48 Hours in Tokyo
Are you spending 48 hours in Tokyo? Here’s a short list of things to do if you’re only in Tokyo for two days.
If you want to see the city in the most efficient and sub-surface way, I highly recommend my book, The Hidden Tokyo Neighborhood Guidebook. You’ll find nearly 30 of Tokyo’s top neighborhoods covered in a way that breaks down the most complex city in the world and makes it easy to grasp. You’ll leave knowing Tokyo like a local.
How to spend 48 hours in Tokyo?
We don’t always have as much time as we want to travel, but even a short while is better than nothing. Tokyo is packed with so many things to do that you can easily fill in 48 hours with a ton of adventure.
But, you can also find yourself totally overwhelmed by so many options on the table. It’s important to get some clarity on what interests you most and then start from there. Are you interested in hitting up Tokyo’s ritzier and sophisticated scene? Do you want to see art and architecture? Or are you interested in Tokyo’s youthful fashion scene? Or perhaps its electronics scene or traditional culture?
Hopefully these quick suggestions can offer you some guidance on where to start exploring the best of this city.
The first 48 hours in Tokyo
The Meiji Shrine + harajuku / Omotesando
This is a must-see on any trip to Tokyo and it’s my personal favorite shrine in the city. It’s located at Meiji-jingu Mae Station which is also at the foot of Harajuku. You can easily explore the Meiji Shrine and then hit up one of Tokyo’s most fashionable neighborhoods. This shrine is nestled in a beautiful forest that makes you forget you’re even in the world’s largest city.
After, stroll on over to Harajuku to and wander the colorful streets and home of the Lolita fashion scene. And if you’re a pancake connoisseur, the wait at Rainbow Pancake for their macadamia nut pancakes is more than worth it.
Watch this video about rainbow pancake!
Check out Kiddy Land. It’s the coolest toy store in Tokyo.
Harajuku is a part of the Shibuya Ward. You can walk to Shibuya Crossing within 20 minutes. Omotesando is a ritzier shopping district that’s only about a 10 minute walk from Harajuku. It’s packed with things to see as well.
Harajuku is also home to tons of awesome vintage shops. Flamingo is a local favorite. Consult my neighborhood guidebook for more hidden gems.
Stroll over to Shibuya for a night out
Shibuya is always a fun place to be at night. I almost always recommend Shibuya at night because the experience is far more interesting when the lights come on. The energy is insane and it’s impossible to get bored here.
If you want a classy spot to have drinks over the city and don’t mind a cover charge, BELLOVISTO at the Cerulean Tower is a stunning spot. Alternatively, Nonbei Yokocho offers a really cool local post-war vibe with 6-person bar kind of establishments.
Check out my article on Record Shopping in Shibuya if you’re into music.
A yokocho is an alley which often has a cool post-war vibe with lots of local bars and yakitori stalls.
Day 2 Asakusa+ Roppongi + Shinjuku
Start the Morning in Asakusa
The best time to see the Asakusa Shrine is in the morning before the peak of tourist traffic. This is one of the top places to see Old Tokyo, but it becomes increasingly less enjoyable as you battle loads of tourists. Early in the morning or later at night is the best time to visit.
Next, stroll around the neighborhood to get a truly Old Tokyo feel and don’t forget to stop at Japan’s oldest amusement park, The Hanayashiki Amusement Park.
Explore Roppongi's Views & Architecture
It’s impossible to condense Roppongi into a few short recommendations. There is so much to see in this neighborhood, I feel bad only scratching the surface. In fact, it’s the longest neighborhood chapter in my book. But, here are some quick tips to know.
The Mori Tower & The Tokyo Tower are the two main paid views in the city. If you want a free view, consider sneaking up to the top floor of the Andaz in Toranomon Hills. It’s gorgeous at night.
The Mori Tower Observatory
This is hands down my favorite view of the city. It’s not free, but it’s more than worth it. It’s a brilliant view both during the day and at night.
It’s located at the Roppongi Hills Shopping Center which is a gorgeous piece of architecture.
The National Art Center Tokyo
If you’re into some seriously cool architecture, The National Art Center is well worth an exploration.
Shinjuku's local bars
Any trip to Tokyo would be incomplete without a visit to Shinjuku. Explore the bars of Golden Gai or Omoide Yokohcho for that perfect Old Tokyo vibe. Lastly, catch a free view at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
It’s impossible to do this city justice in just 48 hours, but these spots will show you the highlights of the city.
If you’re a fan of manga or electronics, you might want to amend your trip to include Akihabara. Read my article on 5 Super Cool Things to do in Akihabara.
Do you want to unlock Tokyo’s Hidden Magic? I recommend my book, The Hidden Tokyo Neighborhood Guidebook. It’s filled with hundreds of things to do and a range of activities that only an experienced local can possibly know about. You’ll unlock nearly 30 of Tokyo’s top neighborhoods in over 400 pages, designed to leave you knowing this city on a whole other level. Learn more.