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Best Things to do in Hakone

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Hakone Best Things to do: Tips and Advice

  • You’ll be able to squeeze in the highlights in one night / 2 days.
  • The train that brings you to Hakone from the bullet train is about an hour. Though it seems long, it truly feels like an attraction itself. As you wind through the countryside, the train loudspeaker gives facts (in Japanese and in English) and feels like another variation of the Train to Soller attraction in Mallorca.  
  • Spend 3-4 hours doing the cable car up to Mt Owakudani, and Lake Ashi pirate ship, which are all included in the Hakone Free Pass.
  • The best tour / excursions: Cable car up to Mt Owakudani and Lake Ashi pirate ship.
  • One of the most famous things to do in Hakone is a Hakone onsen.
  • Most important tip: Buy the Hakone Free Pass at the train station- valid for 2 days.

Best Things to Do in Hakone

It can be a bit overwhelming planning your trip to Japan because there are so many amazing places to visit during your first trip to Japan. Luckily, Hakone is pretty easy to plan because everyone has the same suggestions. Here are the best things to do in Hakone.

Hakone Ropeway to Mt Owakudani

Hakone ropeway cable car, Hakone free pass, best things to do Hakone

The Hakone Ropeway is a fun thing to do in Hakone. The cable car up to Mt Owakudani provides beautiful views of the countryside, the sulfur below and once you get up to the top you can see beautiful views of Mt Fuji on clear days. The cable car is about 5 minutes long. The top also offers a great place to picnic. If you forget to bring snacks, there are plenty available at the top!

Shopping At Mt Owakudani

Snacks in Hakone, best things to do Hakone

The shopping at Mt Owakudani includes a lot of snacks, sake and the famous “black egg.” Definitely try the black egg while you’re there and be sure to bring a backpack for all the snacks! There is a gift shop with a lot of snacks at the top and even if you think I don’t need any, they have great marketing “only sold here” and after seeing everyone else with a full shopping bag, you’ll likely cave.

Lake Ashi Cruise

Lake Ashi Cruise, Lake Ashi Pirate Ship, Hakone Free Pass

The Lake Ashi cruise starts after the cable car to Mt Owkudani. It is one of the best things to do when you’re in Hakone. There will likely be a bit of a line especially during busy season but its worth it. It is also included in the Hakone Free Pass. It’s modeled after a medieval European pirate ship, and it takes you all the way around beautiful Lake Ashi. It is also well-known for the inverted reflection of Mt. Fuji which can be seen on its surface on clear days.

Hakone-jinja Shrine

Hakone shrine, Hakone-jinja shrine, best things to do Hakone

The Hakone-jinja Shrine (Hakone Shrine) is a great thing to do after you get off the Lake Ashi Pirate Ship. You’ll see torri gates in the water from the pirate ship but there is actually much more to the shrine on land. Wondering how to get to the Hakone Shrine? You can walk to the shrine by getting off the last stop of the Lake Ashi cruise. If you don’t do the pirate ship, you can also ride the Hakone Tozan bus, and get off at the Hakone-jinja-iriguchi bus stop (150) and walk for 10 minutes. If you don’t want to rush, allow at least an hour to walk to the shrine and back.

Hakone Open Air Museum

Hakone Open Air Museum, best things to do Hakone

Though the Hakone Open Air Museum is not included in the Hakone Free Pass, it’s another must visit when you’re in Hakone. Plan to spend a few hours wandering around the outdoor art installations.

Onsen (Hot Springs)

Hakone onsen, Gora Kadan

Hakone is known for it’s onsens (hot springs). If you stay at Gora Kandan, there is no need to book or pay for an onsen as you are able to use the onsens at the hotel. In addition to the onsens for each gender, Gora Kandan has a private onsen you can book for you and your family.

Spa Treatment

Hakone spa, Gora Kadan Hakone

When we were in Hakone, we arranged an incredible couples massage and face treatment at Gora Kandan.

In conclusion, Hakone is a destination filled with many things to do. Hakone is filled with natural beauty, incredible onsens, relaxation and beautiful outdoor art. Whether you are taking in the panoramic views from the Hakone Ropeway, eating your first black egg, cruising along Lake Ashi, walking through the Hakone Open-Air Museum or relaxing in an onsen, you will make plenty of memories exploring Hakone. Enjoy all the best things to do in Hakone when you visit Japan.

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