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 doing Tokyo in 3 days if you have a solid plan.
READ MORE: Check out our list of the best things to do in Tokyo!
How to Spend a Perfect 3 Days in Tokyo
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.
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 Tokyo on the tube.
READ MORE: Here’s our brand new guide to travelling in Japan to help you plan your next big trip!
Unfortunately, there are several different rail systems operating here. With 3 days in Tokyo, your best bet is picking up one of the 72-hour Tokyo metro tickets. These cost 1,500 Yen for adults or 750 for children.
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.
READ MORE: Don’t miss out on these best day trips from Tokyo!
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 3 days in Tokyo.
READ MORE: Don’t miss our list of the best places to visit in Japan.
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.
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
- 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.
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
- Take an architecture tour of the park
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 if you’re more into those than history.
You can check out the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, the National Science 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.
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.”
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!
READ MORE: Travelling elsewhere? Check out our list of the best things to do in Japan.
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 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!
If you could care less about watching people throw fish around, then get out there and rip it up on a night out in Tokyo!
I honestly haven’t experienced much of the nightlife there yet, but this is an excellent guide to drinking in Tokyo.
Day 2 – Morning
If the Toyosu Fish Market is on your list of things to see in Tokyo in 3 days, then day two starts really early for you!
Should you go this route, you might want to make sure you’ve got a coffee and a snack ready to get you going.
Toyosu Fish Market
I should note that Toyosu is relatively new. Many guides to Tokyo list the Tsukiji Fish Market, but the wholesale market relocated in October 2018 for a variety of reasons.
These days, the tuna auction takes place between 5:30-6: 30 AM.
If you’re cool watching from the upper-level observation area, just show up a few minutes early. Just be warned that you might not see very much from here.
Those who want to watch from the lower floor need to apply in advance. To do so, head to the official website and scroll to the bottom for the English option.
Applying doesn’t guarantee you a spot, as it’s a lottery system. If you’re lucky, you’ll get notified about a week in advance.
You don’t have to see the auction to enjoy a visit to the fish market. It’s interesting just walking around there for a bit and worth the trip just to smash a massive sushi breakfast in one of the many restaurants.
This is definitely one of the top things to do in Tokyo in 3 days!
For all the relevant information about visiting the new fish market and the changes that have happened since the move, I highly recommend reading this article.
Day 2 – Afternoon
After walking around a fish market, you’ll probably want to swing back to your accommodations for a shower.
If a sushi breakfast isn’t your thing, now is the time to grab some food and fuel up for the second of 3 days in Tokyo.
When you’re ready to rock, hop on the tube and head to Harajuku Station. This part of Tokyo is a centre of Japanese youth fashion and culture and a really fun place to explore.
If you need a snack or a pick-me up, there are a few cafes right around the tube station, including yet another cat cafe. They’re kind of a big deal here…
Before you check out the trendy side of Harajuku, head into Yoyogi Park. This is one of the largest parks in the city, full of ponds, fountains, and wide open green spaces.
The highlight of visiting Yoyogi Park is the Meiji Shrine. It was built back in 1920 to honour Emperor Meiji.
He passed away in 1920 after seeing Japan through a time of great change. It’s actually Emperor Meiji who is credited with opening the Land of the Rising Sun to the west.
It’s a peaceful, beautiful place to spend some time. To access the shrine, you walk up a tranquil path and through the traditional torii gate.
In a city as big and bustling as Tokyo, it’s amazing how easy it is to escape into nature.
After visiting the shrine, head out of the park to nearby Takeshita Street.
This narrow street is the epicentre of Tokyo’s youth culture and is full of boutique shops, cafes, fast food joints, and all the things teenagers love.
Takeshita is bumping on the weekends with trendy teens who come here to show off their unique fashion sense and do some shopping with friends.
It’s a great place for some people watching, window shopping, and snacking.
Day 2 – Evening
Our 3 days in Tokyo itinerary has now officially passed the halfway point. Congratulations!
I’m sure you’re pretty spent by now, but you’ve got to push on as there’s a lot more to see and do.
For the evening portion of your 2nd day, head just a few stops north on the tube to Shinjuku Station.
Tokyo Metropolitan Building
At this point in the trip, you may have noticed that a hole has been burned in your wallet.
Tokyo isn’t a cheap city to visit, that’s for sure. That’s why this next stop is such a good one – it’s totally free!
The Tokyo Metropolitan Building has an observatory that’s 202 metres above the city streets.
It’s the best place to go for panoramic views of Tokyo and it doesn’t even cost you anything.
Be sure to add a stop here to your list of things to see in Tokyo in 3 days.
Choose Your Own Adventure
It’s been a long day in Tokyo, so how you choose to spend the rest of your night is up to you at this point.
Some people might just want to grab a quick bite to eat and call it a night, and that’s totally understandable.
You’ve only got 3 days in Tokyo, though, so I recommend digging down deep, summoning your 3rd wind, and powering through to check at least one or two more things off your list.
One cool thing to do in this area is visiting the Samurai Museum.
It’s open until 9 PM and is worth checking out, if only just to snap a pic of you in a badass Samurai costume.
If you’re interested in experiencing a bit of sensory overload along with your dinner, be sure to check out the Robot Restaurant.
It’s basically the dinner show version of an acid trip.
As you might expect, the Robot Restaurant is quite popular. Tickets sell out well in advance, so be sure to book them early.
The price tag is a bit steep, but when else are you going to have such a wild dinner experience?
If lazers and robots aren’t your style, there are plenty of other options for dinner around here.
Whatever you do for dinner, it’s worth it to cruise over to Golden Gai for a nightcap.
This area is full of narrow, winding alleys that are home to some very cozy bars. Some of them can only hold a handful of people.
This makes for a very authentic Japanese drinking experience and is a great addition to your 3 days in Tokyo itinerary.
Day 3 – Morning
Hopefully you didn’t do too many sake bombs in Golden Gai, but if you did that’s cool, too!
Go ahead and sleep in, get yourself a leisurely breakfast, and get ready to tackle the last of 3 days in Tokyo.
When you’re ready to rock, hop on the train and head over to Tokyo Station. Just a short walk from here, you’ll find the Imperial Palace.
It’s located at the former site of the Edo Castle and remains home to the imperial family.
You can sign up to join a free tour of the palace, but you’ll want to make sure to do so in advance.
Head to their website up to one month in advance to secure your spot.
Even if you don’t score a spot on a tour, it’s worth visiting the palace grounds.
The imperial gardens are stunning and definitely one of the best things to see in Tokyo in 3 days.
Another thing to check out here is the Wadakura Fountain Park. It’s a scenic place to sit down for a quick breather and grab a cheeky cup of coffee if you need some fuel for the rest of the day.
After exploring the palace grounds for a while, head out the southeast corner and cross the moat to access Hibiya Park.
It’s a pleasant little park and a good spot for a quick stroll.
The main reason to walk through this park, though, is to snap a photo of the Godzilla statue that’s right around the corner.
Put Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla” on and sing along – “Oh, no, there goes Tokyo! Go, go Godzilla!”
To be honest, the statue is kind of small and underwhelming, but the novelty alone makes it worth the quick stop.
Plus, there are lots of restaurants and cafes around here and you’re probably ready for lunch at this point in the day.
Day 3 – Afternoon
It’s been a whirlwind 3 days in Tokyo so far, and we’re almost to the finish line.
For the afternoon on your final day in the city, cruise over to the Ginza district.
Ginza is the place in Tokyo to see and be seen. It’s the premiere shopping district for the Japanese capital and is home to countless luxury stores, cafes, and restaurants.
During the warmer months (April-September), the central Chuo Dori street is shut down to traffic and becomes a bustling pedestrian zone.
Other cool things to do in Ginza include seeing a kabuki show at the Kabukiza Theatre or visiting the Nissan and Sony showrooms at Ginza Place.
If you didn’t make it to the new fish market on day two, you can swing by the old one today.
The Tsukiji Fish Market isn’t home to the auctions anymore, but it’s still open and there are plenty of places to munch on fresh sushi here.
Day 3 – Evening
It’s time once again to choose your own adventure! For your final night of 3 days in Tokyo, you’ll want to be sure to get some nice sunset views. Here are a few options:
This is a massive development project and the brainchild of building tycoon Minoru Mori.
It has apartments, office spaces, restaurants, movie theaters, shops, and more.
The idea was to create a place where people can live, work, and play, thus basically eliminating the need to commute.
Here you’ll find the Tokyo City View observatory. Tickets are a bit steep at 1,800 yen, but they also include admission to the Mori Art Museum.
If you don’t mind splurging a bit, the views here are pretty incredible.
If you want some epic views of the city but don’t want to fork over so much yen, you can head to the Tokyo Tower instead.
The Japanese capital’s answer to the Eiffel Tower also has a nice observation deck and it only costs 900 yen.
We wrap up 3 perfect days in Tokyo in Shibuya. Coming out of the tube station, you’ll see the famous statue of Hachinko.
There’s a beautiful story behind this loyal dog, so be sure to read it before your trip!
Hopefully, you can handle crowds because our next stop is the Shibuya crossing.
Famed to be the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world, over 2,500 people crisscross the street here on each light.
If you want to see the view of the crossing from above, your best bet is to pop into the Starbucks.
There’s no sneaking a free peak here, though, as they ensure that you buy something before you can approach the window. Grab a cup of joe and sit down to watch the madness below.
Mario Kart IRL
Hands down, one of the coolest things to do in Tokyo in 3 days is playing real life Mario Kart.
MariCAR allows you to dress up as famous characters like Yoshi and ride a go-kart through the busy streets of Tokyo.
Just don’t go tossing any banana peels off to the side – that’s dangerous!
If you’ve got any energy left, there are plenty of cool bars and music venues in Shibuya.
There you have it, my friends – an awesome plan for how to spend 3 days in Tokyo!
Where to Stay in Tokyo
Now that you’ve got a badass itinerary for 3 days in Tokyo, you’re probably wondering where you should say in this sprawling metropolis.
Honestly, as long as you’re in the city proper and are near an underground station, you’re good to go.
Some of the most popular areas to stay in Tokyo include Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ginza, and Asakusa.
Here are a few options for some accommodation in Tokyo to suit all budgets:
Best Hostel in Tokyo – Grids
There are plenty of excellent hostels in Tokyo, which is great news for budget travellers.
If you’re balling on a budget, a solid choice is Grids. They’re so popular that they have three locations in the city with a fourth on the way.
You can choose between their Asakusa-Bashi, Akihabara, and Nihombashi locations.
Whichever one you go with, you’ll find a comfortable hostel in a great location.
Dorm beds go for under $25 a night here. They have a nice cafe and bar on-site here as well and serve a buffet breakfast for a reasonable price.
All of their properties have awesome reviews, so they’re clearly doing something right!
Best Mid Range Hotel – Hotel Ryumeikan
If you’re the type of traveller who appreciates a good deal, you’ll love the Hotel Ryumeikan. It’s just a stone’s throw away from the central Tokyo Station and double rooms go for $200 or less here.
The rooms here are well-appointed and, while they seem a bit small, are actually pretty big for Tokyo. They also have tea and a Nespresso machine, plus some super comfy pyjamas you can use.
You can start your day off here with a fully-stocked breakfast buffet featuring both Japanese and western cuisine. Other amenities here include a laundry service and coin-operated machines if you’d rather just do your own.
Best Luxury Hotel – Mandarin Oriental
When it comes to luxury accommodations in Tokyo, it’s hard to top the Mandarin Oriental.
This 5-star hotel is centrally located near Tokyo Station on the top nine floors of the Nihonbashi Mitsui Tower.
This swanky hotel has it all – a spa, gym, business centre, event space, and more. It also boasts a whopping 12 restaurants, 3 of which are Michelin-star.
Of course, all this luxury comes at a price. Even the cheapest option here runs close to $700 a night even in low season.
Then again, this place always comes up in lists of the “best hotels in the world,” so it’s worth the splurge for this one!