Menu
Japan

Tokyo Solo Travel Guide & 5 Day Tokyo Itinerary for First Time Traveller

While Tokyo is a big metropolis, you can see the best attractions with my 5 day Tokyo itinerary. During your 5 days in Tokyo, experience Japanese culture through historical monuments, museums, cuisine, and much more.

The capital city is a large metropolis with 23 special wards and 26 other cities, towns and villages. It was originally a fishing village during the Edo period, then Tokyo became Japan’s capital city in 1868. And while Tokyo is Japan’s political and economic centre, tourism also became a leading industry as the city attracts millions of visitors yearly.

If this is your first solo trip to Tokyo and you are wondering what to see in the capital city, I am sure you will enjoy all the highlights in my Tokyo 5 day itinerary. Keep reading, and I’ll show you exactly what you will see in just five days!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something through them, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost. Thank you for supporting this website. For more information, please read the disclosure for more info.

Tokyo 5 day itinerary: what you need to know

Before you start your 5 day Tokyo itinerary, take a look at my post on everything you need to know before going to Japan. I included a lot of travel information, including how to get around Japan and other travel tips.

Here are a few additional tips to help you during your first time in Tokyo:

  • The best way to follow my Tokyo itinerary is by walking and taking a train or subway.
  • Get a Pasmo or Suica for taking public transportation in Tokyo. They are both rechargeable smart cards where you can take public transportation in Tokyo.
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes as there will be lots of walking during your 5 days in Tokyo.
  • Tokyo is a safe city for solo female travellers, even at night.
  • Plan your visit to Tokyo with the following festivals and events:
    • Various cherry blossom festivals (mid-March to mid-April) – many parks across Tokyo have “hanami” (flower viewing).
    • Kanda Matsuri (odd-numbered years on the Saturday closest to May 15) – a week of celebrating which includes a spirited procession with dancing and chanting along with massive floats at Kanda Myojin Shrine.
    • Sanja Matsui (third Friday, Saturday and Sunday of May) – the largest shinto festival in Tokyo and it is held in the Asakusa district.

How to get to Tokyo Japan

You can maximize your time in Japan by flying directly into Tokyo, where you can start your 5 days Tokyo itinerary immediately.

Tokyo has two international airports: Narita International Airport (NRT) and Haneda Airport (HND). Most international flights will arrive at Narita Airport, 60km east of Tokyo. If you can fly into Haneda Airport, it is faster to get into the city.

Narita International Airport To Tokyo

While many buses go into Tokyo, my favourite travel option from Narita Airport to Tokyo is by train. And depending on where you are staying in Tokyo or your budget, there are several options:

  • 2 Japan Rail Trains: from Narita International Airport to Tokyo Station
    • JR Narita Express Line: 60 minutes (2 per hour), ¥3,270 (all seats are reserved)
    • JR Sobu Line: 90 minutes (via Chiba, 1 per hour), ¥1,340

Haneda Airport To Tokyo

Haneda Airport is closer to Tokyo but has fewer international flights. But if you are arriving in Haneda, it only takes 30 minutes to get into the city. First, take the Keikyu Airport train to Shinagawa Station, then continue your journey via regular Japan Railway trains.

5 days in Tokyo: how to get around

While walking is the best way to see many the sights in Tokyo, other attractions are best visited by either via the train or the metro system.

There are about eight railway and two subway systems run in and out of Tokyo. You don’t have to know all of them, but you should familiarize yourself with the JR Yamanote Line on Japan Railway. The train on JR Yamanote Line runs in a loop and connects to several major city centres like Shinjuku, Shibuya, Shinagawa, Tokyo and Ueno.

Moreover, if you visit all the places in my Tokyo 5 days itinerary, getting a Pasmo or Suica card is best. You can use either card (or IC cards issued in other regions of Japan) and take public transportation. You save a ton of time and headaches by not having to figure out the cost of each ride.

And whenever you want to check the rail or subway schedule and fares, use Google Maps to navigate around Tokyo, as the app tells you exactly which route to take and the cost required.

Solo Tokyo itinerary 5 days summary

For my 5-day Tokyo itinerary, I included some typical tourist attractions because if you are a first-time visitor to Tokyo, you have to see what everyone is raving about. I included some off-the-beaten-path places because they are another side of Tokyo that most people don’t see and should be highlighted.

I put together this Tokyo solo travel itinerary by planning each day around different neighbourhoods in Tokyo. And I included highlights of each area in each section. The neighbourhoods are grouped so you will not waste much time commuting from one place to another.

Here is a quick summary of the 5 day itinerary in Tokyo:

  • Day 1: Shibuya, Omotesando, Harajuku & Shinjuku
  • Day 2: Tsukiji Outer Market, teamLab Planets, Roppongi & Ginza
  • Day 3: Asakusa, Akihabara & Ueno
  • Day 4: Day trip from Tokyo
  • Day 5: Shimokitazawa, Gōtokuji Temple & Kichijoji

What to do in Tokyo in 5 days as a solo traveller

Tokyo Itinerary Day 1: Shibuya, Omotesando, Harajuku & Shinjuku

Your first day in Tokyo is all about visiting the top tourist spots in Tokyo. They are all near each other, so you can maximize your time and walk to each neighbourhood. Follow the blue pins for all the highlights for day 1.

Shibuya

Shibuya is famous for the Shibuya Crossing or Shibuya Scramble. As the world’s busiest intersection, crossing the wide intersection is an experience. When the pedestrian light turns green, hundreds of people (thousands during peak hour) from every corner of the intersection cross the road at the same time. It all seems very chaotic but exhilarating!

Besides the crazy pedestrian crossing, Shibuya is known for its neon-colour high-rises and shops selling the latest fashion and the latest addition, Shibuya Sky.

Don’t miss these sights in Shibuya

  • Shibuya Crossing – walk across the chaotic crossing yourself.
  • Shibuya Sky – visit the 360º open-air observation deck on the 47th floor of Shibuya Scramble Square and see Tokyo from above. Tip: purchase a ticket online and get a discount and skip the line.
  • Hachiko Memorial Statue – Hachiko (the dog) waited for its owner each day at the same spot at Shibuya Station. When its owner died, the dog continued to wait for its owner. And it continued for ten years!
  • Miyashita Park – visit the multifunctional building for trendy shops, delicious eateries and green outdoor areas. 

Omotesando

Omotesando is a neighbourhood with exclusive retailers lining the main avenue and numerous boutique shops scattered around the area.

Besides browsing at all the beautiful boutiques, there is a strong cafe culture in Omotesando. Many independent coffee shops and cafes serve fluffy soufflé pancakes and layered cake that looks like artwork.

Don’t miss these sights in Omotesando

  • Cat Street – the fashion street hovers between Harajuku and Omotesando. The street has nothing to do with cats though.
  • Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku – the shopping mall famous for its urban rooftop garden and the kaleidoscope mirrored entrance.
  • Nezu Museum – see over 7,400 pieces of Japanese and East Asian art in the minimalistic design museum.

Harajuku

If Omotesando is high-end, then Harajuku is edgy. And when I think of Harajuku, I think of Harajuku girls who dress in a funky and one-of-a-kind fashion that expresses individualism and the song by Gwen Stefani. Ha!

But the area is precisely about the Japanese youth culture: Harajuku style. Many independent boutique stores sell colourful, quirky clothing and accessories on Takeshita Street.

Don’t miss these sights in Harajuku

  • Takeshita Street – the main pedestrian street with quirky boutique stores selling edgy clothing, shoes and accessories. Also, look for crepe dessert shops.
  • Meiji Shrine – tucked away in the middle of the forest are tranquil shrines, giant torii gates, and Meiji Jingu Museum.

Shinjuku

End the day in Shinjuku, a major commercial and entertainment district in Tokyo. As Tokyo’s secondary center (the other one is at Tokyo Station), Shinjuku has the world’s busiest train station, nostalgic restaurants and bars, unique museums, exciting nightlife and thousands of shops!

You can buy almost anything in Shinjuku. From boutique stores to all the major department stores like Isetan, Takashimaya, Tokyu Hands, and Odakyu Department Store. Plus, Shinjuku has some of the best places to eat in Tokyo.

Don’t miss these sights in Shinjuku

  • Shinjuku Station – over 3.5 million passengers go through Shinjuku Station each day!
  • Omoide Yokocho – a narrow alley full of nostalgic yakitori restaurants, also known as Memory Lane and Piss Alley.
  • Golden Gai – another area with nostalgic little alleys full of small bars.
  • Godzilla head – spot the gorilla head peeking out from all the neon buildings.
  • Shinjuku Subnade – Shinjuku’s largest underground shopping mall.

Tokyo travel Itinerary Day 2: Tsukiji Outer Market, teamLab Planets, Roppongi & Ginza

Day two on the Tokyo itinerary is about fresh sushi, interactive light installations, art museums and glitzy shops! Need I say more? Follow the red pins for all the attractions for day 2.

Tsukiji Outer Market

Tsukiji market is popular for its wholesale and retail shops for seafood. The “inner” market was known for its tuna auctions but has been closed since 2018.

However, the “outer” market remains. This means you can still go to Tsukiji market and have sushi for breakfast (which many visitors do, and many restaurants have long queues by 6 am!) But even if you don’t queue up at the break of dawn, there are still many other excellent options for food.

There are also plenty of street food, vendors selling dried foods, seaweed, and Japanese snacks. And you can find cooking utensils and kitchenware in the market too.

Tsukiji Outer Market opens from 6am to 2pm, so it is best to go first thing in the morning to beat the rush. Plus, you can have sushi for breakfast! How great is that?

teamLab Planets

teamLab Planets is the latest art and light installation in Tokyo. The talented people at teamLab created four large-scale rooms and two gardens of digital artwork and light installations. The three-dimensional artwork comes to life when you interact with the artwork.

Walk barefoot through the space and immerse yourself in the entire experience. But you’ll have to reserve a time slot before you go.

There are only a few teamLab exhibitions worldwide, and the one in Tokyo is the biggest and most elaborate. And this is a temporary exhibit and will close at the end of 2023. So make sure you check it out when you are in Tokyo.

Roppongi

Roppongi is known for its exciting nightlife, as it has many bars and nightclubs. But as a solo female traveller, I am much more interested in seeing other attractions in Tokyo during the day.

But the good news is that Roppongi is also a developing neighbourhood known for several art museums. If you are into modern art, design and architecture, there are several museums in Ropoongi that you shouldn’t miss.

Don’t miss these sights in Roppongi

  • 21_21 Design Sight – Tadao Ando and Issey Miyake created this design museum.
  • Mori Art Museum – modern art museum showcasing art, fashion, design, architecture and photography.
  • The National Art Centre – Japan’s largest museum has innovative spaces featuring temporary art collections.
  • Tokyo City View and Sky Deck – see a panoramic view of the city from the 52nd-floor observation deck or the rooftop sky deck.
  • Tokyo Midtown – the glitzy shopping centre has a variety of restaurants, including traditional Japanese food and international cuisine.

Ginza

Ginza is an upscale shopping district in Tokyo where you will find many high-end international retailers line Chuo Dori, the main street in Ginza. Besides looking at all the pretty merchandise, pay attention to the buildings, especially at night. Many stores and buildings have elaborate store displays and lights, including Mikimoto, Fendi and Celine.

And you can find all the major Japanese department stores in Ginza and flagship stores, such as Muji, my all-time favourite brand for home goods, clothing and toiletry.

Don’t miss these sights in Ginza

  • Ginza High Street – or Chuo Dori, the main shopping street in Ginza.
  • Ginza Six – a luxury shopping centre with many high-end brands and occasionally has art installations featuring Japanese artists.
  • Muji Ginza – shop and eat at the Muji flagship global store.
  • Uniqlo Ginza – a Japanese fashion brand that has retail stores worldwide. But the one in Ginza has some special pieces that other stores don’t.
  • Kabukiza Theatre – watch a kabuki performance, a classical Japanese dance-drama.

Tokyo Itinerary Day 3: Asakusa, Akihabara & Ueno (purple pins)

Spend day three exploring the neighbourhoods in north Tokyo. Make sure to wear your comfortable shoes because day three consists of a bit of walking. But walking is the best way to see Tokyo! Follow the purple pins for all the highlights for day 3.

Asakusa

Asakusa is one of the most popular areas in Tokyo for tourists. Most notably, visitors go to Asakusa to see Sensoji Temple, a Buddhist temple built for the goddess of Kannon.

And if you are visiting Tokyo in May, you must see the Sanja Matsui, one of the major Shinto festivals where tattooed men parade the streets of Asakusa with portable shrines.

Don’t miss these attractions in Asakusa

  • Hozomon Gate – the iconic entrance with the giant red paper lantern.
  • Nakamise Dori – many vendors sell Japanese snacks and souvenirs on the oldest shopping street in Japan.
  • Sensoji Temple – Tokyo’s oldest temple consists of the main temple and a five-story pagoda.
  • Nishi-sando Shopping Street – buy souvenirs from this covered shopping street.
  • Hoppy Street – the street has many al fresco restaurants serving cheap Japanese food.
  • Rent a kimono – roam around Asakusa wearing a kimono.
  • Tokyo Skytree – get a glimpse of the tall broadcasting and observation tower in Sumida

Akihabara

Akihabara is known for electronics, manga and anime and maid cafes. That’s quite an eclectic range of interests.

And even if you are not interested in seeing the latest electronic gadgets, reading anime or wanting to go to a maid cafe, it is still worth seeing the neighbourhood. Akihabara has many colourful neon signs and billboards on every street and every corner. I am amazed by the number of advertising billboards covering every vertical surface square inch. Incredible!

Ueno

Ueno is best known for the numerous museums in Ueno Park. The cultural neighbourhood also has a popular shopping street, an Instagram-worthy shrine and a retro shopping street that can take you back in time.

Don’t miss these sights in Ueno

  • Ameya Yokocho Market – also known as Ameyoko, is an open-air shopping market where you can buy cheap souvenirs, clothing, and beauty products and eat delicious street food.
  • Ueno Park – a large Tokyo park with a zoo and many historical and cultural museums.
  • Tokyo National Museum – opened in 1872, the museum houses many important cultural treasures and art pieces and is great for anyone interested in Japanese history.
  • Nezu Shrine – the Shinto shrine has a tunnel of vermillion-coloured torii gates that is great for Instagram photos.
  • Yanaka Ginza – visit the nostalgic shopping street for retro-style stores and street food.

Tokyo Itinerary Day 4: day trip from Tokyo

After three full days of city life in Tokyo, it is time to escape the hustle and bustle. And you can take plenty of day trips from Tokyo as a solo traveller.

Here are three of my favourite places outside of the capital city. Follow the green pins for all the day trip locations.

Kamakura

Take a self-guided trip to Kamakura, a quaint coastal town 60km south of Tokyo. The town is known for its many temples, shrines, and the Great Buddha. Tokyoites love Kamakura for its beautiful beaches.

How to get to Kamakura: The easiest way to travel to Kamakura is by taking Japan Railway. There is a direct train from Tokyo Station to Kamakura Station, and it only takes 54 minutes and costs ¥940 (or free if you have a JR Pass).

Nikko

Spend the day wandering around Nikko and seeing UNESCO Heritage Sites like Nikko Toshogu and Futarasan Shrine. Plus, the tour includes a visit to Kegon Falls and Lake Chuzenji.

How to get to Nikko: Even though it is possible to take the train on your own, the journey is quite long and may require several train transits. The better option is to join an organized tour to Nikko, where the bus option is much faster, and the tour even includes lunch.

Mt Fuji

See Mount Fuji from several places around Lake Kawaguchi, including Oishi Park, Arakurayama Sengen Park and Oshino Hakkai. The best time to go is during spring when cherry blossoms are in full bloom or during autumn when there is fall foliage.

How to get to Mt Fuji: Because all the attractions are far apart and not connected by public transportation, the best way to see Mt Fuji is by joining an organized trip. The tour includes round-trip transportation to all the attractions and a bilingual guide.

Powered by GetYourGuide

Tokyo Itinerary Day 5: Shimokitazawa, Gōtokuji Temple, Kichijoji

The last day of your 5 day Tokyo itinerary is about getting off the beaten path and visiting laidback neighbourhoods like Shimokitazawa and Kichijoji. Plus, you can get a glimpse of hundreds of lucky cats at Gōtokuji Temple. Follow the orange pins for all the highlights for day 5.

Shimokitazawa

Start your last day in Tokyo in the cool and retro neighbourhood of Shimokitazawa.

The area around Shimokitazawa Station is a pedestrian-friendly zone. As soon as you arrive at the station, you can see many cafes, restaurants, secondhand clothing stores and antique stores.

Many young locals frequent Shimokitazawa because it is the best area to find vintage clothing and accessories. Plus, if you like looking for antiques and other memorabilia, you are at the right place!

Besides all the different retail stores, the hipster neighbourhood has many colourful murals on walls and storefronts. The colours of the graffiti brighten the neighbourhood!

Gōtokuji Temple

From Shimokitazawa, Gōtokuji Temple is a subway ride away. It is worth visiting if you love the “lucky cat.” Also known as maneiki-neko, many people are familiar with the small statue of a Japanese Bobtail cat with an upright paw.

It is said that the lucky cat brings good fortune, especially to those with small shops and businesses. You’ll often see a lucky cat in the window by the store entrance. And if you want luck, you can buy your own lucky cat figurine at the temple.

Kichijoji

Kichijoji is a residential neighbourhood with shopping arcades, unique museums, a popular park for viewing cherry blossoms and reasonably-priced small restaurants. Many people visit Kichijoji because of the laid-back vibe. It is absolutely my favourite neighbourhood in Tokyo.

And Kichijoji is not typically in any Tokyo travel itinerary as it would be considered off the beaten path. But if you enjoy a slower pace for your last day in Tokyo, then you must visit Kichijoji!

Don’t miss these sights in Kichijoji

  • Inoshira Onshi Park – one of the best parks in the city to relax, have a picnic and view cherry blossoms in spring.
  • Harmonica Yokocho Alley – try one of many Izakaya restaurants in the narrow alley
  • Iseya – a cheap yakitori restaurant that is popular with Kichijoji locals.
  • Daiya Shopping Arcade – get your last-minute souvenirs at the shopping arcade outside Kichijoji Station.
  • Sunroad Shopping Arcade – more shops in this covered shopping arcade.
  • Kichijoji Petit Mura – take Instagram photos with the whimsical houses.
  • Ghibli Museum – the only Studio Ghibli museum in the world that showcases drawings of Studio Ghibli movies and other related exhibits. Purchase your tickets in advance.

Solo travel Tokyo: where to stay

Tokyo is the most visited city in Japan, meaning there is no accommodation shortage. But accommodations can be expensive and may not suit a solo traveller’s budget.

But I have a few recommendations on where to stay in Tokyo as a first-time traveller where you will enjoy the accommodation and won’t break the bank. But if you want to splurge, I have a few suggestions too.

Here are a few places you should consider while spending 5 days in Tokyo:

What to eat in Tokyo as a solo traveller

Dining solo is very common in Japan. Just because you are travelling to Tokyo alone, it doesn’t mean you should miss out on eating the best ramen and sushi in Tokyo!

I put together a list of the best places to eat in Tokyo where you can try some of the typical Japanese food like these:

  • Ramen – noodle soup consists of thin wheat noodles, toppings like sliced pork in a savoury broth
  • Udon – thick wheat noodles in a clear broth with different toppings
  • Tonkatsu – deep-fried breaded pork cutlet; eaten with rice and cabbage slaw
  • Tendon – shrimp tempura rice bowl
  • Sushi – fresh raw fish or seafood on top of vinegared rice; eaten with soy sauce and wasabi (Japanese horseradish)
  • Japanese desserts – from strawberry mochi to Totoro cream puff

Are you going to follow my 5 day Tokyo itinerary?

I hope so because I included the best highlights and tips for everything you need to have a good time as a Tokyo first-time solo visitor. I think it is the best Tokyo itinerary for someone who has never been to the city and wants to see the best of the best.

I like efficiency and saving time. After all, 5 days in Tokyo is not a lot of time, so you’ll want to have a solid plan and maximize your time there. That’s why I created my Tokyo 5-day itinerary so you don’t have to.

But you can certainly modify my Tokyo itinerary and tailor it to exactly what you need. But as a first-timer, you’ll want to see most of these places!

And if you have any further questions about Tokyo or my solo travel itinerary for Tokyo, leave your comments below.

Thank you for reading my Tokyo solo travel itinerary

You might also like these other posts on solo travel in Japan:

Introduction to Japan

Kanto region

List this post? Pin it on your Pinterest board!

About Author

Hi, my name is Queenie, and I've been a solo traveller for 20+ years and currently based in Hong Kong. Follow me on my adventures through Instagram and my blog!

4 Comments

  • Mary
    April 19, 2023 at 8:34 pm

    What is your advice for the luggages during the 5days trip? I am planning to buy a lot of stuffs. Is it better to just buy luggages in Japan? Is there a limit?

    Thank you. I think I’ll be following your itinerary.

    Reply
    • queenie mak
      April 20, 2023 at 8:50 pm

      Hi Mary, I guess the luggage limit is based on the airline luggage weight limit. And if you are not taking the bullet train, you can bring a large luggage to Japan. I always travel with a backpack because it is easier to move around the city especially with all the stairs at the train station and subway station. But if you plan to buy a lot of things, perhaps a suitcase will be better. Hope this helps! Enjoy Tokyo 🙂

      Reply
  • Noah Shoaf
    May 8, 2023 at 3:49 pm

    Hi! As a fellow solo traveler who has visited Tokyo and who currently lives in Japan, this blog post was so concise and helpful! It was organized so well, and I loved the spots you mentioned. Great job.

    Reply
    • queenie mak
      May 10, 2023 at 12:40 am

      Hi Noah, thank you for your comment. Japan is so amazing – there’s so much to explore. I hope you can explore other parts of the country since you are living there. Thanks again for the comment!

      Reply

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.