The Ultimate 3-Day Tokyo Itinerary

japan tour 3 days

Headed to the Land of the Rising Sun and looking for an itinerary for the capital? Read on for a jam-packed guide on how to spend 3 days in Tokyo!

Planning a trip to Tokyo can be a bit intimidating. With over 38 million people in the metro area, this is the most populous city in the world. You know those videos of people being packed like sardines onto a subway car? Yeah, they were probably taken in Tokyo!

The Japanese capital is more like 23 cities, as each of the special wards offers something different. While Asakusa is very traditional, Harajuku is the place to be if you want to take in Japan’s youth culture. In such a massive city, you won’t be able to see it all in just 72 hours. That being said, you can cover a lot of ground on a Tokyo itinerary if you have a solid plan.

The Perfect 3 Days in Tokyo Itinerary

The first thing you’ll want to do when figuring out what to do in Tokyo in 3 days is which wards you’re most interested in. You can visit a couple of them on each day but there’s no way you’re hitting them all in such a short time! Thankfully Tokyo has a vast and efficient public transportation system to help you get around. You can even take day trips to various cities around the Tokyo Bay area. The underground network is so expansive here that the map looks like some kind of multi-tentacled anime creature. You can really go anywhere in the city on the Tokyo metro subway lines.

Unfortunately, there are several different rail systems operating here. For a 3-day Tokyo itinerary, your best bet is picking up one of the 72-hour Tokyo metro tickets. The Klook website is the cheapest place to buy these, a bit cheaper than buying them at the station. Another good tip is to pick up a Suica IC card. These are what all the locals use to pay for, well, just about anything. Buses, metros, vending machines, 7/11, these little pre-paid cards are essential to making your time in Tokyo much less complicated, so you’re not constantly trying to find correct change. Do yourself a favour and buy one. You’ll thank me later.

Now it’s time to decide what to do in Tokyo in 3 days. In my humble opinion, it’s good to have a list of places you want to check out but also remain flexible. You will most definitely get lost in Tokyo. Chances are you’ll see, hear, or smell something interesting and take a detour. It’s best to go with the flow, people! I’m going to provide you with some ideas on what to see in Tokyo in 3 days, but I’m also going to let you choose your own adventure by offering multiple options.

If you’re ready to get lost in translation, read on for an epic 3 days in Tokyo itinerary. This trip assumes you’re visiting Tokyo on the weekend, so you’ll want to double-check the opening days and hours of the attractions listed if you’re headed there during the week.

Day 1 – Morning

While you may be tempted to dive off the deep end and crush a massive sushi breakfast on your first day, I suggest saving that for day two. If you’re wondering what a traditional Japanese breakfast is, people usually eat rice, miso soup, fermented soy beans (known as natto), grilled fish, and some pickled vegetables. People usually wash it down with green tea rather than coffee. Once you’re full and caffeinated, it’s time to get on with your busy Tokyo itinerary.

Asakusa

On my first visit to Tokyo, I started out in Asakusa. That’s exactly where I’m sending you to begin your 3 days in Tokyo itinerary. Take the tube to Asakusa station and drop into the tourist information centre if you want to have a look around there first. Not only are the staff here super friendly and helpful, but you can also head up to the 8th floor to enjoy an amazing (and free!) view.

Nakamise Shopping Street

Heading north, the first thing you’ll see is the Kaminarimon Gate (Thunder Gate). The traditional gate has a massive lantern in the middle and two guardian statues on either side. This is one of the most popular places to snap a photo in all of Tokyo, so get your camera ready! Next up, take a walk up Nakamise Shopping Street. This bustling outdoor market is full of vendors selling traditional snacks as well as souvenirs. If you wanted to pick up a kimono or some ningyo yaki – a sweet cake filled with red bean paste – this is the place to do it.

Senso-Ji Temple

When you walk to the end of the shopping street you’ll find Senso-ji, Tokyo’s oldest temple. Built way back in the 7th century, this Buddhist temple is an important piece of the city’s history. It’s definitely one of the top things to see in Tokyo in 3 days, and more than 30 million people visit each year. Go ahead and linger a bit to take it all in all of the sights of the temple, but don’t forget that you’ve got a busy 3 days in Tokyo ahead of you!

Choose Your Own Adventure

Remember how I said I’d let you choose your own adventure for your 3 days in Tokyo? Well my friends, you’ve got quite a few options once you leave the temple. Here’s a quick recap of what you can do in the area:

  • Take a rickshaw tour of Asakusa
  • Walk around the riverside Sumida Park
  • Take a Sumida river cruise
  • Head to the top of the Tokyo SkyTree (cheapest tickets for this is on Klook)
  • Visit the Asahi Beer Hall (it’s not too early for a cheeky brew, is it?)

Before we move this 3 days in Tokyo party along, you’ll want to grab some lunch. There are tons of options in Asakusa, including plenty of excellent ramen shops.

Day 1 – Afternoon

After some lunch – and maybe a cup of coffee with feline friends in a cat cafe – it’s time to move along with your Tokyo in 3 days itinerary. Hop back on the train and cruise over to Ueno Station for our next stop.

Ueno Park

There’s perhaps no better place to be on a nice day in Tokyo than Ueno Park. The park is especially lovely during the cherry blossom season, which happens from late March to early April. Ueno Park has so much going on that you could honestly spend your entire 3 days in Tokyo here. Obviously, you’re not going to do that, so you’ll have to be a bit picky about what you choose to do. Here are just a few of the options:

  • Take a boat around Shinobazu Pond
  • Visit the Ueno Zoo
  • See the statue of Saigo Takamori (a famous general)
  • Check out the Toshogu Shrine
  • Drop in the Tokyo Culture Hall
  • Hit one of the many museums
  • Book a guided tour of the park if it’s cherry blossom season!

Museum of Your Choice

Ueno Park is home to several fantastic museums. With just 3 days in Tokyo, you’ll probably have to choose just one. In my humble opinion, I recommend going to the Tokyo National Museum. This museum has an impressive collection of over 100,000 pieces spread across several buildings. It’s the largest and oldest museum in Japan and definitely a must-see in Tokyo in 3 days. The Tokyo National Museum costs 620 yen to enter. There are a few art and science museums to see when you visit Tokyo if you’re more into those than history. You can check out the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, the National Science Museum, the teamLab Borderless digital art museum, or several others.

Day 1 – Evening

As I’m sure you’re realizing by now, this Tokyo in 3 days itinerary is a doozy! Make sure you take some time here and there to kick back on a park bench. Once you’ve caught your breath, get back out there and keep this 3 days in Tokyo train rolling.

Akihabara

After taking in a bit of traditional Tokyo, it’s time to check out the modern side of the city. The perfect place to do that is Akihabara, which is just a short walk or train ride from Ueno Park. This area was named after Akiba, a deity that can control fires. After a fire destroyed the area in the 1800s, the people here built a shrine dedicated to Akiba in hopes of preventing future fires. You won’t find the shrine here anymore, but you will find a dizzying array of electronic shops. Here you can peruse computers, phones, cameras, TVs, and much more. Akihabara has definitely earned its nickname – “Electric Town.”

Otaku Culture

Even if you’re not shopping for electronics, it’s worth visiting Akihabara over your 3 days in Tokyo just to experience the unique otaku culture. In Japanese, otaku is a somewhat derogatory term used to refer to someone who is a huge nerd. We’re not talking just any kind of nerd, though. Otaku are people who are obsessed with anime and manga. People have come to embrace their otaku status and wear it proudly. This part of Tokyo is basically a mecca for otaku and very much caters to them. Walking around the streets of Akihabara is like being inside of a video game or comic book. There are anime and manga shops and images all over the place, as well as tons of cosplayers handing out flyers for places like maid cafes. “What is a maid cafe?” you may be asking yourself. It’s pretty simple – it’s a cafe where girls dress up like maids and treat customers like their masters. If it sounds weird, that’s because it is. Embrace the odd during your 3 days in Tokyo, people!

Pachinko

While you’re in the area, you’ve got to drop into a pachinko parlour. Pachinko is basically Japan’s answer to the slot machine, and it’s all the rage here. These machines function as gambling devices, even though gambling for money in Japan is illegal. The way they skirt the law is by having players win pachinko balls that are then exchanged for prizes. There’s an exchange separate from the parlour where you can then swap your prize for some cold hard cash. Trying your hand at a game of pachinko is for sure one of the top things to do in Tokyo for 3 days.

Choose Your Own Adventure

It’s time once again to choose your own adventure! After an exhausting first of 3 days in Tokyo, it all depends on how much gas you’ve got left in the tank and what your priorities are for day two. Your options for dinner in Tokyo are basically endless. You might want to try out one of the fun conveyor belt sushi joints, find a place to chow down on wagyu beef, or search for some of the city’s best street food. Whether or not you dabble in Tokyo’s nightlife by going on an epic pub crawl is really up to you. If you hope to catch the auction at the Tsukiji Fish Market, you’ll probably want to call it an early night. That’s because you have to get there around 5 in the morning if you want to grab a spot!

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