The Best Places to Visit in Tokyo in 3 Days

Is it easy to get lost in a city with 35 million people? Yes. But in Tokyo, it’s just as easy to find your way again.

We discovered the best places to visit in Tokyo on a recent whirlwind trip to the world’s most populous metropolis. To add to the headcount, visitor numbers to Tokyo have skyrocketed since the city’s successful bid for the 2020 Olympics.

Spending 3 days in Tokyo is the ideal amount of time for any traveler to discover the city. From the neon-lit skyscrapers and cutting-edge technology to beautiful parks, a royal palace and an ancient temple – Tokyo is famous for its contrasts.

So, what do you do with only 3 days in this bustling city? Here is my list of the best places to visit in Tokyo.

Sensoji Temple

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The Sensoji Temple in Tokyo’s Asakusa neighborhood is more than 1,000 years old but you wouldn’t say so when you stand in front of the colorful shrine. It looks like old religious structures age much better in Japan than in other parts of the world!

The outer gate called the Kaminarimon or Thunder Gate, of Sensoji Temple is also the symbol of Tokyo. One of the best places to visit in Tokyo. You can’t miss its characteristic red chochin lantern flanked by the two statues of Fujin-sama and Raijin-sama. They are the god of wind and the god of thunder and lightning.

One wouldn’t normally expect a shopping street within a temple complex. However, this is exactly what the 200 meters from the outer gate to the next gate, the Hozomon, is. The Nakamise-Dori, as the street is called, isn’t a modern addition either. The Japanese have shopped here for centuries, buying anything from food to folding fans. Today, many of the shops are souvenir shops.

Before you get too distracted by the shops, continue to Hozomon and finish your exploration of the temple structures. This way, you can do your shopping later without fearing that you’re going to miss out on one of the best places to visit in Tokyo.

Sensoji Temple’s main hall and a 5-storey Pagoda lies beyond Hozomon Gate. Take your time to walk up the stairs of the Hondo, the main temple. There’s some pretty impressive art on the ceilings.

Tip: Find out what the future holds for you at Sensoji Temple. Look out for the fortune tellers who’ll give you a container with sticks to shake. You will then pick a stick and receive your fortune based on the number that’s on it.

Tokyo Skytree

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Not far from Asakusa, the Tokyo Skytree dominates the skyline. At 634 meters, it’s the tallest structure in Japan and the center of the Tokyo Skytree Town. The latter is a huge shopping complex and aquarium at the base of the television broadcasting tower.

You can’t visit the Tokyo Skytree and not stand on one of its two observation decks at 350 and 450 meters respectively. They are:

Tembo Deck

The lower deck spanning three levels and offering a unique experience on each floor. Take in the 360° views of Tokyo from the top floor or buy a souvenir on the middle floor where you can also sample French-Japanese fusion cuisine at the Musashi Sky Restaurant. On the lowest level of the Tembo Deck, you can sip on a coffee while looking down at the base of the tower through glass floor panels. The deck is reached by an elevator from the 4th floor where the tickets are also sold.

Tembo Gallery

A unique skywalk that’s connected to the Tembo Deck by a second set of elevators. It’s quite something to circle the tower on a spiral ramp made of glass and steel before exiting on an observation deck at a dizzying 451.2 meters. The views over Tokyo’s Kanto Region are amazing from this vantage point.

Tip: Browse through the shops of the Solamachi shopping complex when you return from the observation decks. This is also a good place to grab a bite to eat before continuing sightseeing in Tokyo.

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

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In a fast-paced and highly populated city like Tokyo it’s always good to have somewhere to escape the crowds. The Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is just the place to find some tranquility when your head is buzzing from the sights and sounds of central Tokyo. Ordinary Tokyonians (yes, that’s what people living in Tokyo are called) have been coming here since 1949 while Japanese royalty have been enjoying its splendor since the early 1600s.

Located only a stone’s throw away from Shinjuku Station, Shinjuku Gyoen consists of three different types of gardens each with a unique layout and attractions. With 3 days in Tokyo, you should definitely make time to visit.

Traditional Japanese landscape garden

Featuring perfectly manicured shrubs and large ponds with bridges to little islands. The Japanese theme is rounded off by several pavilions including the better known Kyo Goryotei which was used for the wedding of a former emperor.

English Garden

The fine grass and neatly mowed wide, open lawns of the English landscape garden invite you to picnic on them. You almost wish you can find some cucumber lunch sandwiches somewhere! This garden is surrounded by more than 400 somei yoshino cherry trees.

French Garden

An enormous formal French garden in the northern part of Shinjuku Gyoen. Wide gravel boulevards flanked by poplars lead to the centerpiece of rose bush blocks.

Tip: The Shinjuku Gyoen is one of the best places to see cherry blossoms if you’re in Tokyo during spring. Mid-March to late April is a good time to visit.

Tsukiji Fish Market

If you love markets, and especially food markets, you’ll find the Tsukiku Fish Market to be one of the best places to visit in Tokyo to experience the local culture and cuisine.

The Tsukiji Market is huge (over 2,000 tons of fish and other marine products pass through it every day), so take some time to orientate yourself before venturing inside. Because of the increasing number of tourists, some rules have been implemented to avoid curious visitors getting in the way of the normal course of business.

For an outsider, any transaction at the Tsukiji Market is an experience. However, the tuna auctions are really something to witness. That’s if you can manage to be at the market before sunrise to secure a ticket to that day’s auction! I admit, my enthusiasm for tuna and auctions isn’t so great to justify losing sleep over it.

If you’re not that interested to see the wholesale side of the Tsukiji Market, you can stick to the outer market which caters more to the public. Here you will find rows of restaurants and retail shops. There is no better place to try fresh sushi than at the Tsukiji Fish Market. Yes, even for breakfast!

Tip: Don’t miss out going to the original Tsukiji Fish Market if you have 3 days in Tokyo because it won’t be there for much longer. Due to its increasing popularity and the sheer number of visitors, it’s moving to a bigger area in another part of the city before the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Tokyo Tower

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It goes without saying that Tokyo wouldn’t just have one tower worth ascending. The Tokyo Tower in the city center toppled the Eiffel Tower as the world’s tallest self-supported steel tower. The 333 meters high red and white tower was Japan’s tallest structure until 2012 when the Tokyo Skytree was completed.

Just like at the Eiffel Tower, you can either take an elevator or the stairs (around 600 in total) to the main observation deck. Although this deck is technically not that high at 150 meters, the views offer a different perspective on Tokyo. Glass panels on the floor allow you to look straight down for yet another perspective.

From the main observation deck, it’s possible to take another set of elevators to the top deck at 250 meters. This is your chance to take great pictures of the Tokyo skyline with the Tokyo Skytree in it. On a clear day, you’ll even make out Mount Fuji if you scan the horizon.

There are lots to see and do in the area around the Tokyo Tower. Among other things, there is a shopping and entertainment complex called Foot Town at its base. Grab a bit to eat, shop for souvenirs, visit the aquarium, or have fun in One Piece Tower, an indoor amusement park.

Tip: Take a stroll through Shiba Park on your way to or from the Tokyo Tower. It’s Japan’s oldest and home to an ancient burial mound and an artificial ravine featuring a giant Japanese zelkova tree. The trunk circumference of this 20-meter-tall tree is 2.5 meters!

Ueno Park

Allow enough time during your 3 days in Tokyo to properly explore Ueno Park and all the attractions in and around it. Most importantly, the expansive park grounds are home to the Tokyo National Museum. The museum’s collections of samurai swords and ancient Buddhas are pretty impressive.

Ueno Park, which was opened to the public in 1873, is shrouded in history. It’s the place where one of the city’s largest temples, the Kaneiji Temple, once stood. From its position in the northeast of Tokyo, it was meant to protect the capital.

Unfortunately, Kaneiji Temple suffered almost complete destruction in a battle of the Boshin Civil War. It was after this that the temple grounds were turned into the Western style park that it is today. A statue of general Saigo Takamori near the southern entrance still reminds visitors of the Battle of Ueno.

What remains of the former Kaneiji Temple complex is the beautiful Shinobazu Pond. It makes a pretty picture with an octagonal temple set on an island surrounded by lotus covered water. Needless to say, Ueno Park also boasts thousands of cherry trees. In fact, the central pathway is lined by more than 1,000 trees creating a spectacular display between late March and early April.

Tip: Ueno Park is one of the best places to visit in Tokyo for an art and culture fix. Besides the Tokyo National Museum, you’ll also find the National Science Museum, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, and the National Museum for Western Art on its vast grounds.

Tokyo Imperial Palace

Unlike many other imperial palaces in the world, Japan’s imperial family still lives in this one. But the chance of catching a glimpse of Emperor Akihito isn’t the only reason why the Imperial Palace is one of the best places to visit in Tokyo.

The Imperial Palace grounds offered another reprieve from the bright lights and busy streets during our 3 days in Tokyo. While it’s steeped in history, it’s also characterized by beautiful old and new architecture.

The current Imperial Palace was built after World War II during which the former palace of 1888 was destroyed. Until 1868 the spot where the palace is now was occupied by Edo Castle, the seat of the Tokogawa shogun. It’s in a big park area of which most is accessible to the public.

A must is to stand at Kokyo Gaien, the plaza in front of the palace, for a view and pictures of the Nijubashi or bridges that form the formal entrance to the imperial residence. If you don’t look carefully, you’ll think there’s only one bridge. The obvious stone bridge in the front is called Meganebashi which means Eyeglass Bridge. Just behind it is an iron bridge that used to be a wooden bridge with two levels, called the Nijubashi or double bridge.

Tip: If you’re ever in Tokyo over Christmas or New Year, don’t miss the chance to really catch a glimpse of the imperial family. The inner palace grounds are opened to the public on 23 December and 2 January when the emperor and his family make an appearance on the royal balcony.

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Getting around Tokyo

Most tourists fly into Tokyo’s Narita International Airport although some international flights also land at the smaller Haneda Airport.

The fastest and most convenient way to travel the 60 km from Narita Airport to central Tokyo is with the JR Narita Express. It takes about one hour to get to Tokyo station from the airport.

It was really easy during our 3 days in Tokyo to get around by public transport. The underground and overground trains, as well as the bus system, really is world-class. While the buses are efficient, they’re not really ideal for tourists. It’s best to stick to the trains.

Buy a rechargeable travel card at a ticket machine and you are ready to go. Although English maps for the transportation system are available they can still be confusing. Therefore, it’s a good idea to set yourself up with mobile data as soon as possible to access Google maps to help you navigate your way through the city.

If you absolutely can’t take a train, the taxis are also very good and efficient way to reach the best places to visit in Tokyo. However, they are on the expensive side so not recommended unless necessary.

The Best Time to Visit Tokyo

The spring cherry blossoms obviously make March and April a great time to visit Tokyo and the rest of Japan. People tend to forget the tree also make a pretty picture in autumn. The period between September and December is characterized by many pleasantly warm and sunny days, with the autumn foliage especially beautiful in November.

While spring and autumn bring out the best in nature in Japan, the summer and winter months are perfectly fine to visit if you come prepared for some hot and humid or crispy cold days.

Tips to Make Your Visit to Tokyo Great

  • The Metropolitan Government building offers more great views of Tokyo without having to pay an admission fee.

  • Every Wednesday is Ladies’ Day! In practical terms, this means super specials in the shops. So, if you plan to do some shopping, leave it for the Wednesday if that falls in your 3 days in Tokyo.

  • It’s hard to find a trash can in the streets of Tokyo. Carry a ziplock bag to keep your trash in until you can throw it away. Train platforms and convenience stores are most likely to have trash cans.

  • Invest in a coin purse to keep handy while exploring the best places to visit in Tokyo. It’s a cash society, so you’ll need coins for lots of different things.
  • Try tonkatsu (pork cutlet) and karaage (fried chicken) while you’re in Tokyo. For a quick bite on the go, the food from convenience stores is pretty good. Just finish eating before you leave because eating on the street is frowned upon.

  • Don’t tip. Not taxi drivers, not waiters, not doormen. It’s not expected and not accepted. Some restaurants do include a service charge, though.
  • Despite the thousands of people roaming the streets, there is always order in the chaos thanks to the unspoken rule that pedestrians stay on the left (the same as cars). And do wait for the lights to change before you attempt to cross the street!
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Have you spent 3 days in Tokyo? Any tips and recommendations?
Which are your best places to visit in Tokyo? 
Comment below!

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  1. K June 8, 2018 at 2:54 pm - Reply


  2. Calvin June 8, 2018 at 4:15 pm - Reply

    So much to seen, I’ve only been there once on a layover.. Very high tech stuff.

  3. Jodie June 8, 2018 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    Great things to know! Not sure that I’ll ever visit Tokyo but if I ever do then I’ll take your tips!

  4. Christine McMeo June 12, 2018 at 9:56 am - Reply

    Such a beautiful trip! I love traveling and looking forward to visiting Asia some day.

  5. Gabrielle June 12, 2018 at 10:34 am - Reply

    Wow! Tokyo looks like an amazing place to visit.

  6. Stephanie Z June 12, 2018 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    The Tokyo Skytree is really tall. It would be amazing to see!

  7. Casi Selph June 13, 2018 at 11:49 pm - Reply

    Oh Tokyo is so BEAUTIFUL!!! This would be such an AMAZING trip!!

  8. aimee monette June 19, 2018 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    Very cool!!!!

  9. Espy Montileaux June 20, 2018 at 12:05 am - Reply

    Wow this is some cool information

  10. Espy Montileaux June 20, 2018 at 12:08 am - Reply

    Tokyo sounds so fantastic

  11. Jennifer Dugan Murphy June 22, 2018 at 4:32 pm - Reply

    What a wonderful adventure! So many temples, gardens and cuisine to explore!

  12. Kim Pincombe-Cole June 23, 2018 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    Going to Tokyo during the Cherry Blossoms ? is on my bucket list – and going to a traditional Japanese garden would be the 1st thing I’d do!

  13. Sandra Watts June 25, 2018 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    What lovely photos. It really is so nice to look at. Must have been awesome seeing it in person..

  14. Anna Pry June 25, 2018 at 9:07 pm - Reply

    I would be intimidated by how large the city is but i’d like to see it anyway

  15. MD Kennedy June 28, 2018 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    My husband and I are planning a trip to Japan in the next few years. Thank you for the great ideas!

  16. Valerie M June 30, 2018 at 3:39 am - Reply

    Wow! Such a dream trip and an amazing post.

  17. Alicia Hewitt June 30, 2018 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    That is so awesome!!! My daughter wants to go to Japan so bad!

  18. Jennifer Hedden July 3, 2018 at 2:06 am - Reply

    I would love to visit the temples and just take in all the natural beauty especially with the cherry blossoms! I would also enjoy trying the different food. Thank you for all the great pictures and information.

  19. Allan M July 6, 2018 at 11:24 am - Reply

    Wonderful photos, the whole place looks amazing!

  20. Jenny Ham July 6, 2018 at 4:07 pm - Reply

    Love this thanks for sharing

  21. Betsy Barnes July 6, 2018 at 5:32 pm - Reply

    Wonderful photos! I would love to visit some day!

  22. Nyx July 6, 2018 at 6:52 pm - Reply

    lovely photos!

  23. Richard Brandt August 8, 2018 at 6:44 pm - Reply

    That’s a pretty fill three days! Thanks for the tip on the fish market. Now I can visit Tokyo without feeling like I’ve been lost in translation.

  24. Dina Bonilla August 10, 2018 at 12:12 am - Reply

    I would love to go visit Tokyo, thanks for letting us know which areas there are a must to go see and visit, thank you so much, maybe one day I would be able to go there

  25. Asia August 10, 2018 at 11:09 am - Reply


  26. Asia August 10, 2018 at 11:10 am - Reply


  27. Gabrielle August 12, 2018 at 10:11 am - Reply

    You can really see a lot in Tokyo in three days if you put your mind to it, can’t you?

  28. Barrie August 14, 2018 at 11:45 am - Reply

    I would love to go someday! Great photos. Looks like you had a great time!

  29. Lissa Crane August 21, 2018 at 4:49 pm - Reply

    Tokyo is on my bucket list! I love your advice and getting to see what you think about it! thanks for sharing your adventure!

  30. David McCormick August 22, 2018 at 8:42 pm - Reply

    I would absolutely love to visit Tokyo!!

  31. Susan Gillam September 5, 2018 at 8:12 pm - Reply

    What an awesome trip to go on!!

  32. Deborah Cochran September 10, 2018 at 10:27 pm - Reply

    There is so much you can see in Tokyo in three days even though that doesn’t seem like a lot of time! I would love to visit Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden – so peaceful looking <3 One day I'll get there!

  33. Sj Dc September 18, 2018 at 3:36 am - Reply

    love how your pictures and prose literally transport you!

  34. Sudi October 16, 2018 at 9:07 am - Reply

    I’ve ever been to Tokyo. Very nice place

  35. Rachael January 26, 2019 at 1:44 am - Reply

    I found your post at a good time – I am visiting later this year in September! :)

  36. Sohel October 10, 2019 at 10:58 am - Reply

    Very cool

  37. Cristina October 12, 2020 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    Tokyo seems to be a very interesting place to visit! I definitely want to go there as soon as I can :) Thank you for sharing great tips and itinerary.

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