Tokyo is one of the greatest cities in the world, as the capital of Japan and former host of the 2020 Olympics. Tokyo has so many incredible highlights that three days in Tokyo won’t cover all of the key things to do. When planning a Tokyo three-day itinerary though, these tips will give you some ideas on how to make the most of your trip to Japan!
For first-time visitors, Tokyo can be an overwhelming place. With so much culture, charm, and uniqueness to explore, this three days in Tokyo itinerary will hopefully help you navigate the city a little easier.
Here is how I recommend spending three days in Tokyo!
Tips for Getting Around Three Days in Tokyo
- Get a Suica card to breeze through public transit during your three days in Tokyo. If you get a JR Pass, it can also be used for the JR lines around Tokyo. With the Suica card, plan to spend around $10 USD or ¥1000 yen per day on transit within Tokyo.
- Learn where the main train stations are in relation to your hotel. The main stations are Shinjuku, Shibuya, Tokyo, and Ueno stations, all on the Yamanote line. Knowing where these stations are directionally will help you navigate all other trains during your three day Tokyo itinerary.
- Avoid rush-hour traffic if you can, unless you want to get sardine-canned in the trains. Rush hour in Tokyo is in the morning around 8-10am, and in the evening around 6-8pm.
Where to Stay During Three Days in Tokyo
I highly recommend getting accommodation in Tokyo near the Yamanote line for this three-day Tokyo itinerary. The Yamanote line is the lifeline of the city that will connect you to many of the highlights of Tokyo.
Check out where to stay during three days in Tokyo:
- Budget: The Global Hotel Tokyo or Holiday View Inn near Shinjuku, or Grids Toyko Ueno Hostel & Hotel near Ueno
- Mid-Range: The Millennials in Shibuya, Sakura Cross Hotel or Belken Hotel in Akihabara
- Luxury: Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel in Shibuya or The Tokyo Station Hotel near Tokyo Station
Alternatively, stay somewhere quirky like a capsule hotel where you sleep in a bookcase, or a hotel where the reception is run by robot dinosaurs… even a houseboat on a canal! Check out my list of weirdest hotels in Japan, most of which are – no surprise here – in Tokyo.
Three Days in Tokyo Itinerary
Day 1: Tsukiji, Ginza, Imperial Palace, Tokyo Station, Akihabara, Asakusa
Spend your first day in Tokyo on the East side of the city, where you can experience both the traditional side and the flashy, futuristic parts of Tokyo.
Stops on Day 1 of the Tokyo three-day itinerary include Asakusa’s famous temple, Tsukiji fish market, Ginza, and the anime capital of Japan, Akihabara.
Stop 1: A Taste of Tsukiji Market
The world-famous Tokyo tuna auction moved from Tsukiji to the Toyosu neighborhood in 2018. The Tsukiji Outer Market and the food stalls that still exist in Tsukiji however, are well worth the visit. Many stalls start closing around noon, so Tsukiji is a great place to visit early in the morning during your three days in Tokyo itinerary.
Wander through the countless stalls selling fresh seafood, packaged and dried seafood, and other traditional snacks and candies. Eat your way around independently or with a local guide, and try fresh clams, sea urchin, crab legs, even beef kebabs!
How to get to Tsukiji market: Tsukiji market is on the Hibiya subway line, which is reachable via a transfer from the JR Yamonote line at Yurakucho Station.
Stop 2: Flashy Ginza
A 20-minute walk from Tsukiji Fish Market is the Ginza neighborhood. What 5th Avenue is to New York City is Ginza to Tokyo. It’s the perfect place for high-end clothing shopping or just shopping for souvenirs during your three-day Tokyo itinerary.
Stores I recommend not missing are the 6-story Loft, a home-goods store than sells useful and quirky items that make perfect souvenirs. Itoya is a 11-story stationary store near Loft, where you can buy beautiful Japanese paper, cards, and envelopes, as well as fancy pens, inks, and stamps.
For high-end shopping, check out Ginza Six department store. Your typical UniQlo, GU, and H&M shops can be found in Ginza also.
Stop 3: The Imperial Palace Gardens
From Ginza, it’s another 20-minute walk north to Tokyo Station, where you can store your Ginza shopping spree goods in a locker if you need. Just to the west of Tokyo station is Tokyo’s Imperial Palace Gardens.
This area in Tokyo has had historical significance for centuries, and is still used as the Imperial Residence today. Walk around the gardens, learn about the history, and admire the architecture that has been preserved since the Edo-era.
Stop 4: Tokyo Station
After you’ve wandered the extent of the Imperial Palace Gardens, head back to Tokyo Station. One of the busiest stations in Tokyo also has a wonderful underground shopping area and food court, perfect for a mid-day break during your three-day Tokyo itinerary.
Check out B1 of Tokyo Station, home to Tokyo Character Street, where a dozen little shops dedicated to different character series, are lined up. Favorites include Pokemon, Dragon-Ball Z, Crayon Shin-chan, Studio Ghibli, and Hello Kitty.
Have lunch at any of the restaurants also on B1 of Tokyo Station, where countless Japanese comfort foods are represented. Check out Tokyo Ramen Street, where satellite shops of famous ramen restaurants from around Japan can be found.
Stop 5: Anime in Akihabara
How to get to Akihabara: From Tokyo Station, hop on the JR Yamanote Line (or walk about 30-40 minutes) to reach Akihabara.
If you have an anime or manga fanatic traveling with you during your three days in Tokyo itinerary, Akihabara is definitely worth a stop.
What is known as the anime capital of Japan is home to shops selling electronics, games, CD’s and DVD’s, and anime goods. It’s also home to a variety of Tokyo’s famous maid cafe’s.
If your Japan travel posse is not into electronics, J-Pop, or manga and anime however, Akihabara can be skipped to save time during three days in Tokyo.
Stop 6: Cultural Asakusa
How to get to Asakua from Akihabara: Take Yamaote Line to Ueno, then change to the Ginza subway line to Asakusa.
Asakusa and the Senso-ji Temple are some of my favorite places in Tokyo. Senso-ji temple is one of the most iconic in Tokyo, with its massive red lantern, and is an unmissable Tokyo bucket list destination. In addition to being a tourist destination, you’ll see locals visiting and taking part in traditional temple rituals as well. You can partake by pulling an omikuji fortune and throwing a coin into the offertory box before praying to the gods in the main temple building.
At nearby Nakamise Street you can pick up any type of Japanese souvenir you can imagine, from keychains and magnets to foldable fans, fancy knives, tea sachets, and more.
Asakua is a great place to embark on a Tokyo Food Tour because of all its street food options. If gaining elevation is your priority during this Tokyo three-day itinerary as well, check out the Tokyo Skytree nearby!
Three Days in Tokyo Itinerary
Day 2: Roppongi/Naka-Meguro, Shibuya, Meiji Jingu, Harajuku, Omotesando and Shinjuku
Spend Day 2 of your Tokyo itinerary in the heart of the city, visiting famous sites like the Shibuya Crossing, Takeshita Street in Harajuku, and Shinjuku Gai.
No day in Tokyo is complete without a visit to a historic shrine or temple, so spend some time at the famous Meiji Jingu as well.
Stop 1: Roppongi or Naka-Meguro
How to get to Roppongi and Naka-Meguro: Both neighborhoods are on the Hibiya subway line, which can be reached by transferring from the Yamanote JR line at Shibuya or Yurakucho train stations.
If you’re into the arts, head to Roppongi and check out the MORI Art Museum and the Tokyo City View Observation Deck. Both are located in the Roppongi Hills MORI Tower, 50+ floors above Tokyo. Buy tickets to skip the line here. If you love the views, check out my post on the best Tokyo viewpoints!
Not into museums? Head to Naka-Meguro, a quiet neighborhood home to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery (the perfect way to start your day) plus many other boutique shops and cafes. A river running through Naka-Meguro is famous during cherry blossom season, when the white and pink trees are hanging down over the river.
Stop 2: Shibuya
How to get to Shibuya: Hop back on the Hibiya subway line to the Yamanote Line, which will take you to Shibuya station.
Shibuya is everything a young person dreams of when thinking of Japan. You can’t spend three days in Tokyo without experiencing the Shibuya crossing, and exploring Shibuya’s flashy lights, skyscrapers filled with boutique shopping, and game centers.
Start by heading to the Shibuya Starbucks, which is a great place to relax and enjoy amazing views of the Shibuya Scramble Crossing.
For female travelers to Tokyo, check out Shibuya 109, a building filled exclusively with feminine clothing, shoes, handbags, and jewelry stores. Even if you’re not into Japanese fashion, it’s an awesome place to check out the styles that are trendy with the locals.
Shibuya is home to some of the biggest and baddest shops Japan is famous for. Check out Tower Records if you’re in to music, the massive Loft stationary store, and Shibuya’s Mega Don Quijote. In Shibuya there are also several game centers where you can try your hand at claw machines, or take puri-kura photo booth photos.
If you’re looking for an amazing vegan lunch spot, check out Nagi Shokudo in Shibuya, one of Tokyo’s top vegan restaurants.
Tip: If you’re traveling with vegetarian and non-vegetarians in your group, check out my post of Tokyo restaurants with both veg and non-veg options.
Stop 3: Meiji Jingu
Walk about 20 minutes north from Shibuya to Harajuku (or take the Yamanote line one station). Before you follow the crowd to Takeshita street (more on that later), take the path under the massive torii gate towards Meiji Jingu. Meiji Jingu is a Shinto shrine dedicated to Japan’s first emperor and empress.
The quiet, forested grounds will transport you back to nature, and back in time before Shibuya and Harajuku even existed. The Meiji Jingu shrine is free to visit, and everyone can take part in traditional Japanese Shrine rituals there. Purchase a wooden plaque to write a wish on, and hang it from the holy tree next to the shrine. A priest every day blesses the tree and its plaques so the gods will hear the wishes.
Tip: If you’re visiting Tokyo on a weekend, Yoyogi Park next to Meiji Jingu often has cultural events taking place such as Japanese dance or international festivals.
Stop 4: Harajuku
Harajuku is a must-see during your three days in Tokyo. This neighborhood, especially Takeshita street, is famous for being the kawaii, or cute, capital of Tokyo. Everything here is rainbow-colored, cute, fluffy, and covered in unicorns and kittens. Literally.
Below the surface on Takeshita street are also several boutique stores selling different styles of Japanese fashion as well, such as skater, rock-n-roll, hip-hop, and even goth. One of Tokyo’s largest DAISO ¥100 yen shops also calls Takeshita street home.
Stop 5: Omotesando
At the end of Harajuku’s Takeshita Street starts the Omotesando neighborhood.
Omotesando is famous for its high-end shops lining the main street, but there are many hidden gems here if you take the back streets. Copenhagen’s famous Flying Tiger shop has a location here, and you can buy some creative things at “The Awesome Store” too.
If you’re looking for gorgeous and classy Japanese souvenirs, check out Oriental Bazaar (reopening in 2022). The bazaar has half a floor dedicated to Japanese yukata and kimono, and sell Japanese cloth, postcards, chopsticks, ceramic cups, bowls, and more.
Stop 6: Shinjuku
No Tokyo itinerary is complete without spending time in Shinjuku, also must-visit Tokyo bucket list neghborhood.
It’s a great place to finish Day 2 of your three-day Tokyo itinerary, because I prefer Shinjuku at night. All the store signs are lit up, and it’s buzzing with the Japanese after-work crowd. Shinjuku has great photography opportunities with all the flashing advertisements, and also has countless places to drop in for a dinner of ramen, sushi, and a beer.
Don’t miss having a stroll around Shinjuku Gai even if you’re not drinking. Dozens of tiny bars here shelter people coming to relax after a day’s hard work. Shinjuku Gai is picture-perfect, filled with tiny alleyways with old-fashioned signs and Japanese lanterns lighting the way.
Three Days in Tokyo Itinerary
Day 3: Teamlab Borderless, Yanaka Ginza, Nezu Shrine, Ueno
Visit Tokyo’s famous Teamlab Borderless museum to immerse yourself in digital artwork displays. Although not connected to Japanese culture or history, it’s an incredible bucket-list Tokyo experience.
Finally, finish up your three days in Tokyo by visiting the historic Yanaka Ginza neighborhood, then revisiting any other Tokyo neighborhood that tickled your fancy.
Stop 1: Teamlab Borderless in Odaiba
How to get to Odaiba: Take the Yamanote Line to Shimbashi station, and transfer to the Yurikamome line. The Yurikamome line is a driverless monorail, so get a seat at the very front if you can!
Visiting Teamlab Borderless in Tokyo is a mind-blowing, and one-of-a-kind experiences in a city that is already full of incredible experiences.
Teamlab Borderless is a digital art museum that uses lights and sounds to transform you into part of the art itself. Read how to make the most of your experience here, including budgeting about 3-4 hours to see it all. No one will ever regret visiting this museum, so buy your tickets now!
Teamlab Borderless has a temporary sister museum, Teamlab Planets in nearby Toyosu, where sections require you to walk through water. Read about the two museum’s differences here to choose which one is right for you. Decided on Teamlab Planets already? Buy tickets here.
Stop 2: Around Odaiba
Odaiba, the large man-made island that is home to Teamlab Borderless, is home to many other fun things after your Teamlab visit. It’s home to the massive unicorn Gundam statue, several amazing malls, and other interesting museums.
It’s also a great place to grab a meal or even have a picnic with a view. Famous sights here include a small Statue of Liberty and Tokyo’s Rainbow Bridge, which connects Odaiba to Tokyo’s city center.
Stop 3: Yanaka Ginza
How to get to Yanaka Ginza: From Odaiba, take the Yurikamome line and transfer to the Yamanote line at Shimbashi Station. Take the Yamanote line until Nippori Station, and exit the station towards the south.
Yanaka Ginza is a step back into Tokyo’s past, to get a glimpse at what the city may have looked like a century ago. Many of the shops have stayed true to their original craft and have sold the same goods for generations. Buy things like traditional rice crackers, soy sauce, ceramics, and Japanese handicrafts here. Of course there are more current stores like a ¥100 yen store and trendy boutique shops too.
One of my favorite sights here is a sake shop that has several open bottles lined up on ice at its store front. Pick a sake, then pop a squat at the chairs outside the store for some people-watching, just like the elderly locals do.
Stop 4: Nezu Shrine
About 20-30 minutes on foot through winding roads from Yanaka Ginza is the beautiful Nezu Shrine.
It’s a shrine still off-the-beaten-path in Tokyo and gives you a chance to experience a really local shrine. Nezu Shrine is a popular place for local newlyweds to be blessed by a priest, and get their traditional Japanese pictures taken.
If you’re spending three days in Tokyo during the April hydrangea season, Nezu Shrine will be overflowing with locals. There is a massive wall of hydrangea bushes along one side of the shrine, with a picturesque koi pond at the base of it.
Nezu Shrine is also famous for its line of torii gates, a bit smaller than the ones at Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, but they are brilliant nonetheless and less crowded to take pictures at.
Stop 5: Ueno, etc.
A short walk from Nezu Shrine is Ueno Park, a large area home to shrines, museums such as the Tokyo National Museum, and even a zoo. From Ueno Station (on the Yamanote Line), you can decide how you want to spend the last evening of your three days in Tokyo itinerary.
Visit some places in Tokyo you might have missed on this itinerary, or explore somewhere completely new. Examples include:
- Ikebukuro, one of the most livably neighborhoods in Tokyo and home to a massive mall, Sunshine City.
- Shin-Okubo, known as Tokyo’s Koreantown. Stock up on K-Pop goods and Korean cosmetics and face masks here. Check out my article for SavvyTokyo about Shin-Okubo!
- Sky Tree viewpoint – Head to the tallest building in Tokyo and Japan to admire the city sprawl. Skip-the-line admission tickets here.
Alternatively, head back to the places you loved from this three day itinerary in Tokyo!
Three days in Tokyo is a short period of time. If you’re able to squeeze in more time to spend a day in nature, be sure to head to the outskirts of Tokyo to Mt. Takao.
If you’re a serious Miyazaki fan, it’s also worth spending time at the Studio Ghibli Museum in the Mitaka neighborhood.
Consider extending your three days in Tokyo itinerary to visit any of these wonderful day-trip locations from Tokyo as well!
Spending Three Days in Tokyo? Pin This Post!
Looking for other things to do during your Three-Day Tokyo itinerary?
- Check out the highlights – Tokyo Bucket List Experiences
- See Tokyo’s weird and quirky side – 20 Weird And Unique Things To Do In Tokyo
- Learn where to escape the crowds – Off-The-Beaten-Path Places In Tokyo
- Get out of the city for a day – Best Day Trips From Tokyo
- Gain some elevation over Tokyo – Six Amazing Tokyo Viewpoints