14 best things to do in Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo is a city full of contrasts: modern skyscrapers, peaceful temples, vibrant districts, and beautiful parks. What surprised us the most was how perfectly these contrasts blend together! With so much to do, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed at first. But don’t worry, we spent 5 days exploring Tokyo’s top sights and activities. Here’s our ultimate list of the 14 best things to do in Tokyo.

1. Visit Senso-ji, Tokyo’s oldest temple

14 best things to do in Tokyo: Senso-ji

Senso-ji, located in the neighborhood of Asakusa, is Tokyo’s oldest and most important temple. Nakamise Street, next to the temple, is great for souvenir shopping with its many shops and food stalls. The whole atmosphere here is exactly what we imagined Japan to be like! We suggest arriving as early as possible since it gets really crowded during the day.

2. DIY street food tour around Asakusa

DIY street food tour around Asakusa

Another fun thing to do in Asakusa is a DIY street food tour. There are so many local specialties you have to try! If you don’t know where to start, below you can find a list of street foods we recommend. Most of these treats are found in or around Asakusa Nishi-sandō Shopping Street, just minutes from Senso-ji. 

  • Unagi yaki onigiri (grilled rice ball topped with eel) at Asakusa Unana 
  • Pumpkin tempura chips at Asakusa Seisakusho
  • Curry bread with truffle and cheese at Tokyo Curry Pan
  • Strawberry daifuku (mochi stuffed with a fresh strawberry) at Asakusa Strawberry Daifuku
  • Strawberry tanghulu (sugar-coated strawberries) at Can
  • Baked sweet potato brulee at Imo Pippi

3. Admire the iconic Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Tower, with its striking white and red colors, is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. While it’s impressive to see from the outside, the real magic happens when you go to the top for breathtaking views of the city. There are two observation decks: one at 150 meters and another at 250 meters. Tickets cost 1,200 yen (about € 7) for the main deck and 2,800 yen (just under € 17) for both decks.

For the best view of Tokyo Tower, head to ‘Tokyo Tower Station Parking Lot’ on Google Maps. It used to be a hidden gem, but it’s become quite popular these days. We arrived around 6:30 AM and found only two other people there. As always, getting there early is key to avoiding crowds!

Fun fact
Did you know Tokyo Tower’s design was inspired by the Eiffel Tower? It’s actually 13 meters taller than its famous Parisian counterpart!

4. Become one with the art at teamLab Planets

14 best things to do in Tokyo: teamLab Planets

One of our favorite experiences in Tokyo was visiting teamLab Planets. This interactive digital art museum lets you become one with the art. You walk through different rooms and experience art with all your senses. Some of our favorites were the Infinite Crystal Universe and the Floating Flower Garden. But honestly, each room was amazing, and we loved every moment there! That’s why we had to include it in this list of best things to do in Tokyo.

Here are a few tips for your visit to teamLab Planets:

  • The best time to visit is the first slot between 9:00 and 9:30. You’ll be among the first to enter, so you can take great pictures without too many people around.
  • Book your tickets at least one month in advance. We booked ours two months ahead, and all the time slots were still available.
  • You’ll be barefoot during the whole experience. Some rooms have water where you can get wet up to your knees, so we recommend wearing shorts or loose pants.
  • And speaking of clothes, avoid wearing a skirt or dress because many rooms have mirror floors, and you don’t want everyone to see your underwear. 😉

5. Stroll through Yoyogi Park

Yoyogi Park

If you want to escape the city’s hustle and bustle, head to Yoyogi Park. It’s a lovely place to walk around and enjoy nature. Don’t miss Meiji Jingu, a Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji. The path to the shrine is lined with a wall of sake barrels, making for a great photo spot!

On weekends, the park hosts many events. When we visited, there was a local boy band performing. And every Sunday, you can see the Tokyo Rockabilly Club in action. This is a group of Japanese rock and roll fans who come together to dance and party! They gather every Sunday afternoon at around 1 PM at the clock tower in Yoyogi Park. It’s definitely one of the best things to do in Tokyo.

6. Check out the iconic Shibuya crossing

14 best things to do in Tokyo: Shibuya Crossing

When we think of Tokyo, the first thing that comes to mind is the iconic Shibuya crossing. We’ve seen it in plenty of videos and movies, and we couldn’t wait to see it for ourselves! Hundreds, maybe thousands, of people cross from all directions at the same time, surrounded by skyscrapers and bright billboards. It’s quite the experience! We were worried it might feel chaotic like in Vietnam, but it was the opposite. Like everything in Japan, Shibuya crossing is incredibly organized!

Pro tip
Our favorite view of Shibuya crossing is from MAGNET by SHIBUYA109. The entrance fee is 1,800 yen (just over € 10) and includes one drink. We also checked out the view from Shibuya Sky, but it’s more expensive, a little too high to see clearly, and you need to reserve well in advance!

7. Enjoy incredible city views at Tokyo Skytree

Tokyo Skytree

You can’t visit Tokyo without checking out at least one observation deck. Seeing the city from above is amazing! We visited multiple observation decks in Tokyo, and Tokyo Skytree was our favorite. It’s the tallest freestanding tower in the world at 634 meters, and the views are incredible. On a clear day, you can even see Mount Fuji!

We recommend getting a combo ticket for both the lower deck (Tembo Deck) on the 350th floor and the upper deck (Tembo Galleria) on the 450th floor. The best time to visit is around sunset, but make sure to book at least a week in advance to secure your spot. A ticket for both decks costs 2,700 yen (just over € 15), visiting only the Tembo Deck will set you back 1,800 yen (just under € 11).

8. More amazing views at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

If you’re visiting Tokyo on a budget and don’t want to spend € 15 on an observation deck, we have the perfect solution: the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. It has two observatories you can visit for free! From 202 meters up, you get amazing views of downtown Tokyo. Even after visiting Tokyo Skytree and Shibuya Sky, we still found these views impressive. And since it’s free, there’s no reason not to go!

Good to know
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is closed on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month. On other days, it’s open from 9 AM to 10 PM, with the last entry at 9:30 PM.

9. Have dinner at an izakaya in Omoide Yokocho

Omoide Yokocho

Omoide Yokocho is a cozy, narrow alley in Shinjuku filled with bars and izakayas. Here, you can enjoy small dishes and drinks in a lively atmosphere. No matter which spot you pick, you’re guaranteed a good time. These places usually have limited seating, making it an intimate dinner spot. We had a traditional dinner by taking off our shoes and eating cross-legged. It was such a unique experience!

10. Visit Kokyo, the Tokyo Imperial Palace

14 best things to do in Tokyo: Kokyo

Kokyo serves as the residence of Japan’s Imperial Family. While the Emperor’s residence itself is private, you can explore a big part of the beautiful Imperial Palace grounds. The East Gardens, or Higashi Gyoen, are particularly popular since they offer a peaceful escape with traditional Japanese gardens, meticulously landscaped lawns, and remnants of Edo Castle. Our favorite was the Nijubashi Bridge, an iconic double-arched stone bridge that serves as a great photo spot for visitors. It felt really special to walk around such a historic place, surrounded by gardens and impressive buildings.

11. Discover a haven for gamers and anime fans in Akihabara

Akihabara, Tokyo’s electronic town, is a haven for gamers and anime fans. It’s a neighborhood with its own unique culture. Even if you’re not into geeky stuff, it’s worth a visit for the atmosphere! You’ll find electronics shops, arcades, merch stores, themed cafes, maid cafes, and so much more. We visited mainly for the arcades, which we both love. From playing games together to trying our luck at claw machines, we had a blast. If you’re looking for arcade recommendations, we really enjoyed GiGo and HEY.

12. Dive into the buzz of Takeshita Street

Takeshita Street

Takeshita Street in Harajuku is the liveliest and quirkiest street around. It’s famous for its shops filled with colorful and special clothing and accessories. It can be a bit overwhelming, but that’s what makes it so exciting! You can also find a lot of food options here, like crepes, strawberry tanghulu (sugar-coated strawberries), and the famous 10 yen cheese coin.

Fun fact
At the start of the street, you’ll notice many people standing and gazing upwards. They’re looking at a camera and a huge billboard where you can see yourself. It’s really entertaining!

13. Visit the biggest Uniqlo in the world

Uniqlo is a popular Japanese clothing brand with stores all over the world. They have several items that went viral, like their round mini shoulder bag and bra tops. When you’re in Tokyo, you just have to visit the biggest Uniqlo in the world, located in the Ginza district. The store has 12 floors filled with everything you could want. They even have a department where you can get items personalized! Thysia wanted her shoulder bag embroidered with Mount Fuji, but we visited on our last day in Tokyo and personalization takes about 3 days. So, if you want something personalized, make sure to visit on your first day!

Other than that, it’s also just a very cool store to walk around in. And, if you’re in the market for new clothes, do know that everyone that visits Japan for less than 90 days can do tax-free shopping at Uniqlo. More specifically, you’ll get a 10 percent discount if your final amount is higher than 5,500 yen (around € 32).

14. Take a day trip to Tokyo DisneySea

Tokyo DisneySea

If you’re in Tokyo, a day trip to Tokyo DisneySea is a must. It’s the only DisneySea in the world, and the magic is real whether you’re 6 or 26! From thrilling rides to stunning shows, there’s something for everyone. Check out our ultimate guide to Tokyo DisneySea for all the tips you need to make the most of your visit. 😉

Where to stay in Tokyo

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