When anyone asks me tips for visiting Tokyo, the first question is usually “How many days should I spend in Tokyo?”
If you’re planning a trip to Japan, then Tokyo is usually the first place on most people’s Japan must-do list. Tokyo is the easiest place to start your Japan itinerary and it’s a great spot for first time visitors to get a taste of modern Japan before moving on to some other must-visit destinations.
Tokyo is one of the largest cities in the world and is very spread out, with a maze of train lines to navigate. But don’t let this deter you, as it’s also one of the easiest and most efficient cities we’ve ever navigated.
To make the most of your visit to Tokyo, you need to determine what you want to see and do, and how much you want to pack into each day. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
By following our Tokyo travel guide you will be able to work out how many days in Tokyo is the ideal amount of time for you. We’ve also included a summary of the best Tokyo itinerary options to help you along the way.
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Should You Spend 1, 2, 3, 5 or 7 Days in Tokyo?
Tokyo is a huge city, and there are so many things to do. From popular tourist attractions such as Shibuya Crossing or Senso-Ji to unique off-the-beaten-path experiences like the Meguro River.
How many days needed in Tokyo depends entirely on your preferred style of travel:
- Do you like fast-paced sightseeing, and packing as much into your day as possible? OR
- Are you more of a relaxed travel kind of person, taking a little more time to really enjoy each attraction? OR
- Do you want to see everything there is to see in Tokyo, not just the highlights?
To help you work out how many days in Tokyo you will need, we’ve got suggestions for Tokyo itineraries for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 days, including where to stay and how to get around.
Let’s dive right in…
How Many Days to Spend in Tokyo (+ Tokyo Itinerary Options)
How many days do you need in Tokyo? This is the golden question. Tokyo is a huge city and there are quite a lot of things to do. Most visitors generally spend between 3 to 5 days exploring Tokyo before continuing on to other destinations in Japan.
If you like to pack a lot into your day and don’t mind getting up early, you could spend as little as 2 days in Tokyo and still see most of the highlights.
However, if you’re visiting Tokyo for the first time and you prefer to take your time sightseeing, then you might want to consider spending 3, 4, 5 or even 7 days in Tokyo.
Also remember that if you’re only visiting Japan for a short period of time, say 7 to 9 days, then how many days to visit Tokyo is a very important question, as you don’t have time to waste. You will want to try and pack as much sightseeing into each day as possible. So, you probably only want to allocate 2 or 3 days in Tokyo before moving to Kyoto, Hiroshima, or Osaka.
But for the vast majority of visitors, when it comes to deciding how many days you should spend in Tokyo, we personally think that 3 to 4 days is the optimal amount of time to allocate to exploring Tokyo in your Japan itinerary.
Splitting Your Time in Tokyo
Ideally, we would actually go so far as to suggest splitting your stay in Tokyo into two different visits, i.e. 2 days when you first arrive in Japan, plus 2 days at the end of your Japan itinerary, before flying back home. We actually did this during one of our trips to Japan and it worked well, but only if you are planning to fly in/out of Tokyo.
Tokyo is such a large city. Splitting your time in Tokyo into two visits will allow you to stay in two different locations of the city and explore each location. This will limit the number of cross-city subway trips you need to make, which can seriously eat into your sightseeing time.
The ideal way to do this is:
- When you first arrive in Japan, stay in Shinjuku for the first two days and explore the western side of the city, around Shinjuku and Shibuya.
- When you return to Tokyo at the end of your trip (i.e. before departing the country, stay on the eastern side of the city, near Tokyo Station or Minato. Spend this time exploring around the eastern side of Tokyo, including Ginza, Tsukiji Markets, Chiyoda and Asakusa.
Is 1 or 2 days in Tokyo Enough?
Generally speaking, no. When deciding how many days to explore Tokyo, you have to remember that Tokyo is one of the largest cities in the world and is home to approximately 17+ million people. It’s probably bigger than any other city you’ve ever visited before, and it can take some time to get from A to B. As such, 1 or 2 days will only allow you to see a few things in the city.
That being said, if you only have a short itinerary planned in Japan (less than 10 days), then you might want to limit how many days you spend in Tokyo to 2 or 3 days, so you have time to visit other places in Japan.
Also, if you like to pack a lot into your day and are okay with early morning starts and late night finishes, then it’s possible to see a fair bit of Tokyo in 2 days.
We would recommend spending one day exploring the Eastern side of Tokyo (Shinjuku, Harajuku, and Shibuya), and the second day exploring the western side of the city (Asakusa, Ginza and Tsukiji Markets), or vice versa.
Just be aware that, the shorter your visit, the more organised you’ll need to be to avoid wasting valuable sightseeing time.
Is 3 days in Tokyo Enough?
Yes, absolutely. When people usually ask us “how many days do you need in Tokyo?”, we always recommend spending 3 days in Tokyo as the optimal amount of time for most visitors. Three days will allow you to see most of the must-do tourist attractions, plus a few lesser-visited ones.
If you prefer a slower-paced style of travel, then you might want to consider spending a little longer than 3 days in Tokyo. But for the majority of visitors, 3 days offers the perfect taster.
Is 4 or 5 days in Tokyo Too Much?
Spending 4 or 5 days in Tokyo is a decent amount of time to really explore the city in depth.
You’ll get to know the subway system pretty well, and visit many different corners of the city. You will get to see all the major tourist sites, plus much more.
If you love to “wander and explore” at a leisurely pace, then 4 or 5 days in Tokyo will probably be the perfect amount of time for you.
Spending 4 or 5 days in Tokyo will also allow enough time to take a day trip outside the city, to either Hakone, Nikko, or Mount Fuji on one of the days.
However, we would only recommend spending this long in Tokyo if your entire trip in Japan is more than 10 days (14 days is ideal). Remember that there are many other beautiful places to visit in Japan, so you don’t want to spend all your time in Tokyo!
Is 7 days in Tokyo Too Much?
Possibly. When considering how many days to see Tokyo, 7 days is a lot of time to spend in one city. However, if you only have 7 days to see Japan all together, you may prefer to stay in one place and do a few day trips, instead of hauling your luggage around on the train.
There are loads of places within a 2-hour train ride from Tokyo that are perfect for a day trip. We would recommend spending 3 to 5 days exploring Tokyo and adding a few day trips to other destinations. Here are some of our favourite day trips from Tokyo.
Sample Tokyo Itineraries for 1 to 7 Days
Below is a sample itinerary for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 days in Tokyo. It gives you a brief idea of what to do, depending on how many days for Tokyo you have planned. The days can be swapped and changed around as you wish.
The first few days include the major highlights, so if you only have a few days then don’t worry, you’ll cover the best things to do in Tokyo. Each day has been strategically planned so you don’t have to spend too much time on public transport getting from one side of the city to the other (did I mention how large Tokyo is?).
Day 1 Itinerary:
- Spend the morning exploring around Meiji Jingu Shrine, then wander down nearby Takeshita Street in Harajuku, do some shopping, and grab a bite to eat.
- In the afternoon, hop on the train, head to Shinjuku Station, and take a stroll around the Shinjuku Gyoen Gardens.
- Head to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building’s Observation Deck for a great view.
- In the evening, explore around Shinjuku. There are plenty of great food options for dinner, or to simply admire the neon-lit streets and alleyways. Don’t forget to try one of the tiny bars in Golden Gai for a nightcap.
Day 2 Itinerary:
- Catch the metro to Senso-Ji temple. Explore the temple grounds and go shopping along Nakamise Shopping Street.
- Take a Rickshaw ride or simply wander the streets of Asakusa (the old Tokyo city) and enjoy a delicious Udon lunch in one of the shophouses around Asakusa.
- Walk or catch a train to the Tokyo Skytree, where you’ll get a bird’s eye view of the city and appreciate how vast Tokyo is!
- In the evening, hop on a train to Shibuya Crossing and watch people scramble across the busiest intersection in the world – best viewed from Shibuya Sky – before jumping on an evening Food Tour around Shibuya
Day 3 Itinerary:
- Rise early and head to the Tsukiji Markets for a traditional fresh sashimi breakfast.
- Spend the morning exploring around the Tokyo Imperial Palace and its beautiful East Gardens. Row a boat ride along the Chidorigafuchi Moat (a must-do during Sakura).
- In the afternoon, head to Kiyosumi Gardens, arguably the best gardens in Tokyo.
- Spend the evening in Ginza, where you’ll find loads of shopping and great food.
Day 4 Itinerary:
- Head to Ueno Park in the morning to enjoy a picnic and some sunshine, cherry blossoms, or fall foliage (depending on the season).
- Take a wander around Akihabara, known as Tokyo’s “Electric City” and the centre of anime culture.
- Spend the afternoon shopping and wandering along Kapabashi Kitchen Street where you’ll find a treasure trove of Japanese kitchenware goodies.
Day 5 Itinerary:
- Explore some of Tokyo’s modern museums, such as teamLab Planets or teamLab Borderless and check out the digital art exhibition (one of the most Instagrammable places in Tokyo). Book tickets for when the museum first opens to avoid the afternoon crowds.
- Grab some lunch from the basement of Daimaru in Tokyo Station
- Spend the afternoon exploring Roppongi and ascend the Tokyo Tower.
- Enjoy the nightlife and fantastic food scene around the Roppongi district.
Day 6 & 7 Itinerary:
On days 6 and 7, we recommend planning a few day trips outside of Tokyo, or one overnight trip to either Mount Fuji, Hakone, Kamakura, Nikko, or Kanazawa.
Things to Prepare Before Arriving in Tokyo
How much time you plan to spend in Tokyo will determine how organised you need to be before you arrive.
If you only have 1, 2 or 3 days in Tokyo, then we would recommend booking all your activities and train passes before you arrive. Follow these tips to ensure you hit the ground running and maximise the time you have sightseeing in Tokyo:
- Pick up an ICOCA IC card with around 1500 yen pre-loaded. You can pre-purchase one here before you arrive in Japan. Alternatively, you can pick one up from the ticket machines at most major train stations. You’ll use this card to tap on/tap off quickly each time you use the subway. It can also be used on most other train lines around Japan.
- Print out a copy of the Tokyo metro/subway map here and work out which stations to get on/off for each activity (we have made a note of the closest station for each activity in the suggested itineraries above).
- If you’re using a JR Rail Pass, be sure to purchase one here before you arrive in Japan. Avoid exchanging your coupon in Tokyo. The JR Rail offices in Tokyo are always very busy, especially during busy tourist seasons. Alternatively, if you need to exchange it in Tokyo, plan to be at the JR Rail office when it first opens in the morning to get in line first.
If you plan to spend 4 or 5 days in Tokyo, then we still recommend following these tips and being prepared to make your trip less stressful, but it’s not quite as essential.
Where to Stay in Tokyo
Once you’ve decided how many days to stay in Tokyo, then where you are going to stay is the next thing to determine.
The ideal location will depend on how many days you plan to spend in Tokyo, as some areas can be quite pricey. If you plan to spend longer in Tokyo, you might want to choose a cheaper area of the city to book accommodation.
Where to Stay for 1, 2, or 3 Days in Tokyo
If you only plan to spend a few days in Tokyo then booking accommodation somewhere central is key. Choosing a hotel near Shinjuku Station or Tokyo Station is the best option as these are the two largest and most easily accessible stations in Tokyo. You can reach most places in Tokyo relatively quickly from both of these stations.
The only drawback is that Tokyo and Shinjuku stations are very busy and can feel a little overwhelming with lots of people rushing around and many different train lines and platforms to navigate. However, most of the signs have English writing and train lines are coded with colours and numbers, which makes navigating them relatively easy.
Here are some options for accommodation near Shinjuku or Tokyo Station:
Where to Stay for 4, 5 or 7 Days in Tokyo
If you have a little bit more time to spend getting from A to B in Tokyo, then we would recommend NOT staying near Shinjuku and Tokyo Stations. As mentioned, these stations are huge and get very busy (especially during peak periods). We personally try to avoid them if possible.
If you prefer not to be rushed then we recommend staying around Minato, Akasaka, Asakusa, or Tokyo Bay, which all have a more easy-going atmosphere. These areas are well-serviced by metro trains, and there is usually a station within a 5-minute walk from most hotels in these areas.
The pros of staying in the lesser-touristed areas is that accommodation is generally much cheaper. The drawback is that it may take a little longer to get to where you’re going, and you may need to change train lines to reach some of the attractions in this itinerary. However, navigating the trains in Japan is not too difficult with colour-coded train lines and numbered stations and exits.
Here are some options for accommodation around Minato, Akasaka, Asakusa, or Tokyo Bay:
- The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho
- Trunk Hotel Yoyogi Park
- Hotel New Otani Tokyo
- The InterContinental Tokyo Bay
How Many Days in Tokyo Wrap-Up
As one of our favourite cities in the world, we’ve visited Tokyo a few times, so we know first-hand how difficult it can be to decide how many days to spend in Tokyo.
With so much to see and do, not only in Tokyo, but throughout Japan, you could honestly spend a lot, or a little time to enjoy a taste of this great city.
We hope this guide has been helpful for you to determine how many days in Tokyo are enough to plan for your visit!
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VIEW MORE RESOURCES & TIPS TO HELP PLAN YOUR JAPAN TRIP
Resources for Planning Your Trip to Japan
Here’s a list of the websites we use for booking our trips all around the world:
- Skyscanner for the best flight deals
- Booking.com for the best rates on hotels
- HomeAway for the best price on apartment and home rentals
- Rentalcars.com for quick and easy car rentals
- Luxury Escapes | Expedia for luxury package holiday deals and tours
- Get Your Guide | Klook | Viator for booking day tours and attraction tickets
- Tourradar for a wide selection of multi-day tours
- Safety Wing for the most comprehensive worldwide travel insurance