Tokyo in 3 Days: a guidebook for getting the most out of your visit

The best word to describe Tokyo is "vibrant". This megacity thrives on movement and progress. Come and discover the world's capital of technology and also get to know its millenary traditions.

Verónica Álvarez

Verónica Álvarez

9 min read

Tokyo in 3 Days: a guidebook for getting the most out of your visit

©Francesco Ungaro

Besides being the world capital of the famous anime and a reference for its museums and technological sites, there is an infinite variety of things to see and do in Tokyo. In this city you will find a combination of the latest technology and ancient traditions that leave visitors fascinated.

If you have little time to explore the city, do not worry, because in this 3-day itinerary I propose you will see the highlights, from its skyscrapers to its natural beauties, through its temples. You will be able to visit the most important things in Tokyo and you will make the most of your time during your stay.

Day 1: Tokyo Sightseeing Tour, National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation and night photo tour

Tokyo by night| ©Keith Twyman
Tokyo by night| ©Keith Twyman

On the first day of your stay in Tokyo you will get to know the city in a fun way. After your first tour of the city, you will have lunch and, in the afternoon, visit the National Museum of Science and Innovation.

I also suggest you to end the day with a night tour so you can take the best pictures of the city.

Guided city tour to get to know Tokyo

There are several options for guided tours in Tokyo, either on foot, by bicycle or rickshaw.

My advice is that to see the most important places it is best to decide to take a walking tour and start early.

Private and personalized tours (just for you and your group, based on your personal preferences), can last from 2 to 7 hours, depending on what you want to visit.

The price of this type of tour is around 390 euros (the most basic two-hour option) and includes the guide and hotel pick-up, but does not include transportation from one point to another in the city, nor meals and drinks. It also does not include entrance fees to the museums, you will only see it from the outside.

A 3-hour tour is enough to see the main sights of Tokyo from the outside and at the same time save money to do other activities in the city. The advantage of opting for a private and personalized tour is that the tour is based on your preferences so you will not waste time doing things that do not interest you.

Lunch near the National Science Museum

After finishing your tour of Tokyo, I advise you to go to lunch at one of the many restaurants in the city. You should choose one in the area of the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, which is your next stop.

The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation Restaurant is the quickest option as it is inside the museum itself.

Book your personalized tour of Tokyo

National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation

Tokyo is synonymous with technology. It is one of the most modern cities in the world and the cradle of great innovations. Science occupies a central place in the life of the inhabitants of Tokyo and they have one of the most important museums in the world on this subject.

The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, also known as Miraikan, has a wealth of exciting interactive exhibits spread over three permanent displays.

In the Explore The Frontiers exhibit, you can learn about space exploration by stepping inside a model of the International Space Station. Also available is the Discover Your Earth exhibit, where you'll find a large sculpture of the Earth made of LED panels, as well as the robotics-based Create Your Future exhibit, where you'll meet Honda's impressive ASIMO robot.

The museum also has science workshops for children, making it one of the favorite things to see and do with kids in Tokyo for the little ones.

Touring the entire museum with time to enjoy all the exhibits will take you a minimum of 2 to 3 hours.

  • Hours: The museum welcomes visitors from 10 am to 5 pm, Wednesday to Monday.
  • How to get there: The museum is easily accessible from Fune-no Kagakukan and Telecom Center subway stations.
  • Price: Admission for adults costs about 5 euros and for children under 18 about 2 euros.

Traveller Tip

Take the opportunity to visit the museum on Saturdays, because children under 18 get in for free.

Tokyo Night Photo Tour

After a hectic day touring the city and learning about the latest advances in science, it's good to relax. On this first day you will finish your itinerary with a photo tour of Tokyo at night to capture the best of the city with your camera.

Tokyo takes on another dimension at night with its illuminated signs and the city vibrates in a different way. You will be able to capture it all on a guided night photo tour.

These tours take you on a two and a half hour tour of the must-see places to take the best photos. The guides are professional photographers and the tour costs approximately 200 euros.

At the end of your photo tour, I advise you to return to the hotel to rest and get ready for your second day of activities in Tokyo, which will be dedicated to traditions and history.

Book your photo tour in Tokyo

Day 2: Visit Yanaka, the old city of Tokyo, the Tokyo National Museum and take a night food tour in Shibuya

At the Tokyo National Museum| ©Nianci Pan
At the Tokyo National Museum| ©Nianci Pan

Japan is not only synonymous with technology, it is also synonymous with tradition, and Tokyo is no exception.

On the second day of this itinerary you will discover the most traditional side of the city and learn about the important events that marked its history.

You will end the day with a gastronomic tour to taste the wonders of Japanese cuisine.

Tour of Yanaka: Tokyo's nostalgic old town

On this tour, you will leave aside the madness of the modern part of the city and its skyscrapers to get to know one of the oldest and most traditional neighborhoods of Tokyo.

The area of Tokyo called Yanaka is famous for being one of the most picturesque and oldest parts of the city. It was spared from Allied bombing during World War II and survived the Great Kanto Earthquake and Fire of 1923.

It was a thriving craft town that was home to some of the country's most famous writers and visual artists.

Visit the temples, handicraft workshops and traditional activities of Yanaka

There is a great diversity of handicrafts in this area: textiles, ink prints, wood carvings, stationery, ceramics and jewelry. If you visit Tokyo in search of traditional Japan you must spend a day in the Yanaka area, where temples abound and history is breathed.

In the center of the neighborhood you will find the Yanesen Tourist Information Center where you can participate in traditional Japanese activities such as calligraphy workshops or tea ceremonies.

  • Duration: The tour of Yanaka, lasts about 3.5 hours and takes you through the most important places in the area.
  • Price: The price is around 80 euros per person, but does not include transfers, meals or entrance fees.

Book your Yanaka tour

Visit the Tokyo National Museum

The Yanaka district is very close to your next stop. If you are interested in history, the Tokyo National Museum is the place to visit.

This museum is one of the most important in the country, housing some 116,000 pieces of art and objects covering the entire history of Japan. In this article you can see all the information about tickets to the museum.

Strolling through the corridors of its many buildings, you can see relics such as samurai armor and swords, delicate ceramics, kimonos, calligraphy, some of which have been declared national treasures, and important cultural properties by the Japanese government.

You will also see pieces from all over Asia, including Buddhist scrolls dating back to the year 607.

Touring the Museum will take you about 3 hours, so at the end of the visit you will arrive at the hotel in time to shower, change clothes and go out to enjoy the last activity of the second day of the itinerary, a night gastronomic tour.

  • Hours: The museum welcomes visitors from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily, except Mondays, when it is closed.
  • How to get there: The museum is easily accessible from the nearest subway stops, Uguisudani and Ueno subway station.
  • Price: Admission costs about 6 euros.

Traveller Tip

Take the opportunity to visit Ueno Park before or after visiting the museum, it is next door.

Night gastronomic tour of Shibuya

On this nighttime gastronomic excursion you will be able to try some of the emblematic dishes of Japanese cuisine, such as kobe beef skewers, Osaka-style takoyaki (octopus balls) and traditional sushi.

You will visit a depachika (subway dining area) while your local guide tells you culinary tidbits that only the locals know.

The Shibuya area is one of the least known by tourists and one of the most frequented by locals in search of excellent food.

Tokyo food tours are the ideal way to learn about Japanese culture as well. They usually include stops at several typical food restaurants and the tasting is included in the price, around 195 euros per person.

After dinner, you will return to the hotel to rest and prepare for your last day in Tokyo, reserved for visiting the natural wonders near the city.

Book a night food tour in Shibuya

Day 3: Excursion to Mt. Fuji and Aokigahara Forest ice caves, Sensoji Temple, Imperial Palace

Senso-ji Buddhist Temple| ©mon_vitoria
Senso-ji Buddhist Temple| ©mon_vitoria

If you are on a trip to Tokyo, you cannot miss Mount Fuji and the ice caves, two natural wonders of Japan.

These two attractions are outside the city, but there are several options for excursions to Mount Fuji from Tokyo.

When you return to the city after your tour, you will finish the day by visiting two of Tokyo's most important and significant buildings, the Sensoji Temple and the Imperial Palace.

Excursion to Mount Fuji and the ice caves of Aokigahara Forest

Mount Fuji, considered a sacred mountain by the Japanese centuries ago, is a must-see for those traveling to Japan, not only for its beauty but also for the history woven around it.

Excursions to Mount Fuji also include a visit to the ice caves of the Aokigahara Forest, where there are no railings or light available, so it can be a bit dangerous if you want to go on your own.

In the guided tours you will have specialized guides and they will provide you with the necessary equipment to do the tour safely. The tours of this type have an approximate price of 68 euros and a duration of about 3 hours.

After this natural adventure, you will return to Tokyo to have lunch, shower and change for the activities reserved for the afternoon, the visit to two emblematic buildings of the city: the Imperial Palace and the Sensoji Temple.

Book your tour to Mount Fuji and the ice caves of Aokigahara Forest

Sensoji Temple

Sensoji Temple is the oldest religious site in Tokyo and is also the most visited, with some 30 million visitors a year and dates back to the year 628.

However, despite its age, the current structures are relatively new reconstructions of earlier buildings because during World War II, almost the entire temple was destroyed.

Sensoji Temple is dedicated to Asakusa Kannon, the Buddhist god of mercy and happiness. Buddhists and interested tourists alike flock to this attraction in the hope that the presence of Kannon's healing powers will infect them.

Touring the temple takes one to two hours. When you finish your visit you will go to the last destination of your 3-day Tokyo itinerary, the Imperial Palace.

  • Hours: the temple grounds are open 24 hours a day, the main lobby welcomes visitors daily from 6 am to 5 pm. From October to March, the hall opens a little later, at 6:30 pm.
  • How to get there: Sensoji Temple is easily accessible via Asakusa Station.
  • Price: it is free, but offerings of money are often left.

Imperial Palace

The Imperial Palace is not a place with many tourists due to a policy that limits the number of visitors, as it is the home of the Emperor of Japan and his family.

Entrance to the palace is very difficult to get: you must apply several weeks in advance and access to the inside of the palace itself is even more difficult. To apply you must register on the official website of the Imperial Palace.

  • Hours: Visits to the palace are at 10:00 and 13:30 from Tuesday to Saturday and usually last one hour and fifteen minutes.
  • How to get there: The nearest subway station is Nijubashi-mae.
  • Price: free of charge.

I hope you enjoyed this Tokyo itinerary as much as I did. If you have more days to tour the city, you can see the itinerary of things to see and do in Tokyo in 7 days.

  • Day 1
  • Guided city tour
  • National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation
  • Tokyo Night Photo Tour
  • Day 2
  • Yanaka Tour
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • Shibuya nighttime food tour
  • Day 3
  • Excursion to Mount Fuji
  • Aokigahara Forest Ice Caves
  • Sensoji Temple
  • Imperial Palace