My Tokyo travel recommendations

I often get asked by friends visiting Tokyo what they must see/eat/experience, so in this post I’ll summarize my top recommendations. This doesn’t aim to include all the cool places, but rather highlight some of the less known parts of Tokyo that I really like.

All photos were taken by me in this post.

Things to see in Tokyo

Ghibli Museum and Kichijoji

I highly recommend Ghibli Museum, if you like any of their classic movies. You need an advance ticket to enter, and tickets go on sale on the 10th of the previous month.

Rooftop garden of Ghibli Museum (photos are not allowed inside)

The museum is located in Inokashira Park, so I recommend to take a train to Kichijoji and then walk from there. After or before the museum I recommend walking around the park and also around Kichijoji station, North of the park. Kichijoji has many shops on both sides of the station, and it’s a popular weekend destination for Tokyoites (which also means it gets pretty crowded, so weekdays are better to visit).

To eat

If you get hungry, Kichijoji has many great local restaurants. Some of my favorites:

Kichijoji is popular on the weekends, and it might be hard to find a restaurant without reservation. If you run into this problem, try one station up or down the Chuo line: Mitaka or Nishi-Ogikubo both have many great local restaurants and they are often less crowded.

Kappa bashi shopping street

Kappa bashi is located between Ueno park and Asakusa, so I recommend visiting this together with either (or both) of those. It’s a shopping street lined up with restaurant-supply shops and kitchen-equipment dealers.

What I really like about this place is that while the shops serve tourist and regular customers, they also actively serve restaurants as well, so you can see all the things that one would need to open their own ramen shop.

Since it’s a street, Google Maps brings you to the middle. I recommend starting at the shop called Niimi and then walk North from there.

Niimi store with the iconic chef

If you are in the neighborhood, you’ll likely also go to Sensō-ji, the famous temple in Asakusa (gets a bit crowded, but still a must see). Close to the main gate of the temple is the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center which has a great view from their top floor (all for free).

View from the rooftop of Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center

To eat

  • Kappa Matsuri - small local place serving okonomiyaki (hearty omelet with noodles)
  • Sometarō - slightly bigger place also serving okonomiyaki
  • Bibibi Hokkaido restaurant - bit towards Ueno, but I highly recommend this place. Their main shop is in Hokkaido (the northerns most island of Japan), and they bring most of their ingredients from there.
  • Hoppy street - this is in Asakusa and it’s a street with many bars with outside seating.

Hoppy street


Ginza is the upscale shopping district of Tokyo. The reason I like it is due to its architecture: Japanese building rules are pretty lax (it’s mostly about not blocking sun), so brands often go pretty crazy with their design.

Louis Vutton building in Ginza

My secret spot in the area is the rooftop garden of the GINZA SIX department store. The mall itself is also really stylish (and have a huge bookstore):

GINZA SIX inside

Once you make your way up to the top, you’ll find a nice garden hidden in the middle of the city:

GINZA SIX rooftop garden

Shin-Okubo and Koreatown

Shin-Okubo is a train station on the Yamanote and the neighborhood is known as Tokyo’s Koreatown.

Tokyo's Koreatown in Shin-Okubo

It is a neighborhood of shops and restaurants, so the main thing is to walk around, shop and eat. I really like the Korean fried chicken: they have a lot of options for flavors and you can get melted cheese to dip it into.

Korean fried chicken dipped into melted cheese

To eat

  • Byuljan is where the above photo was taken. It’s a stylish restaurant/bar
  • Hotel Cen has a low-rise rooftop cafe if you need a break from the bustling city
  • Trdlo I haven’t been to this place, but this is a cafe that sells Korean chimney cake (similar to Hungarian Kürtőskalács) and has good reviews


If you get tired of Tokyo or want a change of scenery, there are many great day trip options. Here are some of my favorites.

Mt. Takao

Mt. Takao is likely the most accessible mountain near Tokyo (50 minutes from Shinjuku). Don’t expect a big hike (after all it’s only 599 m tall), and you won’t need any hiking gear, but there are a few trails and attractions so it can be a great time spent in nature. See Live Japan and Japan Guide for more info.

On the way up to Mt. Takao

After the hike I highly recommend the hot spring bath close to the station. Just keep in mind that as with other public baths in Japan, you need to be fully naked (there are separate men and women sections). If you forgot to bring your towel, they offer rental of those (but you might want to bring a change of clothes, so that you don’t have to put back your dirty clothes after the bath). The hot spring also has a restaurant which can be a great way to end the day after the bath.


Yokohama is arguably the most interesting city in Tokyo’s suburbs. Most of the fun stuff is in the Minatomirai neighborhood near the main Yokohama station.

If you are interested in old and new cars, I recommend the first floor of Nissan Motor Global Headquarters where you can see many of them. If you want to see other engineering marvels, the Mitsubishi Industrial Museum is great (turns out Mitsubishi makes everything from spaceships to deep sea submarines).

Cup Noodles also have a museum here, and there is even a ferries wheel.

Yokohama Landmark Tower as seen from the ferries wheel

Yokohama is also home to Japan’s largest Chinatown, which you’ll find a bit further to the South (although I haven’t been here yet). Nearby you can also see a life-size moving Gundam robot (also on my to-see-list, but haven’t got there yet).


Further to the South is Kamakura, a costal city famous for its Great Buddha statue.

The Great Buddha of Kamakura

There is another Buddhist temple nearby that dates back to the 8th century and has a nice garden. Near this temple there is Kannon Cafe, a modern, stylish place that I recommend (it’s just a cafe, so don’t go out of your way for it, but it’s a nice place if you are nearby).

Kamakura being a costal town also has a sandy beach, and further down the coast there is a modern lighthouse.

Kamakura beach with Enoshima Sea Candle in the background


North of Tokyo is Kawagoe, an old castle town with many of its buildings dating back to the Edo period (1603-1868).

The main attractions are along the shopping street including the Kawagoe Matsuri Museum which is about the local festival held in October (if you happen to be here that time, you can also see the festival, but be prepared to the crowds).

Toki no Kane clock tower in Kawagoe during their yearly festival