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Discover Japan’s Capital: The Ultimate List of Things to do in Tokyo

Tokyo is one of the most beautiful, energizing cities you will ever visit in the world. Being such a big city full of diverse experiences, it’s also incredibly overwhelming to plan. If you’ve been up to Tokyo Tower or the Tokyo Skytree, you’ll know the city seems to go on forever. There are also so many neighborhoods in Tokyo, each with their own charm and experiences. So, where do you even start planning what things to do in Tokyo? Below, we’ve compiled the best things to do and see in one of the world’s greatest cities. Whether you’re into the best shopping in Tokyo, the best restaurants in Tokyo or the best things to do in Tokyo, you can all find it here.

Tokyo Things to do: Tips and Advice

  • Pay close attention to the best days and times to visit attractions. Attractions are closed on some days, and different attractions have different hours
  • Plan your days by neighborhood – Toykyo is huge, so by going to all the attractions in that neighborhood the same morning or afternoon, you’ll spend less time and money commuting in between places
  • Use Apple Maps to pin the places you want to go and eat, so when you’re wandering around and get hungry you know the spots you wanted to go to.
  • Buy a pocket wifi for seamless use of Apple Maps and Google Lens while you are out and about
  • Bring an external charger for your phone because you will be out exploring the city for long periods of time and will have heavy use of Apple Maps, your camera and Google Lens
  • Get a Suica card or Pasmo to use for the Tokyo Train System
  • The best tour / excursions: Truly, there are too many to narrow down to just one. We enjoyed exploring the city on our own, eating at Tsukiji Market and buying tickets to Tokyo Skytree and Teamlab borderless.
  • Most important tip: Plan ahead of time. Tokyo is an incredibly large city and has lots of tourists. You want to make the most of your trip, and it’d be terrible to only have a day to do something and realize that’s the day it’s closed.

Imperial Palace and Imperial East Garden

Imperial East Garden Tokyo Japan, Imperial Palace Garden

The Imperial Palace and Imperial East Garden are a great thing to do in Tokyo. At the Imperial Palace East Garden you can see a lovely Japanese style garden. It is nice to walk around and explore the garden and the Imperial Palace grounds. Guided tours of the palace ground are available year round but do not include entry into any of the buildings. You must apply for the tours through the Imperial Household Agency and are only offered on certain days of the week. When we visited in March, the opening hours were 9am to 4pm and was closed on Monday and Friday.

Explore Ginza

Ginza Shopping, Best Shopping Tokyo, Ginza Shopping Weekends

Ginza is one of the main shopping areas in Tokyo. Many designer stores including Louis Vuitton are located here. The main thoroughfare is Chuo Dori Street, and they actually close the street to cars after 10 or 11AM on weekends. When the street is closed, it is pretty cool to walk around and experience the street with no cars and people walking and eating in the street. Another cool experience is to eat lunch at one of the food halls in the department stores located in Ginza. Mitsukoshi Ginza department store is where we had lunch, and it was incredibly cool.

Shibuya Crossing

Shibuya Crossing Tokyo Japan, Best Things To Do in Tokyo

Shibuya Crossing, near Shibuya Station, is one of the busiest pedestrian intersections in the world. It will remind you of Times Square in New York City but bigger. When you go to Shibuya Crossing, you can get off at Shibuya Station and then shop along the way at cool second hand stores, grab some snacks and continue walking until you get to the baseball stadium and Shinjuku Gyoen. Shibuya and Harajuku have great shopping including Takeshita street.

Shinjuku Gyoen / Shinjuku Garden

Shinjuku Garden, Shinjuku Garden Tokyo Japan, best things to do in Tokyo

Shinjuku Gyoen is described as an urban oasis in the heart of Shinjuku. It is a large park / garden in the middle of Shinjuku. Inside Shinjuku Gyoen you can find a Japanese Garden, an English Garden, a French Garden, a Starbucks and spacious lawns that provide a relaxing escape from the busy city. It’s 500 yen to enter and only open Tuesday through Sunday. Shinjuku Gyoen also closes early, around 4:30 or 5:30pm.

National Baseball Stadium

National Baseball Stadium Tokyo Japan, best things to do in Tokyo

The National Baseball Stadium is also cool to walk around, even if there isn’t a baseball game going on. The design is beautiful and unlike other stadiums you’ve seen. It has impressive gardening and plants throughout.

Meiji Shrine

Meiji Shrine Tokyo Japan, best things to do in Tokyo

The Meiji Jingu Shrine is a Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife, Emperor Shoken. The shrine was built in 1920 and spreads over 700,000 square meters. For many Japanese the Meiji Shrine is both a spiritual home and an oasis in Tokyo. The Meiji Shrine is free, and doesn’t need any tickets to enter. It is open every day.

Shopping and Snacking along Omotesando Street

Omotesando Street Shopping Tokyo, Tokyo’s Champs-Elysses

Omotesando is a street filled with designer store and also has some great places to snack and grab food closeby like Mr. Gariget which has freshly baked millefeuille and Ichiran for ramen. The Omotesando is sometimes referred to as Tokyo’s Champs-Elysses. It is a broad avenue lined with trees that start just outside of Harajuku station. Omotesando street is nearby the Meiji Shrine and makes sense to do both of them the same morning or afternoon.

Shopping and Strolling in Harajuku

Human Made Harajuku Tokyo Japan

Harajuku is a shopping and entertainment district for the young and trendy. Many small stores, boutiques and restaurants can be found in this area. It is also located near the entrance of the Meiji Shrine. The main attraction in Harajuku is Takeshita street, which is a street filled with various small stores.

Toyosu Market: The Famous Tuna Auction

Toyosu Market the famous tuna auction in Tokyo Japan

Toyosu Market is where the famous tuna auctions happen. If you want to see the tuna auction, you’ll need to go around 5:30-6AM. We went at 8AM and while there were a few fish left we missed the action. This picture of the tuna at Toyosu Market was taken at 8AM, so you can see how there isn’t much action and you can only see a few tunas in the back. It isn’t worth trying to race there for 8AM, so if you want to go but don’t want to wake up early you can go at any point later in the day. Check the hours before you plan your trip, as when we planned it was closed on Wednesdays and Sundays and also closed at 3pm.

Tsukiji Outer Market (Tsukiji Fish Market)

Tsukiji Outer Market, Tsukiji Fish Market, Famous Fish Market Tokyo Japan

Tsukiji Outer Market had some of the most incredible sushi we have ever had. While we were at the Tsukiji Outer Market we had great tuna nigiri, the famous omelet on a stick, great uni flight at a sit down restaurant, strawberry candy on a stick, mochi with peach filling and strawberry on top and wagyu on a stick. All of the food was absolutely incredible and a great value for the price. Tusukiji Market is most famous for its fresh fish, and each day over 400 different varities of fish and shellfish are sold. It is definitely worth it to spend a few hours at Tsukiji Fish Market. We recommend going early – before 11AM because it gets very crowded and you will have to wait in long lines. While the Fish Market is no longer located with the Toyosu Market like in the past, it still tends to follow the same closings as Toyosu Market. Tsukiji Outer Market one of best places to eat sushi for breakfast or lunch.

TeamLab Borderless

Teamlab Borderless Planets Tokyo, Tokyo Art Museum

TeamLab Borderless is an incredible digital art / experiential art museum. When we went, only TeamLab Planets was open, and we had the most incredible experience spending about an hour there. People post pictures of themselves at TeamLab Borderless all over social media for a reason. This will remain open until 2027. Starting in February 2024, teamLab Borderless is also opening the Mori Building Digital Art Museum in Azabudai Hills. If you have limited time, look on their website to see which art installation interests you more.

Uneo Park

Uneo Park Tokyo Japan, where to view Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo Japan Uneo Park

Uneo Park is a great place to visit to see the cherry blossoms during Cherry Blossom Season in March / April. It has over 1,000 cherry blossom trees. Even if it’s not Cherry Blossom Season, there are cool shrines in Uneo Park. As we went in early March, before the cherry blossoms were in full bloom the pictures we have of the cherry blossom trees are pretty bare and instead there are a lot of pictures of bare trees with traffic cones to guide traffic in a few weeks. Instead, sharing a picture we took at Uneo Park of Tori gates. Uneo Park is open 5AM to 11PM every day.

Ameyoko Street Market Shops

Ameyoko Street Market Shops Tokyo Japan, best shopping Tokyo

Ameyoko, which is near Uneo Park has cool street market shops. There is also street food available but we mostly shopped here and bought Kimono robes. It is open 24 hours a day.

Sensoji Temple

Sensoji Temple, Asakusa Tokyo

Sensoji Temple is the oldest temple in Tokyo. The temple was actually destroyed in the air raids of March 10, 1945 so the present building is a reconstruction from the 1950s. It is free to go to Sensoji temple, but you may have to wait in line. At the time we went, it was open 6AM to 5PM daily.  

Nakamise Street

Nakamise Street Market Tokyo, near Sensoji Temple, Asakusa

Surrounding Sensoji Temple is the Nakamise Street market. This is one of the oldest shopping streets in Japan. We were told to “go early” before it gets crowded, but realized that “early” really meant around 10AM as that is when the shops start opening. If you go earlier than that, you an experience Sensoji Temple with few crowds but know the shops won’t be open. In the Nakamise Street Market you can purchase snacks like melon pan, strawberries coated in candy and other strawberry snacks. Here, you can also purchase little trinkets and souvenirs.

Walk along Sumida River

Sumida River Tokyo, Tokyo Skytree

If you’re looking for a peaceful walk, walk along the Sumida River. We walked along the Sumida River after we visited Sensoji Temple and Nakamise Street and on our way to Tokyo Skytree. You can also get pretty pictures of the Tokyo Skytree from the Sumida River. It took around 40 minutes, but we had some time before our reservation and really enjoy walking around cities our first visit.

Tokyo Skytree

View of Tokyo from Tokyo Skytree

Enjoy panoramic views of Tokyo from the Tokyo Skytree. Tokyo Skytree is one of the tallest towers in the world and the view is particularly stunning at sunset. Tokyo will seem to go on forever from the views at the top of Tokyo Skytree. Though we bought tickets ahead of time as we visited in early March, the time we went the lines to buy tickets for Tokyo Skytree were not long and we could have bought tickets there.

Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Tower, Eiffel Tower in Japan

Another option to see panoramic views of Tokyo is to go to the Tokyo Tower. The Tokyo Tower looks like the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It’s not quite as tall as the Tokyo Skytree but still offers incredible views of Tokyo. While people tend to have a preference of Tokyo Tower or the Tokyo Skytree, and tend to feel strongly about their preference, it really isn’t necessary to do both of the observation towers.

Stroll Around Akihabara for Anime Culture

Akihabara, Maid Cafes, Animal Cafes, Anime Tokyo

Akihabara is the epicenter of anime in Tokyo. Whether or not you’re an anime fan, it’s a very cool neighborhood to stroll around and check out. In Akihabara you can find numerous themed cafes and stores. Here, you can find Maid Cafes. There is no other place like Akihabara in Tokyo.

Harry Potter Café in Akasaka

Love Harry Potter? Check out the Harry Potter Café in Akasaka. There are many theme cafes in Tokyo, so if Harry Potter doesn’t interest you look for other unique cafes that you can only find in Tokyo.

Animal Cafes

Animal Cafe Tokyo, Dog Cafe Tokyo

In addition to themed cafes, Tokyo is known for its animal cafes. Tokyo has hedgehog cafes, cat cafes, toy poodle cafes and more. Google your favorite animal and see if Tokyo has a café for it!

Edo-Tokyo Museum

The Edo-Tokyo Museum is a historical museum that opened in 1993 to preserve Edo’s cultural heritage and features city models of Edo and Tokyo between 1590 and 1964. It has been temporarily closed for renovations so before you plan your trip to the Edo-Tokyo museum check if it has reopened.

Ghibli Museum

If you love anime, check out the Ghibli Museum. The Ghibli Museum is dedicated to the art and technique of animation and includes features of a children’s museum, technology museum and a fine arts museum. There is a café, bookstore, rooftop garden and a theater for short films as well.

Experience Cherry Blossom Season

Cherry Blossom Season Tokyo, Uneo Park

If you’re visiting in March or April, chances are you will catch part of Cherry Blossom Season in Tokyo. It is truly spectacular to see the cherry blossom trees in full bloom. Not only is it a beautiful sight, but many stores also have cherry blossom themed drinks and snacks to celebrate the season. In Tokyo, you can experience the full beauty of the cherry blossoms in places like Uneo Park, Shinjuku Gyoen and Chidorigafuchi.

Take a Day Trip from Tokyo

Day trip from Tokyo, day trip to Hakone from Tokyo, Lake Ashi Pirate Ship Hakone

From Tokyo, there are plenty of options to take day trips using the bullet train. Some options include Hakone, Nikko, Kamakura and Yokohama.

Eat a Snack at Tokyo Station

The train stations in Tokyo are an attraction in it of itself, and no train station does it better than Tokyo station. Not only can you find great snacks to eat at Tokyo station, but it’s also a great place to buy snacks like the Tokyo Banana to bring back home.

Hamarikyu Garden

Hamarikyu Garden is the only surviving seaside garden of Japan’s Edo Period. The garden has a teahouse on a small island within a pond and is rich in flowers and has a 300 year old pine tree. Unfortunately we didn’t make it to Hamarikyu Garden on our trip, but we highly encourage visiting at least a few of the gardens / parks while you’re in Tokyo.

What Not To Do In Tokyo

Statue of Liberty Replica Tokyo Japan

While there are plenty of lists of things to do in Tokyo, very few go into what not to do in Tokyo. There are a few things we did in our trip to Tokyo that we didn’t feel were worth it, and these were mainly in Odiaba. Odiaba is a bit out of the way, and we did it the same day of Teamlab Borderless Planets, and the Tsujiki Fish Market. Instead of doing them in an orderly fashion, we had to bounce around because of our reservations and best times to go to the attractions. As a result, we had to backtrack a bit to see the Statue of Liberty, Aquacity and the malls in Odaiba. To us, after going, we felt like we could have skipped spending the few hours we did and wish we spent it in other parts of Tokyo. We got a quick picture at the replica off the Statue of Liberty, but it was nothing like seeing the Statue of Liberty in New York. The Aquacity ramen theme park seemed like a mall food court to us and we enjoyed incredible ramen elsewhere in the city. We ended up buying a few dog toys for our puppy at one of the pet stores in the mall but that was pretty much it.

Tokyo Things to Do Conclusion

Tokyo is an incredible city to visit and there are so many things to do in Tokyo. There are endless attractions, and landmarks and the best things to do will really depend on personal preferences.

Tokyo Quick Links

  • Tokyo Travel Guide
  • What to buy in Tokyo
  • Best Areas to Stay in Tokyo (coming soon)
  • Best Hotels in Tokyo (coming soon)
  • Best Restaurants in Tokyo (coming soon)
  • Best Cafes and Bakeries in Tokyo (coming soon)

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