We don’t always have as much time as we want to travel, but even a short while is better than nothing. Tokyo has tons of things to do, and you can easily fill in 48 hours with adventure. The first time I flew to Tokyo, I was only there for about three days, but it was enough time for me to fall in love with this city.
But, you can also find yourself overwhelmed by so many options on the table. It’s essential 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 it’s the 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 Meiji Shrine + Harajuku / Omotesando
This is a must-see on any trip to Tokyo, and it’s my favorite shrine in the city. You’ll find it 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 surrounded by a beautiful forest which makes you forget you’re in the world’s largest city.
After, stroll on over to Harajuku 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!
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.
Check out Kiddy Land. It’s the coolest toy store in Tokyo.
Harajuku is also home to tons of awesome vintage shops. Flamingo is a local favorite for Tokyo vintage shopping.
Close by in the Shibuya Ward is also the Daikanyama neighborhood It’s a quaint, hip neighborhood filled with cafes, boutiques. Much of Tokyo can feel a bit overwhelming, especially Shibuya and Shinjuku, but Daikanyama has a calmer and more leisurely vibe.
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 cool local post-war vibe with a 6-person bar kind of establishment.
A yokocho is an alley which often has a cool post-war vibe with lots of local bars and yakitori stalls.
Check out my article on Record Shopping in Shibuya if you’re into music.
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 or Shitamachi, 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 vibe, 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.
You will find this observatory 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.