Tokyo – World’s biggest metropol, is a hyper modern city with more than 13 million inhabitants. Visiting the capital of Japan, means being blown away by its amazing skylines, dazzling neon lights, beautiful parks and diverse culture. Here are 10 must do’s to help you experience the best Tokyo has to offer!
1. Cross the famous Shibuya Crossing
Shibuya is without a doubt my favorite district and in my opinion the perfect introduction to Tokyo! When you’re finally able to exit one of the buzziest train stations in the world, you’ll reel from one surprise to another! Huge malls, loud music, neon lights, thousands of people and of course one of Tokyo’s most famous attractions – Shibuya Crossing.
Shibuya Crossing is said to be world’s buzziest pedestrian crossing! At peak hours, more than 1000 people pass you by in different directions. Crossing Tokyo’s most famous intersection for the first time is an unbelievable experience but don’t worry, you’ll get used to it very fast!
At night, Shibuya crossing gets slightly calmer and neon lights become brighter and brighter. Shibuya transforms into one of the most beautiful nightlife destinations I’ve ever seen.
Fun Fact: Shibuya Crossing has been used several times as a location for filming movies such as ‘Resident Evil’, ‘Lost in Translation and ‘Need for speed: Tokyo Drift’.
2. Visit the Imperial Palace
During my vacation I stayed in the Chiyoda district, Hotel Grand Arc Hanzomon, a great hotel with an absolute stunning view of Tokyo’s Skyline. I would highly recommend this area because it’s close to some of Tokyo’s most famous attractions! One of them is the magnificent Imperial Palace.
The Palace’s surrounding park, two iconic bridges and an amazing skyline make it an absolute must do location!
Close to Tokyo Station, the Imperial Palace is very easy to reach by public transport. It’s truly an amazing place to enjoy both nature, culture and architecture.
3. Wander around in Meiji Jingu Shrine – Yoyogi Park
Located next to the famous Yoyogi Park you’ll find one of Japan’s most famous Shinto shrines (places of worship). When entering the forested Meiji Jingu Shrine grounds, you’ll have to pass through a huge wooden torii shrine gate. It’s not only an impressive entry point but also the start of an amazing place to wander around, relax and enjoy nature!
4. Enjoy Odaiba’s amazing sunset
Just outside Tokyo inner city, you’ll find Odaiba, a man-made island, connected to Tokyo City via its impressive Rainbow Bridge. During daytime you can relax on the beach, have a swim or shop in a giant shopping center called ‘Venus Ford’. This unique mall’s interior will make you feel like walking in the streets of Rome or Venice. An absolute must see!
In the evening you can enjoy a breath taking sunset with an amazing city view of Tokyo, the Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Tower! I was really surprised by Odaiba’s beauty and would definitely recommend a visit!
5. Visit Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
Located near Shinjuku Station (buzziest station in the world), you’ll find one of the largest parks in Tokyo – Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden Park.
Don’t be put off right away by the fact that you have to pay a small amount of money (2 euro’s) to enter. It’s an absolute must do and in my opinion the most beautiful park in Tokyo!
On the one hand you can enjoy a tranquil Japanese garden and on the other hand you’ll also be amazed by the beautiful skyline, surrounding the park.
6. Buy lots of stuff in 100 Yen Shops
If you have to buy souvenirs, 100 yen shops are the place to be! There are thousands of 100 yen shops across Japan so you’ll surely come across one when visiting Tokyo.
Be aware: Actually you have to call them 108 Yen stores because of the consumption tax. That said it’s still very cheap (only 1 euro) and you can find a wide variety of cool stuff!
7. Visit Harajuku – Takeshita Street – Omotesando
When visiting Tokyo, make sure to visit the Harajuku district. It’s here where you will witness the famous Harajuku youth culture and find the famous ‘Crepes’ you see in almost every vlog on Youtube. The most famous street is definitely Takeshita Street, a great place offering cheap & trendy shops (lots of 100 Yen stores!).
A little bit further you’ll find the Omotesando area, offering modern architecture and lots of cool shops (more expensive ones). Also make sure to visit Cat street, a long street with a more European style which has a trendy/vintage vibe. An amazing place to walk around!
8. Get to know the Otaku culture in Akihabara
The Akihabara district is where you will witness the famous Otaku lifestyle at its best! The area is the definitely the place to be for tech, gaming and manga freaks. You’ll find lots of electronic shops, game centers and Manga/Anime shops! Make sure to enter a game center and play some video games. It’s not expensive at all and a cool way to have fun!
If you’re not into the tech-thing just wander around and enjoy the amazing advertisement on every building.
9. Mount Fuji – Kawaguchi-ko Lake
Although about 100 km from Tokyo, the Kawaguchi-Ko lake and Mount Fuji are a must see attraction when visiting Tokyo. With 3776 meters, Mount Fuji is Japan’s highest active volcano (last eruption in 1707) and can be seen from Tokyo on clear days. I chose not to climb the mountain, so headed to the Kawaguchi-ko lake where you can enjoy a nice view.
Normally, when arriving at the Kawaguchi-ko station, which is a 2 hours ride by train from Tokyo, you can immediately see mount Fuji (behind the station). However clouds often block the view of Mount Fuji, which was the case when I arrived.
From the station, you can take an easy 10 minute walk to lake Kawaguchi-ko (just use Google Maps). I must be honest, only visiting the lake is not really worth it. But… You can take the Mt. Kachi Ropeway to enjoy a panoramic view of Mount Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi at a hight of about 1100 meters!
During the whole day clouds blocked the view… We waited and waited to see a glimpse of Mount Fuji but unfortunately we were unlucky. We left, disappointed, but then magic happened. In a matter of seconds literally all the clouds disappeared and we enjoyed the amazing view of Mt. Fuji! It only lasted for about 50 minutes but was definitely worth waiting!
10. Get to know the Japanese cuisine
With more than 200 Michelin Stars, Tokyo is one of the best food cities on the planet. Believe me, literally every restaurant you enter will be a new surprise, sometimes positive, sometimes less positive.
One night we visited the Ginza district and just didn’t know what to eat (too much choice). So we entered a small restaurant, of which I don’t remember the name anymore (sad). It was not much bigger than a small basement, there where no tourists and the menu was only Japanese.
We wanted to leave but it didn’t take long before 2 locals started talking to us and translated the menu for us. They told us what to eat, what to drink, how to eat and so much more… This was probably one of our best nights in Tokyo. Those moments show how helpful and kind Japanese people are.
However, I must admit that I didn’t like every single dish and didn’t eat Japanese every day during my stay. But experiencing new tastes will always be a part of your trip when visiting Tokyo.
It is true what they say – Every city that you visit from now on, you will compare to Tokyo. It is without a doubt the best place I’ve visited up to now, a hyper modern city being able to preserve its ancient traditions. Enjoy your trip!
What about you? Do you have some tips or must do’s? Make sure to leave them below!