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5 Days in Tokyo: The Ultimate Itinerary for Exploring the City

Looking to make the most of your time in Tokyo? In this article, I share the top recommendations for what to do in the city during a 5-day trip.

tokyo by night as seen from the mori tower

A quick guide to Tokyo

Best time to visit: the best months are from March to May and September to November. In summer it is very hot

How many days: 4 days is the minimum to see the most interesting things

Why it’s worth visiting: Tokyo needs no introduction. It’s one of the most spectacular cities in the world

Where to sleep: as I explain in the article, it depends greatly on the area you decide to stay in. On Trip.com, you can find the best options

Japan has been part of my life for a long time: I grew up watching Japanese cartoons and playing video games using Japanese consoles. My first camera was Japanese, and so was my first phone.

You can probably relate to this, too. And this is even more incredible if you think that right after World War II, Japan was devastated. In a few years, it went from being virtually a third-world country to being one of the most developed countries in the world. Every time a disaster or national crisis occurs, Japanese people emerge stronger than before (think about what happened in 2011).

So when I finally had the chance to visit Tokyo, it was for me a dream come true. I heard many things about it but actually didn’t know much.

General Info

tokyo in 5 days

The Narita airport is about 1 hour from the city, and getting the Suica + Narita Express card is a good idea. It’s a subway card with money and a return ticket from Narita to Shinjuku subway station.

Transportation is quite expensive in Tokyo and, generally, all over Japan. If you plan to travel extensively using high-speed trains, I recommend you buy the JR Pass: you’ll save a lot of money.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the subway is partially run by the local government and partially by some private companies. So remember to check if the lines you’ll use are part of the same system; otherwise, you’ll spend more than expected.

taxi in tokyo

This being said, I think that every single yen is well spent: the subway is very clean, and the people working there are always nice and ready to help even though almost no one can speak English. A negative aspect of the subway is the staggering amount of people, especially during rush hours. It’s something difficult to describe. You’ll have to see it with your own eyes.

Apart from transportation, I don’t think Tokyo is too expensive, compared with other capitals like London and New York (here is my 5-day travel guide) or any tourist city in Italy where you can easily pay 100€ per night for a 3-star hotel. The food in Tokyo is cheap, especially street food.

What’s the best season?

sakè barrels in tokyo japan

The best season to visit Tokyo is spring when you can see the beautiful cherry trees (sakura) in full bloom. There will be more tourists than usual, and the prices will be higher than the rest of the year. But the weather will be very pleasant too. That’s something to consider since it gets pretty cold in winter, and summer is hot and humid.

Where to stay

When looking for a hotel in Tokyo, remember that the city doesn’t have a center. There are instead some big suburbs, each with its own center. You can decide where to stay according to what you like. Remember that the subway closes at midnight.

I stayed in Shinjuku because the area has many nice things to see. You can try to find cheap hotels on Booking.com. Another good option is Trip.com.

Tokyo in 5 day

You’ll need more than 5 days to see all that the city has to offer but 5 days will give you enough time to see the best attractions. These are some of the places you can’t miss.

Akihabara

tokyo by night

This area is also known as Akihabara Electric Town. When you think about Japan, you probably have in mind what you can find in this area. The buildings contain stores selling manga, anime, video games, and electronic gadgets. The craziest thing I saw was a urinal with a built-in LCD screen that gives you a higher score the more “pressure” you have… Weird! You can find it in the Sega Palace.

In Akihabara, you can also find several Maid Café. In these cafés, waitresses dressed in maid costumes act as servants and treat customers as masters.

Asakusa

asakusa temples of tokyo in japan

It’s famous for its numerous temples and historic buildings, and that’s where most tourists go. You’ll find plenty of shops selling cheap souvenirs. It’s the most popular tourist spot in the city.

Roppongi

mori tower

It is famous for its numerous nightclubs, where most Western expats live. This area is also where you can find the iconic Roppongi Hills.

This mega-complex incorporates office space, apartments, shops, restaurants, cafés, movie theaters, a museum, a hotel, a major TV studio, an outdoor amphitheater, and a few parks. The centerpiece is the 54-story Mori Tower.

Mori’s vision was to build an integrated development where high-rise inner-urban communities allow people to live, work, play, and shop nearby to eliminate commuting time. From the top of the Mori Tower, you can have the best view of the city, including the Eiffel Tower replica.

Shibuya

shibuya crossing in tokyo

It’s the favorite place for young people. You can also find the famous Shibuya crossing, the busiest in the world, and the small Hachikō statue. You can go inside the Starbucks nearby to see the Shibuya crossing from above.

Shinjuku

tokyo by night

In this area, you can find the Government Palace and the busiest railway station in the world, which is used on average by more than 4 million people daily.

Tsukiji

Tokyo Fishmarket of Tsukiji

If you love sushi, this is the place to go. Tsukiji is home to the biggest fish market in the world. If it’s an animal and lives in the sea, you have a good chance of finding it here.

Photography tips and conclusion

EMA japanese prayer plaques

If you ever visit Tokyo, you’ll have many things to photograph. After this trip, I realized why the Japanese tend to photograph everything: because they live in a different world. For a Japanese, coming to Europe is like going back in time.

A 24-105mm lens is a good choice, and I used it for 90% of my pictures. I also used a wide-angle lens. I suggest traveling light since you’ll have to walk a lot, especially in summer, it can be really hot.

Don’t be afraid to try the food in Japan and to make new friends. Japanese are nice and will be more than happy to talk with you.

tokyo in five days

Here are more pictures I took in Tokyo. If you want to discover another side of Japan, don’t miss this article about Hokkaido.

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