone Free Pass is an excellent value as it includes:

  • Roundtrip train ticket from Shinjuku station in Tokyo
  • Unlimited use of most local transport in Hakone
  • Discounts at many attractions

It’s available as a 2-day or 3-day pass. This guide assumes you have the 2-day Hakone Free Pass. Buy it here before your trip to Japan.

Spectacular scenery of majestic volcanic valley surrounded with rough mountains with fuming mist in Hakone Japan on clear sunny day

How to get from Tokyo to Hakone

Getting from Tokyo to Hakone

The fastest way to reach Hakone from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo is by direct “Romancecar” train. It takes 80 minutes.

With the Hakone Free Pass, you just pay a small surcharge for the Romancecar.

  • You can also take local/rapid trains but they make several stops and take 2+ hours.
  • Buses are possible but less convenient than trains. Driving is also an option but the Hakone Free Pass only covers public transport.

How to Get from Tokyo to Hakone

There are several transportation options to travel from Tokyo to Hakone. The quickest and most convenient way is by train, but alternatives like bus or driving are available.

2 day hakone itinerary

Train from Shinjuku Station to Hakone

Travel Time: 80 minutes
Cost w/ Hakone Free Pass: Covered + 1,100 yen surcharge for Romancecar

This is the recommended method to get from Tokyo to Hakone thanks to speed and direct routes. You have two main train options:

Romancecar: These direct express trains whisk you from Shinjuku Station to Hakone-Yumoto Station in just 80 relaxing minutes. Recline and enjoy the views! Reservation fee is 1,100 yen per person but highly recommended.

Local/Rapid Trains: The budget option but makes numerous stops, requiring a transfer at Odawara Station. Takes over 2 hours. Saves money but less comfortable.

Tips: Book Romancecar early to reserve seats. Purchase Hakone Free Pass + surcharge ticket as bundle deal.

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Odakyu Bus to Hakone

Travel Time: 2+ hours depending on traffic
Cost w/ Hakone Free Pass: Covered

While less convenient than trains, buses provide a direct connection from Shinjuku Station to Hakone.

Key details:

  • Multi-stop route reaching Hakone Visitor Center
  • Prone to traffic delays so travel time varies
  • Included in Hakone Free Pass

Tips: Buses susceptible to motion sickness. Bring entertainment as the route makes frequent stops.

Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/things-to-do-in-hakone-japan/

Driving To Hakone from Tokyo 

Travel Time: 1.5-2 hours pending traffic
Cost: Highway tolls + parking

Having your own car allows freedom in exploring Hakone but comes with a cost. Key points:

  • Requires International Driving Permit (IDP) to rent car
  • Pay highway tolls & parking fees at sights
  • No Hakone Free Pass discounts
  • Convenient mobility around Hakone region

Tips: Use car navigation app as roads twist through mountains. Account for traffic near Tokyo. 12 must have apps for Japan 

hakone things to do Spectacular scenery of majestic volcanic valley surrounded with rough mountains with fuming mist in Hakone Japan on clear sunny day

Using JR Pass to Hakone

If you already have a Japan Rail (JR) Pass, you can take JR trains covered by your pass to Odawara Station.

From there, purchase just the Hakone Free Pass without train fare.

Travel Time: 2+ Hours
Cost: JR Pass covers Tokyo to Odawara. Hakone Free Pass from Odawara is 5,140 Yen

To reach Odawara Station from Tokyo:

  • Take JR Tokaido Shinkansen to Odawara (50 mins)
  • Or JR Tokaido Line from Tokyo/Shinagawa Stations (90 mins)

You must then purchase the Hakone Free Pass at Odawara Station and take local train to Hakone-Yumoto.

This saves about 1,000 yen but requires more complex train changes. Only worth it if you already have JR Pass.

Which Option is Best?

For most visitors, the Romancecar train is the best way to get from Tokyo to Hakone thanks to speed, views, and reliability. If you plan to get the Hakone Free Pass, splurging a bit more for the train is recommended over buses.

Driving allows flexibility but the additional rental and parking costs often don’t justify ditching the discounted mobility the Hakone Free Pass provides. But it ultimately comes down to personal travel preferences

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how to get Around in Hakone

Many types of transportation access sights across Hakone:

  • Local Buses
  • Mountain Railway Trains
  • Aerial Tram (Ropeway)
  • Funicular (Inclined Railway)
  • Sightseeing Boats

All transportation in Hakone is included in the Hakone Free Pass.

Note: The Fuji-Hakone Pass covers buses BETWEEN Hakone and Kawaguchiko in either direction. So you can take buses between the two locations that are included. However, the pass does not cover buses from Hakone or Kawaguchiko directly back to Tokyo. You would need to purchase separate tickets.

Luggage Services in Hakone

Hakone-Yumoto Station has luggage delivery available. For 900-1600 yen per bag, they will transport your luggage to your ryokan so you can explore freely without large bags.

There are also coin lockers in every train station. Sizes range from small (300 yen) to large (700 yen) lockers.

Top Things to Do in Hakone: what to do in hakone & Hakone Activities

Most attractions in Hakone are located along a circuit called the “Hakone Round Course.” You can easily access sights via the transportation mentioned above. Top highlights include:

1. Relax at a Luxurious Ryokan

No trip to Hakone is complete without experiencing a ryokan (traditional inn). Many feature hot spring baths, beautiful garden views, epic multi-course dinners, and Japanese hospitality. Splurge if your budget allows!

2. Soak in Natural Hot Springs

With volcanic activity bubbling below the surface, Hakone has no shortage of geothermal onsen (hot springs).

Top choices are:

  • Hakone Yuryo: Elegant onsen and spa with views of Mount Hakone. Day-use available.
  • Yunessun: Unique themed hot spring “amusement park” with wine, coffee, and green tea baths.

Onsen etiquette: Bathe sans clothing in gender separated pools. Be sure to wash before entering the baths.

Hakone Attractions

3. Ride the Aerial Tram, Train, and More

The best way to see the stunning scenery of Hakone is by riding various modes of transportation along the Hakone Round Course trail:

Hakone Tozan Train: Ride through the mountains from Hakone-Yumoto to Gora Station
Sounzan Cable Car: Continue up the mountain from Gora to Sounzan by cable car Hakone Ropeway: Soar over Owakudani valley’s volcanic sulfurous springs on this gondola lift Lake Ashi Pirate Ship: Cruise across Lake Ashi on a tacky but fun “pirate” ship

4. Marvel at the Boiling Owakudani Valley

Accessible via Hakone Ropeway, Owakudani is an active volcanic zone full of sulfurous pools and steam vents.

Local specialty: Kuro-Tamago which translates to black eggs. Boiled in the hot springs, the shells turn black from the sulfur. It’s said eating one adds 7 years to your life!

On clear days, Mt. Fuji is visible from here so it’s best to visit in the early morning.

hakone things to do Spectacular scenery of majestic volcanic valley surrounded with rough mountains with fuming mist in Hakone Japan on clear sunny day

 Stroll through Beautiful Hakone Gora Park

Located along the Hakone Tozan mountain railway, Hakone Gora Park is a lovely landscaped garden nestled in the mountains.

The park showcases different flowers and plants depending on the season. Visit in spring to enjoy blooming cherry blossoms, autumn to see vibrant red maple leaves, or winter to see camellia flowers.

With quaint bridges, waterfalls, and mountain views, Hakone Gora Park makes for a peaceful break when exploring the Hakone area. Spend 30-60 minutes wandering through the trails.

Entrance Fee: 500 yen (free with Hakone Free Pass)

Cruise Lake Ashi on a Pirate Ship

No trip to Hakone is complete without a ride on the tacky yet charming pirate ships of Lake Ashi!

This scenic lake was formed from Hakone’s last volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. Today you can sail across the blue waters aboard a kitschy pirate-themed cruise boat from Togendai Port to Hakonemachi Port.

The journey takes about 30 minutes one-way and is included in the Hakone Free Pass. As you float along, take in views of forested shores, Mt Hakone, and if luck permits, majestic Mt Fuji in the distance.

Don’t forget to snap some photos with the cartoon pirate crew on board

hakone pirate ship: 2 day hakone itinerary

Day Trip to Fuji Five Lakes

If you have extra time, consider a day trip from Hakone to the scenic Fuji Five Lakes area.

Located under 2 hours away, this region is home to the crystal clear lakes formed by Mt Fuji’s eruption. You can take direct buses from Hakone that drop you off right at Kawaguchiko Station to start exploring.

Top highlights of Fuji Five Lakes include:

  • Epic views of Mt Fuji reflecting across the calm waters
  • Boating, fishing, and hiking around the lakes
  • Trying local Hoto noodles and strawberry picking

See Lake Ashi Highlights

Lake Ashi is a stunning caldera lake formed from Hakone’s last eruption 3000 years ago. Top attractions include:

  • Pirate Ship Cruise: Hop aboard a tacky yet charming “pirate” ship to cross the lake. Included in Hakone Free Pass.
  • Hakone Shrine: Visit this scenic shrine tucked away in the forest by the lake.
  • Heiwa no Torii: See the iconic red torii gate partially submerged at the lake’s edge. Come early to beat the crowds!
  • Hakone Checkpoint Museum: Learn about this important checkpoint along the old Tokaido highway during the Edo era.

Immerse Yourself in Nature

In addition to epic mountain and lake views, Hakone offers many peaceful nature spots including:

  • Hakone Gora Park: Stroll through lovely gardens that showcases flowers and maple leaves depending on the season.
  • Hakone Open-Air Museum: Wander through a huge park with over 100 sculptures and installations spread across 70,000 square meters.
  • Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands: Walk along boardwalks through rare marshes and wetlands containing over 1,000 plant species.
Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/things-to-do-in-hakone-japan/

Sample Exceptional Dining

Top picks for restaurants in Hakone include:

  • Miyafuji: Artisan soba noodles made with water from Mt. Fuji. Close to Owakudani station.
  • Bakery & Table: Organic coffee and pastries with lake views in Moto-Hakone.
  • Itoh Dining: High-end teppanyaki and sushi from renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa. Near Sounzan Station.
  • Amazake-chaya: Tea house in Motohakone serving refreshing almond tofu and sweet fermented Amazake rice drinks.

Go Golfing

Who knew Hakone is a hotspot for golf? With courses overlooking Lake Ashi or even with views of majestic Mt. Fuji, it’s perfect for travel golfers.

Top picks include:

  • Lake Ashi Country Club
  • Sengokuhara Prince Hotel Golf Course
  • Hakone Katsuyamaso Golf Course

9. Wander through the Hakone Open-Air Museum

One of the top highlights in Hakone is exploring the sprawling Hakone Open-Air Museum.

With over 100 sculptures and installations spread across a huge 70,000 square meter outdoor area, this is one of the first open-air museums in Japan.

You can easily spend 2-3 hours wandering the trails as you discover massive contemporary sculptures mixed in with natural scenery.

Some can’t miss attractions at the Hakone Open Air Museum include:

  • The Symphonic Sculpture – A towering stained glass sculpture offering 360 degree views from the top
  • The Woods of Net – A huge wooden jungle gym web structure perfect for kids to play on
  • The Cave of Brilliance – An installation of over 3000 prisms refracting rainbow light
  • The Eye of the Storm – An immersive spherical theater showing panoramic images
  • The Hakone Open Air Museum is open year-round from 9 AM to 5 PM
  • and costs 1,600 yen for admission.
  • However, you can get 200 yen off if you show your Hakone Pass.
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Where to Stay in Hakone

Hakone offers a wide variety of lodging from hotels to traditional ryokan inns. Consider location, onsen baths, and views when booking. Top areas to stay include:

  • Around Miyanoshita Station: Scenic area along the Hakone Round Course trail. Close to trails and attractions.
  • Around Gora Station: Near many top highlights like museums, cable cars, and parks. Prime for convenience.
  • Around Sengokuhara: Quieter area home to the fancy resort Prince Hotel with golf, onsen, and more.
  • Around Tonosawa Station: Peaceful area near Old Tokaido Road and hiking trails. Feels less touristy.

Hakone 1 Day Itinerary

If short on time, you can see top Hakone sights in a full day. Here is a suggested 1-day Hakone itinerary:

Related: Detailed Hakone 1 day & 2 day itinerary & Where to Stay in Hakone

  • 7 AM: Leave Tokyo on the Romancecar train
  • 9 AM: Arrive Hakone-Yumoto. Take Hakone Tozan train to Gora
  • 10 AM: Ride the cable car up to Sounzan. Walk through Hakone Gora Park
  • Noon: Take ropeway over Owakundani valley. See sulfur pools and Mt Fuji views
  • 1 PM: Walk around Owakundani, try black eggs, catch Ropeway to Togendai
  • 2 PM: Cruise across Lake Ashi on the pirate ship
  • 3 PM: Visit Hakone Shrine complex and see floating torii gate
  • 5 PM: Start heading back towards Hakone-Yumoto
  • 7 PM: Soak in onsen at your ryokan
  • 9:30 PM: Return to Tokyo

This covers most of the top attractions at a good pace. With 2 or more days, you won’t feel rushed exploring Hakone!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Should I travel back to Tokyo from Hakone? Does the Fuji-Hakone pass covers this?

The Fuji-Hakone Pass only covers travel one way between Tokyo and Hakone. It does not cover transportation back from Hakone to Tokyo. You will need to purchase a regular train or bus ticket to return to Tokyo.

Should I travel back to Tokyo from Kawaguchiko to save time? Does the Fuji Hakone pass covers? Else how do I travel back?

Yes, traveling directly from Kawaguchiko to Tokyo can save you time instead of going back to Hakone first. The Fuji-Hakone Pass does NOT cover transportation between Kawaguchiko and Tokyo. You will need to take the direct highway bus from the Kawaguchiko bus terminal to the Shinjuku bus terminal in Tokyo. This costs around 2,500 yen for a one-way ticket and takes around 2 hours.

Does Fuji-Hakone pass covers transport to and fro Hakone and Kawaguchiko?

The Fuji-Hakone Pass covers buses BETWEEN Hakone and Kawaguchiko in either direction. So you can take buses between the two locations that are included. However, the pass does not cover buses from Hakone or Kawaguchiko directly back to Tokyo. You would need to purchase separate tickets.

Should I get the Hakone Free Pass?

Yes, the Hakone Free Pass is highly recommended as it covers all transportation and provides discounts on attractions. The only reason not to get it is if you plan to drive yourself.

How much is the Hakone Free Pass?

The 2-day Hakone Free Pass costs 6,100 yen. The 3-day pass is 6,800 yen. Kids ages 6-11 receive discounted passes.

Can I store luggage in Hakone?

Yes, Hakone-Yumoto Station offers luggage delivery service to hotels for a fee. There are also coin lockers in every train station.

Are the hot springs in Hakone free?

No, most hot springs have an admission fee ranging from 500-2000 yen. Many ryokans open their hot spring to the public during daytime hours for a fee.

What is the best way to see Mount Fuji from Hakone?

For the best luck to see Mount Fuji from Hakone, try visiting early mornings before clouds roll in. Owakudani valley and Lake Ashi provide some of the best vantage points but it is often covered by clouds.

So there you have it! A comprehensive guide on how to plan the ultimate trip to Hakone, including top things to do, where to stay, transportation tips, suggested itineraries, and FAQs. With its abundance of hot springs and scenic nature, Hakone makes for the perfect retreat from bustling Tokyo.

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